2009 In Review: The Year Of Nintendo?

2009 was an eventful year for Nintendo. The Wii kept selling in truckloads, Wii games topped the charts almost all year, a new handheld launched, weird accessories were announced, and Mario returned to 2D.

The year began in strange fashion. Nintendo's only first-party releases were Wii-makes (old Gamecube games updated with Wii controls) of Pikmin, Mario Tennis and Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. And we didn't even get Excitebots - the follow-up to the well-received launch title Excite Truck - in Australia at all.

Third-party publishers were trying, with mixed success, to deliver hardcore games: House of the Dead: Overkill and Madworld fared well, but Deadly Creatures and Dead Rising: Chop Til You Drop are best forgotten. One surprisingly hardcore game was the cutesy Little King's Story, which betrayed its childlike veneer to deliver a deep and complex strategy game.

April saw the launch of the DSi, a revision of Nintendo's handheld that didn't so much replace the existing DS Lite as sit alongside sporting some confusing multimedia features at a confusing higher price. Still, it sold very well despite not having any games specifically designed for it.

At E3, Nintendo debuted new Mario, Metroid and Zelda games, two of which would be out this year. They also baffled the gaming world by unveiling the Wii Vitality Sensor, a thing that you put your thumb in to detect, er, something. Six months later and we're still not any closer to understanding exactly how it is any different to Boong-ga Boong-ga.

In July, however, Nintendo recovered its accessory sanity with the excellent MotionPlus. Wii Sports Resort, Grand Slam Tennis and Tiger Woods all stood testament to just how much the increased sensitivity of MotionPlus could make such gaming experiences more engaging. Another third-party title designed for the hardcore, The Conduit, came and went, proving yet again how little interest Wii owners had in traditional genres.

August was better for games. The delayed Punch-Out!! finally arrived and was great. It was swiftly followed by another Wii-make, the sterling value of the Metroid Prime Trilogy compilation, and the excellent Professor Layton sequel on DS. Australia was also blessed with a visit from the voice of Mario, the very charming Charles Martinet.

October saw a hairbrained marketing campaign for the DSi and the launch of Wii Fit Plus. Then in November, Nintendo gave us New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a magnificent four-player adaptation of the traditional Mario side-scrolling, before in December we got Spirit Tracks, surely the most subdued launch of any Zelda game. And Muramasa: The Demon Blade, A Boy and His Blob, Dead Space: Extraction and Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles all finally showed that the Wii had some great games for core gamers.

So, that was 2009 for Nintendo. I’m keen to hear what you thought of 2009 from a Nintendo perspective. Were you happy with your Wii and DS lot this year? What were the highlights? The lowlights?


Comments

    That's a harsh call on Deadly Creatures David. I thought it was pretty good. Though maybe at the time of the year it was like flat beer for a thirsty man.

    Pokemon Platinum!
    I don't care what anyone says, underneath the sprites and the "god how old are you pokeymanz is for kids" mentality, there lies a disgustingly addictive drive to create a perfect team of individuals who bring down your enemies with one move that encompasses all those hours of breeding and grinding and EV training.

    Another standout for me was Suikoden Tierkreis. Pretty standard gameplay, but absolutely gorgeous background art. I don't care that if I looked close enough I could see the pixels on my DS screen, it was beautiful.

    SMT: Devil Survivor. Again delving into that obsession to fuse a flippin' awesome demon. Polish, story, gameplay mechanics, all round fantastic.

      Also, speaking of Spirit Tracks marketing, you know that TV ad with the hip, 20-something lady playing it?
      Every time I see that I start yelling at her "USE THE BOOMERANG"
      "Hmmm, it's too far to jump..."
      "THE BOOMERANG, USE THE BOOMERANG"
      *she gets out the boomerang*
      "Damn right."
      *she draws a horrible, neat path to freeze the ice over*
      "WHAT!? No! What are you doing! It's ice, it's slippery, by drawing such a narrow path you risk making accidental jumps into the water!"
      *cuts back to the screen, with a completely different, fat frozen path*
      "CHEATER"
      *she gets to the chest, rewarding noises play*
      "Honestly lady, if you take that long just to solve a simple puzzle, you're screwed in the later dungeons."

      Every time. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's that her horrible Zelda skills really pain me.

      Just, uh, just thought I'd share?

    Some stuff was quite fun over the last year, like the DSi, but yes, stuff like Conduit just tends to come and go. Lots of hype, then nothing.

    Probably not the year of Nintendo, either. Although it's been a good year.

    The beginning of the year for Wii was terrible, coming off the lacklustre and samey Animal Crossing and Wii Music (ugh) in 2008 meant that for about 6-7 months Nintendo had absolutely nothing but GameCube remakes and most of them played worse than they used to. And then fact that they didn’t even bother to release Excitebots nor Another Code annoys me greatly. Punch-Out!! was also bent over the sink with its limited release. It’s complete and utter BS that with Nintendo in the situation it is here in Australia, with more money than company has ever had here that one of their good first party efforts can’t get a release.

    Nintendo, do not get complacent, remember were you where during the GameCube era?

    Third parties took the reins for most of the beginning of the year and there were some great but poor selling titles like Madworld, House of the Dead Overkill. This of course doesn't matter to Nintendo themselves as games from last year have the legs to keep on selling and selling. (come on we can’t play the same stuff all the time). Motionplus needs more games to support it, what is out there is good but needs more outside sports games. Why oh why Lucas haven’t you made a Star Wars game yet that supports it!

    The second half of the year has been nonstop greatness though, yes Wii Sports Resort is a real game and it is a ton of fun to play for all ages but there was also a ton of ‘core’ games as well such as Little Kings Story, Muramasa, Dead Space Extraction, A Boy and His Blob, Punch-Out!! Prime Trilogy (sans steelbook) and Darkside Chronicles. Hey look all from third parties. New Super Mario Bros is a crap ton of fun as well.

    The DS has had a good year too with a new Layton title, Spirit Tracks and Chinatown Wars. The Nintendo DSi although generally hated among the community as a pointless update is starting to show its strength finally with good DSiWare games – the region locking is still complete rubbish though.

    I’ve been happy with my DSi and Wii for most of the year, games are getting cheaper on release, release dates are getting more consistent (we got NSMBWii first!) but there is still more work to be done Nintendo (and Nintendo Australia!).

    2009 started off slow for sure, but the last few months have been quite awesome. Now to just get my Dad off of Mario Kart everynight, he’s racked up over 700 hours on it. He’s 54. Madness.

    I really don't think this was a good year for nintendo.

    I think I picked up maybe, 3 games : Madworld & Mario for Wii, and Scribblenauts for DS. All of which were fun, however not all as fun as I would have liked them to be.

    Plus the release of the DSi, then the announcement of the DSiLL almost right after it ? It just seemed like everything was a bit skewiff in Nintendo-land.

    Who knows, maybe next year will be more promising - with the next No More Heroes installment, Red Steel 2, Metroid Other M, and ... is Epic Mickey out next year ? If so - hooray!

      DSi LL (XL) is a different DSi, not a new one it's not meant to 'compete' like the DSi was to the DSL.

    Nintendo cant put a foot wrong, sure they may not have the best exclusives this year (a title that goes to the PS3 hands down) they still are miles ahead of their competitors in terms of sales.

    Its no wonder that the Wii is selling like it is, because regardless if the console is aimed at kids or the mass peoples or whatever no one can deny that playing with the Wii is just plain fun (har har har). But yea, while it is fun i like my games a bit more in depth and a bit more mature.

    It fails in the quality department still- it has the highest number of shovelware ever both on Wii and DS however if we're talking sales then they are still going mighty strong even after 3 years.

    I have been thinking of getting into the lightgun games.

    If i have the cash i might get
    House of the Dead overkill pack with 2 Handcannons
    and the 2 Resident evil games. I dont really want the nintendo thing, has anyone tried it? is in comfortable? might grab the Link crossbow training if thats the case.

      The handcannons are perfect for Overkill because it only has you tapping a button to switch weapons. But not so good for Dead Space: Extraction which has more complex nunchuk and Wiimote controls - for that, the Zapper is superior. Or you can obviously play any lightgun game without a gun-shaped piece of plastic...

    This isn't Nintendo's year, games-wise. Sales-wise, it's been their year since 06. With all the shovelware and crappy accessories that released in droves, it simply lowers the quality of the console. I only bought Scribblenauts this year, and it was a disappointment for me. A good principle; poor execution. I liked the variety, but there just wasn't the excitment in it for me.

    The price drop will still boost Nintendo's sales, but I expect them to slow down in 2010-2011 as more and more people get a Wii, and the 360 and PS3 will end up picking steam. However with Nintendo in such a great lead, I doubt either of them will overtake Nintendo. The DSi and LL were released too quickly for my liking. But Nintendo will probably end up realeasing updated versions next year. I still think the PS3 was dominant this year, Nintendo's just not producing enought quality games.

    In the photo, is the man farting out snowflakes??

    the sales of these gimicky devices and games have masked the losing of the nintendo traditional gamers.

    even current supporters of people who bought the machine admit that it is only collecting dust and have since moved on to the 360/ps3 and regard it as a relief. while u can argue that these people are the 'hardcore' gamers, there is no denying some of the titles on the other consoles have made gaming fun again. and thats the way it should be.

    For me, it's kind of interesting that Nintendo is increasingly getting both closer to and further away from it's original intention with games.

    Nintendo games are increasingly becoming more accessible - not a bad thing, as I loved NSMB Wii as well as games like Animal Crossing (Yes, I liked it :P ), but they're getting further away from making games that "gamers" like, which is something they've been doing since the beginning (ironically with games that were accessible).

    No doubt 2009 has been a great year for Nintendo though - I'd hope to see some more first party software.

    All you can say for Nintendo (and it's a big something) is they made a buttload of money.

    From a businessman's perspective, they can't put a foot wrong. From a gamer's? They don't do very much worth looking at. Hardware flies off the shelf but they're not developing or publishing the games that MS or Sony are.

    But hey, I'm sure they cry themselves to sleep about that in their gold castles every night ;)

    I think 2009 was a great year for Nintendo. Possibly the best year for Wii gaming as well, as some of the best games were released and even a few of them were 2D! Oh and WiiMotionPlus was awesome too.

    The DS always has good games coming out, but this year we had Spirit Tracks, which was awesome.

    Oh and Mario Galaxy 2 was announced.

    'Twas a great year for Nintendo indeed.

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