2015 Will Be The Year Of Nintendo
We finally bid adieu to 2014, a year filled with controversies, poor sales, broken software and a look at the very worst of us. The general air of cynicism seemed to infect the world in one way or another. We may never have trusted the large governmental organizations, sure, but we could always rely on video games offering us that pleasant escape.
So, when November came around and every week showed us another anticipated game failing to launch properly - sometimes to the point of unplayability - we raged, we frothed, but mostly we shrugged. “Of course, they don’t work,” we might say, “it’s 2014.” And in 2014, nothing worked the way it was supposed to.
Which is where Nintendo comes in. Nintendo wasn’t supposed to work. The Wii U wasn’t supposed to work. Released in 2013, the “next gen” system from Nintendo was hailed as anything but, a mere curiosity, an appetizer while we waited for the actual meal with better graphics and grittier space marines. The Wii U did not impress out of the gate, part of that is on Nintendo and its lack of ‘must have’ titles, but part of it was on us for not clearly defining ‘must haves’. The company was locked in an impossible position, release another franchise game and risk being called unoriginal, or release something new that nobody would buy, because where is (insert beloved character)?
As with all things, Nintendo played the long game. While its beefier, shinier competitors were the battleground in which gamers debated the ‘omg! not 1080, not buying’ mantra, Nintendo went to work. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze started us off, then came Mario Kart 8 (my favorite game of the year), Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2 (a ‘hardcore’ action title even “hardcore gamers” had to notice), Super Smash Bros, Captain Toad. To say nothing of the 3DS titles, like Smash Bros and Pokemon.
As good a year that Nintendo has had - the Wii U has sold at least seven million units; of which approximately half of whose buyers also purchased Mario Kart 8 - and if 2014 was the year the company declared, ‘Hey! Remember us?’, 2015 will be the year they plant their flag in the sand and claim this video game island for themselves.
2015 will see the release of a brand new Star Fox adventure - one we might add will actually feature him in the cockpit of an Arwing; the ridiculously charming looking Yoshi’s Woolly World and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, which transports the two beloved characters into new digital mediums - wool and clay, respectively. Players will get to test themselves against Miyamoto himself with Mario Maker, which allows them to build their own Super Mario stage. The tenth, yes tenth, Mario Party game is coming to the Wii U, which is truly the perfect party system. All bright lights and smiles. Mario vs Donkey Kong, and Xenoblade Chronicles will also be coming out to the Wii U.
And, of course, Zelda. This year will see the updated version of Majora’s Mask come to the 3DS as well as an all new adventure on the Wii U, which looks breathtaking.
To say nothing of Nintendo’s new commitment to DLC, a practice they so resisted during the original Wii days. Mario Kart 8 has already introduced several new levels, cars and characters - including Link, while Hyrule Warriors has seen new characters and costumes come by way of planned DLC packs.
We live in a culture of ‘now, now, now’. The Wii U didn’t impress out of the gate because it didn’t have any great titles AND because those titles it did have weren’t that pretty. Turns out, they were just waiting patiently. The timing of Nintendo’s ascension and the PS4 and Xbox One’s fall - with their bloated patches, glitchy graphics and poor gameplay - would seem almost Machiavellian, as if Nintendo had planned the whole thing all along. Of course that’s not true. Nintendo has just been that quiet guy in Smash Bros who lets the big boys duke it out before moving in for the kill.
In 2014, Nintendo had our curiosity. In 2015, it will have our attention.