Fresh off the presses is a list of first- and third-party Nintendo-centric release dates. Because we’re talking of the Wii and DS, don’t be surprised from the amount of shovelware, licensed kids games, and casual-fest titles found here. There’s more than a dozen really good gems here, though. We already know of some games, only now we have specific dates for them. A few surprising 2009 releases are revealed, too.
It’s extremely interesting to note that New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the only notable title in this extremely long list that does not have a set date yet. Holiday 2009 is all we know about it. I find that to be really weird. Is NOA trying to find the right date for this game among the crowd or is this game going to be delayed to early next year? The latter is going to be disappointing to hear because Zelda: Spirit Tracks (slated for December 7) is basically going to be Nintendo’s only 2009 crown jewel as a publisher.
For the Wii we have the battle of the rail shooters. Dead Space Extraction for September 29th and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles for November 17. It’ll be interesting to see which is the better game…I’m optimistic for healthy sales for both of these considering the previous RE rail shooter did good.
The battle of horror games is also on as XSEED’s The Grudge (October) and Konami’s Silent Hill remake (November) try to scare Wii owners. With the recently-released Cursed Mountain, it seems that the Wii is getting its healthy dose of horror games.
Of course, we can never forget long-running game franchises with yearly installments. From Fifa and Need for Speed to Band Hero and WWE Smackdown vs. Raw, there’s something for everyone here. For those who grow sick of formulaic installments, though, there are a few promising franchises which will mix it up more this year. Rabbids Go Home for the Wii (November 3rd) is more of a 3D action/adventure game and less of a minigame fest this time around. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex (November 10) is one of these weird ones that popped up this year for the Wii. As Justin explained in one of our podcasts, it’s actually an enhanced port of the first Modern Warfare for the Wii. Seriously, why bother with this, Activision? Modern Warfare 2 for next-gen consoles is coming out around the same time…give me one good reason why will people bother with a Wii port of the older installment with less graphic firepower.
And then we have sequels, which don’t necessarily have yearly installments. Each year is more of a sequel-fest than the previous one, but as always there will be a few diamonds in the rough. In terms of cult status, the one that I’d like to sell well the most is obviously A Boy and His Blob for the Wii. Slated for October 13th, Wayforward and Majesco will be reviving an overlooked NES property with style. Let’s hope the game’s charm appeals to soccer moms looking for games for their kids. Another cult sequel is Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter (October 27) which is a DS-to-Wii transition game. Going to be interesting to see how it holds up. One Wii sequel that’ll obviously blow everything else out of the water is Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games, slated for October 13. The previous 2007 game was extremely successful. The same applies to Wii Fit Plus, which is more of an “DLC add-on” and less of a full-fledged sequel.
Atelier Annie for the DS (October 27) is the first handheld installment of the long running RPG series on the PS2 which consists of Atelier Iris and Mana Khemia games, both of which are extremely successful with NIS America loyalists. Another interesting RPG for the DS is Bleach: The 3rd Phantom (September 15) from Sega. Here’s what’s cool about this one: the first two games were pure fighters, but this one is actually a strategy/RPG along the lines of Final Fantasy Tactics and Valkyrie Profile DS. Finally, we have the biggest surprise sequel of the year: FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES THE CRYSTAL BEARERS for the Wii, which barely makes it in 2009 as it hits shelves on December 26th. Rumors floated around that this game will hit this year, but after periods of silence nobody expected it to be true. Next to New Super Mario Bros. and Zelda, this one will probably sell well with the hardcore. Let’s not forget Square-Enix’s Kingdom Hearts offering (September 29) for the Nintendo DS.
Ah, licensed properties. Can’t go home without those, eh? Naruto and Dragon Ball are popping up for the Wii and DS this year, but the one that I’m excited for the most is Ninja Turtles: Smash Up (September 22) for the Wii because it’s not your typical licensed game. Due to the 25th anniversary of the Turtles, this one is getting special treatment. What we’re getting is a Smash Bros-like 2D brawler with characters from across the cartoons, movies, and comic books…developed by Game Arts and Team Ninja no less!
Original IPs aren’t a big thing this holiday…games that the hardcore would love to sell better during this season, but ultimately won’t because people suck. Spyborgs for the Wii (September 22) didn’t have much exposure until recently. Capcom will try to make this one more successful than Zack and Wiki, and picking a September date is the right way to go thus far. For the DS we have two fresh RPGs: The Wizard of Oz from XSEED (September 29) and Nostalgia from Ignition (October). Regarding the former, the reason why I didn’t put it under licensed property is because it’s more of a JRPG cult game with the Wizard of Oz painted around it. Also, the “franchise” the game’s based on isn’t exactly known outside of books and movies.
Finally, we have the downloads, which contains some surprises. Cave Story is one I’ve been looking out for since it’s been delayed like crazy. The original PC game freely available has been praised by Metroidvania fans. Speaking of which, Castlevania Rebirth is hitting WiiWare! Can you believe that? Reviving the series similar to what Contra Rebirth recently did. Also, cult favorite Shantae is finally getting a sequel on the DSi Ware. Good stuff.
That’s it for this holiday’s Nintendo rundown. Click on the link below for the full list of release dates, shovelware included.