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Nintendo will have the best next-gen Christmas line-up, but no-one is going to care

Seriously. Nintendo. Next-gen. Best. I’m using those words in the same sentence, and I’m not including even one facetious caveat. Not a single reference to 1996. Not one joke about anyone’s inability to distinguish between the concepts of “next” and “many years in the past”. Regardless of the Wii U’s unfortunate hardware disparity with the incoming PS4 and Xbox One, and regardless of Nintendo’s seemingly delirious, devil-may-care attitude toward any industry happenings not initiated by itself, the arguably shell-shocked, longest-serving veteran of this particular phase of the endless console war is looking pretty damn good this Christmas. Far better than its ‘real’ next-gen competitors, anyway.

Of course, this year is a special case. Christmas 2013 is one of those rare, serendipitous alignments of circumstance that allow fleeting windows of opportunity for the making of accidental heroes. Like when the gun barrel of an impassable tank jams just as a cloud passes the moon over a bombed French town, and the pinned-down GI below it notices he has that one grenade left. Or, more realistically, like when the video games available for some new consoles aren’t overly impressive, and a less well thought-of console has some quite good ones at the same time.

Because Nintendo formats, taking both the Wii U and 3DS into account, have a pretty damn strong line-up this year, whereas next-gen is, at it always is at this early stage, really only exciting by nature of the fact that it exists. It’s always the way during the launch window. The hype is based on conceptual value rather than the delivery of many concrete reasons for excitement. Early adoption is always an investment in future fun. You’re buying into the potential of the consoles, rather than their power for immediate, day one gratification. It’s a lot like having a baby. Lots of joy and forward-looking happiness at great times yet to come, all of which grossly over-rides the fact that at the moment, it doesn’t really do anything. Basically, launch line-ups are never the best period in a console’s life, is what I’m saying. The second and third generations of games are when things really kick into gear.

It’s even worse than usual this time around. In addition to the usual issue of merely decent-looking next-gen games, it seems that the few games that can really call themselves next-gen are absolutely buried by current-gen shovelware. Look at the next-gen launch line-up. How much of it is actually a pressing incentive to upgrade? I’ve discussed this before, so I won’t labour the point, but this time round we have an unprecedented number of polished up current-gen games filling the roster.

Assassin's Creed 4Call of Duty: GhostsInjustice: Gods Among UsLego Marvel. Need for Speed: Rivals. Trine 2Sound ShapesFlower. Lococycle. Minecraft. And the problem is only exacerbated by the fact that Watch Dogs and Drive Club have been pushed back. In terms of real, next-gen exclusive stuff, you’re looking at Killzone and Knack on the PS4, and Dead Rising 3, Killer Instinct and Forza 5 on the Xbox One. Both machines are getting Warframe, and I’ll count Battlefield 4 as well, as the next-gen editions will obviously be the console versions to get. But in terms of next-gen exclusive must-buys? There’s not a lot, overall.

Nintendo, however, is having a fine old time. Okay, the Wii U is hardly selling, desperately needs a price cut, and is seemingly, a year after release, taken seriously by a relatively small percentage of core gamers. But take cynical perception out of the equation, look at things from a perspective of platform and game quality, and you’ll find an increasingly rosy picture indeed.

First of all, Super Mario 3D World. It’s out very soon, and while I’m too deeply buried under embargo to tell you anything specific about it, you need to reserve time and money for it later in the month. It’s frustrating to try to sell Nintendo’s Christmas line-up without being able to talk about the best part of it, but suffice to say that I’ve been doing a lot of grinning, laughing, whooping and glassy eyed, blissed-out screen gazing lately. Just like I did when I first got a SNES and an N64.

And then there’s the HD version of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. It’s the best version of possibly the best Zelda. It might be a remake, but nowhere near enough people played it the first time round, and the upgrade to the cel shaded art makes it look essentially new anyway. And then there’s Sonic: Lost World, an exclusive, and possibly the first ever 3D Sonic game ever to get the idea right. Finally, we have the game Sonic fans have been begging for since the Dreamcast. That’s a big deal right there. But after a decade and a half of hope, no-one is celebrating, or even really noticing its arrival. Because it’s on the Wii U.

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58 comments

  • shawksta - November 15, 2013 6:15 p.m.

    You, considering certain circumstances, this is almost true and possible to happen. Killzone's great but Knack was mediocre, and who knows how Xbone will fare, with the rest of the library and 3D World possibly being a better recieved game than either launch titles, the Wii U has an advantage but as dave says, Nintendo needs to find a way to exploit that.
  • edward-la-guardia - November 13, 2013 11:04 p.m.

    Don't have a Wii U yet but I truly think I am going to be getting one this holiday season for myself. I'm a big Nintendo fan, but I just couldn't justify buying a Wii U when it came out because the games seemed fairly lackluster and the system (like all brand new systems) was full of bugs and long loading times and other missing features. I originally was going to get a PS4 but after reconsidering there is no way I'm paying 400 bucks to get something that doesn't have any must have games. If AC IV was next-gen only and Watch Dogs was still coming out...maybe, maybe I'd get it...but for Killzone (which I've never played) and Knack (which is getting pretty terrible reviews) there is no way I can justify getting the system for just that. So, with Wii U having a backlog of at least 10 games that I've been wanting to play, it doesn't seem really like any question of which one I will go with.
  • browngamer41 - November 13, 2013 4:23 p.m.

    WiiU wipes the floor with those other guys weak ass line ups, also someone above was complaining of storage space-buy a hard drive, there pretty cheap now days if you don't already have one lying around..I have two Terabytes of space which is far more than what either of the other two can store, plus my hard drive and system were still cheaper than a Ps4(with a game) and it matches my system and is super fast..
  • Pruman - November 13, 2013 10:58 a.m.

    I am REALLY tempted to spring for the Wind Waker bundle (since it would look awesome with my Ocarina 3DS and Skyward Sword Wiimote), but I hate the fact that the included game copy is a digital one and I can definitely see myself blowing another 50 bucks on a physical copy. Also, I swore I'd get no more non-handheld games or platforms until I clear out my existing backlog. (Handheld games don't count because I get to play them at least an hour every day thanks to my commute.)
  • Firepunch - November 13, 2013 12:48 a.m.

    I would have gotten a Wii U this Christmas if Nintendo released a new model with more memory and all the updates pre-installed. Oh well, no next gen consoles for me this year I guess
  • talleyXIV - November 13, 2013 12:39 p.m.

    Honestly if there is anything I can say to convince you, it's that the storage really isn't bothersome. I've had it for about 10 months now and played at least 15 games on it and have around 8 downloadable titles and it isn't even halfway filled up. Unless you are buying full retail games digitally it won't trouble you for a looong time.
  • Firepunch - November 14, 2013 8:27 a.m.

    While I guess memory might not be that much of a problem I'm pretty sure Nintendo will release or at least announce a new, better version of the Wii U some time next year and if I buy a Wii U now, I'll probably kick myself for not waiting
  • leon-hastings - January 20, 2014 7:21 a.m.

    Buy one it's great. If your worried about storage space, just use a USB. You will be missing out on waiting. I don't see them releasing a better version anytime soon, as they lose so much money on their hardware as it is. The games this year are awesome and they have a new DDP promotion that will be going on this year and ending next year. They give you 10% credit back for every game you buy. That equals out to $1 for every $10, it may not sound like much but it does add up quick and some of their games are super cheap right now.
  • Firepunch - January 20, 2014 10:33 a.m.

    Surprised someone replied to a comment from two months ago but I guess I should reply. First, I am going to get a Wii U some time in July whether they release a new version or not purely because I want to play Wonderful 101 so bad. Second, I want to thank you for telling me about the promotion because it sounds awesome seeing as I want to buy indie and virtual console stuff on my Wii U.
  • leon-hastings - January 20, 2014 12:32 p.m.

    Wondeful 101 is a blast.
  • GOD - November 13, 2013 12:32 a.m.

    Oh I care. As fancy as a shiny PS4 would look on my shelf, I know I'd much rather have a WiiU this holiday. Really want to get into some Pikmin 3 and Wonderful 101. Also speaking of no one caring, I went and got Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus that just came out today from Best Buy, and not only was it not on the shelves or where the rest of the new releases normally go, but it took them about 30 minutes to locate their stock of it. I must've been the only person to get the game by that point in the day, and possibly the only person that day. Keep in mind that I live in a very populated area and that's the only Best Buy for many many miles around.
  • Arix - November 12, 2013 8:08 p.m.

    Honestly, people can say what they want about Nintendo. But there simply aren't enough (read: any) games exclusive to Sony and/or Microsoft that interest me anywhere near enough to buy into them.
  • Nev3rtime - November 12, 2013 7:08 p.m.

    I'm enjoying my Wii U and probably won't consider a second next gen console till at least 2015. The Wonderful 101 is a fantastic and highly underrated game and Windwaker HD is brilliant. Also, I skipped the Wii and thanks to the wii u's backwards compatibility this is also my chance to play Skyward Sword... although so far, though I appreciate they were trying something new and more dungeon orientated, it's my least favourite 3d Zelda.
  • nick-stancato - November 12, 2013 3:28 p.m.

    Yeah no. For those like me that don't care about yet another Mario and yet another Zelda, Wii U isn't attractive at all. It doesn't even compare to my PS4 this fall
  • talleyXIV - November 13, 2013 12:40 p.m.

    "My PS4." So how did designing it go? Great way to keep an open mind by the way, are you really going to say Mario and Zelda games aren't good?
  • TheWebSwinger - November 12, 2013 1:05 p.m.

    Way to shit all over PS4 at the end there :T
  • shawksta - November 12, 2013 9:51 a.m.

    Im more surprised that its David out of all people that made this article, otherwise i wouldve assumed %100 that it was Henry if i didnt look at the author. Great article david, even though you pulled up games from the past to push your argument, you still made your point. People keep giving Nintendo a lot of shit but all they want is their games on their consoles. Flat out ignoring that Nintendo tries to push for new ideas out of their consoles, "Gimmicky" or not. Its all part of the fun factor of actually playing games and potential. Also i can see your Backpeddling and flat out loving Super Mario 3D World, the cycle repeats itself XD
  • BladedFalcon - November 12, 2013 10:33 a.m.

    Dave never said Super Mario 3D World wouldn't be good, he just said it wasn't the 3D Mario people wanted, and nothing has changed to contradict that statement. Yes, the game looks better now, but it's still far from being nearly as exciting as Mario Galaxy or Mario Sunshine were back when they were revealed.
  • jeremycarrier - November 12, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    It looks to be a much better game than Sunshine, at any rate
  • BladedFalcon - November 12, 2013 11:12 a.m.

    That I'm not contesting. But people were way more excited comparatively for Mario Sunshine than they are for this game for a reason.

Showing 1-20 of 58 comments

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