Do I have your attention now? Of course I do. And that is exactly what Nintendo is hoping for with the upcoming launch of their new system, the Wii U.
I’ve been playing video games since I was 6 years old. I am currently 32. That’s 26 years of gaming. I’ve played and personally owned an Intellivision, Nintendo, Sega Master System, Gameboy, TurboGrafx-16, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Gameboy Color, Playstation, Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo Gamecube, Gameboy Advance, Playstation 2, XBOX, Nintendo DS, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii and Playstation 3…not to mention the hundreds, if not thousands of games that have accompanied said systems. Now, that’s a lot of fucking gaming, so, I’d like to think I’m well versed in the medium.
Buzzwords. From “Extreme” to “HD” they’ve been a staple in advertising culture since it’s very inception. It’s a way of selling a product or service without really doing anything other than utilizing language that might be resonating in pop culture at the time. Now, living in the digital age as we currently do, buzzwords are absolutely everywhere in marketing these days, and Nintendo knows this. They are clever and they want your money. As someone who makes his living in advertising, I am also familiar with marketing strategies and am hip to these shenanigans.
If you talk to most hardcore gamers, Nintendo has been in a downward spiral ever since the Nintendo 64 failed to be the powerhouse it promised to be. Sure, there were some absolutely fantastic titles that were released for it, but they were few and far between. For every Mario 64, there were at least three Superman 64’s right around the corner waiting to soil your gaming library.
The downward spiral continued with the Nintendo Gamecube, a system that for all it’s strengths, (including the little known fact Gamecube was an HD graphics system more powerful than XBOX or Playstation 2) failed to capture the necessary 3rd party support needed to maintain a noteworthy library of games. In addition, Nintendo’s lack of support for online integration as XBOX Live was on the rise, also helped seal the Gamecube’s fate. Regardless of it’s commercial failure, the Gamecube has some of my absolute favorite titles of all time on it and I am pleased to still own one.
Before moving onto the disaster that is the Wii, I would like to point out that Nintendo has always maintained an extremely high level of quality in the handheld department, from the Gameboy to the DS, there are enough good titles for any gamer to find something they like. Sure, the Virtual Boy was a giant red monstrosity of a disaster, but it was swept under the rug as quickly as it came out and was ultimately forgotten. The current 3DS handheld is also still suspect; it’s currently on its second redesign, and while most dislike the 3D effect it produces, it can be turned off. It’s had a shaky start, but is still a relatively young system and could very well succeed in the long run. I personally don’t own one myself, but once the equal parts cartography/dungeons and dragons game Etrian Odyssey IV comes out, that will likely change.
Now…after a steady decline in quality games, lack of online connectivity and the rise of Sony and Microsoft’s consoles, here’s where things start getting gimmicky with Nintendo…and along comes the Wii.
The fucking Wii…I hate this thing.
The Wii is Nintendo’s current gen gaming console (until the Wii U launches on November 18th) and not only does it have one of the absolute worst libraries of games I have ever seen in a console, it also took a step backwards as far as graphical capabilities went. Stepping down from the HD capabilities of it’s powerful predecessor the Gamecube, the Wii’s lo-res visuals are inexcusable. Nintendo boasted instead that the potential of the Wii lay with the systems innovative, new wireless nunchuk style control scheme and it’s ability to transport you into the game with a level of interactivity never before seen in gaming. Did it? Kinda…some games it works well, others…not so much. Nintendo also attempted to bring online connectivity to the Wii by adding an online store of classic Nintendo, Sega and Super Nintendo games that you could purchase through the console and download directly to the storage device. A really great idea actually. But, one that they failed to maintain and soon the list of new games being added to the Wii store slowed and eventually stopped. A missed opportunity given the scope of Nintendo’s library of great games throughout the years. My time spent with the Wii was brief, (about 6 months before trading it in) as I figured that if waiting 3 years after a systems launch to purchase it didn’t yield many noteworthy games, hanging onto it wouldn’t change things.
Insert gimmicks 2.0
The Wii U launches on November 18th for the retail price of $299 for the 8gb model and $349 for the 32gb version. It features full 1080p HD visuals and graphics on par with the current generation Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 systems. But…it’s a NEXT gen console right? Why does it have the same visuals as the current gen when they are getting ready to launch new systems within the next year? Don’t worry about that, this has a touch screen controller! Not only that, it also has a library of 23 games at launch, around a quarter of which you can, and probably already have played on your Playstation 3 or Xbox 360…but…it has a touch screen controller!!! Come on! You know you want to buy Batman: Arkham City again to play it with this innovative new controller! Not only do you want to, you will. What about original titles? Does a new Mario game work for you? How about a new New Super Marios Bros? But in HD!!! It’s not all that different than the ones for DS and Wii, but hey, HD!!!
It would probably seem after all of this, that I hate Nintendo, or gaming in general for that matter; but it’s quite the opposite really…the Super Nintendo is by far still my favorite gaming console. Ever. And it’s not gaming I hate, it’s the lack of creative IP’s and the fact that one of my favorite entertainment companies is resorting to gimmicks rather than what they should (and used to) be doing, making quality games. Even as mediocre a system the Nintendo 64 was, it launched with Super Mario 64 which completely revolutionized and reinvented 3D platform gaming. The Gamecube saw Samus Aran return to take on Metroid’s in first person perspective, but remained faithful to Super Metroid’s formula as an adventure game where exploration and atmosphere took the spotlight. The Wii…well, it had a nunchuk for a controller; and now the Wii U, well it has a touch screen controller…and games you can already play on a system you probably already own.
It just feels like after all these years, Nintendo has finally used up all their extra lives.
Article by: Jon Caron
Sock Talk Co-Host/Jerk