GoNintendo Thought: Nintendo's journey from Wii U to Switch has been amazing

A Cinderella story

Following their latest financial results, Nintendo has officially gotten themselves out of the Wii U hole and climbed back to the top of the mountain with Switch. It's been one hell of a journey, so why not look back on it? As always, thanks for reading.


What a difference a few years makes, right? Not that long ago, Nintendo was seriously hurting when it came to the home console side of things. The Wii U failed to capture a meaningful part of the market right out of the gate, and it struggled for its entire truncated lifespan. That platform just never caught on, and really put the pressure on Nintendo to deliver something new fast. Doing something new is easy. It's doing something successful that's the hard part.

Many a Nintendo fan will say that the Big N is at its best when its back is against a wall, and Nintendo was definitely backed into a corner with the Wii U. Nintendo certainly didn't plan for the Wii U to be a flop in the market. No company would ever think that way, but the Wii U likely tanked faster than Nintendo could have ever imagined. A short lifespan and a very small library of software meant Nintendo really had to swing things back in their favor with the next hardware outing. Would Nintendo once again prove that they shine brightest in the face of adversity?

Obviously no one knew what Nintendo was going to do for a Wii U follow-up, but plenty of people were already sounding the death knell for the company in general. Another thing Nintendo fans know is that Nintendo is always doomed. No matter how many years of success they have, how many millions of hardware units they move, or how many pieces of software they sell, the Big N is always just one step away from falling into its own grave. With the Wii U really stumbling in the market, countless armchair analysts were saying Nintendo was done and dusted.

Longtime fans knew different, and figured Nintendo would be able to cook up something that could bring in a bit more appeal. They've done it before and they'll certainly do it again. Nintendo is never one to give up, and they're always ready to tackle any challenge ahead. Nintendo couldn't guarantee a success with their next piece of hardware, but you can bet they analyzed absolutely everything that happened with the Wii U and made all efforts to do the exact opposite with the Switch.

When the Switch was first revealed, there was an intense amount of excitement. That was something the Wii U never really had. Nintendo fans may have been interested in what the Wii U could do in terms of gameplay, but the larger gaming public was intrigued by the Switch's reveal. That first segment where you see the Switch taken out of its dock and the Joy-Con are attached is a real 'wow' moment. It was an instant way of showing those who ragged on the Wii U that things would be different this time. Everyone wanted the Wii U to be a system that would let you play your games on the go, rather than a system that let you move roughly 6 feet away from your TV. Within 30 seconds of its debut video, Switch showed that Nintendo was listening.

The rest of that trailer was absolutely perfect as well. We saw Nintendo exclusives like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Splatoon 2. There was footage of mainstream third party successes like NBA 2K and Skyrim. The ease of play for local multiplayer was undeniable. Nintendo even showed off a more traditional method of input with the Switch Pro Controller during an eSports segment. The trailer was slick, jam-packed with information, and brought with it an excitement that was palpable. This was the trailer Nintendo needed to get things going on the right foot.

While the sentiment from the gaming public was largely positive, there were still those who were wondering if Nintendo could pull it off. Would Nintendo actually come back from the dark days of the Wii U and have another console success? Even after the Switch trailer, there were still outliers who weren't so sure. The important thing to note is that they were indeed outliers. The majority of people who checked out the trailer were eager to learn more. They were excited by Nintendo's new games, wanted to see more about playing Skyrim on the go, and needed to know what other features this quirky system would pack in.

Before we knew it, Switch launch was upon us. Nintendo had spent months and months going over multiple aspects of the system, and they'd done all they could to convince gamers to become early adopters. Actual launch week wasn't going to be a challenge, as Nintendo's system almost always face near sell-outs at launch. That was the case for Switch, just like it was the Wii U. The real question on everyone's lips was whether or not the system would keep selling. Could Nintendo keep the momentum going when the Wii U fell so hard?

Once the system launched, the negative voices started creeping back in. Among gamers and press alike, there were complaints about a shallow launch lineup in terms of both quantity and quality. Some said the lack of plentiful launch titles showed that third parties had no interest in Nintendo again, and the system would get even less support than Wii U. Others mocked the Switch for having a collection of ports, saying no one would want to grab a new system that offered so much in the way of old content. These voices were a bit hard to get away from online in the early launch days, but they served an important reminder. Sometimes the smallest groups have the loudest voices.

The months rolled on, and the Switch seemed to be gaining more ground. Systems were still hard to find months out, and more games were trickling in. Nintendo themselves proved that they realized just how important a solid software roll-out was when it came to their own offerings. Nintendo made sure to show players what was on the way soon, and what would be hitting later in the year. The library started to take shape, and it was a veritable who's who of first party favorites. Some of Nintendo's biggest and brightest stars were getting brand-new games or revamped ports. This caused even more interest in the system, more sales overall, and more attention from all sorts of developers.

Things really started to take off when devs/pubs realized that Switch owners were eager to get their hands on content of any type. It was an audience that would gobble up a traditional RPG just as much as they would an indie platformer or visual novel. The people who owned a Switch were willing to try something new, and support those games in a big way. Whether it was a port of a previous-gen game or something brand-new for Switch, audiences were ready to dive in. More and more developers started to take note, and they moved from considering Switch support to seeing it as a must-do situation.

It seems that the Switch's most defining feature was the one that wooed countless gamers, and that holds true to this day. The ability to play on TV or on the go was something quite irresistible for gamers. Being able to take console-quality games with you to play anywhere you want was pretty staggering. This one feature made old games feel new again. People who loved playing Skyrim on their PC or console were excited to have that same experience in the palm of their hands. It was a fresh way to experience content that you knew you loved, and you could play it seamlessly on your terms. Having that versatility is something any gamer can greatly appreciate.

Nintendo's approach to Switch is still paying off today. Switch owners continue to jump in on content from any genre, leading to many Switch releases selling best among multiplatform efforts. Playing docked and undocked has become a godsend for players with busy schedules, and remains just as appealing as it was on day one. Nintendo is still cooking up new installments for their big-name franchises, while also pumping out off-beat experiences like Ring Fit Adventure and Nintendo Labo. Nintendo's entire approach to the Switch shows just how much they've learned from Wii U, while still holding onto their fiercely independent spirit.

It's pretty crazy that Nintendo saw a path forward in the Switch. Before we knew what the Switch was, plenty of people would have told you that portable gaming was dying, and no company that valued its place in the business would pursue it. As usual, Nintendo ignores the trends and does their own thing. This is always going to be a "for better or worse" situation, but this time Nintendo's decision was definitely for the better. You really have to appreciate just how willing Nintendo is to roll the dice each time, be it with new hardware or software. You never know what they'll do next.

The story of the Switch is one of redemption. Nintendo soared to unseen heights with the Wii and DS, creating to platforms that simultaneously took the world by storm. Millions of new gamers were created, and audiences widened like never before. From those great heights came the fall with Wii U. Nintendo somehow followed up one of their biggest successes with one of their most damning failures. As a fan, it truly hurt to see that happen, but we all knew Nintendo wasn't down for the count. They weren't going to give up, and they were once again ready to give things their all with the Switch. Thankfully, the Switch turned out to be the Cinderella story Nintendo needed.

The Switch can already be considered a success at this point, but there's more to come. Nintendo has other big-name games in the works, and we are probably only at the halfway point for the system. Following another 20+ million units sold in the last fiscal year, Nintendo has shown that the Switch certainly has staying power. No matter what happens from here, the Switch can always be considered a success. The question is just how high will it climb? Will it reach the high watermark of the Wii, or will it peter out towards the end like the 3DS? Time for the armchair analysts to once again debate the future. All I know for sure is that no matter where things go with Switch, I'll definitely be along for the ride.

Categories: Consoles, Feature
Tags: wii-u, switch


Prefered the wii u+ 3ds combo for sure, quite a few years into the switch now and most big nintendo titles are bigger versions of the wii u titles, second year now that the first half is like 1 game from nintendo (although a bit of space are for sure valid by covid-19) we still dont know anything about new titles that aint remakes for 2020 and we are 5 months into it :/, its like the final year for wii u but second year in a row. I hope it's just the "a delayed game will eventally be good, a rushed game will be rushed forever" or how that quote was, and nintendo holding their cards for harder times.

I kinda feel the same, BUT the only difference is that the Switch does have support were as the Wii U didn't and the 3DS didn't had as much as the DS.

They've certainly have released stuff, but for every Zelda or Mario, they've made curious experiments like Labo, Ring Fit, or 1-2 Switch. As well as having some months mainly advertising their mobile updates.

There are a lot of games I've skipped and now playing for the first time on the Switch, but yeah, new stuff is far between each other.

tbh I feel like the Switch was one step forward and two steps back from the Wii U in a lot of ways, I like that it's a full-on hybrid console now but was that worth having to pay for worse online service than the Wii U or even the Wii had for free? Plus a much smaller retro games library, the whole joycon drifting shtick, uglyass UI, etc. The games announced have been good for hype building but sitting down and actually playing them is eh, and yea like you said it feels like we've been in a drought for ages, I'm glad Nintendo actually made sensible hardware but everything else isn't going so well

I disagree about the Switch UI. I appreciate that it’s quick. The Wii U plaza was a slow mess. I didn’t care about all those stupid random Miis. There are definitely steps back, but overall I’m considerably more positive on Switch.

Thu May 07 20 08:18pm
Rating: 1

I'm just annoyed that Okami HD didn't hit the WiiU. Would have been perfect to use the touch screen on th gamepad and stll see it all on the TV... Blah!

I do love my WiiU, but there is a lot of lost potential.

My WiiU is above my Dreamcast by the way.. Hint, hint ;)

I'm more pissed that the WiiU didn't had Pac Man Vs, it was the first game that crossed my mind on the reveal of WiiU and in a weird twist of fate, skipped the entire console and was released on the Switch that you need two consoles to be able to play ¬¬

I saw quite a few people say that Nintendo should do a home console/portable hybrid. Yet didn’t see anyone say that the follow up to the Wii should have a screen controller. That’s the difference between a good idea and a conceptual failure. A good idea is something people probably already want. Every once and awhile Nintendo delivers something we didn’t know we wanted, but I’d rather avoid all those times I outright don’t want it. I knew Wii U would be a failure from day 1 where I had a much better feeling about the Switch’s success. It’s far from a perfect system but the story is night and day different than Wii U’s pathetic footnote in history.

At the same time nobody never asked for a dual screen portable and it worked great for the DS and 3DS. The transition of that for the home console was problematic for a series of reasons, but the idea in itself its not bad.

Right, no one asked for a dual screen portable. I did say that sometimes it works out. I’d argue that the DS would have been just as viable with only one screen though. The real draw was the touch screen. The two screen setup itself wasn’t terribly important. Obviously Nintendo realized how irrelevant the two screens were and ditched the whole idea for Switch. I’d also argue that the dual screen for a home console was in fact a horrible idea. The DS worked because both screens were right there. Dividing the screens on Wii U asked the player to focus on two things they weren’t physically capable of focusing on at the same time. It was awkward and bad, which is why it never managed to justify its existence. But I’m sure we’ll agree to disagree.

Thu May 07 20 09:37pm
Rating: 1

Man reminiscing about the Wii U is somewhat bittersweet for me.

I was a diehard Nintendo fanboy growing up. Owned everything Nintendo released between the era of the N64 to the Wii U. I argued with people (both online and off) about how Nintendo was the superior console manufacture and how their games far surpass anything seen on Sony or Microsoft’s machines. I watched E3’s hoping that Nintendo would come out on top and dunk on the video game industry. I was active in the online Nintendo communities found on Screwattack and Gametrailers, back when both those sites were still alive. I was apart of Operation Rainfall and sent letters to Nintendo asking for the localization of Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower. For literally thousands of hours of my life, I only knew video games through the lens of Nintendo.

Then the Wii U happened and it hit me hard.

I never quite experienced a disappointment like that. Out of the gate, the system showed promise, with all of the possibilities of the dual screens. But only a year in and the system started to lose steam. It became really difficult watching those 4-5 E3’s and seeing a small selection of games showing up to the Wii U. Companies didn’t quite know how to support it and the marketing was so poor most people who came over to play it asked if it was an add-on to original Wii. Yet, I found myself online still defending it because it’s Nintendo. But I never really quite believed in the arguments I was making. I liked the Wii U sure, but out of my entire library, I only played a small selection of games. (Smash, Nintendo Land, Monster Hunter Tri, Mario Kart 8 and funny enough Xenoblade Chronicles X) The last two years of the systems life were the hardest. Nintendo was shifting gears to the Switch and moved their focus to that new platform. The Wii U was a sinking ship and they knew it. They pushed out basically Nintendo branded shovelware. Mario Tennis, Amiibo Festival, Star Fox Zero. I remember talking to people around that time, people who lived and breathed Nintendo, telling me the next console would be different. But I couldn’t really trust that belief just yet. All I could think about was how the Wii U failed and how tone def Nintendo was acting around this time. So I did something I would have never considered before purchasing a Wii U.

I went out to Best Buy and bought a PS4.

It felt like sacrilege, I kept thinking about how I defended Nintendo my entire life, and with one console failure, I abandoned them. But in reality that wasn’t the case. The Wii U showed me that there was more to games the just Nintendo. That I didn’t have to pick a single side and die on it. Just because I play games on PlayStation doesn’t mean I don’t still adore Nintendo. I bought a switch on launch day and have been playing it 10x more than my Wii U ever got. Though I do also still boot up the old Wii U every now and then, it’s still the only platform I can play Xenoblade X on.

All that said, I am glad Nintendo is back on track with the Switch’s success and I’m looking forward to playing the Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition.

It's a good advice for life, you can prefer something over other, but never let that makes your world smaller and make you stop from being critical about it. It's natural and good to enjoy different things, if you like Nintendo, don't let that stop you from enjoying games from Sony or Microsoft and that works for anything.

Good for you man, it’s never good to be a fanboy. Be a fan of games. Same story for me but it just happened a console generation earlier. Wii was hugely successful but in my eyes it was Nintendo going down the wrong path. I finally decided to enter the PlayStation ecosystem and I loved it. Nintendo is still first in my heart but I won’t hesitate to turn a critical eye at them. I criticize because I have high expectations of them. I’ll happily criticize Sony when they do bad as well. No more playing favorites.

To be honest, I think I prefer my Wii U over my Switch.

When I turn on my Wii U (even other systems like the Wii, 3DS or even the DSi), it's such pleasing to my ears when I hear its Menu songs, I wish I could say that about the Switch.

To me, the Switch will be my favorite console if

1. A new Wario Land game shows up(and done right)

2. Get to play GB,GBC and GBA games on it in some form.

3. Ports of Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn.

Fri May 08 20 01:05am
(Updated 1 time)

I'm in a weird situation when it comes to the Wii U. 3DS/Wii U era was the era of me getting into third parties for the first time in my life, since on 3DS there was nothing else to play for a while: Wii/DS burned me badly on third parties save for Scribblenauts, so I mostly ignored anything without Nintendo's logo on them for a good five years. Long one folks, get ready for a read:

So on the Wii U, I bought one day one, still remember going to get mine at Sears because every other store in town sold out of them, and I went home with only Nintendo Land to play until christmas. It was a fun time since Donkey Kong Crash Course was my jam, but then... It got really rocky.

I remember buying MSFHD on Christmas, and hearing some games like Toki Toki 2 got delayed that were meant for late 2012: None of the third party retail games were interesting at launch save for Scribblenauts, which I also got for Christmas, but stuff like AC3 and Batman I didn't care for due to them being old ports. I wanted a newer game, close to day and date. (AC3 was like that in retrospect, but I just think the fact it was M rated and I was 14 made that impossible for a few more years) Some eShop games like Runner 2 and The Cave were just that, so I bought them both. Zen Pinball 2 was also kinda getting like that despite a major delay.

I had a blast with those games, but then... Nothing. I was a huge VC fan on the 3DS, and hoped for a good time with Wii U VC, and I found it to be really good for the most part, but I can't deny that the first year was crazy rough, especially for those who weren't playing things the first time over like me.

I loved buying everything that came out and have 180 Wii U VC games to prove it, but that first year was HELLLLLLLL. Literally EVERY VC GAME that year except for NES Golf and EarthBound was on Wii VC. I owned a few of them and didn't mind rebuying the marios and zeldas, but if I owned all that on Wii I wouldn't have bothered. It was pretty poor and you were better off in Wii mode with most of them, and I was VERY envious of Japan getting MSX/PCE games that year, but not us. Though I still had an amazing time playing Super Metroid for the first time ever due to the 30 cent program.

The retail offerings didn't help much either: Nintendo released like, nothing of significance in 2013 that I can remember outside of WWHD, and the third party games I tried buying for hype just were utter crap ports. I bought Injustice and Need For Speed on day one, eager to support third parties, but NFS was a crashy, buggy hellhole that didn't even get DLC that was announced for other platforms, and Injustice started off strong with a fun game, but then they dissed us on DLC too after the first season and never fixed a level reset bug: What the hell?! I pretty much stopped buying western third party retail games after that scam. Don't even get me started on being horrified at seeing a fake 3D Mario game shown off at E3, being a NSMBU game in 3D... And then despite liking a multiplayer demo at best buy, I got it on Christmas and was very angry we got jipped with a 2.5D NSMBU game than a true 3D mario game with exploration and missions. The game was leagues better than NSMBU, (so was Luigi U for that matter, which I really loved due to the short levels) but god, back then it was the freaking worst.

Thankfully, 2014 happened and I consider that to be the best Wii U year by far. Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong, Bayonetta, Smash 4, it was pretty epic for first party. The VC got a major boost of life support too, with GBA games that were never ported before being on Wii U. running much better than the crap 3DS versions, I was in heaven and finally had lengthy games to play on my Wii U: I got introduced to the Battle Network series among many others due to this service. Indies also picked up this year with ports that were actually good like Guacamelee, and it even led to me being a game reviewer due to me noticing not many other sites were trying to give feedback to some of these games (I could later see why, due to this being the start of Wii U shovelware)

But 2015/2016? Ooof, if I wasn't a VC fan I'd be beyond pissed moreso than 3DW. Awful physical lineups, Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival existing, a cool Star Fox game getting Miyamoto'd, the only retail game of note I loved in that frame was Tokyo Mirage Sessions. Xenoblade X seemed good too but wasn't my type of game. The indie shovelware got even worse during that year of 2015, and the 3DS had more quality games than the Wii U! But I still got to play tons of cool N64/GBA games, and would have played more DS stuff if the emulation wasn't so awful, (why can't you use a pro controller? That drove me insane due to how barely any of the games used the touch screen) so at least I felt like I didn't need to switch systems...

I'd like to say the corporate shakeup in late 2015/early 2016 made me super optimistic for the future since new blood was finally being injected, but Kimishima just rubbed me the wrong way and I had no idea if he'd ever launch anything well, much less a new console: But 2016 was a gap year even weaker than 2015: Outside of Mystery Dungeon on the Wii U VC, even the VC games dried up hard, with them shifting more towards weird Wii retail downloads that weren't even true VC games in the slightest. That was definitely the year I stepped back and was like "Yeah, I don't think I want to be Nintendo only forever. I like the Wii U, but devs are skipping the platform for a reason".

So I bought a PS3 AND PS4 with my emergency fund that holiday season, expecting the Switch to be pretty much a Wii U repeat. BOTW looked fun, but I didn't know what else was coming. Kimishima still rarely appeared in directs like Iwata did, (the one thing I will praise the guy for as Nintendo's CEO, was that he actually made directs fun and have charm: Now Koizumi brought that charm back, but for a while it was DARK, and directs would feel soulless if they happened at all.) and just came off as a strict businessman, especially with how they shifted to mobile. I like their new CEO way, way better than any of the others they have, since he's smart and knows what works, but before the transition to him, Kimishima was one I reallllly wished would just learn to socialize in directs.

The good news is, the 2017 presentation did the trick and worked on me, making me on board with the switch: Bomberman R was the real system seller for me, and while I was really angry about the lack of so many things with the Switch during year 1, (Achievements, text chat, a proper Virtual Console or any retro catalog that wasn't endless clones of Street Fighter, which also launched that year as a retail game for some reason) I'm a bit more happy with the system now: 2018 may have been a poor year for Nintendo, but it was the BEST for third party switch games: Day and date ports, some awesome retro compilations, NSO's catalog slowly being a thing, exclusive indie gems, it was amazing.

I enjoy my PS4 a plenty too, and still do, but I'm proud to say that 2018/2019 made me a Switch primary player, despite some missing features I'd still gripe about. The joy I felt on Wii U with some stuff like NES Remix, was now felt full-time with cool games like Odyssey, Ultimate, Hyrule Warriors Legends, Pokemon Sword, Captain Toad, and sooooooo many indie gems that it's not even funny! Don't even get me started on Hamster Corp: after shoveling out a bunch of fighting games, they finally got some good variety in, introducing me to some awesome games like Magical Drop III, Zed Blade, Blazing Star, Garou: Mark of the Wolves, and Fatal Fury! If it wasn't for the fact that games like Art of Fighting were so godawful, I would have given some of the other cool NG fighters a chance instead of assuming they were bad ripoffs like AOF and World Heroes were! Now they give out a new Arcade game weekly, and i'm even more thrilled.

So yeah: Nostalgia may be a big thing in the Wii U for me, and I still hook mine up for PC engine games and a PMD playthrough, but with the PCE mini, I'll almost certainly have it in my closet by the end of the year, since my Switch and PCE Mini will finally replace it. I'll still miss the folders and menu music from Wii U, but I'm just glad the system didn't flop like I expected it to be, and I've finally warmed up to it. Bravo to Nintendo's new management for pulling this off! And whatever little bit of power to make things work Iwata had with the 3DS back in 2015, as I'm sure that helped pull off the handheld aspect of the system. I still enjoy playing certain things on my PS4, but most stuff is multiplat on Switch these days that I just end up double dipping unless the framerate in a port is poor. Super happy in general, and when we get folders, it'll be the perfect Nintendo system!

It's honestly very impressive to see how much Nintendo has grown within the last 5 years.

I was excited about the Wii U + 3DS era and I still submit that it had the potential to be Nintendo at its finest. Wii U is still their greatest piece of hardware in my opinion, even though Switch is marginally stronger. Switch is a rushed product full of slapdash, half-baked ideas and I'd honestly be rather baffled it's been doing as well as it has if not for the fact that I know a lot of whiners were just waiting for the next system which didn't have the word "Wii" somewhere in its name or a child anywhere in its commercials.

Nintendo's Gen8 era showed ambition and vision, and you could tell that the Wii U was the culmination of everything Iwata was trying to do with the company. That system was his goddamn baby and everything in how he ran the company during those days made sure you knew it. And while Switch is ostensibly also his brainchild, much of its development took place after his death and it feels more like a listless replacement leadership trying to play catch-up in an industry which has been dominated the past seven years by the resurgence of a "hardcores-only" attitude among the gaming populace and dull, uninspired hardware like the PS4 somehow running away in sales due to clever marketing and capitalizing on the PR gaffes of other brands. Gamers have indeed risen up, to the detriment of the rest of us.

Switch is the product of a Nintendo which has had its balls stolen, now following in lockstep behind the rest of the industry with its tail between its legs and giving vindication to those gamers who spent years demanding it one day "come crawling back" after claiming to be so betrayed by the success of the Wii. Sure, Switch is seeing similar success (if not greater in some ways), but the proverbial spark behind Nintendo's eyes is gone. Others say Nintendo is back. I say Nintendo is broken. They're an abused spouse whose ambition was beaten out of them and is now reduced to repeating "yes dear, okay dear" to an unappreciative, abusive audience they have indeed come crawling back to and their art has suffered for it.

I hope one day that spark can return to their eyes. For now, I'll just have to spend the next several years riding out this coming console generation and hoping for the best.

Still going to have to see some stuff happen before the Switch surpasses the Wii U. The innovations the Switch brings to the table are great, and it's kinda nice that the system effectively comes with 2 SNES controllers built in, but there's still a little laundry list for Nintendo, Nintendo supporting third parties, and Nindies to get on top of:

A new tough-as-nails 3D Ninja Gaiden exclusive for the Switch from Koei-Tecmo and Team Ninja (or a pretty-damned-good knockoff by an indie dev),
a new Dungeons and Dragons arcade-game sequel
Xenoblade X2
Tokyo Mirage Sessions 2
Bayonetta 3 (which is happily in development at least)
and a second-screen peripheral, whether it be the NSO smartphone update that adds less-than-1-frame-latency 2nd screen features, or something that lets 2 Nintendo Switch systems play as one 2-screen home-console like the Wii U

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