FIFA 18 just came out on Nintendo Switch, which should be reason for cheer. It's a decent port of this year's game, albeit running on an older engine and understandably without all the bells and whistles of its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One counterparts (and missing a few features such as The Journey mode and small details such as quick substitutions).
The time for tearful Wii U eulogies has likely been and gone (it felt like notice was already being served on Nintendo's home console not long after it came out four years ago), but as production winds down now is as good a time as any to take stock of its legacy. Maybe you might look for it in its sales figures, which are notoriously poor - the 13.36m sold as of September fall well short of the 21.74 million GameCubes Nintendo shifted, making it comfortably the company's poorest performing home platform. It's edged ahead of Sega's Dreamcast - itself with a tally of 9.13m sold - but looking at the sales alone the Wii U has been a disaster.
Last night, Bethesda laid clear its policy on media reviews from Dishonored 2 onwards. In a short statement on its official site from global content lead Gary Steinman - himself a former games journalist - Bethesda announced that you won't see any reviews before the launch of its games because it will continue to send out code to publications a day before release. It's not a particularly surprising statement, even if Bethesda deemed it shocking enough to put behind an age gate.
Here's a hot take that's both more than a little lukewarm and likely isn't all that controversial: I think I preferred Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes to its full-blown follow-up The Phantom Pain.
What's your favourite Batmobile? If you answered the Tumbler, the thick, bulky and brutally functional supercar/tank hybrid from Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, then I'm afraid you're just plain wrong. The Tumbler had a place within Nolan's universe, with its thudding logic dictated by the inevitable and rather joyless collision of immovable objects, but looking back through the history of Batman's garage it's an unsightly addition - a tool fit for a soldier rather than a vigilante, a guardian, a silent predator.
Nintendo's E3 was always going to be a strange one, yet what unfurled in its Digital Event was as bizarre a piece of corporate theatre as its infamous 2008 conference, where the company danced to the grating tune of Wii Music and its over-energetic re-reveal. Back then, Nintendo fell out with its fans for forgetting the hardcore, but this year - when it's playing to no-one but those faithful few - the fall-out came for entirely different reasons.
What to make, then, of yesterday's Nintendo announcement? A certain amount of shock met the news that Nintendo was partnering with DeNA and making the move into mobile gaming development, but it could hardly be called a surprise. This is a company, after all, that used to run a taxi firm as its playing card business sprawled outwards in the 60s, and has a proud history of the unexpected. But even though yesterday's news marks perhaps the most significant shift since Nintendo moved out of the arcades and into the home with the NES, it's a move born of nothing more than common sense.
At the start of the new year, we once used to run a series looking at the trends we think will emerge over the next 12 months - the ideas and technologies that will go on to shape and define the games we play and how we play them. This year, it didn't seem a particularly fitting way to tackle what lies ahead: not because there won't be grand themes emerging, and not because there won't be new approaches that will dazzle and confound us, but rather because it seems pointless pointing out what's becoming patently obvious.
This was the year when the difference was supposed to show, when the gap in power between Sony and Microsoft's new consoles and the Wii U was going to leave Nintendo limping forlornly behind in a distant third place. And yet, two years into its life and a year since it first shared shelf space with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the Wii U still stands as the best prospect for experiences you can't get elsewhere - and if it's simply the best games you're after over the winter break, there's really no faulting Nintendo's console.
I recently took some time off to unwind the only way I know how, taking to the dense green countryside of South Wales in a rented car for a week away. It wasn't with a particularly inspiring ride, mind - a freshly minted Fiesta complete with a whopping three cylinder, 1.0 engine complemented by Ford's EcoBoost turbo technology - but as Outside Xbox's Mike Channell once told me as he heeled and toed his way through one of Milton Keynes' many roundabouts in a loaned Vauxhall Corsa, the fastest car in the world is always a rental car.
Stop me if you've think that you've heard this one before. Japan's best years in the games industry are behind it, the Tokyo Game Show is an irrelevance to western audiences and consoles are all but done for in the land that was once their spiritual home. It's bunk, mostly, and this week's show has been a sweet, sharp reminder that Japan remains the source of some of the grandest in the world of video games, as well as the best barometer of its future.
I actually felt kind of sorry for EA this week. Well, as sorry as you can feel for a faceless corporation that's got an annoying habit of trying to anthropomorphise itself, like some yuppie Pinocchio who wants so desperately, desperately hard to be loved. Still, EA comes in for some unfair stick, like it did following the announcement of EA Access, the Netflix-like subscription service that offers up a selection of the publisher's games for a slim subscription.
If there was one key message to take from last month's E3, it was that 2015 is going to be a proper treat. The roll call of games coming out next year is just dizzying - Halo 5: Guardians! Bloodborne! Xenoblade Chronicles X! - and it's all so exciting that even some of what were set to be this year's biggest games didn't want to be left out, with the likes of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Batman: Arkham Knight slipping back to get involved in the throng.
"In video games," Game Boy designer Gunpei Yokoi once said, "there is always an easy way out if you don't have any good ideas."
I've often wondered what would happen the day it's finally announced. The day when some leaked developer schedules, a handful of rumours and a whole wave of speculation build to a climax, leading the world's press to a conference hall somewhere in downtown Los Angeles, perhaps, or maybe just to an office block in Washington State. The moment when Gabe Newell strolls out, a knowing smile on his face, before, on the screen behind him, an orange 'three' fades into life.
The graveyard in Pokemon Red's Lavender City has always been an odd place, capable of spinning out myths and legends of its own, but seeing 80,000 people trying to shepherd a single character through its maze of tombstones has turned it into something else entirely. It's become an apt stage, complete with props of madness and despair, for the bumbling, insane genius that is Twitch Plays Pokemon.
What's your favourite console of all time? There are the obvious candidates - the PlayStation 2 served as the foundation for one of gaming's most fruitful eras, the SNES for its most formative, while the Xbox 360's protracted lifecycle ensures it's built a back catalogue that will be fondly remembered for years to come - as well as some more leftfield contenders.
Rewind some eight years and you'll remember a time when DLC was a dirty word - when it symbolised a certain arrogance and greed typified in the shining armour that could sit on The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion's horses, for a price. It took the best part of a generation for the concept of DLC to settle in, and for it to become a respected, at times respectable way to extend the lifespan of a game.
There's a moment, not too far into Call of Duty: Ghosts' lacklustre campaign, when you bear witness to the storming of a beach. The destroyed shores of Santa Monica are being invaded by The Federation, a messy construct of evil South Americans who, in Ghosts' near-future fiction, embody an irrational fear that lurks within the part of the US psyche that Infinity Ward's games now so often reflect. Whether deliberately or not, there's also a recursive nod being made back to Call of Duty's Xbox 360 debut, and to the D-Day landings that starred in Infinity Ward's second game.
Earlier this week, Nintendo confirmed that it was ceasing production of the Wii. You probably don't need reminding of its successes, just as Nintendo likely doesn't need reminding of the shadow it has been operating under with its successor. The Wii U, according to every sales report since its release late last year, has been a disappointment and, if you've an inkling for melodrama, something of a disaster. The common consensus is that Nintendo blew its 12-month head start.
When it came to hosting legends of the industry, this year's Tokyo Game Show couldn't really have been much better. Hideo Kojima's stage shows on Sony's booth, full of camp theatrics that strike a little discord with the more sombre tone the series is presented with in the west, saw Metal Gear Solid 5 come into brilliant focus, while elsewhere Yasumi Matsuno stepped out of the wilderness to announce his new project, Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians.
Arcades aren't dying, I've learned in recent weeks, but they're certainly evolving into some strange forms in their struggle for survival. Simon Parkin reported on Heart of Gaming over a week back, a fascinating compendium of the machines thought lost to the closure of Casino and the Trocadero and kept alive by the commendable dedication of the fighting game community and the hard work of one man, Mark Starkey. Gaming needs informed and passionate people like Starkey if it's going to hold on to its lustrous past, and as I stumbled upon another strange arcade earlier this week I realised there's another breed that's also vital to the future of the form.
I can't blame it on the sunshine (and I'm certainly not going to be casting any accusations towards the moonlight or the boogie either), as handheld gaming's really come into its own these past few months, and it's done so in the face of early adversity. When Nintendo's 3DS launched in 2011, it did so at a time when entering an iPad-saturated market seemed like a suicidal folly. When Sony's Vita launched later that year it was a more foolish proposition still, its concept of triple-A games shrunk down to fit in your pocket working against so very much common sense.
The gaming calendar's full of days worth celebrating, and days worth excitedly waiting sleepless for, but there's always one special date I mark out with a bright yellow marker pen pulled from a beaten-up metal Mario pencil case. Nintendo's traditional LA conference every year hasn't just been the highlight of E3 - for many years it's been E3, the very epitome of all that's wonderful, surprising and exciting about that one hectic week in June.
Go to enough video game presentations and you'll soon start to hear the same hollow mantras dizzily ringing round again and again. Promises of more authenticity clang dully alongside promises of more immersion, more scale and more scope - and there's been a new addition to the thin lexicon of video game marketing in recent years. Games are getting more Nolan, and it's a trend I'm not entirely comfortable with.
If there's one resounding positive to be taken from the PS4 conference that lurched into the early hours of Thursday morning it's that Sony placed an emphasis on games, and it delivered a message aimed square on at gamers. The conference may have lingered a little too long, but be grateful that in a running time that reached over the two hour mark there was barely a minute handed over to the new console's multimedia capabilities.
What makes a blockbuster game series tick? Sifting through the jaw-dropping vistas of Halo 4, its glorious skyboxes peppered with ceaseless plasma fire, you might think that it's money, and an awful lot of it. The Master Chief's always fancied himself as the centrepiece of a spectacle that's the self-styled 21st century pop-culture alternative to Star Wars. It's only now, though, that the series properly evokes that true blockbuster sensation of subconsciously counting the thousands of pennies thrown at each explosion.
Do you remember the NGP? No, not what was once Sony's PSP successor but SNK's Neo Geo Pocket, a brilliant handheld that went largely unnoticed in its all-too-brief lifespan just over ten years ago. It had pretty much everything - hardware to die for with what was, and remains to this day, one of the finest d-pads ever to grace a console, and a software catalogue that, while short on big hitters, was home to some delightfully offbeat gems.
Watching Microsoft's E3 conference back in 2009, it felt as if video games were about to take over the world. Some of Los Angeles' biggest names assembled to pay lip service to a medium on a giddy ascent, and it all built to an electric climax with the unveiling of the nascent Project Natal.
Do you remember the last time? When the Wii launched at the tail end of 2006, it was to an air of excited curiosity that went well beyond the borders of core gamers, with Nintendo conjuring what ran close to a full-blown phenomenon.