By David Tocco, Staff Writer
With the Wii U console now over three years into its life, Nintendo seems poised to possibly release their next generation video game machine later this year, codenamed the Nintendo NX. As for the Wii U, while it has had mild success since its inception in 2012 with over 10 million hardware units sold and well over 50 million software titles worldwide, it still lags in a distant third place behind video game bosses Microsoft and Sony. Nintendo’s loyal fan base has received the obligatory family-friendliness and many top of the line first party titles which they have come to expect from the Kyoto, Japan based video game company, but there still is much to be desired for older, more competitive gamers.
With units sold and overall popularity, the Wii U has trailed behind the Sony Playstation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One in the power department and not surprisingly the third party software support. Why is this still the case? Oddly, it seems Nintendo has not made much if any headway in gaining support and dedication from big third-party developers. Nintendo has had this problem since the GameCube, back in 2001. The GameCube also lagged far behind its competitors in that day and age, the Playstation 2 and Xbox.
One thing is certain: Nintendo is not stupid and has a big vision to stay competitive in the console wars. This year is a golden opportunity to take a decisive lead. With neither Sony nor Microsoft having unveiled any plans for a new console in the near term (probably not until at least 2018 based on trends), Nintendo can, if executed properly, gain a large competitive advantage with a much more powerful console. From rumors, patent releases, and Nintendo’s own statements, this seems to be what they have in mind. New president Tatsumi Kashimi said, “I can assure you we’re not building the next version of Wii or Wii U. It’s something unique and different.”
Probably the most highly anticipated Nintendo release is the new Zelda game, which in many fans’ minds is long overdue. Nintendo has promised a 2016 release, but not how close to the launch of the NX it will come, or if it will be released on both the Wii U and NX. Another big release will be the Twilight Princess HD port for the Wii U. Also upcoming is a new Star Fox title, Star Fox Zero. The Star Fox series, one of the most beloved Nintendo franchises, has only enjoyed moderate success in recent years with releases such as Star Fox Assault and Star Fox Adventures – none of these games have been able to live up to the greatness of Star Fox 64.
Online: will Nintendo up its game in this ever-important department? The fact that the Wii U did not come equipped with an Ethernet port should be telling as to the lack of priority of online gameplay experience in Nintendo’s vision. In addition, the games which have had success in online participation such as Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon, there is no in-game voice-chat ability. Will this change with the NX? Part of what makes the online gaming experience so much fun is team-based combat or strategy with voice chat.
Will Nintendo of America execute and properly showcase their NX, or will they rely on fan loyalty to ensure adequate sales? Will there be a reason for the Xbox and Playstation loyalists to take a look at Nintendo’s newest device? No matter what, it should be an interesting year for Nintendo.