This is an article that feels strange for me to write. As a child of the SEGA vs Nintendo days who had nailed his colors firmly to the SEGA mast, it’s odd to me that Nintendo are providing me with the most to look forward to in gaming these days. Even stranger perhaps is that I’m finding myself ever more fond of a company and their console, while the numbers suggest very little interest generally for Nintendo’s Wii U. The truth is though as I look at the coming generation of new games, I am largely apathetic about the large majority of what is on offer.
My realization of this was sparked by the Gamescon expo. More specifically by looking at the titles that will be available for the PS4 before the end of the the year. I have chosen in my mind that the PS4 will be the console of choice for me over the Xbox One, but I find it hard to find a single game that isn’t an indie title that produces any emotion from me. The most excited I can get is for Watch Dogs, and even then I think that might be due to the hype it has been generating in the press, rather than a reaction of my own. I’m just a little tired of shooting things in these realistically rendered worlds. I’m bored of zombies, bored of cover shooting and bored of all the ultra-macho explosion extravaganzas.
I’m generalizing a little, I do like shooting stuff from time to time, but I think I’ve just become a little desensitized to their fun. There’s just such an over-abundance in the AAA market of these games, as well as a general inability to take chances and think outside the box. Nintendo however stand out for me. There’s plenty of reason to suggest Nintendo games have also become very safe, with the upcoming Super Mario 3D World and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze looking all too similar to recent titles. At least though their safe games stand out from all the others. None of the other big companies seem to be making games with so much color, so much imagination and energy. Well some companies are, but they’re doing it for the Wii U with Platinum’s excellent looking Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2. Both those are games that excite me in ways that Battlefield, Call of Duty or the new ip Titanfall ever could. Sonic Lost World is shaping up to be something special as well and while Rayman Legends might be multi-platform now, I’ll be getting it for the Wii U for the fun looking touchscreen multi-player.
There’s still hope for the Wii U’s dwindly numbers too, if the 3Ds’ turn around in fortunes is anything to go by. It’s certainly no sure thing, with Microsoft and Sony’s heavyweight’s to contend with. One of the reasons sighted for the Wii U’s sluggish start is the lack of games that have been available. You have to say if Nintendo thought they could sell their console without the software to support it, then who knows what they were thinking. However it also shows Nintendo are unwilling to compromise on the quality of their games. They make sure their games are of the highest standard and will delay them as long as necessary. It’s such a refreshing attitude to see when so many companies focus on getting their games out in time to sell big numbers and many have their yearly iterations, such as Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and FIFA. You could argue over the abundance of games featuring Mario, but when those games are largely spin-offs and side series titles its a little more excusable. At least there’s some variety between Mario Kart, Paper Mario and Mario and Sonic at the Olympics for instance. If this also allows for the next ‘proper’ Mario to be a game of quality like Pikmin 3 then it’ll be worth the wait.
Nintendo’s attitude towards games is commendable and their attitude to gamers is just as good. I love the recent Reggie Fils-Aime quote’s about used games, suggesting the best way too tackle the used game market is too make the games so good that people won’t trade them in. Among all DRM fuss this was what stuck out to me, the ideals that make the most sense. I know Nintendo are a business and want to make money, but I just don’t feel like they’re trying to squeeze every last penny they can from me. I know they want my money, but they want to get it by making games that I’ll think are worth my money. Even Sony don’t fully make me feel that way, although they continue to make all the right noises.
The Nintendo Direct’s also feel like a breath of fresh air. They focus purely on the games and the gamers. They feel less like sales pitches for executives and more like game demonstrations for the player. Slick and professional but less stuffy and robotic than the conferences given by big studios at big gaming events. Their choice to pull out of their E3 conference and release only a Nintendo Direct instead sat well with me. It ended up being the only demonstration that entertained me from start to finish.
It may well seems like this whole peice is one big love letter to Nintendo. It certainly isn’t quite that, I have my complaints and I do feel like Nintendo haven’t quite produced the same consistently great and different games since they launched the original Wii. However, in a gaming world that keeps alienating me with every big budget colorless bullet-fest, Nintendo make me feel a little more comfortable. Indie games are the ones most likely the break new ground but Nintendo have in the Wii U a platform that offers me something that the other next-gen consoles simply don’t. Obviously its early days yet but my faith in the big game companies to take more chances is not that high. Currently the Wii U is the only console that seems to offer something unique, something that makes the console special.