Hello, fine folks of Nintendo Enthusiast!
I’m back with another insightful/rage-inducing article. Your kind words from my last piece really spurred me to write another one – and I really want to thank you guys for that!
Now, on to business.
This piece was a little while in the making, but I think it provides a nice continuation to Omar Taylor’s bloody good article. I apologise in advance if this turns into ‘Listamania’…but…well, I sorta can’t make my point without ‘em. I loves me my lists, I do.
Game droughts – or a lack thereof. As a Nintendo fan, I’m no stranger to dealing with sparse release schedules. Like a Bedouin praying for that next nourishing rainfall, so to do I lick my lips in anticipation for the next big batch of game releases. Whether it’d be a big, Nintendo-developed 1st party effort – or a rare batch of 3rd party games – I treat each arrival with an anticipation normally reserved for my next kill.
Er…I mean…My next ice-cream. Yes.
Aaaanyway, as a gamer, I like to play games. I like to play a lot of games. And it’s become somewhat of Nintendo’s MO to struggle with steady, consistent releases. It really started during the N64 days, when 3rd parties fled Yamauchi’s iron grip in favour of Sony’s warm, CD-flavoured embrace.
Since then, things have not changed a lot.
Sure, we’ve been spoiled repeatedly with some of the greatest videogames of all-time. The Marios. The Zeldas. The Pokémons. The Metroids. We’ve been treated to Rare’s best-ever output. A few hidden gems like Eternal Darkness, Sin & Punishment and Xenoblade made themselves known. We’ve even been blessed with awesome 3rd party efforts like Resident Evil 4, No More Heroes and Little King’s Story.
Yet, despite all this goodness, Nintendo consumers have never been truly satisfied.
We’ve missed out on a lot of incredible titles that have appeared on rival consoles – due to a multitude of reasons. Whether it was the company’s stubborn refusal to ditch cartridges for the N64, the Gamecube’s low adoption-rate, the Wii’s modest specs, or simply Nintendo’s corporate culture – dedicated gamers have never been fully sated by loyally sticking with the Big N. And this unfortunate trend is continuing with the Wii U.
Nintendo’s newest console has had a tough time of it. Between terrible sales and being passed-over by major publishers, one has to wonder if a gamer can truly be a Nintendo-only customer in this day and age.
Well, yours truly wonders no more.
As I’ve gotten older and (probably) wiser, I’ve found myself with an alarmingly-limited amount of time dedicated to videogames. No longer can I spend the majority of my life meticulously customising my Elder Scrolls character, create dozens of CAWs in a WWE game, or spend 582 hours going through the latest JRPG. I now have this pesky thing called a ‘life’ – a never-ending series of commitments that suck-up my valuable gaming time. As a result, I now have to be really picky when it comes to choosing my next digital conquest – and this leads me to the subject of this article.
Whenever I read about the latest ‘game drought’ (Nintendo or otherwise), I ask myself a pertinent question – in whose opinion is this relevant? The hardcore gamer that has vast quantities of both time and cash? Or the less-hardcore (no, not ‘casual’) type-person who has to make compromises in their software choices? Because different people play different things – at different times, and in different capacities. Whenever I witness Iwata apologising for the umpteenth time about Nintendo’s less-timely release timetable, I can’t help but feel he is simply placating a small minority of whiners. Yes, Nintendo doesn’t offer all things to everyone – but neither do Sony and Microsoft. Not even PC can solely satisfy (not for me, anyway). That’s why we buy multiple brands – because that’s the only way we can have the best of all worlds. So when I hear that ‘brand x’ (no, not the terrible TV show) lacks ‘game-type y’, I can’t help but faceplam just a little bit. To me, it seems that most ‘gamers’ want their cake, and to eat it too (hence calls for Nintendo to go multiplatform) – without really thinking beyond their own selfish desires.
It’s quite a damning analysis on my part, but it’s one that comes from a lifetime of consuming videogames – and interacting with like-minded individuals. In addition, I speak on behalf of me – a person who has been very satisfied with Nintendo’s quality and quantity of releases.
In the last generation, Nintendo’s Wii was lambasted for its perceived lack of software. How many times have you read that ever-tiresome expression ‘time to dust off the Wii’? This was often uttered whenever a game worth playing was released, as game journalists patted themselves on the back for being ‘witty’, whilst condescendingly implying that PS3 and Xbox 360 were the real gaming machines. Real gaming machines with a consistent calendar of real games.
I gritted my teeth in frustration with the full-knowledge that I used my Wii just as much – if not more – than my PS3 and Xbox 360.
As I mentioned before, my life has taken the turn for the busier since my ascent into adulthood – and I’m sure many of you guys are in the same boat. For me personally, I write for a living – not just for this lovely site, but also for my local paper and various other outlets. I’m also a novelist – and with that comes yet more responsibilities. Marketing, interviews, interacting with other industry-types…I can assure you, it never ends. And now I’m being pestered into writing another book! Gah!
As such, I have found that the Wii was a perfectly fine piece of hardware. That, combined with Nintendo’s ever-brilliant handhelds (which are basically the firm’s bread n’ butter), and I can confidently say – hand on my heart – that I would’ve been perfectly happy being a Nintendo-only gamer.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – I’m a shameless Nintendrone. I’m in Nintendo’s pocket (crikey, I wish that was true). I’m Satoru Iwata’s secret son (again, I wish…). But no, that’s not the case at all. I say this because there has been a tonne of Wii games. Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of gamers have looked the other way – pretty much right out of the gate, Nintendo’s white waggle box suffered from the stigma of being a shovelware-machine – and it never had a chance to recover from this.
But if you were to actually look, you would find a vast treasure trove of incredible software. Heck, If you’ve read Giancarlo Bellotto’s recent pieces on Wii’s back catalogue – you know what I’m talking about.
First, there are the obvious titles; Mario Galaxy and its sequel (incidentally, two of the highest-rated games of last-gen), Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, Mario Kart Wii, Super Smash Bros. Brawl (PS All-Stars? Pfft…), Metroid Prime Trilogy and the divisive Other M.
Then, there have been the fantastic wealth of RPGs and strategy games that have graced the system. The aforementioned Little King’s Story, the brilliant Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, the massively overlooked Opoona, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon, Arc Rise Fantasia, Rune Factory: Frontier, Harvest Moon: Animal Parade, Super Paper Mario, Sakura Wars: So Long My Love, Monster Hunter Tri, Pikmin 1 and 2, Animal Crossing: City Folk, SimCity Creator, Phantom Brave: We Meet Again and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World.
Action/Adventure more your style? Then have some of this; Another Code: R – A Journey into Lost Memories, Bully, the funky De Blob 1 & 2, Deadly Creatures, Disaster: Day of Crisis, Epic Mickey 1 & 2 (hey, I enjoyed ‘em…), Fragile Dreams, Ghostbusters (the best version), Godfather: Blackhand Edition, MadWorld, Mini Ninjas, Mushroom Men, No More Heroes 1 & 2, Okami, Pandora’s Tower, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Rabbids Go Home, Scarface: The World is Yours, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Unleashed, Black Knight and Colours, Spectrobes: Origins and the surprisingly good ports of Thor and Captain America.
How about some side-scrolling and platform action? The Wii had you covered there, too! The sweet A Boy and His Blob (hug button!), the Fumito Ueda-esqe A Shadow’s Tale, Bit.Trip Complete, Dewey’s Adventure, Disney Infinity, Donkey Kong Country Returns and Jungle Beat, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Kirby 20th Anniversary Collection, Epic Yarn & Return to Dreamland, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, the 18 million LEGO games, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Rayman: Origins, Skylanders/Skylanders Giants and Wario Land: Shake It!
Contrary to popular belief, the Wii was also home to a nice amount of shooting action. FPS games included a bunch of Call of Duty games (which were very decent ports – complete with online action), the controversial (but playable) Conduit games, Goldeneye 007, Red Steel 1 and 2, Resident Evil: Umbrella and Darkside Chronicles. The selection of on-rails ‘lightgun’ software composed of Dead Space Extraction, Ghost Squad, Medal of Honour Heroes, House of the Dead: Overkill and the HOTD: 2 and 3 pack. Other great blasters were the explosive Battalion Wars 2, the peculiar Eledees, Metal Slug Anthology, Geometry Wars Galaxies, Resident Evil 4, Rouge Trooper: Quartz Zone Massacre , Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, as well as flight sims Heatseeker and The Innocent Aces.
The Wii even possessed its own range of great fighting games. Sure, it may not have had Street Fighter IV, but it did have Guilty Gear XX: Accent Core Plus, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, Punch Out!!, Victorious Boxers: Challenge, and a multitude of WWE games (I recommend WWE ’13, because of its fuller feature-set).
Boxing and wrestling weren’t the only sports that made their mark on Nintendo’s console. Of course, there was the revolutionary Wii Sports and its great sequel, Wii Sports Resort – but there were also more content-rich games like Namco-Bandai’s Family Ski and Go Vacation – both surprisingly excellent party titles that are jam-packed with content. Tennis games included Mario Power Tennis and Grand Slam Tennis, and golf aficionados got two of the best golf games ever made in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 and We Love Golf! Nintendo fans were also treated to the arcade goodness of Shaun White Snowboarding, NBA Jam, Mario Sports Mix, and a little title known as Wii Fit. You may have heard of it.
Another genre that was surprisingly prevalent was survival horror. Whilst many pundits have accepted that creepy games ‘died’ at one point – anyone with a Wii would have begged to differ. Cursed Mountain was a quality horror title that forced the player to traverse a (you guessed it) cursed mountain haunted by monks. In addition, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories was proof that Konami’s psychological terror IP was still alive and well – as Wii owners were treated to the best instalment since SH2. Project Zero 2 was another marvelous game – a PS2 remake that gave the eerie Japanese instalment a Resident Evil 4-style makeover. There was also Fatal Frame IV – which was unfortunately only released in its motherland. Still, a translation patch was available online for budding importers.
Of course, the Wii’s golden goose was its party and more-quirky games – and contrary to popular belief, there was a wonderful stack of ‘em. Band Hero, Beat The Beat: Rhythm Paradise, Beatles Rock Band, Blast Works, Boom Blox: Bash Party, Boom Street, DJ Hero, EA Create, Endless Ocean 1 and 2, Excitetruck, Excitebots, Guitar Hero 5, Warriors of Rock & Metallica, the Mario & Sonic games, Mario Party 9, MySims: Kingdom, Racing & Agents (which were all very good fun. God, what happened to you, EA?), Order Up!, Rock Band 3, Samba De Amigo, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, Trackmania, Trauma Team, Warioware: Smooth Moves, the unfairly-maligned Wii Music, Wii Party and Zack & Wiki.
Even the WiiWare service – as flawed as it was – still managed to produce quite a few gems. Adventure Island: The Beginning, And Yet It Moves, Art of Balance, Art Style: light trax & ORBIENT, Bit.Trip Beat, Core, Flux, Runner & Void, Bomberman Blast, Bonsai Barber, Bubble Bobble Plus!, Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth, Cave Story, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, Conta ReBirth, Final Fantasy: My Life as King, Groovin’ Blocks, Hydroventure, La Mulana, Let’s Catch, Lit, Lost Winds 1 and 2, Maboshi, The Magic Obelisk, Max & the Magic Marker, Mega Man 9 and 10, Motoheroz, Muscle March, NEVES Plus, Nyxquest, Rage of the Gladiator, Sonic 4: Episode 1, Space Invaders Get Even, Swords & Soldiers, Tales of Monkey Island, Toki Tori, Toribash, World of Goo and You, Me and the Cubes were all worth a gamer’s hard-earned Wii Points.
Now, combine all of this with the vast Virtual Console library, and it’s clear that the Wii has been seriously misrepresented amongst the dedicated gaming community. How many hours of gameplay do all these games represent? If your answer is ‘still not enough’, then I seriously envy you. And as I said before, combine all this with Nintendo’s handhelds, and the concept of being a Nintendo-only gamer isn’t so far-fetched after all.
The situation has been same with the Wii U.
Whilst the 3DS enjoyed a stellar 2013, Nintendo’s fledgling home console has been coughing and wheezing. After yet more Iwata apologies, gamers shook their heads in dismay over how Nintendo could do this again. On his part, Miyamoto admitted that the Kyoto giant’s in-house coders initially struggled with HD development – but this only exacerbated the negative perception of Nintendo’s competency. Of course, it didn’t help matters when critics seemingly forgot the fact that almost every new console suffers from a lull in software releases – PS4 and Xbox One included.
Meanwhile, as all this was happening – I was – y’know – playing my Wii U.
When it launched in late 2012, the Nintendo faithful were blessed with a wide range of titles – one of the most extensive launches in gaming history. Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U, Batman: Arkham City, Zombi U, Mass Effect 3, Sonic & All-Stars Racing, Assassin’s Creed 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 were all quality titles (despite the majority being ports).
Into 2013 and beyond, the Wii U hosted Assassin’s Creed 4, Batman: Arkham Origins, COD: Ghosts, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Game & Wario, Injustice: Gods Among Us, LEGO City Undercover, LEGO Batman 2, LEGO Marvel Superheroes, Monster Hunter Tri Ultimate, Need For Speed: Undercover, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Pikmin 3, Rayman Legends, Resident Evil: Revelations, Scribblenauts Unlimited and Unmasked, Skylanders Giants and Swap Force, Sonic: Lost World, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Super Mario 3D World, Wii Fit U, Wii Party U, Wind Waker HD, Wonderful 101 and Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013.
Meanwhile on eShop, there was Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, CastleStorm, The Cave, Cloudberry Kingdom, Coaster Crazy Deluxe, Dr. Luigi, DuckTales Remastered, Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara, Edge, Festival of Magic, Forgotten Memories, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, Knyyt Underground, Little Inferno, Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition, Mutant Mudds Deluxe, Nano Assault Neo, NES Remix, New Super Luigi U, Puddle, RUSH, Spin the Bottle: Bumpie’s Party, Star Wars Pinball, TNT Racers – Nitro Machines Edition, Tank! Tank! Tank!, Trine 2: Director’s Cut, Unepic, Wii Sports Club and ZEN Pinball 2.
So, does this look like a software drought to you? Because it sure doesn’t to me!