by Paul Tassi via Forbes Once upon a time, companies other than Nintendo thought that the Wii U might replicate the success of its predecessor and become a hit. They thought it was worth it to design exclusive games for the Wii U in the hopes of creating new, lasting franchises incorporating Nintendo’s unique control scheme. This story does not […]
by Paul Tassi via Forbes
Once upon a time, companies other than Nintendo thought that the Wii U might replicate the success of its predecessor and become a hit. They thought it was worth it to design exclusive games for the Wii U in the hopes of creating new, lasting franchises incorporating Nintendo’s unique control scheme. This story does not have a happy ending.
One of those companies was Ubisoft, who today has pulled nearly all of their series from the Wii U from Assassin’s Creed to Far Cry, but way back when in 2012, they were one of the system’s biggest supports. They developed what remains one of the only critically acclaimed, non-Nintendo-related games for the system, ZombiU.
Now, three years later, it seems that ZombiU is coming to Xbox One and PS4 as well. Previously, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot complained that despite their best efforts to create a solid product, ZombiU was not profitable due to the Wii U’s install base. Now, they’re hoping the combined ~20-30 million PS4s and Xbox Ones out there will allow the game to rise from the dead.
The hitch here is that the news has not been officially confirmed by Ubisoft yet, but there are a number of signs that indicate this is happening. In both Taiwan and Australia, ratings boards have already passed judgement on the game’s PS4 and Xbox One additions, which naturally can no longer really be called “ZombiU” and is now simply known as “Zombi.”
It’s unclear what kind of visual update the game might get considering it’s jumping to better-performing hardware, and we have no screenshots from the new versions yet. It’s also interesting to note that the original game was very much designed with the Wii U’s gamepad controls in mind, but again, that’s a problem that’s probably easily fixable with a few new menus/minimaps in a more traditional format using Microsoft and Sony ’s traditional systems.
Zombie U’s 77 on Metacritic didn’t exactly make it a GOTY-contender at the time, but for a Wii U game that had no Nintendo involvement whatsoever and was from a Western developer, it’s a solid score, and the game included many unique concepts including permadeath where your old character would turn into a zombie if they died and you’d spawn as a completely new civilian in a safehouse.
This resurrection is a pretty unusual step, as it’s not quite a remaster the way we’ve seen with other games. That process is usually reserved for outright hits, while ZombiU, as Ubisoft said, doesn’t meet that definition. Rather, this is an attempt to salvage a creative project that went nowhere, with many blaming the hardware itself for the failure.
It will be interesting to see how even a revamped version of the game is received on Xbox One and PS4. It’s a problem of standards, where what was considered a solid third-party game near the launch of the Wii U may not look as good two years into the lifecycle of the PS4 and Xbox One. There’s no way on earth I can picture this being a full $60 box title, but Ubisoft has yet to announce anything about pricing, or even its existence, for that matter.
Many will likely compare it to Dying Light, a multiplatform, open world zombie title that is a few ticks lower on the Meta-scale at 74 for PS4 and Xbox One. It’s much larger in scale, but less creative in concept than ZombiU, and not enough of a smash hit to make interested PS4 and Xbox players ignore the new (old) zombie title, most likely.
Nintendo, meanwhile, obviously needs to get back to a place where developers can trust them again to bother making exclusive games like ZombiU. Nintendo is obsessed with creating a “better way to play,” and have mentioned that philosophy will carry through to the NX as well, which will probably experiment with some kind of new control scheme as the last two consoles have. But for two generations now, there have been precious few third party hits on Nintendo consoles. There were a few on the Wii, but almost none on the Wii U, so developers like Ubisoft are going to be wary of being burned again after previously futile efforts.
We’ll see what about Zombi has changed from ZombiU when Ubisoft finally confirms the existence of the new release, which will likely be soon after these leaks.
Update: As everyone is now reminding me, Bayonetta 2 is probably in fact the best non-Nintendo Wii U exclusive. I forgot that series went Nintendo-only for the sequel, and I’m generally not a fan to begin with so it slipped my mind. But if we’re going based on scores and general fan sentiment, yeah, Bayonetta 2 is probably on top here. I wonder if there’s any chance the sequel could go multiplatform if Nintendo’s deal with the developer expires.