Nintendo was pretty much top dog (or should I say top Nintendog?) back when gaming was in its infancy, and their only real competition at the time was Sega. Nowadays, the market is more divided, and they’ve got the likes of Sony, Microsoft, and even the PC gaming market to worry about. The fanbases for each system are just as divided. When I tell people that I am a Nintendo fan, the reactions tend to be as random as the mini game selection in Mario Party. On one hand, there are people who grew up with it like I did, and they tend to agree with me. On the other hand, there are people who think Nintendo is for babies and gamers who like rehashes of the same games year after year. My brother is one of the latter, and he often asks why I remain a fan even though I’m not a kid anymore. Well, the answer to that question is both simple and complex—much like Nintendo games themselves.
Take Pokémon for example; it appeals to players both young and old, casual and hardcore alike. Games like these grow up with you because they remain relevant and playable no matter what age you are. When you were young, much akin to one Youngster Joey, romping through the tall grass in your super comfy shorts, you probably played through the main storyline of Pokémon, trained a decent team, and beat the Elite Four and that was it. The core gameplay of Pokémon is simple enough for younger players to enjoy. But when you go back and play Pokémon again as an adult (and you're more Cool Trainer than Youngster) you find that there's elements to the game that are geared towards more mature players. EV training, IV breeding, competitive battling, and shiny hunting are more complex aspects Pokémon that are challenging enough to keep even the most hardcore Pokémon masters entertained. The reason why Pokémon is loved by so many people is because it was designed with a large, multi-generational audience in mind—much like many other Nintendo games.
I love how Nintendo games are often bigger than themselves and bridge the generational gap. It's a prime example of excellent game design when the game can remain relevant and enjoyable no matter what age you are. It becomes less about sales and doing what's mainstream and more about gameplay; that's how they stay afloat as a company and continue to have much success. In fact, Eiji Aonuma, producer of The Legend of Zelda series, says that he doesn't pay attention to sales when creating a new Zelda game; he'd rather focus on memorable gameplay. The same rings true for the design of many other Nintendo games too. Whether you're playing with puppies, saving Princess Peach for the 1000th time, giving a hand in the toilet some paper in exchange for a questionable heart piece, or saving the galaxy by committing mass genocide, you're having the time of your life doing it because it's a Nintendo game and that means awesome gameplay. Many people criticize the company saying that they don't invest enough in next gen graphics or more mature gameplay. However, Nintendo argues that the graphical styles and gameplay mechanics they choose set them apart from other companies, and I think that's true. Look at how people criticized The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker when it first came out for looking so childish. Now, 10 years after its release, even the normal, non HD version cell-shaded graphics for the Gamecube still look excellent. That was a smart move on the developers' part; not many games from 2003 look as good as The Wind Waker. In terms of gameplay, Nintendo games usually aren't on the violent side, which is why some people say their games are for babies. I disagree—a game doesn't have to be violent to be fun. I've had more fun playing Animal Crossing than Grand Theft Auto. Many may criticize the Nintendo formula, but there's no doubt that it works. Part of the reason why it works so well is because of the amazing team of developers, directors, and presidents that Nintendo has.
Seriously, who could not love the likes of Shigeru Miyamoto, Reggie Fils-Aime, Satoru Iwata, and Masahiro Sakurai (to name a few)? I love how involved these guys get with the fans. You can really tell that they love what they're doing, and how passionate they are about their work. They're also the kind of people who listen to what their fans want as well. Heck, it even says so on the Nintendo of America twitter page that they listen to the fans. Because these guys are so present in the public eye, it really makes you feel as if you're part of the Nintendo family and that you know these guys personally (or that you'd really like to)! I love how that because the higher ups at Nintendo are larger than life, it really gives the impression that they love the the games and the company as much as you do and that provides to the fans a real sense of involvement in the company itself. It's just nice to know that they care as much as the fans do. You get the whole experience with Nintendo, and there's nothing else like it in the world.
To me, both Nintendo as a company and the games they produce are just so magical (although I don't know how it gets very much more magical than the picture above). Who could ever forget the first time they heard the iconic Mario Bros theme song, or when they received their very first Pokémon, or when they stepped foot into Hyrule for the first time? Nintendo games are all about the overall experience, and their games more often than not have a lasting impression on all who play them. Takashi Tezuka, one of the developers of the upcoming Wii U title, Yoshi's Wooly World, said something that really struck me. He said in a developer diary that he wanted to create a game that brings a smile to your face just by owning it. That to me is just so wholesome, and I don't think there are many other gaming companies who take as much pride in their games as Nintendo does. And the fans are the same way—we proudly stand by Mario, Yoshi, Samus, Link, and even Wario—and Wario smells like garlic and B.O. It's a great time to be a Nintendo fan right now, even though people have been quick to start predicting its demise. Fans stick by the company in the good times and the bad—just as they were there to cheer us up when we were down as kids and even as adults. No, Nintendo isn't going anywhere soon, and as they displayed at E3, effectively winning and stealing the show, they have a lot in store for the future. I guess maybe the biggest reason why I'll always be a Nintendo fan is because they're always moving forwards, never giving up, always innovating, and continuously proving people wrong.
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