After a whole lot of struggles that took place after Nintendo announced their terrible fiscal back in January, much anticipation was built around this week’s Nintendo Direct. It was supposed to be – at least if you believed in the hype built around the web – some sort of mighty roar by a company that needed to show some strength in the aftermath of a huge amount of negative media buzz. It was expected to be a loud statement; a blatant announcement that Nintendo will fight back.
However, making games takes time, and it is unreasonable to expect that whatever strategical shift Nintendo is planning to implement following their loss – if they are indeed thinking about doing something like that – would be felt within a month. That is why, when reality struck, the show ended up being a mere confirmation of things we already knew accompanied by release dates of games that were knowingly getting closer to their launch.
For any Nintendo fan there, it is awfully hard to complain about what we were given. After all, February will bring us Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze and Professor Layton: Azran Legacy; March will deliver a brand new Yoshi’s Island game to our doorstep; and May comes absolutely loaded with Mario Golf, Kirby: Triple Deluxe and Mario Kart 8. A whopping total of six potentially remarkable exclusive games will be released on Nintendo platforms during the next three months. It is more than most people can manage and it is a collection of titles that offers something for everyone.
Still, by looking at that list of games, it is hard not to feel at least a drop of worry regarding the Wii U’s current position. While four of those games listed above will land on the Nintendo 3DS – which goes to show that a phenomenally strong system is getting ever mightier, only two titles are heading towards the Wii U on the coming months.
Although expecting Nintendo to suddenly unleash a wave of games for the troubled home console would be unwise given the lengthy nature of game development and the grand investments that it requires, it is worrisome to think that Mario Kart and Donkey Kong will probably be the only two stellar games the Wii U will get on the six months that follow a holiday season whose results were below expectations.
The situation gets even bleaker when one considers that while the Nintendo 3DS can surely get away without Nintendo’s aid for a while due to its strong third-party support, the Nintendo Wii U just cannot afford it, as its third-party front is as empty as ever. To make matters worse, the upcoming Super Smash Bros title – a game of a franchise that was once exclusive to the Big N’s line of home consoles – will be shared by the two systems, hence taking away some of the considerable boost the Wii U would naturally get by being the sole machine to house a Smash Bros game.
The Wii U needs some help. Both the world and Nintendo are fully aware of that, but the effects of the pressing of the emergency button in the Kyoto headquarters will take some time to be felt. With any luck, the next big Nintendo Direct, which is likely to come as E3 draws near, will be the one to reveal an attractive horde of Wii U titles that are a reflection of Nintendo’s awareness that they need to do more for the system so it can become profitable.
However, in the mean time, given how the first semester of 2014 is setup, it seems Nintendo is putting all of their money on Mario Kart 8 as the game that will provide the system with a good sequence of months with nice sales numbers. It is not as bad of an approach as it sounds. Mario Kart Wii was, after all, able to amass a ridiculously unbelievable figure of 30 million units sold, and that was achieved through great numbers across a very large amount of time.
That game had the effective and long legs Nintendo hopes to give the Wii U, so if there is one title that could be able to carry the system by itself, Mario Kart – with its appeal to both Nintendo fans and gaming outsiders – would certainly be it. At the same time, putting all of one’s chips on the same horse while failing to provide the system with a solid constant stream of good releases does have a lot of risks, which – at this point – Nintendo has to deal with if they want to turn this boat around.
In spite of whatever concerns Wii U owners may naturally have in relation to the console that is sitting on their living rooms, the fact remains that Nintendo can still recover. And even though it is nearly impossible for the Wii U to compete with the Playstation 4 and the XboxOne in terms of sales, Nintendo will be most likely satisfied if they can simply find away to transform the system’s finances from bright red to glorious green and add those numbers to the frightening profits the Nintendo 3DS produces.
Outside of the walls in which bean counters and big wigs sweat and pull out their hair to try to achieve that goal, Nintendo fans who own both a Wii U and a 3DS – in other words, mostly all of them – can rejoice in the knowing that until May their gaming schedule will be rather busy, because even if their hardware occasionally struggles, it seems Nintendo’s software always finds away to amaze and captivate.