During December's North American Nintendo Direct presentation, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime promised that the number games available for Wii U would double “over the next few weeks and months.” It's sad to say, but in the six weeks that have passed since the presentation, precious little progress has been made toward that lofty goal.
Fortunately, things are starting to look up. Nintendo and its third-party partners have finally assigned dates to a number of upcoming Wii U games, including LEGO City: Undercover, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (which is coming to 3DS, too) and Need for Speed Most Wanted. Equally welcome is news that Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon for 3DS now has a definite release date. But, you've got to take the good with the bad, and in this case that means that some high profile games once slated for the Wii U's expansive launch window have been pushed back. Namely, The Wonderful 101, Game & Wario and Wii Fit U.
Believe it: March is going to be a busy month for Wii U players. All of the newly dated Wii U games arrive during the month, narrowly making it to store shelves (and, at least in Monster Hunter's case, eShop) before Nintendo's current fiscal year comes to an end. As for the postponed games (including Pikmin 3, which was recently delayed to Q2 2013), they are now slated to "arrive in the first half of the year." Additional information is promised at a later date.
Appropriately enough, LEGO City: Undercover will be first out of the gate on March 18th. As the only all-new game of the three, it'll likely be the title of choice for scores of Wii U owners. Extensively previewed during the last Nintendo Direct presentation, LEGO City: Undercover is exclusive to Wii U, though a tie-in game, LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins, is coming out for 3DS on April 21st.
Unlike the vast majority of LEGO games, which are published by Warner Bros. Interactive (who owns LEGO franchise developers TT Games, currently hard at work on the just-announced LEGO Marvel Super Heroes) Undercover is being published by Nintendo itself. The move is emblematic of Nintendo's efforts to secure unique content for Wii U, not unlike its partnership(s) with Platinum Games on The Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2, both of which Nintendo is also publishing.
Exactly one day after LEGO City: Undercover goes on sale, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (for Wii U and 3DS) and Need for Speed Most Wanted follow suit. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is an expanded, HD update of Wii's Monster Hunter Tri (which, sadly, will be going offline six weeks after Ultimate drops), and can be played both online with other Wii U owners (up to four players, and both USB keyboards and GamePad enabled voice chat are supported!), or locally with friends who have the 3DS version. Game saves can even be transferred between Wii U and 3DS, so the monster hunting never has to stop. To convince the skeptical (or the uninitiated), a demo for both versions of the game will be available on February 21st. Until then, check out the latest Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate trailer.
When Need for Speed Most Wanted hits Wii U on March 19th, it won't be quite the same game Xbox 360, PS3 and PC owners experienced last October (read our Most Wanted review). For starters, there will be more cars available from the outset. The Ultimate Speed Pack, which includes the Pagani Zonda R, McLaren’s F1 LM, Lamborghini’s Aventador J, Bugatti’s Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse and Hennessey’s Venom GT Spyder, is included free of charge (it ran 800 Microsoft Points/$9.99 for Xbox 360 and PS3 players). Then there is the new Co-Driver Mode, which allows one player to drive using a Wii Remote or Wii U Pro Controller, while a second player uses the GamePad's touchscreen to distract the cops and help navigate the city using a real-time map. To top it all off, Need for Speed supports GamePad-only play, so no more fighting over the TV.
The last of the big Nintendo games to receive a solid date is 3DS's Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. We've known for quite a while that it would arrive during the first quarter of the year, but now we know exactly when: March 24th. 3DS has a fairly strong lineup of first-party games over the next few months, with Fire Emblem: Awakening on February 4th, Brain Age: Concentration Training on February 10th and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity arriving alongside Luigi's Mansion on March 24th, but Dark Moon is definitely the game we're most anticipating. How about you?
Ranters, which 3DS and Wii U games are you most looking forward to (remember, Rayman Legends is releasing on February 26th)? Are you disappointed that The Wonderful 101 and Pikmin 3 are nearly six months away from release? Let us know in the comments below.
LEGO City: Undercover releases March 18th for Wii U.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate releases March 19th for Wii U and 3DS.
Need for Speed Most Wanted releases March 19th for Wii U.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon releases March 24th for 3DS.
Follow me on Twitter @HakenGaken.