Editorial #01: Giving up on new-school Nintendo

I am, or was, a die-hard Nintendophile for the majority of my video game career. I was once the type of player that would eagerly soak up news about the company, knew company figures when I saw them in the media and purchased consoles at launch. I supported Nintendo through the good days of the SNES and the dark days of the Nintendo 64 and GameCube. I was there for the return to prominence with the Wii and trumpeted the value of buying the new console. Until now.

As a Wii owner since launch, I remember the heady days of the first announcements. The lineup came into view, the system name took shape and all was well within the Nintendo camp. Jump five years ahead and it’s no longer the bed of roses it once was. Where are the games? Why is it that my online experience is little to nonexistent with the Wii? Why am I still living in the Stone Ages when it comes to purchasing downloads for my system? Why has Nintendo abandoned me in favor of soccer moms and yoga practitioners?

My value as a Nintendo console buyer has gone down, apparently. It wasn’t enough that I displayed brand loyalty and patiently awaited any news of a lineup coming from the parent company. I’m no longer in the demographic Nintendo is trying to garner and serve.

This is where Nintendo has failed me as a longtime loyal customer:

1. I don’t care about Nintendogs, Cooking Mama, Wii Fit, Pokemon or Brain Age. Wii Fit and Brain Age do not appeal to me, Pokemon ceased to be relevant after Red/Blue/Yellow, I refuse to play crap like Cooking Mama and Nintendogs was boring. Despite this, it seems Nintendo is all about shoving those properties continuously at me during every E3 for the past five years, if not in actual titles or in statistics telling me that the company is back to profitability. No, sorry, still don’t care.

2. My console exclusives and the money-makers that I bought a Wii for have all been disappointments with the exception of New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

— I can’t physically play Metroid Prime (motion sickness), and Prime just never did it for me as a 2D Metroid fan.

— Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was basically Ocarina of Time rehashed.

— Animal Crossing City Folk was re-skinned Wild World and a lazy re-skin at that.

— Mario Kart Wii was absolute garbage and should be ashamed to call itself Mario Kart. Ramping up the cheap items and number of CPU-controlled players does not qualify as a good Mario Kart. And the person responsible for the design decision to make it so that you can’t play battle mode without the CPU should be sacked. Immediately.

— There’s no Donkey Kong platforming game worth playing and that should be rectified at some point.

— Super Smash Bros. Brawl was a mess with too many gimmicky stages, awful online play and a complete movement away from what Smash Bros. was originally about: Play as your favorite Nintendo characters against each other on simple themed stages.

— For me, Mario Galaxy would have been a waste of time because I can’t play 3D Mario games. Again, motion sickness ruins any chance that I will be able to enjoy the game for more than 20 minutes to an hour. In the short time that I played it without throwing up, it seemed like a brilliant idea and good take on the franchise, but alas, it is not something I want to test how well I can hold down my lunch with.

So as you can see, the lineup is not something that makes me jump for joy. The only two games I could possibly ever try and like would be No More Heroes and Mad World. That doesn’t equal the five-game minimum for purchasing and keeping a system in my collection.

3. It is beyond me why Nintendo refuses to have accounts linked to their consoles. If Microsoft can do it with Xbox LIVE then why can’t Nintendo? Oh, that’s right. Because it would mean extra work and Nintendo doesn’t really want you to be online with your Wii in the first place.

A good example of my anger with this policy? I bought two Virtual Console games on my mother’s Wii recently while on vacation and wanted to take them home. I copied them to an SD memory card and later went to use them on my Wii. What happened when I tried to boot up the games? “This game cannot be launched from this channel.” So we conducted a little bit of research. It turns out that Nintendo expressly says in its support documentation that games that are purchased on the Wii Shop channel can only be used on the console with which it was purchased. Ridiculous.

I thought by now that this would have been fixed. I should have known something was wrong, however, when I had virtually the same problem two years ago when my original Wii was stolen. Despite having spent the money and having my Wii console number, when contacting Nintendo, I was basically told there was absolutely nothing they could do for me because the content was downloaded for that specific Wii, not the owner.

I should have sold my Wii then.

It just doesn’t seem like Nintendo is listening. Or catching the hint. Those old-school gamers who bought the Wii? They are the bread-and-butter of the game industry right now. They are the consumers who will go out and drop $200 on Rockband and Guitar Hero peripherals. They will spend the $50 or $60 for games at launch, such as Modern Warfare 2 or Halo 3. That’s the type of gamer Nintendo has driven off. I can’t think of any other games besides New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Twilight Princess that has elicited that type of response for the Wii, and Zelda did that only because it was the launch game.

It really boils down to the fact that in order for Nintendo to join the console race again, the company had to make some sacrifices. To pick up the market they could never reach previously, Nintendo had to sell its soul and sacrifice its original group of hardcore gamers. While this strategy has worked in the short term it has exposed Nintendo’s vulnerability. While the casual crowd may enjoy playing Wii Fit right now, they’re less likely to purchase another system later on down the road and the dependable hardcore crowd has been alienated with less attention to quality titles and commitment to detail.

Nintendo’s in for a rude awakening and despite my love for the company’s old days, you can count on me not sticking around to support them any longer. Consider this relationship done.

Lyndsey M. Mosley

Editor, Gaming Insurrection

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03 2010

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