Nintendo has begun 2008 aggressively, like a company that really means business. After hinting that it would stagger its major releases so that players could digest each one properly before moving onto the next, the firm went ahead to confirm that (in North America at least), Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii and Wii Fit would arrive together in a proximity best described as an overdose in gaming goodness. But what of the rest of the year as far as the Wii is concerned? With this year’s E3 likely to bring us further details, Nintendic has compiled a list of (mostly) what it knows Nintendo to have up its sleeve for the coming months, both for the core and casual audience, providing evidence as to why the motion-sensing console’s unstoppable momentum will continue throughout the year.
Mario Kart Wii
With a European and North American release just weeks away, Mario Kart Wii (and the Wii Wheel accessory) is Nintendo’s attempt to please both core and casual gamers in equal measures. First announced back at the E3 Media and Business Summit back in 2007, the racer features online action for up to twelve karts, 32 tracks and the for the first time, the introduction of motorbikes to the fray. The jury’s still out on the functionality of the Wii Wheel, but so far the signs point to Mario Kart Wii (much down to its extensive online options) sitting comfortably amongst its highly ranked predecessors.
Already selling by the bucket load in Japan, Wii Fit is a massive part of Nintendo’s casual gaming push on the Nintendo Wii. It started out life as Wii Health Pack back in September 2006, Wii Fit and the Balance Board accessory that arrives with it (able to measure a user’s weight, centre of gravity and BMI) combine to offer an enjoyable form of exercise through some 40 different activities, from yoga poses, to hula hooping and push-ups. Furthermore, Wii Fit allows its players to compare their fitness via its own channel on the Wii Menu. Over 10 games (including Namco’s We Ski and THQ’s All-Star Cheer Squad) are already being developed to make use of the novel peripheral, so it looks, for now at least, that the Balance Board has a positive outlook for the foreseeable future.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
The amount of pleasure that both Japanese and North American gamers are currently enjoying from Super Smash Bros. Brawl is just about equal to the same amount of frustration that European and Australian players have over the fact that the title still hasn’t been dated for PAL territories. There’s little to be said about the eclectic beat-em-up that hasn’t already been said, other than that those still waiting for it will surely not be disappointed by its plethora of game modes, including one of the Nintendo Wii’s best online experiences to date. Please Nintendo, just hurry up and put Europeans and Aussies out of their misery!
Just launched in Japan, WiiWare is Nintendo’s answer to the availability of new videogames put up for download on the likes of Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade and Sony’s PlayStation Store. For a fee ranging between 500 and 1500 Wii Points, players will be able to get their hands on brand new titles from some of the industry’s biggest developers, and, most importantly, a huge amount of independent software houses. Set to arrive in North America on May 12, the first set of titles are set to include Square Enix’s Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As A King and Everyone’s Pokemon Ranch. With over 100 WiiWare games said to be in development, it will offer another welcome avenue to the Virtual Console and traditional disc-based Wii titles.
Animal Crossing Wii
Confirmation that Animal Crossing for the Wii would be released in 2008 was found hidden at the bottom of an investor report from Nintendo at the end of January this year. The latest iteration of the franchise is heavily rumoured to be the Wii’s first Massively Multiplayer Online title, allowing players to contact one another via the Nintendo Wi-Fi network and download new items to decorate their virtual worlds. What’s more, the recent announcement of Wii Pay and Play might very well mean that said downloadable content will come at a cost. Damn that Tom Nook and his capitalist ways…
Disaster: Day of Crisis
Currently in development by Monolith Soft, Disaster: Day of crisis sees the Nintendo-owned firm offering up a new, more mature franchise for the next-gen audience. Players take control of Ray, a former member of an elite rescue task force. His safety is not only compromised by a group of rogue commandos who have seized an atomic weapon, but there is the added threat of a number of natural disasters. Nintendo confirmed that it was looking “very good” at E3 last year, so we’re hoping it’ll have improved even more since then. It’s certainly the sort of title that core gamers, desperate for something from Nintendo to counter balance its casual output, will appreciate.
Kirby, the Nintendo mascot with a stomach for anything, hasn’t had the smoothest of journeys over the past few years. Kirby 64 arrived too late on in the ill-fated Nintendo 64’s life, while the GameCube’s Kirby Air Ride also didn’t get a whole lot of recognition. The pink blob’s next is the result of another last-generation projecting shifting to the Wii, and despite being around since E3 2005, very little is known about it. Hopefully the time has been spent in creating a title worthy of Kirby’s popularity, with gameplay that can only be produced on the Wii.
Super Mario Stadium Family Baseball
A next-generation sequel to Mario Superstar Baseball on the Nintendo GameCube, Super Mario Stadium Baseball follows Mario Party and Mario Strikers in becoming the next Nintendo franchise to receive a makeover thanks to the introduction of motion controls. With nearly 30 returning characters and another ten said to be making their debuts (including Princess Zelda and Super Mario Galaxy’s Rosalina), SMSB looks set to be the most feature-packed entry in the series yet.
Wii Music was one of the first ever games touted for Nintendo’s latest console, having appeared as a demonstration of the Wii’s motion-sensing capabilities way back at the Tokyo Game Show in 2005. The title will allow up to four players to jam together in a band made up of a maximum of six members, with over 40 instruments including guitar, drums, maracas and violin. With a variety of motion controls used to play each instrument and a tentative 2008 release date announced, we imagine this will be the next casual gaming must-have title for Wii after Wii Fit.
Kid Icarus, Pilotwings, F-Zero, Punch Out!?
The return of Kid Icarus’ protagonist, Pit, as a fighting character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl led to calls from many gaming quarters for the franchise to be resurrected. In January 2005, developer Factor 5 announced that it was creating a brand new title for the Nintendo Wii, with a “credible” source at the firm leaking that said new game was indeed Kid Icarus. There’s no denying that after nearly two decades in the dark, the return of Kid Icarus is long, long overdue. Nintendo of America president recently teased that a “big” Holiday game would be announced at E3, leading others to suggest the likes of F-Zero, Punch Out! or Pilotwings may also be the identity of the mystery development.
The above list ignores all third party efforts, while Nintendo’s upcoming plans for the DS are even more of a mystery, but for now, let us know in the comments section below what you’re most looking forward to for the Nintendo Wii in 2008 - and especially what you think the mysterious ‘big’ Holiday title will be.