The lights are on
Early adopters of the Wii U know full well of its drought of solid titles. Like many other owners, I bought the console on launch day, only to have the GamePad sit mostly unused ever since. Despite this rocky first year, I realized that this situation isn’t that far off from other Nintendo launches in the last decade. The DS, 3DS, and Wii all experienced rough first years, only to overcome and offer solid lineups soon thereafter. Because of this trend, I’m hoping that Nintendo’s HD console isn’t as doomed as some believe it to be.
In 2013, the DS is looked back on as one of the best portable gaming consoles of all time (I personally consider it to be at the top of the list). If you had told this to launch-day purchasers in the first year of its existence, they probably would have laughed at you. In its first year, the most notable DS releases were confined to Kirby Canvas Curse, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Mario Kart DS, and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow.
All of those games are solid, but they’re pretty slim pickings for an entire year’s worth of releases. After that initial year, however, the lineup exploded with a ton of quality titles. New Super Mario Bros., Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Animal Crossing: Wild World, the Scribblenauts series, two Zelda titles, two more Castlevania games, four Professor Layton games, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Advance Wars: Dual Strike, The World Ends With You, two Mario & Luigi games, and the Pokemon Black & White titles were released after the first year of the DS. Those launch systems that gathered dust for a year wouldn’t leave the hands of gamers soon after.
Next up for Nintendo’s hardware was the Wii. It initially made waves with its novel control method, but its first year was plagued with lackluster ports featuring tacked-on motion implementation. Outside of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime 3, and Super Mario Galaxy, the console didn’t offer much to traditional gamers. Thankfully, Nintendo offered plenty of great titles by the end of its lifespan, including Zelda: Skyward Sword, Mario Kart Wii, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Punch-Out!!, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
This trend continued again with the 2011 release of the 3DS. Its first year was greeted with a ton of slightly updated ports (Super Street Fighter IV, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64, Snake Eater 3D), as well as the great Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7. Near the very end of its last year, Kid Icarus: Uprising also released. We’re still early in the 3DS' life cycle, but its second year has already given us Fire Emblem: Awakening, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Scribblenauts Unlimited, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. On deck for upcoming releases is Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and Yoshi’s New Island.
With ten years and three consoles’ worth of rocky starts, should we really be so concerned about the Wii U already? New Super Mario Bros. U and Lego City Undercover are two of the only big, exclusive games available for the system right now, but I feel we shouldn’t write off its future so soon. First-party offerings like Super Smash Bros., Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Yarn Yoshi, and Zelda: Wind Waker HD should all be surefire hits, and more niche titles like The Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2 show promise as well.
I’m not saying that the Wii U is positively destined to see the success of the DS, Wii, and 3DS. Low sales numbers and the lukewarm reception from third parties is worrisome, but Nintendo has overcome the odds so many times in their history. The past has made it clear that it isn’t completely necessary for a console to knock it out of the park in its first year, so maybe we shouldn’t be dreading the Wii U’s future just yet.
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I had a Dreamcast so I know exactly how this is supposed to work. The big publishers are waiting, but the little guys are amassing towards it with Nintendo showing a very welcoming hands on approach. In some cases even directly. So we're gonna see a surge of indie games coming in making the big gap in game releases smaller with their releases.
I still have hope for the wii u, but at this point in time the idea of buying one is nonexistent. But the future may say other wise!
The byline of this article is amusing, in that it implies a console needs to "knock it out of the park" in launch year in order to be a success. Folks seems to have selective memories when it comes to console launches, because other than the Wii, I'm not sure any console has managed to accomplish that. PS3/360 sure didn't; they had slow initial sales, and their libraries really didn't start fleshing out for several years. Same thing with last-gen: does anyone even remember any of the launch titles for PS2/Cube/Xbox? None of them were mega-successes for the first year, and the PS2 remains the best-selling console of all time.
My point is that a console launch is almost inevitably a slow burn, with a few gems at launch slowly convincing people to adopt the platform. It has worked this way for decades. Why people think it will magically change as an industry rule is beyond me.
Plus, Nintendo has tons of time. From a business standpoint, they made the right call not making the WiiU as powerful (or expensive) as the next-gen offerings from MS/Sony. Come Christmas, they can always drop the price, or do some amazing bundle to ramp up sales numbers while those two duke it out at the higher price point.
With Mario Kart, DK, 3D Mario, Smash Bros., and (eventually) a fresh HD Zelda, this console will be just fine. They may even win this coming generation, like they did this one.
They are working on a new Zelda, that's enough for me to get one, I may be getting one soon enough.
I'm not giving my Wii U up. But, I'm not stupid enough to try and make it my main or only console either.
The Wii U shows promise, it's just that, when will it come to completely fulfill it.
I have to agree, and this is the main reason I'm holding off on a first year purchase. I love the tablet idea and will be more than happy to get one once there is some more substance to the game releases.
I've not given up just yet, I'm just biding my time. I'll get a Wii U eventually because I've made a point of getting each console so I can play exclusive titles, and that's precisely the reason I haven't gotten a U thus far. I need exclusives, especially on a Nintendo console. I understand that this is Nintendo's first time developing games in HD so they need time to adjust. Personally I'm just waiting for a new original Zelda made in HD, once that comes to light I'll star saving up my money.
I am considering buying a Wii U. I'm not sold yet, but with such a low price-tag, it is turning into a "why not?" sort of deal.
the wii u must not fall down. gonna get this as soon as possible.
Uh, We didn't give up at all. We just waited.
To Mr. Ryckert:
I know Game Informer is based in the same area as the Mall of America. I have had the privilege of heading to the mall to experience the Nintendo Wii U Summer Tour. After playing Pikmin 3, I am glad I pre-ordered. Yet the one niche game you mention, that I personally believe utilizes the gamepad correctly is actually Wonderful 101. I realize Wonderful 101 will not sell, but this is THE GAME to own in 2013. I did the Best Buy E3 experience and while many of the games were fun, I can't see myself spending the money on similar experiences I have had on the 3DS.
Of course, I will buy it. The only issue is where I will put in my media room.
The one variable in this scenario that is different from the other system launches you listed is the fact there are consoles being released very soon that are many times more powerful and offer many more features than the Wii U. In my situation cloud saved games (which I believe is coming to Wii U at some point) and HDMI input/TV control are system sellers for me. I also use Skype a lot and have an Xbox music pass which my girlfriend LOVES, so those will be great features for my family when we get our Xbox One. The Wii U offers me nothing that my 360 doesn't currently give me. This coupled with the fact that once developers start jumping on the next gen bandwagon I dont see any way 3rd party developers will support the Wii U. It would require way too many resources to port games to the Wii U and the install base isn't big enough for it to make sense. Unfortunately, it all comes down to dollars and cents, and if the profit potential isn't there developers have no choice but to put their efforts in more profitable areas (ie. next-gen). I am not a Nintendo hater BTW. I live in the PNW and Nintendo employs a lot of local people in Redmond with great jobs and I always wish them the best and support them whenever it makes sense for me. Unfortunately I really feel like they missed the mark with the Wii U. The only scenario in which I see the Wii U really succeeding is if next-gen adoption rates come up short and consumers elect to keep their PS3's and 360's around for a couple more years. That will give developers a reason to support Wii U/360/PS3 for a while longer.
WiiU is going to be like the gamecube, good but quiet