Con-soul Searching: What Have You Done For Us Lately, Nintendo?
Over the last few years Nintendo has developed a reputation that all they do is remake the same games over and over. Tony and I touched on this a bit during the last podcast and I have been hearing some other podcasts discussing it as well. I guess we have the rumors of Nintendo’s next console to thank for it.
You can’t say that Nintendo doesn’t try new things because they constantly do. A lot of their innovation has been on the hardware side of things. First, with the DS, they introduced us to how a touch screen can be used in games. No matter how dumb we thought it was at the time, it ended up being a great addition to game controls and user interfaces. After that they hit us with a revolution called the Wii opening the door for motion controls. Most players agree that motion controls need to go away. Let’s set one thing straight here, motion controls are cool, waggle is not; and yes there is a difference. To me, motion controls represents the movement of a controller effecting your actions on screen; this applies to things like the Wiimote’s IR, Move’s tracking of the ball thingy, Kinect monitoring your body position and even a mouse for a PC. Waggle is when motion controls are simply used to do something that could be done just as easily with a button press. Even though most Wii game only use waggle but you can’t deny how innovative and the impacting motion controls have been for the game industry.
Most recently, Nintendo has produced the 3DS. Once again, Nintendo is making a system unlike any other on the market. Not surprisingly, the 3DS has been met with the same type of grief that met the DS. Almost unanimously, players tell Nintendo how foolish their new system is and how it has no business in the game market; like we did with the DS, like we are currently doing with the Wii. We are telling Nintendo that we don’t want them to try anything new with their systems. Instead we cry out for Nintendo to do something new with their games.
Granted, the last new franchise Nintendo introduced was Pikmin back in 2001. Since then, the only new IPs they have made are things like Wii Fit. However, people seem to overlook the major changes Nintendo has made to some of their main franchises. Metroid was completely renovated with the release or Metroid Prime. Retro Studios accomplished the impossible by bringing Samus into the third dimension. Recently with Other M, Metroid was given another overhaul and a lot of people hated it; for some reason that I will never understand. I don’t want to say that we have to be happy with everything Nintendo does, but how is it justifiable to claim Nintendo has ruined Samus’ character after one game that is different?
How about everybody’s favorite plumber? Remember Mario Sunshine? Like with Other M, Nintendo tried something different and fans were not happy. This generation, Nintendo has given us not one, not two but three new Mario games! Super Mario Galaxy received nothing but praise when it was released. It was so popular that fans instantly started shouting for more. Nintendo answered with Galaxy 2 a few years later. As if that wasn’t enough, we also got an old school 2D Mario for the Wii. Nintendo made something new while still continuing to give us the experiences most of us grew up with.
How many developers can you name that have reinvented two of their biggest franchises multiple times in the last ten years? How about recreating those games while simultaneously creating hardware that opens new doors for controls and interface? Nintendo hasn’t made any new characters in a while, which is disappointing, but I wouldn’t go calling them lazy. The truth is they have been doing more than any other developer out there but since they are Nintendo, it still isn’t enough for us. I have said it multiply times, Nintendo is a victim of their own success. If they only made new games people would complain for another Mario or Zelda. If they just remade their games all the time, people would complain for new stuff. Somehow they manage to do both and people still aren’t happy. What are we complaining for? New characters? They could have created a new character for Galaxy instead of using Mario but would anybody have wanted that? Would it have made a difference?