How Was The Wii U’s 2015?

How Was The Wii U’s 2015?

The Wii U has had a pretty quiet 2015. That’s not exactly a bad thing though. For a system that was written off by so many critics and sites, its relevance is still going strong. Nintendo have done a fairly good job of keeping their latest home system in the minds of the consumer. New IPs, spin-offs and sequels provided the biggest additions to the Wii U library in 2015. Oddly, one of 2014′s biggest games was still at the very forefront of Nintendo’s plans.

Super Smash Bros is still a big deal, even a year after release. Nintendo’s support of their ‘killer app’ is admirable, but smart. Adding new characters to the game via DLC was always going to happen. Nintendo chased their additions careful, capitalising on major franchises and characters. The additions of Ryu and Cloud made sense, even more so given both characters have new games coming out.

Both additions allowed Nintendo to type into the Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Street Fighter 5 hype. While they weren’t announcing new games, their Smash Bros additions saw them make headlines. Another smart addition came in the shape of Bayonetta. After hosting her second game on the Wii U, it made sense to add her to Smash Bros, even more so given Bayonetta’s cult following.

Nintendo continued their tradition of trying new genres and concepts throughout 2015. Captain Toad Treasure Tracker saw them tinker with puzzle solving via the Wii U pads features. Yoshi’s Woolly World built upon the foundations laid by Kirby’s Epic Yarn, with added scope. Even the reappearance of Kirby in The Rainbow Curse saw Nintendo tinker with mechanics. All three titles provided the typical Nintendo experience, but there was one new spin-off that grew into something much more.

Super Mario Maker is arguably Nintendo’s most experimental release in the last decade. Famous for creating near perfect gameplay and level design, they handed over the power to the players. Nintendo supplied the tools for players to simply create. From basic courses, to complex user-made mini games, Super Mario Maker flourished. The ability to share levels and leave feedback resulted in a thriving community. It’s the closet Nintendo has came to ‘getting’ modern multiplayer, appreciating the power shared experiences. Super Mario Maker, for all its success, did feel slightly hindered by Nintendo’s policy on Streaming and Youtuber video content.

2015 wasn’t all about established Nintendo characters. Splatoon went from curiosity to mainstream, at least in video game circles. For a title that was looked down upon by many after its reveal, Splatoon became hot property. Nintendo’s twist on team based competitive shooters was a sheer joy to play. The concept of covering maps with your teams colours was simple, yet so clever. Splatoon’s initial niche market quickly expanded, even drawing in non-Nintendo fans.

The Devil’s Third, Mario Party 10 and Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival made their mark in 2015, but not in a good way. Both Mario Party 10 and Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival took some heat for being nothing more than Amiiboo vehicles. Nintendo’s approach to incorporating their little plastic money makers was shown in it’s worst light.

Nintendo’s desire to grow the Wii U’s ‘mature games’ library took another dent. The Devil’s Third is simply a bizarre creation. People may of talked about it a few years ago, but its release was such a quiet event. With next to no marketing in Europe, the game just appeared on store shelves. Given the Wii U tends to take up a very small amount of retail shelf space, The Devil’s Third faded into obscurity. The North American release packed a little more punch, but the game’s conflicting mechanics and themes resulted in poor review.

The Wii U capped off 2015 with Xenoblade Chronicles X. In a true display of what the Wii U can do, Xenoblade boasted huge scope and fantastic visuals. With the market flooded with open world titles, Xenoblade could of sank, but it held its own. Quality RPG mechanics, matched with solid combat, allowed the game to grow into one of 2015′s best releases. Xenoblade Chronicles X earned critical praise, as well as positive user reviews. It was a strong end to the Wii U’s 2015.

2015 may not have been the Wii U’s busiest year, but Nintendo did a top job of keeping it relevant. Even after a decent run of games, it’s impossible to look passed the biggest event in Nintendo’s 2015. On July 11th, industry icon Satoru Iwata passed away. He was more than a industry icon. A man who clearly appreciated video games and their impact, Iwata was a true video game hero. His contributions to video games will have a profound affect for generations to come.

A fairly good year overall, that will forever be remembered in honour of Iwata.


Sean Halliday

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