A Case for a Strong Nintendo

Nintendo Logo

The first commentator on my post about the Wii U stated that he sees gaming moving more and more toward a tablet-centric world. This got me thinking about the future of Nintendo because they are really the last video game console centric company in the world. While Microsoft and Sony still carry on with their respective platforms, they are huge companies with their respective hands in many  honey pots.

That means Nintendo is the one company most in danger of being destroyed if the gaming world shifts.

But we really need to keep around a strong Nintendo for that very same reason. They are uniquely positioned to really push the envelope in video games and, more precisely, video game hardware because they need to keep ahead of everyone else in different ways. The Wii might not have been the most powerful system in the world, but their motion-control remotes pushed other companies to release their own motion-control peripherals. I have a feeling that the Kinect would have sat in the workshop for a much longer time had Nintendo not pushed things just a little bit in a different direction.

A software-only Nintendo, having shed its home and portable consoles a la Sega, will be boring and, really, quite useless. The software won’t be as “fun” anymore and will truly lose its luster. It will be a sad day.

Not just that, but I have a feeling that ideas will be slow. What will be next? I don’t know, but I DO know that Nintendo probably has dozens of crazy things just flying around in R&D right now waiting for the right time to head out into the world. Will they all work? Well, HELLLLLOOOO Virtual Boy … no. However, they ARE all valuable experiments in what MIGHT work and helps people get more ideas to grow into possible new interfaces, or products, or … who knows what!?

Nintendo is unique and needs to be strong because they NEED to push video games forward. That’s all they do. If they fail, we’ll lose too much.

Onward Wii U

So Christmas is past and through no fault of Christmas I have my hands on a Wii U. I’ll document some of my initial thoughts here.

Black Wii U

  • Hardware is nice. Really nice. I liked the Wii as just a piece of technology (and one that Nintendo really didn’t re-release like the slimmed-up Xbox 360 and PS3), and the Wii U continues the trend of really nice, slick, hardware that might not need a major revision in the future. Granted, the console itself is bigger, but it is quieter than the original Wii … so points on that. I do like the separate LED to show that a disk is loaded. A nice, simple touch. Bringing the sync button outside of the hinged door is another small change but makes it much easier to use the console.
  • The Wii U GamePad is going to take some time for me to get used to. After the Wii Remote + Nunchuck of the Wii, the GamePad seems very rigid because … it is. Not a knock against it, but it is something different. The screen looks really good and I can understand why they used resistive instead of capacitive touch for as well. No, it is not HD, but it works well enough for a controller with eleventy-billion different sensors on it.
  • I’m starting to think of the Wii U as a more powerful Wii plus the addition of the dual-screen nature of the Nintendo DS. I wasn’t even thinking that way before, but after using the console for over a day, I can already see what Nintendo was going after. The GamePad really opens up some avenues before restricted to just the mobile-focused DS and 3DS, which could be exciting. It took almost the entire generation of the Wii to get to a game that really harnessed the motion controls in such a way to deliver what everyone was hoping for in the beginning (I’m looking at you The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword), and the DS took a good, long while before games started to really take advantage of the dual-screen nature of that device. The Wii U will take some time as well as developers try and put the two together, but I think Nintendo has provided a decent game to showcase some ideas (Nintendoland), and I have a feeling that hey will be pushing things forward as they usually do. This is why we need a strong Nintendo and I cringe every time someone says that Nintendo should stop making hardware and start just publishing games for other platforms. How quickly we forget about Sega.
  • It is nice to see Nintendo properties in HD.
  • I’m very interested to see what Nintendo is going to do with the Zelda series. So far Zelda, Metroid, and 3D Mario have not been announced or even shown off … but with the GamePad, Remote, Remote + Nunchuck, and Pro Controller you have a plethora of options for controlling those games and who knows what will happen with the second screen available. I’m hoping they keep the 1:1 controls from Skyward Sword around but refine them just a little bit. The future will be interesting.
  • I’m planning on picking up one of the big-name 3rd party ports to try and get an idea of how those might do on the system. There is a huge backlog of high-quality ports that could now be brought over to the Wii U and probably do quite well. Mass Effect 3 is on the top of the list for now.

I think that is about it for now. Overall, I’m highly impressed with the system and even just the two games I have so far (Nintendoland and Just Dance 4). Having an HD Nintendo system should not be underestimated.

One thing I have not dug into is any of the online components. That will be for later (and for games that feature online play more prevalently).