It's a new year and January is looking to be, well, pretty slim. But hey, just because we're still coming out of the holiday rush doesn't mean we can't hype ourselves up for what's to come right? Right.
It can be tough to get a read on Nintendo as a developer, partly because they keep so many of their projects closely guarded secrets but also because their creative work varies from year to year. Sometimes we see a greater focus on their handhelds, sometimes a revitalization of older franchises, and sometimes we're luck enough to get a blend of both. 2014 will be no different, and although there's plenty to enjoy across all Nintendo platforms it's the Wii U that should receive special attention this time around.
And rightfully so, with the PS4 and XBO breathing hard down the console's neck Nintendo really needs to work hard to show that they have a clear and concise plan for Wii U owners over the next year or so. Dispelling rumors and here-say that the Wii U is soon-to-be abandoned wouldn't hurt for starters, but in the meantime we'll have to settle for a steady flow of games as Nintendo's word that they haven't given up quite yet.
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
Returning to its platforming roots Donkey Kong is teaming up with some recognizable sidekicks to battle rude vikings who freeze over the island with the intent to...invade? Party? Who cares really, all we want is Dokney Kong to get mad and go throw some punches and maybe a few barrels; which is hopefully what the game will be all about.
To assist in his platforming Donkey will have support of Diddy, Dixie and Cranky, all of whom lend their own unique abilities to either assist Donkey in his quest; or potentially become a second player if you've got a friend looking to join in on the fun.
Mario Kart 8
Most Nintendo games rebuild completely each time around, preferring to take something familiar and mold it into a new project rather than build from what's existing; a rule that applies to most Nintendo icons. Mario Kart 8 is a rare exception to the rule, building upon everything the series has created thus far to create what appears to be the ultimate kart racing experience.
Hang gliding, motorbikes, underwater races and support for up to 12 players appear to be standard for the franchise now; and joining those options will be new features like anti-gravity tracks that let players race on walls or ceilings and the option to share gameplay clips across the miiverse. Overall the game appears to give a very nice sense of progression on how far the franchise has come in the past few years, and should be a solid entry onto the Wii U's spring lineup.
Arguably the most interesting game in Nintendo's lineup, Bayonetta 2 goes against most of the unspoken rules that Nintendo fans have come to expect. It's a third party title from a pre-existing franchise revolving around a woman who literally must undress to launch attacks that remove portions of her outfit at her enemy. Also, her outfit is made entirely of her hair, if that information helps to clear things up. Pretty kid friendly stuff.
Details on the game has been light, but we do know in addition to rocking a new haircut (on her head) Bayonetta will dual wield pistols, perhaps as a throwback to Dante, in addition to whips. The game also has been confirmed for off-screen play so fans can look forward to draining the heck out of their game pad batteries when someone tries to take over the tv.
Yoshi's New Island
Yoshi's Island is the story of a reptilian family that harbors a remarkable amount of social responsibility in taking care of baby mario; protecting him from evil and enduring his ear-piercing cries while carrying him all over the Mushroom Kingdom. Between its creative mechanics and amazing level design and art direction the Yoshi's Island series has been praised time and again, and it may be safe to expect no less for the 3DS entry that's set to hit shelves sometime mid 2014.
Super Smash Brothers
Smash Brothers has made quite a few waves as of late, mostly in tournament circles where a struggle to have the game finally break out as a premier fighting title seems to be locked in an uphill struggle against lead developer Masahiro Sakurai's dream to keep the franchise as casual friendly as possible. Not that Smash has ever really been a technically difficult game, but because the stigma of becoming pro-circuit would somehow isolate the fanbase?
While it's safe to say most of us are looking forward to new characters, attacks, and levels the real question of Smash Bros' quality (and possibly future) will lay in the finer elements of gameplay. Will there be wavedashing? How fast will characters move at base? Will online play and netcode finally be opened up for easier matchmaking? How balanced will the roster of characters be with so many new entries?
There are a lot of unanswered questions but for now the slow reveal of the roster, a few epic spoiler videos and the knowledge that we'll be bringing the fight to both Wii U and 3DS should help tide us over until Nintendo gives us a final release date. Until then we just have to wait and see
Hyrule Warriors (working title)
The Zelda game that no one saw coming, and some are even saying they never asked for, Hyrle Warriors literally combines the setting of Legend of Zelda with the en-masse fighting of Dynasty Warriors. What we've seen so far is some very basic gameplay footage, but if the concept is Link fighting hordes of enemies across Hyrle's setting how can it be bad?
There are so many avenues for Hyrle Warriors to take, from mounted combat featuring Epona to co-op with the multitude of characters that exist alongside Link, and it will be interesting to see where Tecmo Koei decide to go with the idea. Sword duels are some of the best moments in the Zelda franchise, so any opportunity we have to experience more of em is much appreciated.