I believe Nintendo 2015 will be a better year for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS owners than 2014 was, which is a big statement seeing as we just received Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros, big titles. However in 2015 we have Xenoblade Chronicles X, Mario Maker, Splatoon, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask 3D, Code Name STEAM, a new Legend of Zelda title, and Star Fox’s return. All of these are just the retail titles available and doesn’t include the many games Nintendo is likely holding off on showing. So lets take a look at the factors that will make 2015 an amazing year for Nintendo fans.
- The Wii U is no longer being mocked– Now I have to admit, I was one of the non-believers at launch. The Wii U was underpowered, unintuitive and late to the party. It still is those things, unable to match the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, online networking has a long way to go and sales lag behind scaring off large third party publishers. But like the GameCube before it, those who own one are a dedicated bunch, purchasing a large amount of software for their Wii U. And the software itself, mainly first party titles from Nintendo, have changed the conversation from, “You have a Wii U?” to, “Why don’t you have a Wii U?” And that question will only increase in usage as 2015 occurs because of the continued software support from Nintendo and some smaller developers on eShop. One of this years best games, Shovel Knight, was released first on Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and PC. It was associated most with the Wii U, as the game was heavily inspired by action titles on the NES such as MegaMan and Castlevania. We may very well get another sleeper hit like Shovel Knight in 2015.
- Majora’s Mask returns– Finally, after years of questions and being teased, Majora’s Mask is getting a remake on the Nintendo 3DS. Rumors started after the release of Ocarina of Time 3D that Majora’s Mask was next to get an update. It only made sense. Majora’s Mask ran on a slightly upgraded Ocarina engine, and the game was a direct sequel released 17 months after Ocarina. Majora’s Mask is also frequently cited as the best, and most divisive, Zelda game. The countdown clock that only gave you three days to complete tasks, the fun house mirror world of Termina, and the mask mechanic were large departures from previous Zelda games. Majora’s Mask has yet to be matched in terms of weirdness in the Zelda franchise, and maybe the success of Majora’s Mask 3D will show Nintendo it pays to experiment more often with it’s franchises.
- Xenoblade Chronicles X– The SNES was a JRPG machine. Two of the greatest JRPGs made came from the SNES: Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI. Nintendo used to be JRPG masters, but after the release of the PlayStation and Square Enix leaving cartridges for discs they fell from first place. Now the Nintendo 3DS is the place to get JRPGs such as Etrian Odyssey, Fire Emblem and Persona Q. While the consoles can’t match the quantity of JRPG titles being released on handhelds, they can match the quality of those releases. With the Wii we saw The Last Story in 2011 and Xenoblade Chronicles in 2010, two amazing JRPGs. Now Xenoblade Chronicles returns on the Wii U with a more ambitious concept thanks to upgraded hardware. Monolith Soft is working on the title and they have a history of working alongside Nintendo studios on Skyward Sword, Animal Crossing, Pikmin 3 and A Link Between Worlds. Hopefully they’ve learned how to best utilize Nintendo’s hardware to craft another worthwhile JRPG.
- Splatoon– Nintendo is not known for multiplayer, in fact they often appear against it. Even with the Wii U updates take quite some time to implement and they’re averse to allowing voice chat within games. While those problems won’t be fixed in Splatoon it does show Nintendo is willing to learn. Splatoon is a multiplayer-centric game where instead of shooting bullets at other players the goal is to fill the map with as much of your teams ink as you can. You play as these hybrid squid people who can swim faster in ink than running on the ground. The matches are small, limited to two teams of four taking each other on. However this works in its favor, as it pushes coordination between teammates. Although if Nintendo continues to disable voice chat when in a match that may be for naught.
- Yoshi’s Woolly World– a spiritual successor to Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Yoshi gets his own game once again. The art style is utterly adorable and even better looking thanks to the Wii U being able to output in HD resolution. The platforming will be stellar, since that is what Nintendo does best. And Yoshi’s abilities exceed those of Mario, who must rely on costume changes to get anything done. Cooperative play is included and you can throw yarn balls at enemies and obstacles alike. Seriously the game is beautiful go watch it in action.
- New Nintendo 3DS– First off the naming is bad, and continues the trend created by the Nintendo 2DS in confusing hardware names. Despite that the New Nintendo 3DS has an improved processor allowing for better looking and faster loading games such as Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS, which has already been shown to load much quicker on the New 3Ds. Additionally you’ll be able to use Amiibo’s with your New Nintendo 3DS. What the Amiibo will do is still in the air, since their features on Wii U have been pretty uneventful. These additions are small upgrades but since Nintendo will be phasing out the older 3DS models it means the New CPU will become standard for future titles, which means better games. Also those faceplates.
- The Legend of Zelda– the final major player is something we’ve been waiting for since the tech demo prior to the Wii U’s launch. While we saw a very short glimpse of conceptual gameplay at E3 2014, The Game Awards had a larger reveal. Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma both showed off a bunch of the features. The world is large, though a bit empty currently. Epona won’t run into walls or trees, freeing up the player to focus on combat. Markers can be placed in real time, and verticality is a factor in getting from A to B. Comparisons to Skyrim abound, especially with the seemingly open world they are giving players to explore as they wish. Hopefully it won’t be like A Link Between Worlds where the entire map is already filled out and we can discover places for ourselves.
Those are my reasons for why Nintendo in 2015 is going to be even better than this year. Some new hardware for 3DS and a ton of great software coming our way may not push Nintendo to the top of the sales charts, but it will certainly make Wii U and 3DS owners happy for a very long time.