Can 2014 be the salvation of the Wii U?
It's been a tough ride for the the Wii U. Nintendo's new home console has been drifting along after a less-than-stellar launch at Christmas 2012 a far cry from the stellar performance of it's ground-breaking predecessor the Wii.
Many industry commentators like to suggest that platform exclusives aren't that importrant any more but that simply isn't true and Nintendo is the prime example of this. Nintendo consoles live and die on their exclusive titles and they have given us some of the most memorable gaming experiences of the last 30 years entirely down to their own exclusive titles.
In fact it's not just Nintendo-made games that have become legendary exclusives. Resident Evil 4 is a prime example of a classic game that began its life as a Gamecube exclusive and if it weren't for GoldenEye 007 on the N64, FPS gaming on consoles may not have become as prominent as it now is.
While last year felt rather quiet for the Wii U, 2014 looks like it could begin to tip the balance and make Nintendo's struggling new machine and beast worth investing in for gamers once more.
To begin with we have Super Mario 3D World. This was a Christmas 2013 release but as all Mario games have been in recent years it will see a long tail of sales throughout this year and having a full Mario title on the shelves will certainly make gamers take notice of the Wii U. The gorgeous HD remake of The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker will also aid the Wii U this year and it already caused a spike in hardware sales when it arrived in October.
There are a few key releases that could well prove to be the salvation of the Wii U, showing gamers once and for all that the console can offer valuable experiences beyond those available on the Xbox One and PS4.
Platinum Games' Hideki Kamiya may well end up this year ruing the day they ever created their gunslinging witch after lashing out at fans relentless calls to port this game over from the Wii U to PlayStation and Xbox but this game could very well seal the Wii U's hardcore gaming credentials.
The first game was one of the highest-rated games of all time garnering prise from across the games industry. It remains one of the finest action titles around on the Xbox 360 and PS3 and given the care that Platinum Games puts into their work the sequel could very well be just as good, if not better.
Mario Kart 8
Seriously, Mario Kart saves everything. Mario Kart's first ever 1080p outing is mouthwateringly tantalising. To this day Mario Kart remains one of the most entertaining and addictive split-screen multiplayer racers there is. It's painfully simple and cruelly competitive and when it returns to the home TV where it belongs will be a joyous occasion.
Throughout the years there have been mistakes with the series (like Rainbow f**king Road) but it has always retained the same addictive quality that has kept players captivated since Mario Kart first appeared on the SNES way back in the mists of the 1990s.
If there is any title that can bring gamers to the Wii U in droves Mario Kart 8 is it.
Xenoblade Chronicles is still one of the most sought-after titles on the Wii and as good a reason as any to buy the darn thing for hardcore gamers.
X is the follow-up to Monolith Software's JRPG of choice for many Wii gamers and it holds as much promise as its predecessor did on the Wii.
Featuring a massive open world to explore either on foot or in one of the game's huge humanoid robots called Dolls Tetsuya Takahashi's latest game promises to be quite an adventure and could well be the JRPG event of 2014. If it's a must for JRPG gamers then it wil surely shift some Wii U machines in 2014.
Be prepared for the possibility that this could be the finest fighting game that has ever featured on a Nintendo console. Given that Soul Calibur II, Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat II have graced Nintendo machines that is no mean feat.
Of course, it will help that the development is being aided by Namco Bandai who employ the minds behind both the Tekken and Soul Calibur series of fighting games which should bring a bit more tightness to the gameplay and a bit more street-cred to fighting games fans.
Super Smash Bros has been pretty addictive in its own right and has even pushed Sony to attempt to emulate it with the mediocre PlayStation AllStars. On the Wii U the series will take on a distinctly next-gen feel with touchscreen functions and proposed cross-functionality with the 3DS version of the game.
Whatever way you look at it Nintendo are not going to lay down without a fight. 2014 should be an exciting year for the Wii U.