I recently wrote a piece on this very website (which you can check out for yourselves here) on the top 20 games of Q4. Now on that list there was quite a few exclusive games from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, and it got me thinking – which publisher has the strongest lineup? And just how much of an affect is it going to have on the sales of each respective console? Let’s start with Nintendo, shall we?
Nintendo’s Wii U Lineup
Never count Nintendo out. Never. They may be playing second fiddle to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One right now, and they may continue to do so for the rest of the generation thanks to the Wii U’s lack of power, but Nintendo’s strong point has always been their first-party software – and this year is no different. With Mario Kart finally getting DLC, an experimentation in the Zelda franchise with Hyrule Warriors, a new face in Bayonetta to be welcomed to the family and the ever popular Smash Bros. franchise making its debut on Wii U, it’s a pretty good time to be a Nintendo fan.
Hyrule Warriors (Sep 19)
Starting things off early this holiday season for Nintendo is Hyrule Warriors, and it certainly isn’t your pro typical outing from Link. A mixed reaction from fans upon its initial reveal, but a little shake-up to a franchise once in a while isn’t a bad thing. But is it just going to be Dynastary Warrior’s in Hyrule’s clothing? We don’t have long left to find out.
Bayonetta 2 (Oct 24)
Bayonetta is one of my favourite games of all time. And it’s no coincidence that the developer – Platinum Games – is also one of my favourite developers. And honestly, it wasn’t until recently that I really got excited about the sequel, thanks to the recent Bayonetta 2 dedicated Nintendo Direct. It looks like more of the same zaniness from the first game and like every good sequel it looks to be bigger, better and more badass (thanks Cliffy B). It’s an interesting move from Nintendo to acquire the rights to Bayonetta, and perhaps a sign that more mature first-party titles may follow suit. It’s also smart of them to be including the original with every copy too. Let’s just hope the sales do the quality of the game justice.
By far Nintendo’s big blockbuster title this holiday season, and arguably the biggest title of this year. Smash always sells in abundance, but if, like me, you felt slightly let down by the previous outing on Wii Smash Bros. Brawl, then you’ll agree with me that Nintendo has something to prove with the franchise. New characters, stages, weapons etc are nice and all, but I can’t help but feel the beat ’em up formula may be starting to wear a little thin. At least on console anyway, but more on the handheld version later.
Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 1: (Nov 2014)
Ok, not a physical release like the rest of the lineup on here, but hey, it’s kind of a big deal that Mario Kart – for the first time ever – is receiving DLC. Or as Nintendo call it, AOC (Add On Content). Most exciting of all is that Nintendo is branching outside of the Mario franchise, as this is a Legend of Zelda themed pack that will see Link playable for the first time ever alongside Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach. 8 new tracks, four new karts and three new characters to keep things fresh. God bless you, Nintendo!
Nintendo’s 3DS Lineup
The 3DS is trumping the Playstation Vita’s sales, and in terms of the lineup for Q4, the 3DS is trumping the Vita in that regard too. With an impressive catalogue of games on the Wii U this holiday season, the 3DS most definitely isn’t slacking either.
Smash Bros. (Oct 3)
I wrote about how I think the Smash Bros. formula on console may be wearing thin, however the handheld version intrigues me. Smash – as we all know – is all about the local multiplayer. So just how will this translate on to the smaller screen of the 3DS, which is predominantly single player oriented? That’s for Nintendo to figure out and for us to find out in October.
Pokémon Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire (Nov 21)
Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire is the best generation in the Pokémon series, and I’m giddy at the prospect of taking a trip down nostalgia lane. Pokémon games always sell – we know that much. But we’re just little over two months away from its release and it really does feel like Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire require a bigger marketing push. Here’s to hoping the Ruby/Sapphire remakes get their own Nintendo Direct.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (Nov 28)
It really wasn’t until Persona 4: Golden launched on the PS Vita in 2012 that I first got into the Persona franchise. And given that Persona Q is the first Persona game on a Nintendo platform, I have to wonder just how many hardcore Nintendo gamers in the west have their eye on Persona, or have delved into previous games on other platforms.
Sony’s Playstation 4 Lineup
The delay of The Order: 1886 really has tipped the scales out of Sony’s favour, as they’re missing that big, meaty, AAA high octane shooter this holiday, and without it they now have a fairly soft lineup with just Driveclub and LittleBigPlanet 3. LittleBigPlanet 3 will also be coming to the Playstation 3, but outside of that it’s clear that Sony’s main focus is on the PS4. Perhaps their investment in Destiny was Sony’s best move yet in the current generation lifecycle so far, then.
Driveclub (Oct 8)
When Driveclub was first delayed it really weakened the Playstation 4’s launch lineup last year. However that delay may now come back as somewhat of a blessing to Sony, because if it did come out last year, then all Sony would have to offer in terms of exclusives this year is LittleBigPlanet 3 – and that would be a lot of weight on Sackboy’s shoulders. I’m no driving game fanatic, but the buzz surrounding Driveclub seems to have been very positive. Time will tell if the year of extra work has paid off though.
LittleBigPlanet 3 (Nov 19)
I’m sure there are some diehard LBP fans out there that were disappointed to find out that Media Molecule had moved on from the franchise, but the reveal trailer at E3 should have put some minds at ease. It certainly looks like a LittleBigPlanet game – which is a good thing – but this time some friends of Sackboy are coming along for the ride to shake up the formula. LittleBigPlanet 3 faces some stiff competition in the jam-packed month of November, but Sony will be hoping the Playstation faithful pull through.
It’s never a disappointing time to be a Vita owner, because it’s always going to be great to own the best handheld gaming system of all time that has a library chock full of killer games. However, in terms of looking at the system’s future and the seeming lack of support, the Playstation Vita could have a short lifecycle – and that’s worrying to say when it’s not even three-years old at this point. There could be one saving grace for the Vita this year though, and that’s SCE Japan’s Freedom Wars.
Freedom Wars (Oct 29)
Freedom Wars is the highest-selling Vita game in Japan, but whether it will be received as well in the west remains to be seen. SCE Japan are one of Sony’s most prolific developers though, so here’s to hoping they deliver the goods and give Vita owners a reason to be excited this holiday season.
Microsoft’s Xbox One Lineup
The lead up to the Xbox One’s launch was somewhat rocky to say the least, as policies were reversed, messages were changed and even executives were changed. The removal of Kinect in June of this year was the turning point of the console for me though, and they have a very strong lineup of games to close Q4. Microsoft have locked down timed exclusive deals with Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed as well, although honestly both franchises have seen better days.
Forza Horizon 2 (Sep 30)
As I mentioned earlier when writing my piece on Driveclub, I have very little knowledge and interest in them. A lot of people do though and the Forza franchise has become a big staple for Microsoft that may have even taken over the number 2 spot from Gears of War. Forza Horizon 2 gets a week head start before Driveclub’s release, and it will be interesting to see which fares better both commercially and critically. It will also be out on the Xbox 360 as well, which should boost a few sales overall.
Fable Legends Beta (Oct 16)
Ever since the brilliant Fable 3 launched almost four years ago in 2010, the franchise has gone in a new direction – and it hasn’t been for the better. Fable Heroes was a cute XBLA game that ultimately lacked depth, and Fable: The Journey was a Kinect-only game that can’t be faulted for ambition, but ultimately can be faulted for being an unresponsive Kinect game. Fable Legends is still an experiment in itself as it shifts focus from a singleplayer experience to a multiplayer centric one, and the beta could either win a lot of people over or lose them.
Sunset Overdrive (Oct 31)
There was a hole left in the heart of Playstation fans during Microsoft’s 2013 E3 press conference, the day Insomniac Games’ logo showed up to reveal they were in a partnership with Xbox. Sunset Overdrive looks to set the developer back on track after the bump in the road that was Fuse, and it looks like a pure blend of Infamous and Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding. It’s a shooter alright, but one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s been a long time since I’ve booted up my Xbox One and I think Sunset Overdrive is the perfect reason to boot it up again. This could be the start of something beautiful between Insomniac and Microsoft.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Nov 14)
We was all expecting to see the announcement of Halo 2 Anniversary Edition at Microsoft’s E3 this year, right? And we got that.. but we wasn’t expecting to also be getting Halo 3, 4, Combat Evolved, the Nightfall digital series and access to the Halo 5: Guardians Beta all packed in as well. Phew. The Master Chief Collection certainly can’t be accused of lacking content and bang for your buck, then. I’m not even the biggest Halo fan – I’m much more of a Gears of War guy, actually – but how, if you’re a gamer, can you not be looking forward to the release of this behemoth?
So I think it’s fair to say that the Sony has the weakest lineup of the three then, with Nintendo leading the charge in first place and with Microsoft in a close second. Whether you’re a Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft fan – or two out of three or all three – there should be enough variety to keep you happy just in time for christmas.