I must preface this article by saying I am in no way a Nintendo fanboy. I have openly mocked Nintendo on many occasions in the past and this article is as fair and impartial as I can make it.
As we ring in 2015, I can't help but chuckle at Nintendo's complete dominance of 2014. I never saw it coming, and if you are being honest with yourself, you didn't either. I am of course talking about quality exclusive gaming experiences, not sales. We all know that Sony and Microsoft have sold far more. But as a practical gamer with no company loyalty, Nintendo simply had the most awesome exclusives. From the get go, 2014 was filled with unexpected victories for the big N. And from the looks of things, 2015 looks to continue that trend.
The following is based on U.S. release dates.
January - March
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
As we can see, even in the early months of the year, Nintendo easily had three of the best exclusives of the quarter. Bravely Default was such a revelation that many of my friends were asking where Square-Enix had been for the last decade. Why aren't they still making games like this anymore? And Tropical Freeze is arguably the best platformer of the year. Even LittleBigPlanet 3 seems outclassed. And we can't forget Layton's latest adventure which spent some quality time in many a 3DS this year.
April - June
Kirby Triple Deluxe
Mario Golf World Tour
Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails
Mario Kart 8
I'd love to include Shovel Knight in here since it plays best on 3DS but it's not technically an exclusive so I won't. While everyone else was complaining about how underwhelming Watch Dogs and the Elder Scrolls Online was, Nintendo was laughing all the way to the bank as Mario Kart 8 sparked a huge sales boom for the Wii U. Also the quirky arcade shooter Scram Kitty was a pleasant surprise and Kirby and Mario Golf light up the handheld charts.
July - September
Azure Striker Gunvolt
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney
If you love breakout/arkanoid style games you can't miss Siesta Fiesta. The creator of Mega Man put out two excellent handheld Gunvolt games and Layton and Wright finally had their showdown. And last but certainly not least, Zelda finally got the Dynasty Warriors treatment with the better than expected Hyrule Warriors.
October - December
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U
Shantae and the Pirate's Curse (3DS and Wii U)
Pokemon (Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire)
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Trilogy
Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Okay now Nintendo is just showing off! Bayonetta 2 is easily the best action game of the year and it comes packed in with the best version of the original masterpiece as a bonus, Smash Bros is the undisputed champion of fighting games, Captain Toad can stand toe to toe with the best puzzlers of the year. Shantae made her long awaited return and had the critics raving, Persona Q set the JRPG fan's hearts aflutter, Stealth Inc 2 is a massive improvement over it's predecessor, Pokemon got another stellar remake of a beloved title, and handheld fans were treated to big surprises with Tappingo 2 and Xeodrifter.
While so many gamers spent this year complaining about incomplete and unfinished games at launch, Nintendo was proudly showing off polished products that made you remember why you enjoyed playing games. While other companies were nickel and diming you with DLC and add-ons, Nintendo was doing DLC right with massive expansions to Mario Kart and others. And most impressively, Nintendo kept a steady stream of amazing exclusives pouring into our hands while other companies were fighting over petty timed exclusivity. (Which isn't really exclusivity at all!)
And that brings us to 2015 and why I believe that Nintendo may just repeat their dominance of quality exclusives. Don't believe me? Here are 3 titles that I believe will outclass just about everything in 2015.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
If you are a JRPG fan, the mere mention of this game will send shivers all over your body and cause you to drool excessively. Just take a listen to some of it's soundtrack and prepare to have your brain melted by it's sheer awesome. https://www.youtube.com/wat... Open world gameplay with tons of exploration, transformable mechas and the same team that worked on the sanity shatteringly awesome Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii. Get hyped cause you won't play this game... this game will play YOU!
After 9 freaking years of patience, Nintendo is finally taking us back to the Lylat System! Being worked on by Shigeru Miyamoto himself, we will be able to see the cockpit view on the gamepad and the third person view on the TV. The name Star Fox is hallowed by all of gaming and for good reason. If you love space combat games, you need to buy a Wii U.
The Legend of Zelda
The most beloved name in gaming. Just mentioning the words "Zelda", "Master Sword" or "Triforce" floods the memories of awesome times spent in Hyrule. Next year Nintendo is finally taking Zelda into the HD realm. That alone is reason enough for gamers around the world to stop whatever they are doing on release day and rush out to the nearest game store to be a part of history. With a massive open world, intelligent horses and graphics so colorful they'll bring a tear to your eye, gamers will quickly forget about almost everything else.
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Now sure, there are lots of other great Nintendo games coming out next year. From Splatoon to Yoshi's Wooly World, Nintendo has lots of goodies on the way but those 3 games listed above will more than compete with the best that PlayStation and Xbox can put out.
You can say that the Wii U is "last gen", that it's gamepad is cumbersome and distracting, or that it doesn't play blu-rays. But the fact remains that it is the home to the most awesome exclusives of the year. And if you really care about the games, not the graphics or the media center functions, then Nintendo has proven that you need a Wii U.