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Where is 3DS' top-tier line-up for 2014? Has Wii U snatched it away?

Nintendo's 3DS software-focused Nintendo Direct has come and gone without any megaton reveals for 2014. No, Nintendo Pocket Football Club doesn't count. Sure, we've still got some good games coming up as we ride the crest of a fantastic 2013 for the handheld, but 'good' isn't good enough for us gamers. We demand more. “MOAR GAMZ! MOAR GAMZ!” That’s what we sound like. It’s our insatiable appetite for more games that must exasperate Nintendo to the point of Satoru Iwata thrusting his hands out and saying "please enjoy… what you already frikkin’ have, you greedy bastards".

The problem is that Nintendo's resources are finite. The company has done a remarkable job of turning around the fortunes of 3DS, to the point where we've been spoilt rotten with one of the best years of exclusive software of any generation ever (as Dave rightly pointed out in his feature Nintendo will have the best next-gen Christmas line-up, but no-one is going to care ). But now Wii U needs that same rescue package, and I fear 3DS is going to lose out.

The simple fact is, 2014 is (currently) looking sparse in terms of AAA 3DS games. Sure, B-tier games like Bravely Default, Mario Golf, Professor Layton and Kirby are coming, but they're not exactly the equivalent of a 3DS-exclusive Super Mario Galaxy 3, are they? We'll no doubt hear something at E3, but E3 Nintendo announcements have a tendency to appear at least 12 months after the event.

The problem would obviously disappear if enough third-party developers were on board, but Nintendo seems happy to bail out its own ships without asking for help from other vessels. This currently isn’t so much of a problem on 3DS now that the first-party line-up is so strong. But it will be a problem if Nintendo keeps running from one console to the other, extinguishing fires with buckets of awesome. Buckets of awesome that take far too much time to fill from the awesome tap.

There's a definite disparity between how long it takes to make a game and how long it takes for a gamer to play it. Misguided though it may have been, Cammie Dunaway's infamous 'keep playing Mario Kart' actually had a point. Why are we blazing through the games we've waited so patiently for in such a short space of time?

Because while it may have taken you a weekend to trot through a lovely game like Luigi’s Mansion 2, think about how long it took to make it. The thousands of man-hours spent hiding coins under rugs, animating Luigi’s trembly face and squashing that one bug that (possibly) made Luigi’s nose blow up like a balloon if you simultaneously held all the face buttons and farted. You’ve got to test for things like that.

The biggest-hitter still left to come on the 3DS schedule is undoubtedly Super Smash Bros, which has been perpetually on the horizon for what feels like an eternity. Wait... hang on a sec, I’ll just check there isn’t an invisible horizon-length fishing rod above my head with Smash Bros dangling from the end of it… nope, apparently it really is coming soon. Of course there are other games coming up, including Mario Golf, Mario Party, Yoshi’s Island 2 and Monster Hunter 4 (all down for 2014), but how many of those are really top-tier? Two? A couple of highly promising games are no longer enough to reassure our game-mad brains that all is well with a console's future.

I can't help but jump to conclusions. I mean, last time the first-party AAA release schedules went this empty, it was because Nintendo’s best internal development teams were hard at work on next-gen. Wii’s AAA releases went quiet, as did those of the DS before it. So either Wii U is demanding a resource shift, or a next-gen handheld is on its way. I fear it's the former, and that 3DS' software output is going to suffer.

Ironic thing is, it doesn’t even require genuinely 'new' anything to ease the situation. How many times this year have you thought ‘Pokemon’s coming!’, knowing full well Pokemon is and has always been the same game in a different box with some new Pokemon and shinier graphics? It isn’t really ‘new’ at all. Just adequately brought up to date. Ostensibly, very little from Nintendo is ever truly ‘new’ these days. The company seems proud of its nostalgia-heavy, comfortably familiar experiences. Sure, we all know the gameplay continues to 'surprise in a pleasant way' to echo the recent financial report, but the faces gamers see are almost always the same.

It isn’t rocket cliches (I mean 'science'). We know what we’re likely to be given on 3DS, assuming Triple-A development isn't now all being pushed onto Wii U: A new Mario game, F-Zero, Metroid, a brand new 3D Star Fox and something retro-tastic like a Mario Kart Anthology. So please, Nintendo, don’t wait for E3. Tell us now what we've got to look forward to on 3DS in 2014, hang it on a horizon-length fishing rod for us all to wear over our heads and then carry on with the same schedule as planned. I, for one, will feel much better.

15 comments

  • ThundaGawd - November 25, 2013 4:39 p.m.

    Wait, hold up. Monster Hunter 4 was confirmed for North American release? When the hell did this happen? I've been waiting for this announcement ever since I first heard about MH4.
  • The_Tingler - November 14, 2013 8:55 a.m.

    Wait, you're talking about 3DS? I've got Professor Layton 6, Link Between Worlds, Sonic Lost World and Batman - Blackgate all in the last month, Mario & Luigi still to finish, and no chance of me buying another 3DS game until at least March! If Smash Bros came out February I'd pick it up in April (or later). And you're complaining about top-tier games you're looking forward to? I can only name a handful of (non-Kickstartered) games in 2014 I'm looking forward to, I'm sure there'll be announcements coming.
  • Shigeruken - November 14, 2013 4:51 a.m.

    I'm sure next year's Pokemon game would have sold more than the rest of their lineup combined, so they probably aren't making the 3DS a priority right now.
  • talleyXIV - November 13, 2013 12:45 p.m.

    It is really confusing what Nintendo is doing right now... You would think with the Wii U gasping for air, they would make Super Smash Bros. the definitive game to bring the console back to life, but then they make it multi-platform. Along with that they have already made a really great Mario Kart for 3DS, a great Zelda remake and a new one that looks promising (although not like WWHD it definitely hurts), at least 3 good Mario games, Donkey Kong Country, and Pokemon. So any way Nintendo decides to go they are kind of not giving anyone an incentive to buy a Wii U. "Hey we have a new Mario Kart! "Got it for 3DS." "Hey a new Zelda." "Got one for 3DS." "Hey a new Mario." "I have some for 3DS." "A new Donkey Kong?" "For 3DS." "Super Smash Bros.?" "3DS."
  • jeremycarrier - November 13, 2013 12:52 p.m.

    I was just talking about that yesterday on another forum. Nintendo is spreading themselves out really thin as it is, but it doesn't help that they have a much more successful piece of hardware that has variants of most of their games. If anybody wants a Nintendo fix, chances are they're gonna go for the 3DS/2DS instead. Its cheaper, portable, and has more games.
  • Pruman - November 13, 2013 1:57 p.m.

    You took the words right out of my mouth. There is no compelling reason to buy one when I can play 90+ percent of its library on my 3DS. I don't really care if New SMB U is the best Mario game since Mario World, I know exactly how it's going to play because I played New SMB 2 on my 3DS. That leads into my second issue. Nintendo has always (unfairly, in my opinion) been accused of releasing the exact same games over and over again. I disagree with that opinion because they usually change the games up enough to make them unique. With the Wii U, however, it seems to me like they're just bringing what works on the 3DS onto the new system instead of creating new and unique experiences. New SMB is the best example, but when I saw the announcement for SM3D World, the first thing I thought was "THIS is the new Mario game? A Wii U version of SM3D Land? I ALREADY PLAYED SM3D LAND! GIVE ME SOMETHING TOTALLY NEW LIKE GALAXY!" The new Smash hasn't done anything to convince me it's going to be anything more than HD update of Brawl with more characters, and in any case, I can play it on my 3DS. Mario Kart U looks just like Mario Kart 7 with an HD coat of paint. Same with DKC Tropical Freeze. All of them look like great games, but I've already played all of them!
  • shawksta - November 13, 2013 2:49 p.m.

    Not exactly, or atleast not for Zelda Handheld zelda's are different from Console Zelda's
  • shawksta - November 13, 2013 2:51 p.m.

    Also your forgetting games like Xenoblade and Bayonetta 2, and that Cross Over between Fire Emblem and SMT You make up a good point but your otherwise choosing the obvious while ignoring the other Wii U exclusives
  • shawksta - November 13, 2013 2:51 p.m.

    Also Pikmin
  • jeremycarrier - November 13, 2013 2:56 p.m.

    Most of those games sell a fraction what Mario/Smash/Zelda/DK/Mario Kart do. Those are the big system-sellers, and they're on another system.
  • shawksta - November 13, 2013 3:27 p.m.

    That doesnt change the fact that they are different games and Pikmin and especially Bayonetta are pretty big games and people kicked like their ass to bring Xenoblade to America and X looks like a pretty big game. Super Mario 3D World has its perks and much differentiation from 3D Land, yes we get it, your dissapointed its not what you wanted, but you dont have to ignore everything about it that stands much better and different from 3D land, especially when 3D Land's focus is more 3D effect based and simplfied. and in general, whats wrong with sequels? Last i checked some of the Big PS4/Xbone games are sequels/Ports "on another system" and people are eating them up
  • mothbanquet - November 13, 2013 9:52 a.m.

    Hell, I'd settle for an updated Lylat Wars...
  • shawksta - November 13, 2013 9:43 a.m.

    I LOVED Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon and took my time with it to really appreciate all the touches and interactions Next Level Games is good at putting in. The multiplayer was also a blast. Currently loving the crap out of Dream Team, still around 30 hours in and i havent beat the game yet. You guys make a point, maybe they are working on Wii U stuff, but really as i said before the 3DS has brought A LOT of great games this year, it shouldnt be ignored and frankly the 3DS should do fine even with an absense, who knows what they'll announce under the rug and we do have Yoshi and Kirby (as uncertain as i am with Yoshi, the point still stands) Either way, whatevers coming should be juicy
  • BladedFalcon - November 13, 2013 9:42 a.m.

    If this is true... what a real shame it would be. I mean, I get that Nintendo should try harder n the Wii U, but not if it's at the expense of supporting their one console that IS worthwhile and IS selling >_>; But, if they announce a New Advance Wars within the next year, all is forgiven.
  • Pruman - November 13, 2013 2:10 p.m.

    This ^ infinity. The 3DS needs a new Advance Wars YESTERDAY. Fire Emblem is fun, but it's hard to play it aggressively unless you're OK with losing characters. Which I'm not...which leads to profanity-laced rants and near-throwings of the 3DS when my characters who survived for 15 missions get critical'd by an assassin or killed by a pack of 5 gryphons who appeared on the map and attacked on the same turn.

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