The Smartest & Dumbest Things Nintendo Did In 2012

Well, someone had to go first. As far as history will be concerned, Nintendo did one thing and one thing only in 2012: they released a brand new console, putting the first of three nails into the coffin of a seven year old generation. That sounded weird. Whether they have Leeroy Jenkins-ed their way into the next generation with Wii U remains to be seen, but for now we have something shiny and new. And boy do we like shiny.

New hardware is always exciting, and is probably quite stressful for the people at Nintendo, who now have four major pieces of hardware on the market and ostensibly competing with each other. There were so many updates to their lineup this year, both big and small. The 3DS XL, the CirclePad Pro, Wii Mini, and Wii U... phew! Should Nintendo pump the brakes, or keep spewing forth devices until we have a whole drawerful that can combine into a mini-game Voltron? A kid can dream, can't he?

Smartest Moves

Wii U GamePad

Ignoring questions about the console's dubiously flavored innards, the Wii U's actual killer app — the GamePad controller — is a smashing success. Any doubts about this "weird" looking new form for a console controller were erased once we got our hands on the lovechild of an iPad and a DualShock. Not only is it well made and comfortable to hold, but the second screen really does open a new door for game mechanics. Perhaps best of all: the ability to console game privately on your couch while someone else uses the idiot box. Mmmmm, uninterrupted gaming.

Nintendo Direct

The fact that almost all gaming announcements are consolidated to one or two industry events a year is absurd. Some of that love is now spread to the VGAs, but as video games are a yearlong business, wouldn't it be nice to have formalized and incremental updates on what major developers are up to? Yes, yes it would be. Nintendo are at least trying to be more open with their nigh monthly Nintendo Direct broadcasts. Sure, not every one contains a jaw dropping announcement, but between these and Iwata Asks, we're getting a better look into the opaque company than ever before.

Dumbest Moves

Wii U System Issues

Nintendo did a poor job of proofreading their newest console. While the broad strokes are working (see above), there are several niggling problems with the Wii U experience that are both frustrating and confusing. The massive day one patch, the sluggish UI (17 seconds to get to settings? You could chug a Dew in that time!), the inability to play Wii games without going into Wii-mode, and not being able to play Wii games on the GamePad at all? That's some cold shit Nintendo.

Three Marios, Three Months

Why, exactly, would you want to spend upwards of $US100 on Mario games in the span of three months? Add in the fact that both of them are "traditional" Mario platformers, and we think Nintendo went too HAM on the plumber this fall. New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Mario Bros. 2 where rhyming and redundant. If you consider Paper Mario: Sticker Star to be a part of this moustache party (ew), and that's one Mario for every dimension that Nintendo wishes to conquer.

What did you think were Nintendo's best and worst decisions in 2012?

Key Releases

All games were published, distributed, or developed by Nintendo

Rhythm Heaven Fever - February 13th

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games - February 14th

Mario Party 9 - March 11th

Kid Icarus: Uprising - March 23rd

Mario Tennis Open - May 20th

Pokémon Conquest - June 18th

Xenoblade Chronicles - April 6th

New Super Mario Bros. 2 - August 19th

Kirby's Dream Collection - September 16th

Pokémon Black & White 2 - October 7th

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask - October 28th

Pokédex 3D Pro - November 8th

Paper Mario: Sticker Star - November 11th

New Super Mario Bros. U - November 18th

Nintendo Land - November 18th

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge - November 18th

SiNG Party - November 18th

For these Year In Review segments, we'll be taking a look at what major gaming companies did in 2012, with summaries of their biggest news and releases, best and worst decisions, and lists of the notable games they were a part of. Check back tomorrow for another company. It'll help you relieve some pressure.


    The gamepad is great when the battery isn't dying on you so fast. The Wii U playing Wii games just makes the system that much more valuable, because you can sell your old Wii. Anyway, I think Nintendo is doing great, ever since they brought down the price of the 3Ds. I hope my Wii U purchase doesn't end up kicking me in the ass next year. See you guys on the Miiverse.

    Last edited 13/12/12 2:15 pm

    How about having your account linked to the Wii U console itself rather than online ?

    After seeing to insanely negative articles about Microsoft and Sony (Pretty sure the Sony one didn't even have a section for 'Smartest things, it was all just insults, can't remember the Microsoft one as much), then this one which is 90% positive (even the 'dumbest things' listed ignore half of the stupid moves Nintendo has made, such as console Linked accounts, bad WiiU launch ports, no Wii titles since...ever).
    Oh Kotaku....Unbiased news as ever....

      Please dont just fanboy and walk out. Read the articles, they're both well written and explain their positions well. And because you couldnt be bothered to just click a tag to find them, here they are.

      Sony: Positive: PS+ and Indie Games
      Negative: The Vita and Battle Royale

      Micro"dollar-sign-to-be-hip"oft: Positive: Potentially getting rid of Microsoft points in the future, not ballsing up Halo 4
      Negative: Windows 8, the stupid rewards for playing Halo 4 as a job.

      See, positives and negatives. I'd consider it a relatively balanced comparison, with equal parts serious and whimsical points. You, of course, are allowed to disagree, which is the purpose of the article, to stimulate conversation, to see what you thought the positives and negatives were.

      Instead you just drone on about how bad a site that you spend the time to read is. :)

        I must have missed the MS one but I have to say putting "Bye-Bye Microsoft Points?" is kinda funny for a What they did in 2012... Hasnt happened yet has it?

          In all honesty, I agree. That said, there's not a whole lot I can say about Microsoft over the past year, they've just sort of... existed, and I guess people usually complain about 2 sentence articles anyway.

            You're right. All they really did was fuck up the dashboard a couple more times with even more ads. My 360 is affectionately called the adBox 360.

    Yeah, really wanted a Wii U on the 30th, but all the issues I kept reading about from the US turned me off

    Still want one, but I might wait and see what happens with the Gamepad battery life situation more than aything else.

    3-4 hours is ridiculous, and no, I don't want to plug it into a charger to keep going. It's meant to be wireless.

      Early adopting is always a risk, but I'm loving my Wii U. Didn't even notice the big update, it did it automatically in the background while we played Nintendo Land. The GamePad battery life is a little annoying, but plugging it in isn't too inconvenient. I wouldn't want to wait months in the hopes that such a minor issue might be ironed out. the console's too damn fun!

    Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance should be in the key releases section =)

      Edit: nevermind that, I need to learn to read.

    Frankly the more Mario games the better. I understand it's hard being a video games journalist and having to come up with dumb things Nintendo did this year, but three Mario games in three months is not dumb.

    So I've been coming here for quite some time and reading articles and comments but haven't bothered to comment myself until today. Are people really concerned with the battery life of the gamepad? It's never even come close to dying on me. How can anyone sit in the same spot for five hours gaming? Two or three hours I can understand, but five??? WTF...?
    The biggest things Nintendo did wrong in 2012 was to have a 40min update and release three good (although not "great") Mario games? I'd take that.
    Fact is 2012 has been a great year for Nintendo and the future of the Wii U is exciting considering we've not seen or heard much or anything about a new Galaxy, Mario Kart, Smash Bros, Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus, etc.

      I agree about the gamepad battery. Seriously it's not hard to put it on the charging dock for 5 minutes while you go get a drink or whatever, take a break. It hasn't come close to dying on me either. That's what the charging cradle is for. People just want to find something to complain about.

    I tested out the Wii U in EB Games where they had it set up and I tell you what I never expected the controller to be THAT BIG.. like i knew it was going to be a tablet, but not a tablet from the 1990's, It does however remind me of the original DS console and remember how much they slimmed that down, so I'm just going to wait this one out for a while and see what they do.

      Yeah, I did the same and didn't like it much. Felt a bit lightweight and flimsy, which I guess is good for some, but I like me a nice hard Dual Shock 3. The other thing I didn't like about the system concept in general is switching your gaze from the tablet to the TV in faster-paced games. I think I'd only like it for inventory management etc in RPGs.

    Region locking.

    Positives for Wii U - Online store functionality is great, Pad is surprisingly comfortable, with the added bonus of being wide enough you can overhand the buttons for platformers. Internet browser is amazing because it isn't as crap as the other consoles. MiiVerse is a glorious idea for chatting about the games you are playing and asking questions on a bloody huge community (Rabbids land notwithstanding, Willem Dafoe) and being able to move from game to internet and back to game at the press of a button (alright, 2 buttons) means I don't have to get up and go to my computer if I am stuck on a particularly tricky bit in a game. The ability to innovate gameplay which is something the industry has lacked for near a decade.

    Negatives - No new releases for a few months, gamepad battery life (though this is alleviated by its charger being on the end of an AC adapter attached to an extension cord plugged into the wall) loading times (and while they aren't nearly as big a deal as people are making them out to be they will still turn some folk off). The YouTube app is clunky as hell and a pain to use (but as you can access actual YT through the browser you can ignore this problem)

      Really I thought the youtube app was alright...

    The major, major thing Nintendo did stupidly: forgetting to advertise to their core market (casuals) that the Wii U is a NEW console and NOT an add-on.

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