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Nintendo, Wii U art thou?

/ May 28th, 2013 9 Comments

Wii U

Wii U

Cheesy headlines aside. It is time to revisit Nintendo‘s current position in the console generation now that Microsoft has laid bare its plans with the Xbox One. As previously rumored, the newest Xbox will be sharing similar hardware with its bitter rival in the PlayStation 4. Both will be sporting an Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) GPU and CPU. Needless to say, Nintendo is sitting in a precarious position with hardware severely outdated along with the Wii U’s “must-have” appeal not the same as the original Wii. Nintendo’s current offering eerily resembles that of the Sega Dreamcast release in 1999. Back then, rumors of the often mentioned but never appearing PlayStation 2 really put a roadblock in Sega’s plan to drive all over the market since consumers were willing to wait for the PS2 rather than take a spin on the Dreamcast. While Sega’s fate has been written in the books, Nintendo’s is still unfolding. The challenge has only gotten tougher.

The PS4 and Xbox One are impressive machines

[adsense250itp]The features of the PS4 have unfolded already across the internets, but now that Microsoft has finally unveiled their shiny new toy gamers can see a new battlefield unfold before their eyes. The upcoming consoles are essentially personal computers/Multi-media set top boxes. The major difference with the Xbox One is that it will differentiate itself by serving as a Television Box as well. By way of using the magical inter-connectivity of TV service providers and the Xbox One, gamers will presumably never have to hunt for that pesky controller or remote control nor endure the annoying HDMI input flipping lag. Both Microsoft and Sony consoles will also include abilities to record gameplay and stream them through the internet for friends. They both will have robust features and a more polished version of their already popular services in the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. Meanwhile Nintendo is still rolling out their first real version of it that offer similar services on the Wii U.

Support from the Third Party

Currently, big game publishers such as Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard are a bit leery about the Wii U. EA was particularly more candid about their views on the Wii U when they originally stated that there were no EA games being developed on the system. Johan Adersson, the technical director behind EA and the Frostbite 3 engine, was none too pleased with the performance of their engine on the Wii U, which spurred on rumblings of EA being critical of the console. Not having any kind of ports for games like FIFA, Dragon Age or Battlefield for Nintendo is going to be rough. However, recent reports have EA rescinding their earlier remarks when EA CFO Blake Jorgensen alluding that there would be EA games despite the PS4 and Xbox One receiving the lion’s share of the development.

Although the only thing on record with Activision and CEO Bobby Kotick is that they are disappointed with the Wii U’s initial launch. The slumping console is not instilling confidence in developers with a smaller installed base than expected. Seeing blockbuster big budget games on the Wii U may invariably end up being similar to how ports were done on the original Wii. Games like Madden developed for the Wii were not even close to the same level as the Sony and Microsoft offerings. Nintendo pushed hard to have third parties support their console especially with exclusive “definitive” editions like Batman: Arkham City and Mass Effect 3. But those relationships will continue to be strained if some fresh life and first-party titles come late to the party.

First Party Saviors?

Donkey Kong, Super Mario and friends mash ups, Go-Kart racing. The Master Sword wielding Link and Samus Aran. Nintendo needs them all and right about now would be the perfect time to release the dogs of war. First-party titles really are the games that define Nintendo as a company. The Legend of Zelda: Skyword Sword is an awesome game. Unfortunately it came out at a time when the Wii faced imminent retirement and was already designated to a dusty old spot in the living room. While hardcore gamers and lovers of Zelda were not to be discouraged despite possibly having to purchase the Wii remote enhancer attachment. It might have been better off somehow being delayed into a launch title for the Wii U. Despite the could haves or should haves, Nintendo cannot afford to release some of their best titles late into the life of the Wii U. Get those great games out now while the Wii U is relevant. Market them, get the celebrities to endorse them, give it the same attention that the 3DS has.

Continuous Revisiting

From the Youtube monetiztion of the “Let’s Play” videos of Nintendo games to their lackluster console sales. The big N gets a lot of criticism both deserved and undeserved. Where they go from here is fairly simple. Gamers will undoubtedly be seeing first-party games on the horizon and an influx of older Nintendo games on their network. But the question will always remain, will it be enough? This very quandary will be revisited time and time again especially once the new consoles hit the market. The resounding answer from the staunchest of defenders are to wait for the first-party titles. And gamers are waiting. Interestingly enough, the Wii U has gained a boost in sales from Amazon UK after the Xbox One reveal. Where this goes nobody knows but they are surrounded by superior hardware and streamlined support for the other two console manufacturers. Nintendo is going to need help, and relying on themselves may not be enough.

Mark Gonzales

Mark Gonzales

Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Mark is a contributor to Gaming Illustrated and part of the editorial team. He always has had an intense love for gaming and of the spoken word. During conversations, he is known to create elaborate anecdotal references to popular 90's phrases with varying levels of success.
Mark Gonzales
Mark Gonzales

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