On November 30th it will be exactly 1 year since I picked up my Wii U.
For this occasion I decided to do a little retrospective based on my playing statistics, as recorded by the box.
I will list the 3 most played titles for each month and try to offer some commentary on them. Many games I bought, liked, loved and hated will be left out with this methodology, but then that is part of the excercise.
When I conclude these musings I'll also do picks on what I thought were the best games I played on Wii U and 3DS respectively (3DS doesn't enter the picture until Part 2 though).
Now, on with the show!
Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed 24:28 New Super Mario Bros U 21:16 Nintendo Land 11:03
Sonic: ASRT really helped with spending the first month with the Wii U,
a very solid launch title, that despite being multiplayer made quite confident use of Wii U's power.
I also genuinely liked NSMBU a lot. The Wii iteration left me quite cold, but this new incarnation felt more in line with
SMB3 and Super Mario World. And it was, after all the first time you could see Mario in HD (720p which makes it now, a year later look a bit drab compared to Nintendo's current outings).
Nintendo Land I also found to have quite meaty single player arcade content for a pack-in minigame collection.
It also had an unexpected vibe of mystery as the minigames would reveal new levels and sections that weren't cued in any way initially. This game still shines when you have 5 players to play it with.
Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed 10:10 New Super Mario Bros U 4:02 Trine 2 1:41
January, the month of Christmas gaming hangover. Also did a trip abroad.
Mostly it seems, I was tying the loose ends of SASRT and NSMBU.
Trine 2 got the honor of being my first Eshop purchase, unfortunately I could never really get into the game no matter how pretty it looked. The floaty physics just didn't add up to enjoyable gameplay for me.
Zen Pinball 2 22:26 Darksiders II 18:27 Little Inferno 4:53
This is when I got big into pinball in general. ZP2+Gamepad is a match made in heaven, the triggers, big sturdy pad and the rumble seem to be born to simulate pinball.
Got Darksiders II for 25eur, it was one of the first games to hit the bargain bins over here.
It turned out it would one of the best games for me all year. The aesthetic, the combat, the music, the bosses and all the things it so smartly lifts from Metroid and Zelda games, I loved it.
Gamepad also seemed to make a big difference for DII as it features constant inventory management and map navigation, which I'd believe were made quite a bit easier by having them displayed constantly.
Little Inferno has basically only one complicated satirical joke, but I laughed.
Zen Pinball 2 17:09 Tekken Tag Tournament 2 7:12 Darksiders II 3:45
Pinball, allday, everyday!
TT2 was another bargain bin purchase. I've never been a Tekken-guy and this game didn't really change that.
Darksiders II is a long fucking game.
Need for Speed Most Wanted U 24:46 Zen Pinball 2 5:22 Rayman Legends Demo / Challenges App 3:34
NfSMWU may be just another port for the Wii U, but a very good port, that could clearly supercede its 360 and PS3 versions.
The game is also damn fun and has an awesome soundtrack. The multiplayer was somehow rather 'meh'.
Pinball fatigue started setting in too.
Rayman Challenges App was fantastically compelling entertainment, considering it was basically a "sorry" for delaying the actual game on Wii U in order to do a multiplatform release later.
Rayman Legends Demo / Challenges App 20:06 Super Metroid 15:49 Zen Pinball 2 9:42
Did I mention Challenges App was really compelling?
I got all of the 30cent Virtual Console games, but the shining star of the lot was of course Super Metroid.
This is the first time I've played Super Metroid from start to finish, despite dipping into it several times over the years and having completed both GBA installments.
It is a true classic.
Super Metroid does not need words like "retro" to justify its presence, you could release it today and it would be not only competing, but surpassing its modern rivals.
Pinball is fun again.
And those were the first 6 months of Wii U.
Had I not excluded it, Netflix would've held the top spot most months. Wii U is the only device I want to use Netflix on anymore.
Also Youtube via the Internet Browser finally realized for me the dream of enjoying YT shows on the couch without hassle and trying to type on tv remotes.
In July I would get my 3DS XL, my first foray into Nintendo's handhelds.
This purchase was directly inspired by how much I liked using the Gamepad.
After being exposed for 6 months to the subtle and not so subtle gameplay tweaks added by a second screen and a stylus, I found myself wanting a 3DS.
The rest is for part 2, as Link, pikmins and a few others are still competing for my attention before November closes.
The success of GTA V is what you call proof. It proves the GTA concept not only works, but is desired by the consumer.
It also proves that the GTA formula has not peaked yet.
GTA V also sold for a billion dollars at launch.
That number will of course be scrutinized, analyzed and taken apart later, but none of it matters for the already born myth of the billion dollar game.
Inevitably other publishers will look upon GTA V as their new benchmark to reach and tune their strategies and future games accordingly.
Here are 3 interesting things, I think will catch their attention.
#1 You don't need women to win
It turns out you don't need deep female characters to win big, it turns you don't even need female characters at all, unless they are strippers or prostitutes.
Whether or not GTA V excludes female gamers can't be said for sure. Still my hunch is that in percentages female gamers are less present in GTA V numbers, than in say Skyrim.
I'm not saying "GTA isn't for girls" or that women couldn't and wouldn't play it. What I am saying is that it takes all the recent arguments about diversifying audiences and taking gaming to new territories, and lights them on fire with a flamethrower.
#2 Hardcore is not the only game in town, but it is the best
So called "hardcore gaming" has been in at least, what is a perceptional decline since the advent of mobile gaming for the masses.
There has been valid concern for the longevity of big-budget, massive epics for the hardcore crowd, as growth in gaming seems to be happening mostly in the casual mobile gaming end of things.
However if you pit GTA V's success against (arguably) the worlds best known mobile game franchise Angry Birds, you will find that Rovio's entire year revenue (~150m €) against Take-Two's effort makes the birds' galaxy seem far away indeed.
#3 Gaming's Titanic/Avatar/Avengers is carnage in a moral vacuum!
Even at this point, I feel confident in stating that GTA V has caught some unprecented mainstream media coverage, equivalent to big hollywood film openings.
Want it or not, GTA V represents gaming culture in 2013.
And what we find in the limelight is bitter and sweet.
I think many (myself included) see the situation as a validation of hardcore gaming. Gaming, where you shoot people, things explode and blood splatters..splatter.
Because it is not an MMO that we find smashing records at the end of 2013, nor is it a game about building or crafting, nor is it new and revolutionary game mechanics.
Instead we have single player videogaming, the fifth installment of a series, that from its inception has dwelled in the moral uproar brought on by its visceral sandboxes of mayhem.
And so, with GTA V, gaming, the industry and us, find themselves with a rather clear message on the state of gaming and what we as a collective want for our gaming money.
Gaming might be art, but it is definitely business, and no voice talks louders in it than a billion dollars.
notes: *Didn't play any GTA V so far as the PC version isn't around yet. *Did try not make claims about the content I have not seen on videos/read about in reviews *First time I try this blogging thing, so it probably blows to an extent.