Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nintendo: Dig a Hole, Dig a Hole, Dig a Hole

Thanks, it's great to be back, yall. Why, yes, I did have a relaxing four-day weekend, thank you. WAR? No I spent most of it lounging on the couch playing Valkyria Chronicles. For four days. And I'm not nearly done with it yet. Expect a post on it soon. Oh my, it seems I have a lot on my mind. I'll show you how well I can go on. I can go on as long as a pro.

I did get out of the house once (yes, once in four days) to hang out with some friends because I was ordered to because I'm not some kind of wiry haired shut-in. Yet. We played some Munchkin. I won. Totally worth it. Then, as we were all getting a bit tired of dying to inanely named monsters we pulled out the liquor and delved into our favorite subject. The history and future of the gaming industry. Fresh on our minds (at least on Mike's mind he's the one that reads Kotaku) was E3 and a few things he'd read about it. I had read a few myself, from my fellow bloggers. But the conversation was quickly dominated by the one we once loved and now regret: Nintendo.

I was never that big of a Nintendo fan myself, honestly, but one half of this conversation (their real names shall not be used but for illsutrative purposes let's call them Mike and Jay) are both avid Nintendo geeky fanboys. They wear their Nintendo t-shirts proudly. And yet they were the fiercest critics of Nintendo's bad choices in the last... decades.

It all started... well I'm not sure when it all started but I'm pretty sure Mario had something to do with it. No, thats wrong of me, I'm biased. You see, I hate Mario with a passion. If he was real I'd track him down and clubber him to a red puddle with a pipe for the irony of it. Mario made me hate side-scrollers of any kind. Mario made me hate platformers. Mario made me hate italian plumbers (at least fictitious ones). While it may not have started with Mario per se, Mario is definitely part of the problem. He represents a stale status quo from which Nintendo seems reluctant to shake free from. The problem, the main underlying problem with Nintendo's plans and dealings is wasted potential.

Remember the Gamecube? I do. I've got two of them collecting dust in the confines of the guest bedroom. The Gamecube might not have been the awesomest thing since sliced-bread but it had some amazing things that just slipped under the radar. Some people will remember the name "Eternal Darkness" and will recognise what a waste of a good franchise it was. I personally never played it but everyone I know that has only has good things to say about it. But that's all she wrote. Eternal Darkness and its potential slipped into its own namesake, never to be heard from again other than in nostalgic conversations over sips of bitter coffee. And what about the Gamecube-GBA combo? Most people don't even realize there was one but there was. Long before the PS3 and PSP business you could link your GBA to your Gamecube via cable and use the GBA as a controller with a screen. There was one amazingly good game that provided us with uncomparable amounts of three-way co-op fun. That game was Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles; a spin-off of the original franchise that revolves greatly in players playing together and helping each other (not counting Crystal Defenders... *sigh*). There were only around a couple of games that utilized this link feature though so we can only rack that one up as a failure.

And this brings us back to Doh! the Wii. The Wii itself is a landmark of wasted potential. For all its boasting of innovative gameplay with its motion reliant controling, the Wii's game library consist mainly of kiddie games that developers can't afford to port to "real" consoles. And this is what it all comes down to. I don't think the world sees the Wii as a "real console". It's more of a toy. There are no "real" games for it and it seems to me there never was (I say "none" but I know there were a tiny few). So the Wii's repertoire consists mainly of fitness and Barbie Hairdresser games, things even kids won't be caught dead playing because they see the awesome games we "grown-ups" get to play.

It seems to me that Nintendo failed to grasp the change that hit the market. When I was young people had their computer and a console. A console. When the time came to buy, you'd sit down, weigh the pros and the cons and decide which one. Nowadays, when it's time to buy you sit down and wonder which one to buy first. And with all those shiny graphics and things blowing up everywhere, would you rather be playing golf in your living room?

So we bought a Wii. It was novel, it was different and we didn't want to be left behind. We jumped the gun and onto the hype bandwagon. There was potential there, see. We saw the world trying to shift in a new direction, the industry trying to embrace a new formula. We could picture awesome swordfights taking place in our living rooms, we could already see ourselves crouching behind the couch sniping targets on the corner of the screen. Yes, we saw it in our mind's eye but none of that came true. Well sure, you can swordfight but it's closer to shaking a dead fish than actual fighting, the human body being quite adept at discovering the least energy consuming means of doing things. Swinging the remote for the console to register quickly evolved to wiggling it in the most subtle manner possible to achieve the same result. You can call it gimmicky, it's all true. In the end, it didn't prove to be as entertaining as we had all hoped. We all realised that there was a reason we were indoors playing videogames and not outside flinging a frisbee or learning to swordfight.

They failed in one other respect. For a console that aspired to become the family console, with entertainment to unite both friends and family, Nintendo sure turned a blind eye to multiplayer. Yes, you could play together with your friends if you were sharing the same physical space. You could even pack up your Mii and take it with you when you did so. But what if you couldn't go share the same space? What if you were home sick or a hermit? Pffffft, would be the unappealing sound of all your hopes and dreams of some time well spent puffing into smoke. The Wii sports no reliable internet multiplayer interface. In fact, not reliable or of any kind, as far as I know. Boo.

All the big name games that did come out for it were also available for all the other platforms with much more appealing graphics and the gameplay difference wasn't enough to make a difference. Most of the times, the difference in gameplay was just a cheap third-party accessory away. All the exclusive titles were unimpressive enough to fall a long ways short of deal-breaking. The Wii was, as stated above, a failure. Shelves in stores world-wide hold games at mind-blowingly low prices, the dust they're gathering a testimony of their unatractiveness to both kids and parents alike. Like the fat girl all prettied up for a night out on the town with her attractive friends. She's willing but they ain't biting.

Along comes E3 and with it news of a new Nintendo console. Surely they've learned from mistakes of the past. Surely they've realised that if they inovate but don't take advantage of this inovation their place among the powerhouses of console gaming is threatened. We shall see. One thing is for sure: they fail at names. Wii-U? Seriously? With Wii I couldn't help but picture a fat toddler running with scissors to his untimely demise (much like the Wii itself) and now they compound the awful name with a worse suffix. Now I picture an ambulance rushing to the scene to save Nintendo from this nasty fall down the stairs. Wii-U, Wii-U, Wii-U.

Prognosis isn't good. I'm sorry but it doesn't look like there's much we can do for them now but pray.


  1. I am ashamed to say that I'm not really qualified to comment on this post since the only consoles I ever owned were a few iterations of Hungarian (well they were from Hungary but prolly made in Asia) NES copies. Cheap ripoffs that somehow worked quite well (except for the fact that it corrupted and eventually permanently damaged the TV) and had the same games.

    I have to say that I was really disappointed reading E3 news, as most of it was console centric. A waste of my time. :S

    Oh and thanks for the link. Though I have to say, it only took me 15 minutes to read your post. The length is good, but now you need to incorporate some convoluted sentences, incoherent thoughts and alien concepts, because the post is too easy to read. Then you'll be on your way. :D

  2. As being an integral part of this post (I'm the "Mike" that's mentioned up there), I truly do feel slandered by your words...

    "we were indoors playing videogames and not outside flinging a frisbee or learning to swordfight" <--- SHAMELESS LIES!!!!

    Although I was never a great fan of flinging frisbees, I did learn to swordfight. Fencing, to be more precise.

  3. Fencing or FENCING (another one).

    And no, I can't fence (eventhough I'd like to be able to), but I think it's awesome. :P