Allow me to just state the obvious right now: Nintendo fans are going to read this headline and the following column and immediately take me to task for supposedly inciting some kind of war between them and those who can’t stand their favorite game company.
I can assure you that such a result isn’t my intention. As I’ve expressed on these pages before, I’m a huge Nintendo fan. I was someone who defended Nintendo back when the company was waging war against Sega. And every single first-party title that I could get my hands on, I played with absolute enjoyment.
But something is changing.
Over the past year, I’ve played several Nintendo first-party titles, ranging from Super Mario Galaxy 2 to Donkey Kong Country Returns. And although I found the experience entertaining at times, and I worked my way through all the first-party titles I’ve played, I left nearly every one of them with a sense of disappointment.
But before we get into that, let me take you back in time for a minute.
When Super Mario 64 launched, I was suspicious of the new experience the game company would be offering. I was in a comfort zone with my Mario titles and I wasn’t sure if this new experience would be right for me.
And then I played Super Mario 64. By the end, I was obsessed with the game, its new ideas, and everything else that made it one of the top titles in history. It welcomed me to a new world of opportunity both in gaming and in Nintendo development. And along the way, it became one of my favorite games of all-time.
Fast forward to 2010 when I got my hands on Super Mario Galaxy 2, and that excitement was officially gone. Was it fun? At times. Was it on-par with so many Mario titles that came before it? That’s up for debate.
I found that Super Mario Galaxy 2 was an incremental update over its predecessor. And the tired use of the Wii Remote made me think twice about where Nintendo was going in the motion-gaming space.
I had similar feelings towards Donkey Kong Country Returns. The game is undoubtedly fun at times, and it ups the level of difficulty that made Donkey Kong so important in the gaming space. But once again, I wasn’t thrilled with the Wii Remote functionality. As difficult as the game got at the end, I found it a tad bit boring when it was all said and done. Needless to say, it’s unlikely to be a game that I revisit.
Granted, those are just two examples of several Nintendo titles that came out this year. But I think they illustrate my feelings towards the majority of first-party titles from the game company: the titles are fun, they can be entertaining when friends are over, but their use of the Wii Remote leaves much to be desired. And in general, I just think Nintendo is sticking with its own comfort zone and not allowing its franchises to grow as much as they should.
Now, does all this mean that I won’t be playing Nintendo video games anymore? Of course not. I’m a fan of those franchises for life. And I can say with absolute certainty that any future Mario, Metroid, or Legend of Zelda games the company throws at me, I will play.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have some complaints. And I would like to see Nintendo grow up a bit. The gaming market is changing, but Nintendo seems to have been most resistant to that change.
Now more than ever, it needs to get over it.