Which console will win 2012?

Four systems, four editors and three different reasons why each could claim this year as its own

Nintendo

1. The Wii U is the only new home console arriving this year

Argued by: Henry Gilbert, Associate Editor

Gossip comes and goes, but we feel pretty safe in saying that Microsoft and/or Sony probably won’t announce new systems this year, let alone release them in 2012. If you’re looking for the excitement of something new and novel in the incredibly stale world of home consoles, the Wii U is basically your only option. Good thing that situation isn’t as dire as it sounds, because despite a slight decline in excitement since its initial reveal, the Wii U has tons going for it.

First off, on top of the innovative mix of motion controls and a tablet controller, we keep hearing that what was shown last June is just the tip of the iceberg. Nintendo has gone on record multiple times saying the final, real version of the system will be revealed at E3 this year. Before then, rumors continue to swirl that it’ll have more features that together could make it far more unique than what its competitors currently have. And its actual graphics prowess seems to be a moving target too, with estimates ranging between “equal to a PS3” and “twice as powerful as a 360.”

No matter how good it looks, you can always count on Nintendo’s first-party franchises to support the system, and we really want to believe Nintendo when it says it’s learned its lesson from the huge disappointment that was the 3DS’s yawn of a launch lineup. No matter what Nintendo games you’ll have when it first comes out, it looks like many of the major third parties are preparing some of their biggest franchises for the launch too, like Arkham City and Assassin’s Creed. Will they be more substantial than gimmicky updates? If not, we can at least be happy knowing that Nintendo will finally have current-looking games (at least until its competitors launch new systems next year).

2. The 3DS has come into its own in a big way

There was so much negativity surrounding the once-troubled 3DS for much of last year, with several third parties delaying or cancelling releases and sales slowing to a crawl. But many barely remember that now, as the handheld eventually dominated sales charts worldwide and now looks to continue that success into 2012. Just how will the 3DS do that, especially with new competition in the form of the technologically superior PS Vita?

3DS has one of the strongest upcoming software release schedules around, with big third-party games from franchises as diverse as Metal Gear Solid, Kingdom Hearts and Tekken alongside the just-released Resident Evil Revelations. And that list of big third-party entries will only grow, as the 3DS was such a sales success last holiday season that more developers and publishers will jump on the bandwagon soon enough. Compare that to how little we all know about what’s planned for the Vita after this March.

Meanwhile, Nintendo has already announced an amazing line-up of first party games for the system, a number that can only grow as the year continues. How good is that line-up? That leads us to our third reason…

3. Nintendo's first-party games

We’re not sure exactly how Nintendo does it, but its first party games were benchmarks of quality game design 30 years ago and are still reason enough to keep players coming to its hardware. That’s still true in 2012, and even though the company is famous for premiering its biggest games at E3, there are a huge number of known titles in the pipeline. More importantly, compared to its competitors, Nintendo has far more anticipated exclusives that we know about.

On the 3DS there’s the unexpected Luigi’s Mansion 2, a new entry in the classic RPG franchise Paper Mario, and Kid Icarus: Uprising, the game Nintendo fanatics have waited decades for. Then there’s the always addicting Animal Crossing, Mario Tennis, and Fire Emblem, with Professor Layton and even a new 2D Mario planned for this year. And that’s just what Nintendo has revealed so far.

While Nintendo’s Wii U line-up is basically unknown, we’re optimistic that the hardware maker will have some really killer stuff to showcase for E3, because Nintendo needs to show huge games for launch and beyond to wash away the doubts from last year. And even the Wii, a dead system to basically every other company, is still getting quality first party releases like Rhythm Heaven and Xenoblade Chronicles early this year. From all angles, Nintendo has the best known 2012 line-up by far.

Next page: Why Sony will win

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
We recommend