The future of Nintendo: what’s to come after Spring 2016 (6)

In this series of articles I look at what Nintendo will most likely deliver after Spring 2016. Of course I do not have a crystal ball, so what I will be presenting here are just some educated guesses about what Nintendo’s (affiliated) studios are most likely to be working on right now.

Next up: the last few internal Nintendo developers (SDD and NST) and affiliates (1-UP Studio, Genius Sonority and HAL Laboratory).


Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
SDD Streetpass Mii Plaza

Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball (NA)

March 2011

April 2014

Jam with the Band series

Brain Training series

AR Games

(?)Dr. Kawashima’s Devilish Brain Training: Can You Stay Focused?

StreetPass Mii Plaza

What are they working on?

Nintendo SDD has worked mostly on games in the Brain Training series and Jam with the Band series. While there have been multiple Brain Training games that were released in the West, the Jam with the Band games mostly stay in Japan.

The AR games and Streetpass Mii Plaza games developed by SDD were pre-installed on or pre-packaged with the original 3DS system. None of the three games SDD produced for Nintendo 3DS afterwards have made it to Europe. Brain Age: Concentration Training (which in Europe will be called Dr Kawashima’s Devilish Brain Training: Can You Stay Focused? if it ever releases) and Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball have been released in the U.S. though.


Nintendo SDD is momentarily probably working on pre-installed software for Nintendo’s newest handheld console, which may or may not be a new Streetpass Mii Plaza.

What does this mean for WiiU?

SDD focuses on games for Nintendo handheld consoles. They will not produce anything for Nintendo WiiU.


Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
NST Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars March 2015 Mario vs. Donkey Kong series

Crosswords series

Metroid Prime Hunters

1080° Avalanche

Wave Race: Blue Storm

(?) New Crosswords

Cross buy

What are they working on?

Since the internal problems surrounding the development of Project H.A.M.M.E.R. for Nintendo Wii and its cancelation, Nintendo NST has been demoted to a small developer that focusses on smaller puzzle games, including the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series. Their latest game (Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars) came out for both Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo WiiU.

Because the development team over at NST is rather small, and they have promised to share two new levels per week for 50 weeks with owners of Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars, chances are that they still have their hands full with that.

Though one may hope that Nintendo NST gets another shot at making a game in the Wave Race or 1080° series, chances are that it will not happen in the WiiU’s lifespan. A new game in the Crosswords series may still come to WiiU in the meantime. Maybe.


What does this mean for WiiU?

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars will most likely be Nintendo NST’s one and only outing on Nintendo WiiU. A new game in the Crosswords series may still come to WiiU though, but it is not very likely.


Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
1-UP Studio Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker January 2015 Magical Vacation/Starsign

Mother 3

Super Mario 3D series

Mana series

Blue Dragon series

London Life (Professor Layton)

(?) Mother 3

Captain Toad

What are they working on?

1-UP Studio was previously known as Brownie Brown. The name change went together with their new function within Nintendo. They now provide development assistance to other studios, with a focus lately on the Mario 3D series (including Captain Toad). 1-UP Studio will most likely provide the same assistance during the development of the new 3D Mario.

Before it became 1-UP, Brownie Brown was known for its work on some major RPG series (Magical, Mana, Blue Dragon). One of the most illustrious games they probably worked on is Mother 3. Although the game was not released in Europe and the U.S. when it was originally released on Gameboy Advance, chances are that the title may still come to the WiiU Virtual console. Summer 2016 seems to be plausible. Not only has Nintendo been releasing a ton of GBA games on the WiiU virtual console lately. They have also released Mother 1 and 2 for the very first time in Europe through the Virtual Console, meaning that the games were not only ported, but also translated (in the case of Mother 1) for the very first time.


What does this mean for WiiU?

Since 1-UP is mostly an assisting studio, it all depends on which studio they will be assisting in the near future. If they will provide assistance on the next 3D Mario, chances are that we will not see their work again on WiiU. There is, however, a chance that we will still see one of their older games appear on the WiiU Virtual console, namely: Mother 3.


Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
Genius Sonority Pokémon Shuffle February 2015 Pokémon Colosseum series

Pokémon Link! series

The Denpa Men series

Pokemon Battle Revolution

Learn with Pokémon: Typing Adventure

(?)The Denpa Men RPG FREE!

Pokémon Shuffle

What are they working on?

Genius Sonority has made the only Pokémon RPGs for home consoles in existence. Both games were released for Nintendo GameCube. After their work on Pokémon Battle Revolution for Nintendo Wii, they started working on smaller titles. With 21 employees it is unlikely that they will be making the next big home console Pokémon RPG.

Genius Sonority is experimenting with free to play games for Nintendo 3DS at the moment. Their fourth Denpa Men title (The Denpa Men RPG FREE!) has not yet been released in the West. It may still come. Other than that, they are most likely working on another (small) Pokémon spin-off for mobile phones and/or Nintendo 3DS.

What does this mean for WiiU?

Genius Sonority will not release a game for Nintendo WiiU.


Developer Latest game Release date Other games and projects Next game
HAL Laboratory Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush May 2015 Kirby series

Super Smash Bros series

Mother/Earthbound series

Adventures of Lolo series

Pokémon Stadium series

Pokémon Snap

Face Raiders

Box Boy!

(?) new Kirby

Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush

What are they working on?

HAL Laboratory is one of Nintendo’s biggest studios. They are best known for creating Kirby and (co-)developing every title in the series. Work on the next Kirby title must have already started. This title may still make it to WiiU, but it may as well release on Nintendo 3DS or on a next generation Nintendo console.

HAL Laboratory has worked on the main Pokémon games for N64 before Genius Sonority took over for GameCube and Wii. Currently, however, no internal Nintendo team is assigned to making Pokémon fighting games for Nintendo WiiU – Pokkén Tournament is being developed by Bandai Namco for Arcades and may come to WiiU in 2016.

The last game in the Mother series (Mother 3) wasn’t developed by HAL Laboratory, though they did help on the game. A new game in the series is unlikely to be released because Shigesato Itoi has said that he will not be involved in a fourth title.

Since Masahiro Sakurai left HAL Laboratory and created his own company (Sora Ltd.), HAL Laboratory hasn’t been responsible for the Super Smash Bros series. They did, however, provide development assistance on the latest Super Smash Bros game for Nintendo WiiU and will provide help on the next installments as well (if the series doesn’t actually return to the studio when Sakurai decides to stop working on Smash Bros).

Although HAL Laboratory only recently released two games (Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush and Box Boy!) chances are that we will see something big from them before the next generation of Nintendo consoles arrives. They are far too big a studio to have only one big Nintendo franchise (Kirby) in active development. So unless they are developing all the DLC for Super Smash Bros, keep your eyes open for a new challenger!

What does this mean for WiiU?

HAL Laboratory is too big to only release one small Kirby game on WiiU and play an assisting role in the development of Super Smash Bros for WiiU. Something’s cooking over at HAL, and it may not just be a pink fluff ball!


Rest in peace Satoru Iwata

It’s a bit of a shame to only start talking about people who inspire you and have had such an influence on your life when they have already passed away, but I guess that’s just the way things go. The saying, you don’t really know what you have, until it is gone, really holds up I suppose.

Earlier this year my favorite author died, sir Terry Pratchett.

Saturday my favorite CEO died, mister Satoru Iwata of Nintendo.

It’s weird right? To talk about your favorite CEO? Oftentimes we talk about our favorite author, our favorite musician, our favorite actor, but not about our favorite CEO. Of course, this has to do with the fact that CEOs tend to be less visible to the general public than authors, musicians, etcetera.

Not mister Iwata. Every few months for the last few years he appeared in an online video in which Nintendo announced what we, the fans, the gamers, may expect from them in the coming days, weeks, months and years. This he did with a touch of humor. His stock phrase “directly to you” – accompanied by his typical hand gesture – has become a recurring theme in Nintendo Directs (what the videos are called) and a fan favorite.

Iwata direct

Iwata also appeared in the interviews he took with developers that created games for Nintendo platforms and which appeared on Nintendo’s website (i.e. the Iwata Asks Series) and he often gave interviews himself to game media. But of course, Satoru Iwata was not only my favorite CEO because he was visible. No, there’s many other reasons why he deserves that title.

For one, he taught me that CEOs do not have to be money grubbing a*****. They choose to be money grubbing a*****. Mr. Iwata never chose to be such a CEO. When Nintendo suffered its first loss since 1981 in 2012, he did not decide to restructure the company (which generally means “fire a lot of people”), no, he took a substantial pay cut, and humbly declared that the fault was his and that he would make things better. Which he did. The company today is as profitable as ever. If things went wrong, it was him who carried the weight. When costs needed to be cut, he looked at himself first (and the other high rank workers in the company) and not at the people who work for him on the floor.

Nintendo Co President Iwata bows during their strategy and earnings briefings in Tokyo

Also, Satoru Iwata was a CEO who knew the ins and outs of what his company was selling. He worked “on the floor” himself. He started out as a game developer, a programmer, at HAL Laboratory (a Nintendo subsidiary). He knew what it meant to create videogames. He knew what he was asking his people to do. He was also a very good programmer. He saved the cult classic Earthbound, which would never have released if it wasn’t for him reworking all of the code. He gave us Balloon Fight and helped on many, many Kirby games.

Maybe the best way to describe Satoru Iwata as a CEO and as a person would be to let him speak for himself:

On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.

Rest in peace Mister Iwata, and know that you have taught me that a company can have a heart when the heart of its president is big enough for two.