The Wii U was obviously a misfire. Nintendo bungled virtually everything about its release: They timed the launch poorly, alienated fans, alienated third parties, named it horribly, and utterly failed to sell consumers on the game pad. The only way it could have gone worse is if Microsoft had performed another on stage abortion for its release. Well since then, Nintendo has hunkered down and produced arguably the best library of current gen games. In light of that, here’s five reasons you should consider buying a Wii U in 2014.
5) The amiibo
The amiibo is an enigma. It’s a concept limited only by the creativity of the developers that place their game on the Wii U. Nintendo is jumping on the ridiculously successful gravy train that is smart toys and has the benefit of some of the world’s most recognizable characters. What sets it apart from other NFC-based smart toys is the ability to record data. With this, the doors are wide open for creative implementation.
How about a rogue-like where you can customize your characters based on your recorded achievements in other Nintendo titles? A Monster Rancher rip off where different combinations of amiibos and recorded data give you new creatures? A Nintendo version of Salty Bet using customized Smash amiibos?
The only reason the amiibo isn’t ranked higher is that Nintendo currently has no plans to make a game that revolves entirely around it, plus the fact that we don’t have a very big list of games supporting amiibo in 2014.
Everyone loves a good crossover. On the Wii U, Nintendo has finally started giving fans the fantasy crossovers they’ve craved. Fans have been clamoring for HD Super Smash Bros., the holy grail of crossover titles, and they’re getting their wish on Wii U. Let’s be honest here, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS was an extremely well received $40 demo for the definitive Wii U edition. It’s also the first Smash title since Nintendo jumped onto the DLC train, meaning there could be even more characters down the line.
Then there’s the the Mario Kart 8 DLC, which finally brings new franchises to the kart racing madness. Mario Kart is a very important series, almost single handedly pulling the Wii U from its death bed, so expect Nintendo to lean on it even more going forward. If needed, the use of amiibos and characters or tracks from other franchises could keep the game growing for as long as necessary. We already know of racers from The Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing, with at least one track inspired by F-Zero. I could easily see Samus, Pikachu, and Fox getting in on the action, and if Mario Kart 8 does well over the holidays, you can bet it will happen.
Finally, there’s the off the wall ideas nobody would have seen coming like Hyrule Warriors, a crossover between The Legend of Zelda and the Dynasty Warriors series. A concept that would have seemed ridiculous before, but works so well in practice (I personally wasted way too much time on the game even before the new DLC doubled the Adventure Mode), Hyrule Warriors is a title that is better than it has any right to be. Of course even the unlikely pairing of Zelda and Musou seems downright normal compared to…
3) Bayonetta 2
The fecal storm caused by the announcement of Bayonetta 2 as a Wii U exclusive is still going strong by those not smart enough to realize that Nintendo was the only publisher that stepped up to the plate. Despite a very lackluster Japanese release, Bayonetta 2 is an amazing game that’s receiving near universal acclaim. With the resounding critical “meh” from Destiny, Watch Dogs, and Titanfall, Bayonetta 2 is now in serious contention for game of the year. Hopefully it does better in the West because quite frankly, it’s the most “video game” video game out there.
That demo. It’s not just the over the top, action packed combat, but the controls are so fluid and perfect that you’ll actually feel like the game is reading your mind for control inputs. Everything Bayonetta does on that screen is controlled by the player, for better or worse, and any failure experienced is all on you. If you love games that control well and are masterfully designed, Bayonetta 2 is nothing less than pure satisfaction.
Add to this that an updated port of the original Bayonetta comes packaged with Bayonetta 2, and the value is through the roof on this game. It’s a genius move and hopefully it works out in the end because Bayonetta is the queen of the Character Action Game, and the genre itself needs more support. Platinum Games is pretty much the Wii U of the game development world now, criminally under appreciated while bringing gamers some of the best gaming has to offer today.
Also, holy crap at those costumes. Peach, Link, Samus, and Fox costumes are all representing Nintendo in the strangest crossover bonuses I’ve ever seen. Not only are there visual and audio differences, such as coins replacing halos when playing in the Peach costume, but they add their own flavor to combat as well? Is this real life? There’s even a special bonus for wearing a certain costume at a certain time. I can’t even describe this feeling other than “Wow.”
2) Couch Co-op
With online gaming becoming as popular as it has, we sometimes forget the simple joy of beating our friends in person. Nothing feels quite as good as rubbing it in the opponent’s face, unless it’s rubbing it in your opponent’s face while being obnoxiously close and loud. Okay so maybe that’s just me and my friends, but the point still stands: Couch co-op is a vastly different experience altogether. And it’s a dying art form.
Nintendo is the king of couch co-op, and the Wii U is bringing the games to support that claim. Everybody needs to experience the schadenfreude of sitting next to a friend as you release the blue shell in Mario Kart, the satisfaction of a well timed Smash attack, or just being a dick in any of the latest multiplayer Super Mario platformers. Hearing the excitement over thousands of miles of cables just doesn’t compare to hearing it live, possibly over drinks.
Mario Kart 8, New Super Mario Bros. U, Super Mario 3D World, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U are some of the couch co-op titles you can play with your friends, and they’re all available in 2014. With things like Mario Party 10, Project Giant Robot, Project Guard, and Star Fox in the Wii U‘s future, couch co-op doesn’t look to be going anywhere as long as Nintendo is around.
1) Pressure makes Diamonds.
Third parties are obviously gone and Nintendo is almost exclusively supporting the console at the moment. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a single company. Nintendo is restructuring and now rumors and fantasies dance around the internet. You can’t go anywhere gaming related without hearing “Nintendo should buy _____!” with each developer’s name becoming more wild and out of place than the last. Yeah, Nintendo does need help, and buying floundering companies with under used IPs would seem like a smart move, but don’t count on it. Sure, I’d love for Nintendo to buy out Capcom if it meant we got more Megaman, Ghosts n’ Goblins, or DMC, but I’ll eat my hat if that happens any time soon.
Instead what we see is Nintendo going all out, in ways fans only wish they had been before the situation became so dire. The E3 direct was the start of Nintendo admitting they were wrong and showing they’ve found the pulse of their fans. They have and are releasing a series of highly polished first party Wii U titles that are head and shoulders above anything the competition is putting out in terms of quality. Hyrule Warriors shows Nintendo is finally letting other developers get their hands on legendary franchises in second party collaborations. Then, they seem to be saving games that have been canned partway through development with Bayonetta 2 and Devil’s Third. One is currently a critically acclaimed contender for game of the year, while the other looks rough but has a pretty solid pedigree, some interesting elements, and plenty of time to smooth out the kinks. It’s a really smart move on Nintendo‘s behalf.
Pressure makes diamonds and Nintendo is under the most pressure. Nintendo has responded like a champ and continues to produce high quality games that look and feel good, even on such limited hardware. Just look at the library of games that will be on the system at the end of 2014. Even with the poor start and sparse summer, 2014 has been good to the Wii U, with the best yet to come.