Posted on March 18 2011 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
The obvious answer to this question is no, but it’s a pretty interesting debate. Usually you hear about this from Sony and Microsoft fans who simply want to see Nintendo games on “superior” platforms. Occasionally even Nintendo fans get caught day dreaming of what Skyward Sword would be like in HD, or how much more intuitive Mario Galaxy could be with the Playstation Move and Blu-Ray tech. Lets face it, Nintendo’s hardware by today’s standards is generally out of date. Yes, the 3DS is still coming and will be a big hit, but it will assuredly be quickly surpassed by superior hardware from competitors by the end of 2012.
This all begs to question: Should Nintendo drop the hardware and focus on software?
My initial reaction to such a question is filled with fanboy like remarks. Attempting to look at things rationally I understand the sentiment. Nintendo has a lot of franchises, and they have proven time and time again that they are one of the best software developers on the planet. In contrast, despite stellar sales, the Wii has been written off by many as a gimmick console, with many noting that the Motion controls never actually added much to most of the core franchises. It’s true to some extent. Without waggle Mario Galaxy would of still been fantastic, and lets face it, outside of pointer aiming the controls we’re hardly even motion related in Twilight Princess. Super Smash Bros. Brawl is most preferred to be played with anything but Motion Controls.
Donkey Kong Country Returns, Metroid: Other M, Kirby’s Epic Yarn – all great games that has some motion built in, but none of it really advanced the game play in any measure. In fact, Skyward Sword will most likely be the first true “game” Nintendo has created since the Wii’s inception that will advance it’s gameplay strictly because of the Motion technology. Keep in mind this is five years after the Wii came out. When you start to think about it like that, you have to wonder if Motion tech really is the future, and if 85.6 million consumers could of been so fooled.
Bottom line is that Nintendo’s hardware doesn’t sell itself – it’s the killer first party software. Without Wii Sports, would your mother have bought a Wii? Without Twilight Princess, would you? What about when Mario Galaxy was being touted the greatest platformer ever? Would you own a Wii without that killer software? Would your mom have considered working out in her home again without Wii Fit? It was the killer software that really drove the sales of the system. When you consider this, things begin to look grim. Couldn’t Nintendo simply do this for another console?
The answer, in truth, is no. I know it can be fairly easy to side with Nintendo because the numbers look so good, but Nintendo is essential to the hardware atmosphere. Sony, Microsoft, PC Gamers… they shouldn’t want Nintendo hardware to simply go away. It’s true that maybe most “gamers” wont ever conceded to motion as a viable way to play games. It’s also true that I enjoy long walks at the beach. Nintendo is best at not only innovation, but at bringing more gamers into the system.
Yes, Mario Galaxy does indeed look that much better in HD.
Lets get back to the innovation stand point: The Wii very well may be a gimmick console. However, it’s motion tech had so many possibilities the direct competitors copied and improved upon it years later. The touch controls on the Nintendo DS were almost laughed at back when they came out, but now every smart phone, every iPod, every touch screen enabled device is being flooded with constant streams of touch based games. People sometimes forget that it was Nintendo that made touch gaming mainstream, not Apple.
The Nintendo 3DS is the first big attempt to make 3D become a new standard in future gaming. How the technology evolves over the years will be the true telling grounds as, while many can say things are impossible to do a certain way, it’s likely 3D TV’s without glasses could very well begin initial concepts because of what the 3DS does. Also, should the 3DS continue to sell well for several years, Nintendo will have, once again, been the ones to take something “gimmicky” and make it a new gaming standard. They did it with 3D console games like Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time back on the N64. They did it with Motion Controls. They did it with touch screens. Now they are doing it with 3D. Why would you want that to go away?
The counter argument to that is that it wouldn’t “have” to go away. That naturally, as a “third party”, Nintendo could directly impact the hardware still with their power of influence, but are Sony and Microsoft really going to listen to Nintendo’s hardware plees? After all, Nintendo would just be a mega third party like EA but with better games. No, in order for these new ideas to fully materalize and shape the gaming world, Nintendo needs the freedom to create the hardware needed to create the new experiences.
Nintendo is playing a dangerous game for many, but sales, and with what they have and are doing becoming more mainstream, there really is no reason for NIntendo to stop making consoles and handhelds. None of us, as gamers, should want that to happen. It’s fun to dream about what the next Zelda would look like on the PS3, or how amazing Brawl online would be through Xbox Live, but imagine a world without Nintendo innovating the hardware forever. Imagine not having an NES, N64, Gameboy, DS, or a Wii. Imagine if Nintendo was just happy to sit on a pile of money and never think “what’s next”. We may not like every innovation and change Nintendo does, but you cannot deny that, even if it’s just one game that really is better because of what they have done, that Nintendo has continuously affected gaming hardware in an overly positive fashion.
Not every new idea works. Friend codes was a horrible way to try and be different. However, Streetpass looks like it could be a sleeper hit feature. Nintendo likes to take some mighty swings when it comes to plate, and normally they hit a big game saving HR. It doesn’t mean they wont take a few strikes along the way, or possibly foul a few balls off.
Here’s hoping Skyward Sword finally shows off what true motion gaming is all about.