E3: Nintendo

My name is Keen and I am happy. Like Mr. Reggie I see today as a celebration for Nintendo. Why is Reggie so happy and why is Nintendo doing so well? Currently they are the top selling gaming console and portable systems in the world for 2007. This is no surprise given that the Wii’s shelf life is now only at it’s 33rd week. Nintendo DS portable gaming systems have sold millions upon millions world wide and are well received by gamers both new and old of all ages. Reggie has a lot to smile about.

At this year’s E3, Nintendo’s Presentation had a theme. You shouldn’t have had any trouble figuring out that Nintendo is trying to be the company that can and will cater to anyone and everyone. Nintendo is trying to make their systems the systems of the people. “Everyone is a gamer.” I’m unsure of my feelings on this one. Throughout the presentation Reggie made it his purpose to make it clear to everyone that anyone can be a gamer. If you turn on a DS you are a gamer. If you give the Wiimote a try you are in fact now a gamer. Nintendo announced several games that they felt are for everyone. From word puzzles and brain teasers to caring for your own little puppy or preparing food, Nintendo’s goal is mass market appeal.

Reggie brought up a very good point. Nintendo’s demographics are reaching far more female games out there than any other systems. It is of no doubt to me that the reason behind this is certainly the aforementioned style of games and general feeling that Nintendo is trying to exude. The games for DS and Wii, for the most part, are being designed so that anyone can use them even if they have never before in their life played a game. Now like never before games are being designed to have streamlined easy playable content for families to enjoy. Instead of having to work at the game to get to the goods you will now be able to immediately jump right into the “fun” and participate. Again, I am unsure how I feel on this. There are those of us out there who enjoy the Zelda, Mario, Metroid, and other titles that Nintendo has become so famous for. Does Nintendo remember us?

I was beginning to completely abandoned by Nintendo until halfway through the presentation Reggie finally, and I stress finally, reveals a title I am interested in. Mario Kart is coming to the Wii! My absolute favorite title from previous systems will be making an appearance for the Wii and have world wide real time multiplayer action in both race and battle style. Bundled with Mario Kart will be the newly announced wheel accessory for the Wiimote. By attaching the Wiimote to the back of the wheel players will be able to drive their carts like never before. The best part about this is that the concept really has potential. This announcement is huge for the Wii because so far we have not really seen any games meant for those of us who have been with Nintendo for decades (aside from Zelda.). Along with Mario Kart, there will be a Metroid game coming to the Wii that once again looks really really good. The controls and the depth of gameplay that the Wiimote will create is actually something to be excited about. These two titles are a site for sore eyes.

But that’s not all. Nintendo announced that Super Smash Bros will be coming out in 2007 as well as… MARIO GALAXY! FINALLY (bold for emphasis) I can say I am glad that I own a Wii. It’s crazy that Nintendo has waited this long to get these games out. If these games were launch titles not only would the Wii have been even more of a booming success but it’s release would have been catastrophic nail in the coffin for the PS3. But that’s the past and now there is only this blinding bright future ahead. Mario Galaxy is looking like it will be the best Mario console gamer ever. Just the shear number of things that the Wii will introduce to the series will make this a title to never forget. Also, Smash Bros (a favorite of ours) will be a breath of fresh air.

Wii Fit. Where to start? I don’t like it at all. Simple enough I guess. I don’t see this as game related at all and I certainly don’t see any justification for it taking a massive portion of their presentation. I have absolutely zero interest in weighing myself on a Wii or standing on a board in the middle of the room to play ridiculous minigames. I’m sure the Japanese eat this stuff up but where is the market in North America for fitness in video games? I don’t know about you but I prefer a big recliner and a bag of chips with my Mario. If I wanted exercise I would go outside. But like I said in the beginning of this entry, Nintendo is going out on a limb to round up everyone they can to slap on a gamer tag.

Nintendo needs to stick with what they do best. Making great games like Zelda, Mario titles, Metroids, etc. They need to get away from this Mii thing and see that in order to compete in the long run they need lasting appeal. The fitness and “cutesie” bit will wear off quickly. In all it was a good presentation but it should have been great.

  • “Nintendo needs to stick with what they do best. Making great games like Zelda, Mario titles, Metroids, etc.”

    Because that philosophy worked so well for the Gamecube… please. The only reason they are even relevant is because they decided to break the mold that was causing them to come in 2nd and 3rd. Even at that, if they don’t move into the online space pretty quick I think they are going to have some problems.

  • That’s very true. Nintendo needs to compete with Sony’s Network and Xbox Live. Hopefully with Mario Kart they will have the beginning steps towards integrating online play into more titles.

  • You guys, Nintendo doesn’t need to compete with Sony of Msft. I think the DS and now the Wii has proven that. I mean, come on… they essentially slapped motion sensing on a sleek Gamecube and the public is eating it up. We, as the core gamer crowd, often forget that we’re not the only ones with spare cash to toss around. In fact we’re the minority to Nintendo.

    We’ll still get our Ninty franchises, but the fact of the matter is, they aim to expand the market, and they don’t need Online to do it. They need experiences that the “others” will be drawn to. Miis, WiiFit, WiiSports… these are all angled at that goal.

    I just hope we’re not witnessing a dumbing down of all games. I mean, I love me some Nintendo, but what if all their success slowly begins to bring Sony and Msft in the same direction. What if the days of console games like Mass Effect and God of War are at an end?

    That’s what we should be talking about. What if the casual slowly replaces the hardcore?

    Will it happen? I don’t think so. But then, even as a Nintendo supporter, I once thought the DS would flop and the Wii would too. I’ve been proven wrong many a time before.

  • That’s the angle I was trying to convey, Bildo. The dumbing down of games to appeal to a broader market could be related to World of Warcraft on the PC bringing MMO’s to the “masses”. Eventually if they make it a success others will follow.

    I’m obviously not an extremely casual gamer and things like Mii’s and Wii Fit are absolutely uninteresting to me – which is why I truly do hope we see more of those blockbuster franchises being made.

    The reason Nintendo DOES need to compete with Sony and Microsoft is because if they don’t then they will lose the “gamers” and be left with their new and more “fit” generation. 😉

  • From a software standpoint, they do. Absolutely. But not with online services. As long as they work towards it, which they have been ever so freakin’ slowly, people will line up in droves, hardcore and casual alike to buy Nintendo products.

    Give the fans Metroid, give the new folks WiiFit, throw in online play, and call it a day. We’re sheep, us consumers. Nintendo and all the rest of the gaming companies know this.

    Critics like to harp on sequels, but the truth is, they sell. Hell, Zelda sold “poorly” in Japan this X-mas season… and still managed what, half a million sold?

    We follow trends, for the most part. We’re a product of our own commercialization. All Nintendo needs to do is keep going with hot-button topics and they’ll sell millions.

    If they lose you or I in the midst? I don’t know that they’d really care.

    Man, that sounds jaded. But I guess I’m just in the “meh, everything’s the same” mood today. Must be that badly directed Harry Potter that I saw yesterday. 😛