Nintendo has a lot to prove this generation. Their last console has essentially tanked and there is very similar hardware under the hood of the Wii. Despite innovations in motion-sensing gameplay, the eternal fanboy question lingers: is history destined to repeat itself or are there actually going to be games in 2007 that propel this console into the lead? I'm not sure, but I can tell you a lot about the most anticipated games of next year that can make or break it.
Judging by holiday sales figures, the console has already captured the imagination of the people. But as we all know ... it really is all about the games, not just the machine. Until then, all we can do is research and analyse their lineup to the death. Having done so, I found myself with a list of potential upcoming releases into a Top 10 list to look forward to with your minds and wallets.
These are the most promising games on the Wii in 2007, destined to become the most influential to the console's future. Starting with...
10. Disaster: Day of Crisis
Not much is known about Day of Crisis. Save for a trailer shown at E3 2006, we have no idea what to expect from the game, what genre it will be, what kind of gameplay it involves, or anything of the sort. What we do know is that the game centers around a man by the name of Ray, who is on the run from mother nature herself. Amidst the erupting volcanos, tsunamis, tremors, and falling buildings is a corrupt Special Forces unit, trying to seize a nuclear weapon, and in addition to keeping himself alive, he has to stop them.
Judging from what was shown of the game at Nintendo World, it seems players will control Ray from a third-person perspective, while trudging through unfriendly elements of nature. The video above compiles all footage seen so far from E3 and Nintendo World. I have to admit, some of those visuals (like the huge tidal wave approaching the city) look amazing. Nintendo's been talking about the physics and the visuals of the game for a long time now, and assure us that both will be stunning. The hype: Day of Crisis will show us what developers can come up with when they push the Wii's hardware to its limits.
9. Sonic and the Secret Rings
Formerly known as Sonic Wild Fire, this game's current release date in the U.S. is March 6, 2007. Europe and Japan will both receive the title sometime in Spring 2007. The story involves Sonic diving into the world of the Arabian Nights to retrieve lost chapters of the book. The game uses the Wiimote's motion-sensing capabilities to a large extent, and will allow players to string together or combine several different moves. One of the unique aspects of the game is that you can't stop moving. Sonic, will, at all times be moving either forward or backwards to add a sense of speed to the game. At present, the game is said to have 70 single player missions and 30 multiplayer games for 1-4 players.
The last few Sonic games haven't been very impressive (I'm looking at you, Shadow the Hedgehog), so let's see if Sega can live up to the hype behind Secret Rings, so we can tell where the franchise is headed on the Wii. You can check out screenshots here and video footage below.
8. Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
Featuring the cast from every single Resident Evil game before it, Umbrella Chronicles is going to be a game that will reportedly flesh out the connection between Resident Evil 4 and the rest of the franchise. As the name suggests, it will emphasize heavily on the Umbrella Corporation and features Leon S. Kennedy, Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, Claire Redfield, Barry Burton, Rebecca Chambers, Albert Wesker and HUNK. So far, no one knows a damn thing about this game, and not even if the aforementioned characters will all be playable (fat chance of that), or whether they will simply be making appearances. No videos worth seeing or screenshots of the game are available yet.
The main reason this title is on this list is because it's connected to RE4. That, and well; Resident Evil with the Wiimote. I get tingly all over just thinking about it. OK, no. Actually, this is on the list because as we all know, the Wii isn't capable of pulling off visuals that can compete with the 360 and PS3. Visuals, environments and physics are an important part of horror games, and Umbrella Chronicles has the responsibility of showing us whether or not the Wii is capable of keeping with the other two in that regard.
7. Pokémon Battle Revolution
It's no secret I'm a fan -- the attention to the é gives me away. Pokémon has always been an important property for Nintendo, especially on their handhelds. However, games like Stadium 1 & 2, Colosseum and XD have done an OK job of demonstrating that the franchise is also capable of doing relatively well on home systems, although, not as well as on handhelds.
Battle Revolution, however, has a greater responsibility. Not only will it be the first game to demonstrate a Wii-to-DS link-up, it will also be the first Wii game capable of online play, using Nintendo's new WiiConnect24 service. Both of these are of utmost importance to Nintendo's future, especially since Microsoft has a huge lead in the online gaming community with Xbox Live, and Sony seems to be working tirelessly on their online service as well (which still doesn't have a name, apparently). Click here to check out some pictures and below to watch the trailer.
6. The Sims
Personally, I can't stand The Sims. Countless hours of pain have I endured, writhing, as I watched my best friend build a house, raise pet snakes, perform magical tricks, have sex with every possible person she could (and the only reason there was no incest was because it wasn't allowed) and raise a dysfunctional family, then trap them and watch them die in a fire. Wholesome tidings aside, the promise of this game is bringing sticky internet features to the Wii. If Pokémon Battle Revolution is the first step to awakening the potential of WiiConnect24, The Sims surely will be.
The buzz around this game stems from the shocking visual style of the game, which seem to be Miis this time. The peculiar screenies are here, video below. The franchise has a very reputable history and people will trust their guts if they see it on the shelves. It should be a big one for the Wii.
5. Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
A lot of you might wonder why Mortal Kombat is on this list. However, once you take into consideration that MKA is going to be one of the first major one-on-one fighting franchises on the Wii, it is immediately apparent that this title plays an important role in the development of future fighters for the system. A year from now, when developers start experimenting more freely with the motion-sensing capabilities, MK: Armageddon is going to be one of the titles they will have to take into account if they plan to develop more games like it.
Nothing is known yet about the control scheme for the Wii, or how the game will compare graphically to its Xbox/360/PS2 counterparts (although one would assume that the game would, at the very least, look as good as the Xbox version), but Ed Boon has stated that the Wii has enough horsepower to handle the game.
4. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
As a signature Nintendo franchise, Metroid has always managed to deliver immersive gameplay, whether it is in the form of sidescrollers or first-person shooters. A lot of fans were skeptical when Prime was announced for the GameCube. Luckily, not only did Retro Studios manage to pull it off, they also created a game that was ranked among the top GCN games. Can they do it again? History suggests that they should be more than able to.
Nintendo has stated several times that the Wiimote's purpose is to act as an extension of the player's arm / canon. Needless to say, expectations for Corruption are very high. The 360's lineup of shooters are tough to contend with. Can the Wiimote Metroid hold a candle to Gears of War? We'll find out next year. In the mean time, feast your eyes on the gameplay video below.
3. No More Heroes
This game sells Wii for this alone. No More Heroes by Suda 51 has been discussed by me in the past, and again, very few details about the game have been revealed. What we do know is that the game will be set in a free roaming GTA-like environment, and will involve you mercilessly killing a lot of people with your "beam katana" (read: lightsaber rip-off). So, what makes it unique?
The visuals, that's what. It's pretty clear by now that the Wii cannot compete with the 360 or PS3. However, innovation comes in many forms, and graphics is certainly one of them. No More Heroes sports an awesome cel-shaded look that immediately sets it apart from every other game for the Wii, or even the 360/PS3 for that matter. In addition to this, No More Heroes will also make use of the Wiimote for its sword mechanics, and naturally, this is something that gamers will be clamouring to try out in the wake of Red Steel. Screenshots here, trailer below.
2. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers
Let's face it. Square wasn't very kind to Nintendo during the days of the N64 -- and Nintendo was foolish to go with a cart-based system when their number one third party franchise was ready to start the big disk multimedia revolution. They underestimated the value of Final Fantasy and the PSOne snatched it up, making the PlayStation a must-have console for RPG fans. Since then, all Nintendo fans have seen in the Final Fantasy series are remakes of SNES games on the GBA, FFIII for the DS, and Crystal Chronicles for the GameCube.
Many an epic arguement have concluded that game did not in any way live up to the expectations FF fans have of Square Enix in this day and age. The Crystal Bearers is a sequel to the game in development for the Wii, and is also among the first RPG titles for the Wii. As of this post, we know practically nothing about the game, but it is by Square, and it is an RPG that uses the Wiimote, so expectations are sky high. You can check out the few seconds of video footage shown at E3 2006 below.
1. Project H.A.M.M.E.R. Let me save you some trouble: "Whaaaaat? What the hell is this doing here?! No Metroid? No Mario Galaxy? BLASPHEMY! I can't believe I scrolled all the way to #1 for blah blah blah"
I know, I know. I'm surprised I placed this at the #1 spot, too. The game involves you swinging around a gigantic hammer and smashing things. However, if you recall Reggie's words at E3, he clearly stated this was a new franchise in development for Nintendo by Nintendo themselves. Judging from past experiences, once the big N has a franchise that does well (and they almost always do), they proceed to tweak and upgrade and improve them over several iterations. If Project H.A.M.M.E.R is going to be Nintendo's new franchise, they must think it's going to rock the casbah. Again, you can head over to IGN for impressions, and check out game footage below.
Well, there you have it - Destructoid's list of upcoming Wii games with the most potential; possibly to even become influential. If the hype is right, these will play a very important role in deciding which direction the console will go in, and how developers will make use of its unique capabilities in the future. With any luck, every single title on that list will set an example for future Wii games, and accelerate Nintendo's growth further in the gaming industry.
Thoughts? Comments? Your own list? Fire away in the comments below. Oh, and once you're done, click here for your reward.
[Update: All right. A lot of you have requested that I explain why Super Mario Galaxy and Smash Bros. Brawl were left off this list, so I'm going to do just that. Here's the deal: Read the post. It mentions games that could go either way, but if they did well, they would help the Wii prove itself in different regards, and open developers up to new ideas. Mario is not going to do that. There has never been a bad Mario game, nor will there ever be one. The same goes for Smash Bros. Brawl. It's something we've come to expect from Nintendo. A good Mario game would not surprise anybody. The only reason Metroid Prime is up there is because it will probably be the first FPS done right for the Wii, and that is a big deal.]