Don’t Think Nintendo Doesn’t Have It In Them!
I know, I know. The last article I wrote didn’t really go over in Nintendo’s favor. I called them Cowards! I stand by that for the most part. I called them cowards because I know that Nintendo is better than what they have shown us this past year and a half. I called them cowards because if someone has something special about them that if shared, would definitely benefit the world yet they decide to stifle their own potential due to fear and lack of confidence, I believe they are deserving of the title of coward. That person should still try! I believe Nintendo is that person. I believe that Nintendo has something so unique to share with the world and every inch they give up to Sony and Microsoft is such a tragedy because that means more people will now be turned away from getting to know the Nintendo that I grew up with. This cannot continue. Nintendo must dig down deep inside and pull out the desire to compete. Here is why.
In Life, This Is What Really Matters.
Ever since Nintendo released very first home console, the NES, it was evident that they were all about family. In case you weren’t in the know, the Japanese name for the original NES was Famicom. It means “Family Computer”. As you know Nintendo went on to create the Super NES or Super Famicom as it is known in Japan. Throughout Nintendo’s entire gaming history they have always been about bringing families together in the living room. All of Nintendo’s characters appeal to children, teenagers, and adults. Nintendo’s IP’s are meant to be enjoyed by a wide demographic, not just older ones. I like to refer to Nintendo as the Walt Disney of the gaming industry. You loved Disneyland as a kid, right? Going there was almost like a magical experience for lack of a better word. Even as an adult the magic really never fades away. It doesn’t matter what age you are, I feel Nintendo is the exact same way. For the young and young at heart there is Mario and everything Mario related. You can be a 7 year old kid or a 17 year old young man and still enjoy the pure fun there is to be had when playing a Mario title. I’m much older than 17 and I still love to visit the Mushroom Kingdom to defeat Bowser and the Princess. The experience is even much more meaningful now that I am a father and I can watch my kids play together and see the smiles on their faces. It is simply priceless.
No other console manufacture strives for this level of family fun. Sony and Microsoft try there hardest to cater to the most “core” of the hardcore gaming crowd. Much like the gaming media, Sony and Microsoft see family gaming as “kiddie”. I mean, how many times has Nintendo been accused of creating kiddie games in the last decade alone? The truth is no other developer can capture both the young and older markets like Nintendo. I often compare Nintendo’s approach to software creation to that of Pixar and the way that they can create a movie that will immediately attract kids while still having enough emotional impact to make a grown man cry. Pixar and Nintendo have a few things in common. When you look at Mario what do you see? A brightly colored character who runs and jumps through a brightly colored world full of sights and sounds that would attract the attention of any child with a set of senses. When you move beyond the visuals then you begin to uncover a gameplay experience so rich that several Mario titles have been rated and referred to as the greatest game of all time.
My point is this. It’s not Nintendo’s job to create mature content. Its not Nintendo’s job to cater to those gamers that have “grown up”. However, it is Nintendo’s job to preserve its legacy of amazing content that like no other can create such an amazing atmosphere fit for families of all sizes and ages. With Nintendo there is something for everyone. Nintendo caters to the youngest child to the oldest person with experiences like catching little critters called Poke’mon, to exploring the Tolkeinesque land of Hyrule in the Legend of Zelda. What you won’t find is sex, profanity and violence. That’s just not Nintendo’s style and I’m thankful for that.
I understand that Sony broadened the gaming demographic with the very first Playstation and as a result, gaming is enjoyed by men and women in their late 20’s all the way up to their early 40’s. Lets not forget about the generations that are coming after us gamers that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. Lets remember that our kids deserve to be able to play games that aren’t filled with goals that require you to blow someones head off from across the map or sneak up behind another player and snap his neck. I know that I can let my kids play on a Nintendo platform while I’m out of the room and feel confident that they won’t be exposed to anything that their little eyes cant handle.
Its All About The Gameplay Experience
Innovation Or Gimmick?
Say what you want about Nintendo and the Wii U but one thing you can not deny is that Nintendo has a strict focus on gameplay experience. You may think the Wii U Gamepad is a gimmick but it’s clear that when Nintendo designed it they had in mind the unique ways that gamers could potentially interact with the game they are playing. Dating all the way back to the original NES Nintendo was always thinking about control and how it effects the player experience. From adding more buttons, to less buttons all the way to motion controlled gaming, Nintendo is all about re-thinking what it means to control your game.
Zombie U is a perfect example. Yes I know the critics weren’t so nice to this title but I don’t think ever wanted it to succeed in the first place. Zombi U required the player to use the gamepad to interact with the environment while being mindful of the dangers on the tv screen. Using the gamepad as a virtual backpack, the player must rummage through it to find an item while being exposed to any potential dangers lurking on screen. While in this state, the player would be somewhat helpless until the virtual backpack was closed. Now some reviewers claimed that this process broke the experience for them because it felt out of place to look down at the gamepad and then have to lift your eyes to look at the tv screen. What a lazy thing to say. Its not like they had to look in a different direction or get up and start flailing their arms or something like that. This is to be expected though. In a generation of gamers and journalist more fixated on system specs, how could anyone expect them to admire anything that only benefits gameplay?
For the most part, gamers today only care about the level of graphical fidelity that a game displays. Hardly do I ever hear an argument over what game controls better than another or what game is more fun to play. Don’t believe me then just go on any gaming related message board and see for yourself. Everyone is worried about what console does 1080p and what console runs games at 60fps? All this is going on while Nintendo is focusing on gameplay. The fortunate thing about Nintendo’s development teams is that their games speak for themselves. It doesn’t matter what resolution they run at because regardless, they look awesome. It doesn’t matter what fps they run at because regardless, they run awesome. While Sony and Microsoft try and outdo each other, Nintendo just sticks to business as usual. In some cases that is a bad thing I will admit, but in the case of gameplay it is the best course of action for them.
No Money, Mo’ Problems
The Gaming industry seems to be in a bit of a transition and I’m not sure if it is entirely for the better. Don’t get me wrong, change is definitely good but something else seems to be going on. Publishers and developers seem to be closing their doors left and right and even the “Big Three” seem to be taking some hits. Now I won’t make this about who’s got more cash than who, that’s not my point. My point is that there is a bad trend in the gaming industry that really became noticeable within the last 4 or 5 years. Lets take Capcom for instant. Capcom is one of the most talented and beloved developers in gaming history yet they seem to be on the verge of closing their doors. Why? For one, taking a beloved franchise like Resident Evil and pouring an unnecessary amount of money and resource into changing the franchise into “The next big thing” was definitely a blow to Capcom and its fans. Speaking of fans lets talk about DLC. On disc DLC anyone? How about what overcharging for crap that should already be in the initial purchase of a game? Look at what Kojima just did with Metal Gear! $30 dollars for a over glorified demo! THQ is gone! Irrational Games is gone with the hopes of restarting with a new studio focused on digital downloads. Why? For one, fans are getting hooked on what I am now referring to as the “Fast Food” of gaming syndrome. They rush out and buy these yearly iterations of games that are barely different from what they bought the year before and instead of waiting for something better to come along, gamers buy these titles out of habit. What happens when the sales start to slip for one of these franchises? I’ll tell you. The publisher becomes Capcom or Square-Enix. How is it that Square can sell 6 million copies of Tomb Raider and not turn a profit? Developers try and cram as much over the top audio, visual filler into these games as possible instead of just relying on gameplay, all of which requires bigger teams and more resources which in turn results in more risk. When the risk isn’t outweighed by the reward then we begin to see companies file for bankruptcy, and even close their doors entirely.
My belief is that if developers created games with a greater emphasis on gameplay over graphics then the quality of that game would sell itself. Nintendo has often talked about their approach to game development versus the way most developers tackle game creation. When you look at behind the scenes documentaries on the matter, you often see developers try and sell you on concept art and high quality character models and environments. They often go into how grand the story will be and so on. While there is nothing really wrong with this approach it does bring up an interesting point. Using this logic, one would come to the conclusion that most developers fancy visuals and grand spectacle over gameplay. Nintendo’s approach to game development is quite different. First, Nintendo nails the core gameplay element that will be featured in a particular game. They make sure that they have a fun, unique and interesting gameplay structure that will hook the gamer and bring them into the experience. Once they have solved how the game will play, they can begin to decide what franchise would best be suited to this style of gameplay. So a game may start out as an idea for a Zelda title but could turn out to be the next Mario or Metroid.
What does this all mean? I’m glad you asked. Nintendo is often seen as being cheap and unwilling to take risks but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact I believe they take more risks than anyone else, that more likely than not, end up resulting in huge rewards for Nintendo. Because of Nintendo’s focus on gameplay, gamers know what to expect from them. I personally don’t know any gamer that says they will wait until they see the review of the next Zelda before they buy it. It’s Nintendo’s proven track record when it comes to software quality ensures that gamers have no problems “blind” buying their software. Nintendo’s software tends to sell steadily over long periods of time resulting in the price of that software retaining its value. How often do you see price drops for Nintendo titles? Not often at all. So while other companies pump out sequel after sequel as they watch the value of their IP’s steadily decline along with revenue, Nintendo takes a slow surgical approach ensuring that the quality of their games as well as the revenue generated from them retains its consistency resulting in a healthy business.
That’s All Folks
Now don’t get me wrong. Like I said before, Nintendo has their work cut our for them. The Wii U seems to be all but a failure if the mainstream gaming media is anything to go by and Iwata seems to be unaware of how to fix Nintendo’s misfortunes. I’ve already spoken in the past about how I feel Nintendo let Sony come into the industry and punk them out of their market share, and why Nintendo needs to compete directly with the Playstation brand. It’s no secret that Nintendo dropped the ball this generation. Horrible marketing efforts as well as inferior hardware are just a few of their problems.
With that said, Nintendo is still the king of software, and the “Once and Future King” of the gaming industry. Even with the Wii U not selling as well as everyone hoped it would, Nintendo can and will still release what will eventually be considered some of the greatest games this generation will probably ever see. No matter what missteps Nintendo has taken this generation, none of it should detract from the fact that as a company, Nintendo holds a higher moral standard than what is expected from an entertainment company. Nintendo should still be applauded for going after the family unit. Nintendo’s efforts to get the next generation of the young as well as the old into gaming should not go unnoticed. The fact that Nintendo refuses to dump unnecessary amounts of money and resources into making a “cookie cutter” title should be praised by the industry. Nintendo uses business practices that while may seem ancient and out of touch, has kept them alive and strong for over 100 years. Yes, they need to adopt some of the more current trends. Yes, they need to pay more attention to what their competitors are doing, just not at the expense of loosing what makes Nintendo…Nintendo. They are a family run company that focuses on family. I have more respect for them as a multii-billion dollar corporation then I probably ever will for any other billion dollar corporation that focuses on entertainment. I truly believe that when the dust settles, Nintendo will still be around doing thier thing long after that inevitable day passes when Sony and Microsoft both bow out of the gaming industry to pursue other business ventures.
One last thing. There is this notion that if you play games on a Nintendo platform then your somehow a “man child” or you need to “grow up”. Have you ever thought to yourself that the very fact that you play videogames as a grown man, that this means you are a man child that needs to grow up? Now I believe that videogames were meant to be enjoyed by people of all ages but if your going to have that sort of attitude towards one corner of gaming than have that attitude towards all of it. Include yourself, ok?
Thanks for stopping by and checking out my latest article, I hope it was a good read for you. Come back soon, thanks.