Wii U: Can ‘Mario’ Save Nintendo This Time? [Op-Ed]

Wii U appears doomed, but can Mario save Nintendo this time?

Super Mario Bros. was the reason a lot of us bought Nintendo’s eight bit console, and the franchise has sold strong ever since. Between Mario and Zelda, Nintendo has never had to worry about money. The goofy Italian plumber and the silent elf-like swordsman of Hyrule have always pulled Nintendo out of some tight spots. It’s no wonder, really, as those games have always oozed quality and fun.

However, ever since the Virtual Boy, Nintendo has been slipping further into a financial hole. The failed virtual reality console gave us eye strain and called itself portable, but just try playing it on the bus and you’ll see how portable it really wasn’t. I never once felt the urge to buy one.

The last few consoles Nintendo has produced barely had a profit margin beyond the retail price, but the games have helped make them worth owning, so Nintendo stayed afloat. They went the shaving razor route, expecting the attachments to make all the money. It looked like doom was imminent with the N64, to be honest, and it was because of Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, and Goldeneye that the console gained staying power. The upgrade to 3D with most franchises failed most of the time (Castlevania, anyone?), and the N64 was hit the hardest with the bad attempts.

Now the Wii U has launched, and the games are trickling in like water through a terminated connection that someone forgot to turn off all the way. Need for Speed Most Wanted U, Dead or Alive 5 Plus, and possibly Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate look like the most promising games on the console, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to pull Nintendo out of the hole they dug themselves into.

Even the Virtual Console launch lineup looks like a list of games that will end up sitting on the shelf while you go back to Call of Duty on a console that’s still profitable in spite of the looming next generation. We’ve already played Super Mario World. We want something new and different.

It looks like Nintendo is going to need a phenomenal Mario or Zelda game to keep the Wii U from going the way of Sega’s Dreamcast. And I do mean phenomenal. No remakes or any of that noise: gamers demand things they haven’t seen before, and if anything can save Nintendo this time, it’s going to have to be a damn good Mario or Zelda game.

Mario is starting to stink of desperation now because we haven’t seen anything innovative from him in a while. Too little too late is only going to be the nail in the coffin.

Do you think Mario or Zelda can save the Wii U from being the death of Nintendo?

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