Nintendo’s 2015 was something of a mixed bag. Whilst other consoles were hitting new heights with the much-anticipated releases of Fallout 4, Star Wars Battlefront and Metal Gear Solid V to name but a few, Nintendo seemed to struggle with keeping up momentum by ways of consistent quality releases. This isn’t to say that Nintendo didn’t release quality games in 2015, as we were treated to hits such as Splatoon and Super Mario Maker on the Wii U, along with a new Legend of Zelda game in Tri-Force Heroes for the 3DS. However, there were big gaps between software for both consoles as well as what some saw a slight diminishing of quality throughout Nintendo’s games (although I beg to differ on that front).
While there was still plenty of fun to be had with the 3DS and Wii U in 2015, few can argue that there wasn’t an overriding feeling that Nintendo are moving away from the Wii U in particular – thanks to the announcement of the NX during a press meeting in which the late Saturo Iwata announced Nintendo’s mobile plans. Throughout 2015, Nintendo consistently reiterated that they will not say any more about the NX until 2016, yet the announcement still dominated headlines; as it rightly should’ve done. Despite the Wii U’s impressive library of quality Nintendo games, the feeling throughout 2015 was one of waiting for Nintendo to say more about the NX.
Good thing, then, that Nintendo are showing us the NX this year. At this point it almost doesn’t matter what the NX is, people are just desperate to see it. I’m guessing that Nintendo will show the NX at this year’s E3, and what everyone is hoping is for Nintendo to have a lot up their sleeves – I think they do. Nintendo should have realised that part of the reason for the Wii U’s relative failure was its vastly underwhelming unveiling. Nintendo cannot afford to unveil the NX with a dearth of content; I think they have something big lined up. Nintendo’s big studios have been a little quiet of late as well, Retro Studios are making something, and there needs to be something new from the Super Mario Galaxy team, as they haven’t released anything since Captain Toad.
However, I don’t think that the NX will release this year – it is too soon. The Wii U is slowly building momentum with thanks to the releases of Splatoon and Super Mario Maker in particular. There is still life left in the Wii U, and Nintendo’s lineup for the console this year looks good with Star Fox Zero, Pokkén Tournament, Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem and a brand new Legend of Zelda coming, along with anything else they haven’t announced as of yet. However, the 3DS is arguably going to be the console to beat this year, with thanks to the third and first-party support for the console, particularly in Europe, which is playing catch up to the United States and Japan for several releases such as Yo-kai Watch, Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, Legend of Legacy and Stella Glow just to name a few.
The 3DS is seemingly going from strength to strength and Nintendo are still supplying the handheld with quality release after quality release. Fire Emblem Fates is rightly one of the most anticipated Nintendo release for the 3DS this year, but there is also the controversial Metroid Prime: Federation Force and Hyrule Warriors: Legends to look forward to. Along with these Nintendo releases we have games like the Dragon Quest VII and VIII remakes, Bravely Second: End Layer and Project X Zone 2 to look forward to. Nintendo have thus far only announced games due out (unless delayed) within the first half of this year, so who knows what else they have lined up for the Wii U and the 3DS?
This is all not to mention that amiibo’s popularity seems to grow every day, with 2016 surely providing new opportunities to expand their success even more. amiibo has been the success Nintendo has needed, and they’d be foolish to neglect it this year. And by releasing a Cloud Strife amiibo, Nintendo are definitely keeping amiibo in the limelight – it’s not going anywhere. 2016 also sees Nintendo enter the mobile scene with Miitomo and future, unannounced titles. It’s exciting, new territory for the company, and it’s a win-win situation for them. If Nintendo can be successful in the mobile sector then great, more profit for them; if they’re unsuccessful, then they can sort of say “we told you so”, and move on.
Nintendo are steadily building their presence in other forms of entertainment, with a renewed commitment to promoting their vast array of IP. The most exciting aspect of this for many fans will no doubt be the Big N’s entrance into the Theme-Park sector. Children are becoming less and less familiar with Nintendo’s characters, so what better way to introduce them to kids than making theme-park attractions based on them? Maybe new television shows and movies, which Nintendo haven’t really been involved with for a long time. There have been no concrete plans outlined by Nintendo, nor announcements of any sort, but they have explained that they are moving into film and television more; for the very reasons of giving more visibility to their IP.
2016’s not a make or break year for Nintendo, but if they play their cards right it could see them gain some much-needed traction with the public and online communities. Nintendo need a big reveal for the NX, it doesn’t matter if the NX comes out this year, it just needs to look exciting, not confusing like the Wii U’s reveal. With the number of quality games headed our way on both the Wii U and 3DS this year, with surely more to be announced, Nintendo looks like they are onto a winner in 2016, even without the NX, mobile content, amiibo and moves into other forms of entertainment. It’s an exciting time to be a Nintendo fan.
Toby Saunders is sometimes opinionated, and you’ll find him posting garbage about games, films and his beloved Spurs and Bath City FC on Twitter.