The Legend of Zelda 2015

I’m sorry if you missed it, but Nintendo announced the next installment in the Legend of Zelda series for the Wii U yesterday during its digital keynote for E3 (link to Polygon’s article on Zelda 2015).

We don’t have a title, nor a story, but we do have the following from the producer himself (and you can hear it all at the link above):

  • First installment made specifically for the Wii U
  • Supposedly will harken back to a more open-world feel of the original Legend of Zelda

That is about all we know.

Zelda 2015 2

Needless to say, I’m more than a little excited about this game. The style seems to be a good mixture of Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess. It will be fun to see what Nintendo can do in HD with this franchise.

While I don’t know what an open-world Zelda is going to be or play like, I am interested to see what a Japanese development studio will do with what has become a decidedly American style.

Bringing Nintendo Back

Super Smash Bros

First off, take this with a huge grain of salt because I own, as far as dedicated gaming devices are concerned, one Wii U and one Game Boy Micro. Here is also a list of all of the gaming consoles I have owned in my life:

  • Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Sega Genesis
  • Nintendo 64
  • GameCube
  • Xbox 360
  • Wii
  • Wii U
  • Game Boy
  • Game Boy Pocket
  • Game Boy Advance
  • Game Boy Advance SP
  • Game Boy Micro
  • Nintendo DS
  • Nintendo DS Lite

So, yeah, that’s a lot of Nintendo consoles including every home console except for the Super Nintendo. I went through all of that to point out that I really, REALLY want Nintendo to continue to function as Nintendo. I don’t want Nintendo to create iOS games, I don’t want Nintendo to exit the hardware business.

What I want is for a thriving Nintendo to continue to create awesome hardware and games. The question then shifts to this:

How does Nintendo position itself to continue to be able to crate awesome hardware and games into the future?

That’s a better question.

So what is the answer? Is there an answer? Is Nintendo just completely, totally, and irreparably doomed?

Is Nintendo Completely, Totally, and Irreparably Doomed?

I don’t think so. In order for that to happen I think that Nintendo would probably need to star creating games for other platforms. At that point, Nintendo is done and they might as well sell off their franchises for as much money as possible and get out because the Nintendo of the past is dead and they might as well choose a different name.

However, even though they are not doomed right now, there is still a ton of work to do to get the ship pointed in a better direction.

Is There an Answer?

An answer, as in one single answer to fix everything? Of course not. There are too many variables at play to focus on only a single answer to something as far-ranging as fixing Nintendo. That, again, is the wrong question. Here’s a better one:

What Can Nintendo Do?

Let’s start with the easy one: create really great games. I’m talking about shooting for the stars, multiple AAA, Ocarina of Time-esque, Mario Galaxy-caliper games for the Wii U and 3DS lines. I’m positive they are already doing this and we will see the fruits of this work in probably 2014 and beyond. That’s the easy one. If you create really excellent and compelling games the people will (probably) play them.

What are some smaller things they can do? Well, let’s break it down into areas of focus.

Online Stuff

They don’t need an iOS App Store-like hit as far as online services go, but there are things they can do to make it all just a little bit better.

First, just shore up the speed of the online services. Make everything faster. When that is done, then you can start creating a unifying account around a single person and their games and purchases are tied to that single account … not the system or anything silly like that. Have a person’s Nintendo Account be their window into all of Nintendo’s properties. Their 2/3DS games, Wii U games, scores, progress … everything will be tied to this account. When you have that, make it fast. You can start selling more things than just games then (like soundtracks … please) and milk your franchises even more.

I can’t help but think that would make some more money.

Relaxing some of the restrictions on indie game makers might bring a few more indie games to the platform and give the Nintendo eShop some more for people to buy.

This doesn’t need to be Xbox Live, but Nintendo has some work to do for certain.

Handheld Hardware

I, for one, like the move they’ve made with the 2DS. Cheaper, no hinge, plays DS and 3DS games. I’ve always had a fondness for Nintendo’s fixed-screen handhelds (Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Micro), and the price definitely makes it more likely to be purchased by me.

Console Hardware

Sadly, the Wii U seems to be DOA in many ways … probably ending up being a GameCube-like system for Nintendo. In some ways I hope that is true because the GameCube had some amazing games.

However, this also means that they should be back at the drawing board looking to accelerate the development of the next NIntendo home console. First, the Wii U hardware is actually pretty nice. It looks good, it is a big step up from the Wii, it brings HD gaming to Nintendo franchises, and the GamePad is a huge, untapped resource for many games.

Here is where I think they need to go:

  • Keep the same architecture, but “turn it up to 11″. There is something extremely elegant about the Wii/Wii U architecture so bump it up. More RAM, faster processor, more storage, etc. This one is a no-brainer. It doesn’t need to blow away or even beat the Xbox One/PS4 … but it needs to push the Wii much closer.
  • Go with a single SKU. I know that the entire industry has definitely moved into that camp, but go back to a single SKU and make it the best SKU you can possibly make it.
  • Continue with discs. I love those things (especially the rounded edges on the Wii U discs … so nice).
  • Multiple-GamePad gaming needs to come out and the more you can hook up, the better.
  • Focus ont he fluidity of the console GUI. Things should be instantaneous, menus should render quickly, eliminate all wait times, etc.

I don’t feel like they need to add anything else, really. The Wii added motion controls, the Wii U adds the GamePad … take a breather and use that hardware knowledge to refine what you have.

Software

Keep making awesome games. Beef up the software development houses and encourage them to create the best games they can. This is probably the easiest one.

Conclusion

Looking back, the real detriment that Nintendo has right now really doesn’t even revolve around their hardware but around their online services and some of the intangibles (the GUI interface is still slow). The software is going to come, but they need to focus better next time on getting a huge AAA title ready for the launch day.

Nintendo could ride out the Wii U for the next two years and then release a Wii U 2 (oh geez …), but they need to shore up some other things first. They are far from dead, but they also have a lot of work to do.

Games are not Serious

Note: This is an old post from the soon-to-be-defunct Slow Gamers. That site is closing, so I’m moving over my Opinion posts from that site to here.

IllusiveMan1

In the never-ending quest to “legitimize” games, it feels like we’ve lost something in the process. Maybe it is nostalgia, or maybe wishful thinking, but I don’t think I’m alone in wondering: why are games so serious all the time?

It isn’t just the games themselves, either, that seem to be so serious. It is now the people around games that are getting more serious. You need to be a gaming monk in order to have any opinion worth taking. If you can’t tear apart a new game because it doesn’t have some specific game mechanic from the past that you enjoyed … well, you don’t have any opinion or a voice worth listening to.

If you can’t look at the current gaming landscape and be discouraged by the endless number of sequels and remakes you might as well pack up and go home. You obviously aren’t a gamer and can’t be listened to.

Why do we take gaming and ourselves so serious? What benefits do we derive by having such attitudes? How does this help anyone?

It seems that you can’t walk ten feet without someone declaring that X game is overrated because Y game did it before or did it better. It is like we all think we are sitting in a room, by ourselves looking over this vast world of “gaming” with a vastly superior knowledge and understanding and can declare whatever we like. We are auteurs! Our opinions are paramount! We are very serious people with opinions on this very serious subject of video games! Listen to us!

I’m not sure why this happens, but it makes us all sound a little funny. I’m unabashedly biased for Nintendo and I won’t deny that fact, but I also understand that my wants and needs aren’t serious. I’m not going to be paralyzed if the next Legend of Zelda doesn’t fix some issue I have with their past games. I can’t take myself so seriously. They are video games! They’re supposed to be fun, right? Maybe?

I have a catalog of video games just sitting around collecting dust (or whatever they might collect sitting in my Stream catalog) that I have never finished because, frankly, I just wasn’t having fun. Oh well. It isn’t a big deal, I have many better things to do with my life than to get upset about video games or the companies who create them.

I’m being quite hypocritical here because I just started up this video game website and will be posting my own opinions on video games hopefully quite regularly. However, I hope that I won’t take myself too seriously. These things are games and should be fun. If they aren’t fun anymore, then walk away, go outside, make some friends, and enjoy life. If you are having fun, then continue to enjoy the games you are playing.

Times change and people change, that is the way things work. Wishing for companies to do things to appease people who are just like us isn’t going to make it happen. We need to enjoy what we do have, hope for the future that things will continue to get better, and get back to enjoying the life that we do lead.

We don’t need to be serious when it comes to video games.