Nintendo doesn't publish all that many Wii U games these days, but you can usually expect to hear a lot about the few games it does release; you may have seen the marketing blitzes for titles like Super Mario Maker or Xenoblade Chronicles X this holiday season. But last Friday's release of Devil's Third in North America was so quiet that probably only the most obsessive of Nintendo fans even realized the game exists.
Devil's Third has a storied and tumultuous development history. The game is the brainchild of Tomonobu Itagaki, the famed Tecmo developer known for series such as Dead or Alive and the 3D revival of the Ninja Gaiden series. After leaving Tecmo in 2008, Itagaki formed the independent Valhalla Game Studios with some other departing members of his Team Ninja development studio. Devil's Third was Valhalla's first announced game, revealed way back in 2010 as an Xbox 360, PS3, and Windows PC title. The game represented a departure from Itagaki's usual style, focusing on third-person shooting and online play rather than local brawling.
The game went through a number of changes in gameplay style and underlying technology over the years, according to reports at the time. But development dragged on for so long that its original publisher, THQ, actually went out of business in 2013 before releasing the unfinished game. Nintendo—perhaps seeing an opportunity to pick up an M-rated exclusive with a big name behind it—obtained the publishing rights and announced the game as a Wii U exclusive in a June 2014 "Digital Event."