Trying to guess what Nintendo might do is like herding Meowth, but we’re not afraid to take a few shots in the dark.
With the last ever Club Nintendo Platinum rewards due to be revealed on April 1, the last minute rush for status is on, and the question on the lips of all is “Why aren’t they just giving us eShop credit?” But based on last year, the large group of game rewards currently for “sale” on Club Nintendo (Star Fox 64 3D, Wii Party U, freaking Super Mario 3D Land), and the fact that this is Club Nintendo’s swan song, it's very likely that Nintendo will want to go out with some heavy hitters.
Of course, Nintendo’s going to have some ulterior motives as well, aiming at franchises they want to keep in the public eye or things that flat-out bombed – sorry, Game and Wario, I’m looking at you. As such, there’s probably going to be a theme to what we get.
So with that in mind, this is my wild guess as to what to expect on April Fools’ Day. And remember, all predictions wrong or your $0 back.
Platinum Retail Games
Hyrule Warriors (Wii U, 2014)
Some would point out that Wind Waker HD, being an older game, would have more incentive to show up since it’s probably sold all it’s going to sell. However, Wind Waker HD doesn’t have downloadable content or serve as a way to clear stock of Link Amiibo at major retailers to make room for the inevitable Legend of Zelda series later this year.
The chief reason, though? Wind Waker is more of an evergreen title, while Hyrule Warriors is pretty much tapped out and giving it free to build the Warriors fanbase in North America is a risk Nintendo might be willing to take. Even noted musou haters have warned me that they bought Link Amiibo in anticipation of Hyrule Warriors being a Platinum reward.
Why It Won't Happen: The core game will be about six months old at this point, which would have to be a record for fastest time-to-Platinum reward.
Pikmin 3 (Wii U, 2013)
It wouldn’t be the first time Pikmin 3 has been given away on Club Nintendo, as it was one of the freebies for buying Mario Kart 8 at launch. It’s a great graphical showcase for the Wii U, and demand for the game has driven prices over the usual $60 price point on the secondary market.
And once you’ve played through the core game, there’s always the eternally fun mission mode with its… say it with me, “paid DLC.” Nintendo’s going to turn a profit on this game come hell or high water, so why not try and hook a few more whales in the process?
Why It Won't Happen: If they want to increase the visibility of Pikmin, the short movies are right there and you can give those away for way cheaper than a $60 game.
Mario Golf World Tour (3DS, 2014)
By now, the theme should be clearly obvious. Mario Golf being the first game to have an officially-called-by-Nintendo “season pass” also brought with it a lower price point ($30, $35 in Canada) so the theoretical cost of giving the game away is lower.
Giving the game away on Club Nintendo will also bring new suckers, er, players into the game’s online tournaments that are still going on to this day so they can get served hardcore by the people who are shooting 20 under par.
Why It Won't Happen: The only way it doesn’t is if Nintendo doesn’t want to give away a Mario game, but New Super Mario U being a Mario Kart 8 offer shoots that down.
Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS, 2013)
There’s a definite marketing angle to this one – Intelligent Systems has a new game out, so why not give out their last one as an advertising push? Plus, they put three Awakening characters into Smash Bros. so they want to keep this game top of mind.
The chief advantage for giving away Awakening – a 2+-year-old game at this point – comes from the fact that they just announced Fire Emblem if (excuse me: “the latest entry in the Fire Emblem series” - Ed) in the January Nintendo Direct, so they want to keep the franchise top of mind. And hey, Anna would be really pleased if she had some more customers if you know what I mean.
Why It Won't Happen: Even playing Casual+Normal, this is a 40-50 hour game, so it would kill sales of Xenoblade 3D and *potentially* the new Fire Emblem.
Platinum eShop Titles
NES Remix 2: The original was a Platinum reward last year, and is being sold for coins right now. There’s linking content if you have both, and as someone who owns everything in the list to this point this is the one I’m looking for. Why It Won't Happen: Would hurt sales of two games (NES Remix Pack and Ultimate NES Remix).
Pokemon Battle Trozei: Would be the first time a Pokemon game would be eligible to be a Platinum award, and it’s hard to find a major 3DS eShop release that isn’t already spoken for since they won't duplicate rewards. Why It Won't Happen: Pokemon Shuffle seems to have superseded it.
Punch-Out (2009): Hey, remember when Nintendo of America was putting Wii games on the Wii U as downloads? Punch-Out would be most likely to be the “premium retro title” since Earthbound’s for sale, and the other two Wii titles are a little too premium to give away. Why It Won't Happen: What if Nintendo elects to not do a major retro game?
Ambassador GBA game for 3DS: Europe recently added GBA games to the Stars Catalogue, and everyone flipped when the GBA games had erroneous 3DS text. We know the demand’s there, but would they take advantage of it for just one game? Why It Won't Happen: Nintendo may not want to give a reward that doesn’t work in full.
Games For The Golden
Wii U: Super Mario Bros 3 (NES), Kirby’s Dream Course (SNES), Wario Ware: Mega Microgame$ (GBA) and Donkey Kong Jr Math (comedy option)
3DS: Mole Mania (GB), Pokemon Puzzle Challenge (GBC), Mysterious Murasame Castle (NES), 3D Classics Kirby’s Adventure