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Happy birthday, Wii U - A look back at the console's first year

Wii U Screenshot - Happy birthday, Wii U - A look back at the console's first year

On November 18th, 2012, Nintendo released the Wii U console, their follow-up to the massively popular than massively ignored Wii. Many were excited at the possibilities: Nintendo was finally making the jump to HD gaming, the GamePad tablet boasted promising features.

The launch came and went. People bought it on day one. But then people stopped buying it. The Wii U sat on store shelves and collected dust. Everyone pointed at the same reason: games. While New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendoland were solid titles, they weren’t system sellers. They weren’t Wii Sports. They were more of the same; possible system sellers such as Pikmin 3, Rayman Legends, and Lego City Undercover were delayed. While their releases help bolster the Wii U’s (possibly) underrated first year software line-up, it wasn’t enough to help the system stand alongside the shouts of Xbox One and PS4.

All of that started to change this past fall.

Nintendo bundled The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker HD with the system. The result was genius, catering to both the Zelda crowd, who now had a desire to buy a Wii U, and the collectible crowd, as the bundle’s GamePad was specially designed. Wii U sales soared, though honestly any type of improvement over the past year could be called a “massive improvement.”

Still, the recent surge of Wii U sales has shown not only the system’s ability to persevere, but also how irrelevant a first year software lineup can be. Neither the PlayStation 4 nor Xbox One have any games coming out within its first year that scream “I must buy this console.” Sure, games like Metal Gear Solid V, The Evil Within, and Watch Dogs look appealing, but they’re experiences that can be found on current-gen systems as well. Those most have games are coming, but they’re at least a year off, as it was with the Wii U.

Bolstered by Super Mario 3D World, a game that could very well be one of the year’s best, the recent software lineup for the Wii U has been nothing short of impressive. Rayman Legends is the best game I’ve played all year. Windwaker HD is an outstanding remake of an all-too forgotten franchise classic. Earthbound finally saw the stateside remake we’ve been begging for. Mario Kart 8 is right around the corner. While many have doubted your first year, others have stood by you, and rightfully so.

I see more and more jump on board each and every day. While the “big boys” will battle for the 65” TV, I’ll be spending more and more time with my Wii U for the classic Nintendo experiences we’ve all come to expect from the Japanese giant. Thank you for the first year, Wii U. It wasn’t always easy, but it was memorable. I look forward to the future and many more birthday celebrations.

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Jake Valentine
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