It’s pretty safe to say by now that Nintendo is perfectly happy with doing their own thing: especially when it comes to the different types of games they’ve decided to release on their many home and portable game consoles. After first making it pretty apparent that the Wii U would be featuring a lot of great games from third-party developers, Nintendo seemed to all but let those promises fizzle away to nothing after the first batch of games for the next-gen system came to market. They continued to focus on making their first-party Mario and Super Smash Bros. games, and third-party developers continued to announce that they’re newest awesome game would not be making its way to Wii U (the latest being the recently announced Alien Isolation).
But if there’s one gaping space that screams of the most lost potential in the Nintendo camp, we think it’s with the genre of horror and survival horror games, which have not been making a revival in 2013, but could also become unmistakably cool if given the magic Nintendo touch. We all know that Nintendo has been marketing themselves as the family-friendly gaming company with the unintimidating face of Mario more and more these days, but I don’t think that means they have to abandon any instance of a horror game in their catalogue in order to maintain that brand or appearance. And I certainly think they know that too: mature-rated games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II were Wii U launch titles, after all. So why has Nintendo all-but eliminated any presence of a true horror experience, especially when they have the hardware and the know-how to really make something great out of one?
Now this certainly isn’t to say that Nintendo has never released any truly remarkable horror games on one of their systems. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Some of the early Resident Evil games first found their home on a Nintendo system; the completely unnerving Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem was a GameCube exclusive; and even the Wii had a few underrated horror gems in its roster like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and Dead Space: Extraction (hell, they even released Rockstar’s Manhunt 2 on the original Wii, which subsequently spawned a number of hilarious fake commercials of happy families playing Wii spliced together with gruesome murder footage from the game).
It becomes all the more curious once you take into account that one of the big Wii U launch titles was, in fact, an exclusive first-person horror game. Ubisoft’s ZombiU was on the top of every prospective Wii U owner’s “must have” list, for its gritty portrayal of a zombified England, and some seriously cool uses of the Wii U GamePad. Admittedly though, it did look a bit odd sitting next to the likes of New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendoland. But is that only because ZombiU was by and large (and for the most part, STILL IS) the only one of its kind to grace a Nintendo console in a fair amount of years? In either case, the extremely lukewarm reviews of ZombiU following its release quickly led to most gamers forgetting its existence, and the potential for a sequel even more unlikely.
Don’t you think it’s time that Nintendo invested in a brand new horror franchise, or at the very least, work with some third-party developers to bring their latest horror games to Wii U? In many ways, the horror genre has been experiencing something of a revive lately, with games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Lone Survivor experimenting with the medium in fresh and frighteningly exciting new ways, and additional horror games like Dying Light and The Evil Within already coming up on the horizon. One game that instantly comes to mind when thinking of amazing Wii U horror game ports is the terrifying Outlast, whose eerie camcorder mechanic would so obviously go hand-in-hand with the technology of the Wii U GamePad. Come on, Nintendo: it’s okay to have an “M” rated game on your system every now and then!
I think the Big N certainly has it in them to make a truly invigorating horror franchise that would make die-hard fans of the genre do a double-take at the Wii U: and I’m talking something ACTUALLY scary, and not funny-scary like Luigi’s Mansion, despite how great that game is in its own right. I’d even settle for a gritty Mario horror game, where all of the toads turn into zombies or something and Mario trades his mushrooms in for a rocket launcher; JUST GIVE ME SOMETHING HERE! After all, it’s certainly been proven before recently that people will play horror games on a Nintendo console: especially when the return-to-form Resident Evil: Revelations was exclusively released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2012, where it did so good for the system that full-fledged Xbox 360 and PS3 versions eventually materialized.
So what do you think? Should Nintendo try their hand at the horror genre one more time, and bring us the next Eternal Darkness or a ZombiU-type experience that actually sticks with gamers? Would Nintendo fans even support a horror game like that on their Wii U system these days? Or should the scares be left to the more adult crowds of Sony’s and Microsoft’s consoles, leaving Nintendo to focus on the bright colors and jumping plumbers? It’s tough to say what will actually happen, but even just the possibility of a brand new horror franchise on Wii U is more than a little exciting. And then again, even though Nintendo has become a bit set in their ways as of late, you’ve got to hand it to the Big N to continue to pull out some more surprises just when you think you’ve got them figured out!