pack it up
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While there are concerns about some untold details of the Wii U, I don't mind it. From the Gamecube to the 3DS, Nintendo has been improving their online services. Most impressive is their efforts with the 3DS, and it is from those efforts that I assume whatever infrastructure Wii U has it will be fine, though not without a few numb skull aspects. The improvements have been glacial compared to Nintendo's competitors, but I like to look at the silver lining that Nintendo isn't going backwards.
The general unenthusiastic talk I've heard over many video game podcasts is a bit worrying. Nintendo seems to have distanced it self from that particular audience and the Wii U has yet to win them back. The feelings will turn once Nintendo starts releasing interesting and beautiful games for the shiny and new Wii U.
I don't know how to feel about this article. On one hand, I agree, that Nintendo has been very late in creating a media network within its loyal fans- but on the other, their approach is so drastically different and fun that I can't help but like it over the competitors' systems. And that's what it always comes back to with Nintendo, at least to me- they're fun. They don't bog you down with gamer scores and achievements- only if you're really into that sort of thing. If you want to share information on a game or talk about how it made you feel, you're given the opportunity to- and that's something that the other consoles can't boast. With Nintendo, it's more about a communal enjoyment and not the individual's sense of competitiveness- and I think that they cater to a specific type of gamer, but that's just the thing- they're even more niche than Microsoft and Sony ,because those two have capitalized on this concept that games need to be casually accessible, but their definition of casual is "hyper-violent and based on brief experience," hence the online multiplayer, emphasis on graphics and "realism", and personal achievement. Nintendo approaches these concepts in a different manner- assistance being the most important aspect. You obtain better hats in Find Mii because you interact with people, often more than once. You benefit from player interaction instead of being pitted against them. And that's not to say that Nintendo doesn't have competitive mutliplayer- but even that isn't based on the record, it's based on the experience. And when it all comes down to it, that's what it's all about- the experience, and not the illusion of experience. You play the games Nintendo makes because you enjoy their gameplay, and I think that a majority of Nintendo games have gameplay that is very hard to achieve in an online sense, and because of that that, I applaud their efforts to have largely local-based-multiplayer. While some games benefit from it, some games do so even more because they're played within close proximity, and there's no feeling quite like the one where you work together in the same room. While some may argue that this is old-fashioned, I wonder why they wish to live in a world largely devoid of human interaction.
Nintendo's new Miiverse- the communication between players on an artistic level and discussion and assistance-based concept- is so very Nintendo, and it really brings me back to why I love the company in general. If you play a Wii for intimacy of motion-based control with friends or with the TV, you understand what I mean. Even friend codes, which go out of their way to make sure players have that sense of connectivity and that they are familiar with one another STILL adheres to this idea of personal, accessible gameplay. The connectivity that Nintendo boasts with both its person-to-game and person-to-person relationship is what they live by. I mean, I have no doubt that the Wii U will stick to these core qualities. If you do, then I feel as if you don't have a very positive mindset of how Nintendo functions, and you've lost touch with their style of gameplay.
Each company offers something drastically different, and people need to accept that first and foremost. But Nintendo's offers are so uniquely them, and I wish that the console market was a bit more varied, because we could have more than JUST Nintendo being this more niche, individualistic experience- that's why I lament the loss of Sega and have made it a mission to track down a Dreamcast- because they, too, offered something unique. What is kind of funny about the whole "Nintendo vs. Third Party Support and the world" debacle is that Nintendo has consistently paved the way in the genre of 3D platforming (and to some extent 2D platforming) and garners a lot of individualistic 3rd Party support in regards to gameplay and connectivity. Look at Monster Hunter- a game that focuses on co-operation in taking down massive monsters with a very optional head-to-head mode. Look at Muramasa, or Silent Hill: Shattered Dimensions. Games that artistically push the boundaries or the very genre they're supposed to emulate and attempt them in a new, drastically different manner. This is why we love Nintendo consoles, my friends, because they offer something different. What Playstation Move games have successfully attempted a gameplay innovation or even utilized motion controls in an enhanced, smooth manner? Kinect?
So you need to accept something- that either Nintendo will be successful because they create something so niche that it allows specific, dare I say, even casual gamers, an accessible jumping point to enter or mature within the gaming realm, or that they will create something so niche that it appeals to a very dedicated, core population of gamers. Personally, I think the Wii U will do both, and I don't think I'm optimistic in assuming that. With a mixture of casually appealing games like Nintendoland and NSMBU, with Nintendoland innately appealing to our love of local, party multiplayer, and more hardcore, yet experimental and individualistic titles like Zombi U and Bayonetta, as well as hardcore, co-operative experiences like Monster Hunter and a little bit of catering to the non-Nintendo crowd with Black Ops, I think Nintendo has set up a very telling lineup of games for the life of their console- they'll of course attempt a reconnect with the "core" gamer, that is, the gamer that has become westernized because of the birth of so many independent developers that ascribe to that casual western approach to gaming, but they will continue to do what makes them so beloved by many gamers around the world- their unique approach to gaming, and the titles, franchises, and genres they attract because of that.
I suppose i rambled a bit, but I just want to affirm that I understand your article. Nintendo's approach does seem a bit old-fashioned, even base, in comparison to the pre-established methods of its competitors. But if there's one thing I like about Nintendo, it's that they do take their time to acknowledge the benefits of something like online networking and play- the fact that they're coming out with the Wii U so late means that they acknowledge that online networking and play has stood the test of time- it may be a little late , but at least it's a confirmation. Now they will take that concept and spin it in their own way.
In a sense, I feel that even the 3DS is an evolution and confirmation that Nintendo believes portable accessibility is possible- With the 3DS, they have mostly minimized online functionality to digital downloads, communication between friends, and competitive multiplayer, but the most important, and exciting, functions of the 3DS occur when one streetpasses or spotpasses. Again, it focuses on player co-operation.
But when it all comes down to it, that is all inconsequential when we compare the experience of the console to the experience of the games. And that's why we play games, right? For the experiences they bring, not the console itself. We want the types of games Nintendo publishes, because they're just cool. They appeal to us in a way that some may call childish, but we see them as imaginative, accessible, and plain fun. That's why you can't judge a console until the end of its life-span. Because we need to see all of those games that make a console memorable- and sure, some games might take a while to release, but in the end, the full package- and the full experience, is what matters.
With the Wii U off to such a strong start, I hope for nothing but the best for the console in the future. Great article, by the way- very thought provoking. Clearly.
I think nintendo doesn't even need to approach the "core" gamer. I mean, if you own a gaming pc or an xbox or a ps3, you can go and pick up any "core" game, play online and do all that stuff that nintendo doesn't do that well (most of nintendo console owners also owns a ps3 or an xbox). But now, with the wii u, all the audience that nintendo aims for will have the chance to also pick up those "core" games without the need to buy a ps3 or an xbox. I own a wii and a nintendo 3ds, but for example, and I'm looking forward to play darksiders II. Maybe I'll be picking up call of duty to play co-op with my dad, maybe we will be trying that online. But that's the thing, now i don't have to own any other console to play those games, and maybe they are going to be easier to play with the touch controls or with the wiiremote. (I now call of duty has been out on the wii, but it's a game that needs hd graphics to bring you it's experience)
I think Nintendo tries to make the best product they can in the $250-300 range that will make them money and provide a unique experience for their customers. I don't think anyone should have a problem with that, and if you do there is always the competition that doesn't take shortcuts on technology, but also doesn't always provide the best experiences. A variety of choices for the customer is what is important.