I first got into gaming through a NES I'd begged by mum to buy me for my birthday after playing Mario & Chip Dale Rescue Rangers at a friends house. I remember how bright the colours were, the crispness of the sound, and the sheer unputdownable nature of those games. It taught me how to rescue princesses, save worlds and shoot ducks. It also started my love affair with games.
What I'm playing now:
Red Dead Redemption
Mass Effect 2
Super Street Fighter 3D
Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
Ocarina of Time
Black & White
Right now there's a drought in the blue ocean strategy. Nintendo is like the childhood sweetheart you used to hang out and play with and you have so many great memories of, then you see her years later and she's changed into some one you don't even know. My retro rose-tinted nostalgia glasses look back fondly at the times I used to share with the NES and SNES and the varied and massive libraries of games both systems used to afford. Somewhere along the way Nintendo, my childhood sweetheart stopped caring about me, and you and everyone else. Right now as we speak Nintendo is pulling cheap tricks for casual customers on a street corner somewhere for a quick hit of dirty cash. Sure there were some great games on N64, Gamecube and Wii – but steadily they became less and less, and people's love for The Big N began to wane.
So, come E3 2011 they show us the Wii U, which is supposed to seduce us back to Nintendo's side. Not just the Nintendo loyal fans, but all of the people that have left them over the years due to feeling burned by a company they have bitter sweet memories of. They plan on winning back “the core” by bringing out a HD console with very little in the way of specs, confirmed games, price and a ridiculous name. So you'd think in the Wii's last year they'd have planned some sort of last hurrah for the system, such as localising games that America/Europe have never had (*ahem* Mother 3). That'd be logical, right? Wrong. This is what Nintendo had to say:
"Thank you for your enthusiasm. We promised an update, so here it is. We never say "never," but we can confirm that there are no plans to bring these three games to the Americas at this time. Thanks so much for your passion, and for being such great fans!"
It's like Nintendo's saying to us “Thanks for caring. I promise I'll clean myself up and try and be a better person.” But you know Nintendo can never be the company they were. There's a great article on IGN by Rich George ( http://uk.wii.ign.com/articles/118/1180293p2.html ) saying that Nintendo has lost touch with it's fans both literally and figuratively, and that there is no real Nintendo community like Sony and Microsoft has – no real forum in which to communicate with the Big N other than a meagre Twitter and Facebook page.
But you're European, I hear you say, you're going to get Xenoblade and possibly The Last Story and Pandora's Tower, if rumours are to be believed. Be that as it may, Nintendo's shoddy localisation and business practices affect us all. Plus treating your most loyal fans and customers this way is disgraceful. Would you ever see Valve pulling this shit with it's customers? Christ, even Microsoft and Sony wouldn't do this, and that's saying something.
But I'm not just going to be a "Negative Nancy", as I believe if you criticise the way something's done the least you should do is have some suggestions on how to make things better to back up your argument. So, what's the solution to all this bad PR heat Nintendo has brought upon themselves?
1. Take a loss to make a gain. Nintendo seem for the most part incredibly risk averse, especially when it comes to new franchises. Localise more titles and part with some of that Scrooge McDuck money you've got in your vault made out of gold plated Wii's and DS's and buy a bunch of 3rd party exclusives. This also includes taking more risks with their consoles. Give us great online, cutting edge graphics, a well implemented digital store with a bigger back catalogue and a decent hardrive at least. Or, if they really want to impress people offer cloud saving and cross game cha into the bargain as well and keep the online gaming aspect free, and I guarantee you people would jump on board.
2. Advertise your games heavily, not just the first party ones, but the second party and third party also. Show the people that are making games with you some support and they will flock to you. Show them no support and they will spurn you.
I'll end on a point Jim Sterling made on one of the Podtoids recently where he said (and I paraphrase "Nintendo's used to be the Mick Jagger and David Bowie of the video game world, but now they're just old farts"). I think it's a point that deserves thinking about, salacious as the comment is, I think he's made an excellent point. Nintendo still make great games, but when was the last time they truly made something completely out there? (And no, Steel Diver doesn't count). I'd go as far to say Pikmin was the last time Nintendo took a crazy chance and made a new franchise. I would love nothing more than for Nintendo to be the crazy company they began as - a company hungry to experiment, to innovate to make something vibrant and new. It's ironic that to become something new Nintendo must return to the roots that made them the company they are today. I can only hope one day they will realise this.