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The Continual Delay of Nintendo's Wii U Games: Woe is Pikmin

by Neal Ronaghan - April 8, 2013, 9:25 am PDT
Total comments: 15

Sorry folks. Only in your dreams will Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, Wii Fit U, and Game & Wario all make it out before the end of June.

I have a lot of bouts of optimism. Just a few weeks ago, I argued that Nintendo could still announce Game & Wario as a late April release in North America. I mean, it's out in Japan. Daan even reviewed it!

Sometimes, I make truly crazy proposals, like this one where I thought Nintendo of America would deliver on their September promise of releasing Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, and Wii Fit U by the end of March 2013. That, as we know, did not happen. As of January, Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, Wii Fit U, and Game & Wario are slated for a release before the end of June, which, if you're keeping score, is less than three months away.

It's time to face some facts, though. It's early April. All four games will absolutely not be out by the end of June, unless Nintendo takes crazy pills and does something like launch three of them on the same day in June. It is becoming increasingly likely that Nintendo will take yet another month off from releasing a first-party Wii U title, which isn't totally ridiculous, but given the system's struggles, seems downright stupid. It is worth noting that the Wii U's Virtual Console should be getting a proper launch after the system update due in the spring, which technically started in late March.

Here's another bit of optimism, though of the measured sort: I can see Game & Wario coming out in early May at best (unless Nintendo Excitebots the shit out of it). Other than that? I think maybe we'll see one game in June for Wii U, with an off-chance for a Pokémon Mystery Dungeon/Luigi's Mansion pairing of two of the games on the same day. If it's the former, I'll say Pikmin 3. If it's the latter, I'd put good money on Wii Fit U and The Wonderful 101.

But what's the precedent for announcing release dates during this time of year? Last year, Nintendo revealed Mario Tennis Open's May release date in February. The Wii release of Pikmin 2 in North America last year was a surprise revealed in late April in an issue of Nintendo Power. The year before, the exact June release date for Ocarina of Time 3D was revealed in late April 2011, alongside the June dates for Wii Play Motion and Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident.

 

In 2010, Super Mario Galaxy 2's late May release date was announced in February. The year before, Excitebots' existence was revealed eight weeks before release, the February before an April debut. Punch-Out!!, on the other hand, had a little while longer, having its release date announced in February for a May launch.

2008 saw the release dates for Mario Kart Wii (late April) and Wii Fit (late May) revealed in late February. In 2007, the most comparable year for 2013 since it was the spring after the Wii launched, the Q2 release dates were announced in February.

For the most part, Nintendo of America historically announced their release dates for May and June games in February, or at the latest, around GDC in March. They followed this same pattern for their 3DS lineup in 2013, but for some reason, the Wii U's near future is uncertain. We can all hold out hope that we'll be surprised with May and June releases for all these games we were promised to already have been released, but the truth is that is not very likely.

However, most of those February and March reveals were built around events, whether it was a Nintendo Direct or a physical Media Summit. The last Nintendo Direct for Wii U was in January, and if Nintendo follows their pattern of having one major Nintendo Direct (at least) a quarter, we might see another event this month for Wii U. That event would likely take the place of those April announcements that revealed release dates for June games such as Pikmin 2 and Wii Play: Motion in the past.

 

Following those recent reveals, it's logical that we could have a few games gets June release dates this month. The big difference between those other reveals is that all of those games existed previously in some form. Pikmin 2 was a re-release of a GameCube game, and that re-release already came out in Japan and Europe. Ocarina of Time 3D was a remake of a classic Nintendo 64 game. The few exceptions to that are Wii Play: Motion, which actually launched first in North America, and Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident. Both of those titles were announced for June releases on April 13, 2011.

As long as we hear about these release dates soon, a precedent for June releases dates being announced in April has been set. But looking at how slow the trickle of information has been for The Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, and Wii Fit U, I can't say I'm throwing down money on those games hitting in June. I'll be shocked if they all do; hell, I'll be shocked if two of them make it out before the end of June.

Honestly, I hope I'm wrong, but I can't continue being so optimistic for release dates for games that we have seen so very little of. Since last E3, we have seen the exact same demos for The Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, and Game & Wario. Wii Fit U has basically disappeared after a really promising E3 demo. It's a bummer. Fortunately, the 3DS continues to kill it with hit after hit, but the Wii U's recent past and near future is rough around the edges. Hopefully we'll get some release dates soon to make us all step away from the ledge, but, man, I'm not too optimistic.

Talkback

Pixelated PixiesApril 08, 2013

This article definitely puts this recent Wii U drought into some context. Nintendo could turn the taps on at any point. They have certainly surprised us in the past with a bounty of releases in a relatively brief period of time. It's unlikely, but it's possible.

I'm not going to lie though, it's kind of nice not to be a Wii U owner. I know that if I do eventually buy one it will be because Nintendo will have turned things around and there will hopefully be a bunch of games there waiting for me. Not owning one right now though means I really couldn't care less about the Wii U release schedule.

AdrockApril 08, 2013

Yikes! I must be living in a hole because I didn't realize how bad it was getting. I thought Pikmin 3 and The Wonderful 101 were definitely going to make it for May and June respectively. Now, neither may be released this quarter. What the hell? They barely had anything in 2012 before Wii U and probably still needed six more months of preparation and development. Way to really take advantage of that year lead so far. "Carpe Di... Ugh, I can't be bothered."

We can place some blame on third parties for their reluctance to support the console, but we have to hold Nintendo responsible as well. We know they can support their own console with software, but they're noticeably absent. I'm a little curious what's taking Game and Wario so long.

Nintendo really needs a killer E3. I really hope they pulled a rabbit out of their hat and secured Grand Theft Auto V. That's a start.

CericApril 08, 2013

Makes me wonder about developing for the Wii U.  Nintendo did their normal song and dance on how its suppose to be easy but considering no one has really been able to keep any deadlines it makes me wonder.

ThePermApril 08, 2013

I can'ty imagine it being harder than a ps3 or xbox 360. The thing is Nintendo has just never made their own HD games. I wouldn't be surprised if Nintendo decided to do a reverse draught. Where its slim the first year and bountiful later on. Given the rumors that Retros game will be amazing and announced at e3, and likewise for Zelda(unless they are one in the same), and yeah Mario. If Nintendo is tying up some resources they may not release pikmin 3 until the holidays. The public perception of Nintendo could turn around if there are a ton of new good games this winter. It would be like a relaunch.

One thing that Nintendo should have done is put an expansion bay on the wii u since they knew they were going to get leapfrogged.

AdrockApril 08, 2013

Quote from: ThePerm

I wouldn't be surprised if Nintendo decided to do a reverse draught. Where its slim the first year and bountiful later on.

I hope not. That's a terrible strategy. You give people on the fence no reason to support it and justification for not supporting it while also pissing off early adopters. By the time the games start coming out, everyone is annoyed and wondering if it will last.

SorenApril 08, 2013

Quote from: Ceric

Makes me wonder about developing for the Wii U.  Nintendo did their normal song and dance on how its suppose to be easy but considering no one has really been able to keep any deadlines it makes me wonder.

Looks to me like Nintendo has been the only one unable to keep a deadline. The only third party games that missed the launch window deadline were Aliens: Colonial Marines(for obvious reasons), Rayman Legends (would have made its original Feb. deadline), Toki Tori 2(just one week past launch window) and two other shovelware games.

I don't want to say they spread themselves too thin but, what else explains this first party drought?

HypotheliciouslyApril 08, 2013

There is far more pressure on Pikmin 3 than any other game, not only as a game itself, but a system seller.

broodwarsApril 08, 2013

Quote from: Stogi

There is far more pressure on Pikmin 3 than any other game, not only as a game itself, but a system seller.

Which it's not going to be, and to be fair to the game it never could be. Pikmin's a decent enough franchise, but it's always been pretty niche and it's probably a little too tough and too goal-oriented to capture the attention of the casual market.  Pikmin 3's the kind of game that if released at the right time and with the right marketing could sell admirably, but it can't sell the Wii U on its own.  That's probably why it's being delayed to a window where it could probably ride the coattails of a Mario Kart or a 3D Mario game.

Honestly, the more broad-appealing game that Nintendo needs to get out right now is The Wonderful 101, so I would hope that they're pushing Platinum to get that game ready by late May or early June.  It probably doesn't matter when Wii Fit U releases, nor Game & Wario for that matter.

Ian SaneApril 08, 2013

Can someone do a count of Nintendo first party console games released in North America since 2011 that are not re-releases of some sort?  The last two years of the Wii were barren and the Wii U has had a big drought.  What were they working on during 2011 and 2012 when Wii owners were desperate for anything if it was just going to be a big pile of nothing on the Wii U?  There is some serious lack of productivity by Nintendo here.

It just demonstrates the importance of third party support.  You CANNOT support a console by yourself.  HD games takes YEARS to make.  Of course Nintendo is so notoriously secretive that I wouldn't be surprised by a sudden release.  I wouldn't assume it will happen but it could.  Of course I think the smart thing to do would be to make sure every Wii U owner knows of the release date so that they have something to hang on to but if any company would NOT do that, it would be Nintendo.

Pikmin is an awesome series but Pikmin was one of the Gamecube's top titles during the "launch period" and it didn't sell systems.  It probably isn't going to suddenly start though I imagine it will sell really well with existing Wii U owners who will probably jump at the next first party release out of sheer desperation.

broodwarsApril 08, 2013

Quote from: Ian

Can someone do a count of Nintendo first party console games released in North America since 2011 that are not re-releases of some sort?  The last two years of the Wii were barren and the Wii U has had a big drought.  What were they working on during 2011 and 2012 when Wii owners were desperate for anything if it was just going to be a big pile of nothing on the Wii U?  There is some serious lack of productivity by Nintendo here.

I've said it before, but I highly suspect that Nintendo had teams working on Wii U games in 2011, but they got pulled off those projects when the 3DS tanked so they could refocus on 3DS games to "save" the handheld.  However, by the time the 3DS stabilized, Nintendo couldn't delay the Wii U any longer, so they decided to launch the system without the games they had planned to have ready for the thing.  I think that's why so many of the games Nintendo announced in that January 2013 Nintendo Direct were just the names & some concept art or proof of concept.

TJ SpykeApril 08, 2013

Quote from: Ian

Can someone do a count of Nintendo first party console games released in North America since 2011 that are not re-releases of some sort?

Going by games they own the rights to (not just published):

Wii:
Mario Sports Mix
Wii Play: Motion
Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident
Kirby's Return to Dream Land
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Rhythm Heaven Fever
PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond
Mario Party 9
Xenoblade Chronicles


Wii U:
New Super Mario Bros. U
Nintendo Land
Sing Party


DS:
Pokémon Black
Pokémon White
Kirby Mass Attack
Fossil Fighters: Champions
Pokémon Conquest
Pokémon Black 2
Pokémon White 2


3DS:
Nintendogs + Cats: French Bulldog & New Friends
Nintendogs + Cats: Golden Retriever & New Friends
Nintendogs + Cats: Toy Poodle & New Friends
Pilotwings Resort
Steel Diver
Pokémon Rumble Blast
Super Mario 3D Land
Mario Kart 7
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir
Mario Tennis Open
New Super Mario Bros. 2
Freakyforms Deluxe: Your Creations, Alive!
Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone!
Crosswords Plus
Style Savvy: Trendsetters
Paper Mario: Sticker Star
Fire Emblem Awakening
Brain Age: Concentration Training
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity

Ian SaneApril 08, 2013

Quote from: broodwars

Quote from: Ian

Can someone do a count of Nintendo first party console games released in North America since 2011 that are not re-releases of some sort?  The last two years of the Wii were barren and the Wii U has had a big drought.  What were they working on during 2011 and 2012 when Wii owners were desperate for anything if it was just going to be a big pile of nothing on the Wii U?  There is some serious lack of productivity by Nintendo here.

I've said it before, but I highly suspect that Nintendo had teams working on Wii U games in 2011, but they got pulled off those projects when the 3DS tanked so they could refocus on 3DS games to "save" the handheld.  However, by the time the 3DS stabilized, Nintendo couldn't delay the Wii U any longer, so they decided to launch the system without the games they had planned to have ready for the thing.  I think that's why so many of the games Nintendo announced in that January 2013 Nintendo Direct were just the names & some concept art or proof of concept.

So are they now pulling people off 3DS projects to save the Wii U and we'll get a 3DS drought?  It would be pretty damn hard to get out of that rut.  At some point they would need to expand their manpower.

ThePermApril 09, 2013

Quote from: Adrock

Quote from: ThePerm

I wouldn't be surprised if Nintendo decided to do a reverse draught. Where its slim the first year and bountiful later on.

I hope not. That's a terrible strategy. You give people on the fence no reason to support it and justification for not supporting it while also pissing off early adopters. By the time the games start coming out, everyone is annoyed and wondering if it will last.

yeah it is a terrbile strategy. The thing is with the huge drought between wii and wiiu you would think there would be more games. I just imagine its hard to support a console and a handheld at the same time. However if they can get some really good games rolling this winter than sequels to those could drag the system back up off the cliff. Not my strategy, I would have had this stuff finished sometime in the Wii era waiting to release as soon as wii u came out.

ShayminApril 09, 2013

I still think it's entirely possible that those 4 WiiU games come out by the end of June. WiiFit U could go anywhere, even the aforementioned double-up with either Pikmin *or* W101. Though if anything falls out, I could see WiiFit U falling out so they can get it onto the season premieres of all the talk shows in September.

Retro DeckadesApril 09, 2013

All I knows is that that screenshot of The Wonderful 101 makes me want it very much. I'm fine with waiting for that game if they are tweaking it to perfection.


It would be nice if the eShop had a few smaller releases to help tide people over, but even on there we are seeing some ports.

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