November 18, 2012 was a big day; Nintendo had just released its latest console onto the market. The Wii U was ready for the spotlight, armed with its tablet controller and exclusives like Nintendoland and New Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendo was ready to move into the "HD" era. Offering two variations, a white 8GB console that retailed for $299.99, and a 32GB black version, for $349.99. Bundled with it came the infamous Wii U tablet controller, Nintendoland, and the system itself. Those who purchased the console on launch also had access to third party ports and titles like Assassin's Creed III, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition, and Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed. It was a modest lineup, and many people balked at the mildly outdated technology and few games offered. Nintendo had high hopes for its console, projecting sales of 90 million units.
The Wii U would go on to get mild third party support, with ports of games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate, and Mass Effect 3. Ubisoft had planned to really back the Wii U, but when sales weren't up to expectations, the publisher began to turn its back on the console, to the point of taking the then to-be Wii U exclusive Rayman Legends, and making it multiplatform. Competition from stronger consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 further hurt the Wii U, as customers weren't swayed to buy a weaker console with few exclusives. Nintendo looked to be in a bind--their 2013 lineup would be crucial if they wanted to turn around their low sales.
The following year brought a good chunk of games to the table. There was a mainline Mario game in the co-op focused platformer, Super Mario 3D World. A classic Zelda game from the GameCube era got a fresh coat of high def paint with Wind Waker HD. Pikmin 3 hit store shelves to moderate praise, and SEGA signed a contract with Nintendo to create three Sonic games for the Wii U, one of which being Sonic Lost World. However, it wasn't enough. Sales foundered, and the Wii U continued being ridiculed by many.
2014 was certainly a turnaround year for the system. Nintendo came out of the gate strong; their highly anticipated Super Smash Bros. title was released after years of teasing. SEGA had given an unlikely sequel in the form of Bayonetta 2. In-house studio Retro put out what was considered one of the best platformers in years: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Nintendo fans cheered as a new Mario Kart game finally revved into full gear. An even more unlikely alliance occurred when Koei Tecmo and Nintendo partnered to create Hyrule Warriors. Nintendo Nindies was established to give indie devs incentive to put their games on the console, which resulted in beloved games like Shovel Knight, Freedom Planet, and Shantae. Things were looking much brighter for the Wii U.
2015 kept up the pace with a sequel to a well established Wii RPG, Xenoblade Chronicles X, had an overnight success with the creative online shooter Splatoon, and had even more success with Mario Maker. In the end, though, all these games were not enough to save the Wii U from selling abysmally. With the aforementioned library, it has a solid amount of cult classics, well enough to be remembered for years after. Nintendo however, would halt production on the Wii U before the system could have a 5th birthday. Today, the Wii U turns five years old. Though the Switch now overshadows it, the Wii U still made an impact.
What are your fondest memories of the Wii U? Were you a fan? Did you dislike it? Are you yet to purchase one at all, or were you a loyal early adopter? Be sure you share your comments below!