Happy Post-Thanksgiving! Whether full of turkey, or full of batmess-insane shoppers, I hope it’s been more enjoyable than not.

While the subject of the Wii is nothing new to “Is this the end of the Wii” articles for years, or more recently “Is this the end of Nintendo” due to the 3DS sales not meeting industry standards, and the Wii’s genuine drop-off this year, this one is more discussing the Wii’s performance as a software provider this year, and where they will be next year.

The Wii is no stranger to droughts. Things dried up in 2008 after the release of Mario Kart Wii, and with the exception of Punch-Out!!, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and a small handful of third party titles, 2009 was a dud. The same could be said for the first part of 2010, until the Fall season, in which there were so many good games it was hard to buy them all, even on sale.

Which leads us to this year….

The whole year has been focused around one title: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Outside of a Bit.Trip compilation and Rayman Origins, I’ve heard relatively nothing on the third-party front. For all intents and purposes, this was “The Year of Zelda”, and if this does nothing for you, you’re out of luck.

Digital downloads met the same fate. I can’t remember the last time I powered up the Wii to see what exciting and exclusive new WiiWare title dances around the screen as a must-have, and while it’s a popular catchphrase to say that the Virtual Console is dead, it’s been at a total and literal stopping point for several months now. Perhaps Nintendo is waiting until Wii U to resume the service. It’s not like they or their third party brethren don’t have a substantial backlog of titles (and systems) to mine for classics. I would have continued to have supported the Virtual Console had they simply continued to release games for it. How many “drought” periods could Nintendo have avoided with the re-release of a much-loved classic? If the general public can see the “slow periods” in release schedules, I’m certain Nintendo can as well.

And certainly it is hard to ignore the “Operation Rainfall” movement that happened earlier this year, where all regions of Nintendo (save for NOA) released Xenoblade, Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower. Granted, RPGs aren’t everyone’s chosen genre, and such games will do nothing to sway the crowd that only purchases games with the word “Wii” in the title, but considering the demand and the high ratings, one would think Nintendo would have used this to sustain the virtually non-existent lineup this year.

Nintendo seems to have dropped the casuals these days to try to win back their traditional fans again, and that would have been a promising move at this point. Still, NOA coyly hints that the Wii isn’t dead yet, and some announcement will come in the next month or so, so perhaps at least two of these titles will be 2012’s remaining games. It would be a smart move. Wii users don’t seem to have much (if anything) to look forward to now that Zelda is released. Then again, Gamecube had something of a whimpering “death” as well.

It will be interesting to see how the Wii U goes over. Considering that there’s been talk of Nintendo rethinking how to present the new system in light of 3DS’ shaky start, hopefully Nintendo will look at the mistakes that they’ve made with this last console. Sure it sold like crazy. Sure it survived off the sales of an average of a dozen game titles out of several hundred released. The system always needed a better sense of balance. Nintendo went from pleasing the traditional gaming crowd, to near-exclusively focusing on the casual gamer, then dumping that group to focus back on the original crowd. Nintendo honestly could have had been able to, should be able to, please both. The company has shown itself capable of creating games for every type of gamer, but only picks one or the other to focus on at any given moment.

As far as the Wii goes, third-party support is pretty much “done”. Too many fantastic games overlooked, too many terrible games made into sales juggernauts, and too many terrible games that sit on shelves that should have never been made in the first place. Few third-parties ever truly “got” the Wii, or motion control in general. Even translating the concept to other systems, very few still get it. Too many games had tacked on controls to play up the “moving controller” feature, and even Nintendo is guilty of doing it.

Did Super Mario Galaxy really need motion controls? Or Super Mario Bros. Wii? Or Donkey Kong Country Returns? Metroid Prime 3 really set the bar from what motion control could do, and the new Zelda takes it a step further in what will hopefully become a standard. Honestly, Motion Control Plus should have replaced the “old” motion control set-up in all games once Wii Sports Resort was released. Well over a year later, only a tiny handful of titles actually use the control set-up.

While I give Nintendo the benefit of the doubt every year with “redeeming” the Wii’s lopsided line-up, 2012 looks to be even more barren than 2011 has been. The system has always been “feast or famine”, and now it looks to finally starve the crowd once and for all. The only hope to release those already translated RPG’s for the system’s swan song, but while every other region of Nintendo has no issue announcing the titles, NOA won’t even acknowledge they exist, much less offer any hope of release. At least the 3DS shows promise that transferring digital titles to the next system may yet be a plausibility, but while Nintendo has a tendency to claim that it’s “learned its lesson” from previous mistakes, time will tell if they actually follow through on improving their sense of software “balance”, their online system, their digital download distribution, and relations with their third party supporters.

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