Over the past couple decades, I’ve been able to follow Nintendo through a passage—a passage that was once filled with the creativity and masterfulness that was considered the Golden Age for Ninty.
I’m finding that the deeper I travel in this secret portable, the more I’m beginning to realize that Nintendo is running dry on ideas, and they’re generally out of tune with what some older generation and newer generation gamers want.
Now, look, I don’t want Ninty to start making carbon copies of Battlefield or Call of Duty. I don’t even want them to create new IPs just for the sake of creating new IPs. What I want from Nintendo is a clear focus on the future: I want Nintendo to innovate. A Link to the Past 2 is always welcomed. I could never deny a fellow Nintendo fan of this; however, I think it’s time to rethink the titles that they announce as system-sellers and series-revitalizers. Looking at the way A Link to the Past 2 has been placed at the latter end of the year, one can assume that Nintendo expects this title to be the meat during the holiday 2013 meal-course.
My biggest problem with this is that A Link to the Past 2 is neither a system-seller or series-revitalizer. We can also see that from the 3DS to the Wii U, Nintendo is just launching these games left and right with almost no clue about the gaming market today wants.
Before we go any further, let’s establish that the goal of any corporation is to sell a product or service for the highest profit possible. Okay, from there, we can see that Nintendo is doing more than fine. Nintendo just got through selling nearly 6.47 million copies of Pokémon Black and White version 2, and the game launched late last year. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon has also launched to some positive sales as it stands at just over 1 million copies sold having launched a short period ago.
This brings me back to the idea that titles like these and A Link to the Past 2 are great games for keeping the base occupied, but not for attracting more and more gamers in droves. This is Nintendo‘s issue. Nintendo fans have always been willing to shell out cash for the newest Nintendo home console and every new iteration of portable console—including the micro-iterations in this category including the 3DS XL, DSi XL, DSi, DS Lite, GameBoy Micro, GameBoy Advanced SP, GameBoy Lite, GameBoy Pocket, and anything else that I might have missed—but they’ve always had a way at attracting newcomers who would have never went to Nintendo before. Their key strategy was price relatively low and flood the market with games for everybody.
This presents a big problem for Nintendo in 2013 and is a key reason why Nintendo is in trouble: Nintendo systems are priced pretty high. The Nintendo Wii U is selling at two price-points—one at $299.99 and another at $349.99 (U.S.). Before this generation, Nintendo home systems have generally topped out at around $300, while the Wii was set aggressively at $250. For $250 and a new motion controller setup, I expect hours of micro-fun. I expect to enjoy games with the family; it can almost as much to watch as it is to play. From a system that sells for $300+, I expect an HD-Movie-Expereince—something that Nintendo has never done before.
Now, to the move to HD, it’s obvious that Nintendo does not have their eyes on the road. Can anyone tell me what Wii U game is complex mathematically that it is not possible on the Wii, PS3, or 360? I, a Wii U owner, would love to brag that the Wii U gamepad perfectly supplements my otherwise-salivation over gorgeous HD visuals, but this isn’t the case in 2013. I bought my Wii U system on the day of launch with three Wii U titles. I later added on another five titles after launch closing in on nearly ten Wii U games that launched on November 18th. I mention this only to qualify my next remark: all but two of the games I purchased have never used the Wii U GamePad in an interesting sort of way. If the main point of this $300+ system is the Wii U GamePad, you’d think Nintendo would spend more time providing the experiences that suit this new way to play.
But this just isn’t happening. The only Zelda title coming out for the Wii U this year is The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD remake. Nintendo cannot afford to sell games we’ve already owned for decades. This is not how you make new customers; this isn’t even how you keep customers. At the very least, this is how you make a quick buck from those who seriously hungry to do just about anything with the Wii U GamePad. I fall into this category. I am excited about Wind Waker HD only because I have not touched my GamePad in over two months. Folks, the system only launched five months ago.
The Nintendo 3DS launched about two years ago. What Zelda titles have we got on there? The Legend of Zelda: Orcarina of Time (Remake) and A Link to the Past 2, featuring what seems like minimal change from a predecessor which is almost as old as I am! I will not be picking up A Link to the Past 2. On the 3DS with the power of a Gamecube, I expect higher quality games. I expect the kind of quality that used to only be possible on home systems.
The 3DS has more resources than the Gamecube including the media choice. Gamecube optical discs only hold 1.8GB while 3DS game carts hold upwards of 4GB+. So why after decades of advancement are we still getting game experiences we’ve had already? Nintendo has made gustier calls in the passed, like choosing to fund a game that pits our favorite Nintendo characters in an all-out brawl-out. Where’s this innovation? It didn’t require a special controller or even a new console. All it took was an idea and development.
There are not enough fresh ideas coming out of Ninty, and for the money, it’s perfectly sane to expect more from them. Old games with negligible, tact-on additions are not going to reinvent the wheel. In fact, it may be the reason why dedicated gamers like myself are losing interest in video games. Maybe it’s time to move on in life and focus on people and companies that are committed to changing the world in whatever crevices they operate in. I’ve only focused on a few examples, but please understand that this piece could have been endless. And I most certainly only lash out because my favorite gaming company is in trouble. After all, there’s a reason why the Wii was the last console of the previous generation to launch—but the Wii U is the first console of the next generation to launch. I’m tired of saying Nintendo, so I think I’ll end it here.