Let’s take a break from the rumors and speculation about Nintendo’s NX for a moment, and try, instead, to glean some information from Nintendo’s past. After new hardware is unveiled, what’s the first thing we want to know about it? The launch lineup. By taking a look at the launches of Nintendo’s previous consoles, both home and handheld, maybe we can gain a rough idea of the spread of titles that might grace the NX at launch. Here’s Nintendo’s complete history of launch lineups, starting with the NES in 1985. Nintendo’s first party titles are in red.

Nintendo Entertainment System (October, 1985)

    10-Yard Fight
    Baseball
    Clu Clu Land
    Duck Hunt
    Excitebike
    Golf
    Gyromite
    Hogan’s Alley
    Ice Climber
    Kung-Fu
    Pinball
    Soccer
    Stack-Up
    Super Mario Bros.
    Tennis
    Wild Gunman
    Wrecking Crew

Game Boy (July, 1989)

    Alleyway
    Baseball
    Super Mario Land
    Tennis

    Tetris

SNES (August, 1991)

    F-Zero
    Gradius III
    Pilotwings
    SimCity
    Super Mario World

Nintendo 64 (September, 1996)

    Pilotwings 64
    Super Mario 64

Game Boy Advance (March, 2001)

    Army Men Advance
    Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
    ChuChu Rocket!
    Earthworm Jim
    Fire Pro Wrestling
    GT Advance Championship Racing
    Iridion 3D
    Konami Krazy Racers
    Namco Museum
    Pinobee: Wings of Adventure
    Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
    Rayman Advance
    Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2
    Super Dodge Ball Advance
    Super Mario Advance
    Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2

GameCube (November, 2001)

    All-Star Baseball 2002
    Batman: Vengeance
    Crazy Taxi
    Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2
    Disney’s Tarzan Untamed
    Luigi’s Mansion
    Madden NFL 2002
    NHL Hitz 2002
    Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
    Super Monkey Ball
    Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
    Wave Race: Blue Storm

Nintendo DS (November, 2004)

    Asphalt Urban GT
    Feel the Magic XY/XX
    Madden NFL 2005
    Metroid Prime Hunters (demo)
    Spider-Man 2
    Super Mario 64 DS
    The Urbz: Sims in the City

Wii (November, 2006)

    Avatar: The Last Airbender
    Call of Duty 3
    Cars
    Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2
    Excite Truck
    The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
    GT Pro Series
    Happy Feet
    The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
    Madden NFL 07
    Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
    Monster 4×4: World Circuit
    Need for Speed: Carbon
    Rampage: Total Destruction
    Rayman Raving Rabbids
    Red Steel
    SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature from the Krusty Krab
    Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
    Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam
    Trauma Center: Second Opinion
    Wii Sports

Nintendo 3DS (March, 2011)

    AR Games
    Bust-A-Move Universe
    Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D
    Face Raiders
    Find Mii
    Nintendogs + Cats

    Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle
    Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D
    Puzzle Swap
    Ridge Racer 3D
    Samurai Warriors: Chronicles
    Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition

Wii U (November, 2012)

    Assassin’s Creed III
    Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition
    Ben 10: Omniverse
    Call of Duty: Black Ops II
    Chasing Aurora
    Darksiders II
    Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
    ESPN Sports Connection
    FIFA Soccer 13
    Funky Barn
    Game Party Champions
    Just Dance 4
    Little Inferno
    Madden NFL 13
    Mass Effect 3: Special Edition
    Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition
    Nano Assault Neo
    NBA 2K13
    New Super Mario Bros. U
    Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge
    Nintendo Land
    Rabbids Land
    Scribblenauts Unlimited
    Sing Party
    Skylanders: Giants
    Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
    Tank! Tank! Tank!
    Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition
    Transformers: Prime – The Game
    Trine 2: Director’s Cut
    Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper
    Wipeout 3
    Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013
    ZombiU

 

The first thing I noticed, looking over these lists, was the massive launch lineup for the Wii U. With a few exceptions, the number of launch titles has grown steadily with each successive console launch. The NES, at launch, was supported almost solely by Nintendo’s first party studios. It didn’t take long, though, for third parties to see the install base grow and with it, the massive profit potential. Moving through the generations, the ratio of first to third party support shifts, leveling off with two to three Nintendo-developed titles and an increasing number of third party titles per launch.

NintendoConsoleHistory

The Wii U’s third party support was artificially inflated by the success of the Wii, whose massive, casual install base had brought many third parties on board looking to cash in with half-baked contributions to its bloated library of mediocre games. I wouldn’t expect to see as much third party support at launch for the NX, after the Wii U struggled to build strong user base, and has been propped up almost exclusively by Nintendo’s first party studios lately. That said, any serious third party developer in the industry knows better than to write off Nintendo completely, and many of them have likely already seen the concept behind NX, and decided if and how they’d like to support it at launch. This will probably leave Nintendo shouldering a bit more of the burden of supporting the NX at launch, and leave with somewhere between Wii’s 20 and Wii U’s 34 launch titles.

The Wii U launched at an odd time, a year before the much more powerful Xbox One and PS4 were to hit the market, leaving it in a very tough spot for third party ports. What we ended up with was a small number of third party Wii U exclusives and a large collection of repackaged adaptations of year-old releases from Xbox 360 and PS3. The NX is launching at an interesting time generationally, too, but a very different one. By the time NX launches, its competition will have been on the market for nearly 3 years, and will be a minimum of four years away from their successors, historically speaking. This should make more timely third party ports a realistic possibility, lending some competitive parity to the NX software lineup.

XboxOne

Another theme running through nearly every Nintendo console launch is, unsurprisingly, Mario. Of these nine proper system launches, seven were accompanied by a Mario game. Some of these were brand new concepts and some ports or sequels, but I’d say the odds are good that Mario will make at least some sort of appearance at NX’s launch. Taken a step further, looking at this list we are long overdue for a launch that includes an all new and proper Mario adventure.

One more thing worth noting here is the amount of time between these past console releases. A review of Nintendo’s handheld and home console’s average lifespans meshes surprisingly well with some recent rumors about NX’s functionality and release window. Nintendo’s handheld systems typically last six to seven years, and its home consoles average five to six, with very few exceptions. Some recent rumors have pegged NX as a twofold release, with its handheld portion releasing later this year followed by the home console sometime in 2017. The 3DS debuted in early 2011, placing a holiday 2016 release for its successor at just shy of six years. Wii U launched in November of 2012, which will put it at five years on the market in the rumored holiday 2017 release window for NX’s home system. In short, there’s some very consistent historical evidence to back up some of these recent reports.

New3DSXL

To recap, here’s what we’ve extrapolated from Nintendo’s past launches about the NX:

  • 20 to 25 titles at launch
  • Three to five first party titles
  • An all new Mario game
  • A handful of third party exclusives
  • Third party ports of Xbox One and PS4 games
  • Release window of 2016 to 2017 for both rumored NX devices

 

Okay, so I did a little bit of speculating, after all. But I think a look backwards, considered alongside Nintendo’s timing for the NX and the current climate of its third party relations, makes a compelling case for a decent NX launch lineup. Please share your ideas with us in the comments below!

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Written by Brittin Shauers

Brittin literally grew up with Link, Mario and Samus. These three characters and their worlds collectively capture everything that he loves about video games.

Brittin Shauers