Nintendo’s console has been struggling to stay relevant for a few years now. Particularly with the release of Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the Wii U has simply become less and less appealing. The console has trouble scoring any exclusive releases and is instead often cut out of games coming out on both the fellow competing systems. The most anticipated games for Wii U tend to only come from one of Nintendo’s more well-established franchises- Zelda, Super Smash Bros., sometimes Mario.
However, it was announced a few days ago that the new Zelda game for Wii U has been delayed until next year. Of course, this will hopefully ensure that it’s the best game it can possibly be, but it also leaves the Wii U with little excitement left for the remainder of 2015. Nintendo should be taking advantage of the time that Sony and Microsoft are still pulling their catalogs together. Unfortunately, they’ve lost one of their biggest selling points. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing in 2015 worth buying. Since I’ve always had a soft spot for Nintendo, I thought I’d take the time to pull together a list of big releases still hitting Wii U this year.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
This is probably the most obvious one. Xenoblade Chronicles X is a Wii U exclusive and a spiritual successor to Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii. The original game was credited with reinvigorating the JRPG genre with its unique and fascinating world fully realized by the opportunity for boundless exploration. The follow-up will share the open-world exploration style while bringing fans into a different place with more mech and technology replacing the fantasy elements of the first. Monolith Soft, the developers, have been releasing plenty of information about the world and the characters to build excitement for the release.
For all it’s got going for it, Xenoblade Chronicles X is still a JRPG which, outside of Final Fantasy maybe, always tend to attract more of a niche audience than Western RPGs. However, for those disappointed by the loss of Zelda this year, Xenoblade Chronicles X is probably about as close as you can get to the same sort of experience. As of right now, unless some big game is added to the schedule, I would say that the next Xenoblade is definitely the best thing that the Wii U has in store for this year. It has a April 29, 2015 release date for Japan. No official release date has been given for other territories yet, but it has been confirmed that it will be sometime in this year.
Splatoon is not at all like Zelda, but it still looks pretty cool. It’s a team-based third person shooter, playable by up to eight people at a time divided into online four vs four matches with the goal being to cover as much of the arena as possible with a certain color of ink. The characters are called ‘Inklings’ and have the power to switch between human and squid forms. In human form, the character can shoot at walls and opponents with their ink. In squid form, the character can swim through their color ink- even up walls and on the ceiling- in order to hide from opponents and replenish ink supplies. There’s also a single-player campaign where the player must invade a enemy octopus stronghold.
It seems like Splatoon is more of a social, just-for-kicks game, but, to its credit, a particularly colorful and clever one. If it’s as fun as it sounds, I imagine it wouldn’t be hard to whittle the day away just playing match after match. Making anything shooter related is also a bit outside of Nintendo’s comfort zone, demonstrating that they might be trying to widen up their catalog slightly. The Wii U exclusive is currently scheduled for release worldwide in May of this year- no day yet.
Star Fox is also a classic Nintendo franchise just like Zelda, but admittedly a slightly less prevalent and popular one. The Wii U installment- which has no official title right now- is the sixth entry into the series and the first original Star Fox game in nine years. The last one was Star Fox Command for the DS in 2006. Despite the 2015 release date supposedly being locked, not much has been revealed about the game since its unveiling at E3 last year. There have been no new trailers, screenshots, story information…nothing. Perhaps no Zelda at 2015’s E3 will mean more Star Fox presentation. It will at least be playable at the event.
Still though,playable at E3 or not, it could be that Star Fox might be delayed as well. Maybe Nintendo has been putting a stopper on information so that they can wow with it in their presentation, or maybe it’s just not quite ready yet. The lack of information remains worrying for its prospects. Hopefully, everything is smooth sailing and it’ll hit before the end of the year. The Wii U really needs it right now to pull at the childhood nostalgia market.
Did I miss any big releases currently on schedule? Any suspicions about what Nintendo will talk about at E3 instead of Zelda? I’ll be interested to see how the Nintendo NX will play into the Zelda delay. Nintendo has only just announced that they have a new console in development, but there’s not been much mention of how far along they are with it. If a late 2016 release could be possible, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have the launch title be something so universally loved like Zelda? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.