Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Nintendo: The Disruptive Underdog. Always and Forever.

E3 just ended and all I ever find myself hearing is "Xbox one" this, and "PS4" that.  And with good reason!  There's no doubt that the PS4 and Xbox one are the powerhouses right now, but lets not forget about the little guys.  Yeah, you know who I'm talking about, Nintendo!  With all this hype about the next generation "coming out", let's not forget that it has technically already begun.

Nintendo, of course, has practically been the underdog for as long as I can remember.  Sure, there was a point where the N64 and PlayStation were neck and neck, but those days are long gone.  It seems that ever since the GameCube was released, Nintendo has been on a decline amongst the hard-core gaming crowd, but truthfully, I don't think that it's time to count them out quite just yet.

I continuously hear people saying that "this console will be Nintendo's demise".  Been hearing it for years, in fact.  They said it about the GameCube, the Wii, and I'm already hearing it from people about the Wii U, even though the little guy has only been out for a few months.  But let's face the facts: Nintendo isn't going anywhere.  They were a big help in making gaming as mainstream as it is today, and they will always be pushing the envelope with everything they do.  They may not have the most powerful system on the market, but I think a lot of people confuse power with fun.

Games aren't about how good they look.  A game can look absolutely magnificent and play like complete crap.  And vice versa, a game can look like complete crap, but can provide us with some of the best entertainment that we've ever had.  I think that Minecraft is a good representative of this.  The game isn't about looking nice, it's about building your greatest creations and bringing them to life.  Surviving for just one more day, mining just one more row so you can find those diamonds you're looking for.  Notch, the creator of Minecraft, focused on creativity.  He brought us something that we had never seen before, and Nintendo is no different.

Who here remembers the Power Glove?  The Link Cable?  How about the Game boy Printer?  The GameCube-to-Game boy Advance cable?  The list goes on and on, but Nintendo has always been there since the beginning, pushing creative idea's.  Some worked better than others.  Some didn't work at all... But the fact remains that they attempted to go outside the box.  This is something that I rarely see from Microsoft or Sony.  They let Nintendo do all the work, then when something is successful they follow suit.  We saw it with the Kinect and the PlayStation Move, and now we even see the Kinect built into the Xbox One.

Last year when Nintendo announced that the Wii U and how it had a tablet built into the controlled, neither Sony nor Microsoft missed a beat.  Microsoft shortly after announces Smartglass, and Sony announces that they have a touch screen built into their new controller.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.

So his smile may be a bit odd, but it is still genuine
The fact of the matter is that Sony and Microsoft are all about the money.  Whereas I do not get that feel with Nintendo.  In fact, there's something magical about Nintendo.  I honestly think that a lot of it has to do with Shigeru Miyamoto.  I mean, of course it has to do with him, he's had a hand in practically every great franchise that Nintendo has to offer, he is a man that truly knows how to create a fun game. But there's more to him than just that, his presence on stage shows that he cares for games.  That he has a genuine love for them.  The thing that sticks out the most to me was at last years E3.  They start it off with a video of Miyamoto in his room, reading something, while animated pikmin run throughout his room having a blast.  When the video ends and Miyamoto comes out onto stage it is revealed that he has a Pikmin in his pocket.  He pulls it out, and what follows is the most genuine smile I have ever seen in my entire life.  I don't know about you guys, but I truly enjoyed that moment last year.  Any representative from either Sony of Microsoft would never have done such a thing.  They would have been far too embarrassed and worried about "their image" to do such a thing.  Instead, just like every other year, they came out with their hands behind their backs, and talked in the most boring, predictable way that they could.

I think the way someone handles themselves on stage shows a lot about what they're representing.  I think that by Nintendo allowing this to happen shows that they're not at all afraid to have a little fun every once in awhile, and that this one occurrence practically shows everything that Nintendo is all about.

Somewhere along the line I think a lot of us forgot that games are about having fun.  I hear people constantly talking about how the PS4 and the XBone has so much more graphical power than the Wii U, making it a worthless system that is destined to fail.  It's not about that, and it'll never be about that.  The Wii U won't fail, and truthfully the only thing that keeps it behind Sony and Microsoft is the lack of 3rd party support that the console has, not the power the system has to offer.

The Wii was practically incapable of it.  It had a strange controller, one that relied on motion controls, it was completely understandable why third party developers didn't want to deal with it, it was a hassle to practically recreate the controls that you had already mapped for the PS4 and 360.  However, I am a firm believer in the controller that Nintendo has put together for the Wii U.  It's essentially has the same layout as both the Playstation and Xbox controller, the only difference is that big screen in the middle, and if anything, that screen is a positive attribute to the system.

Me playing Super Metroid in the car using
the Wii-U
And I'm not referring to the touch screen controls that the tablet has.  I think it has been proven with the DS that touch screen games don't work quite as well as we wish they did.  They're usually clunky and hard to focus on two screen at once.  However, the great thing about the tablet controller is that it provides so much more than just touch controls.  The fact that I can lay down in my bed at night, grab my Wii-U tablet and play Monster Hunter Tri or Call of Duty Black Ops, watch Netflix, or play any of the virtual console games that the Wii U has to offer, without so much as turning on my TV is a glorious thing.  It is the power of a console system, with the luxury of a handheld, and it is a feature that I think a lot of people overlook with the Wii U.  Hell, a few weekends ago I even took my
Wii U on a road trip with me, no television required

If Wii-U could get some good third party support, then can you imagine the possibilities?  The developers don't have to change much, probably about as much as it would take to switch between PS3 and Xbox controllers.  They are no longer forced to incorporate motion or touch controls into their game, the only difference between the Wii U version compared to the PS4 or XBone versions would be that I can play it in the palm of my hand, built into my controller.  I wouldn't need to go out and buy an entirely different handheld, such as Sony is offering with the Vita compatibility.  And much unlike Microsoft Smartglass, the Wii U controlled actually has buttons (which are a necessity, regardless of what Microsoft seems to be thinking).  The screen is always there, sitting right in between both your hands.  If you give the developers the option then why wouldn't they take it?

I guess to sum it all up, Nintendo is an underdog.  Nintendo has always been an underdog ever since its GameCube days.  People count Nintendo out because it doesn't have the graphical power of the other systems, but that's not what Nintendo it about.  The Wii-U still has graphical power greater than the PS3 and 360.  It is currently the most powerful console on the marketplace, and I certainly haven't heard anyone complaining about how horrible The Last of Us or BioShock Infinite looks.  Combining those graphics with the creativity and fun that Nintendo has always given us, add in the semi-portable capabilities that the Wii U offers, throw in all the retro games that they will release on the Virtual Console, and you've got a combination to be afraid of.  Nintendo will prevail with or without 3rd party support, this I do not doubt.  But just try and imagine a world where 3rd party developers support the Wii U, and gladly offer any of their games to it.  That, my friends, is a world that I would love to live in.  And if Nintendo plays their cards right, then perhaps they will finally come out of ths "underdog" spot that they've become so very comfortable with.  Then again, maybe not.  Maybe Nintendo will be just that; an underdog, forever and always.

7 comments:

  1. I agree with you man. The only problem on Wii U is the support of Third parties.

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  2. There should not be a hyphen in Wii U.
    Also GameCube has an uppercase C.
    And Game Boy is two words.

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    1. Thanks much for the tips! Some of these things I just don't really think about!

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  3. Finally, a kindred spirit!
    Games are most certainly NOT all about graphics. Cave Story is proof of that. [there's a reason why it has been re-released twice before it came out a third time for the 3DS].
    It's true that third party games typically have had a hard time porting over to the Wii, and there are plenty of examples to demonstrate that.

    (However, there was actually a game that performed better on the Wii than the PS3 and Xbox 360. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. On the PS3 and 360, there would be a noticeable lag when charging through doors that didn't exist on the Wii.)

    Once again, great article.

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  4. I agree that games are not just about graphics, and I really love Nintendo! However, I just can't get the Wii U - at least not yet. This frustrates me, because I really want to want it! I'm sick of these graphical powerhouse games with little fun factor (although I'm loving The Last of Us at the moment...) and I'm craving that pick up and play Nintendo experience.

    The issue with Wii U is that there is simply no killer app - there is no major incentive for me to get the system. I can't think of any Wii U game that makes me say "I have to play this game". I really hope that changes.

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    1. Agreed. I do love the potential my Wii U has, and I do enjoy the 30 cent retro games they are offering, but practically every big name game (Pikmin and The Wonderful 101 being the two big ones) have gotten delayed until the end of summer/early fall. My main reasoning for getting one was because of Pikmin, so I am certainly disappointed in this, but I do believe they're coming around. The 3DS had a pretty rocky start as well, but as of late its been having a onslaught of awesome games! Lets hope Wii U does the same!

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  5. Finally, someone understands what a game is all about! All the people that were in my class hated the nes because it had bad graphics. but you understand!

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