In a recent interview with IGN, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata stated that new 3D Mario and Zelda games were coming to the Wii U, but that they don’t yet have any specifics to announce. The big question, though, is whether or not these titles are going to be the console sellers that Nintendo hopes they’ll be, or if it’s a case of too little too late?
In the wake of Nintendo’s announcement that their sales were far less than anticipated for the last quarter of 2013, it’s difficult to not view Iwata’s statements as reactionary. The Wii U has been in trouble for a little while, now, though, and it’s often seen as a bit of a sinking ship amongst certain developers (EA made a controversial announcement a while back that they wouldn’t be developing any games for the Wii U, though they have since rescinded this statement). It’s entirely possible that the Wii U’s image is already too far gone to be saved.
Still, a continuing trend from last generation, and even one that held fairly true during the Gamecube era, is that consumers by Nintendo consoles to play Nintendo games. In that same IGN interview, Iwata also stated, “as we develop a new hardware platform, we ask ourselves such questions as, ‘what kind of new Zelda and Mario games do the software creators hope to make on this?'” Essentially stating that they develop consoles with Mario and Zelda in mind – meaning that any Zelda or Mario game to come out for the Wii U would indisputably be the definitive title for the Wii U, the game that the console was made to play.
We’re already well into year two of the Wii U’s lifecycle, though, and we’ve yet to see any details on these 3D Mario and Zelda games other than a Zelda tech demo and plenty of Mario spin-off games. If the console was truly designed with these games in mind, it’s a bit difficult to understand why they would wait so long to release any solid information about them.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of The Legend of Zelda franchise, and as backwards as it sounds, I tend to buy Nintendo consoles to play Zelda games, and then look at what other games might be fun to have (for example, I got a Nintendo 3DS for The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and only after then did I consider purchasing Pokemon and Animal Crossing). In addition, the Mario series has already had so many installments of various kinds on the Wii U that it’s hard to say that a new “main series” 3D Mario game would sell the console. With that in mind, let’s talk Zelda.
It’s true that last generation, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword didn’t come until late into the Wii’s lifetime, but at that point, the Wii was already one of the best selling consoles of the generation. Skyward Sword has managed to sell a total 3.72 million units globally in its lifetime, but it’s hard to say how high or low that number would be without the Wii’s phenomenal sales, and how large of an impact Skyward Sword had on Wii sales itself.
From a less logical, more emotional, standpoint, I think there’s a general sense from the “hardcore” gaming market that Nintendo turned their backs on them with the Wii, since that console was marketed more toward “casual” gamers. Unfortunately, due to a factor of reasons, it seems that the Wii U isn’t selling as well with either the casual market or the now-alienated-feeling hardcore market. Could a new Zelda title bring these hardcore gamers back to the fold and convince them to buy a Wii U?
Truth be told, only time will tell, but it feels like a disadvantage to Nintendo to wait so long without any information on the title. The longer it takes, the more alienated the hardcore demographic feels. For me, personally, I don’t care if it takes another two years, I’ll be picking up a Wii U when the next Zelda game comes out. But I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the franchise, and I hope Nintendo realizes that as well.
EDIT: Okay, so here’s what’s happening. It has been brought to my attention that the interview I linked to on IGN is from November, 2012, thus negating the “recent” adjective I assigned to it. I originally found this interview via a Gamesradar article, supposedly published February 11th, 2014 (Even though, for some reason, a lot of the comments date back to November, 2012). Now, it was my mistake to not also check the published date of the IGN interview, and I apologize for that.
That being said, at this point in time, a year and three months after that interview, we still have no new details regarding a main series Zelda game, which is what my opinion piece mainly focuses on. Thus, I would say that, despite the antiquity of the interview in question, many of the points I bring up are still valid ones, and my opinion is still very much based off of how I feel at this current time in the Wii U’s lifetime.