bayonetta21Analysis: Nintendo wins 2014

What a bizarre year for video games. Was the first year of the next generation a success? Well, it was different.

Nintendo probably has the greatest story here. Back in March we wrote about their struggling profits and what a world without Nintendo may look like after unveiling their new console – the Wii U. BBC news had reported that Nintendo executives took pay cuts, in the 20-30% range, including president President Satoru Iwata who took a 50% pay cut after disappointing sales of the Wii U.

All of these projections implied a bleak future for one of the eldest video game company. So it feels refreshing to make an easy case that the Wii U had the best exclusive titles of 2014.

supersmashvill3dstrain_300It’s often discussed how Nintendo is “behind the times” with many of their console’s features. Compared to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 which serve as video game consoles and multimedia devices; Nintendo has paled in comparison.

But despite facing those particular adversities Nintendo has released some great games this year. “Bayonetta 2” currently helms a stunning 91 on Metacritic with over 70 critics reporting in. That may very well make it the best reviewed video game of 2014 on any platform.

Other Wii U exclusives include “Mario Kart 8” with an 88 on Metacritic (with 82 critics), which a lot consider the best of the franchise since the original “Mario Kart 64” and the upcoming “Super Smash Bros. for Wii U” (to be released on November 21st) which is projected to be the best selling game on the console. Meanwhile their handheld console, the Nintendo 3DS, scored 85 to two exclusive titles. “Bravely Default” and “Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS.”

Mario-Kart-8-5“Super Smash Bros.,” “Mario Kart 8,” and “Bayonetta 2” are all potential contenders to receive the title “Best of 2014” from various gaming publications.

Sony remastered it’s juggernaut title “The Last of Us” for the PS4. High-scoring exclusive PS4 titles included “Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee – New ‘n’ Tasty” (84), inFamous: Second Son (80), and two titles also made available to PC: “Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn” and “Transistor.”

Meanwhile, the high-scoring Xbox One exclusives include “Forza Horizon 2” (85) and “Sunset Overdrive” (82). High-scoring exclusive “Titanfall” (86) wasn’t exactly an exclusive as it was made available to the last generation Xbox 360 and more recently PC. I also wouldn’t count “Halo: Master Chief Collection” since it is a collection of remade titles.

There were some solid multi-console games like “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor,” “Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition,” and “The Evil Within.” But like many multi-console games these were also made for the previous generation of consoles (PS3, Xbox 360).

super-smash-bros-wii-u-wii-u_226384_ggaleria-1415355238Nintendo is not oblivious to the fact that they are spectating the battle between Sony and Microsoft. They’ve put their games first and it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a slate from them as strong as this.

As far as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, it’s worth wondering if outside developers weren’t ready for this new generation of consoles to happen. Many multi-platform games including Activision’s “Destiny” was made available to the previous generation of consoles. And we are still waiting to see something different from the new generation, nothing looks outside the capabilities of the previous generation, which may be way present-generation oriented titles like “Tom Clancy’s The Division,” “Batman: Arkham Knight,” and “Evolve” were pushed to 2015.

It’s worth speculating, but it’s easy to see that Nintendo is doing their own thing. And amidst the console war they are producing top-notch video game.