Let’s face it: 2015 wasn’t one of Nintendo’s more successful years in recent memory. While the software that did come out was stellar, and some borderlined on being masterpieces, such as Super Mario Maker and Xenoblade Chronicles X, the year was a massive disappointment from a software standpoint. Nintendo had some great supplementary titles that were enjoyable, but they lacked a killer app — a system seller if you will — that would drive both software and hardware sales. Star Fox Zero and The Legend of Zelda Wii U were supposed to be released this holiday season, but were delayed. Had those two games been released, Nintendo would have dominated the holidays. Alas, it was not meant to be, and the only holiday title Nintendo released was Xenoblade Chronicles X. While this was an incredible game (a masterpiece in fact), it is unfortunately a niche game and in no way was going to push hardware sales the way a title like Zelda would.
2016 has a much brighter outlook though. Nintendo has a number of wonderful titles lined up for next year, including Star Fox Zero, Twilight Princess HD, Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem, The Legend of Zelda Wii U, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and Pokkén Tournament, and those are all of the Wii U titles we know of thus far, with more sure to be announced in the coming months. The 3DS lineup doesn’t look too shabby either, being spearheaded by Fire Emblem Fates and including Hyrule Warriors Legends, Mario & Luigi Paper Jam, Final Fantasy Explorers, Project X Zone 2, Bravely Second: End Layer, Dragon Quest VII, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, Metroid Prime: Federation Force, Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, and my most anticipated 3DS title of the year, Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma. Nintendo is even rolling out their first smart device application, Miitomo, this March.
There seems to be a bit for everyone with Nintendo’s 2016 software lineup, and there will no doubt be additional announcements as the year goes on. This will also be a huge year for Nintendo as they get ready to unveil the Nintendo NX, which has been kept closely under wraps. Although there have been rumors that the NX will be released next holiday season, it is more likely that it will be released in 2017, allowing the Wii U to gracefully finish its life cycle. The problem with the Wii U has never been the amount of quality titles for the system; it has been the inconsistent release schedule, the constant delays, and the lack of titles when the console launched. In addition, the Wii U floundered because of its poor advertisement as a successor to the Wii; most thought it was just an add-on rather than a true successor to the Wii.
Twilight Princess HD will be a fantastic holdover for fans waiting for the release of The Legend of Zelda Wii U, and the game may even help sell some systems considering how popular it was on the Wii and GameCube. Pokkén Tournament is the Pokémon fighting game that everyone has been waiting for. From my time with it at E3, Star Fox Zero is a very unique game that uses the GamePad in a way that it has never been utilized before. When The Legend of Zelda Wii U comes out, sales will explode in the west, with Nintendo fanboys crying out with glee. Even Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is a nice sports title for kids. Throw a few third-party games in there and additional games that Nintendo hasn’t announced yet, and you have an incredibly stellar software lineup for 2016. In fact, new Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima tells us that there definitely will be software for Wii U owners to play in an interview with TIME Magazine.
“What I want to do, I think our first job right now is to make sure that the customers, those 10 million customers who have a Wii U at home have software to play. And we need to make sure that they are satisfied with their purchase and continue to enjoy playing on this platform. So we can’t just abandon them and say ‘Hey, it’s time to move on to the next thing.’ Of course we are working on NX and looking at the experiences we can bring to that platform. But first our job at this point is to support the consumers who have purchased Wii U and make sure that they have software experiences available to them.”
On the 3DS side of things, I simply don’t know where to start other than to say that this upcoming year is a very exciting time to be a Nintendo 3DS owner. There are so many quality games that have been announced, including a complete surprise in the final installment in the Zero Escape series that I am ecstatic for. Many of titles that have been announced do fall into the RPG genre, which is fine for me, but there are bound to be more casual titles as well. Hyrule Warriors Legends is another intriguing title, introducing both new characters to the franchise such as Linkle in addition to adding classic characters to the game such as Tetra and the Skull Kid. Fire Emblem Fates is the follow up to the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Fire Emblem Awakening and is sure to send fans into a fervor. Bravely Second is the sequel to Bravely Default, which sold over one million copies worldwide. Metroid Prime: Federation Force wasn’t the Metroid that most were hoping for, but it could end up surprising people.
Nintendo’s software lineup for 2016 is excellent, with key titles being released that fans have been waiting for. 2015 may have been a let down, but with The Legend of Zelda for Wii U in our wake, along with Star Fox and the aforementioned 3DS lineup, Nintendo is setting themselves up nicely for 2016, leading up to the release of the NX in 2017. And these games are just what we know of; there are sure to be more announcements as the year goes by. Every company has a “let down” year, and even if 2015 was lackluster by Nintendo’s standards, they still had some excellent releases. There is no reason for Nintendo fans to worry: the best is yet to come.