20 Reasons Why 2015 is a Huge Year for Nintendo

So I normally take a break from blogging around this time of year, and I probably still will, but it doesn’t look like Nintendo of Australia is taking time off at all, kicking into their 2015 right away. So I feel like I have to throw out this post right now.

2015 is going to be a pretty special year for videogames, with an impossibly exciting lineup of titles on all platforms slated for release throughout the whole year. And for the first time in a long while, it looks like Nintendo will be mixing it with the best of them consistently throughout the year on both of their primary game consoles. It has been a really long time since we’ve reached the start of a new year with such a clear picture of what that year will look like for Nintendo, and for the Wii U in particular, this one looks absolutely packed with the good stuff. And so it gives me great pleasure to present no less than twenty reasons why being a Nintendo fan is going to rock in 2015:

time that .

1- Captain Toad Treasure Tracker (Wii U)

With Captain Toad‘s January 3rd release, Nintendo is getting out ahead of every other major game publisher in 2015, and it’s honestly a very strong opener to the year. I’ve only played a small percentage of the budget-priced retail game so far (which, admittedly, came out about a month ago in the US), but it’s absolutely adorable and can get deviously challenging when trying to find all the hidden diamonds and constantly-changing optional objectives in its bite-sized “puzzle box” levels. The game is impeccably well designed and a real joy to play.

When will it come out? It already is! Go enjoy this amazing game right now, you lucky things.

2- Splatoon (Wii U)

I played a few rounds of Nintendo’s first-ever entry into the realm of competitive shooters at the EB Games Expo last year, and I immediately wanted to play more. The choice to emphasise territory gain rather than kills, and then to turn that territory into an actual physical advantage in a firefight (paintfight?) by having it improve your range and speed of movement makes for a deceptively deep competitive experience that is simple to understand but tricky to master. The gameplay flow of Splatoon is hella fresh, and I’m excited to see what its single player component holds to complement it.

When will it come out? It’s slated for the first half of the year in all Western territories, and from what Nintendo has shown it looks mostly done, so my guess is March if not even earlier.

3- Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS)

When I was in Japan in late 2013, the super-popular Monster Hunter 4 had just launched, and it just seemed like everyone was playing it – businessmen, old ladies, children, couples, you name it. I’ve experienced firsthand the highly addictive qualities of its 3DS predecessor Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and have amassed quite a few friends who are ready to dive in to a new monster-slaying, armour-tweaking sinkhole when finally comes west, fairly soon no doubt, in upgraded “Ultimate” form. Brace yourselves.

When will it come out? Something about this one screams “first quarter of the year” to me, but that might just be because the last Monster Hunter game released in March over here.


4- Yoshi’s Wooly World (Wii U)

Looking very much like the love child of Yoshi’s Story and Kirby’s Epic Yarn, the gorgeous visuals of Yoshi’s Wooly World appear ready to pop right off the HD displays of Nintendo fans the world over. Already in development for several years, the textile-textured 2D platformer could be very close to release and will be playable in co-op. There’s little doubt it will delight Yoshi fans of all ages, but I have to wonder whether it will follow the example of Epic Yarn and stray down the “far too easy” path. We will see.

When will it come out? Supposedly the first half of the year – I’m hoping for April, but it might surprise people and hit earlier.

5- Mario Maker (Wii U)

It’s somewhat unbelievable that the control-obsessed developers at Nintendo have allowed Mario Maker to exist at all, and yet here we are, a few months away from its release into the wild west of user-generated content. Every time we get a glimpse of the game another set of 2D Mario level creation tools is revealed, and the whole unlikely package is coming together very nicely. I’m very excited to see what the Nintendo fan community can come up with using an officially sanctioned toolkit – and even more intrigued at how the Big N itself reacts to the creations.

When will it come out? Another “first half” game, but I feel like this one could hit at any time, probably very soon after a Nintendo Direct airs.

6- Codename S.T.E.A.M (3DS)

If any completely new IP has the ability to get me signed up right away without even seeing so much as a screenshot, it’s a new turn-based strategy game from Intelligent Systems. That’s right – the developers of Advance Wars and Fire Emblem. So Codename S.T.E.A.M has me really excited, and it’s XCOM-meets-Valkyria Chronicles-style combat, alternate-history storyline and silver age comic book aesthetic are just bonuses, really. If you’re a strategy fan you might want to keep an eye on this one.

When will it come out? Nintendo is happy about being specific with this game already – May, they say. Bring it on.

7- Mario Kart 8 2nd DLC Pack (Wii U)

One of the most pleasant surprises of 2014 in gaming was the stellar level of polish and playability in Nintendo’s highest profile downloadable content pack yet – the November Mario Kart 8 pack (you can read my detailed impressions of it here). The ridiculous thing is that it’s happening all over again in 2015 – same number of new characters, same number of new karts, same number of new tracks, same development time. Animal Crossing fans in particular should eat it right up, but karting fans in general will likely have reason to rejoice when MK8 officially becomes the series’ most content-rich entry ever.

When will it come out? This one is hitting in May, almost exactly a year after Mario Kart 8‘s release and six months after the last DLC pack.

8- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS)

It seems like it’s been coming for a long, long time, and 2014 will finally be the year that Zelda fans get the Majora’s Mask remaster they’ve been asking for. Eiji Aonuma has promised some tweaks for accessibility’s sake as well as a handful of entirely new features (some exclusive to the New 3DS console), all of which is terribly exciting. But what I am most looking forward to about the remake, if I’m honest, is the opportunity to revisit the adventure I once listed as my all-time favourite Zelda game and approach it with a new perspective. I am genuinely curious to see if it holds up against my rose-tinted memories. I suspect it will, mostly because the incredibly unique way it did things hasn’t really ever been repeated since, both inside the Zelda series and out. But we shall see.

When will it come out? In the northern hemisphere it’s penciled in for “spring”, but this is Nintendo, so that doesn’t automatically equate to a March-May window down south. I’m going to be pessimistic and say June-July.

9- Kirby & The Rainbow Paintbrush (Wii U)

I normally give Kirby games a wide berth, because they are almost always super-easy to account for a generally younger target audience than any of Nintendo’s other platformer franchises. However, you’ll see me on day one to pick up Rainbow Paintbrush. Why is that? Because the game appears to be based off the central gameplay conceit of Kirby Canvas Cursean imaginative DS game from the middle of the last decade that turned Kirby into an entirely touch-guided puffball, ramping up the challenge and creativity in the process. Canvas Curse is still my favourite Kirby game of all time, so I am thoroughly stoked at the idea of revisiting the mechanics of that game on a much bigger screen, now enriched by a stylish clay-mation aesthetic and co-operative play options.

When will it come out? For some odd, frustrating reason, this comes out in mid-February in the United States but is a “second half of the year” game in Europe and Australia. My resigned guess is August, but I’m hoping for July 1st, of course.

10- Mario Party 10 (Wii U)

The Mario Party series honestly hasn’t appealed to me in any lasting way since the early days of the Gamecube, but Mario Party 10 has my attention, for the time being at least. It’s the first time in a while that the visuals of the series haven’t looked noticeably sub-par compared to Mario’s other adventures, and the promise of asynchronous play with a fifth person using the gamepad as Bowser to mess with the other four could be quite interesting. It’s probably my least anticipated game on this list, but I’m still giving Mario Party 10 the benefit of the doubt, because I want Mario Party to be good again.

When will it come out? Anybody’s guess. Probably wherever there would otherwise be a noticeable gap in Nintendo’s release schedule.

11- Bravely Second (3DS)

If you are, or ever were, a fan of the Final Fantasy games of old and still have not played 2013’s Bravely Default, what are you doing? Go out and grab that delectable game right now! Once you’ve finished it, I’ll understand your excitement for the sequel, the imaginatively named Bravely Second, to launch in the west. And barring a catastrophe of some sort, that is exactly what will happen sometime in 2015. With even more job classes, new characters and another story to enrich an already gorgeous hand-painted world, Bravely Second looks primed to leapfrog off the success of Square Enix’s best game in recent memory and turn Bravely Default into a franchise that means something. You know, as long as it doesn’t do that really annoying thing from the end of the first game.

When will it come out? Bravely Default was a December game for us Australians, so I’m feeling a release date very late in the year, but who knows, it could hit as early as September. The Japanese release is confirmed for April, after all.

12- Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)

While we’re on Japanese RPG titles, it’s worth throwing a mention out to Xenoblade Chronicles, the 2011 Wii RPG that many people insist is the best console JRPG in close to a decade. I’ll admit with a heavy heart that I am yet to play the game (I missed the boat in terms of having the free time, not to mention have you tried to look for a copy of the thing? It’s close to impossible nowadays without paying an arm and a leg). However, the reputation of its development team is such that for quite a few gaming media publications, the hype around spiritual successor Xenoblade Chronicles X exceeds everything else on this page except for the new Zelda. There can be little doubt that looks pretty as anything, and I will be watching its release with great interest indeed.

When will it come out? Feeling a late release, but not quite late enough to be in a high-profile slot. Maybe October, where Bayonetta 2 was last year.

13- Xenoblade Chronicles (New 3DS)

… And then there’s this, a portable remake of the original Xenoblade Chronicles that, somewhat controversially, will be the first-ever 3DS title only capable of running on the “New 3DS” model. There is precious little information available about the remake aside from that very important fact, leaving fans to wonder where Nintendo will position it. Will the game accompany the New 3DS’ (still unannounced) North American/European release to provide an incentive to buyers? Or is it just not far enough into development to serve as anything more than a promise for future “New”-exclusive content? Either way, this will probably be the ideal way for me to finally play the thing, so colour me keen regardless.

When will it come out? I’m not even sure it will be a 2015 game at all given the size of the game and how little we’ve seen of it. But if so, it will be late.

14- Starfox (Wii U)

We know next to nothing about this game, save for the three very exciting facts that 1) Shigeru Miyamoto himself has been working on it, 2) the project has been getting outside help from teams experienced with HD development and 3) we will supposedly have our hands on it by the end of 2015. There hasn’t been a brand new Starfox game in eight years, so all this is mixing together right now to create an irresistible cocktail of mystery and intrigue. I simply cannot wait to see more from the game, and if anything is ripe for a big E3 news blowout, it’s the new Starfox.

When will it come out? Miyamoto himself said it would be out before the new Wii U Zelda, so if he’s good for his word then no later than October, I reckon.

15- Pokemon (3DS)

As sure as death, taxes and Call of Duty, you can bet there will be some kind of main series Pokemon game released this year. Not too many people I’ve talked to have actually noticed this, but there has been an entry (or pair of entries, of course) in the gigantic franchise every single year since 2009, and after the sales success of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, expecting that trend to stop this year is foolhardy. The question is, what will it be? The most likely answer is the heavily rumoured “Pokemon Z”, a substantially upgraded re-release of Pokemon X and with Zygarde at the center of the story. But the wider story implications raised by OR/AS‘ “Delta Episode” throw some interesting light on where the series might go next. The Pokemon War, for instance? Such an idea seems *ahem* Farfetch’d, but only time will tell.

When will it come out? The 3DS will need another big holiday season title, so you can bet that whatever it is, it will probably be sitting pretty in November.

16- The Legend of Zelda (Wii U)

It isn’t guaranteed to hit in 2015, but Nintendo seems pretty adamant – at least for now – that we will have a brand spanking new Zelda game to play come the end of this very year. That could very well mean that 2015 follows the precedent set by 2013 and 2011, each of which housed two Zelda games – one new title and one remake. Is that too much Zelda? No, of course it isn’t, get a hold of yourself. In any case, by the time this game’s targeted release date arrives we will have gone another four years without a 3D entry in the beloved series, so fan expectation will be peaking, and the promise of a gigantic explorable world won’t do much to help that. I have concerns about the lack of interactable elements shown so far in said world, but over the course of 2015 I’m sure we will see much more of the game and a better picture of the experience will begin to form. I cannot wait.

When will it come out? If it makes 2015 at all, the game needs to hit November, and after Super Smash Bros defied the odds last year to do just that, I actually think it will.

17- The Evolution of Super Smash Bros

In the hype overdrive build-up to the releases of both Super Smash Bros for 3DS and Super Smash Bros for Wii U last year, Nintendo announced that they wouldn’t quite be done with the games when they released. While lead developer Masahiro Sakurai stated recently that he thinks the game balance is now such that it won’t need changing (unless something big is discovered), there are still improvements being worked on as you read this. The most high-profile change is no doubt the impending release of Mewtwo as the Smash Bros series’ first ever DLC character, but I’m just as excited for the new live-updating Miiverse stage, the return of structured Tournaments and the ability to share custom-built stages online. And who knows, there may be more…

When will it happen? All the planned tweaks might very well be finished by the middle of the year, Mewtwo included, but somehow I doubt we’ve seen the last Smash-related announcement.

18- More Amiibos & More Amiibo Features

They’ve already taken the collect-a-holic world by storm, and Nintendo is by no means done with them. From January 29th, the year 2015 will begin to get its own share of Amiibo figurines, with eleven on the way to stores – extremely sparingly. That will mean more than half of the “Super Smash Bros Collection” well be out in the wild, and if the release schedule continues at a similar pace all 49 Smash characters may be out before the year is half over. Then who knows what will happen. I shudder to think of the potential wallet drain. You can bet that most of the games I’ve mentioned on this page (Yes, the Wii U ones and the 3DS ones – there is a compatibility accessory coming after all) will use the figurines somehow to unlock or alter in-game content, no doubt making omnipresent characters like Mario, Link and Yoshi higher value-for-money purchases than the rest. The most interesting question for me is how Nintendo will manage to keep individual game functionality minimal enough that players don’t feel cheated out of things. So far so good in terms of what has been announced, but it’s a delicate tightrope.

When will they come out? All throughout the year, and you can bet they will be as difficult to find as ever.

19- An even stronger Nintendo eShop

An ongoing dilemna for Nintendo fans living outside North America is the weirdly out-of-sync release schedules of each regional version of the digital eShop, both on Wii U and 3DS. The Americans tend to get certain exciting releases far earlier than we do, and while we do get the occasional break (After all, we have Golden Sun: The Lost Age and Breath of Fire while they don’t, and that’s definitely a big win for us), it still sucks having to wait so long for the likes of Shovel Knight. In 2015 our game of catch-up will likely mean we get well-received indie titles like Azure Striker Gunvolt, and other, higher-profile games will hopefully join them. We already know to expect the full version of the Wii U Art Academy, the sequel to DSi breakout hit Flipnote Studio and a new Mario vs Donkey Kong puzzler, but what else will be (pardon the pun) in store for us? The last couple of Nintendo Direct broadcasts have boasted a veritable feast of indie titles, some of which make exclusive and creative use of the Wii U gamepad, but how much more can we expect from the storefront? Dare we hope for a “SNES Remix”, a “HarmoKnight 2”, or the long-awaited debut of Nintendo 64 games on the Wii U Virtual Console? Honestly, I’ll be happy with the appearance of one or more out of Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, Advance Wars 2 and Secret of Mana, but no matter how you slice it 2015 looks like it will be the best year yet for Nintendo’s online instant game delivery service.

When will these come out? We live in Australia, so God only knows.

20- Heaps of surprises

This is Nintendo we are talking about – the videogame company that can still keep secrets like no other – and the fact that we already know so many Nintendo games aiming for a 2015 release makes me wonder: Just what else could be up the Big N’s sleeve? They surely already have enough “tent pole” releases to fill out the year, so does that mean some of their smaller franchises could get new games? Wild speculation is all we have at this point. A new F-Zero seems unlikely given the extensive homages in the last bit of Mario Kart 8 DLC, a new Advance Wars is almost certainly a few years off due to Codename S.T.E.A.M and we’re likely still too close to last year’s Mario Golf game to hope for a new Golden Sun from Camelot. Outside of the eShop stuff and Miyamoto’s “Project Giant Robot/Project Guard” concepts, that doesn’t leave much, except perhaps for an Animal Crossing game on Wii U, which would probably draw a pretty lukewarm reception from me if I’m honest. So what I’m really saying is, I got nothing. And I’m loving it.

When will they happen? The real beauty is that I have no idea!

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