In their latest Nintendo Direct conference last week, Nintendo officially confirmed the release date of Mario Kart 8, a game that many of us have been itching to play for quite some time, and one that’s sure to move a few more console units of the struggling Wii U. Unfortunately, that release date is a little bit later than some were probably expecting: we don’t get to launch any more blue shells until May 30. Now, waiting until the very end of May might not seem so bad if not for one thing: the extreme lack of new Wii U games to keep us busy in the meantime. I’ve had my own beloved Wii U for over a year now, and my actual collection of retail games sits at a measly six.
The sad part is that the total number of Wii U retail releases still doesn’t look to be picking up any real steam, even as we near the heart of 2014.
Let’s look at the confirmed list of new games we have coming up for the next several months: there’s Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze coming up at the end of this week, and then a long grueling wait until the end of May for Mario Kart 8. After that, the summer looks to be a tossup at best, as we MIGHT see the release of Bayonetta 2 at some point. And then if we’re lucky, the holiday season will bank on Super Smash Bros. and the interesting Hyrule Warriors (and if we’re REALLY lucky, then Yarn Yoshi will be thrown in that window as well).
Of course, there are certainly going to be a few other unannounced games popping up along the way as well, and I just hope that those eventual release dates aren’t put too far off in the future. It often seems that Nintendo has been trying to keep gamers happy in between these long wait times by putting up exclusive Wii U eShop titles, like the recently released NES Remix and Dr. Luigi (hell, NES Remix 2 was just announced last week as well). These games are great and all (NES Remix in particular), but they’ll only keep Wii U owners busy for so long, and they’re certainly not going to be the types of games that will convince gamers who are still on the fence about investing in Nintendo’s latest home console.
In a way, there are both good and bad things about the lack of big Wii U game releases. On one hand, the company has become way more selective in curating their gaming content, which is certainly a good thing. There may be less games coming out now, but you can bet your bottom dollar that each one is of the highest of quality. Compare this to say, the original Wii, which had hundreds upon hundreds of shovelware titles clogging up the system’s catalogue of games. But at the same time, the current state of Wii U releases is a little too bare for the system’s own good. Nintendo needs to find a sort of middle ground between pumping out good releases, yet not overcrowding their own market with throwaway games.
It also doesn’t help that Nintendo is severely lacking in third-party games right now to help fill those long monthly gaps between your big Mario and Zelda games. And sadly, it doesn’t seem like things will be picking up in that department anytime soon: Ubisoft has recently announced that the long-awaited Watch Dogs has been specifically delayed on the Wii U once again. The game was first pushed back on all systems from its original release date of November 2013, and now while all other consoles will finally be getting the game this June, the Wii U will still have to keep waiting for some farther, undisclosed date.
Nintendo also has a curious strategy of bunching together all of their big releases around the same general timeframe, or in some cases, on the very same day. For instance, Super Mario 3D World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Mario Party: Island Tour were ALL released on Nov. 22. Well at least they’ve settled into a wonderful groove as far as 3DS games are concerned, with great new games seemingly always around the corner, more and more new ones getting announced all the time, and decent lengths of time between each big new release. If Nintendo is able to fall into a similar release schedule going forward, then I think we’ll be seeing a lot of happy Wii U owners out there.
So what do you think? Are you disappointed in the overall lack of Wii U game releases right now, and the seeming lack of Wii U releases going forward? Or would you rather it continue this way: waiting months at a time for a few amazing releases, rather than having Nintendo let any old game on the platform like they did with the Wii. Well in any case, none of this changes the fact that I can barely contain my excitement for Mario Kart 8 and everything else that Nintendo has in store for the rest of 2014. I guess if all of Nintendo’s games lately weren’t so utterly amazing, then we wouldn’t be so passionate about these distant release dates in the first date!
Now if only we still get the follow-up to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword sometime in the next two years…