Is the Wii U the Next 3DS?
by Morgan ‘The Retro Goat’ Hench
After my past article lamenting the financial troubles going on with the Wii U and the future of Nintendo, I figured it would be fun to do a more optimistic sequel of sorts. Since the first article was made, Nintendo has held Nintendo Direct, giving a bit more news on their future plans. A large amount of it was 3DS news while only a few announcements were made on upcoming Wii U titles. The biggest Wii U announcement was that Mario Kart 8 will be released on May 30th, and it’s definitely looking interesting so far. Another noteworthy topic is that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was released yesterday, February 21st, and has so far received positive reviews by critics.
However while the Wii U has been trying to get back on its proverbial feet, the 3DS has been doing spectacularly. Bravely Default was recently released, and Yoshi’s New Island is scheduled to be released on March 14th. But remember the first year of the 3DS? It originally didn’t have a bright future, with promised titles being pushed back and the library being virtually non-existent. It was also derided for seeming like a more gimmicky version of it’s predecessor, and sales of the console were certainly nothing to brag about. Then the games came out. Fire Emblem: Awakening, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Pokemon X and Y, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, it was incredible. Over the course of a single year, the 3DS arguably became the must-own future after having a rather slow start.
It’s undeniable that the Wii U doesn’t have a large library right now. While fans are waiting with bated breath for the fourth Super Smash Bros, Wii U players still have yet to hear a lot about future releases besides that. There are the aforementioned Mario Kart and Donkey Kong Country games, but those are two bigger named games coming out in the span over over three months. It’s a start, but they alone will obviously not be enough for the Wii U to have a productive year. However the year is just beginning, and there are a variety of potential titles that could come out this year.
In 2013, Nintendo released a new game for almost every one of it’s bigger named franchises, all for the 3DS. As previously mentioned, Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, Pokemon, and The Legend of Zelda all released new main installments. Save for spin offs such as Hyrule Warriors, it is safe to assume none of the previously mentioned franchises will be releasing anything this year. Not guaranteed, but definitely unlikely. Two franchises that have not gotten any recent releases however, are Metroid and Star Fox.
I believe Metroid and Star Fox need no introduction. Super Metroid is undeniably one of the best Super Nintendo games of all time, and Star Fox 64 is one of the most beloved N64 games out there. That being said, neither has had a release in quite some time. The latest Metroid game, Metroid: Other M, came out in August of 2010. Ignoring the Star Fox 64 re-release for the 3DS, the latest Star Fox game, Star Fox: Command, came out in 2006. Both series’ have very large fan bases and while they may not be stand-alone console sellers, they could add greatly to the Wii U library.
The title that the Wii U’s future seems to be banking on right now is Super Smash Bros. At just three games released so far, Super Smash Bros has become one of Nintendo’s most beloved and profitable franchises. Each game is one of the most must-buy games for the system they are released on, and are inarguably some of the best-selling games. When a new Smash Bros game comes out, millions of people buy the game as soon as possible. This time though, it’s also being released for the 3DS. That means people don’t need to buy a Wii U to play the latest Smash Bros game. It may affect sales of the Wii U, but it will still be another title that people would want to add to their Wii U library.
The 3DS was quickly becoming a relative flop after it’s initial launch due to its non-existent library. Many were writing it off as a failure, and it’s future was looking grim. Promised titles were nowhere to be found, only a small handful of games were worth buying, things were rough for the system. But Nintendo got it to bounce back. 2013 was undeniably a great year to be a 3DS owner due to the surprise surplus of incredible, high quality games being released. While the current 2014 line-up for the Wii U has a few gems to look forward to, it doesn’t have a large quantity of games coming out. Mario Kart 8 and the fourth Super Smash Bros will likely be incredible games, but what else is coming out this year? 2014 may not be the comeback year for the Wii U, but it could definitely be the start of the system’s revival. Or Nintendo could surprise us.
As of writing, E3 is still a few months off. It is one of the greatest expos in the entire video game industry, and Nintendo could give the Wii U a huge resurgence at E3. One big title being teased is a brand new Zelda title for the Wii U. If that came out for the holiday season, that would be the final push to get the Wii U back on its feet. No one title will sell systems, but four big named games coming out certainly wouldn’t hurt. The question that will be answered with time is; will Nintendo have more to reveal so the Wii U’s future can start looking brighter?
The Wii U is definitely in a sink-or-swim position right now. Much like the 3DS, it can survive if the conditions are right. It all depends on how Nintendo handles future plans for the Wii U. Nintendo Direct featured mostly 3DS content, but it’s very easy to surprise with a new Wii U title in the near future. 2014 may not be the year for the Wii U, but it could be the year it is viewed as a worthwhile system by a larger audience.
If the 3DS can come out on top after having a hard time getting started, there is no reason to think that the Wii U can’t do the same. Both consoles received similar reactions, and both consoles have had similar issues. The 3DS made it’s gimmick work out, while delivering top quality games that benefited but didn’t rely on the 3D gimmick. The Wii U has a gimmicky controller that can be used to it’s benefit, as well as the option to use a more standard controller. It would take a bit of careful handling to make the Wii U come around and have similar success to it’s portable counterpart, but it’s definitely not impossible. The potential is there, Nintendo just has to keep releasing quality titles. They’re slowly building a library, they just need to have a big enough one to make buying the console worthwhile.
Morgan Hench is Senior Staff Writer at B-TEN. He can be contacted at theretrogoat[at]gmail.com or morgan[at]b-ten.com. You can also follow his shenanigans here.
When not writing, he’s often playing video games. When not playing video games, he’s often writing. Mostly about video games.
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