2016 could well be the last year of serious Wii U development, with the Nintendo NX hovering somewhere just over the horizon. Whilst it would be a criminal shame for the underperforming system to head off after such a relatively short period of time, there are still some key releases set for next year that could send it off in fitting style and keep the Nintendo faithful happy.
The first hit of what is set to be a double helping of home console Zelda, Twilight Princess HD sees Nintendo remastering the 2006 classic which looks set to release this coming March. Originally a cross-generational release that saw it become both a Wii launch title and the Gamecube’s swansong, the success of Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker HD made this the next natural choice for a remake.
The game sees Link working to prevent Hyrule from being engulfed by the Twilight Realm, with the assistance of a curious demon-creature called Midna. Hopefully the release will allow the choice between the Wii release’s motion controls and the Gamecube’s more traditional set-up, and perhaps even the mirrored location differences between the two.
The only slight concern at this stage is that the port is being handled by Tantalus Media, an Australian developer whose most recent work on Wii U was the budget launch title Funky Barn. Still, Nintendo aren’t known for allowing the release of sub-standard software so this’ll hopefully be a hugely enjoyable return for both fans old and new.
Originally due to be amongst Nintendo’s Christmas line-up, development issues meant that Star Fox Zero slipped into 2016, with it’s new April release date adding to a very strong line-up for the beginning of the year for the Japanese developer. An entry in the popular Star Fox franchise, the game makes use of the Wii U gamepad’s motion controls, with the in-built touchscreen controlling the on-screen aiming. Players can seemingly make their way through without utilising this different viewpoint, but you’ll never achieve the highest score possible.
All of the team, Fox, Falco, Peppy and even Slippy make a return, though the on-foot sections of Star Fox: Assault won’t join them, instead focussing on the classic shooting action which sees you at the controls of your Arwing, though it can now transform into an AT-ST style walker, which joins the returning Landmaster tank which in turn has its own alternate form.
Perhaps amongst the biggest surprises of last year was the arrival in arcades of this Bandai Namco developed fighter featuring a number of those inimitably loveable Pokemon. Taking the form of a 3D brawler, your chosen pocket monster will go toe to toe with another entrant with gameplay loosely based on the Tekken series. With eleven Pokemon announced thus far, from Pikachu to Lucario, there’s likely to be something for everyone.
Produced by Tekken series stalwart Katsuhiro Harada and Soul Calibur alumni Masaaki Hoshino, Bandai Namco have ensured that the game has been leant some serious fighting chops, and when combined with the epically successful Pokemon franchise, is likely to be a sure-fire Wii U hit when it arrives in the second quarter of the year.
Being realistic, the arrival of The Legend Of Zelda will likely completely eclipse all of the other Wii U releases next year. Originally pegged for Christmas 2015, once again Nintendo have opted to hold a game back to ensure that it meets their stringent standards, and that can only ever be a good thing for gamers. The big question remains as to whether it will see a cross generational release, much as Twilight Princess did previously, and it could provide a fitting, albeit far too early, farewell to the Wii U, whilst being a launch title for the as yet unknown Nintendo NX.
The first entry in the franchise to be built from the ground up for HD, it looks as though players will have a huge open world to explore – the largest in the series’ history – with the return of your steed Epona certain to help on those long journeys. There’ll also be some crossover between this release and the Twilight Princess HD remake, with save data from the Wolf Link amiibo connecting the two.
While it’s likely to be nearly another twelve months before it arrives, Wii U owners are right to be excited given the series’ lineage, and the step-up in processing power that the Wii U affords Eiji Aonuma and his team should ensure that this is yet another fantastic entry in one of gaming’s most reliable franchises.
Still a somewhat unknown quantity, Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem brings the two long-running RPG franchises together for the first time. Due to release in Japan on Boxing Day, more will undoubtedly become apparent about what has been a very secretive development.
Utilising a turn-based battle system where the central characters merge with various characters from Fire Emblem – here known as Mirages – to take on enemies, it seems as though it will be closer to the Shin Megami Tensei series in execution, but hopefully Fire Emblem fans will find plenty to enjoy as well with the rock-paper-scissors trinity of the tactical fantasy titles joining Shin Megami Tensei’s elemental properties.
Western fans of both franchises will be hoping for a swift localisation, though given the amount of text the title is likely to have patience may well be key. Given that there’s very little like it available for the system, Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem may well be something of a sleeper hit on Wii U, especially given the popularity of its two contributing series, and we can all hope that the wait isn’t too long.