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The resurgence of U

For Christmas this past year, we decided to get a Wii U as our family gift. My wife and I have owned various Nintendo consoles for much of our life, and we thought that the newest entry to the franchise would be a nice fit for our family. The Wii U has been out for a while now and hasn't been the hottest selling console by a long shot, so the question could be asked, why would we buy a Wii U now? The answer is that Nintendo has really decided to focus on some amazing new games for 2014/2015 that are only available on the Wii U.

After the disappointing 2013 holiday season for Nintendo many questioned if the Wii U was a complete flop, and perhaps the final nail in the coffin of Nintendo's console life. With only a few games of much interest, there wasn't much of a reason to buy a Wii U. Then in 2014 Nintendo started to revive it's most powerful asset, its catalog of great characters and games, launching new and exciting titles that got people interested in what Nintendo was doing again. In the middle of 2014 Mario Kart 8 arrived and has proved itself to be one of the best Mario Karts of the series. The gameplay is classic Mario Kart, with fun tracks and race dynamics, and now even adds online play. It was everything that old Gamecube and N64 fans knew and loved about Nintendo Games.

The titles continued to arrive through the Christmas season with a new Smash Bros. and great hybrid titles like Hyrule Warriors. Even the late 2013 release of Super Mario 3D World got some added attention with a spin-off game called Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. Nintendo hasn't been shy about talking about 2015 as well, looking ahead at a new Zelda open world game and even more in the Mario franchise like Mario Maker Wii U.

All this is to talk about how Nintendo has found a way to become relevant again. One of the strengths of Nintendo, since the days of the NES, has been the quality of their games. This quality isn't found in incredible groundbreaking graphics, but in new ways to have 'fun'. There are dozens of game studios out there that are focusing on making the most realistic games, with incredible graphics and sound. Nintendo will always lose when it comes to that battle. Where Nintendo shines is in engaging the player, with a rich world, and creative interactions.

Over the past few weeks my wife, my youngest son, and I have embarked on the journey that is Super Mario 3D World. We've had an incredible amount of fun trying to tackle every level of that game, and we still aren't done. The gameplay is engaging and challenging to each of us, despite the generational difference. The characters are fun and silly, and the puzzles, although requiring skill, are not dependent on super high twitch capabilities.

I've also spent hours playing through Hyrule Warriors, a Zelda riff on Dynasty Warriors. This is an incredible hack-n-slash game that will never win any awards for amazing graphics, but it's soooo satisfying to perform a huge combo attack in the middle of 50 enemies and send them all flying to their doom. The adventure mode is also proving to have massive longevity, trying to get the best score you can in every level to unlock new challenges.

My youngest is also a 3DS fan and has been loving the new releases that Nintendo has been putting on that platform, like the new Pokemon game and Zelda titles. Nintendo is even re-platforming some of it's classic Zelda games for the 3DS as a way to experience them again in a new format. Plus, Nintendo has started to recognize the power of connected gaming, which was one of my major complaints about the Wii a few years ago. The Wii U shop is full of games to play (with more coming all the time), major titles are available to purchase digitally, and many titles are getting online capabilities. That's a major step in the right direction for Nintendo.

It seems that Nintendo has finally re-awakened to what made it great in the first place. Great games and amazing amounts of fun while playing, even with friends who aren't in the same room. Although we're not into the Amiibo figures, they have been selling like crazy and people love being able to interact with these classic characters in a new way. If Nintendo can continue this focus on making video game playing fun for the whole family, it will hopefully have success, despite not having the best and most flashiest graphics system out there.

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