Two weeks ago, I recall sitting at my computer, taking in all of the X10 trailers and thinking to myself that Microsoft would absolutely have the strongest lineup of the year. Halo: Reach, Crackdown 2, Fable 3 – that’s a pretty amazing foundation, you must admit. There were lots of big announcements, big and small, and it just felt like this year would be the great gaming year that 2009 could have been if everything hadn’t been delayed. Well, just in case you had any doubts, Nintendo made sure to put them to rest on Wednesday with an even bigger barrage of release date bombshells than its Redmond neighbor.
To cut to the chase, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid: Other M and Sin and Punishment: Star Successor will all debut this summer, long before the fall blockbuster season. The latter two franchises have very rarely been launched outside the winter months, so this seems almost unprecedented by Nintendo. Maybe this means that it has even bigger November guns in store for us, the most obvious of which would be Zelda. But even if Nintendo has inexplicably decided to forgo the November gold rush completely, we’ve still got a lot of great games that all of us here at The Rumble Pack are dying to play.
Here’s my take on everything that’s going to keep my Wii (and DSi) from getting dusty throughout the first half of the year…
- There are already tons of headlines devoted to Mario on other sites, and I’ll get to the smaller stuff in just a second, but how can I not lead off with my favorite plumber. The original may very well be my favorite game of the last ten years, and that didn’t have Yoshi in all of his rainbow glory. I don’t know if this game can feel as fresh as its predecessor, but the promise of more insanely varied level design makes this my best bet for this year.
- The Nintendo DSi XL’s jumbo screens would be preferable, but was anyone expecting it to be so pricey? Hopefully, if I do finally upgrade, transferring all of the DSiWare won’t be a huge pain. It will be interesting to see if Shane Bettenhausen’s DS2 prediction comes true, given that Nintendo will have already released this new-ish hardware SKU. I just hope they put more marketing muscle into the XL than they did with the Game Boy Micro.
- Speaking of the DSi, I’m very glad to see so much handheld software after a relative lull last year. Wario Ware: D.I.Y. seems to be the series’ biggest step forward since Twisted, Photo Dojo looks like good, stupid fun and Picross 3D will finally arrive stateside to consume all of our souls. X-Scape had been rumored for a few weeks now, so it was also nice to finally see it surface.
- WiiWare got a much bigger push, too. First-party Art Style games, Super Meat Boy, Cave Story, And Yet It Moves – perhaps the Wii Shop is taking a slice of the indie community pie? No mention of Virtual Console, though. Game Room better give it a kick in the pants.
- Dragon Quest IX gets the first party treatment. That’s a huge coup for that game. That’s not to say that Square-Enix would let the game tank, but Nintendo’s the company that turned potential obscurities Elite Beat Agents and Professor Layton into strong sellers. Free online play for Monster Hunter is also a smart move. Maybe both Japanese giants will gain a little American traction.
Please keep your suit on, Samus. Don’t let Team Ninja turn you into a hussy.
- Did you know that Metroid: Other M is a “direct sequel” to Super Metroid? I’m not sure how I feel about Team Ninja developing a game that’s canon. (Have you seen what other developers have done to Star Fox?!) But if we’ve learned anything from Retro Studios, sometimes the “go big or go home” mentality is wisest.
- I’m keeping an eye of FlingSmash, if only because it feels like ages since we saw an original Nintendo IP that didn’t have a Wii prefix.
I know that there are a few games I’m leaving out of this roundup, but I read through the live-blogs this week, and I can honestly say that I want to play everything that was announced. Well, maybe not Prince of Persia: Jake Gyllenhaal Edition, but the lineup is damn impressive. If the Wii hardware has truly peaked, I’m glad that Nintendo and its partners are concentrating more on pumping out games.