The lights are on
On the surface, it seems that the Wii's lineup for 2011 isn't quite as robust as those for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Part of that may be because Nintendo is focusing heavily on the launch of the 3DS. However, if you remember this year, two of their biggest titles weren't even revealed until June at E3. We knew nothing of Donkey Kong Country Returns and Kirby's Epic Yarn until the Nintendo press conference, and they're both on retail shelves as I type this. Because of this, the list you see below may be just a small taste of what Nintendo has in store for the Wii in 2011. Here's what we know of for sure as of right now.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (release: TBA)
While it was fantastic to have a Zelda title at the Wii's launch, it didn't exactly take advantage of the hardware. Sword swipes were far from 1:1 motion, with remote gestures basically replacing the press of a button. With Skyward Sword, we'll finally have full control over Link's legendary blade thanks to Wii MotionPlus. What I played at E3 really impressed me, and it's easily number one on my radar for the Wii next year.
Mario Sports Mix (release: TBA)
Wii games featuring Mario tend to sell well. Wii games with "sports" in the title tend to sell well. Considering how well party games sell, I'm frankly surprised they didn't go all-out and name this one "Mario Sports Party." Expanding on the success of Mario sports titles like Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, and Super Mario Strikers, this title promises to mix volleyball, field hockey, ice hockey, dodgeball, and basketball. While the Mario & Sonic Olympic games skewed too far on the casual side, his previous sports titles were typically solid. Let's hope these Sports Mix games are a little more complex than his waggle-fests with the hedgehog.
Lost in Shadow (January 4th)
I knew next to nothing about Lost in Shadow prior to playing it earlier this year, but the demo I played certainly showed potential. On the surface, it appears to be a basic platformer with an art style that evokes memories of Ico. However, the way you interact with foreground objects in an effort to manipulate the shadows proves to be a novel mechanic. The real question is whether it will be worth a full retail release when so many XBLA/PSN titles feature unique sidescrolling gameplay at a reduced cost. We won't have to wait long to find out, as the game ships in the first week of 2011.
The Conduit 2 (February 15th)
For all the hype Sega tried to start for the original Conduit, it wasn't exactly the game that made FPS diehards flock to the Wii like they hoped. The controls were highly customizable, but that wasn't enough to make up for the sub-par story and drab objectives. We hope the team at High Voltage is aware of the issues people had with the first game, because we're still waiting for that first great Wii FPS.
de Blob: The Underground (February 22nd)
While it won't be a Wii exclusive anymore, de Blob: The Underground will still be making an appearance on the console that played host to the first game. It was great to see a solid third-party title grace the Wii, and we're hoping that THQ will deliver again with the sequel.
Jurassic Park (rumored)
We already know that Telltale is working on a Jurassic Park game, and we know that they have a history of making downloadable content for WiiWare (Strong Bad). They haven't confirmed or denied if the game is coming to Nintendo's console, but we wouldn't be surprised in the least if it does make its way onto Nintendo's downloadable service.