Let's get this out of the way. The Wii U has been as close to a disaster as anything Nintendo has done in the hardware business, apart from the obviously horrible Virtual Boy. To give you an idea of how bad the situation is, Pokemon X and Y sold 4 million copies in the first weekend, and as of September 30th 2013 (just over 10 months after release) the Wii U hadn't even cracked the 4 million mark. As of December 30th, the Wii U has sold 5.8 million consoles, which means that there are more Dreamcast owners (10.6 million sales) than Wii U owners. Now, I know these are flawed comparisons, so here's one more for you; the Playstation 4 has sold 4.2 million consoles as of December 28th, which is a little over a month since it's release and it hasn't even seen Japanese storefronts which is historically it's strongest market. To say that Nintendo is losing this console generation isn't just an understatement, it's insulting to even pretend that it's competing.
Now would be a good time to add that I own a Wii U, and I love the ever loving crap out of it.
I skipped the Gamecube and the Wii, and I don't currently own a 3Ds, so the Wii U has fit very nicely into my console collection. Growing up I never owned an NES or a SNES, so the great Nintendo back catalogue appealed to me as well. As far as games go, I'm happy with my collection, and I don't regret my purchase one bit.
But I'm an aberration here. I do most of my gaming on the PC, or on my Macbook Pro. I use my consoles to augment or fill in the gaps, so a Nintendo console accomplishes this incredibly well. It's offering me games that I haven't played dozens of times over the past 25 years, and off screen play is fantastic. However for the rest of the console market, the Wii U must look like such a waste of money.
What are the first party games worth talking about on the Wii U? Pikmin 3, Windwaker HD and Super Mario 3D World. To briefly break down what those games are, we have a minor sequel to a niche gamecube game, a minor upgrade and update to a moderately selling gamecube game, and a sequel of a 3Ds game that came out 2 years prior. We're not talking about system selling behemoths like Super Mario 64, or Wii Sports. We're talking about solid games that round out your collection. These are not must have titles.
Can Nintendo turn it around? Can the Wii U be a success? You better believe it.
So, how can they turn this sinking, leaking, burning oil tanker around? First off it needs to really exploit it's back catalogue. Start releasing a classic game or two from the N64 / Gamecube eras on the virtual console. These will sell like hot cakes. Secondly the console needs some first party games. All the games. Thirdly, DLC support for current and future games. Add more content, add more skins, more everything. Valve is currently swimming in digital cash because of Hats, and I'm sure Nintendo can exploit this same sort of thing with the upcoming entry into the Smash Bros. series. Lastly, another price cut can't hurt. Make buying into the system too tempting to pass up.
So what games could Nintendo release? Well...
1) Animal Crossing U
This is simple. Give us the biggest and bestest version of Animal Crossing yet, and allow for simultaneous play in towns. Use the gamepad for letter writing, drawing, mini games etc. Even just using the gamepad to manage your inventory would be nice. This game is obvious.
2) Starfox U
Give us the first HD Starfox game ever. Give it to us oldschool. Non-linear, big creative bosses. Let us do barrel rolls Nintendo.
3) Metroid Fusion 2
It would be nice to see a platformer that uses the second screen for something new. Maybe play with angles, so that the gamepad screen has a view from above, forcing the player to move obstacles out of the way, or allow for rooms to "split" into different depths, and the gamepad screen can serve as a way to navigate between those depths at points where the two depths merge. Work Puzzles into this mechanic that make the player think about both X and Y.
4) F-Zero Infinity
Go all out on this one. Make it feel fast. Online multiplayer would be nice. As for single player, allow players to build their own machines (go big on this one, bigger than GX), and offer up something sort of unstructured, where the player can travel around and compete in events, using their winnings to upgrade their machine and move from location to location. A fast paced arcade racer that looks amazing and feels great is something that hasn't been done in a while.
5)Wii U Wars
Advance Wars was a great series. Bring it to the Wii U. Offer a matchmaking and league experience similar to what Blizzard offers for Starcraft II. No brainer. Go back to the cartoony art style from the earlier games in the Advance Wars series.
6) Pokémon Snap 2
Pokémon Snap would work great with the Gamepad. It's your camera. Also, instead of having the game on rails, allow the player to explore. Make the game more open world, allowing the player to upgrade their equipment, and travel around the world.
7) Mario Party U
The game pad is a great tool for developing weird unique gameplay mechanics, and Mario Party has always been a fantastic framework for exploring these sorts of multiplayer experiences. Mix the two together and you have some magic.
This could make an excellent game to play with two gamepads. The table is on the TV, your hand is on the gamepad. Perfect.
9) Super Mario Galaxy 3
This series has some legs on it. A lot of people recognize it, and even people who slam Nintendo for just rehashing Mario games every year respect the Galaxy games. It's time
10) The Legend of Link
That's right. Reverse the roles. Zelda can be a badass, and it's time to let her out. How much attention would Nintendo get if they announced that the next Legend of Zelda game would actually be about Zelda? I'd wager quite a bit.
What do you think, would any of this turn the Wii U around?