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It’s Time To Let Other Nintendo Franchises Join in the Spotlight
Mario is not invincible.
His franchise remains the number one best-selling video game franchise of all time. His games are beloved by many. He’s Nintendo’s mascot and, for better or worse, his games are cranked out at an incredibly quick rate. When Nintendo has nothing else, they fall back on the Italian plumber to get them out of a jam. Super Mario 3D Land may have even been responsible for causing the first surge in the 3DS’s popularity.
But Nintendo’s trump card is in many ways a double-edged sword. Mario may help ensure a surplus, but his success has caused a cancerous effect on Nintendo as a whole. The Wii U is the quintessential example. It’s no secret that the console has had significant trouble on the market and so, to soften the blow, Nintendo continues to throw Mario at it. In fact, come December, the console will already have two 3D Mario games. But the more they continue to turn to Mario games, the more their creativity is questioned by fans. Sure, they’re excellent games, but is there any indication to make us believe Super Mario 3D World will push the envelope of 3D platforming the way Super Mario Galaxy did? What we’re seeing is a safe Nintendo and that may in fact be the wrong approach. Believe it or not, there will come a time when Mario can no longer save them.
Remember what happens when Nintendo doesn’t have to rush a Mario product into stores?
Already struggling, the Wii U will be facing quite the uphill battle once Sony and Microsoft enter the battlefield this holiday. With considerably more powerful consoles and an impressive third-party backup, the Wii U is having trouble proving itself to gamers among these two giants. What it truly needs is something unique, something to differentiate itself.
The answer lies right in front of Nintendo. If they can’t hope to match the power or the third-party support of the Xbox One and PS4, they have to bring out the big guns: their other franchises. Some argue that Nintendo consoles are only good for owning first-party Nintendo titles. Perhaps, for the time being, Nintendo should embrace that idea. They certainly shouldn’t stop trying to push third-party support, but neither should they be leaving some of their other franchises in the dust. The big N has dozens of beloved franchises and the fact that each one of their series covers a different genre is a considerable advantage.
Perhaps those looking for a sci-fi action game will turn to the Wii U once they see a new Star Fox game. Or maybe those craving first-person shooters will take notice if Metroid makes a return. And what about Kirby? He’s always been a platform for gameplay experimentation, something that many are interested in. We know Zelda is on its way and Pikmin and Donkey Kong have received some love recently, but it’s not enough. If Nintendo can start to cover every genre, they will also start to close the gap on favoritism. Lucky for them, they have a few already established properties to do so.
Extend your reach to the stars, Nintendo!
The important fact to remember is how important Nintendo’s fans are to them. For a long while now, Nintendo’s success has been based largely on fan loyalty and a love for their first-party products. Their number-one priority should be satisfying them. The Wii U needs to sell before the third parties will come and if they hope to do that, they’re going to need the support of their followers. And what their followers want right now is more of the first-party titles they fell in love with. For every new Mass Effect, there could be a Star Fox. For every new Need For Speed, there could be an F-Zero. And what about Earthbound? Imagine the type of reaction that would get if it made a comeback.
Obviously, Nintendo faces an incredibly difficult case of balancing issues. They have to maintain their bond with their fans while also providing an incentive for non-fans to purchase their product. But it’s not hard to believe even some of their diehard fans are hesitant at this moment due to a lack of software. We know there are games coming, but it’s not enough. Nintendo needs to do everything it can to give love to its underappreciated franchises. Whether that means partnering with other companies or splitting development teams, it may be a price they have to pay. Now is not necessarily the time to play it safe. Now is the time for them to use the secret weapons stashed away in their armory.
Thank you for reading!