It's been two years since the launch of the Nintendo Switch, and in that short span of time, a decent chunk of Nintendo's key titles for the Wii U either have been ported to the hybrid or saw much more refined sequels. We've already spoken at length about eleven games from that system that could possibly make the switch to Switch following Super Mario Maker 2 in June, but now it's time to take a look at the games that will more than likely be left on the cutting room floor.
These honorable mentions are the games that didn't quite tap into their full potential, wound up as stinkers, or are so dependent on the Wii U's dual-screen functionality that a port to the Switch would be plain impossible. Let's take a look at the list together below!
1. Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival (2015)
After New Leaf was released onto the 3DS seven years ago, fans have been itching more and more for a new, mainline Animal Crossing, to once again experience a simulated life in a relaxed and happy neighborhood of friendly anthropomorphized animals on their home console. All the Wii U offered during its short lifespan was a poorly received party game in the form of amiibo Festival, which—as the name implies—heavily relied on the use of Animal Crossing amiibo to be played, to the point that it cannot be downloaded on its own off the eShop.
By itself, sure, the Board Festival might not be worth bringing back, but that might have only been the case because it was by itself. A party game for the series can still be fun if done right, but it alone as a spin-off will probably not appease its fans. After all, said fans have resorted to satanic summoning circles to bring about the next core Animal Crossing game.
Not to say correlation implies causation, but we are just so happening to get a core Animal Crossing title for the Nintendo Switch later this year. While some Wii U games like Smash Bros. got bigger and better sequels, I can easily see an inverse of this scenario for amiibo Festival where it could be integrated into the upcoming Animal Crossing as a bonus couch multiplayer mode to the actual game fans have waited years for. It would get all those lingering Animal Crossing amiibo off the shelves all the faster, that's for sure!
2. Devil's Third (2015)
"Honorable mention" is a very generous way of putting this next one.
Devil's Third, spearheaded by former Tecmo developer and creator of Dead or Alive Tomonobu Itagaki, had a tumultuous production period under Valhalla Game Studio. Development began with the studio's founding in 2008. A game of hot potato in securing a publishing deal saw the title change hands between Microsoft Game Studios, THQ right before it capsized, South Korean studio Doobic before it also went bankrupt, and then finally Nintendo, when the latter had been in desperate need of new games for the stagnating Wii U.
The game was critically panned once it came westward and was considered to be one of the worst games of 2015. Its release was poorly supported by Nintendo of America, and saw little promotion and few copies printed. Hell, the American branch even considered withdrawing publishing support altogether before launch, unlike its Japanese and European bodies. Its poor reception was pegged to its campaign, inconsistent framerate, graphical presentation, and microtransaction-heavy online multiplayer, though some critics did give Devil's Third credit for its presentation and gameplay. The online multiplayer was later available as a free-to-play PC title in Japan as Devil's Third Online under a different publisher in 2016, but it shuttered less than a year later.
With the Switch hosting as ample a library as it has now, I doubt that Nintendo would reach out to secure a port for one of the Wii U's biggest flops. Itagaki did say he envisioned a trilogy for the franchise, though. Maybe with a bit of extra elbow grease in development and an olive branch extended by another publisher, he could find some life left in Devil's Third yet.
3. Nintendo Land (2012) + Game & Wario (2013)
I'm grouping these two together as they share one same problem I touched upon earlier, so my thoughts will be very brief.
Nintendo Land (a cute little launch title revolving around a topically Nintendo-themed amusement park) and Game & Wario (the Wii U's own WarioWare minigame collection) are essentially glorified tech demos. With both games revolving nigh entirely around simultaneous GamePad and TV screen interaction, a Switch port for either is an outright impossibility due to their strict dual-screen gameplay mechanics and asymmetrical multiplayer appeal. The same can also be said of smaller party games on the Wii U, like Wii Sports Club, Wii Party U, and Sing Party, though I doubt many tears would be shed for these losses.
While we can certainly count on a possible new WarioWare for the Switch (with more than 16 microgames, please), I do hope some of the ideas and minigames in Nintendo Land can be salvaged for a future title, or—better yet—as their own bite-sized games available off of the Switch's eShop.
4. Paper Mario: Color Splash (2016)
The Wii U's swan song before the launch of Breath of the Wild, Paper Mario: Color Splash was effectively the last major Nintendo game released exclusively for the platform. It was, in many ways, a step up from the dismal Sticker Star for 3DS, featuring better presentation, writing, and music, but it was also more of the same with a half-baked, tedious, and ultimately unrewarding battle system.
Like the 3DS prequel, the battle system was meant to take advantage of the dual-screen nature of the system, revolving around single-use cards to execute attacks. Players would have to sift through their assortment of cards on the GamePad, color them in, and then flick them back to the main screen. The way the battling gameplay works would be too cluttered and drawn out if shunted into a single screen system like the Switch.
Unfortunately, the future of Paper Mario looks bleak. Despite the better critical reception compared to its predecessor, Color Splash sold poorly. All eyes were already on the recently unveiled Switch, and fans who were burned by Sticker Star steered well clear of its immediate sequel. The absolute last thing we would want Nintendo to glean from this is to assume fans don't want Paper Mario anymore, especially as they strayed further and further away from the RPG formula we grew up with and loved with more "experimental" games. As excellent as the Mario & Luigi games are, there can be room for more than one role-playing Mario series in their wheelhouse.
We just want Mario Story again, damn it.
5. Star Fox Zero + Star Fox Guard (2016)
I deliberated hard on which Wii U list I would put the PlatinumGames-co-developed Star Fox Zero and its companion title Star Fox Guard. After thinking on it for a long while, I've concluded that Zero and Guard have probably been written off by Nintendo as possible Switch ports, and I have three reasons as to why that might be the case.
First reason comes down to the game's... unique control scheme. While most of the stages are traversed from start to finish in traditional Star Fox fashion, the tedious dependency on the GamePad for aiming and shooting enemies might make retooling the entire experience for the single-screen Switch be a bit more trouble than its worth. As for Guard, the constant switching between displays for invading robots would probably be too clunky on a single screen.
Second reason revolves around the very identity of the game, let alone an identity crisis for the Star Fox series as of late. A hypothetical Star Fox Zero on Switch would essentially make it a Switch re-release of a Wii U reboot, following a 3DS remake of a Nintendo 64 re-imagining based on the SNES original. That's about half the games in the franchise revolving around the same premise. At this point, Star Fox fans—myself included—want something new for a change.
This brings us to reason number three.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas, for many, is scratching that itch of a new Star Fox experience in an unlikely toys-to-life crossover none had seen coming. While a multiplatform title, the Switch version outsold its other iterations by leaps and bounds. It lucks out all the more with special content including Fox McCloud himself as a playable character, complete with his own customizable Arwing and unique missions. And if that's not enough, Falco, Peppy, and Slippy will join the fun in a free update coming in April.
At least for now, we know Star Fox is in good hands at Ubisoft in the short term, but if Platinum and Nintendo do somehow make a Star Fox Zero + Guard port work for the Switch in spite of my skepticism, I know I'll certainly be picking it up.
While the sun may set forever on these Wii U entries, we can always cross our fingers for sequels to shine in their place on the Switch.
We finally have the new console Animal Crossing we had dreamed for years coming later this year, and while we have some Star Fox content on the system, I hope the stars will align for a bonafide game to drop sooner rather than later. It's been a long time since Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door launched on the GameCube, and the games that followed still fail to capture that same magic it refined following Paper Mario 64. With Wario, we know it's only a matter of time before he shows up with another moneymaking microgame scheme, and hopefully Nintendo Land doesn't spell the last we see of Monita and her theme park attractions based on our favorite franchises.
And then there's Devil's Third.
...yeah I've got nothing else to add.