Where Are The Wii U Games, Nintendo?
I remember being more excited for last year’s E3 than I had been for many years. The reason? Nintendo were going to blow us all away with the first glimpses of their HD games. I didn’t care that the machine was barely a shade more powerful than either the Xbox 360 or the PS3, as the very thought of what Nintendo’s teams could do with anything approaching PS3/360 levels of tech had me salivating.
There had to be some amazing games lined up for the presentation. After all, Nintendo and its teams had known about the console for long enough. If most games take two or three years to develop, and if the big N showed games that wouldn’t be released even until late 2013, there would have been plenty of time to prepare a few good games.
Except, that didn’t happen. Pikmin 3, which has been is development for a long time, Nintendoland and, well, not a lot else was shown. Even taking into account the fact that they didn’t include 3rd party exclusives Bayonetta 2 and the Wonderful 101 in the conference (a classic Nintendo tactical misfire) there really was not a lot of Nintendo games for Wii U at the show.
I then assumed they had a lot of games ready, but would drip feed news about them during the course of the year, but that just didn’t happen. We basically got the games that were announced at the show, and that is still all we have gotten from Nintendo.
Why? Where are the big hitters? What have Nintendo’s teams been up to all this time? How could they not have games ready when they have had years to prepare?
The GameCube original, upscaled to HD in an emulator. Not too shabby.
It isn’t from a lack of development talent, but rather through total lack of decisive action from the men at the top of the global Nintendo tree.
Now, defenders of Nintendo’s management may say that projects have been put back behind the scenes, that the company’s famously rigorous testing process and admirable courage in being willing to delay big games, alongside its recent form of announcing games very late in the development cycle, have put Wii U owners where they are now.
Fair enough, but there are several ways in which Nintendo could have had big first party games ready for this period. First of all, how hard would it really have been to put a small team on converting and upscaling Luigi’s Mansion 2 for Wii U, or getting the primary team to create HD assests alongside the 3DS development?
The forthcoming release of Donkey Kong Country 3D begs the question: why not upscale the game for HD? Again, a small team could have taken the assets for the already really good looking Wii version and touched them up for Wii U. Or hell, why not delay the original release on Wii and bang the game out as a gorgeous Wii U launch title?
I could say the same thing for Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Mario Golf or quite a few games on the release calendar for 3DS. Now, I’m not saying I want to see Wii U’s release calendar filled with endless ports, but I would like Nintendo to start to think outside the box a little bit more with Wii U releases in order to give gamers what they bought the machine for: Nintendo games.
What would these games really look like in HD? Well, I have included two screenshots of upscaled versions of these games, both done using the Dolphin Wii and GameCube emulator. The Luigi one is even the GameCube original, not the better looking 3DS sequel, and the other is a simple upscale of DK Returns on the Wii. Add a few extra nip, tucks and effects and a sprinkle of Nintendo magic and you’d have two respectable looking games.
Getting internal teams developing 3DS games to also create enhanced Wii U versions alongside them seems like such an easy, obvious thing to do that it makes me question Nintendo’s real commitment to the Wii U. Now, you may be thinking that Nintendo’s resources are not unlimited and can only stretch so far, but can you think of an easier and cheaper way to get top quality games in Wii U owners hands in-between releases of the true AAA Nintendo games?
Consider this: there is currently an entire Nintendo team devoted to developing a set of free Luigi levels for New Super Mario Bros U. Surely that team could, right now, be porting a couple of 3DS games or even creating some cool, original downloadable games for the e-shop?
The Wii version, again upscaled to HD. I wouldn’t kick it out of bed.
I’m playing through Luigi’s Mansion 2 at the moment and it seems so obvious, and so easy to think that there should be a version for Wii U. Nintendo have some of the absolute, very best development teams on the planet; such a shame it doesn’t know how to use them. We long-time fans are all used to the endless months between big, AAA Nintendo games, yet now that the Japanese giant has an easy way to fill those months and still chooses not to do so – it just makes the wait seem all the longer.
There will, no doubt, be some awesome Nintendo games from the likes of Retro Studios, Nintendo EAD and more, announced at this year’s E3 – but these games have been in the works for a long time, set in motion long before the awful sales figures for the Wii U could have been guessed at. I think that Nintendo deliberately launched the Wii U a year earlier than they had planned, in order to steal a march on their rivals, and we are all suffering for it now.
Nintendo: you need to commit to the Wii U, and get some games in the hands of gamers now, and you have a cheap and easy way to do it without sacrificing quality. Time is running out, and so is the patience of gamers.
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Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.