Nintendo is a notoriously secretive company, and much of the coming year for the Japanese gaming giant is a mystery.
That said, we have a pretty good idea about some of Nintendo’s biggest plans for 2019: A new, main series “Pokémon” game on the Switch, the first-ever “Mario Kart” game for smartphones in the not-so-distant future, and maybe even a new version of the wildly popular Switch console itself!
And that’s before we start talking about the big unknowns. Is 2019 the year where we see more of “Metroid Prime 4” than a logo? Perhaps “Bayonetta 3”?
Here’s everything we know — and a few things we’re less certain of, but are still entirely possible — about Nintendo’s coming year:
1. A new “core” Pokémon game.
Pokémon is coming to the Nintendo Switch — prepare yourself!
Nintendo says a “core RPG Pokémon title” is coming to the Nintendo Switch. Not a spin-off, like “Pokémon Stadium” and “Pokémon Snap” way back on the Nintendo 64, but a full-on main series entry.
The beloved Pokémon game series has always been a portable affair. With few exceptions, the only way to engage with the long-running series was on Nintendo’s handheld consoles. But with this new entry, that’s about to change.
Nintendo says the next main entry in the long-running Pokémon game franchise — the successor to “Pokémon Ultra Sun” and “Pokémon Ultra Moon” — will arrive in “late 2019.”
2. “Metroid Prime 4”
What is “Metroid Prime 4”? Little more than a logo at this point, at least publicly speaking.
“Metroid Prime 4” is the fourth game in the longtime first-person “Metroid Prime” series. The franchise began life on the Nintendo GameCube, and drew a legion of loyal fans across several subsequent sequels. It’s been over a decade since the last major entry, “Metroid Prime 3,” arrived on the Nintendo Wii.
The next game is said to be in production by Japanese game company Namco Bandai, rather than the studio responsible for the previous three games, though Nintendo has yet to confirm as much.
After announcing the game through a logo back in June 2017 (pictured above), Nintendo has yet to say another word about the highly-anticipated sequel.
3. “Bayonetta 3”
The “Bayonetta” games are a throwback to the “Devil May Cry”/”Ninja Gaiden” era of action games, which focused on lightning-fast reaction and control mastery. The better you took out a bunch of bad guys, the more the game would reward you. Those systems are then surrounded by a delightfully crazy story. In the case of “Bayonetta,” she’s a super-tall witch with guns in her feet. Sure!
Regardless of the often extremely silly trappings of the “Bayonetta” universe, the series is critically-acclaimed. Nintendo is doubling down on its commitment to “Bayonetta” by getting the third game in the series as a Nintendo Switch exclusive.
After announcing the game in December 2017, we’ve heard little about “Bayonetta 3.” Like “Metroid Prime 4,” 2019 is a prime time to go into more detail — and maybe even release — the next major “Bayonetta” game.
4. A new version of the Nintendo Switch?
Not a new Nintendo console, mind you, but a new version of an existing one: It looks like Nintendo is already deep in development of a new version of the Nintendo Switch.
Rumors point to logical upgrades like a brighter screen, better battery life, and slimmer profile — Nintendo has yet to say anything officially.
That said, Nintendo has a long history of iterating on its game consoles.
There are several different versions of the Nintendo 3DS handheld, for instance, some with more horsepower and bigger screens than others. The same could be said for the Nintendo DS before it, and the Game Boy Advance before that.
More than just a rumor, it’s entirely likely that Nintendo will release new iterations of the Nintendo Switch. And 2019 is said to be the year that we’ll see the first of those iterations.
5. “Mario Kart Tour” — the first “Mario Kart” game for smartphones.
“Mario Kart” has been a big deal for over 25 years. And now — finally— it’s coming to smartphones as “Mario Kart Tour.”
The game is scheduled to arrive before March 2019, when Nintendo’s fiscal year ends, and thus far we have no indication that it will miss that deadline.
So, what is “Mario Kart Tour”? That’s the big question. Nintendo hasn’t spoken of the game in nearly a year. But there’s one game already available that offers a peek into what Nintendo may be doing with “Mario Kart Tour”: “Super Mario Run.”
Both “Super Mario” and “Mario Kart” are core Nintendo franchises. “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” is the second-highest selling Switch game to date, behind only “Super Mario Odyssey.” It seems entirely likely that “Mario Kart Tour” offers a few levels for free, then charges a lump sum for access to the full game (like “Super Mario Run” did). It’s the kind of game Nintendo can demand a premium for, and likely will do so as a result.
6. “Yoshi’s Crafted World”
Like “Yoshi’s Island” for the Super Nintendo, “Yoshi” for the Switch is a platformer starring Yoshi. He can pause to aim and throw eggs at enemies, or he can consume them, or he can leap into the air and butt stomp down. Yoshi is versatile!
In the new “Yoshi” game, you’ll be able to walk into the background and occasionally switch up the entire orientation of levels. In so many words, it’s a new spin on the classic 2D formula.
Unlike some of the other games here, we know a firm-ish release window for the new “Yoshi” game: Spring 2019.