Monday, January 12, 2015

Why does Nintendo get a free pass?

There's been a lot of Nintendo love recently. A lot. I couldn't tell you why.

Maybe I could.

Mostly, I'm confused. Are we all talking about the same Nintendo here? I don't think we are. The Nintendo that everyone is talking about is a fun company, focused on the core gaming experience. They only make the best games, and every hot Japanese game is certainly coming stateside.

I'm not familiar with this Nintendo. The Nintendo I'm familiar with is a far different company, and they'll have to do a lot to convince me otherwise. The Nintendo I'm thinking of promised big things for the Gamecube, and then trickled out about one good game a year (two if we were lucky), while forsaking third parties. The Nintendo I'm thinking of ignored a stunning amount of excellent import titles for the DS and the Wii.

Thanks, XSEED!

Think back to only a few years ago. Operation Rainfall was coming out in full force, trying to get the Wii some support. A group of fans were pushing Nintendo to support their own console. This is depressing. It's especially depressing when you consider that the games in question (The Last Story, Xenoblade Chronicles and Pandora's Tower) were all either already localized by Nintendo of Europe or were in the process of localization. Nintendo managed to ignore this for quite a while, and if I recall correctly, they even made an announcement saying they would have news on Xenoblade Chronicles only to go on and announce that they were not releasing Xenoblade Chronicles. Holy shit. That's the customer service equivalent of leading people to the gas chamber.

Someone at Nintendo of America managed to figure this out, hit the OH SHIT button and get Xenoblade Chronicles released at Gamestop. Nintendo of America never publicly acknowledged Xenoblade Chronicles again. Everyone else loved it. I loved it. It was an incredible game. And...? Xenoblade Chronicles was successful enough that Gamestop reprinted it. No one knows what that initial allotment was, but it was big enough that Gamestop charged $120 for it used (the second hand market outside of Gamestop was even higher at times) and then did a new print run. And Nintendo of America never commented on it.

Sure, Nintendo has said that they'll be getting back to "core" gamers. Sure, Nintendo has shown off Xenoblade Chronicles X. The catch here is Nintendo of America. Nintendo of Japan can do all they want to get back to core gamers. If the geniuses over at NOA decide it won't fly though, it won't. Just like Xenoblade Chronicles almost didn't.


The Last Story was also an excellent game. After Xenoblade Chronicles did well enough to warrant massive prices in the used game market (implying everything sold out, economics 101), Nintendo said "fuck no" to The Last Story. XSEED came to the rescue and released The Last Story. They were generous enough to do it in quantities that the game could easily be found in. It was well received, and it seems to have sold well also.

XSEED is not a major company. They published a game that NINTENDO ITSELF published in Europe and did more to make it available and promote it than Nintendo of America did. I understand that Pandora's Tower was a pretty mediocre game, but I still want to get a copy. You see, I like the Wii. A lot. I really do. I think it's a great console, technical shortcomings aside (it really is a fucking mess). But Nintendo of America did its fans a disservice. They did nothing to support the system when Nintendo of Europe was doing it. I don't place all of the blame on Nintendo of America.

I also blame this man:

Calm the fuck down.

It doesn't matter how much of a creative visionary you are, everyone shits the bed at some point. Remember when The Streets released Original Pirate Material? They (he? fuck you.) also released Everything is Borrowed. You cannot base your console around the whims of a quirky guy. 

The Nintendo 64 had a weird controller, but it was practical. The Gamecube put form over function and it failed the system (those miniature discs pushed a lot of 3rd party devs out, even from ports). The Wii put a control gimmick as the primary control scheme and it failed. Now we have the Wii U... and I honestly don't know how the fuck you're supposed to control it.

As far as I know, it supports...

-The Wiimote and nunchuck (along with the classic controller and all variations in-between)
-The Wii U Game Pad
-The Wii U Pro Controller

Holy fuck. I get that the Game Pad is the primary input for the first player... but what do the other people typically use? Is it the Wiimote? Is it the pro controller? I honestly don't fucking know. Does it vary by game? Are you just supposed to play alone?

I honestly think Miyamoto is a problem for the company moving forward. There are a lot of Nintendo franchises, and a lot of them are ignored for stupid reasons. Take F-Zero. F-Zero GX is one of the finest arcade racing games of all time. I absolutely loved this game, and it was one of the few Gamecube games that I really truly had a great time with. I would go so far as to say that it brought me joy. We haven't gotten a new F-Zero since. Why? Because Miyamoto thinks it needs a new control scheme.

Holy shit guy, you can't reinvent the wheel for every fucking game. I get it, you're ambitious. You want people to interact in games with new ways and that means a stupid controller that has no practical applications outside of one game. So, stop it. Knock it the fuck off. It doesn't work. I can have a million different gaming experiences on a PlayStation or an Xbox and I do it with the same controller.

Oh, wait, I forgot another Wii U control method.

This is purely for Super Smash Bros for Wii U (what the fuck kind of a name is that?), and they promptly sold out. To which Nintendo basically shrugged and said "that sucks." Eventually the outcry was loud enough that they went "fuck it, fine, have more" but it's just ridiculous. Does Nintendo hate money? Look at Sony and Microsoft. If they release a peripheral it's never just a one run thing. Sony and Microsoft sell out of things, and then they say "we're working as fast as we can to get more to market." They don't say tough shit. They try. They understand that fans want something.

It's almost like Nintendo is bothered by fans. They seem to have a "what do you want?" attitude instead of "what can we do for you?"

I don't trust the Wii U and I don't trust the 3DS. They both had poorly timed launches. They're stuck in between, and unlike the DS and the Wii they aren't flourishing. I would love to play Bayonetta 2, but the Wii U isn't going to make it and I'm not going to spend the money on overpriced hardware (marginally better than a 360 or PS3 with a much higher cost). There's already rumblings of a new Nintendo console being worked on and typically once those rumblings start coming from legitimate sources they come true sooner rather than later. They messed up and they know it. The New 3DS is less of an incremental console that most can ignore (like the DSi) and more of a full fledged upgrade. This is basically the Game Boy Color to the Game Boy, and Nintendo is doing their best to pretend it isn't so.

Nintendo is still just as shifty as they used to be and always have been. Don't be fooled by amiibos and Super Smash Bros., they're still just as out of touch as they have been.

I'm also still bitter about Last Window: The Secret of Cape West not coming out on DS in America. And fuck you European exporters, $60 is pretty steep for a DS game. Seriously, play Hotel Dusk: Room 215. PLAY IT. Then weep for Last Window.

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