What Could Nintendo Possibly Be Announcing Today?
Early this morning, Nintendo Japan tweeted that there will be announcing a new way to play the Switch.
A little while later, Nintendo EU announced the event as well, saying it would detail a "new interactive experience for Nintendo Switch that's specifically crafted for kids and those who are kids at heart." That extra bit of information helped fans get a little more of a clue as to what might be coming out, but still left plenty of room for interpretation. An alleged Ubisoft employee also tweeted out that the upcoming announcement would make the internet "explode," further sparking the Nintendo fan hype train.
But what exactly could a new way to play the Switch targeted at kids really mean?
This is most fans' worst nightmare. Accessories and extra items that were required to play certain games was a huge pain for Wii owners, and is something that most Nintendo fans are hoping the company has since learned to avoid. While gamepads and balance boards might seem like interesting and new ways to game for some, it severely limits the likelihood of any particular game reaching its full potential in the market. Extra game-specific accessories would be even more detrimental to games on the Switch than they were for the Wii since one of the new console's major selling points is its portability.
Some others are also guessing that the announcement could be focused on modular controllers, similar to a fan concept that was shared around the same time as the console's release last year. While new controllers could add interesting mechanics, it would ultimately be extremely expensive and, again, hurt a game due to the device's portable nature. Not to mention any games with special controllers wouldn't be able to be played with the Joy-con grip or Pro controller, which would make a lot of people unhappy.
Adding to the Amiibo-verse
The popular trend of physical toys inching into the gaming industry is especially important among the younger generations. Skylanders was a huge success thanks to its combination of collectible figurines and virtual in-game characters. Hatchimals, one of the hottest toys in 2016, are basically Tamogatchis come to life. Nintendo's own voyage into space is their Amiibo collection, figurines that include an NFC chip that, when scanned on compatible Nintendo devices, can unlock special in-game content.
Many fans suspect the upcoming announcement will have something to do with the company's Amiibo line. Some are guessing that a Skylanders-style, Amiibo-specific game will be coming out. There was actually sort of a game like this already released for the Wii U, but it was Animal Crossing-specific and used a mixture of figurines and cards. Disney also tried releasing a Skylanders-style, figurine-based video game named Disney Infinity, which flopped hard. If Nintendo did intend to release a game centered around its Amiibo, it would need to incorporate all the available figurines, which span dozens of series, in some satisfying way.
Of course, the complete lack of any information about the announcement other than it's something about interactive play and aimed at kids leaves plenty of room for interpretation. There are lots of people hoping (both jokingly and seriously) that the announcement could be centered around a new game, especially one from a beloved Nintendo series that hasn't made it to the Switch yet like Pokemon or Animal Crossing.
While those hoping for a game announcement don't really explain how these games would fit the bill for the interactive new way to play that Nintendo has teased, there are still plenty of people ready to jump on the hype train anyway. Because, let's be honest, we're all a little desperate for Pokemon on the Switch right now.
New Software Features
Nintendo already has plenty of kid-friendly techniques built into their Switch games, making it a little easier for the younger crowd to get just as much enjoyment out of a game as everyone else. Things like steering assist on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the removal of coin-loss penalties for every death in Super Mario Odyssey are small helpers that don't affect the gameplay to any huge degree but make games a little more palatable for smaller kids.
Some are suspecting that today's announcement will be centered around some sort of normalization or regulation to these assist features, setting a base guideline for new games to help make any title on the Switch something for anyone to enjoy. I admittedly first heard about these theories from a Polygon article this morning, but I can definitely see how there's some weight behind them. Nintendo has always been a company looking to bridge the gap between young kids and casual gamers and the older or more "hardcore" crowd, so regulating a sort of not-so-skilled assist feature could help draw even more people to the platform.
I'm not entirely sure which theory I believe the most, but there are definitely a few out there that I'd be more than happy to see in the spotlight later today. I'm still itching for a full Nintendo Direct, but this announcement could very well tide me over if it's as exciting as some people are thinking. At the same time, though, I'm trying not to let my hopes get too high. After all, the announcement is directed at kids and "kids at heart", and while I like to think of myself as the latter, I might not fit in that category when it comes to whatever Nintendo has to say today.
What are you hoping Nintendo announces today? Let me know in the comments below.