I truly hate being an aging gamer sometimes. I really do.
These feelings really come to head around the time of E3 each year. It is a time when all of the gamers and tech nerds should be brimming with excitement of all the new possibilities and all the great things that are to come over the horizon. And yet every single year for at least the past 5, as if I had NO sense of pattern recognition at all, I continue to watch the big pressers and continually get disappointed.
Its either a constant stream of sequels reaching their 4th installment or more and minor upgrades to a game like essentially forcing me to buy the same game again, or a new title coming out and being bold facedly told their going to force me to pay more for immediate DLC that’s probably already on the fucking disc (I’m calling you out Capcom, you money grubbing asshats). It’s really getting old. But nobody, NOBODY continues to disappoint and infuriate me more than that heartless empire to the east, Nintendo.
I know what you’re thinking: “What? The Rage Quitter is going to be mad about something? How unexpected!” Well, let me at least start to clarify something right now, I loved Nintendo. Lets take a small stroll down memory lane, shall we? I was a gamer that got his start in the Commodore 64 era, which means I’m old enough to be considered an old man in our current gaming generation. This was an age where every game came on 5 inch floppies that were still called “Disks”, the controller was a joystick with one button, simple games could have almost 40 minute load times, and every game had to start with Load”*”,8,1. Good times.
But then in 1986 something called a “Nintendo” came along and they gave me a grey box that I could pop a cartridge on, push power and BAM, I’m playing River City Ransom. Incredible, gaming can’t get better than this. But then holy shit, the SUPER Nintendo came out. More buttons, better graphics, better sounds, and probably one of the most memorable lineups of classic titles to ever grace a video game console. Link to the Past? Chrono Trigger? Final Fantasy 3(6)? Mega Man X? Orgasm.
But then came along the N64. It was a great concept: better graphics in 3 dimensions, better sound with voices, up to 4 players at a time. Controller was odd though and it had some great titles to it, but not many. Just updates to their tried and true franchises. Which held over enough but it left many of us with a lacking feeling. Then came the Gamecube, many of the best 3rd party properties already found homes on other systems. And yeah, the cube still had a few solid titles but again, bleh. Just the same Nintendo properties with not much else to offer. By this point in time, I’m getting pretty tired of playing Mario and Zelda over and over again.
Then someone had brainstorm and thought “ok, if we can’t beat Sony and Microsoft in hardware and games, we’ll change the controller.” And they put out the Wii. Now, I don’t know if anyone predicted for the Wii to explode the way it did, and their marketing strategy of “we’ll only make 5 systems every 2 months” only drove up the frenzy on the system because nobody could get it. But god damn it, it worked.
People would buy them simply because they were available. Gamers were after it and they managed to tap into the non-gamer casual market. They literally had the entire gaming industry by the balls with this new and innovative style of gaming. And what did they do with their new position of power? FUCK ALL. Rehashes of the same friggen Mario games, the same friggen Zelda games, and all the other same dead horses I’ve played since 1986. The system literally thrived on Wii bowling and was plagued by an onslaught of garbage shovel ware with zero lastability.
The handful of quality games that it might have virtually went unplayed because it didn’t have Mario’s face on it or the causal crowd wouldn’t know a great game if it was lodged in their skull. Nobody played Trauma Center, Muramasa or even the Okami re-release. These great titles collect dust on the shelf because people are waiting for next edition of New Super Mario Gets a Fixed Rate Mortgage Party 8. I cannot think of how many times I’ve heard “yeah we got a Wii because it was available but we never turn it on.” As far as I am concerned Nintendo dropped the ball.
And you idiots have probably never even seen this game before…
Needless to say the past two E3 conferences did nothing to restore my faith in Nintendo. They teased a new system and then in the E3 before its release they headline by saying “we can’t show you everything because we don’t have time.” Not a great start when introducing your new console. You don’t freak’n start off your presser by telling me what you can’t do. They showed off their ridiculous update with the WiiU which came off to me as a Wii console with an additional Fischer Price tablet attached to it.
In the tried and true Nintendo fashion, they show me a new Mario game in New Super Mario Bros U. A title that looks exactly copy paste of the previous one with one token feature added to use their new tablet. This is a game that shouldn’t exist, hell the previous game shouldn’t exist. Why? Because I already played this Mario game 20 years ago on the Super Nintendo. Oh but it didn’t stop there, they also pushed a new Pikmen game and Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Rad, two generic Mario platformers and an updated gamecube game so boring it can be prescribed as an insomnia cure by medical professionals.
They also tried to push something called Nintendoland which came off as a the WiiU’s version of Wii Sports. It is meant to show off what the Wii U can do but I will be damned if I am going to pay 300+ dollars to play Wii Bowling again. I swear their conference could have made me grind my teeth into powder.
So flash forward to now: the system is released and it looks like they continue the trend of withholding consoles to drive up demand and make it difficult to get. It is an aggravating strategy but it seems to work for them, but as with most consoles it will be their 3rd party support that will determine their successfulness. They started off on the right foot by making an original title such as ZombieU a day one launch release. And admittedly, they have a decent selection of third party games such as Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition, Mass Effect 3, Trine 2, Darksiders 2, and Tekken Tag Tourney 2. It’s just a shame that I’ve already played and beaten most of these titles months ago. It just feels like Nintendo is trying to play catch up.
Look, I don’t want this to sound as a rant to smash the Nintendo fanboys. A friend once told me “owning a game console isn’t like having a wife, you are allowed to have more than one of them.” It’s a simple statement that makes a lot of sense. I’m an adult who works, and if I want to own all three systems then why not?
But frankly, I have had it with this company. What is the point of trying to race out a new system with improved hardware and a new innovative way to playing it if you only want to keep rehashing Super Mario World over and over again? It’s been 20+ years of being fed the exact same games from this company. With each release it just seems like their popular series continue to devolve into a shell of what they were 20 years ago. Every once in a while this fine for a retro charm or throwback but when you do it the point of ignoring all the innovation you are creating, you are wasting both yours and my time and money.
The bottom line here is that Nintendo is a business. They aren’t in it for the passion of making games. They are in it because they are trying to make money. Somewhere along the line they discovered that pleasing the “fans” and the “hardcore gamers” is not a lucrative market. The Wii sold so well because it was an innovative and new system, and clever enough that the non-gamer masses wanted to try it. But “Non-gamer” is the key word here. Just take a look at their promotional imagery: Little Kids, Seniors, Female adults. They were looking to push the console sales to more untapped demographics, not the games sales.
I am a gamer, I have spent years as a social outcast to play games. It’s what I do and it’s what I enjoy. So you will have to pardon me for this rant, but I can’t help but feel that Nintendo has turned their backs on us. Sure, they’re a business and thats the game they are in. They only want to court those who can fill their pockets the most and in their eyes they don’t owe us anything. But they forget it was gamers that made them what they are. I don’t expect the WiiU to explode for them like the Wii did because many of the Wii owners know they barely used their system.
That is really the main thing I feel that made the Wii so successful. They were able to cash on a group of people who are intimidated the plane cockpit that is the modern game controller by producing a simple remote you only needed one or two buttons to play. Now they are going to try to weasel that crowd again by emulating the modern controller and slapping a tablet in the middle. I think its going to bite them on the ass.
But who cares what I think? Nintendo isn’t making shit for me anymore. I’m not in their demographic. Nintendo never stopped making games for younger children and early teens. They never changed their strategy or their market. It was me that got older and my interests changed. So maybe that’s why I noticed the games never seemed to change, because every 5 or more years a new system comes out and their aiming for a new crop of young’ns with the tried and true formulas that have been so successful for so long. But as they produce their new system boasting powerful graphics and hardware, if are trying to compete with the major players for the hardcore crowd their going to have to bring more to the party.
I am willing to give Nintendo another try. I’m willing to put up with all their new gimmicks and children’s toys they seem content to put out. But if I’m gonna give a little, you’re going to have to meet me half way Nintendo. I have a very simple rule of thumb: if I can’t come up with 7 games I’d play on a system, I don’t buy it. In Nintendo’s case, its going to be 7 games that don’t include Mario, Metroid, Zelda, or Kirby. I want you to show me that you can still innovate games as well as controllers. You started off good with ZombieU and you somehow managed to weasel Bayonetta 2 as an exclusive, but I am going to wait and see if you can deliver more titles I can only find on your system again for the hardcore crowd, or at least the avid gamer.
I’m not holding my breath though.