They have been to this dance before
Now for the bright side of things
Yesterday in a post entitled Nintendoomed, i wrote about why Nintendo could be down for the count if they don’t change some things up. The industry is clearly changing and Nintendo seems to be moving at a much slower pace than its competitors. With not many third party games to look forward to in 2013 and not much news coming from Nintendo themselves it would seem as if the company may be unequipped to handle what Microsoft and Sony may have in store for them with their Next-Gen offerings but Nintendo has been here before. This dance isn’t new to Nintendo and here are some reasons as to why Nintendo moves at their own pace and can quite possibly come out on top this Next-Gen.
No one makes a controller like Nintendo
Nintendo has been innovating new ways for gamer’s to interact with the gaming world since the early 80′s. The NES gave the D-pad and an A and B button. If it weren’t for this simple yet monumental little adjustment we would still be using the inferior joystick of the Atari console. The NES made platforming a dream to play.
The Super NES is arguably the greatest gaming console of all time and it gave us the template for what all modern day console controllers are based upon. Left and right shoulder buttons were added to the NES’s original design as well as two more face buttons bringing the total to four. Games like Street Fighter and Super Metroid couldn’t be played on a lesser controller. Remember trying to play SF2 on the Genesis? The SNES controller was such a great design that Sony borrowed and modified the design for its Playstation console a few years later.
The N64 controller was perhaps Nintendo’s most unique design ever. Setting aside the fact that it looked like an upside down pitchfork, the N64 controller brought us the analog stick. Never before seen in a home console, the analog stick is probably the most significant addition to the console controller ever. Think about it. Could you play any shooter without one. (Keyboard and Mouse not withstanding) The analog stick revolutionized how we move around in a 3d space giving you full control over your characters movement. Not to be outdone by the analog stick, rumble or otherwise known as force feedback was also introduced in the N64 era with a little game called Starfox 64. Could you imagine modern games today lacking rumble. Sony tried it with the first Ps3 controller. Remember. They said something about how rumble was so last gen and the 6-axis was the future. That changed rather quickly, huh?
The Game cube controller was just weird. I don’t think there was anything to significant about it. It’s just that having that one huge green “A” button kinda changed things a bit. Mashing on the large “A” button to attack felt good and the shape of the “X” and “Y” buttons, while awkward did give the controller a unique feel. One that you got so used to that it grew on you. No one knows this better than a Smash Bros. fan. Playing Smash on any other controller just isn’t the same.
Now we all know the innovation that the WII remote brought to the industry. Motion controlled sword combat and archery probably stand out the most. Swinging the Wiimote like a tennis racket felt natural and intuitive. Its a shame that third parties didn’t really take advantage of this gameplay innovation. Instead most of them used it as tacked on gimmick. Skyward Sword showed the true potential of what the WIimote could have meant for gaming had developers really put time and effort into it.
Now, everyone loves tablets. Why not fuse one with gaming controller? Nintendo did and the Wii U Gamepad was born. The jury is obviously still out on this one but at least we can say it’s off to an excellent start. Games like Zombie U and Nintendoland show off what’s possible with a little hard work and imagination. I cant wait to see what innovations Nintendo has up their sleeve for this device in the future.
It’s well know that Nintendo develops ideas for gameplay well before they even know what game this particular idea will even turn out to become. Game play has always taken center stage when it comes to Nintendo often resulting in groundbreaking new ways to interact with the game world your in.
Take Mario 64 for instance. Never before had anyone played a game that gave you the freedom of full 360 degree movement. Mario 64 allowed you to run, jump and climb just about anywhere you desired and the level of pin point precision usually reserved for 2d platformers was no for the first time realized in 3d. Mario 64 is number one on several “Best of all time” lists and rightfully so.
The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. Arguably one of the greatest games ever created. In the past we played games in this genre without any sort of lock on targeting system. Zelda OOT changed all of that. Introducing a targeting system that allowed you to stay locked on an enemy while still being able to move and dodge was a thing of genius. Can you imagine modern games without this feature? Oh…wait. Some games still don’t use a lock on system. Anyways, Zelda OOT delivered an unparalleled landscape were if your eye could see it then you could travel there. Just about everything could be interacted with. It still astounds me that Nintendo was able to take every significant piece of gameplay from the original Zelda games and successfully transition it all into 3d gameplay. Nintendo has always been able to make games excel at what they were meant to. Fun. Regardless of the genre, regardless of the content, Nintendo focuses on gameplay first which in usually always results in pure gaming bliss, but hater’s still gonna hate.
The legend of Zelda. Donkey Kong Country. Starfox. Metroid. Kirby. Smash Bros. Super Mario. F-Zero. Pikmin. Punch Out. Wave Race. Mario Kart. Fire Emblem. Pokemon. I’m sure i am missing a franchise or two but i just named off fourteen “triple A” franchises that are big sellers for Nintendo. Franchise that have a proven and dedicated fan base. Microsoft can’t claim this and although Sony has some very well established first party franchises none of them are on the level of the ones i have just named. Anyone of these Nintendo titles would cause a stir if announced at any given time for the Wii U and anyone of these could be announce at any time. Very few developers can say they have franchises that can compete with the likes of what Nintendo have in-house. Capcom, Sega and maybe Namco can but neither of them have kept up the level of quality that Nintendo has since the early 80′s. Think about that. These 80′s franchises are still relevant today because of the quality of the product and the overwhelming dedication from fans.
It’s been said time and time again that Nintendo software sells Nintendo hardware. Think about it, though. It’s true. Is it a surprise? How many developers create games with the level of quality that Nintendo does especially in the gameplay department? If Nintendo is in trouble right now, and everyone seems to think they are, then it may be time for them to start pulling out some of these franchise. We know Zelda is coming. We know Metroid and Mario are coming. What about the franchises that have remained dormant for some time. We need to see Star Fox make a console return. F-Zero and Wave Race, too. The roster is too deep too ignore. Provided Nintendo has the teams available to handle these franchises, they could very well put themselves in a position to make the Wii U as attractive as the SNES was to gamers and developers alike. Only time will tell. Nintendo could always announce something in a new Nintendo direct video and E3 is not too far away. Lets not count Nintendo out yet.
The wild card. This is an instant win for Nintendo
The Game Master. Nuff said
The industry loves to doubt Nintendo. The industry usually ends up being wrong. Journalists seem to think they have Nintendo figured out. They are most always wrong. Just look up Michael Pachter’s predictions about the company. He has never been right. It’s true that Nintendo can be a frustrating company at times to stand behind. They seem to only give us what we want when they are ready to, and they release information at a snails pace. Its usually for the better though. Remember how every one wanted a realistic link but got the Wind Waker? It turned out to be one of the best Zelda titles ever and then when Nintendo did give us a more realistic Zelda, gamers broke out in tears. Literally. Nintendo has been in business for over 50 years and have been making consoles since the early 80′s. Although no company is perfect, when is the last time Nintendo as a company has made a stupid business decision? Lets not count the virtual boy. Even that was just an ambitious project that just didn’t pan out the way Nintendo wanted to. If your a Nintendo fan then keep supporting them in the meantime and lets see how 2013 shapes up for them. Sony and Microsoft may have more powerful consoles on the way but since when did power determine anything. Ps2 was the weakest of the three consoles in its generation but still dominated due to software. Lets just hope Nintendo is working on bringing some truly unique and great software to the Wii U from both first and third parties. As always let me know your thoughts on the matter and tell me…what makes Wii U MAD?