I’ve been a Nintendo fan for as long as I can remember, immersing myself in the best games every system had to offer: from the NES to the Wii. As the gaming industry evolved, Nintendo proved slow to keep up.
This fact is well-hidden by the massive success of the Nintendo Wii, because Nintendo persuaded a bunch of “casual gamers” to purchase their minigames and shovelware. The Wii U’s success (or lack thereof) is a telling sign that people refuse to be fooled twice, and that Nintendo better tread carefully, or they’ll end up like Sega.
Nintendo is in a peculiar situation. The unique circumstances of the Wii have made Nintendo a fortune that will most certainly not be repeated with the Wii U. The company has enough resources to survive if the Wii U turns out to be an overall failure.
It’s quite possible the system will fail, despite the handful of truly awesome games coming out for it. The lack of strong 3rd party support only emphasizes the slow rate at which 1st party AAA titles are released. This brings me to the first item on my list:
Concern #1: Not Enough AAA Titles
It’s common sense that Super Smash Brothers is best served with one release per console generation. Luckily it came out towards the end of the N64 lifecycle so there’s only two years between the first two entries. There’s a seven year gap between Melee and Brawl, and Brawl will be six years old when the 4th entry arrives next year.
Starting with Ocarina of Time, Nintendo used to pop out Legend of Zelda console entries every two years. After Wind Waker, there’s a four year break before Twilight Princess was released, and a five year break before Skyward Sword came out. At first I thought this was Nintendo avoiding oversaturation of the market, but one must realize these games require very lengthy development cycles.
The Wii was on the market for five years before a new Legend of Zelda title was released for it. Why should I believe otherwise that only one Zelda game will be released for the Wii U?
Let me remind you that outside of the release of Super Smash Brothers Brawl, only three Nintendo brands did well for themselves on the Wii:
- Super Mario – Two adventure titles, and Nintendo finally realized that simultaneous multiplayer is fun.
- Legend of Zelda – Skyward Sword is excellent. Kept the series going strong yet rebooted it at the same time.
- Fire Emblem – The Radiant Arc is easily the most popular. Nothing but skepticism surrounds the next title.
Concern #2 : Nintendo Isn’t Thinking Outside The Box (Controllers)
Correct me if I’m wrong, but is it strange that the most efficient way to play the upcoming Super Smash Brothers is on controller technology two generations old?
Can a competitive Smash Bros player tell me with a straight face they don’t lose a step playing on a Wiimote? Or that they can pull off all their maneuvers with ease using a Wii U gamepad? It was neat for the Wii to show love to the SNES with its classic controller, but the Wii U can benefit from showing love to the WaveBird.
That should be this console’s Classic Controller, but if the QQ is strong we can call it the Classic Controller II. Price it at $20 each, and it wouldn’t be uncommon for the fully decked out Wii U owners to have 4 remotes, 4 “Classic Controllers”, and 2 Game Pads. Shoot, make the receiver backwards compatible with Gamecube Wavebirds if you can.
Concern #3: Nintendo Isn’t Thinking Outside The Box (Games)
Before I get into the ideas, let’s get one thing out of the way. There’s no “Big Three” among Nintendo’s franchises anymore. If Super Mario is the Lebron James equivalent, with Legend of Zelda being the Dwyane Wade equivalent (no gamers, it’s not Dwayne, it’s actually Dwyane), Metroid is no Chris Bosh.
Shoot, you can make a case that Fire Emblem has leapfrogged Metroid into the #3 spot, popularity-wise. But anyways, the biggest event of a AAA brand doing something different on the Wii was…… Super Paper Mario. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun game, but Nintendo should up the ante a little bit.
How about doing a Mario and Luigi game for the Wii U? One can use Skyward Sword’s vibrant color scheme to remain faithful to the series’ cartoony look. The game can support two players, with both brothers being able to move freely around the field. No location gimmicks, follow the route of the first game and show off a beautiful rendition of the Mushroom Kingdom.
The jury is out on the upcoming Fire Emblem. I suppose they’re thinking outside the box with a crossover title, but until we’re assured the game looks good, this situation screams “if it aint broke, don’t try to fix it.”
What they should try to fix, is fractured relationships. Remember how the first fourteen or fifteen Mega Man console titles came out for Nintendo systems? If we’ve learned anything from Fire Emblem, nothing resuscitates a franchise like an appearance in Super Smash Brothers. I’d love to see Mega Man end his three year drought (as the star of the show) with a Wii U Mega Man Adventure game.
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is pretty epic. Everything, from the narrative to the presentation and gameplay, surpassed what we’ve seen in Zelda games leading up to it. I’d like to see Nintendo experiment with more dramatic battles.
Imagine Link fighting back a vile beast while children escape. Or Ganondorf duelwielding his sword and your own, as your battered Hylian shield is the only thing that stands in the way of you and certain doom.
Visualize this teaser poster: Ganondorf holding Link 2 feet off the ground by the throat, while a disheveled Zelda aims a light arrow from several feet away. The only text on the picture is a “2014” centered at the bottom.
I hope history doesn’t repeat itself with Legend of Zelda. Like the Wii, I don’t want this port enhanced remake of an older title to be tasked with serving as a four or five year buffer while Nintendo creates a new Zelda.
Concern #4: Nintendo Needs To Rediscover Its Identity
If you look at the IGN page for Wii U, you would think the system isn’t even out yet.
What was Nintendo trying to do releasing the Wii U so early? Nintendo made a bundle ignoring hardcore gamers and marketing the Wii to casual gamers.
That approach won’t work again, so Nintendo needs to rediscover the type of reputation it had in its SNES or N64 days: A versatile company that offers top-notch gaming to all types of gamers.
Long gone are the days when a six game libary could feature the likes of Chrono Trigger, Super Mario World, Final Fantasy VI, Mega Man X3, A Link To The Past, and Final Fight 3. It doesn’t mean Nintendo can’t one day get back to, or even surpass that level of AAA diversity.