When it debuted in 2012, Nintendo’s Wii U gaming console was laughed at. While Nintendo may have snatched an early lead with the Wii , it failed to capitalize on that lead by delivering a ton of third-party games. To make matters worse, the Wii didn’t even have hardware capable of going toe-to-toe with the then current generation PS4 and Xbox 360 consoles.
So one can imagine why everyone thought Nintendo had lost their minds with the Wii U. Gaming was preparing for another generational leap with new powerful processors and resolution upgrades that one can expect. Here was Nintendo, showing what essentially amounted to a last generation console with a next generation controller. To be fair, the strategy worked well for the original Wii, but the GamePad, the Wii U’s primary controller inside the box, was huge. By mounting a touchscreen, motion sensors and transmitter all on one thing Nintendo had created a game pad that was essentially… a less portable tablet.
Potential buyers responded accordingly. They were mostly indifferent. Those who’d heard about the Wii U might have been intrigued by the GamePad and upgraded graphics, but this time Nintendo definitely didn’t kickstart a revolution in gaming.
The irony in all of this is that after nearly two years of being on the market it finally appears that the Wii U might be worth buying. That is, if you already have another gaming console, or if it’s meant as a gift for the entire family. Just take a look at some of the games that are coming over the next few months and years.
Super Smash Bros
You can’t talk about a potential turnaround for Nintendo’s Wii U without discussing one of this year’s mostly highly anticipated releases on any console.
Super Smash Bros for Wii U isn’t some giant evolution of the franchise. Nintendo left the franchise the way it was for the most part. As such, the concept remains the same. Players choose from a lineup of their favorite Nintendo characters and beat each other around a large game world until one of them can’t come back from it. Super Smash Bros for Wii U is important because it once again shows what Nintendo is good at. Its wholesome family image doesn’t allow it to make games like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter. And so Super Smash Bros was born. It’s still a fighting game, but it’s a fighting game that the whole family can enjoy.
All of this isn’t’ to say that there aren’t plenty of unique reasons to pick up Super Smash Bros for Wii U. The game is stuffed full of new characters and new locations. Users can also purchase physical characters and use them as in-game upgrades and create a Mii that has powers and can fight alongside Nintendo’s characters in the game.
Super Smash Bros for Wii U arrives sometime this year. The exact launch date remains a mystery.
Mario Kart 8
Mario Kart 8 is another example of Nintendo’s classic formula in action. Users choose a character they’re fond of and race against each other for first place and for additional power-ups. Those power ups can be used to take down enemies before they have a chance to cross the finish line. If all that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s always been the core of what Mario Kart is.
Mario Kart 8 introduces a few new twists into the mix. First, the in-game characters and tracks are absolutely stunning when compared to what we’ve seen in past Mario Kart games. Second, it adds new characters and zero gravity racing to the mix.
Mario Kart 8 is on store shelves now.
Coming September 26th, players could be forgiven for thinking that Hyrule Warriors was simply a game where a character runs around and destroys every other character in sight. To be fair, based on the trailer Nintendo showed at E3 2014, that’s exactly what it looks like.
The key difference is that it’s a collaboration that’s spanning two different universe’s Nintendo’s Zelda and Dynasty Warriors. Hyrule Warriors is scheduled for release on September 26th in the United States.
Wii U Virtual Console
The Wii U is slowly but steadily growing its library of titles. Each month there are new games to be had, new software that actually makes you want to pick up the rather bulky GamePad. What Nintendo doesn’t get much credit for, and neither Microsoft nor Sonny offer yet, is robust backwards compatibility.
Wii U buyers can download their favorite games from older consoles all over again with the Wii U Virtual Console.
Today, Virtual Console includes Wii U compatible versions of Super Nintendo, Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy Advance games. No, it’s not as robust as the PS Now game streaming service that Sony is slowly rolling out to users later this year, but it’s a decent start and still ahead of what Microsoft is offering on its Xbox One.
Finally, there’s Splatoon, a game so strange that it begs for a lengthy explanation. At its core, Splatoon is a third-person competitive multiplayer game. That’s key, since Nintendo doesn’t have a lot to offer users here.
Each user must turn into a squid to quickly move around the game’s different levels, but the only way to do that is to cover as much of the level as possible in your specific team’s ink. Shooting ink requires that players transform into a more human version of their squid characters.
Splatoon won’t arrive until next year, but it appears as if Nintendo will have another hit on its hands when it does – provided it has sold enough Wii U consoles by then. Dispite its strange name and play mechanics, Splatoon sounds and looks rather fun.
Of course, all of these doesn’t necessarily mean you should definitely purchase the Wii U this year. There’s still plenty missing from the experience. Third-party titles remain hit and miss and, for some users, that could be the difference between playing against friends and family in the latest Madden or Call of Duty. On the other hand, the number of titles available on the console is growing and so too are the number or titles that users will want next year. The Wii U costs $299 and is on store shelves now.