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Can A 3D Mario Really Save The Troubled Wii U?

Posted on Saturday, May 4 @ 11:22:00 Eastern by Jonathan_Leack


The Wii U has been troublesome for Nintendo since it launched last year. Nintendo has responded by putting together a six-month campaign to get the console back on the map. It was kickstarted by one of the most impactful system updates ever seen, and will soon be followed by the console's most important game: its first 3D Mario.

A 3D Mario is being touted as the premier upcoming release for the Wii U and is scheduled to release by the end of October. There's no better move that Nintendo could make at this point. Mario, and more specifically his 3D adventuring games, are routinely top-selling titles on Nintendo hardware. Super Mario 64 sold over 11 million copies and by itself is cited as an irrefutable reason for owning the Nintendo 64. Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy had similar results on following platforms selling 6 million and 10.5 million units respectively, numbers that few games could contend with.

Luckily for Nintendo, 3D Mario games are always successful. They appeal to a very broad audience with addictive gameplay and charming visuals, but also satisfy the company's core audience. For gamers, what's attractive is the series' track record of continued innovation. Each release, including the standout sequel Super Mario Galaxy 2, has found ways to push the platforming genre to the next level. The visuals might incrementaly improve, but each release is always more clever than the last.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is going to be a tough act to follow given it has one of the highest critic averages of all-time at 97%, but Nintendo has never backed down from a challenge. The Wii U's tablet, like Wii motion controls which came before it, grant Nintendo room to explore. These new uses of the device can help define the console's existence in the market. Consumers might then understand what the Wii U is instead of continuing to ask Best Buy employees why it's such an expensive Wii add-on.

Presently, the only first-party developed games on the Wii U are Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U. That's a problem. While the former demonstrated that the Wii U has potential behind its awkard controller, it wasn't much more than a tech demo with fun co-op. The latter was fun, but didn't make consumers feel like they were playing something new and exciting. Furthermore, the console has gone six months without a game to show consumers why it's worth purchasing.

A 3D Mario is precisely what the Wii U needs to be successful. It'll be easy to market and carries with it an identity that no other game has. But it won't be alone. It will have a supportive army behind it with Pikmin 3, Wonderful 101, Bayonetta 2, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Wii U in addition to a massive marketing campaign. The console's price point will soon become a signficant advantage as core titles lend reason to its purchase. Sound similar? It's the Nintendo 3DS all over again, and even that had Super Mario 3D Land. As poorly as the Wii U has performed during its early months, this Fall it has an opportunity to create a clean slate and make its troubled past nothing more than history.
Tags:   wii u, nintendo
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