At Nintendo’s Direct event in November, the company announced that Twilight Princess would receive an HD remaster and be released this March. It is a nice appetizer that will wet the appetite of Zelda fans who are eager to play The Legend of Zelda Wii U. While this may even reinvigorate the Wii U fanbase, as Twilight Princess sold 7.18 million copies on the Wii and initially had a 75 percent attach rate to the system at launch, it may be too little too late for the home console.
Make no doubt about it — Twilight Princess was both a critical and commercial success. The Wii version is the second best selling Zelda game of all time, and that doesn’t even take into account the sales of the GameCube version, which would catapult it to the top spot above Ocarina of Time. The problem is is that this game should have come out, if not this holiday season, much, much earlier in the Wii U’s life cycle. As news of the NX surface with a possible launch in 2016 or 2017, the Wii U is beginning to be rendered obsolete. It was fantastic that Nintendo gave The Wind Waker an HD remake so early in its life cycle, but the game was not going to push system sales. Twilight Princess HD could have and still has that ability, but instead of releasing it in March alongside another Zelda title to compete with in Hyrule Warriors Legends, Nintendo should have taken advantage of the lack of quality titles for the Wii U this year and released it for the holidays in order to optimize sales for both the game and quite possibly the Wii U, as the title was literally a system seller for the Wii.
Of course, this wouldn’t even be an issue if Nintendo was able to deliver their games on time. While Xenoblade Chronicles X is receiving stellar reviews and is Nintendo’s big holiday title, it is not a system seller and more of a niche game. If Nintendo was able to deliver Star Fox Zero and The Legend of Zelda Wii U on time, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Nintendo would easily be in contention for having the best holiday lineup of the season with these three games, but unfortunately, the latter two games were delayed, with Zelda Wii U probably being delayed until the 2016 holiday season and Star Fox Zero coming out this April. While I understand Nintendo’s need to polish games, Star Fox Zero all but had a release date for this holiday. Why the delay all the way until April? It feels incredibly unnecessary and may be Nintendo simply staggering their releases, which is a huge mistake on such a big title with hardware sales being underwhelming.
Zelda Wii U also had assurances that it was still on course for a 2015 release date, but this was abruptly changed with an announcement from Aonuma that the title would be delayed. Given the Wii U’s lack of 3rd party support and dire need of games, you would figure that Nintendo would pour all their resources into making sure that these games came out on time. It has been four years since Skyward Sword came out, and a five year development cycle for the next console iteration of The Legend of Zelda is simply ridiculous. Such massive delays with the NX possibly releasing in 2016 (although I have my doubts about this) is very disheartening and is killing the Wii U’s chances of making a comeback.
Twilight Princess is an amazing game. I played it on the Wii and hope that the rumors that a Wiimote/Nunchuck control option are true, as it is simply so much fun to play that way. With improved graphics and additional content, the game may even help sell systems to older fans and a new generation of Zelda fans, as it is one of the strongest and most mature Legend of Zelda games to date. This being said though, it may be too little too late. The Wii U has the best first-party content of this generation, but third-party support is basically nonexistent and Nintendo’s release schedule has been sporadic. They needed to release Star Fox or Zelda for the holidays (or both), but they failed. And let’s be honest: Splatoon and Super Mario Maker simply aren’t holiday titles. While very good games, they came out in June and September respectively. The majority of people who were going to buy them have bought them already. Yoshi’s Woolly World isn’t a holiday title either; it was released in Europe months ago, despite receiving a much later release date in North America.
If the NX does release in 2017, Twilight Princess HD could give the Wii U the life it needs until bigger titles like Star Fox Zero and Zelda Wii U come out. Until then though, the Wii U is severely lacking in the immediate future in terms of software. The system could still come out as being remembered as an excellent console with incredible content, which it is, but the manner in which Nintendo has released software for the Wii U has been nothing short of a disaster, even going back to the system’s launch. It’s my personal hope that Twilight Princess HD can give the Wii U the push it needs to sell hardware and software alike before bigger titles hit the Wii U, even if it’s not an original game per se. This doesn’t excuse the massive delays games are seeing on the Wii U, but it could help rectify the situation and breath some life into the Wii U with one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises.