I found this great and informative blog post over at IGN. If you're interested in how and what Nintendo's studios are working on, look no further!!!
What Nintendo's Developing: First Party Studios
I've seen an article or two to this effect, and some blogs, as well. Nonetheless, I'd like to take an even deeper look at Nintendo's studios: their past, their present, and their potential futures, including, of course, what games they develop or are developing. Attempting to analyze what games may be in the works over at Nintendo is fruitless if you don't know what tools they have to work with, So let's get started! As I'm splitting this up into several parts to avoid excessive TLDRing (though you can feel free do so if you wish), I'm starting it off with Nintendo's external first party studios. Internal and second parties will follow. So, shall we begin?
Brownie Brown was founded by ex-Square members who worked on the "Mana" games and left due to "differing ideals", where they then started up the company on June 30th, 2000. BB is fully funded and owned by Nintendo, and typically works on JRPGs. Starting off with the basically unknown "Magical Vacation" in 2001 for the Game Boy Advance, they kicked things into high gear very quickly with Sword of Mana and, more importantly, helped work on Mother 3.
Moving on to the DS, Brownie Brown quickly began creating titles that never showed their faces in the west. They did, however, co-create many different titles for the handheld, such as Blue Dragon Plus with Mistwalker and London Life in Professor Layton and the Last Spector with Level-5. They also worked on Heroes of Mana, Livly Garden, and A Kappa's Trail, and even helped with some assets in Super Mario 3D Land.
It doesn't seem like anything in Brownie Brown's future is relevant to us in the North American and European territories, as their most recent release, Fantasy Life (which was co-developed with level-5), appears to have no intention of bringing itself out of Japan, and the likelihood of sequels was voiced immediately after the game sold out virtually everywhere. So unless by some miracle NOA decides to bring over more very Japanese games without a fan movement, Brownie Brown's titles probably won't make for anything noteworthy over here. Still - we can hope.
HAL has an interesting and fairly well-known history. Founded way back on February 21, 1980 by a couple of guys who just plain loved video games (including Satoru Iwata), the studio worked on several different machines, ranging from the Commodre MAX to the MSX to the Family Computer Disc System. Once the Nintendo Entertainment System came along, however, things began to get really interesting. Masahiro Sakurai created his first character and directed a game around that character at age 19 - that's Kirby and Kirby's Dream Land, respectively.
From here on out, HAL became the house of Kirby. That's not to say they didn't release anything else, however - they developed and co-developed an astonishing amount of titles in a very short time. Tons of Kirby games, The Adventures of Lolo, Earthbound, several Pokemon spin-offs, and so much more that I can't even begin to summarize in a few short sentences. nevertheless, in 1993 Iwata got promoted to president of the studio, and in 2002 he succeeded Hiroshi Yaumachi as Nintendo's CEO. Meanwhile, Sakurai was busy crafting a new fighter, which eventually would become Super Smash Brothers, surprising the company with it's success, and after a sequel basically became the studio's second biggest IP. That sequel, however, was the last SSB HAL would create. Due to the incessant amount of sequels made at the studio, Sakurai quit the company in 2003 after Nintendo immediately requested a Kirby's Dream Ride sequel after it's release and sales success.
One Masahiro left, HAL continued it's reputation as the House of Kirby, developing several experimental DS titles in the series and a few Gamecube and Wii ones, too. Aside from helping with Mother 3, Pokemon Ranger, and Smash Bros. Brawl, and making a few small other titles such as Face Raiders, they basically have just made Kirby, and even up to their last few games this hasn't changed. So the question is, what will we see from them in the future? My guess is: Kirby. Mindblowing, I know. As Return To Dreamland released in late 2011, and Mass Attack released early 2012, the time is just about ripe to see what they've been cooking up. More precisely with my guesses, though, logic states that we'll get a 3DS title with a completely new premise for Kirby a la Tilt 'n Tumble and mass Attack, and a more traditional, 2D Kirby game for Wii U. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if we got a new IP from these guys, retail or digital.
Intelligent Studios started as a one-man team used by Nintendo to port Famicon Disk software to the NES cartridge style format. It soon expanded into more members that would help or provide tools for Nintendo to fix, port, and/or program Nintendo games. Eventually, however, the team became a full-on games studio, and a well-loved one, at that.
IS is most well known for creating games in the Fire Emblem franchise, as well as Advance Wars and later the Paper Mario sub-series. On top of that, they make many different downloadable titles as well. Recently, it seems like Nintendo is just pushing the studio too far. Paper Mario, Fire Emblem, Pushmo, Crashmo, and Game & Wario will all have been released within 18 months of each other. For a studio that isn't exactly large, I feel like this is too much, and it seems like Sticker Star's quality may have suffered because of it.
Nonetheless, Intelligent System's future is an interesting one, to be sure. Post-Game and Wario, who knows what we'll get? After Pushmo and Crashmo's massive and moderate successes, respectively, more E-shop titles seems all too likely, for both systems. Paper Mario and Fire Emblem U wouldn't be a surprise, and Advance Wars 3DS is probably on it's way, too. I'd love a new retail IP from these guys, though, especially if it's an RPG. Paper Mario's excellent writing with a doubtless genius new battle system combined with stunning visuals and world would be an instant buy in my book. It probably won't happen; Intelligent Systems has too many money-making IPs for Nintendo to simply let them do whatever; but hey, again, I can hope.
Monolith was founded shortly after the creation of Xenogears at Square Soft on October 1st, 1999 by Tetsuya Takahashi, who served as director on the game. Many other members of Square who worked on Xenogears moved to Monolith soon after the project was completed, as well. As Monolith was once owned by Namco Bandai, the studio set to work making six Xenogears games as spiritual successors to Xenogears. Due to a variety of reasons, they had to cut short the series and only make 3. Many know them for the Baiten Kraitos franchise, as well.
In 2007, Nintendo took control of the company and (for some reason) had them make an action game called "Disaster: day of Crisis". It didn't go over amazingly. Nonetheless, Monolith began on their next project just before Disaster was wrapping up production. this game happened to become my favorite game of all time. Called Xenoblade, I think it is. Anyways, they proved their worth with this game, and got a lot more fans in the process.
Many are anxiously awaiting Monolith's Wii U title (which will obviously be a JRPG), and as Xenoblade released in Japan in mid 2010, the potential for a TGS 2013 announcement was there. What many people don't realize, however, is that Monolith Soft were the sole developers of Project X Zone, a crossover SRPG about characters from three different famous publishers - which, to everyone's astonishment, sold awfully in Japan. However, there is hope. On July 8th, 2011, they announced that they were opening an additional studio to focus on 3DS games. For all we know, PXZ was made by that team in a short amount of time, and the main Monolith team has been plugging away at the Wii U. Recent interviews with members of the team, however, seem to indicate that they haven't even started on the project yet. But as long as America gets it (preferably day 1), in my opinion, Monolith can take all the time they need to give us the best game possible.
ND Cube was founded on March 1st, 2000, and from then on... well, haven't done a whole lot. They brought a couple of racers to the GBA, like F-Zero: Maximum Velocity and Tube Slider. Quite frankly, not many of their games reached american shores. At one point, nearly all of the staff quit and left for Sony. At this point, Nintendo bought out the rest of the company's shares and had a massive restructuring. From then on, ND Cube helped work on Mario Party games with Hudson, and made Wii Party all by themselves. Once Hudson shut down, basically all of Hudson's workers moved to ND Cube, at which point Mario Party 9 was conceived.
So what's next? Mario Party 10, Wii U Party, and/or Mario Party 3DS. I guarantee it. Though to be fair, the first two could be pretty awesome with the Gamepad+Wiimotes. I'd say I hope for a new F-Zero from them, but.... that ND Cube is gone. So party games!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!
Nintendo Software Technology (NST)
NST is one of Nintendo's two American first party studios. For a while, they got a reputation as developers that made spin-offs or sequels to previously created series, such as Bionic Commando, Wave race, 1080 Snowboarding, and most famously, Metroid Prime, with Metroid Prime Hunters. In addition to making some small, crappy apps for the DSi and E-shops, they do have their own franchise in Mario VS Donkey Kong, in which there are four entries.
But they've been mysteriously quiet for a couple years, aside from a crossword game for the 3DS E-shop. Rumors about a restructuring floated around a while back, and news came that the sonic creator had been hired at the studio a few months ago. My theory? NST is making something big. I'm actually going to take a shot in the dark here and say that NST is developing a Prime style Metroid game for Wii U. I could be way off here, though. Also, I wouldn't be altogether surprised if an E-shop release of Mario vs DK 5 comes out on an E-shop.
As if this topic weren't done to death! But honestly, who can resist talking about Retro's next project? Retro Studios was founded in 1998 where they then began creating several new IPs. All of them were eventually scrapped so they could focus on Metroid Prime. They made two more entries to the prime series over the years, all of them getting outstanding reviews and good to great sales. After that, they started work on Donkey Kong Country returns, my personal favorite platformer ever, and after that, part of their team helped Nintendo with MK7 in 2011 due to a lack of resources on Ninty's end.
So what next? Who knows, really. Metroid to DK to Mario Kart doesn't give us a firm base to guess from, it just proves they're capable of anything. Star Fox? Metroid? F-Zero? New Ip (crossed fingers)? We'll see this E3, unless we're unlucky. I know I can't wait.
A few others I didn't mention were Nintendo Network Service Development (NSD) and Nintendo Software Design And Development (SDD), both of which only made small projects no one's heard of, and neither have made a anything for four years. I get the impression they're pretty irrelevant at this point.
So, what do you guys think? What do you suppose these Nintendo devs are making? Sound off below!
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