Finishing the Launch Window: 2013’s Wii U Offerings
As the Wii U launch window continues into 2013, many critics have suggested that potential buyers should hold off from purchasing Nintendo’s latest piece of hardware. Despite the system’s innovative gameplay mechanisms and impressive graphical showcase, reviewers were skeptical of the Wii U’s starting titles. However, as 2013 slowly moves in, promising first- and third-party titles will only make the Wii U more compelling.
With a late November launch, Nintendo took advantage of the holiday season to showcase the Wii U’s innovative gameplay features. Titles such as “Zombi U”, “Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition” and “New Super Mario Bros U” marked a strong Day 1 lineup that strived to demonstrate the Wii U’s potential. Many of these titles were warmly received by both players and critics alike. “Arkham City”, for instance, used the Gamepad’s touch screen to introduce an enemy sonar device into gameplay, while “Assassin Creed III”’s Wii U port demonstrated the graphical capabilities of the new system’s hardware. The warm reception did not translate into commercial success. Many of these titles failed to draw in buyers, leading Nintendo to meet lower holiday sales than its 2006 Wii launch.
The Wii U port of Gearbox Software’s “Aliens: Colonial Marines” looks to demonstrate how the system’s features can enhance first-person shooter gameplay. Already billed as a realistic interpretation of the “Aliens” universe, “Colonial Marines” uses the Gamepad as a representation of the film’s iconic motion tracker., Players can scan a level for xenomorphs by moving the Gamepad and listening carefully to the classic ping emitting from their hands. Likewise, the Gamepad’s implementation will allow quick access to mission objectives, mini-maps, squad loadouts, and other menu features without pausing the game. And, like “Assassin’s Creed III”, “Colonial Marines’“s Wii U port will possess further graphic refinements that may not present in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions. For hardcore fans, "Colonial Marines" will be a perfect excuse to purchase a Wii U.
Despite a delay into the Q2 2013 window, however, the greatest launch window pull for the Wii U remains the highly anticipated “Pikmin 3." For over a decade, “Pikmin’s" aesthetically charming exercise in micromanagement has wooed hardcore and casual gamers alike. “Pikmin 3” looks to continue to please fans by introducing more of the game’s titular strategic units, while adapting both the Wii U Gamepad and Wii Remote’s control schemes for intuitive play. Furthermore, series game designer Shigeru Miyamoto has promised the third installment to return to the original’s strategic, stress-inducing roots: a move sure to entice hardcore Nintendo fans. Combined with the graphical capabilities of the Wii U’s hardware, “Pikmin 3” looks to combine addictive gameplay with aesthetically pleasing graphics. Given the Wii U’s less-than-pleasing sales numbers, “Pikmin 3's" promising formula may lure skeptics to embrace the console completely.
As 2013 begins, the Wii U appears an extremely promising console. Although the system may not be a gaming necessity yet, the second half of the Wii U’s could be the console’s financial pull. As Gearbox President Randy Pitchford explained, “[The Wii U is] amazing. It’s more powerful than anything we’re using now, and the GamePad is clearly designed for the more hardcore gamer. It is the best controller Nintendo have [sic] ever made.” With such promising statements from third-party developers, the Wii U could very well dominate the console market as the next generation rapidly approaches.