So, things are looking bad for the Wii U. A mere 160,000 units sold worldwide during this past quarter kind of bad. Despite these deeply worrying numbers, Nintendo hasn't said anything about a price drop or Wii U redesign. They seem to think all the Wii U needs is more Nintendo-published software.
And maybe they're right! I just don't think the currently announced software is necessarily going to cut the mustard. Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong Country Returns 2 and Super Mario 3D World will likely all be good and help the platform out to some degree, but if Nintendo is serious about turning the Wii U around based on software alone, they need to pull out all the stops. They need big, huge, massive games that fans (and even non-fans) won't be able to ignore. Such as...
Note: As the title of the article suggests, I'm sticking to game ideas that Nintendo could (or would) realistically do. So no suggestions like "team up with Rockstar for Grand Theft Mario" or the ever-popular "Pokemon MMO" that's never happening.
A New Metroid Developed by Retro Games and Yoshio Sakamoto
The last couple Metroid games were both slightly lacking in their own ways. Metroid Prime 3, developed by Nintendo's western development team, Retro Studios, was rock-solid in terms of mechanics and presentation, but it felt a bit bland and anemic. Metroid: Other M on the hand, designed by Metroid co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto and developed by Team Ninja, really captured the essence of the Metroid, but lacked some of the polish and refinement the series is known for.
But hey, what if the studio behind the Metroid Prime series and the guys behind Super Metroid and the rest joined forces? Retro could provide the solid foundation and HD sheen and Sakamoto his team could infuse it all with that illusive Metroid lifeblood. Nintendo needs to convince gamers it can do HD gaming right, and a top-notch new Metroid game would be a great way to do that.
A Skyrim-Like Zelda Co-Developed With Monolith Soft
So, who's played Xenoblade Chronicles? Nobody? Well the game, developed by Nintendo-owned studio Monolith Soft, is basically a Japanese take on western RPGs like Skyrim. All the wacky hairstyles and melodrama of a JRPG mixed with the open world, focus on sidequests and customization of a western RPG!
Monolith Soft is currently working on something that looks very much like a sequel to Xenoblade Chronicles, but I think their talents might be better put to use helping the Zelda team. For years now Legend of Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma has talked about how he wants to shake up and expand the Zelda formula. He's even called out Skyrim by name as an influence. And yet, the series remains mostly stuck in its ways, with all Aonuma's talk of change rarely amounting to much.
I think Monolith Soft is the team that could drag Zelda out of its rut. They understand western RPGs like Skyrim, and even more importantly, they've had success melding Japanese and western styles of game design together. Imagine -- a game with the polish, structure and style of Zelda, but with the scope and depth of a Skyrim. Nintendo has the tools to make it happen.
A New Star Fox by Platinum Games
Nintendo seems to be pretty buddy-buddy with Platinum Games (the team behind everything from Okami, to Vanquish and Bayonetta) these days, so how about getting them to work on some neglected Nintendo franchises?
It's been a while since we've had a new Star Fox game (and even longer since we had a good new Star Fox game) and I think Platinum would be a perfect fit for the series. No more attempts to turn Star Fox into an action-adventure or strategy game -- just let Platinum do their crazy, ADD, over-the-top action thing with it.
Wii Sports 2
So, probably a good 40 million of the 100 million Wiis Nintendo has sold were pretty much just purchased as Wii Sports boxes. People bought the system to play Wii Sports Tennis and Bowling and never used the system for anything else.
Despite this, Nintendo has never bothered to make a true sequel to Wii Sports. Sure, there was Wii Sports Resort, but that wasn't quite the same. Nintendo almost seems a little ashamed of the popularity of Wii Sports, but they need to cut that s--t out, suck it up and just make a straight sequel. All the same sports as the original Wii Sports -- bowling, tennis, boxing, golf and baseball with improved controls and extra depth. Hell, they can toss in a couple new sports if they want -- put lawn darts, badminton and cornhole in there. Whatever.
The point is, when the senior center's Wii finally dies and they go to Wal-Mart to replace it they should be confronted with big stand-up ads saying, "Wii Sports 2! Now With Even Better Bowling! Only on Wii U!" They wouldn't even need to understand that the Wii U is a different console than the Wii -- the oldsters would buy their new "Wii Sports 2 machine" without even thinking.
A True Super Mario RPG Sequel Developed by Square-Enix
I actually really like the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series, but as follow-ups to Super Mario RPG, they don't quite cut it. Super Mario RPG isn't necessarily better than Paper Mario or Mario & Luigi, they're just different, and Mario RPG deserves a real sequel.
So, it's time for Nintendo and Square-Enix to, once and for all, truly leave their differences behind them and get to work on an epic follow up to Super Mario RPG. No half-assing it either! Super Mario RPG pushed the SNES to its limits and Super Mario RPG 2 should do the same for the Wii U. Square-Enix should bring all their flashiness to bear -- render ever hair in Mario's mustache! Go crazy!
A Major New Franchise From Shigeru Miyamoto
It's been a long time since Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, Zelda and Star Fox (to name a few) has come up anything new for dedicated gamers. The last thing would be Pikmin, and the first game in that series is almost 12-years-old by now. Honestly it's time to cut the apron strings and let Miyamoto get to back to his workbench. The Mario and Zelda teams don't need his oversight anymore -- in fact, they may benefit from a bit of extra freedom.
Let Miyamoto focus on creating something new. Apparently he is actually working on something original -- hopefully it's another Pikmin and not another Pac-Man Vs. But hey, even if it is another Pac-Man, that's fine. If he's not tied up with Mario and Zelda and just let free to do his own thing, Miyamoto will likely come up with something great eventually.
Really, it's all about allocating resources wisely. All these game ideas I've mentioned could be executed using Nintendo's current resources and relationships. They could wake up tomorrow and set all these games in motion. Will they? Who knows, but it's fun to dream.
How about you folks? What kind of games do you think Nintendo needs to make to turn the Wii U around? Again, try to keep it realistic -- yeah, an M-rated Kirby game would uh, certainly get some attention, but it's probably never going to happen. Probably.