Times have been tough for Nintendo since the launch of the Wii U. However, 2014 represented a major step forward for the house that Mario built. After a few more bouts of famine, the company showed signs of life again, thanks largely to a solid software library that offered gaming experiences unlike any other.
February 26: Nintendo announces the end of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
Gamespy's closure affected online services for hundreds of games, but perhaps none felt the impact more than Nintendo. Since Wii and DS online services were run through the Gamespy network, the company was left with no choice but to formally end those online services forever.
The official end came on May 20, the same day that Gamespy went under for good. While 3DS and Wii U games fully support online services, there are a handful of Wii and DS games that will be missed.
May 8: Nintendo introduces Amiibo
During a financial briefing in May, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed the concept for NPC figurines that would utilize the Wii U GamePad to interact with select Nintendo games.
These figurines would come to be known as Amiibo and would be formally revealed to the public during the E3 Nintendo Direct presentation. Amiibo figures would all be based on Super Smash Bros. for Wii U characters and would primarily be used to act as NPC fighters, though future titles will also find different uses for them.
While the actual gaming applications for the Amiibo figures seem marginal, there's no denying that they've become one of the holiday's most difficult-to-find items. Part of that is because of Nintendo's sudden decision to discontinue the Marth, Villager, and Wii Fit Trainer figures. With the prospect of an incomplete collection now at hand, collectors are out in force trying to track down as many Amiibo as possible. The result is stores filled with barren shelves and impossible-to-find figures like Captain Falcon, Pit, and Little Mac.
August 29: Nintendo unveils the New 3DS
Considering that Nintendo's 3DS handhelds have taken the world by storm over the years, the company was suddenly in an unenviable position. An install base has never been bigger, yet further expansion was now practically impossible. With that, Nintendo held a Nintendo Direct on August 29 to announce a new 3DS called... er... the New 3DS.
Featuring an upgraded CPU, a new analog nub, and additional shoulder buttons, the New 3DS looks to be an entirely new handheld that will not forsake the previous generation of 3DS owners. The current line of 3DS games will continue to be supported, while also offering its own exclusive lineup of games that include a new Xenoblade Chronicles.
Whether this new handheld confuses and fractures the user base, ala the Wii U, remains to be seen and is a question that can only be answered in 2015.
October 29: Nintendo is profitable once more
After arduous quarters of increasing losses, Nintendo finally hit the green again in late October. With anticipation for the Smash Bros. series at an all-time high, Nintendo rode the 3DS version's sales all the way up to a $131.7 million profit. Given that Nintendo still had a the Wii U Smash Bros. and a new pair of Pokemon games on the horizon, the future seemed bright once again.
But even with all of this, there's still one final ace up Nintendo's sleeve to make sure that the Wii U remains a force to be watched, if not outright be reckoned with.
December 5: The Legend of Zelda Wii U sees the light of day
Nintendo's 2015 lineup looks to be a strong one with classic remakes like The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, strong new sequels like a new Star Fox, and whole new franchises like Splatoon and Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. But nothing in Nintendo's library is more anticipated than the next Legend of Zelda.
During the inaugural Game Awards, creator Shigeru Miyamoto showed off the first official glimpse at The Legend of Zelda Wii U. A full open world was on display, along with an enormous map on the Wii U GamePad and returning items like the Sailcloth from Skyward Sword.
Hyrule has never looked better, with luscious fields, open spaces, and an AI-controlled Epona. This looks to be the Wii U game that will rule them all and Miyamoto confirmed that it will arrive in 2015.