Tom: Of course, at this time of year we think about the year that's passed. To start with 3DS, do you think it's in good shape going into the festive period?
Mike: I'd say so, but there are still plenty of games we're short of in Europe at the moment compared to Japan.
Ron: I think that Paper Mario was kind of a let-down as the big holiday hit, but with the great 3DS bundles that are being sold in NA right now, it's definitely the ideal time to pick up a 3DS if you don't already have one.
Tom: Don't say that, that's my Christmas gaming gift!
Ron: WAIT! I mean, Paper Mario rocks the house, and it's the perfect holiday gift! Everyone should ask for 2 copies!
Tom: That's better...
Katy: Well we just heard about the Japanese 3DS sales overtaking PS3 so that can only be a positive for the console, after a rather uneasy start.
Morgan: Absolutely. I got my 3DS for Christmas last year and since then I think it's really blossomed as a platform. There are so many good games out right now and I'm really looking forward to the post-Holiday releases (HarmoKnight, Animal Crossing!). And those bundles are great!
Tom: I agree, though I'll be curious to see sales figures outside of Japan, particularly as European sales were weak last we heard.
Katy: I'm predicting a big boom when Animal Crossing hits the shelves!
Morgan: Yes! That should be a big one!
Orla: Most definitely! There's a fantastic selection of games to choose from now, such as Mario Kart 7 and NSMB2. Paper Mario: Sticker Star will hopefully do well on the system, it's a great game. Like Katy said, Animal Crossing will see 3DS sales rise an enormous amount next year.
Tom: That's very true.
Wii is pretty much abandoned now, so what do you make of Wii U's start, first of all in terms of games and functionality?
Mike: I wholeheartedly love the thing. Off-TV play is fantastic, Miiverse is just the nicest, most accessible online gaming service, New Super Mario Bros. U is far and away the best in the NSMB series for me, Nintendo Land is pure joy pressed into disc form — especially Mario Chase, which is one of my favourite local multiplayer games ever at this point — and the eShop has got off to a cracking start. I've not even played things like ZombiU yet! I wish user accounts were easier to migrate, though; it makes me wary about major digital purchases, and so far this is a system where I actually kinda want to go digital for the convenience thanks to the GamePad.
Ron: As much as it pains me to say it, I was ready to abandon the Wii. I'm loving the Wii U so far though. Most of the launch games I've played have been great, and I'm liking where the technology seems to be headed.
Katy: In honesty, I still only have Nintendo Land - while there was a great range of launch titles to suit lots of different gamers I was a bit let down with the lack of Pikmin 3 in the launch window. Miiverse is great though! Hopefully with the coming of more games, the Wii U can crack into wider markets and create a bigger audience.
Orla: The Wii U had a decent launch, a variety of games to cater for most - but I was just incredibly disappointed by the delay of Rayman Legends.
Ron: I'm absolutely loving Miiverse. It's great to see how many creative and hilarious Nintendo gamers are out there. I mean, have you seen the Funky Barn threads?
Tom: Everyone keeps mentioning them, I mean to take a look. The North American Rabbids Land thread has also been hijacked by fans of a certain gaming "celebrity", if that's the right term - I'll just say Willem Dafoe is a theme.
Morgan: To be honest, I think the Wii U's had a great start. Nintendo Land, NSMBU and Chasing Aurora made up one of the best launch lineups I've ever gotten to play. I agree with Katy though, Pikmin 3 would have been awesome, especially after playing the Pikmin attraction in Nintendo Land! On the functionality side, the sheer joy of Miiverse trumps all as far as I'm concerned. I don't have cable (or even regular television, that I'm aware of) and I only subscribe to Netflix, so TVii being AWOL at launch wasn't really an issue for me - but I was really surprised by how engaging Nintendo's little social experiment has been. I keep trying to post to Miiverse from my 3DS!
Tom: Do you guys think there's enough buzz among more 'casual' gamers? From what I can tell, the systems aren't exactly selling out.
Ron: I think people don't understand that Wii U is an entirely new console rather than just a Wii expansion.
Morgan: Yeah, almost everyone I've talked to so far who isn't a seriously dedicated gamer has thought that it's an upgrade for their Wii.
Orla: Morgan hit the nail on the head right there, too many people think it's an upgrade for the Wii - not an entirely new console.
Mike: Maybe not before playing it, but the 'casuals' in my group of friends have all wanted one after using mine. Word of mouth will spread in time, the festive period is going to be vital for this.
Ron: I also don't think people realize that the Wii came out 6 years ago, and that it's definitely time for an upgrade.
Katy: I agree with Morgan and Ron - all the 'casual' gamers I have spoken to didn't even know what the Wii U was!
Tom: In some ways it's a repeat of the DS-3DS scenario, and Nintendo took a while to get out of that muddle.
Morgan: That's true - and it probably doesn't help that the Wii U uses Wii Remotes for multiplayer (and single-player!) as well.
Katy: I think the TV advertisements are in part to blame - they're not exactly detailed and descriptive... You're right with the Wiimotes Morgan!
Tom: The UK ads are actually decent, they explicitly say it's a new console. The U.S ones that I've seen are a bit vague.
Ron: This is a little off topic, but I'm going to come right out and say it: I hate using Wii Remotes. I didn't especially enjoy using them on the Wii, and I hate that I have to use them for multiplayer games on the Wii U.
Tom: Ooh, how come?
Morgan: Haha! I'm a big fan of the simple layout of the Wii Remote (especially NES-style), but using them as a standard controller for the Wii U does mean people who didn't already own a Wii are looking at a serious investment to get the most out of their new system.
Ron: Holding the Wii Remote sideways for certain games has never been comfortable for me. Also, I've always looked forward to new controllers on new consoles. I love the GamePad, but when I realized that I'll still have to use Wii Remotes for some games, I was really disappointed.
I like the simplicity of them, like you said Morgan, but they're just not comfortable to hold like that.
Tom: It sure saved a lot of money for gamers, though, which would have been the important thing from Nintendo's perspective.
Katy: I thought it was quite nice that my Zelda Wiimote wouldn't become redundant, but as controllers I've never been a fan of the 'waggle' aspects of them
Tom: Waggling a GamePad in the future could be cumbersome...
Ron: I think the Wii Remote also limits what you can do on the new console. By being stuck with the same control scheme as the Wii, you don't have access to new buttons or anything like that. I'm speaking in terms of multiplayer, of course.
Tom: With Nintendo multiplayer, though, adding buttons was never a priority! It's all about the waggle.
Morgan: That's true what Ron said about the novelty of a new console's pad too, I remember thinking what a sea-change the GameCube controller was the first time I held it.
Ron: I feel like making the GamePad the primary controller with Wii Remotes being for more players, Nintendo have dug themselves into a hole if they ever want to make a game with a more involved or engaging local multiplayer experience.
Tom: I guess there's the Pro controller, for Blops 2 multiplayer etc. Though it's bloomin' expensive.
Ron: I like the pro controller, but I don't think it's being given enough priority. I'd love to see it used more on future games.
Tom: What do you guys make of the controller confusion. Our man Ken highlighted it in an article; some games don't allow use of the Pro Controller when there's no logical reason, forcing use of Remotes and Nunchuks — Nintendo Land is an example.
Mike: It's annoying and something that Nintendo really should have standardised before launch.
Morgan: Yeah, I thought that was a weird omission. And I was quite gutted the Pro Controller can't be used as a Classic Controller too - I was really looking forward to playing NiGHTS: JOD with the circular joystick!
Katy: Lots of critics are saying that the pro controller is a bit of an 'easy way out' for third party developers, and isn't challenging their creativity like it would if the Wii U used GamePads only.
Ron: I'd love to use the GamePad and Pro Controller for multiplayer Mario, but I can't, and it really bothers me. Limiting what controllers can be used for certain games, especially when they have all of the same buttons, doesn't make any sense to me.
Tom: So, in summary. Wii U is fun, we like it, but it confuses the public and has weird controller priorities? Is that a fair reflection of the group's thinking?
Ron: Nailed it!
Morgan: Right on!
Katy: I'd say that was bang on.
Mike: Yeah, that's probably about the size of it. I do think, though, that once people play the system it begins to make more sense. In my experience so far, Wii U's not an instant grab like Wii was — but its claws sink in deeper once it has caught you.
Tom: Let's finish with some festive cheer. What game are you most looking forward to playing in your new slippers, with a glass of cocoa and a mince pie for company? Any platform!
Mine is Paper Mario: Sticker Star, despite Ron's withering critique earlier.
Katy: I'm sure you'll love it Tom!
Morgan: Christmas NiGHTS! But I have to say, I'm almost equally excited about playing more Nintendo Land on Christmas day!
Mike: ZombiU! Though maybe I should replace the slippers, cocoa and mince pie with a duvet, vodka and a night light if it's as scary as people keep saying.
Orla: Eww.. Mince pies.. Anyway, it'll be Pokémon Black 2 to sit around and chill in a new fluffy pair of slippers, maybe even some new pyjamas if I've been a good girl this year!
Tom: The slippers, cocoa and mince pie are optional.
Katy: Nobody is allowed to laugh... but I'm excited about hopefully getting Adventure Time on DS imported from the US! I'm a crazy Adventure Time fan, and even though the main quest isn't very long I'm really looking forward to it!
Ron: I'm not one for "mince" anything. And I'll probably try getting my family to play some Nintendo Land. If not, then I'll more than likely be spending more time on New Super Mario Bros. U.
Morgan: Good luck on your import quest Katy, I'd say that'll be fantastic!
Ron: Katy, I just finished playing through Adventure Time last night, and now I get to start Game+ mode, and I'm very excited about it!
Morgan: Ron: bringing gaming-related Christmas joy down to reality since 2012.
Tom: Hooray, good news for Katy. You weren't that generous with my gaming dreams, Ron.
If you had to summarise Nintendo gaming in 2012 in five words or less, what would you say? “Quite exciting but not always”, that's mine.
Ron: Tom, you're going to love Paper Mario.
"Wii Remotes are still s**t"… I mean "great improvements, more to come."
Mike: “Digital downloads were king.”
Katy: "Needed Ni No Kuni on DS" - sorry that was 6.
Morgan: "Love my Three Dee Ess!"
Orla: “WHY NO ZELDA GAME?”
Ron: To finish off, if anybody wants they can tell me their favourite game and I can explain why I don't like it. Any takers?
Tom: Skyward Sword, go on, rant about Wii Remotes...
Ron: I actually never played SS. It's been shelved since last Christmas. Too damn long...
Katy: Skyward Sword is your favourite game??? EVAH???
Tom: Not ever, favourite of 2011. My favourite ever is probably Sonic 2 on Mega Drive. That game's BOSS.
Morgan: That I can relate to Tom. Not my favourite ever but jeez, what a game!
Katy: You have successfully redeemed yourself, as lets face it Twilight Princess was better!
Ron: It's like none of you have ever played Altered Beast. The best game to ever grace our lives.
Tom: I do like a bit of Mario Galaxy 2, my favourite Wii game.
Altered Beast, arf arf.
Katy: I was talking about Altered Beast last night and was practically laughed out of the chat convo - except from Corbie, he backed me up on its awesomeness.
Ron: Katy, my new best friend.
Morgan: Altered Beast is the first Genesis game I ever played! Always a classic!
Ron: Excuse me, BEAST friend.
Tom: Arf to all of you.
Ron: I'm pretty sure Twilight Princess was originally planned as an AB reboot. “Waggle your Wii Remote to change into a bear!"
Katy: We can AAAAALL be BEAST buddies, except for Tom.
Tom: I'm the only sane one. Star Wars: TIE Fighter on PC - who's with me? That was epic s**t in the '90s.
Ron: Emphasis on "s**t." I never actually played it, I just need to knock Tom down a peg.
Tom: If you haven't played it, your view doesn't count. You got to play as the bad guys... Die Rebel scum etc.
Anyway, maybe we should all say Merry Christmas to everyone now.
Mike: Merry Christmas to all our readers! I think it's been a really good year; I hope every single one of you lovely people will be joining us in 2013!
Ron: Thanks for joining us, all of you NL readers. I hope you have a pleasant holiday and a refreshing new year full of gaming and hot beverages!
Morgan: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Nintendo Life friends - may your stockings be stuffed silly with gaming delights!
Katy: A very big Happy Christmas to all of our readers at NLife! Thank you for all of your comments and dedication, we really do appreciate it. Have a lovely new year! And don't forget - Wii U's aren't just for Christmas.
Orla: Merry Christmas everyone!
At that point the team continued to argue over the merits of Altered Beast, which is normal for this time of year. We'd love to read your thoughts on anything we chatted about in the comments below, and have a wonderful Christmas!