To My Fellow Wii U Owners – This Is Probably The End

This will be a busy weekend for this blog.

Found on a Facebook fan group. Nailed it.

Looking at things that interest me in a positive light is well beyond a defining feature of my personality at this point. My default stance on just about anything videogame-related is optimism, for better or worse. But sometimes there isn’t all that much room for such a stance, and you just have to be real. If you’re a Nintendo fan of any kind, this is one of those times.

The most recent Nintendo-related announcement to cause waves online – an understatement in some corners – is the triple-bladed revelation from the company’s recent investor briefing that:

  1. Nintendo’s newest console, code-named “NX”, will be released worldwide in March 2017.

  2. The Wii U’s most widely anticipated game, a still-unnamed Legend of Zelda title, will release simultaneously on NX and Wii U, and thus will not see release until at least March 2017.

  3. Not only will the NX be absent from E3 in June this year, but this new Zelda (the Wii U version) will be the only game playable on the E3 show floor.

Still so mysterious.

There’s a lot to digest from this news, but the overwhelming, frigid-breeze-in-your-face implication here is that Nintendo is now ostensibly finished with the Wii U. Yes, Zelda will still come out for the ailing console, and I’m sure the game’s E3 presence will go above and beyond to showcase the benefits of the Wii U’s unique gamepad controller to the experience. But if the NX offers the better version of the game – and there aren’t very many great arguments around to suggest it won’t – then what Nintendo fan won’t just go for the NX version? What’s more, March next year is 10 months away, and the landscape of first-party game releases (and thus just about any game releases at all) for the Wii U in the next 10 months is looking awfully dry – I’m excited for Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, but it’s one of only three retail-facing first party games we know about, the other two being Paper Mario: Color Splash and Mario & Sonic at the Rio Olympic Games. It’s hard to see this whole situation as anything other than an admittance that the Wii U is over, and that sucks.

Nintendo has a history – an expectation, even – of killing its consoles way faster than any of its competitors. The final 12 months of the N64, the Gamecube and especially the Wii were sparsely populated with games worth playing, to put it mildly, and overlap of support leading into the following generation has usually been straight-up non-existent. Sure, some of my favourite games of all time have come from these twilight months – Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Pokemon Stadium 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword come to mind – but that doesn’t change the fact that a high quantity of exclusive game releases late in a Nintendo console’s life just isn’t a thing. But even so, it looks like the Wii U has it worst of all – at least in the three examples above there were some third party developers hanging around to pad out the year a bit. Not so with the Wii U, save for maybe LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens and probably Just Dance 2017.

Dat hype.

Of course, there are positives to be gleaned from these announcements, even if they’re a little difficult to focus on right now. The radio silence from developers close to Nintendo on the Wii U front all but confirms that the NX will get tons of support from – let’s be honest – the only game-makers that really matter to its chances of making a splash. The fact that it isn’t showing up at E3 means Nintendo will announce the console to the beat of its own drum and no-one else’s – i.e. when it has actual games to announce, and likely through a slickly-produced Nintendo Direct to boot. Thus we hopefully avoid a repeat of the supremely underwhelming E3 2015 presentation, which was content-light due to having to take place in the middle of June. But you never know with Nintendo, of course.

In addition, the sheer fact that the NX can run what is supposedly the biggest Zelda world ever means it’s almost certainly going to be a home console first and foremost, a theory that is solidified by the 3DS’ ongoing support right through to the end of 2016 at least. Knowing what we know about Nintendo console transitions, when you have Fire Emblem Fates, Monster Hunter Generations, Kirby Planet Robobot, Rhythm Paradise Megamix, Dragon Quest VII, Metroid Prime: Federation Force, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Final and Pokemon Sun/Moon all still coming out as 3DS exclusives this year alone, I’d argue that there’s some half-decent evidence mounting against the NX being a handheld device. And that should make people who just bought a 3DS – and especially people who just bought a New 3DS – breathe a little easier.

The 3DS will be fine for a while yet.

But what if you’re one of the very few people who just recently bought a Wii U? Well, I don’t know what to say to you. I’ve had one since launch and I’ve got more than my money’s worth out of the console. It’s going to be easy to feel like you haven’t, especially if you bought the Wii U for the express purpose of playing this new Zelda game. That’s a pretty awful feeling, and I’m sorry. But there’s no reason why you can’t still get your money’s worth.

I strongly encourage you to go back and play some of the Wii U’s best games – and there are quite a few great ones, make no mistake. I implore you to go beyond Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros for Wii U, Super Mario 3D World, Super Mario Maker and the Zelda remasters – all amazing games, of course, but you probably already have them – and try gems you can’t find anywhere else. Like Bayonetta 2, Fast Racing NEO, LEGO City Undercover, NES Remix 1 & 2, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, The Wonderful 101, Runbow. Don’t you dare not try Splatoon. Immerse yourself in Xenoblade Chronicles X. If you have readily available friends to play with, give Nintendo Land, Game & Wario or Wii Party U a shot. Hell, the new free-to-play online game Lost Reavers has some surprisingly enjoyable multiplayer, as does Pokken Tournament. And for the love of all that is good, play Pikmin 3!

Seriously, it’s freaking awesome.

While you’re at it, why not grab this well-timed Humble “Friends of Nintendo” Bundle that just went up, which packs quite a few games with strong Metacritic scores (among them the incredible Affordable Space Adventures) for dirt-cheap? Then check out the rather extensive array of excellent games from past systems on the best-ever version of the Virtual Console? It’s the only legal, non-second-hand way to buy Earthbound, Donkey Kong 64 or the original Xenoblade Chronicles, after all. In all seriousness, I’ve been playing Metroid: Zero Mission on the gamepad a lot recently. I never got to play it back on the GBA and it’s wonderful. The Wii U really does offer a lot to chew on.

It’s just a shame that its life has been cut so unceremoniously short.

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