This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
The PlayStation 4 will inherit the Earth. Or, according to analysts, continue to dominate console gaming until we all lose our teeth, confirm the existence of life on Mars, or the next wave of interactive entertainment comes along. Whatever happens first. (Mars, I reckon.)
The faster seller when the two heavyweights of the contemporary console market, Sony and Microsoft, released their current-gen machines to the market within days of each other in November 2013, the PS4 already has over 18.5 million units out there in the wild. In comparison, the last time any Xbox One figures went public, they were lagging behind on 10 million. That's some ground to make up in 2015—but if a recent report by Connected Home Devices is to be received as gospel, Microsoft might as well concede defeat and crack on with fixing The Master Chief Collection. (It's alright, they've cracked it, now.)
Come 2019, the PS4 is predicted to have a user base of 80 million players, with the Xbox One rising to 57 million. Such a projection puts the PS4 on a sales course comparable with that of its two-generations-back ancestor, the PS2, which sold 155 million units, making it the most successful console of all time. Big numbers, tidy profits, even when you're running a distant second. But what does this mean for those of us who spent our money on a Wii U?
The same report that places the PS4 way out in front has rough news for supporters of Nintendo's present beneath-the-TV box. It forecasts sub-20 million sales for the Wii U by 2019, which is positively disastrous for the company in question given their Wii shipped over 100 million. That's assuming the console lasts that long as an active concern for Ninty—rumors have been circulating for a year now that they might kill it off sooner than later, switching focus to a new device (which they've only gone and announced this week). But with the NX just a couple of capital letters and nothing tangible for the time being, Nintendo remains publicly committed to the Wii U.
As well they might, after a great 2014 for the platform. Bayonetta 2 was the action game of the year, fantastically over-the-top in its high-kicking, head-exploding combat and completely deranged plotline. But, really, who the fuck plays Bayonetta for its story? Show me one of those cherub-faced wankers blocking my way and I'll set about cracking its skull. Mario Kart 8 ruled over all other racers released around it, showing up Sony's Driveclub and Microsoft's Forza Horizon 2, and right at the year's end Super Smash Bros. crashed in to make off with the award for best brawler of 2014.
'Kirby...' gameplay trailer
You'd think Nintendo would want to keep this momentum going. But British gamers are in the middle of a terrifically fallow period for the Wii U. While our stateside brothers get to play Kirby and the Rainbow Curse right now, us limeys with our stupid right-hand-drive cars and delicious brown sauce have to wait until... Well, nobody knew until just a few days ago, Wikipedia changing its guide of "Q3/4" to the official date of May 8. Although why we have to play it under the title ...and the Rainbow Paintbrush is puzzling. What's the matter, HAL? "Curse" just too racy for us reserved Brits? Afraid we might complain that the heroic tumor of the title doesn't swear like a David Shrigley record?
Anyway, Kirby isn't even that exciting (all the same: want). Rainbow Curse—sorry, Paintbrush—makes great use of the Wii U's GamePad, as you use the stylus to generate clay-crafted platforms for our rotund protagonist, but it's much like pretty puzzler Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, which snuck out just before 2014 collapsed in on itself to leave us with the cold reality of another year to drudge through. It's a placeholder, a stopgap, until the Real Games arrive. Treasure Tracker is adorable, but its simple premise and short run time don't make it much of a keeper, and once you've uncovered all of its secrets, its replay value is non-existent. I'm looking forward to Splatoon, which could arrive in May, but while it's a delight in multiplayer mode (I chuckled my way through a four-on-four match at EGX last year) I can't see myself getting much mileage from it in a solo capacity.
What we're begging for is something substantial, something that shows that the Wii U is a Serious Gaming Console, and not merely a vessel for novel twists on established Nintendo franchises, delivered in bite-size portions. All the same, some of those reliable characters are still rather conspicuous by their absence on the machine. Sure, Link and his fellow Zelda series stalwarts peeked over the precipice of public access with Hyrule Warriors in 2014, but nobody really liked that now, did they? It was a cathartic experience for a few levels, but repetition robbed it of further appeal. We're all waiting for the proper Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U, and it can't come quickly enough. It's a certifiable system-seller, and an essential buy for all existing owners. It's still listed as a 2015 release, but I'll believe it when I see anything more. Maybe Nintendo have June's E3 earmarked for the next update. Maybe.
A new Zelda might be some way shy of availability, but another large-scale role-playing game of no little Nintendo hyping, Xenoblade Chronicles X, is locked on a Japanese release date. On April 29, Wii U owners over there will be able to indulge themselves in a way Western admirers of the Monolith Soft-developed RPG won't until... Again, no idea. "Sometime in 2015" is all anyone waiting on an English-language localization has got to hang onto (although there are now reports of an August release for North America). The original Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii was more cult hit than commercial juggernaut in Europe, I get that, but bloody hell: you'd think with a Japanese release on the horizon there might be something for Brits to feel just partially sated by. Some voice cast confirmations, perhaps; anything to make us feel like our investment in Nintendo was justified, and we weren't being treated like an irrelevant corner of the Wii U market.
But that's kind of how I'm feeling, right now. Bummed out for not living in the right place to get the most from my Nintendo, and now worried that the NX is going to smother the Wii U in its sleep, before it's really shown all its capable of. Thank fuck I've a PS4, I guess, or I'd be wishing I'd kept my PS2 plugged in.
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