If you’re a gamer, you know that times are tough for the company that created your most cherished childhood memories. Nintendo recently posted a loss of $457 million dollars this last year, resulting in a shocked collective gasp from those who heard the news. For those with half the picture, it is a surprise – Nintendo’s handheld devices have been selling like crazy, even the weird 2DS.
The 3DS generation in all its incarnations has sold over 43 million consoles and over 162 million games, netting a hefty profit for Nintendo. It’s been lauded as a great handheld, perhaps the best handheld ever made, so why are Mario and Company hemorrhaging money?
While the 3DS has been selling hand over fist, the big N’s newest home console, the Wii U, has been languishing in a state of lame games and underutilized technology. Since its release 19 months ago, it has the worst selling record of any Nintendo console ever released with the exception of the “OH MY GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE” awfulness of the Virtual Boy. Couple that with a stubborn insistence on not producing third-party titles and actively attempting to push away those who want to develop for the system creates a perfect storm of bad publicity and crap sales.
However, where the VB was incurable, there is still hope for Nintendo’s newest console. Gaming’s biggest press event, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, is upon us. It’s a magical time to be a gamer when E3 comes round. Every facet of the gaming world descends on Los Angeles – publishers, companies, journalists, developers, professional gamers, enthusiasts, cosplayers, and more – for a three-day extravaganza that gives the gaming public an idea of what the biggest names in the biz have in store for the future. Rumors are already flying about what Nintendo has in store, and if the big N can deliver on even half of these promises, they might just be able to rise from the ashes. Here are 10 games, some rumored, some confirmed, that should pull Nintendo out of the red and into the black once again.
10 Luigi’s Mansion: Wii U
Nintendo’s famous brothers have always shared a one-sided relationship, but with 2013 being officially declared “The Year Of Luigi," the lanky green plumber has been seeing much more love as of late. His 3DS premiere in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was one of the 3DS’s best-performing titles to date, selling almost 4 million copies. Rumors were spread when a Luigi’s Mansion title for the Wii U was posted on an online retailer, but the post was removed and Nintendo has been hush-hush on the link since. Nevertheless, a Luigi’s Mansion title would be an awesome addition to the Wii U. Can you imagine ghost busting on two screens? Or using a 3DS to scan for ghosts invisible to the naked eye on the big screen? The mind boggles… spookily, of course.
9 Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem
This is a bit more of an esoteric title than normal, but totally worth a mention. This is a crossover of two turn-based strategy games: Shin Megami Tensei, a technologically-charged sci-fi adventure loaded with demons and intrigue, and Fire Emblem, a medievally-themed tactical strategy game filled with traditional fantasy role-playing fare. On the surface, the two couldn’t be more different, but at their cores, the two games share a tactical similarity as well as an emphasis on the humanity of their characters, something not found in most turn-based strategy games, where they are mostly pawns for the player to control. This crossover promises to draw strategists back to the big N who otherwise have no use for the Tanooki Suit’s resurrection or the HD remake of The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
8 Bayonetta 2
Somehow, amidst the primary colors and cartoony imagery surrounding the release of the Wii U, Bayonetta 2 was reported to be in development solely for play on the console. To give some background: Bayonetta is a sexy witch that beats the hell out of evil angels using weapons constructed mainly out of her hair. Ah, but here’s the catch: her outfit is also made entirely of her hair. So as she attacks, she performs a kung-fu striptease that attracted millions of buyers on the PS3 and Xbox 360. So, a game with such blatant disregard to the goody-goody aesthetics Nintendo’s stuck to with the Wii U might be just the thing to get more mature developers – and more importantly, gamers – back to the console.
7 Hyrule Warriors
Anyone who’s played a Legend of Zelda game knows that they’re one-person affairs. You play as lone protagonist Link, who explores the land of Hyrule and fights off bad guys one by one. If you ever wanted to play with someone else while playing as Link, you had to play the Smash Bros series. But Nintendo is opening the way for co-op play against dozens of baddies in the upcoming game Hyrule Warriors. Nintendo gets a lot of well-deserved flak for rehashing old titles, but this entry sounds like a blast.
6 Shigeru Miyamoto’s Secret Project
For those of you who don’t know who this adorable guy is, he coded your childhood. He’s Shigeru Miyamoto, creator, director, and producer of some of the most enduring and cherished video game properties ever. He’s been hinting that he’s been working on a brand-new game for Nintendo for some time now, and a success as big as Mario or Zelda would be a huge windfall for Nintendo.
5 Star Fox U
Star Fox is an old-school air combat game with a cutesy sci-fi twist: all the characters are anthropomorphic animals living in a futuristic society. The gameplay is a third-person re-imagining of classic top-down games like Galaga, which gives the player the ability to soar across landscapes and battle enemy aircraft one-on-one. It’s been a series that has developed quite a following, but hasn’t had a home console release since the GameCube in 2005. Gamers have been clamoring for a new Star Fox for ages, and this is the perfect time to reveal a new installment in the series.
This might be the longest shot, but it promises a huge payoff. The original F-Zero and its successor on the GameCube, F-Zero GX, are lauded as the best futuristic racing games out there, and it has just enough niche appeal to sway old diehards currently playing with Sony and Microsoft. Plus, it’s another opportunity to get Captain Falcon back into the mix. If that isn’t enough reason, I don’t know what is.
3 Super Smash Bros Wii U/3DS
Few ideas are as simple as the premise behind every Super Smash Bros. Game: Get all of the really awesome characters from all of your really awesome games, and let them beat each other up. It’s a huge, shameless nostalgia fest, and no one cares because it’s so damned good. Any SSB is an instant party game, with the controls being easy to learn and tough to master. The roster of players has ballooned over the years, and this newest installment does not disappoint. This is the first time a Smash title has been set out for two consoles at once, with a 3DS version dropping this summer and the Wii U version hitting near the end of the year. Unfortunately this isn’t good news for bolstering Wii U sales immediately, but hopefully the 3DS version will sell well enough to create hype for the Wii U version.
2 Metroid Wii U
As far as gritty Nintendo-published titles go, the Metroid series is as nasty as it gets, which really isn’t saying much. It was originally developed as a send-off of sci-fi movies like Alien (a reoccurring enemy is named Ripley, after Sigourney Weaver’s character), but has since become a staple for Nintendo’s action titles. The latest in the series, Other M, was to the series what Star Wars Episode 1 was to its namesake, but it hasn’t stifled the demand for another title. If anything, it’s left players clamoring for more to get the bad taste out of their mouths. The HD capacity of the Wii U is a perfect platform to show off the series’ sweet sci-fi graphics and bring more players to the system.
1 Zelda Wii U
There’s really no ifs, ands, or buts about it – if Pokémon is the best way to move Nintendo’s handheld devices, then The Legend of Zelda is going to be the biggest mover for the Wii U. It’s been floating around in the ether since 2011, and more information has been promised at E3, but if Nintendo really wants to get the Wii U moving, it needs a preview and solid release date. Other Zelda games such as Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword have proven that higher-quality graphics do nothing but enrich the Zelda experience, so really, get the lead out, N. With a little luck and some well-placed game releases, we might be able to see the makers of our childhood back on top once again.