Retro Studios calls Wii U a “powerhouse,” confirms new project

Posted on March 1, 2014 - 2:00pm by Patrick Breeden

The Wii U is a powerhouse according to Retro Studios.

Nintendo’s home console is often dismissed as a powerless, dead on arrival machine that won’t make a splash in the console market, but Retro Studios president and CEO Michael Kelbaugh believes that is entirely wrong.

“Unfortunately, the perception is that it's not a very powerful machine,” Kelbaugh told Gamespot. “That's just not true. It's a powerhouse. It's more than adequate to make great games on.”

Retro Studios first Wii U title Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze released for Wii U last week, and critical response is very high. The studio had to overcome a steep learning curve for Wii U development, Kelbaugh said.  The artists appreciated the challenges and felt “uncorked.”

“It was really fun being able to crack that open for the first time and learning HD techniques; pixel shading, having a lot more horsepower and how that impacts the team,” Kelbaugh said. “It was really fun to watch our artists just go crazy because now they didn't really have to worry about polygons anymore. 'Make as many as you want!”

Kelbaugh’s argument goes along with a previous report from CinemaBlend concerning the Wii U’s memory bandwidth and GPU being far more powerful than originally perceived.

Hidden strengths aside, the console struggles to find a niche in the market. According to Gamespot, the Wii U sold only 5.61 million units since its 2012 launch, and we reported the huge slash in sales forecast Nintendo was forced to perform. Games like Tropical Freeze are expected to pull Wii U out of its slump.

According to Gamespot, Nintendo producer Kensuke Tanabe confirmed Retro Studios is working on a new Wii U title. Retro began work on the game a few months ago, but that’s all the information sources are willing to share.

Last year, Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto hinted at Retro Studios possibly working on a new Metroid game or The Legend of Zelda game in the future, but Kelbaugh isn’t willing to talk about the possibility of taking up something huge like Zelda.

“We love working with Donkey Kong. It's a great character. It's a lot of fun. We love working with Metroid Prime, with Mario Kart; those are fun, fun games to work on. So, you know, you can't lose,” Kelbaugh said. “Every one of those IPs have been a lot of fun to play with and work on and [we'd] love to come back to them sometime.”

Retro Studios began as the studio behind Gamecube success Metroid Prime. The studio produced several sequels to Prime before taking on Donkey Kong Country Returns for Wii. Retro is also responsible for Mario Kart 7.

Our take: With so many successful Nintendo titles under its belt, Retro Studios can definitely play a role in securing a positive future for the Wii U. Whether it’s Metroid, Donkey Kong or even Zelda, Retro has the charm to make a memorable experience.

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