Mario Mario. Luigi Mario. Zelda. Link. Samus Aran.
The common thread: Nintendo.
Founded in 1889 as a Hanafuda card manufacturer, Nintendo has since expanded to become one of the most, if not the most, recognizable name in the video game industry. Their foray into the industry started in 1974 as the Japanese distributors for the Magnavox Odyssey home console. Three years later, they started manufacturing their own hardware with the Color Game TV. Soon after, in 1983, they released the iconic Family Computer home console, known as the Nintendo Entertainment System here in the states. The rest as they say, is historicity or something.
These days, however, Nintendo seems to have fallen in the eyes of the gaming hardcore. And, if the sales of the WiiU are any indicator, even some of the Nintendo faithful have lost their way. That’s why I’m here to say:
Nintendo: I’m still a fanboy.
Alright, maybe some of you are saying, “That’s not really a confession.” Well, what if I say that I’ve only ever owned Nintendo consoles? Well, besides the 8-bit Sega Master System back in the day and co-ownership of a PS2, every console I’ve spent money to buy has been a Nintendo one. Seriously, they’re my favorite first party. I’m not saying they’re the best 1st party, but they’re my favorite. It’s like, is 1984 Schwarzenegger Conan the Barbarian the best film of all time. No, I’m sure it isn’t. But it’s my favorite, hands down. That Basil Poledouris score. Amazing. Additionally, it just isn’t very cool to like Nintendo in the gaming circles these days. Everyone is like, “PS4, FTW!” or “PC MASTER RACE, BATCHES!” or even “STEAM CONSOLE WILL PWNZ YOU ALL!”
Why am I Nintendo fanboy? The reasons are threefold:
1. I love the 1st party titles.
2. Online multiplayer has never been my thing
3. Nintendo has always and will continue to innovate the way we play games
I Love the First Party Titles
Say what you will about the third party titles released for their home console systems (I’m thinking the horrible plethora of crap that was released for the original Wii), but the Nintendo first party titles are still quality games. Admittedly, I haven’t had the chance to play any of the first party titles for the WiiU (are there any?), but a good chunk of the releases for the previous consoles have been quality, worth playing, and even brilliant gaming experiences. Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword, Majora’s Mask, Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, were all awesome games. The Metroid Prime series has been great. Super Mario Galaxy: Funballs. I never really got into Pokemon, but I heard a few people play the series sometimes. The Smash Bros games have been a staple ever since my college days. In fact, a few friends and I are getting together for a Melee night in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be Meleetastic. Marth, all up ons. Unfortunately, the AAA-developing third parties haven’t quite embraced the Nintendo platforms, which makes sense I guess. They’re working on their already spectacularly successful multi-platform games. Implentation of Nintendo’s crazy gizmos, whatsits, and hoodads can be a bit of a chore, not to mention the need to optimize the title to run on a less powerful machine. Nonetheless, Nintendo has that amazing stable of first-party franchises. I just wish they would get a move on and release some WiiU titles.
Online Multi-player isn’t really my thing
This coming from the guy that still plays World of Warcraft, right? Well, even then, the sentiments expressed by the section header leak into my experience with MMORPGs. I tend to be a PvE kind of guy, rather than a PvP one. I tend to limit my interaction with other players to running my dungeons to hit my daily valor cap, and the ocassional Looking for Raid (LFR) runs. Every so often, I’ll go through a phase of wanting to run the big 25-mans… but that usually ends pretty quickly. What I tend to spend my time doing is going through quest lines. I like quest lines. Haha. Yes, that does make me weird, but that’s my preferred experience. In the console world, to what does that equate? Single-player campaign. Yup. I love me a good single player campaign. Online multi-player? Meh. I much prefer local multi-player or local co-op. That just seems to be the way I’m wired. That being the case, Nintendo systems are perfect for me. Sure, titles have online multi-player support sometimes, but the Nintendo friend system has always been a bit wonky, what with the 16-digit wii friend codes. Though the WiiU has switched to a more user-friendly friend ID system, the fact is that few games call for it. A lot of the big online multiplayer titles are multi-platform third parties, and we’ve already established that they don’t always get Nintendo releases. Point being, I know that lack of a great online community is deal breaking for a lot of gamers. I couldn’t really care less about it.
Nintendo has always and will continue to innovate the way we play games
While, for the past couple of generations the other first parties’ titles have concentrated on improving games through increasing framerate, screen resolution, and stuffing more polygons on screen, Nintendo has been about changing the way we intereact with them. Sometimes, it’s not always for the best. Other times, they have a great idea, but it isn’t always successful in the follow through. There is, however, a laundry list innovations they have brought to the mainstream gaming table, including things like the directional pad, shoulder buttons, analog thumbsticks, and motion control. True, they didn’t actually invent any of these things, but they were the first to integrate them into the home consoles. I haven’t even started talking about the GameBoy series and it’s offshoots. That’s a whole other conversation. The deal is, while there seems to be a lull in the general “Look at that crazy Nintendo shit, I want one!” feeling, I’m sure they’ll soon unveil something that will bring that feeling back again, full force.
So that, friends… is my confession for this week. Just because right now Nintendo isn’t making games for the “hardcore” or competing in the pixel power arena doesn’t mean they should be discounted, or looked upon as the lesser third party. They’re just concentrating on different kinds of games. Right now, Nintendo’s the awkward kid on the playground. If there’s anything that 90s teen romcoms have taught us, as soon as you take off their glasses and comb their hair, that awkward kid can become prom queen.
Sub-confession… I’m eyeing that new Legend of Zelda-themed 3DS XL. If anyone would like to send one to Agents of GUARD c/o Agent Earl because we’re cool, then I would be insanely grateful. I know, that’s a stretch. But come on, that thing is sexy, and I’m an actor.
Cripes, even I’m using “actor” as a synonym for “broke.”