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
So, what’s brought about this latest run of “Nintendo is doomed” articles that have become more and more prevalent recently? For the most part it’s 3DS problems. I’m not talking about nubageddon, the lacklustre e-shop, or the 3D health warnings here; I’m talking about the games and lack thereof. When it was first shown at E3 we saw a big billboard full of games and devs committed to bringing quality titles and known franchises to the 3DS – finally, Nintendo has good solid 3rd party support. Right now the only 3DS game I own is Street Fighter IV, which is a great port, but it’s still just a port from the console versions. As are Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 64, enhanced as they may be, they’re still ports of old games given a new lick of paint. Everybody knows Nintendo rushed this launch due to pressure from their stockholders, and this has resulted in a pretty sizable games drought, and due to this a lot of the original E3 hype has died down to a death rattle moan. This also comes on the back of the whole Operation Rainfall fiasco and the resulting bad PR Nintendo garnered from it. I mean, Christ, even the retailers wanted Nintendo to bring those games to America, but it seems like Nintendo’s ears were closed to the pleas of their fans.
But I’m not here to kick Nintendo whilst they’re down – for a start it’s far too easy, and for another thing it’s lazy thinking to say “Nintendo’s doomed”. Or maybe for you it’s wishful thinking. “I already own a 360/PS3, but I want to have my cake and eat it, I want Nintendo games on my system of choice”. Fair enough, you’re a frugal person and you don’t want to miss out on Mario/Zelda/Metroid, etc. But here’s the thing: back in the halcyon days of Sega vs. Nintendo you just bought one console or the other, and you dealt with the hand you chose. Got a SNES but want to play Sonic? Tough shit, stop bitching and enjoy the games you already have. The 360 and PS3 both have excellent and compelling libraries without Nintendo’s games, but people still feel the need to rage at Nintendo for not collapsing in on itself like a black hole star and go completely 3rd party so they can reap the benefits of feeding on Nintendo’s maggoty corpse.
We’ve been in this trifecta position before with Sega/Nintendo/Sony, and Sega after having made many poor business decisions decided to turn into a software only company, abandoning their console ambitions entirely. From a monetary stand point it was a great move and saved their arses. But from a creativity point of view, not so much. Sega have seemed content for a long time now to just tread out a constant stream of mediocre Sonic games with only the odd great game like Valkyria Chronicles to tide them over. Sega's mostly a publisher now, and not the house of bright ideas it used to be back when they were console makers as well as software developers. That's exactly what would happen with Nintendo - you'd get Mario and Zelda games ad infinitum, but forget about getting Metroid, Pikmin, and Kirby as they're too niche. What happened to the Sega that did Streets of Rage, Jet Set Radio, Skies of Arcadia, etc? Yes, Nintendo going 3rd party would mean you wouldn't have to buy another console, but you'd also see less Nintendo games as a consequence, and less creativity. Of course this is just my opinion, it’s not fact, and just because this happened to Sega doesn’t mean the same thing would happen to Nintendo.
I want all of you to answer a few questions for me: Why do you really want Nintendo to stop being a hardware company? Is it that you feel betrayed by the casual focus of the Wii? Is it Operation Rainfall or the 3DS problems? Is it the games droughts? Maybe it’s all of the above. What I also want to ask you is are these reasons enough to want a company to stop making consoles and just focus on making games for the highest bidder that they may not have editorial control over?