With all the drama that’s transpired around Nintendo recently, it could be enough to make some fans worry. Whether it’s their falling sales forecast, questions over leadership, or price issues with the Wii U, everything seems to be slowly but surely sinking. In spite of all these problems, I still have high hopes that Nintendo will stay afloat for the foreseeable future, though regrettably I won’t be the one dragging them to shore.
At the end of the day, Nintendo know what they’re doing. They create classic titles time and time again, have a dedicated fan base that keep coming back for more, and have a special place in the hearts of many. Their consoles don’t only attract teens and adults but are truly family friendly. They have by far the widest selection of games aimed at younger players, and carry a lower price tag that is more appealing for parents. They tick all the boxes across the board to make sure their products can be enjoyed by everyone, and they do a good job of it, too.
Nintendo also have some of the most recognisable faces in the business, which is not something just any company can claim. My own mother could tell you who Link is, but wouldn’t know Nathan Drake from Master Chief. Over their decades of success Nintendo have built up a formidable army of household names that have been in all of our lives at some time or another, and these fan favourites will always shift merchandise. While the cartoonish style of Mario may put some off, the familiar moustached face is still welcoming to many players who will always be happy to go an adventure with the mushroom chomping plumber.
Their handhelds in particular are the most successful there are, and I for one have never been without one of their portable gaming systems in my life. Even if their household consoles one day fail them, Nintendo have cracked the magic formula with their handhelds, and will always have that to fall back on. Even some of my friends who aren’t that into gaming have picked up a Gameboy or DS over the years, because they appeal to both casual and hard-core gamers. They’re just that good.
Because of all these things and more, I firmly believe that Nintendo will keep their head above the water through this tough time. Even if they do start to sink, their fans will pull them back up. That said, I myself have seen the cracks forming in Nintendo’s image for some time now, and have already taken a huge step back from the company. It may sound hypocritical for me to spout on about how great they are when I am far from a fan, but I can see the strengths of Nintendo while accepting that their methods just aren’t for me.
It hasn’t always been this way, of course. I spent many hours of my childhood and teens enjoying a mountain of the company’s classics, picking up anything from Breath of Fire to Harvest Moon. Way back when, the Gamecube even introduced me to two of my now all-time favourite games, but it’s hard to think what Nintendo has done for me lately. Okay, so I poured hundreds of hours into both Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem on my 3DS, but that was months ago. Now all the little white handheld does is sit idle on my desk, collecting street passes from the merry people of London.
Nintendo have no doubt had huge ages of greatness, but the ‘wow’ moments are now few and far between, which isn’t enough to hold my interest. I owned a Wii but never bought more than maybe six titles, and I completely ignored the Wii U for this reason. It simply isn’t worth the money-to-fun ratio, and though I did cave in and pick up a 3DS for the above mentioned titles, I probably won’t have the biggest collection of games on that, either. For me, their consoles and games have been gradually rolling downhill for a while, and at the end of the day, I’d rather invest elsewhere.
The biggest problem for me is that Nintendo games are repetitive, and there is no escaping it. While each new entry into the Mario, Zelda or Pokemon franchise may be strong, it is always, essentially, a rehash of something that they’ve done before. Yes, there are small elements that mix up the gameplay and story, but after my tenth time visiting the Mushroom Kingdom or my hundredth-million gym badge it all starts to feel a bit stale.
This isn’t just exclusive to Nintendo franchises; it’s the same reason that I quickly became bored with Batman: Arkham Origins but actually really enjoy Final Fantasy XIII. I like it when developers take the risk to mix up an already successful formula to try and create something new, even if it goes against everything the franchise is known for. It is a brave and daring act, and sometimes if you push past the rage from your childhood memories being defiled, it actually works out for the best. Nintendo will rarely, if ever, take such a huge risk with their core games, and it leaves me disappointed.
I’m not saying Nintendo are stuck in the past, because they have made some admirable advances over the years. Their innovations of hardware have always been appealing to me, while their occasional shake-ups, such as Luigi replacing Mario, are always a welcome change of pace. Opening their doors to games such as ZombiU, Bayonetta 2 and Watch Dogs echoes this premise, so I’ll give them their dues; they are trying to make progress. However, despite all their minor advances it’s far too little too late, and no matter how many steps Nintendo take forward they will inevitably fall back into their old habits. I’m bored of the charade, and I’m done trying to convince myself that this time Pokemon will be as awesome as it was when I was 12. It’s never going to be, and it’s silly of me to pretend.
Nintendo will survive for now, of that I am sure, but they need to do some serious rethinking before they run out of borrowed time. It may not be this year, it may not be next year, but one day they are going to run head first into a brick wall, and realise what a mess they’ve made. I really do hope they make it through these troubled times all the better for the experience, though, because for all of the appeal they’ve lost for me, I would still be sad to see Nintendo lost forever.