E3 is less than a month away and Nintendo will undoubtedly be revealing much more about the Wii U as its holiday release window approaches. Perhaps the single most important factor about the Wii U besides it’s pricing is the launch games. Without compelling software, it really doesn’t matter how affordable the console is.
Nintendo says it has learned from the lackluster launch of the 3DS, but will they prove true to their word with the Wii U’s launch lineup? Keep reading for my speculation on what the launch games could be, what they should be, and how important they are to the success of the Wii U.
Now much of this speculation is based on guessing when the Wii U will be released. It’s rumored to launch on November 18th, but Nintendo could surprise us with an October launch for all we know. There have also been many rumors surrounding what games are in development for the Wii U, including Blockbuster UK’s leaked list of titles. Many of these games are unconfirmed and probably bogus, but we know a few are definitely coming.
Pikmin 3 has been in development for several years and we know it will be shown at E3. This makes it a prime candidate for being a launch game. It’s a title that appeals to “hardcore” gamers more than casual mainstream audiences. It won’t sell ten million copies, but it is a great opportunity for Nintendo to resurrect the beloved franchise and prove what the Wii U is capable of.
We also know that Nintendo will be showing off a New Super Mario Bros. game based off the New Super Mario Bros. Mii experience shown at E3 last year. It remains to be seen whether this game will include some new innovation in the franchise or just be an HD New Super Bros. Wii with Miis as characters. If that’s all the game is, it will probably sell a lot simply because its Mario, but not be too critically well received.
However, Nintendo could take advantage of the low risk, relatively cheap development of this game by including it with the Wii U. People may not be excited to pay $60 for another New Super Mario game, but they would be enticed to buy a Wii U if they knew a free, smaller Mario game was included with the system. Even if it were only four hours long instead of ten, it would give people a reason to get the console and experience Mario with the tablet controls. This isn’t particularly likely since Nintendo knows those games sell well, but it would be a great way to show themselves changing with the times while enticing consumers with free Mario.
Now the first-party launch games become more uncertain. Retro Studios has been working on something since the release of Donkey Kong Country Returns in 2010, but whether it’s Star Fox, Donkey Kong, Metroid, Zelda, or a new IP, no one really knows. Personally, I think a Metroid game would be great for showing off the full HD power of the console and might even be enough to convince 360 and PS3 owners to buy a Wii U.
It’s possible that Nintendo has one or two more first-party titles up their sleeve, but it’s difficult to speculate with so little information available. There is a recent rumor that the director of F-Zero and Mario Kart is working on a Wii U game, but this hypothetical game may not even be a launch title. We also know that Miyamoto is working on an original, unannounced game, but whether it’s for the Wii U or 3DS, retail or downloadable, nobody is certain. What’s more likely is that Nintendo will combine some of the tech demos they showed at E3 last year like Chase Mii, Battle Mii, and Shield Pose into some sort of Wii Sports-like collection of minigames. These could be included with the console, or sold separately on a single disc.
When it comes to third-party games for the Wii U this year, we know that Aliens: Colonial Marines, Darksiders 2, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Assassins Creed III, Batman Arkham City, Rayman Legends, Lego City Stories, and a Tekken game are coming. Now, which of these become launch games will be based on the release date for the console. However, it’s almost certain that Batman and Ninja Gaiden will be launch games since they were released on other consoles months ago.
It’s good to see that Nintendo is earning more third-party support since lack of such support has hurt several Nintendo consoles in the past. If the Wii U versions of these games have additional features that the other consoles just can’t compete with, other developers will be motivated to jump onboard this new gaming platform. Ideally, every PS3 and 360 third party game will also have a Wii U release in the future. If Nintendo could also earn a few third party exclusive titles, their catalog of games would be very well rounded. I know this is idealistic thinking; maybe it will never happen. But if Nintendo could have their first-party games as well as third-party multiplatform games and a couple third-party exclusives, the Wii U’s launch could be one of the best ever.
The strength of the Wii U’s launch games will have a big impact on the success of the console itself. However, having a strong launch lineup alone is not enough. Sony’s PlayStation Vita launched with twenty-six games, but is now in a drought and is suffering from abysmal sales. The 3DS also had a long drought of games from the system’s launch to the release of Ocarina of Time 3D. If Nintendo really has learned from its mistakes with the 3DS, it will continue releasing a steady stream of games after the Wii U’s launch to keep gamers satisfied.
Overall, I believe Nintendo has the opportunity to make the Wii U’s launch lineup one of the best in video game history. If they have a lackluster showing at E3, it could also be one of the worst. A lot is riding on what first-party titles Nintendo has up its sleeve, whether it’s Retro’s game or something else entirely. Whatever it is, it’s important that these game shows off the HD power and unique features of the console. The Wii U needs an impressive exclusive title in order to convince PS3 and 360 owners to buy the console. Hardcore Nintendo fans will buy one no matter what, just on the promise of future HD Zelda and Super Smash Bros. games. With Pikmin, Mario, and several third-party games almost certainly launching with the system, Nintendo has a good start, but they need that “must have” title in order to make the Wii U’s launch a true success.
What do you guys think? Are these reasonable conjectures or am I crazy? Leave a comment below about what you think the Wii U’s launch games could be.