In a turn of events that shouldn't surprise any followers of Nintendo, an anonymous source of reasonable repute has recently been quoted as stating that a big-name HD remaster is on the way to Wii U in 2015. We'd suggest this isn't too far off from saying something rather obvious such as "Nintendo is making games that haven't been announced yet", such is the business logic that makes HD re-releases / remasters a likelihood. They can, given the right material, represent an easy win for the company.
It's perhaps remarkable that we've had so few of these HD titles to date. The success-story and only prominent example is The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD; as of the most recent formal update from Nintendo, it had sold 1.22 million copies up to 31st March this year. At that time it was the sixth-highest selling game on the system, and one that had certainly been appreciated by dedicated fans of the company. Wii Sports Club has also been released at retail, but with little fanfare and after a fairly underwhelming staggered release on the Wii U eShop.
Nintendo was keen to emphasize that a great deal of effort went into The Wind Waker HD — upgrading visuals, tweaking mechanics and story progression, implementing Wii U features, these were all cited improvements. The company did a fine job, too, but let's also be completely up front and honest — it's a lot easier to produce a HD remake / remaster than an all-new game, and these titles can be invaluable for filling release gaps.
In light of this rumour and the business sense of using HD remasters to fill out the Wii U library in 2015, we thought we'd pick five examples that we feel are natural choices. To be clear, we've opted for GameCube and Wii titles only; there's good reason for this, as the iterative and similar infrastructure from GameCube to Wii and then to Wii U should in theory allow for easier development. We've seen some requesting Nintendo 64 classics, for example, and while that would be terrific it would also necessitate more work to bring them up to modern standards. If the angle here is that these are relatively quick, easy projects to satisfy fans, Nintendo 64 games don't work.
We've also included at least one example that will prompt reactions of "it doesn't need another re-release". While a fair argument, we feel that some experiences would simply be fantastic when utilising the capabilities of the Wii U, and if it's good enough for The Last of Us Remastered on PS4 to achieve sales success, then the longer delay in releases for all of our suggestions are more than justified. We've also tried to incorporate a mix of sure-fire hits and others that would provide a valuable testing ground for more neglected franchises.
So, let's get on with it.
If this compilation doesn't happen in the next 12-18 months we'd be rather amazed, especially as it'd also represent an opportunity to show a fairly generous spirit in offering both at a standard retail price. The upgrade would look terrific, even though these games were among the most gorgeous on Wii, while some work would perhaps be needed to introduce a 'Wii U mode' for those that'd rather use a GamePad than a Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Star bits could gravitate to Mario naturally rather than be gathered with the Wii Remote, and some gravity-based puzzled that utilise the pointer could be re-worked to incorporate the GamePad's touch screen. Multiple control options would be welcome, in any case.
This release would break the trend of one 3D Mario game per system, but as a reaction to the times and in the quest to give the Wii U a steady flow of games, it may be the moment to bend that rule.
In our defensive introduction that served up the example of The Last of Us Remastered, we were referencing this entry. It'd be a re-release of a compilation, admittedly, but would nevertheless scratch an itch for a franchise that — as far as confirmed projects go — is on ice. That's not to say that a new Metroid game isn't in development right now, but this would fill a gap much in the sense that The Wind Waker HD has helped keep Zelda fans happy as they await the all-new game in the series.
Controls could surely incorporate dual analogue easily thanks to those GameCube origins, with the Wii's pointer option also included, and upgrading the visuals further into HD could breath new life into these classic first-person adventures. Combining the progress and improvements of the Wii release with the Wii U's capabilities would bring us the truly definitive version and the first true Metroid experience in HD.
Nintendo continually renews its trademark on Eternal Darkness, though needs to make use of it in the next couple of years before it's lost. A HD version of the innovative, immersive GameCube title could be the simplest way to do just that, with Nintendo having a range of development partners and second-party studios that could perhaps take on the work. It's still a terrific experience, and would benefit from an overhaul and modern-day improvements; assuming Nintendo's trademark and property ownership converts to having the rights to re-release this game without the input of original developers Silicon Knights, this could be an ideal way to bring the franchise back to life and introduce it to a new audience.
We're very aware that some F-Zero fans would be horrified at this version getting the remaster treatment ahead of its predecessors but, again, we're looking at the easiest, most realistic options. Nintendo has an ongoing and strong relationship with Sega, so a collaboration to take the GameCube title and spruce it up for the Wii U is not beyond the realms of possibility. The F-Zero franchise has been on hiatus for too long, and this could be a relatively low-risk way to test the market and see how many sales could be generated. Perhaps some tweaks to mechanics and difficulty would be handy, too.
This is another franchise that's been left in the cold waters since this title launched with the GameCube. Though aspects of its gameplay would need to be tweaked, a visual upgrade would certainly play well with this one; its visuals were highly praised when first released. We had a taste of jet ski racing in Wii Sports Resort, while download-only effort Aqua Moto Racing Utopia from Zordix AB will attempt to tap into the market. From Nintendo's perspective this could be an ideal budget retail release in the summer months, filling a gap in the dreaded July drought that occurs most years.
So those are just five picks that we think would make sense as HD re-releases in 2015. Let us know which of these you'd like the most in the poll below, and share your overall thoughts — as always — in the comments section.
Which of these HD Remasters would you most like to see on Wii U? (937 votes)
Super Mario Galaxy 1 + 2
Metroid Prime Trilogy
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
Wave Race: Blue Storm
None of them!
Please login to vote in this poll.