Nintendo would rather you not know anything about Project Cafe. The existence of the console was leaked through various sources a little over a month ago, and eventually Nintendo had to fess up and admit that the project was real. If it weren't for that, none of us would even know the console exists.
As such, developers have been extremely tight-lipped about what they know about Project Cafe. Both on and off the record, I've been unable to get anyone I know in the industry to confirm anything about the console. For the most part, everyone just says "Just wait until E3." As if I wasn't doing that already.
So while we're all waiting for E3 (where we'll hopefully get more info on Project Cafe and its games), lets talk about what we do know about the games that may come to Project Cafe -- the good, the bad, and the highly unlikely.
New No More Heroes title
How sure we are that it's coming to Cafe: 90%
There was a time I would have put this one at 100% -- right after No More Heroes' creator Suda51 made it clear for the second time that the next No More Heroes is coming to Nintendo's next home console. Since then, we haven't heard anything from Suda, and the guy is known for changing his mind pretty quickly. That, combined with the ever-growing presence of No More Heroes on the PS3, and I get the idea that the next title may make the jump to Sony's home console.
That said, I doubt the future of No More Heroes will skip Nintendo systems entirely. I still think that a Project Cafe version of the next No More Heroes is more or less assured, it just may not be a console exclusive. That's fine by me, as long as you get some bonus for moving your No More Heroes 1 and 2 save games over to Project Cafe when you boot up No More Heroes 3. Specifically, I want Jean to have kittens. Evil kittens.
New Pikmin title
How sure we are that it's coming to Cafe: 80%
We first heard that Nintendo was working on a new Pikmin title back in 2008. Almost four E3s later, and we're yet to get a look at the game. I would bet that's because the game was moved to the one console Nintendo has yet to go public with -- Project Cafe. There's also the fact that Shigeru Miyamoto himself has stated that Pikmin would benefit from HD.
Then again, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has said that "Pikmin is perfect for 3D" as well, so we can't rule out the 3DS as Pikmin's future home either. Maybe a Pikmin 3DS and Pikmin Project Cafe simultaneous launch is in our future, like Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion same day release from the GameCube/Game Boy Advance era?
That might make up for the total lack of new Pikmin games fans have suffered for over the past five years. Might.
How sure we are that it's coming to Cafe: 75%
We haven't heard anything about this one, but I'm still pretty confident that it's going to happen. For starters, just about every Sonic game of this generation (Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic and the Black Knight, Sonic Unleashed, Sonic 4, Sonic Colors) were all released on Nintendo home consoles, not to mention all those ridiculously profitable Mario and Sonic at the Olympics games.
More so, according to Sega, the only reason why Sonic Generations isn't coming to the Wii is because the Wii doesn't display in HD. According to rumor, Project Cafe will display in HD, so there's no barriers to the game heading to the console.
The real kicker is that the game was shown to be coming to the 3DS and PC. Could it be that in this instance, "PC" means "Project Cafe"? Only Sega knows for sure.
Upcoming "Core" titles from Ubisoft
How sure we are that they're coming to Cafe: 50%
Ubisoft is one of the few publishers who have gone on record stating that they will be supporting Project Cafe, at least with ports. Thing is, that could mean anything. Logic dictates that they'll be bringing out future PS3/360 titles like Assassin's Creed: Revelations to Project Cafe as well. Thing is, this is a Nintendo console we're talking about, so anything goes. It's also possible that the only games Project Cafe will get from Ubisoft will have the words "rabbids," "just," and "dance" in their titles.
I just hope Ubisoft brings From Dust to Project Cafe, but that's because I love the game, and I want everyone on the planet to at least give it a try.
Resident Evil 5
How sure we are that it's coming to Cafe: 35%
Now we're getting into pure speculation mode, but if history is any indicator, Resident Evil 5 will make it to Project Cafe. Number five is the only number game in the Resident Evil series that has yet to make it to a Nintendo console, and we all know how fond Capcom is of re-releasing its old games for new consoles with new content.
Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is still one of the best-selling third-party titles on the Wii, and that's despite the fact that the Wii is backwards compatible with the GameCube, essentially making the Wii-specific version of the game something of a luxury item. That's proof of just how well Capcom has done over the years at building a huge following of Resident Evil fans on Nintendo consoles, and they'd do wise up to capitalize on that audience with Project Cafe.
Super Meat Boy
How sure we are that it's coming to Cafe: 20%
I write Edmund McMillen (co-creator of Super Meat Boy) stupid emails every once in while, asking him stupid questions. He's always nice enough to answer, but sometimes, I get the sense that he wishes he didn't say anything. Like the time I asked him if "Hitlers really must die." When he responded "They really must!," I took that throw away comment, and ran with it in the form of a full-on feature about how awesome it would be if he completed that promising, unfinished Hitler-murder simulator. That's how excited I am about this guy's games.
I also wrote Edmund asking him if he was working on something for Project Cafe. His response?
Knowing him, that could mean anything, though my instincts tell me that if Team Meat can bring Super Meat Boy to Project Cafe, they will. It was actually Edmund who first told me that a lot of third-party developers are diverting their resources from the Wii to Nintendo's next home console, so I wouldn't be surprised if that's what Team Meat has been up to ever since the WiiWare version of Super Meat Boy was canceled last year.
New Fatal Frame title
How sure we are that it's coming to Cafe: 10%
Tecmo Koei has made it clear that they are working to get Project Cafe games ready for the console's launch. This announcement was made a few months after the producer of Fatal Frame announced that he was working on a secret project. All of that was after the announcement last year that a new Fatal Frame title is coming to the Wii, though short of a few screen shots, we still haven't seen anything of that game.
None of this points directly at a Fatal Frame title for Project Cafe, though there are a couple of reasons why I'm still leaning towards that possibility. Fatal Frame 4, a Wii exclusive, sold better than any other game in the series (in the one country where it was released, that is). Following up on that success of Nintendo's next console seems like a logical move.
Also, Fatal Frame's camera-based ghost-busting combat sounds like it could be a perfect fit for Project Cafe's rumored camera-based controller. Adding a little AR to the Fatal Frame formula could be just the thing the slowing series needs.
Speaking of which...
New AR games
How sure we are that they're coming to Cafe: 0%
Nintendo has already confirmed that it's working on new AR games for the 3DS, so I think it's safe to say -- if the rumors are true that Project Cafe has a camera-infused controller -- some of Nintendo's future AR games are headed to that console as well.
Then again, this is Nintendo we're talking about, so nothing is really "safe to say." After the Wii Balance Board broke 20 million units sold, one might have said it was "safe to say" that Nintendo would be bringing out more Balance Board-controlled games as well. Yet, here we are, over three years after Nintendo launched that peripheral, and you can count the amount of Balance Board games that Nintendo has published on one hand.
The AR games on the 3DS are some of the more interesting experiences available on the system. I just hope Nintendo doesn't abandon this new concept like they have so many of the other exciting new ideas they've failed to capitalize on.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD
How sure we are that it's coming: Negative 30%
I know a lot of people are guessing that the upcoming Wii title The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword will get a simultaneous Wii/Project Cafe release, just as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess did on the GameCube/Wii back in 2006. From what I'm hearing though, that's not going to happen. Rumor has it that Project Cafe will be fully backwards compatible with Wii titles, and will have the capacity to upscale Wii titles to full HD. That would render the whole idea of a Project Cafe-specific version of the game pretty much worthless. That's assuming that there isn't some other function other than HD graphics that would make Skyward Sword on Project Cafe a worthwhile endeavor.
No, my guess is that Skyward Sword will release this November, as one of the final pushes towards getting long-time hold-outs to buy a Wii this holiday. You'll still get to play the game in HD eventually, you'll just have to wait until Project Cafe launches in 2012.
Super Smash Bros. Strife
How sure we are that it's coming: Negative 50%
Sure, this could be real. The Easter Bunny could be real. So could reptilian shapeshifters. If I were a betting man though, I'd say that neither are all that likely to exist. Same goes for this rumored Smash Bros. game, entitled Super Smash Bros. Strife.
Whenever you see "leaked" footage of a game's intro screen, or a console boot-up menu, you can bet that it's crap. There is no logical reason why someone would only get a picture of the boot up menu, or only of a game's intro screen, and not grab some actually gameplay footage as well. However, there are many reasons why someone would fake a menu screen or a boot-up menu, and all of them involve a troll face (or some reasonable Nintendo-fan equivalent of troll face).
Load of Games rumored to be on a promo video seen by the ESRB
How sure we are that it's coming: ??%
One of the more popular Project Cafe rumors going around right now comes from someone who claims to work for the ESRB, an agency which is tasked to rate the appropriateness of everything vidoegame related, even the trailers. This ESRB employee claims to have seen the video that Nintendo will be showing at E3 to promote Project Cafe --or, as they call it, "Current" -- and the list of games they've named from the video is pretty astounding.
This list includes: a new mini-game collection, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros. 4, Endless Ocean, Pikmin, Kirby, a new Zelda collection, Animal Crossing, Kid Icarus, Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario., Dead Rising 2, Street Fighter 4, Resident Evil 5 "or something that looked like it," Silent Hill Downpour, a new Suda51 game that is "not No More Heroes" but is about "something hunting demons," "some mech game," Trauma Center: Current Crisis, Soul Calibur, Tekken, GTA V, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, "some Metal Gear Solid game where you play as a girl," "some cyber punk game" that looks like Snatcher, Gradius, Contra, Castlevania, and "Fallout 3 or 4."
So yeah, that's a pretty insane list. It's hard to believe that any of it's real, but seeing as the 3DS had a new Kid Icarus, Metal Gear, Assassin's Creed, two Resident Evil games, Contra, Castlevania, Street Fighter, Zelda, Persona, and many other games announced in conjunction with the console's initial reveal at E3 2010, I wouldn't put it past Nintendo to somehow get that many third parties to back them out of the gate with their next home console. It especially makes sense to see so many titles from Konami, Namco, and Capcom, who were strong early supporters of the Wii as well.
Mini editorial time -- third parties largely avoided putting their AAA titles on the Wii, and as such, they lost out on potential revenue from the Wii's 70+ million unit user base. We've heard third parties say time and time again that when they Wii took off in popularity, that they were "caught with their pants down." I'm guessing that with Project Cafe, those same third parties will be sure not to make the same mistake twice.
Punch Out!!! TOUCH
How sure we are that it's coming: ??% times infinity
Niero said to put this on the list, so that's what I'm doing. He's probably just trolling me, but since he's one of the most important and well-informed people in the game's industry, I can't count him out.
Quit playing games with my heart, Niero.
OK, that's quite enough out of me. How about you guys? What games do you think should come to Project Cafe? What games have you heard are making their way to the console? The official unveiling of the thing is only a week away, so if you want to blow our minds with your incredible videogame journalism Project Cafe news scoop powers, you'd better do it fast.