Tecmo and Ubisoft Abandon Wii U Exclusivity on Select Titles

ng3reThe past two days have brought about an unfortunate turn of events for Wii U owners, one perhaps much worse than the other.

For starters, Siliconera reports that Tecmo Koei has announced that Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge will be going multiplatform, with PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions available at retail and as a download on April 2nd and including everything featured in the Wii U version, and then some. This includes the removal of quicktime events, better artificial intelligence, dismemberment, and the inclusion of Ayane, Kasumi, and Momoji as playable characters.

Furthermore, all the DLC which was available with the original Ninja Gaiden 3 will be included, and with 100 missions now available in the Ninja Trials mode, each playable with all four selectable characters. If that wasn’t enough, an unspecified number of new outfits will be available for each, unlockable by way of purchase with the in-game “karma” currency. You can see one for each character in the link above.

If I may editorialize a bit, this isn’t so bad; the Wii U got the improved version of Ninja Gaiden 3 first, and Kasumi is already available as free DLC. For all we know, the additional content the other versions are getting is yet to come. And it does make some sense to bring the improved version to the other consoles, given that much of the DOA/Ninja Gaiden fanbase already exists on those two consoles. With any luck, everyone ends up on even footing with this one.

That said, I figured the Razor’s Edge version of the game would remain a Wii U exclusive, given that Nintendo published it. But upon researching further, that was apparently only the case outside of Japan.

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The less-fortunate news of the day comes from Ubisoft, who has also announced today that one of their titles will no longer be exclusive to the Wii U. Rayman Legends, originally a launch title for the Wii U and specially designed for its GamePad controller’s special features, is now going to be on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as well.

That in itself is not so bad, though one has to wonder whether the extensive use of Murfy will be dropped, or somehow implemented with Smartglass and the PlayStation Vita. What is bad is that the game, already delayed once to the end of this month on the Wii U, is now coming in “early September 2013″… for all the platforms it will be available on, Wii U included.

“We heard from many Xbox & PlayStation owners and Rayman fans who told us they really wanted to play Rayman Legends on their current system”, said Ubisoft Canada’s Communications & Marketing Director, Lucile Bousquet. ”We decided to give the fans what they wanted while at the same time broadening the audience exposed to this innovative and memorable game.”

This is disappointing, not because others will get in on the action (somehow)– it’s a great game, and the more who play, the merrier. But February was already a drought for new high-level Wii U retail titles, and this pretty much kills the month. What’s more, quite a few people who have tried it– many of which having played it at Wii U demo kiosks, because those have almost nothing else to play– have been looking forward to it.

The free demo on the Nintendo eShop seems to have converted a few people as well; one has to wonder if Ubisoft will extend the limited number of uses they’ve allowed for people to play, given the added seven months their customers will now have to wait.

It also kills the momentum the game would have had coming off of New Super Mario Bros. U, as both feature some similar gameplay styles and elements (though Rayman‘s GamePad utilization goes much further than Mario‘s), as noted here. Delaying the game for nearly a year just to wait on the other platforms is simply ridiculous, and just 20 days from its release, it feels like a slap to the face of Wii U owners who have already waited this long for it. Had they made the announcement with the first delay, it would probably have been more understandable.

The greatest concern, however, comes from the feeling that Ubisoft is leading Rayman Legends to slaughter. They’ve pushed it right to the brink of the holiday season, when it’s going to be very, very difficult to move a game like this (that is, unless you’re an exclusive launch title for a system which stands out from much of the rest of the lineup).

They did this once before, with the game’s own predecessor, Rayman Origins. It was not only released in the midst of the holiday season, but right alongside Ubisoft’s very own Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, day and date. Guess which game got more attention?

Sales of Origins were slow in that first month, not meeting expectations (gee, go figure). Fortunately, it proved strong enough to turn a profit over the long term, enough for Ubisoft to make this very sequel. But this time? This time, Rayman Legends is already going to have Grand Theft Auto V to deal with that very same month, and who knows what else will come after E3?

Here’s hoping that Rayman can pull out another long-term victory, since Ubisoft is continuing to deny the franchise a chance to shine on its own.

I’ve reached out to Nintendo about these announcements and the new hole in their release schedule, but they have offered no comment. Honestly, it’s hard to blame them, though now might be a good time for one of those surprise announcements of a new release.

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David Oxford

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you're interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.