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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.

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.

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.

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9 Comments

  1. When will they ever learn?!
    Great image for the article btw ūüôā

    • Luke Martin VA¬†When they get a change of management. I’m not saying there is a magic ‘port’ button, but surely it would make so much sense to develop them side by side, or to have one team doing three or four 3DS conversions a year.

      • Simon Burns¬†Luke Martin VA¬†At this rate, what with Nintendo being unable to find the door to the boardroom and Microsoft selling their soul to the devil, I reckon the next-gen might be a one-horse race!

      • Simon Burns¬†Luke Martin VA¬†Japanese business culture is very much a case of agree with the boss. So I think it will take a change or a brave employee to look at what is going on and realise that their stubborness over release schedules is drastically damaging the potential success of their machine.
        Even getting a knowledgeable in-house team to do quick ports of third party games would help.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. For a very low cost Nintendo could have drastically improved the perception of the WiiU in terms of games.
    I know they like to tailor games for each system, but the 3DS is set up for a second touch screen, so porting would be simple. They are in serious danger of doing what they did with the Gamecube and silencing themselves out of the market.

    • RobMortimerVA¬†They could even do a Vita and offer both games for the price of one, or at least a discount for both, if they are worried about diluting each game. It would make the digital prices much more bearable.¬†
      As you say, it seems like the most obvious thing in the world, especially with the dual screen setup. 
      They could even bang out upscaled HD GameCube games for £20. So many ways they could fill the void so easily, the more I think about it, the thicker they seem.

  3. “Barely a shade more powerful”? D you really think the PS3 and 360 can handle streaming to 2 screens at once? And why can’t people understand that the Nintendo games ARE COMING?! You do know that they’re unveiling the new Mario 3D, Mario Kart titles as well as showing Smash. Bros screens at this year’s E3, right? Not to mention other unannounced projects and Retro’s new game. Oh, and consider this: what would be the point of releasing their key titles so early? Do you want to see gamers complaining of a drought towards the end of the Wii U’s life cycle like they did with the Wii? :O And what if they know that Microsoft and Sony will be showing off their next-gen consoles, and, get this,they want to steal their thunder with the new games/announcements? Shocker!

    • WSJ4L¬†First of all, I think you have the wrong end of the stick here: I am arguing that Nintendo should have first party titles coming out IN BETWEEN its big, key releases. Not big, flashy titles, but decent, worthy games, and it really should have made plans for this period. Nintendo even apologised in its recent Nintendo Direct, for the lack of games at the moment.¬†
      Second, I really, really like the Wii U, and my review of the machine was one of the most positive from any non-Nintendo focused site- http://voxelarcade.com/reviews/wii-u-the-voxelarcade-review/
      I just feel that, with the brilliant quality of all these 3DS games, it would be so, so easy for Nintendo to port one or two to keep things ticking over while we all wait for the big games announcements in the Summer.
      With regards to the ‘barely a shade more powerful’, I was talking from the perspective of rumours in the build-up to e3. But from what I have played, the games tend to look very similar to 360/PS3, but with the brilliantly ability to stream to a second screen added, which is mightily impressive, and doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Maybe I will run a feature on it next week.

      • Simon Burns¬†WSJ4L¬†The second screen is a great idea, but I have to be honest – when I first tried it I was massively underwhelmed by the quality of it. I know it’s got to be near impossible to keep the costs down with such a bells-and-whistles device but this is the world of tablets and smartphones and, well, it just came across as rather low-rent in comparison. Rock and a hard place really: make it better and the costs would go through the roof. Still, a nice little idea and a solid overall package.

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