The start of any year can be rather quiet in terms of game releases. Plenty of major publishers save blockbusters for the final third of the year, while mid-late Spring can also be a rather busy period for releases. Nintendo, courtesy of some delays or strategies on its part and from third-parties, actually has quite a lot of titles on the way to Wii U and 3DS. Well, 3DS anyway.
So, going beyond our lists of the 'biggest Wii U games of 2016' and the same for 3DS, we thought it'd be worth highlighting a number of games with fixed release dates up to the end of March. There are a surprising number, and as part of our quest for an optimistic 2016 it seemed like a good time to point out that there's plenty of enjoyable gaming just around the corner.
So without further ado, let's get to it.
Already out in Europe, this is the second Mario & Luigi title on the 3DS, with AlphaDream introducing Paper Mario and chums this time around. This utilises amiibo and follows the series template quite closely, earning an 8/10 in our review and the following comments: "Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros. totally succeeds as an accessible, entertaining and lengthy crossover for fans and newcomers alike."
This has taken a while to come out of Japan, but is sure to grab attention as its release gets ever closer. It's very much a multiplayer RPG, with you being encouraged to team up with others while exploring the world and tackling foes. It's drawn some comparison to the likes of the Monster Hunter franchise though, to be fair, this is a rather different proposition.
Wii U & 3DS
Like so many LEGO titles and as recognition of the role Nintendo platforms play for the franchise, this is coming to both Wii U and 3DS. It's going to cover six films in total - Avengers (which was called Avengers Assemble in the UK to avoid confusion with the cult TV show of the same name), Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3. The Wii U version will serve up HD visuals and co-op, while the 3DS gives hero action on the go; you could also buy both if you're feeling flashy.
Wii U & 3DS DLC
Not a new release, as such, but much anticipated nevertheless. Bayonetta and Corrin were confirmed as the final challengers in Masahiro Sakurai's December Video Presentation, wrapping up the roster for this generation of Smash Bros. Bayonetta will also come with a new stage, while Mii costumes including Tails and Knuckles are also on the way.
One for European gamers as this one landed in North America in October 2015. We gave this 8/10 in our review and said if you "love RPGs for the sense of exploration, engaging battle mechanics, and overall atmosphere, you're in for a real treat; The Legend of Legacy plays to these strengths and delivers a lovingly crafted adventure with a gorgeous graphical style and an outstanding soundtrack, easily earning its place in the 3DS' pantheon of portable RPG gems".
Another belated arrival in Europe after a 2015 release in North America, this is the second DS title from this franchise given a revamp and a whole lot of fresh content for 3DS. We gave this 9/10 in our review and said the following - "Both a wonderful upgrade to the original Etrian Odyssey 2 and an impressive improvement on Etrian Odyssey Untold, Untold 2: The Fafnir Knight is a dungeon-crawling delight".
Take a game developed by Monolith Soft and Bandai Namco, also featuring franchises from SEGA, Capcom and now Nintendo, and you have an RPG that sounds like a slam dunk. This one's predecessor certainly had a mastery of cross-Universe insanity, and this entry has the potential to keep us entertained into the warmer months of the year.
In light of the sales success for Fire Emblem: Awakening reviving the series, Nintendo and Intelligent Systems will be hoping that this dual release (as it will be in North America) will hit it off with the public in the same way. It's close to release in North America but is frustratingly still TBC in Europe; with the key 'choice' bringing two separate core campaigns, and a third to be available as a download along with more DLC, this could be a strategy title to keep us busy up to E3 and beyond.
A major Holiday 2015 release in North America, this is yet another nearby arrival for Europe that'll keep portable fans happy. The series is long established now, and we gave it a recommendation with 6/10 in our review, saying the following: "We'd recommend this to those of you who don't mind a lot of grinding in RPGs, as there's plenty to enjoy here if you can push on through the copious amounts of padding."
This compilation includes the six 'classic' NES releases in one package, along with extra challenges and unlockable bonuses that celebrate the franchise. It's going to be a retail release (along with a gold Mega Man amiibo) in North America but will be download-only in Europe, albeit the latter region is getting the game at a handsome price of £13.49 / €14.99 on the eShop.
Another welcome RPG sequel that's getting localised for the West, this time with Square Enix stepping forward. Its predecessor was warmly received, with an attractive visual style combining well with the adventure, and prior to the sequel's release in Japan the development team emphasized that new ideas and a lot of content are included in End Layer. A shame that this is yet to be dated for North America.
The GameCube / Wii entry in the series had regularly been in the rumour mill for New 3DS and Wii U, with the home console eventually being the logical choice for Nintendo. With its accompanying Wolf Link amiibo this will provide a great start to the anniversary year for The Legend of Zelda, with a HD sheen being added to the moody entry in the franchise.
Another late arrival in Europe following a previous North American release, this is a stylish music-driven RPG developed by the now-defunct Imageepoch. We rated this very highly and awarded it a 9/10 in our review, saying the following in its favour: "A fitting swan song for imageepoch and another gem in the 3DS' legendary RPG lineup, Stella Glow is smart, stylish, and seriously satisfying."
The E3 2015 reveal for this was blown ahead of time by Tecmo Koei, and this is certainly an interesting release. The cross-over / spin-off was popular on Wii U, and now arrives on the portable with all previous DLC included and new characters, such as Tetra and newcomer Linkle. There'll be more fairly skilful button mashing and seemingly endless levelling up to indulge in, and this will provide a welcome action gaming fix.
Beyond the first three months of the year there's a notable arrival coming on 22nd April on Wii U - yep, Star Fox Zero. In addition Pokkén Tournament is due in 'Spring', so may not be much further behind.
Admittedly a number of the upcoming releases above cater to RPG fans, but there are some other gems thrown in there. We suspect that Nintendo will heavily promote Smash Bros. DLC, Hyrule Warriors Legends and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD in particular. Also, let's not forget that some enticing eShop titles could come (especially if the first batch of New 3DS-only Unity games start to arrive), while updates and DLC can also play their part.
So, are you excited about what the first few months of the year are bringing to Wii U and 3DS? Have we missed anything blindingly obvious? Sound off and let us know in the comments below, and you can also express your support for a few of these games in the poll.