By Jonathan Charles | Jul 06, 2012 09:57 AM EDT
Microsoft claims that the Xbox 360 and Wii U are basically the same in terms of graphical fidelity raised questions over how Nintendo aims to combat Sony's and Microsoft's next-gen consoles, though those comments aren't based on final products. If the Wii U is on parity with the Xbox 360, though, how does the software at launch compare?
Note, some of the titles may not release during launch so only the most likely titles have been included.
Nintendo announced Pikmin 3 and New Super Mario Bros. U during its E3 2012 conference, both titles from the company, along with Wii Fit U. Despite Nintendo having arguably the strongest and most well-known first-party catalogue, a full 3D Mario title or Zelda tease wasn't announced. Pikmin 3 has been long requested, but probably appeals to a more niche market than Super Mario. Therefore the announcement of New Super Mario Bros. U will ensure the Wii U sells if it releases during launch, but what titles are coming after?
The Xbox 360's launch titles included Kameo: Elements of Power, Perfect Dark Zero and Project Gotham Racing 3. Surprisingly all three were strong titles, especially PGR3, with Kameo never getting a sequel (probably down to Rare being acquired by Microsoft). However some titles were rushed for development, and didn't fully show the Xbox 360's graphical power. Perfect Dark Zero was the most successful first-party title with 14,987 copies sold.
Clearly the Wii U needs to show two things at launch, judging from the Xbox 360's history: the console's graphical power - Pikmin 3 and New Super Mario Bros. U looked high definition, but nothing outside of this generation - and the GamePad functionality. Pikmin 3 could be the game to showcase the tablet device with an ability to manage units from the tablet's screen and then watch the results on a television. It's approachable, like the Wii Remote was with Wii Sports.
Nintendo closed it's E3 conference with NintendoLand, what Nintendo hopes will be the Wii U's Wii Sports. It's basically a collection of mini-games demonstrating different functionality of the Wii U, but the reason Wii Sports was successful is because it was a case of picking up the Wii Remote and playing. NintendoLand doesn't have that immediate accessiblity; it's no as simple as swinging a baseball bat, or moving an arm and holding a button to roll a bowling ball.
Microsoft also launched with Call of Duty 2, which had a 77 percent attach rate (the amount of copies sold with the Xbox 360). In second and third place were Madden NFL 2006 and Need for Speed Most Wanted respectively.
Ubisoft demoed Rayman Legends outside of Nintendo's conference, which was later revealed to be exclusively for the Wii U and therefore raises the question of why Nintendo didn't show the game at its E3 2012 conference considering its positive reception and an exciting momentum-based level to finish the demo. Its predecessor, Rayman Origins, was a success with the small team returning a profit.
Assassin's Creed 3 releases October 30, 2012, and with the Wii U releasing by the end of 2012 - according to Nintendo - there's a good chance the game could release alongside the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions. Likewise, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition features a GamePad-equipped Batman and was shown at Nintendo's E3 conference. The impression seemed to be it'll be a launch title, considering 15 minutes of the conference was devoted to the game.
Ubisoft also drew interest with ZombiU, a zombie survival horror title which used the GamePad in very interesting ways such as as entering a passcode in real-time - while zombies were approaching from behind - or shaking the device to push a zombie away. It was the unique functionality that most developers aren't bringing in favor of a map on the GamePad's screen, at least when talking about the passcode funtionality. For some it was the game of the show, though impressive titles such as The Last of Us for the PlayStation 3 and Halo 4 for the Xbox 360 took many critics' awards.
Ubisoft's strategy is probably to launch early, sell in volume. The closer the next-gen Xbox and PlayStation consoles are, the more people are probably going to hold off buying a Wii U before the announcements are made from Microsoft and Sony. At launch users will pick up anything because something is needed to play; though that doesn't necessarily mean the quality is good.
On other Wii U titles, Scribblenauts Unlimited wasn't given a release date but is probably the most natural fit for the console as players can not only type to spawn items for Maxwell - the boy player's control - but can now create items with the editor the developer uses. That includes a cat, with a top hat, or a robotic dog.
Microsoft launched in 2005 with games such as Gun, Quake 4 and Condemned: Criminal Origins. All of the 20 launch titles varied in quality, with better titles like Condemned even being recommended now. The Wii U needs those launch titles that can be recommended when the other next-generation consoles launch, otherwise it's market share will plummet.
EA hasn't announced titles for the platform, but hasn't ruled out titles releasing on the platform either. That's probably going to be tied to the success of the console. A tweet from Joe Flanigan said he was "signed on" to do a game called "AO4," presumably meaning Army of Four. According to a report by Kotaku, that game will use Battlefield 3's Engine -- Frostbite 2. A screenshot during Nintendo's E3 2011 conference also showed a picture of characters from Army of Two, so there's a chance the title could arrive on Nintendo's next-generation console.
Note: added information on Kotaku's Army of Four report, which could release for Wii U, corrected ZombiU spelling error, added in NintendoLand reveal. Also qualified Microsoft's comments by saying it made impressions judging from E3 demos: the products aren't final.
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