Pre-E3 2008 DKU Speculation : The Calm Before The Storm

E3 is once again among us, and unlike last year, it's not going to be such a horribly crippled and unexciting relic of its former self. From reports as early as last year, it sounds like a mix of the "strictly business" E3 and the booth babe-filled E3. Minus the booth-babes. Sadness. Last year was really just more of the same from the leftovers of E3 2006 plus a few new games and inevitable disappointments, such as more Cameo games and the complete absence of Rare titles on the floor. A first for the company, and hopefully the last.

With the lessened impact of E3, companies have taken to announce their games early, and DKU games are of no exception. Most of what we've seen so far will make this upcoming E3 an E3 to remember in a good way.

It's what we haven't seen that may or may not be worrisome.

Now that I've put the fear of a lesser god in your hearts, on to the speculation!

1. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (Xbox 360):
Rare's most controversial game since Viva Piñata was shown earlier this Spring, and with it came the most divided reactions among the Banjo fanbase: vehicles either had no place in the game, vehicles can make the game better and everyone who thinks otherwise is a fucking moron, the title isn't silly enough (seriously, Banjo Team. Buildie was a much better title), Kazooie has become figuratively crippled of her previous moves, and that sucks/blows, etc. The debate can go on forever. Or at least until November. Either way, the most anticipated DKU game has been confirmed for E3, and fingers crossed that it won't use the 360mote as rumored. Even though it might, and as a result cause more debates. Oh, what fun!

2. Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise (Xbox 360):
The "surprise" (if you count knowing about it a day before it was revealed) sequel to the critically acclaimed, yet rarely played Viva Piñata is officially confirmed to be at E3. Already an ambitious title by using the vision camera to scan cards or pictures of piñatas from whatever medium you have, Piñata-Tooie has already made Piñata-Kazooie look like joke with giving us the main suggestions/complaints that the first title lacked, such as the recently confirmed online co-op mode, different climates, and even more Rare references. Without question, this will be the best DKU game that the majority of you will never care to play.

3. Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise (Nintendo DS):
Yes, it's a port. Yes, it's the second port of as many DS games that Rare has developed. But you know what? The reason most of you don't even care about the franchise/games enough to talk about it is because you lack the system to play it on in the first place. You haven't felt its addictiveness coursing through the veins of your virgin souls. But not anymore. With everything important that the first game had in a portable form to take with you wherever you damn well please, gamers who refuse to have anything to do with videogames that aren't on Nintendo systems have no excuse come this September. While it hasn't been officially confirmed for E3, it could very well be that THQ will continue to acknowledge that it does in fact, exist.

4. Mario Super Sluggers (Nintendo Wii)
The most popular (and only) DKU game coming out this summer will most likely be at E3, considering its impending late August release on the Nintendo fans that'll eat up anything with the word "Mario" in the title. Since the game's already out in Japan, all that is really left and/or expected are a couple of screens translated in English as well as some videos at the most. Regardless of your opinion on the game, it still deserves some recognition of the sheer number of playable DK characters, including the return of Funky Kong fresh from his blue shell-ridden stint in Mario Kart Wii and the newly dressed Khufu K. Rool. That alone counts for something. Yet not "I'm going to buy this for $50 on day one" something.

So those are the games we'll without a doubt be seeing come this upcoming Monday. But what about the games we don't know? The games that are rumo(u)red? The unannounced surprises that we'll still see coming yonks away? It's not over yet.

*Donkey Kong Country 4/New Donkey Kong Wii (Nintendo Wii)
We know it's coming. Or do we? Aside from that one "news" source, there's been absolutely nothing regarding this supposed new Donkey Kong Country game. Let's shine a little perspective. Besides being the only site to report that rumor, a similar claim was made before E3 2006 about a Jungle Beat 2 hitting the show floor, only to get the Gamecube incarnation of Barrel Blast. That rumor was also by a single site, and look what became of it.

Does this mean that a new Donkey Kong Country would be impossible? Of course not; just look at all the retro games making comebacks. However, if the rumor from that one site had a shred of truth to it, I guarantee that their definition of it being like DKC is nothing like the DKU's definition. After all, how many people outside of this website saw Jungle Beat as the next Donkey Kong Country only because it was a sidescroller? Food for thought before mass suicides happen for not getting the Donkey Kong Country 4 everyone is expecting.

*Mario Party 9/DS 2 (Nintendo Wii/DS)
Leering dangerously close to "you mentioned this last year" category, I admit I was rather surprised that we didn't see a sequel to the somehow best-selling (I wish I could say I was making that up) Mario Party 8. Still, Nintendo is not one to let their cash cows stop even when it produces milk that wasn't the sweet ambrosia it once was, so keep an eye out for the inevitable Mario Party 9. Or Mario Party DS. Or hell, both. God save us all.

*Future Rare DS Project (Nintendo DS…obviously)
In the interview with Paul Machacek that you can check on MundoRare, he let slip that there may possibly be a third DS game in the works. Pocket Paradise was complete as of last October, and development began last January. If a team can get together a game in 10 months, it can reveal its next game in 9. Of course it begs the obvious question: what will it be? Despite the quality of Diddy Kong Racing DS and the future quality of Pocket Paradise, the last thing that I want from Rare on the portable is yet another port. Give us an entirely new IP. Make a true Donkey Kong Country 4. Give us a sequel to an established franchise. Or test the waters of the "touching people/schoolgirls/witches in inappropriate places" genre and release this baby up top. Rare, you're guaranteed sales in the twenties! You can't resist. I can't resist, but only because I'm fucking insane.

While not as surprising at it may be at the moment, this E3 overall packs a lot of promise with the Rare titles already confirmed overshadowing the current (and sole, for the moment being) Cameo game. E3 wouldn't be E3 without its fair share of surprises, and knowing Nintendo, they're bound to surprise us and drive the pessimism in all of us closer to the edge.

With that, this was the speculation list for E3 2008. Enjoy the goodness that E3 has to offer, because while the Cameo Cavalcade rejoices for Mario's latest Cameo game(s) and Donkey Kong Country 4 is really Jungle Beat 2, in the upcoming days I'll be in New York playing Nuts & Bolts and Trouble in Paradise representing both MundoRare and DKU. Stay tuned...

A look into the not too distant future with an envious ending by Mark.