Console exclusives can be the bane of the choice you had to make or the cherry on top of a terrific purchase, but will always be an inevitable part of a competitive hardware market. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all laid their exclusive cards carefully again in 2014 with some terrific results: Nintendo, as usual, were in a world of their own, but have finally delivered Wii U entries for the crucial series Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros to drive those sad sales figures up a bit, as well as cult-favourite Bayonetta 2.
I know what you’re thinking. They must be tired, why don’t they take a year or two off? Well, they’re not listening. 2015 promises a renewed range of exclusive titles for Nintendo’s candy-looking console. Picking just the three most anticipated is no easy task, but the universe has seen fit to entrust it to me. Here goes.
We're grateful for the Wind Waker HD reissue Ninty, really we are. The polished visuals and refined game mechanics made for a damned good-looking set of shoes. Er, game re-issue. But you know that we Zelda fans are hungry for something new. Perhaps more hungry than we've ever been, since the formula repetition is, lets face it, more clear with each entry. You know that, and you're on the case. The more we hear about and see of 2015's The Legend of Zelda, the more it looks like what the franchise has been waiting for.
The almost-open world is about to throw off every single shackle it had left, and then some - it looks ENORMOUS - and gorgeous. The Zelda games have all managed to be very beautiful in their own ways, but the first HD Zelda could see a new precedent struck. On top of sheer scale, the gameplay looks really intriguing and innovative too - what's with all the new kinds of arrow-shooting? Flying off Epona in slow-motion to fire off two or three tightly-targeted unfoldy-explodey new arrows at giant angry roaming monsters (Was that an Octorok? A peahat?) seems like the sort of dramatically more dynamic play that could directly compete with Arkham Knight's Batmobile. And in the legacy left by the Wii, that's saying something. And Epona won't run into trees! You have our attention Nintendo, don't hold back.
Each Nintendo console has drawn successfully on its legacy franchises and the Wii U is no different. Perhaps you think the 2015 Star Fox game cheekily announced in the Zelda gameplay video should make this list, or the rumoured Metroid entry, but we're plumbing for Splatoon. All we know about those titles is their franchise, which engenders guaranteed interest, but Splatoon, as a new and original IP, is more intriguing. A team-based multiplayer online third-person (ink) shooter, Splatoon is novel for Nintendo from every angle, and it'll be fascinating to see Ninty's unique touch on a formula that never really reached the Wii, outside of 3rd party ports. It's easy perhaps to suggest it'll just be online multiplayer Super Mario Sunshine, but definitely reductive until we know much more. besides, Mario couldn't turn into a squid and that game was underrated anyway. We'll be keeping a keen eye on Splatoon's inkling folk and their bold step outside Nintendo's comfort zone in 2015.
The Xbox One has had an especially tough time in Japan partly as a result of neglecting to cater for games that appeal most to the Japanese culture, and if anyone’s taking up the slack it’s primarily Nintendo. Xenoblade Chronicles X is not only an impressive-looking RPG in its own right that will offer another look at the real potential of Nintendo’s first High-Def console, but it’s also a good example of a title with a solid chance of achieving popularity in the Japanese market, which has so far purchased more than 50 times as many Wii U consoles as Xbox Ones.
Xenoblade will see two alien races clash near to the Earth in 2054 (be cool - it's the setting, not the release date!), causing widespread collateral damage. Joint governments launch the Earth Species Pan Immigration Program to evacuate our waning planet in colossal interstellar ark ships. Passengers aboard the evac ship ‘White Whale’ crash land on planet Mira and attempt to establish a new home, while under threat from alien races. Until Mira sets sail in 2015, our eyes will be peeled. Will you be aboard?
So what did I miss? Are you looking forward to finding out what Ninty will do with Star Fox after so long rather than just the next Zelda? There's a lot to come in 2015 for the 8th generation of consoles' chirpy underdog, what are you looking forward to most?