The current state of Nintendo and what they can do: A gamer’s opinion

280px-NintendoStackAs a kid, I’ve always been a big supporter of Nintendo. It began as my dad found the old brick Game Boy one day at work along with a copy of Super Mario Land and Tetris, which I eventually claimed as my own. I then got an NES for my 6th birthday, and I would play the crap out of it for a few year. It was there that I found my favorite game series and character, and no it wasn’t Mario. Instead, Nintendo introduced me to the Blue Bomber, aka Mega Man.

Next up was the Super Nintendo, which to this day is still one of my all-time favorite consoles. I saved up when I was turning 12 for games like Super Mario World, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III, Aladdin, Secret of Mana, Earthbound, Super Mario RPG, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. These were games that really got me into gaming and are on the list of my all-time favorite games.

Times are different now, and when I see Nintendo struggling I think to myself, “Why is this happening?”

It’s currently no mystery that  Nintendo has been “under performing” when it comes to the Nintendo Wii U system. In the months from April to June, Nintendo only sold 160,000 systems worldwide with only two games being released then, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and Game & Wario. The latter of the two received some pretty bad reviews and was a game that got boring very quickly. I have seen other sites, blogs, and forum posts mentioning that Nintendo is going the way of Sega, and that the Nintendo Wii U is being compared to the Sega Dreamcast. For those who don’t know, that was the last system made by Sega before they stuck to just publishing games. I don’t see it anywhere near that point, but it’s just some pretty bad planning on Nintendo’s part.

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This image is fanart from the upcoming Smash Bros title for the Wii U and 3DS due sometime in 2014

With iconic characters like Mario, Samus, Link, the Pokemon franchise, Star Fox, Pit, and Donkey Kong, Nintendo has quite a few franchises they could include on the Nintendo Wii U. Although for some reason they decide to take their time and focus on putting these titles on the Nintendo 3DS, and whatever else they have in development with no information or dates. Sega only had Sonic as the company mascot, along with names like Ecco the Dolphin, Spot, and a few other characters. The others never had the same spotlight as Sonic, which could have been one of their problems.

This isn’t the first time Nintendo has made some really terrible decisions. Their stubbornness lead them to sticking with the cartridge and Sony creating the PlayStation. Rules and regulations also led to Square Soft (now Square Enix) leaving Nintendo to create Final Fantasy VII on the new Sony console, licensing The Legend of Zelda series to release the lesser known CD-i titles that we shall not mention, and the disastrous first six months of the Nintendo 3DS to name a few.

Back in 1988, Nintendo entered partnership with Sony to create a CD add-on for the Super Nintendo. The two companies had trouble negotiating over control of the licensing, and Nintendo decided to go with Phillips to get a better deal. This led to Sony taking a step into console development, to which we currently know as the PlayStation brand. This created an even bigger rivalry between Nintendo and Sony. I’m pretty sure Nintendo had to be kicking themselves for that one. Nintendo and Phillips teamed up with for the creation of the worst console in the world, the CD-i. Looks like they never did get the planned CD add-on.

The Gamecube was a 50-50 in the eyes of customers; the first Nintendo disc-based system running on 1.5 GB mini discs. Nintendo decided to use this format to try and avoid illegal burning of games, cutting plenty of costs, and decreasing load times. Unfortunately it had plenty of problems including lower quality in full-motion videos as well as removal of content in games that were found on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox due to lack of space. Nintendo had quite a few things going for themselves, including all of its first party games people wanted to play. Games like Super Mario Sunshine, Smash Bros Melee, Paper Mario, multiple Pokemon games, The Legend of Zelda Windwaker, Metroid Prime and Legend of Zelda Master Collection. They also struck a deal with one time rival Sega to port and release games exclusively on the Nintendo console, which made them a force to be reckoned with.

Then we have the Wii. Nintendo was trying to be innovative when they introduced the Wii mote, a motion-controlled controller that gave you a different control in your gaming experience. This roughly made your body, or in this case your whole arm the controller. Its specs were quite inferior to the Xbox 360, which had already been on the market for a year before, as well as the PlayStation 3 that released a week before the Wii. Nintendo stood by the system saying it wasn’t about the graphics, but the games and that it is something for more casual gamers.

That approach worked, as people really enjoyed the system and games were constantly being released and developed. With so many fun games and so much Wii shovelware, there was something for everyone. Best feature of all was that you could use your old Gamecube games, including controllers and memory cards. Nintendo also introduced the Wii shop, which included downloadable games, channels for the Nintendo Wii, and the ability to play games online (though very few games did and it was focused too much on the Friend code system). It was a very popular console, especially among children and casual gamers.

Nintendo’s handheld division is number one in the world. No other company has ever come close to the popularity of any Nintendo handheld console. It went from the Nintendo GBA era and moved into the dual screened, touch pad ability of the Nintendo DS. Fans slowly jumped on board as Nintendo DS released new and improved versions of the DS (DS lite, Dsi and Dsi XL), but the DS lite was the last version that supported GBA carts. The Nintendo handhelds were always popular because first-party and 3rd-party support created plenty on the Nintendo DS including companies like Sega, Capcom. Square Enix, Natsume, EA, and Activision. While there was plenty of shovelware, everyone was on board. Millions of people around the world had a DS, and so Nintendo DS was one of the must-have systems worldwide.

Nintendo-HandheldsNintendo, wanting to be an innovator in gaming (their favorite word), decided to release the Nintendo 3DS. The largest part of the focus was adding glasses-free 3D abilities to games, giving them a fresh look and giving gamers a new perspective. The 3D aspect of the system was heavily questioned. Would it deliver, and how would game benefit from it? Nintendo heavily promoted the 3D aspect of upcoming games and gave gamers the ability to use or disable the 3D capabilities with a simple switch on the handheld. While the 3D part was cool, the true focus was that the 3DS would support larger flash carts, include a new-and-improved Nintendo Store which was semi lacking on the Nintendo DSi. That’s when Nintendo’s trouble started.

The Nintendo 3DS was a huge hit for Nintendo, having the greatest first-day sales of any Nintendo handheld. It rode on the popularity of the Nintendo DS, as people sold or traded their DS’s. In the end Nintendo did terrible for its first six months. This was due to the fact that there were very few games being released. Companies were still creating games mainly for the Nintendo DS, but for nearly the first year the system was considered to be a failure. Owners could at least play their DS library, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Nintendo needed to rethink their plan. A Nintendo 3DS version of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released, which was an updated version of the classic Nintendo 64 game. Then Nintendo started announcing some big titles that would be coming out, and to get people interested again, they dropped the price of the Nintendo 3DS from $249.99 to $169.99. That is probably the fastest price drop ever within 6 months. Nintendo already made the 3DS $80 cheaper, effectively slapping the faces of all the early adopters.

Nintendo’s way to try to make things right with everyone who decided to support them early was to offer the ambassador program. It offered 20 free games featuring 10 from the NES and 10 from the GBA. While I enjoyed some of the games, I would’ve rather have had the money given to me in credit for other titles, since I already owned all the GBA games and the Nintendo games were nothing special. I can’t say I was happy with it.

The 3DS since then has become an awesome and amazing systems with tons of must-have games including the recently released Shin Megami Tensei IV, Fire Emblem Awakening, Mario and Luigi Dream Team, and those are just games recently released. There are plenty of backlog of titles which are must haves are must haves.

I feel bad for early adopters of the Wii U. We were excited and promised so much by Nintendo and I thought, “Oh, hey, they should have learned from the mistakes of the Nintendo 3DS,” so I pre-ordered my Wii U Deluxe Set early. After playing and beating New Super Mario Bros U, my Wii U has just been sitting there for almost 7 months only to play a copy of Kirby’s Dream Collection I got from a friend. While there are downloadable games I could play including Earthbound and the 30-cent titles Nintendo has been releasing, I would rather pull out my Super Nintendo and play the original cart, which to me is easier than hooking up the Wii U just to play one game, even the DLC release of Super Luigi U wasn’t something made made me want to break out the console.

Let’s take a look at some of the better must have titles Wii U only currently available:

  • Pikmin 3
  • New Super Mario Bros. U/New Super Luigi U
  • LEGO City: Undercover
  • ZombiU
  • Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

What does Nintendo need? Iwata announced they need more software and soon. Monster Hunter Ultimate 3 was a nice needed addition, Pikimin 3 released about a week ago, and while I am not a Pikmin fan, it got people to dust off their Wii U’s and play along with titles like Smash Bros., any new and original Zelda, Kirby, Mario games (let’s avoid any *New* style gameplay) and cool 3rd-party games (ZombiU was a great idea). That’s not enough, since companies like Ubisoft have already started getting away from making Wii U exclusive titles due to lack of system and game sales.

I think Nintendo needs to shift focus from just the 3DS and give way more love to the Wii U, especially with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One coming out in about 3 months. It may already be too late.

Nintendo had the best opportunity ever. They were out a year before Sony or Microsoft even announced their new systems. They have a console which doesn’t require a TV to play, gives people a second screen for particular game, and they could have capitalized on the hardcore and casual gamers who just wanted to sit back and play some games but overall failed.

wind-wakerI know I will be buying Bayonetta 2, Sonic Lost World, WindWaker HD, Mario Kart 8, the next Smash Bros game and possibly the Wonderful 101 when they release, but between now and December, only two of those games will be available, making the count of Wii U games I own to 4 (New Super Mario Bros and Nintendo Land are the only ones I own now).

Come on and wake up, Nintendo, you need to start rolling with the games. There are so many missed opportunities as fans sigh and give up hope, focusing on the next generation consoles. While games like Zelda and Mario will always be console sellers, your fanbase grows upset and annoyed that you aren’t delivering on all the goods and promises you have made for the last two years, at this point the Wii U is really a failed console you use just use to play your Wii games and buy some titles from the Wii shop…I’d rather play my Wii since I can atleast play Gamecube games.

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Chris Del Castillo
Chris Del Castillo 2588 posts

Growing up Chris watched a lot of the original Saturday morning cartoons and developed a love for arts and animation. Growing up he tried his hand at animation and eventually script writing, but even more his love of video games, anime and technology grew.