Sunday, February 2, 2014

Rant: Wii U

The hype train has well and truly come and gone for the Xbox One and the Playstation 4. Recently the PS4 has been in the news about bringing back older titles from their first three generations, some rumours even include the use of old discs but upscaled to HD. This is big news for a generation of game consoles which aimed to initially faze out the previous generation in favour of forcing customers to upgrade their hardware. The best news that Xbox can come up with this year, in my honest opinion, would be an update which allowed the use of Xbox 360 titles on the console. If that was the case, consider me sold! However, this isn't a three-way war of video games. Everybody remembers Nintendo yeah? Fitting in neither the red corner or the blue corner anymore, it sits on the sidelines waiting for it's turn to become to powerhouse it once used to be. It's newest console, the Wii U, hasn't sold anywhere near expected sales. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has even taken a pay cut of around 50% of his salary for the next 5 months while other executives of the company have taken cuts between 20-30%. Nintendo is facing a dead end, much like SEGA did when the Dreamcast flopped in 2001. However, is everything as bad as it seems?

Short answer: Not really. Nintendo can look to the Nintendo 3DS for inspiration on how to get the Wii U back as a marketable console. While the Wii had motion controls before any other console of its generation, the Wii U brought in a tablet which could also be used to play certain games without the need of a TV available. The difficulty of this is the choice game developers must decide on. Do they try and create their game to be used with the Wii U and the gamepad with the knowledge that the Wii U is experiencing poor sales? Or do they ignore the Wii U altogether and focus on consoles which are easier to develop for and have proven to be competitive sellers? For most, the choice is easily the latter. In order to turn this around, Nintendo must do what they did with the 3DS and release some must have games for the console. The 3DS had a steady release of much hyped games which ended up making it the best selling handheld of 2013. It had such titles as:

- Fire Emblem: Awakening
- Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
- Animal Crossing: New Leaf
- Pok√©mon X & Y
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Now for me personally, the release of Animal Crossing: New Leaf around June showed me exactly how many people owned a 3DS. Here I was thinking a few close friends owned one and next thing I knew, one in three people owned one! Gamers were given reason after reason to get a 3DS and it went crazy, with a 45% increase in software for the handheld since 2012. Now everyone is talking about the 3DS and it's time the Wii U gained the same publicity. 2014 looks really exciting for the Wii U in regars to their classic games, with titles such as these making their way to shelves (hopefully):

- Mario Kart 8
- Super Smash Bros. 4
- Bayonetta 2
- Hyrule Warriors
- A new Legend of Zelda game

Now on initial thoughts of that line up, it's primarily trusted game series. Mario Kart can almost do no wrong. Super Smash Bros. will be loved and cherished by everyone and is it's closer to Super Smash Bros. Melee it'll be a competitive favourite. Bayonetta 2 was a big surprise when Nintendo announced it as a Wii U exclusive, but we haven't really seen much of it since it was announced. Then you have your token Legend of Zelda game and the interesting Hyrule Warriors, which is a Legend of Zelda/Dynasty Warriors cross. One game that didn't make the list was Watch Dogs, because we've all been waiting for it for over a year now and since Ubisoft deemed Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag more important, the staff were moved across to help ACIV get released on schedule. However with that line up, it's hard not to think that the nearly impossible, the Wii U becoming relevant again, will actually happen. Nintendo have a fighting chance, they just need to get their proven first party titles out there and try and get some third party support. Ubisoft had initially pledged to release consistent games on the Wii U but have started to take a backseat in that agreement.

The third option, and the most intriguing one I believe, can be split into two different paths: Nintendo could either give up on the Wii U, realise that it was what the Wii should have been last generation and start working on a real next generation console to match up with everything the PS4 and XBOne have, or they can go the path of SEGA, say that they've had their time building consoles and start releasing games for Sony and Microsoft. Hell, you may as well throw in mobile games too. Now path one would hopefully be the next step for Nintendo. Try and keep the Wii U afloat with first party titles but come up with a console that can appeal to the masses without all those gimmicks. Yes, it sounds like killing the creativity of Nintendo and pushing them in line with the other consoles, but it might be just what they need to save themselves financially. Then if that works they can continue on their path to innovate in making controllers for octopus'. The second option looks more real though, especially with the mobile games. Nintendo have already announced that they'll be releasing some software on mobile devices either this year or early next year. Hopefully that doesn't mean the death of them though.

All in all, I love my Wii U. It's not hard either, with NintendoLand still a party starter and with titles such as Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D World, Zombie U, Monster Hunter Tri: Ultimate and LEGO City Undercover just to name a few, the Wii U has shown that it has potential. I bought mine day one because I believed that it would last long enough for Nintendo to come up with the next best thing. Am I a Nintendo fanboy? No, I just enjoy playing games and the Wii U has games I enjoy playing. It would be a shame to see Nintendo start to die off though. It's not the same having Sonic appear on a Playstation compared to being on the Dreamcast, and I'd find it just a little bit weird if Mario only showed on an Apple handheld and Microsoft's home console.


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