Well, someone had to go first. As far as history will be concerned, Nintendo did one thing and one thing only in 2012: they released a brand new console, putting the first of three nails into the coffin of a seven year old generation. That sounded weird. Whether they have Leeroy Jenkins-ed their way into the next generation with Wii U remains to be seen, but for now we have something shiny and new. And boy do we like shiny.

New hardware is always exciting, and is probably quite stressful for the people at Nintendo, who now have four major pieces of hardware on the market and ostensibly competing with each other. There were so many updates to their lineup this year, both big and small. The 3DS XL, the CirclePad Pro, Wii Mini, and Wii U... phew! Should Nintendo pump the brakes, or keep spewing forth devices until we have a whole drawerful that can combine into a mini-game Voltron? A kid can dream, can't he?

Smartest Moves

Wii U GamePad
Ignoring questions about the console's dubiously flavored innards, the Wii U's actual killer app — the GamePad controller — is a smashing success. Any doubts about this "weird" looking new form for a console controller were erased once we got our hands on the lovechild of an iPad and a DualShock. Not only is it well made and comfortable to hold, but the second screen really does open a new door for game mechanics. Perhaps best of all: the ability to console game privately on your couch while someone else uses the idiot box. Mmmmm, uninterrupted gaming.


Nintendo Direct
The fact that almost all gaming announcements are consolidated to one or two industry events a year is absurd. Some of that love is now spread to the VGAs, but as video games are a yearlong business, wouldn't it be nice to have formalized and incremental updates on what major developers are up to? Yes, yes it would be. Nintendo are at least trying to be more open with their nigh monthly Nintendo Direct broadcasts. Sure, not every one contains a jaw dropping announcement, but between these and Iwata Asks, we're getting a better look into the opaque company than ever before.

Dumbest Moves

Wii U System Issues
Nintendo did a poor job of proofreading their newest console. While the broad strokes are working (see above), there are several niggling problems with the Wii U experience that are both frustrating and confusing. The massive day one patch, the sluggish UI (17 seconds to get to settings? You could chug a Dew in that time!), the inability to play Wii games without going into Wii-mode, and not being able to play Wii games on the GamePad at all? That's some cold shit Nintendo.


Three Marios, Three Months
Why, exactly, would you want to spend well above $100 on Mario games in the span of three months? Add in the fact that two of them are "traditional" Mario platformers, and I think Nintendo went too HAM on the plumber this fall. New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Mario Bros. 2 were both rhyming and redundant. If you consider Paper Mario: Sticker Star to be a part of this moustache party (ew), then that's one Mario for every dimension that Nintendo wishes to conquer.


What did you think were Nintendo's best and worst decisions in 2012?

Key Releases

All games were published, distributed, or developed by Nintendo

Rhythm Heaven Fever - February 13th

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games - February 14th

Mario Party 9 - March 11th

Kid Icarus: Uprising - March 23rd

Mario Tennis Open - May 20th

Pokémon Conquest - June 18th

Xenoblade Chronicles - April 6th

New Super Mario Bros. 2 - August 19th

Kirby's Dream Collection - September 16th

Pokémon Black & White 2 - October 7th

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask - October 28th

Pokédex 3D Pro - November 8th

Paper Mario: Sticker Star - November 11th

New Super Mario Bros. U - November 18th

Nintendo Land - November 18th

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge - November 18th

SiNG Party - November 18th

For these Year In Review segments, we'll be taking a look at what major gaming companies did in 2012, with summaries of their biggest news and releases, best and worst decisions, and lists of the notable games they were a part of. Check back tomorrow for another company. It'll help you relieve some pressure.