Nintendo has had such an odd turn of the century.
They started the year 2000 with the tail-end of the Nintendo 64s five year run, and it had been a good one. Sure the purists had argued it was a ‘kiddy’ console, but games like Goldeneye, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and Resident Evil 2 ensured there was something for everyone there. It would also take an absolute numbskull of a gamer to argue against the fun of Mario 64, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Diddy Kong Racing, amongst countless others. It was a fantastic console with spawned some truly phenomenal games, and the Gamecube certainly had a lot to live up to when it was released in 2001.
The Gamecube’s problem was that the 90s gaming market had grown up. While Sony with their PS2 were utterly destroying the charts with their adult themed hit sellers, Nintendo were still hoping to aim for the wider market with their more family friendly games, and party based titles. While GTA: San Andreas hit big with over 17 million sales, the Gamecube’s top seller was Smash Bros Melee with a respectable 7 million. Considering that Sony sold 8 times more PS2s than Nintendo did Gamecube, I guess the ratio of the game sales isn’t so bad.
We all know what happened next of course; the Wii was released. Whilst not Nintendo’s biggest selling console of all time (Gameboy / DS), it was still an absolute behemoth and by sales of units, out-did both PS3 and 360 by nearly 20 million sales. Again, purists would argue the price point was the sole reason for this, but on paper, the Wii simply looks like the winner here. It had some cracking games on it, and sure they may not leave their mark on the industry like the big sellers of PS3 and 360 did, but games like Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports Resort, and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess will stay with me forever. And in my collection.
The Wii U comes along, and I honestly didn’t give it two looks. There was hardly anything on it, and I’m sure the games that were released on it were great, but there wasn’t enough to convince me to get one. Maybe I’ll snap one up cheap some day if I’m lucky, but considering how few consoles and games were sold, they’re bound to become a collector’s item and see their prices skyrocket very quickly.
And here we are at the Switch. It wasn’t even announced that long ago really, was it October or November if I remember correctly? We’re talking a 6-month gap there from announcement to release, which in the grand scheme of the gaming world isn’t a significant wait. It took Sony 18 months from announcing the PS2 to finally getting it released. I can’t help but feel that Nintendo’s eagerness to get the console out is what has affected its launch library. They announced they had over 80 third-party titles in development, but released with just two significant ones, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 1-2-Switch. Most gamers weren’t even fussed about the second.
Why didn’t I buy one? Price was a major issue for me. It seemed like a glorified tablet but without the apps that Android and Apple provide. Specs don’t interest me so this was never a concern of mine. I will always contest that I would rather take Shadow of the Colossus on the PS2 with it’s shocking framerate over any modern day game which runs at 60fps. A lack of games was certainly an issue, which was the same reason I never got a N64 at launch. Pilotwings and Super Mario 64? Sure they’re great games, but we need variety immediately, regardless of how many people will argue that Mario 64 is the only game they ever needed at the time.
3rd party support is a HUGE concern for me. Since the turn of the century, it’s been one of the biggest issues surrounding Nintendo. There’s just not enough of the damned stuff. Take the Wii and Square Enix for instance. We got to see the release of a few Crystal Chronicles games, a Mario Sports game, and The Tales of Bearsworth Manor. Meanwhile, the ‘big boys’ in Microsoft and Sony were experiencing Final Fantasy XI and XIV online, Final Fantasy XIII and its spinoffs, and the Kingdom Hearts series. There’s no doubt here which consoles were receiving the better releases. Nintendo may develop the better first party titles, Microsoft and Sony are receiving the better support of countless third-party developers however.
Some would say, “But Nintendo’s first party titles are worth more than all the third-party titles put together!” I give you the Wii U. Great first party games on offer, with barely any outside releases. Nintendo saw less than 200 unique titles released for the console, not including downloadable releases which rarely compare in quality. The 360 saw over 1000. PS3 nearly 1500. Let’s just be thankful we’re not back in the days of the shovelware filled period which plagued the PS2 and DS however because the Wii U library could have been filled with fitness and crossword junk.
We could talk about their online support, which while not a massively important feature for me anymore, is still a huge deal for the majority of gamers out there today. Nintendo is still using the universally hated friend code system, over ten years since it was first introduced on the Wii. You can only voice chat on the Switch through a mobile phone app, and this won’t even be accessible through all games. It’s just such a hassle and amazing that Nintendo still can’t get this right, something that it seems even Sony were doing better with all the way back during its PS2 run.
The price of the console and its accessories… holy moly. You can currently buy a Joycon for around £65 – 75. You could also buy a Nintendo 2DS for nearly the same price which offers access to a fantastic library with not very expensive games. £75 for an accessory is a disgusting price. God forbid you have four children and each one wants their own control pad. The Pro Controllers are retailing at £65. Microsoft and Sony don’t even have the balls to charge this much for their standard controllers. Whilst rummaging through my own personal games mag collection a few months back, I came across an old Nintendo magazine from the early 90s which advertised an extra Super Nintendo pad at £15, brand new. The SNES had released at the low price of £150. Sure technology has come along in leaps and bounds to say the least, but how can it be that a console launch price has doubled in 25 years, whilst a control pad price has increased by 500%?
I LOVE Nintendo. With the exception of the Virtual Boy, Wii U and the Switch, I own pretty much every Nintendo console ever released. I could write about the SNES and its games until the day I die; it’s by far my favourite console that’s ever been released. The big N just need a major reality slap if they’re going to bring themselves back to being the no.1 brand in gaming. Sony and Microsoft are currently in an idle state, with fans being disappointed with the current generation of home consoles. No-one seems to be doing much about it either. Both consoles have very few important exclusive titles, and the ones that are are mostly sequels.
If Nintendo ever had a chance to fight back and get back in the driving seat, now is the time. They’ve already screwed up some prospect of success with some of the foolish decisions made on the functionality of the Switch, but it’s the games and accessibility where they can pull this back. It’s all we want.
Good, fun games to play. A reasonable price to pay for the experience, particularly when the accessories are concerned. Stop being so strict with your content, and let developers run free with their ideas. Violent games and colourful fun games CAN work side by side in a console library. Take us back to a time where things were simple, and games had to be released to a certain degree of quality, rather than the unfinished releases we seem content to have out upon us now, with day 1 patches a necessity rather an unfortunate circumstance.
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