Just like many of Nintendo’s IPs who have been left behind since the 80’s and 90’s in favour of more important (profitable) IPs, Nintendo is without doubt not the “House of Mario” but rather “House of Nostalgia” for those who’s lifespan covers more than 2, 3 decades. As many of you will be aware there is a pile of games who’s names are only mentioned in more recent times in the Nintendo Historia that is Super Smash Bros.
With the Wii U not selling at all (even the Gamecube was doing better at this point) its going to need some miracle to get it moving, many would state that this would be Mario 3d world, Mario Kart U or SMBU. But who is to say that any of these games are going to shift more consoles, because how many of the people who bought a Wii and thus purchased games such as Mario Kart have actually bought a Wii U, clearly not many then.
When we look back on consoles past which of them do we consider ‘cult’ and what aspects of these consoles makes them cult. I can only speak about the consoles that were released in my childhood and of course this means drawing some similarities between Wii U and with the late Sega consoles. The Genesis was a success for Sega in the early nineties here in Europe and in N.A, leading Nintendo to step up with the SNES two years later in 1992, and thus lead to perhaps the last great console battle (until November 2013 anyway). Though well-documented Sega’s console fall is I think there are a few important details that can be applied to the Wii Us’ rough start, or more importantly with competition. Sega’s Saturn system lost out early in Europe even though it had a strong base with the Genesis crowd, but with no Sonic, a high price tag and a difficult programing architecture it was taking third party companies a lot longer to develop games for the system and thus with the release of the N64 and the best selling console of all generations the PS2, the Saturn stalled very quickly. This then led to a massive financial plight at Sega as they discontinued the Saturn and produced the much-loved Dreamcast.
This left many developers with unfinished projects and left Sega with not many third party developers going into the new system. The Dreamcast was undoubtedly ahead of its time by a large margin, and its impressive line up of games meant that this was a truly great console. However cost of its development and the PS2s’ 60% market share was the final strike for Sega’s console development. In its short time the Dreamcast sold more than 10 million units, and still has a strong following further strengthening its cult status.
So where does this lead the Wii U? It certainly shares many of the late Sega consoles difficulties in software and in competition; will 2014 bring what the Wii U needs, or is it just too late for the console that perhaps will be forgotten. Though many have been quick to right off the Wii U as a complete failure in what a gaming console of this generation should be able to do, the Wii U and all of its predecessors all have one objective; to deliver great games. Nintendo are a true gaming company, yes they can seem old fashioned and ridiculously stubborn, however they do make some amazing games, and do not revert on what they set out to do. It would be a crying shame if developers stay away from a machine that is ultimately more of a dedicated gaming machine than the PS4 and the XBONE. Only time will tell if the Wii U becomes a cult console, and I hope that it does not because it has so much going for it, so maybe a string of first party games will change this.