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2015: The Year Of Unintended Consequences

The Second Half

by Donald Theriault - December 31, 2015, 3:46 am EST

The passing of Satoru Iwata knocked Nintendo for a loop.

One of the other E3 wishes was Devil’s Third – following its 2014 E3 appearance it went completely dark, not even appearing at the 2015 show despite having Japanese and European releases announced. European previews in July quickly granted the wish by pointing out that the game was crap, and all territories were burying it in their own way (Amazon exclusive in Japan, limited European release, NoA trying to pass it to a different publisher before finally printing less copies than Shovel Knight, a 1.5 year old indie game, got). The sum total of the game’s marketing: A subtitled Youtube video that looked for all the world like it came from Daesh.

August saw the drop of Nintendo’s holiday lineup, which some people wished would change. And it did: Star Fox Zero, previously tabbed for the “Nintendo Day” slot of the last Friday before US Thanksgiving, slid all the way to April 2016. Nintendo did have a banging month around the holidays – unfortunately, that was December, with its grand slam of Xenoblade X, FAST Racing NEO, SteamWorld Heist and Minecraft. Three of which are digital only for now. And of course, that left November's Wii U releases as the aforementioned tennis and board games.

September was Super Mario Maker month, and the hope was people would be able to dive right in and make levels on par with the games that inspired it and the cream would rise to the top. That lasted about an hour – once everything was unlocked – before the catalog became filled with automatic levels and levels deemed too hard for Kaizo Mario ROM hacks. (For more of the latter, see the entire level history of GiantBomb’s “Dirty” Dan Ryckert.) It took until December before the screenshots with rows of hexadecimal characters stopped flooding social media with the introduction of the Super Mario Maker Bookmark.

The scariest thing in October was a Twilight Princess leak in the eShop, which led to the discovery of dozens of Virtual Console titles. North American fans hoped for an acceleration of the 1 a week VC schedule – broken only usually by E3 and the month of April – but a super-majority of the titles were for Japan with a few in Europe. North America didn’t even take advantage of free Back to the Future day marketing by launching Wild Gunman’s NES version, as Europe did. And so, the wait until April continues apace. But hey, maybe we’ll get Mother 3 this time? It’s out in Japan, after all.

The Nintendo Direct took a hiatus following the death of Satoru Iwata in July, returning for one last run in the traditional format in November. Despite Nintendo stating outright that there would be no NX news, many hoped for at least a megaton of a similar magnitude. The two biggest pieces of news that hadn’t already leaked – Dragon Quests coming west and Cloud in Smash – continued to show love for the RPG, but pundits were disappointed that the closer was basically a tease for another frickin’ Fire Emblem character and… wait, Bayonetta’s in Smash? OK, never mind then.

Finally came the NWR Telethon in early December, and we actually managed to not only get a Nintendo representative, but it was Nintendo’s top man in the indie scene Damon Baker who joined us. At the end of his segment he teased a major announcement and people who forgot that we were talking to Nintendo’s indie head imagined what could join Bayonetta on the 3rd party train. As it turned out, it was Minecraft – a big deal for being a Microsoft published title on the Wii U, but the Wii U version is the most expensive and some promised features are coming in updates. But on the whole, most people will take it, if its place on the “all time” eShop charts in Japan (9th overall) is any indication.

For many people, 2015 was the Year of Dreams. It seemed like there was a major announcement every time you turned around. But there’s always a catch to these things, and that’s never been more true than in 2015. Even that turkey was a little dry.


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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