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2015: The Year Of Unintended Consequences

The First Half

by Donald Theriault - December 31, 2015, 3:45 am PST

From unused revisions to the inability to move, it was a crazy first half.

In January, the New 3DS was announced for release outside of Japan and Australia. Except only the XL version showed up in North America for several months (the first example of the smaller model being badged with Animal Crossing). And as for games that need it, we have an admittedly-impressive handheld version of Xenoblade Chronicles, and a single indie game that still doesn’t work.

February saw amiibo-mania reach its zenith (or nadir, depending on who you ask) as the new wave of Smash Bros amiibo saw sellouts across North America. One current member of the Nintendo World Report staff had to wake up at 4:45 in the morning (local time) to get Rosalina preordered. Fans wished for games that would justify amiibo – and they got it in the form of amiibo Tap (a glorified demo service for the Virtual Console), the amiibo Party mode of Mario Party 10, and later, Animal Crossing amiibo Festival. Although anything worked with amiibo Tap, the other two were restricted to their own sets of amiibo, going so far as to only give a single unlock for finding Villager and using it in amiibo Festival. Whoops.

In March, following a couple of months of lackluster console sales even with the “New 3DS bump”, fans began to clamor for details of new hardware. They got it on March 17, with the announcement of codename “NX” – but that’s all we got official, because late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata declared a moratorium on discussion of it until 2016. And this was only done to assure fans and shareholders that Nintendo was staying in the dedicated hardware space following the announcement of Nintendo’s mobile strategy.

The April 1 Nintendo Direct saw two projects thought to be long dead come back: Fatal Frame and the Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem project. When Fatal Frame released in October outside of Japan, it was a limited release or in North America’s case, a digital-only release. Meanwhile, the SMT x FE project (known now as Genei Ibunroku #FE) which many thought would either be a Fire Emblem-style strategy game or a dark Shin Megami Tensei-style RPG, instead hued closer to the Persona series and focused on idol singing. Early returns from Japan are less than ideal (23,000 units in its first two days of sale).

In mid-May, 2014 indie release 1001 Spikes got a long awaited patch that was to bring off-TV play to the game. While it did that, it had the unfortunate side effect of breaking something slightly vital to playing a 2D platformer – the ability to walk to the right. The game was eventually fixed, but it did serious damage to the reputation of Nicalis, the game’s publisher. That same month saw Koji Igarashi free himself from Konami’s janitorial pool and announce his return to explorative platforming with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night’s Kickstarter. Fans wished he would return to Nintendo systems, and the goal was met – but it involves a studio with a questionable track record getting an engine working on the Wii U that has never worked there before.

June brought E3, and several examples back to back with it. The call went out for a new Metroid, and it was met with the 2016 game of the year – but the howls of protest arose as it appeared to be a hunting action game fused with intergalactic 3-on-3 soccer. Animal Crossing was finally announced for Wii U – as a board game. Camelot came back to Nintendo systems – with the barest bones of a Mario sports title. Even the hype of a new Fire Emblem game getting named (Fates) was tempered by the news of the game being three versions, and the game having same-sex marriage options was tempered by each of the main versions having just one option and the genders being locked to a particular game.

Talkback

CidsMechanicDecember 31, 2015

Salty (and good)!


I was surprised that Splatoon wasn't mentioned.

ClexYoshiDecember 31, 2015

I had to roll up to the top and make sure this was Donald writing this salt-filled diatribe.

Regardless, this is pretty much correct. 2015 did have a lot of that. other things not mentioned are the introduction of a Steam Refund program that the catch is that it has a really arbitrary catch of being tied to a really arbitrary time limit...

But at the same time, this form of recourse set the president for WB Games to pull their biggest game of the year from steam to fix it... of course, this was a very disingenuous move considering that they released the game very well knowing how borked it is.

The Mega Man Legends 3 hype almost came back in the form of RedAsh, a project so exposing and mishandled along with other mishandled projects like Star Citizen and anything that Double Fine has crowdfunded, that the integrity of the whole sodding crowdfunding bubble is at the verge of bursting.

Square-Enix is worth a mention again for it's facinating experiment with pre-order culture wherein they promised a bunch of awesome pre-order bonuses that would gradually be unlocked as more people pre-ordered the product.

there's more examples still, but sadly, I have to work on this new years eve. peace.

Ian SaneDecember 31, 2015

The ultimate Monkey's Paw wish for me was that Iwata would no longer be in charge of Nintendo... and then he DIES?!!  WTF?!!

Nintendo had a really bad year for underwhelming titles.  They've probably never had so many duds in one year before.  I figure it's like the odd year for a sports team where they look good on paper but somehow everyone has the worst year of their career in the same season.  Probably a fluke, hopefully not a sign of the future.

EnnerDecember 31, 2015

I'll just hold on to Splatoon, Super Mario Maker, and Xenoblade Chronicles X and pretend 2015 was a good Nintendo year.

ejamerDecember 31, 2015

Splatoon still holds no appeal for me.


Mario Maker discovery issues persist despite attempts to improve, and the system for "rating" games remains horrible. Interesting idea, but still gets a pass from me.


Xenoblade Chronicles X. Now we are talking. The only saving grace for Wii U after some games went digital-only, others universally bombed (I'm looking at you, Animal Crossing), and promising titles got pushed into next year.


It was a bad year for most Nintendo fans. Somehow I expect things to get worse before they get better. (True Nintendo fanboy optimism right there!)

Quote from: ClexYoshi

I had to roll up to the top and make sure this was Donald writing this salt-filled diatribe.

Next year I'll use my salt as it comes rather than let it all fly at once.

ShyGuyDecember 31, 2015

Nice to get a nice, positive piece from Shaymin for once.  ;D

ClexYoshiJanuary 01, 2016

I think there's a lot being looked over too if your'e a nintendo fan. Box boy came out this year and that didn't disappoint in the slightest in it's minimalistic way~! wonderful Indie stuff all made some bretty big splashes on Wii U, even if some of that was rereleases like Plague of Shadows and Freedom Planet. I'd also take a shot in the dark and say that one of the most acclaimed indie games on PC this year is very much a certain flavor of game for a certain flavor of Nintendo fan.

also, I think its telling that I effectively doubled my Wii U retail library in 2015. (I had Nintendoland, New Super Mario U+ Luigi U, 3D world, Smash 4, Mario Kart 8, Pikmin 3 before, aquired Kirby and the Rainbow Curse Mario Party 10 (Gift, played it once), splatoon, Super Mario Maker, Yoshi's Wooly World, Xenoblade Chronicles X)

... Still need to get Bayo 2.

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