This past week was a huge one for Nintendo Wii U owners, as the company laid out a battle plan that included such enormous franchises as Mario, Mario Kart, Zelda, Xenoblade and Smash Bros., among other announcements. It reassured that Nintendo still gave a damn about the system, and was working to improve its performance in the months ahead.
We've put together a little guide to talk about some of the games that we're excited for, and they're not too far off from release.
Lego City Undercover (March 18th)
For a while there, the formula for Lego games from Travellers Tales remained unchanged. Build items with certain characters, solve puzzles, find unlockable goodies, etc. But with last year's Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, the company changed pace frenetically, with a bigger world to explore and various characters to play as. Their latest game, the original effort Lego City Undercover, promises an even bigger city to explore, as you play an undercover cop trying to bust criminals and keep the streets safe. With an original storyline, hours worth of content to locate, and a refreshing presentation, this is bound to be a big hit with all ages.
Pikmin 3 (Q2 2013)
One of Nintendo's bigger titles at E3 last year was this long-awaited sequel, which not only reintroduces the concept of commanding armies of multi-colored aliens to do your bidding, but also brings a fresh coat of high-definition paint to bring the world to painstakingly beautiful life. A new Pikmin type is also being introduced, a powerful Stone breed that is capable of breaking through materials that other Pikmin simply cannot. We know the delays on this one have been a little harsh, but Nintendo is certainly going to make the sequel worthwhile.
Rayman Legends (February 26th)
Ubisoft got us excited about the Rayman brand again with the release of the 2011 multiplayer extravaganza Rayman Origins, with its eye-popping animations and its sheer overdose of silliness. That same level of fun will make its return next month with Rayman Legends, a colorful, delightful side-scrolling romp with imaginative new worlds to explore, inventive use of the GamePad's touch-screen, and plenty of hilarious musical numbers, including "Black Betty" as performed by a goblin army. A downloadable demo is available now, and we highly suggest checking it out, unless for some strange reason you're not a fan of fun.
The Wonderful 101 (Q2 2013)
The latest from Platinum Games – a studio that's overloaded with the likes of Anarchy Reigns, Metal Gear Rising Revengeance and the forthcoming Bayonetta 2 – is a return to sheer Japanese old-school gaming madness, along the same lines as their previously released Viewtiful Joe games. You play a group of heroes who run across the city, battling gigantic enemies using a number of powers while trying to restore peace to the city. With a wondrous art style and plenty of entertaining gameplay, there should definitely be 101 reasons – if not more – to enjoy this one.
Aliens: Colonial Marines (Q1 2013)
Though it's not coming day-and-date with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, Sega's take on James Cameron's harrowing yet awesome sci-fi legacy will no doubt make a huge impact on the Wii U this spring. Featuring great multiplayer components (you can finally play as the Aliens), a riveting single player story, heart-pounding shooting action and a creative alien-tracking tool displayed on the Wii U (just like in the movie), this is a hardcore title that you won't be able to get enough of. The fact it's being produced by Borderlands extraordinaire studio Gearbox Software doesn't hurt either.
Injustice: Gods Among Us (April 16th)
Netherrealm Studios, the team that did such a bang-up job in 2011 with the revival of Mortal Kombat, are at it again, this time tearing up the DC Universe with the likes of Batman, Superman, the Joker, Bane and a number of other heroes and villains. Featuring abnormal fighting elements where items in the environments can be used, as well as super moves that play out like cinematic events (with plenty of "BOOM" to conclude them), Injustice is looking like this year's must-have fighting game. And we can finally see if Bane will break the Dark Knight's back again. (Chances are his recovery will be much more swift here, though.)
Zen Pinball 2 (Q1 2013)
We didn't mention many downloadable games in this feature, so we'll give Zen Pinball 2 an honorary nod. Featuring a myriad of spectacular tables both original (Tesla, Earth Defense) and licensed (the Marvel Pinball line-up, Plants vs. Zombies), Zen Pinball also features updated scoreboards, tournaments, and the ability to play on both your screen and the GamePad, in case you need to fulfill your pinball fix while someone else watches TV. And with new tables continually being announced, Zen Pinball 2 will expand even further this year. Now that's something worth flipping out over.
Need For Speed: Most Wanted (Q1 2013)
Finally, we turn to Electronic Arts' latest racing game, a fine return to form for the Burnout-creating team at Criterion Games. Need For Speed: Most Wanted brings back the "go anywhere, drive anything" formula of Burnout Paradise, but with a refreshing new visual interface and a gaggle of licensed cars to choose from. The multiplayer interaction is through the roof as well, as you can challenge players across the globe for racing superiority – and wreck them into the wall if you don't like their style. Here's hoping that the Wii U version has some exclusive stuff, like additional cars and the ability to tear things up on your GamePad.
What Wii U games are you looking forward to?