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Nintendo Wii U sales up 685% as Zelda Wind Waker HD hits shelves

Sales figures suggest that Nintendo's best-loved franchises might yet save the company's faltering hardware
  • @jjvincent

Nintendo has not been having an easy time of it so far this year but the latest reports from the UK may offer some comfort, with sales of the Wii U jumping 685 per cent in the last week.

The reports (via gaming site MCV) suggest that the boost is due to the release of the HD remake of Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.

The title was originally released for the GameCube more than a decade ago but its cel-shaded art-style has proven to have enduring appeal, with 'Wind Waker HD' entering the all-format gaming charts at the number 4 spot this week.

"We have long believed that software sells hardware and it's great to see that reaffirmed this week with an uplift of Wii U hardware sales to coincide with the launch of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD," said James Honeywell , Nintendo’s head of consumer marketing in the UK.

This has long been Nintendo’s message regarding poor sales of the Wii U. Although the eight-generation console shifted just 160,000 units between April and June this year (leading to Asda, the UK’s second largest retailer, removing the hardware from stores) this can be blamed, at least partly, on a dearth of titles utilising the company’s beloved franchises.

Nintendo’s familiar characters certainly still have the power to attract gamers, as the recent global launch of the latest games in the Pokémon franchise shows: Pokémon X & Y (the first titles in the series to be rendered in full 3D) entered the UK charts in third and fourth place this week, whilst in Japan they games have sold out after pre-orders of 1.26 million.

The release of X & Y also coincides with the launch of the 2DS: Nintendo’s surprising decision to create an entry-level handheld gaming device, stripping the 3DS of both its 3D capacity and its hinge.

Although the ‘slice of cake’ form factor took many by surprise, the 2DS might prove to be a winner with younger generations. The 3D technology on the 3DS never wowed critics and Nintendo even had to warn gamers under seven not to use the console because of it.

By dropping the 3D tech, the breakable hinge, the price of the console, and then adding the latest Pokémon titles into the mix the 2DS has become a very attractive package, and will likely experience a similar spike in sales ahead of Christmas.

However, it should be remembered that these estimations are relative, and whilst a 685 per cent sales bump is an appealing figure, Nintendo has yet to release details of exactly how many consoles are being sold.

The 2DS has been met with mixed reviews. Critics have praised its build quality and low price but queried whether the hand-held console represents a step back for the company.