I Don't Understand Nintendo - WS-N Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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I Don't Understand Nintendo

Nintendo - say this word over a loudspeaker and its guaranteed all within earshot couldn't help but to recognize the iconic name. The irreplaceable founding father of the gaming industry a majority would consider the company. Quite a few unhesitatingly would attribute it as the headquarters of some of the most adored video game franchises ever. Indeed, no doubt kids as well as grownups are eternally grateful for their own personal handheld gaming systems, past and present, engineered by none other than this lion of a publisher/developer. All justifiably so as these interpretations describe Nintendo without fail. Although despite varying views on this legendary organization, and even my own personal history with it, when my ears pick up this word the most dominant thought that resides in my mind is, and I say this carefully, this: unattractive.

You may have given up on me (or worse) with that last sentence but I want you to know this is not some "out of the blue" idea I came up with for the sake of butting heads with die-hard Nintendo fans. Not at all; rather, my opinion of Nintendo as of right now comes from a natural concern for the company's current state. These feelings of confusion and even frustration with Nintendo have arisen for many reasons, which I'll unveil as we progress. I honestly think they have questionable problems, and hopefully by the end of this, you will understand why I just don't understand Nintendo.

The Mushroom Kingdom from the revolutionary Super Mario Bros. games; Donkey Kong, the favored chimp of them all; the praised Zelda titles, which arguably represent the absolute best video games have to offer, all find their home in Nintendo. There is so much to be said on how influential as well as groundbreaking these classics have proven to become. Assuredly not only my childhood, but yours would probably have been a tad less enjoyable without a Nintendo manufactured system in the house establishing these games, names, and places within our everyday life (I mean, who doesn't like Mario?). I proudly still own a Super Nintendo of my own and also a Gamecube believe it or not, playing them and their games when the claws of nostalgia tear at the heart. The problem with this, however, is the fact that the SNES and the Gamecube are the only Nintendo merchandise I own.

I never got around to buying a Wii. I've debated over purchasing one with myself back and forth a number of times because of its many price drops and since a few of my friends seem to love it, but the dispute always ends with a "no". I was planning on picking up a Wii U when it released but I'm very happy I did not considering its somewhat shameful position now. A Nintendo DS Lite graced my hands for a couple of years, though eventually it ended up being traded in for a superior desire. For clarification, I'm not saying those who did buy as well as those who own one of these systems made a bad or dumb choice. I beg to differ on that point, so don't think that. The results from my decisions were also not out of some rigorous hate for Nintendo or their consoles, but solely because the proverbial foot refused to fit the boot. In the back of my mind I knew a nagging voice resembling regret might've uttered words of wisdom if I had proceeded in laying down the dollars for these gaming machines. Therefore, looking back, the math, or logic, wouldn't have had ended to my liking as this long and winding road continues.

Of course, I wouldn't blame you if you've written me off again. How could this guy offer an honest point of view about Nintendo and its products without having played them himself (like the Wii, Wii U, etc.)? And I get that; I am swimming almost ignorantly against a somewhat massive tidal wave of Nintendo supporters and gamers who admire what's been done for them. I, in turn, hold Nintendo up there as an extraordinary, necessary part of the core that is the video game industry. While I am in no way condemning Nintendo as a whole, its track record over the past three to five years stands on the very edge of obsolescence in my eyes.

The prominent evidence which substantiates that bold claim was manifested surprisingly at last year's E3.  The largest gaming convention ever comes to town and what you would think to be the perfect avenue to showcase what a massive name like Nintendo can offer, and, tragically, they took a leave of absence. Virtually nowhere to be found, Nintendo was unwilling to take advantage of a lovely opportunity. Additionally, the Wii U, Nintendo's recently released home gaming console, is unable to sway consumers to it with what could have been possible game reveals, demos, and exclusives. Maybe they abandoned the occasion because they knew Sony and Microsoft would have every gamer around the world distracted by the anticipated next generation reveals, but that's still no excuse. I missed Nintendo at 2013's E3. Not because I esteem their products highly, but due to the fact that they are too huge of a video game persona to not be at the biggest gaming convention ever. It doesn't make sense to me, ultimately leaving me to question Nintendo and their future.

Another moderately poignant reason I find Nintendo unattractive is its recent lack of ambition in its games. The innovation, in my opinion, just isn't there, especially compared to Sony and Microsoft's fulfilling offerings. From where I'm sitting, Nintendo has been in a stale slump resembling a fear to branch out and soar to new heights with its in-house titles. Every year there seems to be two to four supposedly "new" Mario titles. There may be a recent installment in the Zelda or Donkey Kong franchises with a HD remake thrown in there. The thing is it's still the same Zelda and Mario. While the story, graphics, and overall gameplay mechanics may have been altered in some form or another, whether minute or drastically, it's still the same name on the box (and HD remakes are really just the same game with a new coat of paint more or less). It's still the same characters we've grown to love over the past fifteen plus years. Truthfully, Nintendo hasn't produced a compelling new IP in terms of resounding appeal for a while. Sony and Microsoft and other industry companies all the while have brought forth exceptionally pioneering titles in the last ten years such as the Uncharted series, the Gears of War series, the Infamous series, the Assassin's Creed series etc. The list could go on, and will keep on growing as the years go by while Nintendo persistently is fixed on its active plumber. Where's the risk which dozens of other companies are taking (and are eventually succeeding at)? There is a difference between trying to be safe than sorry besides being overly protective of one's own identity.

Lastly, the Wii U is a fairly tough nut to crack. Nintendo as well as other AAA developers appear to be leaving the console out to dry - accumulating harsh amounts of dust along the way. The support for Nintendo's latest package of gaming fun has sorely vanished, and the system's unreliability to enhance as well as create radical unique experiences presently inactive in fellow competitors' hardware, which was the point, is too bad. Even though the Wii U allowed for such games as Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Batman Arkham City and others to materialize on the system, the games unfortunately could not facilitate themselves as a worthwhile investment; some of these titles that had previously been on store shelves for a while yet being the inferior versions. Nintendo also had to play catch up regarding the reality that while Sony's Playstation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 attained the now taken for granted HD capabilities for the last five or seven years or so, the Wii U had just now acquired this feat. Now, with the release of the incredible next-gen hardware, Nintendo lost another lap in the never ending console war race. They are in third place, showing no signs of stepping up. I agree with how the Wii and Nintendo 3DS have, to some degree, accomplished fascinating goals since they both provide different ways to game like solid motion control gaming and 3D visuals without the use of glasses. Surely the Wii was also an accomplishment because of the amount of units it sold, and that's good for Nintendo.

So, you see, like I said before, it's not because I dislike Nintendo that I skipped out on the idea of purchasing one of their consoles or handhelds for that matter; it's because, as you've now read, they do not embody what I desire as a gamer. Their boot refuses to fit my foot. Nintendo's consoles come across to me as experiments you're supposed to spend hundreds of dollars on without the promise of what other consoles, like the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360, offer except for Nintendo's traditional titles, and that is not enough for me. I think Nintendo can do better nonetheless. I do believe they occupy a space in the industry that few, if any, come close to. The talent is there, they seem to possess a loyal fan base, and Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario, Zelda, and others, seems to be greatly involved with the company to this day.

Nintendo's potential is obvious, but, for me, they are not tapping in to what they are truly capable of. Their consoles, games, online features, mostly everything Nintendo does shrinks in comparison to Sony and Microsoft's corresponding methods and overarching impact in recent years. I see the future of the gaming industry in one of the palms of those two's hands, not in the palm of Nintendo. Which begs the question: is there room in the world big enough for three major home console manufacturers? No way would I suggest or want Nintendo to close its doors, but it is an interesting thought. In any case, Nintendo needs to perform a miracle of some sort, whether that be a new console along the same lines as what's already out there, utilizing the Wii U in better ways, or some other game-changing initiative to stop from becoming an tarnished afterthought in the industry (which they already may be). Nintendo might enjoy being the underdog, but it doesn't seem to be a smart game-plan from a business standpoint. It would definitely be exciting to be witnesses to a spectacular comeback from Nintendo for sure, and since it is a new year, the time is now.

All we can do is wait.

                                                                                                                         WS-N, a gamer for the gamers

What did you think of my blog? Do you agree or disagree with my views on Nintendo? Although this topic may be controversial, I think it makes for a healthy discussion. Leave your comments below!

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