2 years ago Nintendo was in somewhat of a situation, their recently released home console the WiiU was struggling to find an audience resulting in very poor sales (especially in comparison to the Wii) and the 3DS was coming up in a market shifting towards mobile gaming (phones and tablets). In the eyes of the fans things were not looking good, luckily the big N had simply been laying the ground work for what was to come.
2013 was the year of the 3DS, mega hits such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Pokemon X and Y, Fire Emblem: Awakening and Animal Crossing: New Leaf brought Nintendo’s mobile platform to life not just in Japan but the West as well. For 2014 Nintendo gave the fans the WiiU titles they wanted, Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros., Bayonneta 2 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze breathed life into the dying console. Things are once again on the upswing for Nintendo as we move into another year begging the question, what’s next ?
By this time next year nearly all of Nintendo’s classic franchises will have had their WiiU debut. 2015 will see a brand new Legend of Zelda and Starfox title making it the first HD outing for both. Mario Maker, the game that lets players create their own Mario-themed levels using tools from the NES and SNES platforming days will hit shelves this year. As far as games go Nintendo is set, the WiiU is primed to have another big year with all it’s AAA titles and plenty of smaller quirky games such as Yoshi’s Woolly World, Splatoon and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Unfortunately it would appear the 3DS will have another slow year, aside from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Nintendo’s portable platform will once again have to rely on new properties to make ends meat. Code Name S.T.E.A.M. and Mighty No. 9 look promising but will they be enough to give the 3DS another successful year ?
Sometimes what developers and publisher’s aren’t telling us is more exciting than what they are. Case in point, we know the new Legend of Zelda and Starfox will be at all the major trade shows. We know Mario won’t have another major title on the WiiU in the immediate future and we’ve already had all the other major Nintendo franchise make their mark on the home console. That leaves us to speculate what’s left, and there’s a giant Metroid shaped gap in the WiiU’s library. Case in point, it has been 5 since Samus Aran has had her own console adventure and 8 years since the Prime trilogy concluded, criminal. The same can be said for Pokemon which has yet to have a major WiiU title. How about a new Pokemon Stadium or Colosseum ? Even better Pokemon Snap ! Since the original Nintendo 64 title, there has been more than 550 Pokemon introduced into the franchise. A title such as Pokemon Snap would be perfect for both the 3DS and WiiU, the game is practically begging to be made.
Hardware-wise Nintendo has already been vocal about starting work on a new home console. Does this mean Nintendo is ready to put the WiiU away after only a few years or could this console be a revitalized WiiU much like the many variations of the DS and 3DS. If it turns out to be a completely new console there’s still plenty of time until we get any actual details on it. The WiiU still has plenty of life left in it so long as Nintendo pays the bills.
Until recently Nintendo has been known to keep a tight grip on their beloved characters and franchises. Many point to this being a large reason their third-party support is quite poor, others would say it keeps the quality of these titles high and keeps the fans from becoming tired of certain characters from over saturation, and they would both be correct. Luckily Nintendo has slowly but surely been loosening their iron grip. Last year we saw Nintendo lend their characters Koei Tecmo to create Hyrule Warriors, a dynasty warriors titles with Legend of Zelda characters. This year we will be treated to a much more strange pairing in Pokken Tournament. The creators of fighting game franchise Tekken have been given access to the lovable Pokemon and will pit them against one another in hand to hand combat. Who knows which property will be given to a third party at this point, but I cannot wait to find out.
As Sony and Microsoft duke it out it’s fun to watch Nintendo carry on their own strange ways. They do things differently than other gaming companies, as a developer and manufacturer. Despite their success their home console is still in trouble as it struggles to find a market meaning once again it will have to have a banner year. Nintendo knows the WiiU cannot be as successful as the Wii nor will the 3DS’s be able to continually dominate mobile gaming as gamers casual and hardcore alike transition to their phones and tablets as a option while on the go. Nintendo will have to attract audiences with their creativity and charm, now more than ever.