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A nostalgic roadtrip with Graev

super mario land gameboy

The other night I was doing my usual binge-watching of Netflix when I suddenly felt like pulling out my 3DS. I opened it up and searched through various virtual console games that I had purchased, and probably never played, until I finally settled on Super Mario Land. Ah, now that game takes me back. So with The Office playing in the background I proceeded through Super Mario Land at a steady pace. For those of you who might not be aware: Super Mario Land is an old GameBoy game. Most of it is exactly what you expect from a Mario game- Well, that’s not really true at all. SML is actually a whole lot different from regular Mario titles. You do run around and jump on stuff and hit blocks like normal but that is pretty much where the similarities end. You are trying to rescue Daisy (who turns into a bug for some reason), Koopa Troopas leave behind exploding bombs when they die, there are weird bug enemies, sphinx guys, creepy kung fu grasshoppers, rock dudes, rock riding, a submarine vehicle level, and an airplane vehicle level. It’s pretty strange but a lot of fun all the same. Also the Star Powerup music is the can-can song and that’s just weird.

I actually made it all the way through the entire game and only died a couple times. I sat there feeling pretty satisfied when it finally hit me: I’ve never beat this game before. I’ll always be reminded (especially by my family) of the time when I lived back east in Massachusetts. My family would take weekend drives to Vermont and other places; point out leaves and various historical sites all around us. The joke is that while we were supposed to be taking in all of the sights I instead had my face glued to my GameBoy. They joke around and say that all I remember of living there was my Gameboy and that’s not entirely untrue. Some of the best games I ever played were on those car rides. Super Mario Land, Wario Land, Donkey Kong 94, Kirby’s Dreamland, TMNT: Radical Rescue, and so on.

So there I sat having just completed one of my favorite childhood games for the first time. It wasn’t even that hard at all, which is a lot different than how I remember things. I had this moment and feeling that things had come full circle and that my childhood was now, somehow, officially over. It was a strange and sobering experience and something that I entirely made up just now. Seriously though, it’s a fun game. You should check it out.

Nintendo is Lost Right Now

wii-u

Nintendo released their earnings report, and things aren’t looking so hot.  The Wii U didn’t sell nearly (even close) to as many units as they projected, and even after lowering their expectations they failed to meet the new numbers.  Ouch.

We are Nintendo fans.  I think they are one of the better video game companies out there, and have been since I can remember.  For as long as I’ve played video games (since 1990) they’ve been making games I love.  There was a time when not a month would go by without there being a new beloved Nintendo title on the market pulling in fans.  Something is starting to change.  There are fewer and fewer first party titles.  Hardware is releasing without support.  THe company as a whole is putting off this sense that they have no idea where they are going, how they are going to go there, or why.

I think this can all be fixed.  Here’s what I would do.

nintendo-first-partyRelease more -NEW- FIRST PARTY titles

Seriously.  Wii U came out November 2012 and we still don’t have a new Zelda to play.  Smash Bros is still not out yet, and the Mario games we’re seeing are starting to be formulaic.   If I were Nintendo I would create a very clear roadmap of when to expect the major franchise releases.  They don’t want to dilute the brands at all by over-releasing titles, but people have to know that there is at least a plan.   The Wii U can’t be a device that just plays older Nintendo games, even though they are awesome.

alpha-sappireMake a Pokemon game for the Wii U

This one seems obvious to me.  The latest installment of Pokemon introduced a ‘3D’ world on the Nintendo 3DS.  Nintendo would be crazy not to capitalize on a fully-realized Pokemon game for their console.  Pokemon sells hardware.  Use that to your advantage!  Yes, Nintendo only owns a third of Pokemon, but money changes minds.

Oh, and while I’m talking about Pokemon did you hear about the Sapphire and Ruby re-remakes?

Integrate your handhelds into your console market

mario-golf-world-tour-3ds

The Wii U and the 3DS are both great consoles.  Individually they are already neat devices, but I want to see more interaction between the two.  I think Sony is on to something with the Vita and how well it interacts with the PS4.  I’d like to see the 3DS play games with the Wii U, and even take control or act as a companion device.

Stop being… weird

Lately Nintendo has taken  this… weird ‘oddball’ style.  The last two Nintendo Directs have shown that whoever has taken over for their marketing thinks all Nintendo fans are 32 year-old stoners.  Being weird once or twice is okay, but making it part of your brand isn’t.  Be yourself.  Be that youthful company who mastered the art of creating franchises appealing to and entertaining for all ages.

Marketing Nintendo games should be the easiest thing on the planet.  Focus on the dang games!