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Counter-Point: Why Nintendo Is Just Fine
Yesterday, fellow writer Ron wrote of his lingering fears when it comes to the House That Mario Built. Legitimate concerns over the direction of the Wii U and 3DS lead him to believe that Nintendo should just desert consoles all together and take their esteemed franchises to Microsoft and Sony. While the idea of playing an HD Zelda or using PSN/Xbox Live for heated Super Smash Brothers matches is tantalizing, it’s something that just will never happen. Whether you’re a fan or not, there’s no denying Nintendo as the catalyst of the huge industry we have now. If not for Super Mario Bros in 1985, video games may not even exist, and if they did, the quality just wouldn’t be the same.
Ron does make some excellent points, but I think Nintendo’s position is better than it seems, and I have plenty of reasons why:
Fanatically Loyal Fanbase
There are people who enjoy Nintendo’s works. Then there are Nintendo fans. These are a breed of gamer with fanaticism unmatched, that will buy every single game Nintendo puts its name on. They know every series, every character, every system, and everything else there is to know. They will follow Nintendo until the end, using the legacy to fuel their fanaticism. Most of these people aren’t even the “normal” Nintendo audience (aka children), they are older players that have grown up on Super Mario Brothers 3 and Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 64 and Super Smash Brothers and every other Nintendo franchise. These are the 20-somethings that still consider Earthbound to one of the greatest games of all time. The method of play may change, but as long as Nintendo is at the helm, these people will give full support, as thanks for a legacy of fantastic game experiences.
Change In Philosophy
Ron talks of the 3DS as a failure that took too long to own up to its promises. I see it as Nintendo finally losing their stubborn ways. When the 3DS wasn’t meeting expectations, they cut the price by $80. Anyone who went all-in with the 3DS at launch was repaid with twenty free games, ten NES and ten Game Boy Advance. Once the price dropped, the device sold like gangbusters. Old Nintendo wouldn’t have dropped the price so fast, they would have stubbornly kept it there until they were forced into action. New Nintendo acted, and fast. This is a good sign. Need I even mention Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story?
Despite what you may think of the hardware, the software is still damn good. Skyward Sword was the best Zelda experience in years. Throwback games like Donkey Kong Country Returns and Kirby’s Return to Dreamland are fantastic modernizes escapes into yesteryear. Super Mario 3D Land, Resident Evil: Revelations, and Mario Kart 7 have kicked the 3DS’ lineup square in the arse. Hell, even games on the horizon are shaping up nicely: Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu gave Kid Icarus: Uprising a perfect 40/40, only the 19th game and 5th portable game in the magazine’s 26 year history. As long as these consoles will provide quality gaming experiences, no matter what bells and whistles they have success should still be ascertainable.
Wii U Re-Introduction
Now I will admit, the unveiling of the Wii U last year at E3 was underwhelming to those who did not get to hold it in their hands. If you were watching at home, you’re bound to have reservations. Nintendo recognized this, deciding to re-introduce it this year at E3. As such, it is a bit unfair to predict the Wii U to be a failure when the re-introduced product has yet to be announced. The Wii U Remix (which is what it should be called) could sport enough tweaks to make it a fantastic system. Do I expect a complete overhaul? Absolutely not. However, just the fact that Nintendo was willing to go in and fix some of the major criticisms is encouraging. Final judgement really cannot be cast until the beginning of June, so let’s wait and see what Nintendo has planned before throwing in the towel.
The “Family Effect”
There’s one thing that will keep Nintendo afloat for as long as they want to make games: families. Mothers and fathers with young children who want to get into gaming need a place to start, and they’re going to go with what’s familiar to them: Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, etc. It’s a fair bet that as time goes on, the number of parents who have played games at some point in their lives will rise. Even if they didn’t keep up with the hobby, those parents will know who Mario is, what Pokemon is, etc. Nintendo has been a child-friendly company for as long as I’ve known about them, and while older gamers deride their childish games now, once they start having children of their own they’ll come crawling back. There’s a reason why the Wii sold 94.97 millions units in five years, and it’s the same reason that the 3DS sells 15.03 million in one year of existence: their family friendly nature makes them an instant purchase for those with young kids who want to play games. As long as people keep having children, Nintendo will continue to be supported.
Don’t get me wrong, Nintendo has its fair share of issues. Profits are down, Wii U trepidation is discouraging, and the 3DS took its sweet time making its mark. All of these things, however, can and will be turned around, and Nintendo will be back on its high horse before you know it. Trust the plumber, he always saves the day.
Jason Fanelli oozes the blood of a gamer, having played games for over 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @bigmanfanelli for more irreverent banter you may not agree with. He’s all for good games discussion.