Don’t look now but among all the doom and gloom articles across the web about Nintendo’s Wii U console there is something good happening to the console. Despite a massive drought of notable releases at the start of the year, Nintendo and third parties are packing the Wii U’s second half of 2013 with a plethora of good games. Whether these releases grab the attention of the hardcore gamer and the general consumer remains to be seen but the Wii U’s line up for the rest of the year should get your attention.
Things pick up modestly for the system next month with the release of New Super Luigi U as DLC for New Super Mario Bros U on June 20th. This DLC will feature 81 new levels and will eventually hit retail stores as a stand-alone game on August 25th. Not to be outdone by Mario’s brother, Wario will return to home consoles with Game & Wario on June 23rd for the budget price of $39.99.
Things get a little dry for the system again in July in America whereas Europe and Japan will receive Pikmin 3 earlier than us Americans. On August 4th Capt. Olimar and company finally return after a nine year hiatus following the 2004 release of Pikmin 2 on the GameCube. Pikmin 3 is arguable the first AAA release for the Wii U since launch back in November 2012. While it won’t light the world on fire in terms of sales it is sure to attract at least a little bit more attention than your average release.
Ubisoft is bringing Splinter Cell: Blacklist in late August, Rayman Legends on September 3rd, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag in late October and Watch Dogs in late November. There is no doubt that Ubisoft is the third party best supporting the system and they’ve had great successes with early releases like Zombi U. Hopefully they keep this habit up.
Nintendo’s first party summer line up is still a bit of a mystery. We know when Pikmin 3 will be releasing but Wii Fit U, Pokemon Rumble U and Wii U Party are still undecided. They could release as early as July or get pushed back as far as September. I would think Nintendo would be most concerned with getting Wii Fit U out the door as soon as possible but it has taken them this long so perhaps they aren’t afraid to let their fitness game bake a little longer.
Fall is shaping up really good for the Wii U, especially for fans with diverse tastes. Wonderful 101 starts fall off strong on September 15th in America (7 days before the official start of fall) whereas it releases August 24th in Europe. In addition to that Nintendo will be releasing a remake of the GameCube classic, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, this fall. That means it could come as soon as late September or October.
Warner Bros is one of the best Wii U supporters outside of Ubisoft with Scribblenauts Unmasked (starring DC Superheroes) and Batman Arkham Origins (Oct. 25th). Sega will also be releasing Sonic: Lost World as an exclusive for the Wii U/3DS this fall so it is possible Sonic’s next big platforming adventure hits stores before Hall-o-ween.
That brings us to the holiday line up during November and December. As I stated above, Watch Dogs will be out in late November from Ubisoft. There are sure to be other releases during this month for the Wii U, like the rumored Wii U version of Call of Duty: Ghosts. I think most people expect Ghosts to hit the Wii U, especially when Activision says “Stay tuned” when asked about it, adding that they’ll talk about the next-gen versions of the game in due time.
That leaves us with a big, big unanswered question. What is Nintendo preparing for this holiday from their first party studios? Since the next 3D Mario and Mario Kart games will be playable at E3 in a few weeks that leads us to believe that they may be close to release. Nintendo has been known to hold off from letting the press play a particular game until it is almost finished, though sometimes they’ve shown off games still a year or so away.
With the Wii U in need of a sales boost like the 3DS experienced in 2011 it wouldn’t surprise me if the next 3D Mario AND Mario Kart 8 managed to make it out in November and December respectively. Super Mario 3D Land hadn’t even been shown off properly for most of the first half of 2011 yet it surprisingly hit stores barely six months after being revealed, releasing to the public on November 13th 2011.
Mario Kart 7 wasn’t far behind, hitting stores only 21 days after 3D Land. If Nintendo is serious about turning around the Wii U they’ll get Mario Kart 8 and the next 3D Mario out this year on the system. Nothing moves Nintendo consoles like 3D Mario and his racing game spin-off series, except Wii Sports/Wii Fit. We will probably find out if these two games will hit Wii U this year at E3 so we won’t have to wait long to find out.
There is a small chance Nintendo delays one of the games in their summer line up, most likely Wii Fit U, and makes it a key holiday release. I’m hopeful that they don’t do this but if they feel like they’re holiday line up is barren I wouldn’t put it past them to push it back a few more months.
2013 has been a hard year for the Wii U. Even if all of the games I mentioned above come out before the end of this year that still may not be enough to turn around the system’s fortunes. With a line up including Splinter Cell, Rayman, Watch Dogs, Call of Duty, Pikmin, Wii Fit U, Wonderful 101, Zelda: Wind Waker, and Batman it will be hard to say that the Wii U “has no games” once we closer to the end of the year. The most important factor about whether the Wii U ends 2013 on a strong note is what first party games Nintendo can get out for the holidays.
Following in the 3DS’s footsteps by releasing another Mario Kart alongside a new 3D Mario may be just the thing the system needs. If you’re looking for AAA games for your Wii U then Batman Arkham Origins, Assassin’s Creed IV, Wind Waker HD and Rayman Legend are going to be up your alley. The system’s line up is just one or two notable first party releases away from having a packed line up for the rest of the year. Hopefully Nintendo announces those extra first party games for this year at E3.Don't look now but the Wii U's 2013 line up is shaping up well,