Top 5 most anticipated Wii games of 2008

Infendo

Wii games of 2008Generating a list like this one is tough because I believe the best Wii games in the coming year will be the ones we can’t fully imagine yet. This isn’t to take away from the DS, or any lists compiled by other people, not in the slightest; it’s actually meant as a testament to the game-changing role the Wii is playing, and will play, in video game culture.

In that vein, we’ll approach this list conventionally, using readily available information from Infendo, mainstream news sources and my own jaded pro-Nintendo intuition. Will all of these titles be gamebreakers? Probably not. Some may not break 250,000 copies sold, an utter failure in this age of video game sodas, $200 million marketing blitzes and premium priced collector’s editions. But that’s not the point. The point is that some of these titles, while not system sellers in their own right, could be the catalyst that a cautious developer needs to make a commitment to the Wii. Oh, and a ton of money too.

From least to most important, the list goes something like this…

5. Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Mario Kart Wii. Yup. Least important. These titles need to come out, yes, but their success is already written in the stars. The Dojo has kept the passionate gamer drooling with anticipation over Brawl, and their word of mouth buzz they generate has enamored other potential buyers. Ditto for Mario Kart. It’s like the Charlie Brown Christmas movie–everyone knows it’s coming and everyone watches it anyway, year after year. Everyone these titles are aimed at will buy them sometime in February and thereafter. The only danger? Further alienation of third party developers that are too lazy or too scared to try and unseat Nintendo with a truly original, groundbreaking Wii title. That will take risk and innovation on their part which is something, ironically, that Smash Bros. Brawl and Mario Kart Wii do not bring to the table.

Speaking of those third parties…

4. Ghostbusters. In October 2008, Ghostbusters is scheduled to come out for a number of consoles, one of which is the Wii. Here at Infendo, Derek pleaded with publiser Sierra not to mess this up, but it appears they aren’t going to listen. This is because Sierra has grouped the Wii development in together with the PS2 and DS, and once again it seems as though yet another publisher has taken the “port, then tack on Wii controls” approach to what could be a solid Wiimote-controlled proton pack experince. So, after all that negative Nancy commentary, why is Ghostbusters on this kind of list? Well, think of it this way: The title is representative of a potential watershed moment for third party develpers. One year from now, will Sierra bolt on controls to a PS2 game or will it create a truly Wii-specific experience that will make other publishers take notice? It will be one year before we know the answer to that question; one year’s time to see if this publisher and other publishers have found a way to crack the code, take a risk, and create something really special and unique. For once I’ll err on the side of optimism, and predict Sierra will iron this all out. See you in a year, Sierra. Hoepfully Geometry Wars: Galaxies has left a favorable impression.

3. [Enter WiiWare title here]. Hmm. More amophorous, generic, cryptic commentary from yours truly. But there’s a reason. We know some of the frontrunners for this spot already (the kiddie looking Final Fantasy, for example), but I’ve never been one to go with the sure thing. I like WiiWare because of the additional potential it provides the system beyond what’s found anywhee else. This is because you have the obvious factors like price (both development cost and retail cost) and accessibility, but then you also have something that similar services like Xbox Live Arcade won’t be able to offer in 2008: a huge, diverse audience that’s only going to grow month after month until this console shortage runs its course. Combine a huge audience with low development costs and an increase in the interest over digital distribution, and you quite possibly have a bigger monster on your hands than the Wii itself. It’s a race then. Who will be the first to prove this system works?

2. No More Heroes. This is the part of the list where I get boring and just list a game that I want to see come out and kick some serious butt. Will this title expand audiences? Probably not, but then again maybe it will. But really, who cares?! It’s also a third party title from Ubisoft no less, which further reinforces my belief that some developers get the system and will captialize on it sooner, rather than later. Ubisoft’s history with the Wii is already pretty robust, but this title could go a long way in cementing that publisher as the 3rd party Wii publisher of 2008. Plus, a lot of people are alreay talking about this game, so I’m not putting myself out on too much of a limb with this one. As long as it doesn’t end up being a stylized rendition of Suda 51’s favorite mini-games anyway…

1. The value price game. There’s no one specific game for this listing. Instead, direct your browser to the upcoming Wii releases page at a site like GameStop. See a pattern? No? Dont look at the titles themselves, which admittedly run the gammut from “total suckage” to “garbage bin”; look at their prices. $19.99. $29.99. $39.99. This pricing strategy was one identified by Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata way back when the Wii was being made fun of for its silly name, and when “two GameCubes duct taped together” was still kind of cool to say on Internet message boards. In 2008, this strategy will begin to solidify. Publishers will begin to pay for the $60 price hike, and games will become more accesible. All it will take is one or two “value priced” games to make it big and the whole house of card will begin to teeter. They have to–just look at what’s happening to movie ticket prices. Rising tides, and all that…

0. WiiFit — This isn’t as important as it might seem, in my opinion, because the non-traditional gamer has already been defined. Both my parents have a DS and DS games on their Xmas lists, and my sisters can’t stop talking about the Wii (which I secured for them back in the summer). My parents still talk about the Wii Sports bowling frames we played in the family room last December. People in line at Toys R Us, at least in suburban Massachusetts, don’t ask about Xbox’s or PlayStations when they’re told there are no Wi’s in stock, they ask if any of the other systems will allow their children to get up and wave their arms to control the action. For the same price. The local GameStop now proudly carries New York Times Crossword games next to PuzzleQuest next to Cooking Mama next to The egend of Zelda. At the front of the store. Etc. Etc.

With WiiFit, Nintendo will only throw fuel on this fire. It’s important, but it’s not a surprise, so it gets the wild card “0” entry on this list.