2012 was a busy year for Nintendo — which our upcoming yearly review will hopefully demonstrate — but now it's all about moving forward with its current systems, with Wii U hogging plenty of headlines by virtue of the fact that it's less than two months old. We won't truly know how well worldwide launch and Holiday sales have gone until Nintendo gives us definitive figures — probably in its financial reports — but what is clear is that Wii U needs a big year ahead of the expected arrival of shiny new competitors from Microsoft and Sony.
With the launch batch of games now on store shelves, unless you subscribe to Nintendo's rather large "launch window" premise, we can look at what's on the way. Much is still unknown about what's coming in 2013, we suspect, as the confirmed line-up only really covers the first half of the year. We expect Nintendo Direct broadcasts and E3 to sort that out, but in the meantime below are ten confirmed games that we think are worth a bit of hype and attention.
Pikmin 3 — Due Q2
Pikmin 3 has been on a number of wishlists for too many years, with rumour and speculation in the past even tying it to a Wii release. The predominant control scheme of Wii Remote and Nunchuk certainly suggests that this was once on the cards, but a number of fans are likely to be relishing the chance to dive into a new experience with the extra bells and whistles on offer with Wii U. The footage shown so far looks utterly charming and beautiful, though the recent push of the release to outside of the launch window may have caused some gnashing of teeth and biting of knuckles.
The Wonderful 101 — Before 31st March
This one is a bit like Pikmin, but with some Platinum Games madness and superheroes fighting giant mechs. It didn't get a showcase moment like Pikmin 3 at E3 2012, but this title deserves to be on every Wii U owner's radar, with its chaotic brand of action and intuitive use of the touch screen for move selection boding well. If preview builds are anything to go by this will offer some truly epic and gorgeous action strategy gaming.
Rayman Legends — 28th February (NA and some PAL countries) / 1st March (UK)
Originally listed as a launch day release, this one was pushed back for extra development time and, we suspect, to avoid a crowded launch day line-up. The original was critically acclaimed on Wii, and this Wii U-exclusive sequel continues much of the same gameplay along with some potentially interesting GamePad features. Demo and preview builds look and sound stunning, as well.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate — March
Of all the titles on this list, this is the only one that's previously been released on another platform (some of these games are multi-platform future releases), yet this iteration will include additional monsters and content not in the Wii original. It also comes with a HD sheen, which is sure to please fans, while the potential for multiplayer and cross-play between the Wii U and 3DS versions of the game is an important first for the respective systems, particularly as it's becoming increasingly common between Sony's PS3 and PS Vita. We came away from our recent hands on time with the game rather impressed, so it's on our radar.
Game and Wario — Before 31st March
Rather like The Wonderful 101, this is a title that's had less focus and attention than some others, but is still pegged for a release in the next few months. Taking its cue from the manic and cult-favourite WarioWare series, this will serve up a number of mini-games that should take advantage of the control options provided by the GamePad, as well as provide plenty of frantic and wacky moments. If it's done right it could be a party classic for those with quick reflexes and a sense of humour.
Wii Fit U — Before 31st March
This could be an important release for Nintendo in its efforts to convert the enormous Wii user-base over to Wii U. The original fitness title was a major success, not only in terms of sales and juicy profits, but also in helping to make the Wii a must-have for millions of people that wouldn't necessarily consider themselves to be "gamers". It appealed to a number of self-professed gamers, too, and it'll be a test of Wii U's reach and potential for big sales to see whether this new version can repeat the success of the first two releases.
Bayonetta 2 — TBA 2013
If Nintendo was hoping to cause a shock when it unveiled this title as an exclusive in a Nintendo Direct broadcast last year, it seemed to succeed. While Bayonetta wasn't necessarily a commercial smash — which may explain one of the reasons why SEGA dropped out from publishing the sequel and put the project in jeopardy — its intense action and sense of style did earn some critical praise and a passionate following. Nintendo stepped in to publish and get exclusivity, prompting quite a backlash throughout the online gaming community, with some using words such as betrayal and others even saying they'd buy a Wii U just for the sequel. We'll see whether excitable online comments convert to sales when Platinum Games gets this one finished, which is certainly expected this year.
LEGO City: Undercover — Before 31st March
When the Nintendo Life team watched the reveal of this during E3 2012, the words LEGO GTA were definitely uttered. This one promises open-world gameplay, but with LEGO characters, gameplay and quirky humour as has been popular in the TT Games series. Nintendo has taken on publication for what could be a particularly fun experience — if the recent trailer was anything to go by — so we feel it's worth watching.
BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner 2 Future Legend of Rhythm Alien — Q1 2013
This long-awaited new title from Gaijin Games is a spin-off/sequel to the popular WiiWare title BIT.TRIP RUNNER. Adopting a new art style along with its rather lengthy title, this was initially confirmed for Xbox 360, PS3 and Steam on PC, leaving out Wii. Such has been the development time that it's now being prepared for the Wii U eShop, a relief to BIT.TRIP fans that want to see the series, albeit in its new form, continue on Nintendo platforms. Expect lots of running, a tough difficulty level and awesome music; we're looking forward to trying this one out.
Toki Tori 2 — Q1 2013
Our Q1 listing is an educated guess, as this title was originally expected to arrive on the eShop on 20th December 2012, getting pushed back as developer Two Tribes wants to tidy it up and make the game as good as it can possibly be. Adopting a wider environment and animal buddies that function as interactive items, we were impressed when we had a look at this last year. With a level creation tool also set to be included, this has the potential to be a top-notch download.