Welcome to another edition of the Game Ranter Banter. Five of our writers take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to give their opinions on some of the most compelling and controversial recent news stories of the game industry. This week, the Game Rant team discusses the recent outburst of Nintendo-related news, from Skyward Sword’s surprising length, the 3DS Slide Pad details, and classic series that could use a little revitalization.
Our readers are as knowledgeable and opinionated as our own writers, so here is the place for all of you to discuss these stories as well as any others that may have piqued your interest throughout the week.
Down, Not Out
It’s been another tough week for Nintendo. Sony’s Vita is all but walking away with TGS, while Nintendo’s pre-TGS press event left practically everyone cold. There is no question that Nintendo hasn’t looked this bad publicly, maybe ever.
But are things actually that dire? Pay cuts and sales slides aside, Nintendo remains an enormously wealthy, profitable company, and the publisher of many of the best selling, most financially successful games of all time. Wii Sports alone has sold over 76 million units since its release in 2006, to say nothing of other first-party Wii and Pokemon games. What do you think that does for the company’s profit margin? Nintendo may look bad now, but they can afford to.
I wouldn’t begin to suggest that Nintendo is infallible — just look at the 3DS Slide Pad. That said, with the Slide Pad comes Monster Hunter 4, a game of massive importance in Japan — and one that currently isn’t slated to come to Vita. Furthermore, Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 are right around the corner, and all but destined to be system-selling hits. Yes, Nintendo may be down right now — but only a fool would count them out.
Across the country Nintendo fans are shaking their heads in disbelief. The company they had grown up with has now seems to have lost its mind. The most recent confirmation of the additional Circle Pad for the 3DS doesn’t help improve consumer confidence. To many this seems like an idea that didn’t make it into final build of a rushed product – and they’re probably right. Though I feel people might be jumping the gun, looking at this the wrong way.
The additional Circle Pad really should be viewed at in the same light as the Wii Zapper or Classic Controller. Nintendo has always been about giving the gamer various control options to enjoy their games. They did it with the Wii by supporting GameCube controllers and by selling the Classic Controllers and I feel this Circle Pad is falling in line with that tradition.
Nintendo knows that in order to be competitive in a dual-analog world, especially with more popular titles like Call of Duty, they needed an extra circle pad. Until they release a revised 3DS, the Big N is giving gamers the option to purchase this peripheral. Also, just because they’re launching this add-on doesn’t mean the games that support it will be impossible to play without it.
Could this circle pad been implemented better? Sure! Nintendo had an opportunity to extend the life of the 3DS battery, or design this attachment to drain less power and not require a AAA battery.
Innovation or Redundancy?
Each time new Nintendo hardware is announced, gamers get excited about the next Mario, the next Kirby, the latest Zelda, etc. Nintendo has been riding off the success of these franchises for decades, yet aside from Nintendo critics, these games are welcomed with open arms. Why? Similar moves would see any other company become the most hated publisher on the internet. So what makes Nintendo the exception? Innovation.
While Nintendo releases many Mario games within each generation, they are not necessarily the same as their predecessors. For example, Super Mario Galaxy is a different beast than Super Mario World. Their latest Kirby title, Kirby’s Mass Attack is much different than Epic Yarn, which is much different than earlier titles in the series. This gives the franchises new life in a world where redundancy is frowned upon.
If Nintendo keeps innovating their franchises instead of just banking on familiar gameplay, they will always be able to find success in the gaming industry.
The Great Green Hope
While my colleagues will most assuredly be waxing poetic about the mistakes Nintendo has made in recent weeks/months, I would like to take this time to provide a slightly positive look at the company. Though I am disappointed by the circle pad attachment and Nintendo’s lack of strong third-party support for the 3DS, I am still willing to give them a chance for one reason: Zelda.
Yes, after a very long wait, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is finally releasing in just two months, and I am extremely excited. One could argue that the wait has been pretty excruciating, but with a 50-100 hour experience, I think the end will justify the means. It’s always a long development with the Zelda series, but gamers stand by and wait patiently because both the fans and Nintendo know they will.
Now, this isn’t to say that Zelda will forgive all, but it does ease the pain. From Zelda forward though, I expect Nintendo to get their act together and give the gamers what they want.
When will Nintendo go the way of Sega?
As Nintendo sees sales of their hardware and profits decline, it seems fair to talk about a back-up plan. Nintendo shouldn’t be swearing off the mobile market but should think of it as a contingency for when they need to step away from the hardware industry. If their next hardware innovation fails to sell it could be time to put Mario on the iPhone.
The Wii came out of the gate first with an innovative control system that attracted a very broad audience and sold better than any other system for years. The 3DS attempted to innovate with glasses free 3D but has put up poor sales numbers which most would blame on the lack of titles. Nintendo is trying to rectify after the fact by announcing a slew of upcoming 3DS titles at the Tokyo Game Show but it could be too little too late. For Nintendo’s next hardware release they plan to offer a tablet controller, but is that really innovative? There are several companies that are releasing tablet hardware and Apple even plans to offer a similar gaming experience to the Wii U using the iPad 2 to Apple TV AirPlay Mirroring.
After the 3DS failed to meet sales expectations and now with Wii U entering a tablet gaming market which could soon see itself dominated by Apple, the day that Nintendo goes the way of Sega and becomes a software developer could be not that far off.