6 reasons why Nintendo's Wii U has risen from the dead
Nintendo may have had some financial woes over the last year or so, but it has just announced that the week commencing 23 November was the best week for sales of the Wii U since the console's launch in November 2012.
Remember, this is a console many claimed was already dead and buried - including Nintendo itself, if forecast sales figures were any guide - but it seems that we were all a little premature in our gloomy predictions. And while it is still early days, it could be said that the Wii U has significantly turned a corner and is becoming a valued third option in a market shifting towards the new generation of gaming more as each day goes by.
The question now is why? Why is the games-playing public suddenly investing in the Wii U when previously it couldn't give a monkeys?
Here are our thoughts on the five important factors that could have helped the console rise like a phoenix from the flames...
You can get a Premium version of the Wii U - one with 32GB of on-board storage - for less than £240 these days. And that invariably includes a game or two as part of the bundle, even Mario Kart 8.
Considering it was £300 at launch without a game (well, it did include Nintendo Land, but that barely counts), it now represents far better value. You can even get a Basic Wii U, with just 8GB of internal storage, for around £180 without a game or even cheaper if you shop around. And if you already own a Wii, all the accessories, including the Wii Remotes, and the games are compatible.
At that price, therefore, it is attractive to families, especially those who already invested considerably in the Wii.
READ: Nintendo Wii U review
Again focusing on price more than anything, the Wii U's rivals are perhaps still out of reach to many. Even without the new Kinect sensor, the Xbox One is around £350. That's a weighty expense for many. And with the Kinect that jumps to £380, around £140 more than the Premium Wii U. The PS4 is similarly priced at £350, albeit often bundled with a game, so even a year on it's still fairly pricey to jump on-board the new generation of console gaming.
In addition, the games that are available for both are more geared to an older, more hardcore player. There are fewer family oriented games, we feel.
Mario Kart 8
Speaking of which, one of the main reasons why the fortunes of the Wii U have started to shift has to be put down to the release of Mario Kart 8 in May earlier this year. Although we've seen some excellent triple-A homegrown games for the console from Nintendo over the last year or so, including Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Smash Bros (which sold 710,000 units in just a few weeks) and Hyrule Warriors, none have resonated across family groups quite as much as the return of the greatest kart racing franchise of all time.
READ: Mario Kart 8 review
The game is, quite simply, brilliant. In our review, we said that it is "a gorgeous looking, incredibly fun racing game that lives up to its 20-plus years of heritage. It is almost as great in simple single-player mode as it is when you've got mates around to share the fun", and we stick by that today.
But we also said that it wouldn't save the console from its imminent demise. And in that, we're thrilled that it looks like we were wrong.
Nintendo's presence at E3 this June was under scrutiny. It had decided to forego traditional press conferences the year before - opting for Nintendo Direct live video streams instead. And the company was oddly quiet before the show, leading some to even believe it would have a small impact on an event dominated by the PS4 and Xbox One.
They, ourselves included, were wrong. Not only did Nintendo have a good E3, it had a great one. A whole host of great games were announced and playable at the show, including Splatoon, Yoshi's Woolly World and Mario Maker. It showed that even if some third-party developers had pulled out of producing quality games for the console, the homegrown ones would still be the envy of all.
Some even concluded that Nintendo stole the show - a massive turn around in opinion. It was a marker that not only gave the media hope going forward, but consumers some confidence in the future of the platform.
The Legend of Zelda
Since E3, one or two of the shown games have launched, while others are still planned for 2015. But perhaps the most highly-anticipated title for next year wasn't even on the show floor. The Legend of Zelda - an all-new game, not a remaster like Wind Waker - is coming and a recent gameplay preview video has excited gamers world wide. If there was ever a reason to invest in a Wii U, this could be it.
Our last reason might be less obvious, but we feel that no matter how many great Nintendo games there are, the Wii U still needs to be able to compete with its rivals when it comes to the most talked about multi-platform titles. Although some publishers shun the Wii U with their new releases, Ubisoft has always been one of the platform's staunchest supporters and the fact that a Wii U version of its Watch Dogs was released recently has proven that the console can still mix it with rivals.
READ: Watch Dogs review
Let's hope the publisher - and others that might have looked elsewhere in recent times - commits to future releases as well.
Given the evidence and the u-turn in sales, we see no reason as to why not.