Why so furious?

I posted a…well, I don’t know that “defense” is the correct word, but definitely a something about Wii Music yesterday. The short of it is, I don’t have any particular interest in the game…but I also don’t see it as a clear and present danger to all that is good in the world, either.

Have self-proclaimed hardcore gamers always been this hysterical about “non-game” software? I feel like Wii Music is the latest in a long line of toys and apps that Nintendo has been churning out for years; nothing new in the least. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t lurking in the proper corners of USENET back then, but I really don’t remember Mario Paint eliciting so much FUD back in the day; on the contrary, people seemed to love it, and it’s still regarded fondly. While I was in Tokyo last week, I came across a set of Famicom Disk System titles that appeared to be Mario-themed lessons on sewing; for that matter, Nintendo even published (or at least played host to) a Game Boy application that could be used with a sewing machine to create special patterns. And let’s not forget the Game Boy Camera, which was basically an add-on that let you do a simplified version of what the DSi promises to enable — but people thought that was awesome, whereas the collective mindset regarding DSi’s 0.3 megapixel camera is that it’s the dumbest thing ever.

Nintendo’s modus operandi doesn’t seem to have changed so much over the years…is the problem simply that people who play games are becoming shriller and more egocentric?

42 thoughts on “Why so furious?

  1. A parallel could be drawn to comic books, a medium that started off with a wide range of different genres and types to choose from but over time has whittled its audience down to selfish spoiled brats, who view anything other than what they want as a pile of crap.

    But if that were the case Top Shelf or someone would have to be sitting high on the sales chart while all the Legion of Super Heroes fans bitch about how it’s just a fluke.

    So it isn’t exactly a good parallel.

    Short version: It’s easier to stone someone to death with a crowd than it is to have an orgy and despite being for porn, the internet is best at zealotus rage.

  2. People just don’t automatically think of Mario Paint and the like in those terms. They’re from the 16-bit era, when apparently everything was “hardcore,” no exception. Hell, even I had largely forgotten about Mario Paint (though, as you said, I still regard it fondly).

    Wii Music however is seen as symptomatic of the larger problem that the Wii is leaving behind the so-called core gamer. Hence, people are hate it.

    Personally, I think we’re generally of the same mind about Wii Music and the Wii in general. But, unfortunately, logical arguments like the one above aren’t going to make the Internet any less shrill.

  3. I think “core” N fans are just mad that there is nothing of any kind going on with the Metroid franchise right now. I don’t want another Metroid dark age, I want Metroid Dread.

    Also, it probably has something to do with Nintendo explicitly saying as a corporation, “We’re going to start focusing on old ladies instead of Zelda/Metroid/Mario fans”. It’s like the feeling of a jilted lover when their old flame runs off with some new chick (in this case, an octogenarian).

  4. I think it’s more to do with the fact that the “core” games seem a bit less for the fans these days, than it is a revolt against the existence of these casual titles. For example, Mario Galaxy is a hell of a lot more accessable to non-gamers than Mario 3 or Mario World would have been. I’m not disputing the fact that it’s fun, but I doesn’t have that nasty bit of challenge that seeps in as you progress in the earlier Mario titles.

    Old fans see this decline in Nintendo pandering to them, and then notice these casual titles (which have been there in some capacity all along) and start screaming about the end times.

  5. Mario Galaxy not challenging? Clearly someone hasn’t finished the game.

    “It’s like the feeling of a jilted lover when their old flame runs off with some new chick (in this case, an octogenarian).”

    Cougars are so hot right now. I blame Ocean’s Thirteen.

  6. I think it has a lot to do with Cliffy B’s brother, to be honest. There was this stupid fear going around, that his brother gave voice to, that expanding the market would mean less games made for core players and a rise in the shitty games made for 8-year-olds.

    The problem with this is that no-one, not the press, not the fans, has actually read the book where Nintendo got their Blue Ocean Strategy from. Those shitty games for 8-year-olds are core games, because they are pre-existing in the marketplace. It spoke to a fundamental misunderstanding about Nintendo’s strategy – they’re not moving from the core audience of the “hardcore” game to the core audience of “8-year-olds who don’t know any better”, they’re moving to a completely new audience who are going to have entirely different criticisms, and are just as unlikely – less, in fact – to put up with control problems and fundamentally uninvolving gameplay as the hardcore. This is why Wii Sports, Wii Fit and now Wii Music are actually kind of fun to mess around with. They don’t have the longetivity, but that’s fine, neither did Tetris.

    It’s up to the rest of the industry to work out how to bridge the gap between the two, and unfortunately Nintendo is the only ones I’d expect to be able to work out how to do that.

  7. dude if you had seen my mario paint tape, you would know it was not only the end of video games, but the end of history.

  8. For some reason that comment made me laugh harder than anything I’ve ever seen on this site.

  9. I’d say the main issue (and really, other comments here back me up) is that people are ticked off at the Wii’s odd combination of crazy financial success and lack-of-games-they-want, and are thus looking for scapegoats.

    To put things in perspective though, the Wii has already been given its iteration of every Big Name Groovy We Do One Every Hardware Generation games. (Well OK, no Star Fox, but do people still care?) They made a point of getting them all out up front too, instead of drizzling them out over the life of the system. So, Nintendo has done as much for you here as on every other system. Please redirect your gripes to the various third parties snubbing it.

    Alternatively, if you want to pass the buck further along, blame all those people interested in buying the budget party games, whose success is scaring them out of taking the risk on full-priced stuff.

  10. It might simply be that its not that easy for people to think differently than they are used to. Your arguments all rely on analyze it for what it is and not what they want it to be. Its not easy trying to tell someone who is a Guitar Hero twitch master that there is value in software that rewards rhythm and flexibility.

    Its also harder to sell someone the virtues of something when they have emotional vested interest in proving that other people should hate it.

  11. Look, I don’t expect to see a complete absence of bias in every article/review I read on a game site, but the reaction to Wii Music is insane! Nintendo can reach out to a broader audience without earning the excoriation it’s getting for apparently alienating the hardcore gamers who have worked so hard to get Nintendo where it is. Or whatever the position there is.

    And while I understand there’s a lot of frustration over the way the Wii has been and continues to be served in terms of software, the Wii, I think, has also done more to treat retro gaming like an actual market-compatible hobby rather than something that has to rely on eBay or garage sales to function. Collecting old games is wonderful and fun, but it’s nice to see all three console manufacturers treating older material from their own (and others’) past hardware generations like items that belong in the “classics” section of the bookstore rather than old (and thus unmarketable and disposable) merchandise.

  12. So Mario Paint and/or the Game Boy Camera came out instead of, rather than in leiu of, a decent software lineup?

    Then why are we talking about it as if the situation is identical?

  13. (Not that I’m implying that the DS/DSi doesn’t/won’t have decent software; I think DSi isn’t so much an issue the camera but its identity. DSi seems to be being a strange more-than-a-simple-hardware-revision, but not-yet-a-new-hardware-gen-system.)

  14. There are at least as many great games for the Wii as there were for the Super Nintendo at the same point, no matter who you are. Maybe you just didn’t notice because you only had a $5 a week allowance back then.

  15. My introduction to the Velvet Underground was in Nintendo Power’s Mario Paint strategy guide, which included it as a famous album cover you could recreate in Mario Paint.

  16. Oh certainly, there’s plenty of great titles out. However, it seems like Nintendo is saying “Ok, we gave you x, y, z, now leave us alone for a year or so while we rake in moneys from casuals.”

    Now, when is Nintendo going to get around to actually putting more quality “core” titles out? Since, with the exception of Wario Land, the last 7-8 months of 2008 is looking pretty dry as far as quality Nintendo releases (and 2009 is under wraps).

    The fact that Wii Music is apparently Nintendo’s big holiday title, and their lineup includes really no “core titles”, is pretty ridiculous. No, Reggie, Animal Crossing is not a “core” title.

    Wii Music being casual is fine. However, it’s really, really cheap. As mentioned by many of the commenters on the blog, it’s not that it’s just a silly little improvisional music game. It’s one with really bad production values, public-domain and other cheap/free songs, and MIDI music. Wii Music should sound a lot better than Mario Paint, seriously. As cheap as it is, Nintendo should have something a bit more solid and substantial to offer this holiday. Release lists indicate they don’t

    For all Nintendo’s talk of innovation, it seems to me there’s “whacky experimental casual game!!” on a ghetto budget and “new Mario/Zelda/Pikmin/AC/Pokemon!! entry.” With little else in between. If Wii Music had a little more money and value put into it, it being a holiday major release would be fine. It isn’t.

    One nice LOL I got from the blog post:
    “Shrieking about how it’s destroying the industry is shrill alarmism at its worst; Nintendogs and Wii Fit didn’t prevent the existence of Gears of War 2, and I’m pretty sure Wii Music isn’t going to cause Bungie to cancel its next project.”

    i.e. “Don’t like the Wii’s games? Buy a 360 already, will ya!”

  17. Nothing new to add, really, I’m just pleasantly surprised at the vast number of level-headed comments on this article.

  18. That link phinehas posted pretty clearly shows Black Francis’s Mii on the cello. Wii Music not for the hardcore? PSHAW!

  19. Mario Paint came out in early August alongside Kirby’s Dreamland. It was followed up three or four weeks later by Super Mario Kart. And two weeks after that by Axelay. And about a month after that was Soul Blazer.

    As someone else said above, it’s not that this game is coming out. It’s that only this game is coming out. As the big holiday title, it’s pretty sad. Well, not for Nintendo. This thing’s going to sell stupid amounts.

    It’s sad in the same way that Disney has become sad. Yes, they’re still taking their old classics out the vault and reselling them to you, and those are still excellent pieces of work, but their new stuff just makes you grit your teeth. Everyone will get used to it in time, but it’s still sticking in a lot of people’s craws at the moment.

  20. Why is this bothering people now though? Nintendo hasn’t released hit after hit since the SNES days. The N64 was particularly terrible in that respect, and the Gamecube wasn’t much better. If people are blaming “casual” games for this now, what is their explanation for the previous two generations? If anything, we’ve seen more “core” (whatever that means) games from Nintendo in the first two years of the Wii than in the previous two generations.

  21. Well, those previous two generations, they had the PlayStation, which largely filled that role. Nobody’s that monolithic font of gaming this time around. This generation, it’s been particularly rough to be a hardcore player, what with the market fragmentation and the rocketing cost of the hobby.

    Also, this is the first generation where hardcore preference hasn’t weigh heavily on deciding the market leader. It’s actually quite the opposite this time. The rest of the industry are chasing after Nintendo in this sort of casual games gold rush. The traditional heavy users of the industry have been pretty abruptly dethroned and it’s proving to be a tough adjustment period.

  22. I know this has been said before, but Nintendo hasn’t changed a bit – it’s the gamers that have changed.
    They’ve grown older, they’ve had experiences with other companies, and they’ve tried new things that they’ve liked. Meanwhile, Nintendo stays the course.
    The problem arises from the fact that none of these people, AS A PERSON, have ever been Nintendo’s target audience. At one time, they were young, casual gamers, and thus were Nintendo’s audience. Unfortunately, they thought it was all about them personally, and did not understand why Nintendo didn’t move along with them when they changed.
    This is not helped by the fact that Nintendo does occasionally roll out its flagship titles that “hardcore” gamers think are directed at them. These games are not directed at them; they’re directed at the same audience as they were when the “hardcore” gamers were young: casual gamers. These games have a quality about them that all can enjoy, and the “hardcore” gamers get confused.

  23. Because of my wife’s “No buying games until Christmas” rule (she did her shopping already), I have to wait until (hopefully!) Christmas for Wii Music, but I’m stoked for it. It seems VERY Nintendo. Is Totaka’s Song hidden in Wii Music?

  24. I think Mario Paint had an exception back then because most people didn’t have PCs, or they had PCs that really sucked. It provided a function we couldn’t do elsewhere.

  25. The main problem with the (asinine) “hardcore” discussion that’s been going on (and boring the hell out of me) for the last few years is that the definition of hardcore is so incredibly vague. I don’t think anyone considered Pokemon and Animal Crossing to be hardcore when they came out. There are never enough first-party big-name Nintendo games. This has been the case since the N64. End.

  26. I don’t think there’s so much a “casual games gold rush” (though that turn of phrase conjures up great images, and I love it!); it seems to me that there’s a larger disparity in the budgets that go into these games. Game developers/publishers are pouring stratospheric amounts of money into hardcore titles and so can only produce a few triple-a type games a year. (Most) casual titles are cheap and easy to produce. Wii Music may be casual to the bone, but it’s really a mean between the two budget- and time-wise, and it’s far from being the shovelware I think it’s been portrayed as. That’s what is unfair: it’s getting painted with the same brush as Ninjabread Man or something equally awful, when it simply is not that sort of product.

  27. We were more receptive to toys back when Mario Paint came out. I was 7 years old when the game came out. I’m 24 now, so I don’t think WiiMusic is going to hold as much relevance for me, especially when I’ve got 3 iterations of Guitar Hero and 2 iterations of Rock Band. For sake of example, If they were to release Mario Paint today, I COULD Play it… Or I could use Photoshop. I could play the fly swatting mini-game… Or I could save 50 bucks on Newgrounds.com.

    Counter-Point: Is WiiMusic for me? Not at all. Was Mario Paint for me when I was 7? Hell yes.

    The objective conclusion: Nintendo’s not doing anything that they didn’t used to, but people’s vision seems to get narrower when they hone in on things they don’t like. People will complain about WiiFit, WiiMusic, WiiSports and etc. upon etc., and totally forget about the good software from before (Super Paper Mario, Twilight Princess, Mario Galaxy) and after. (Punch-Out, Sin & Punishment, Animal Crossing)

  28. i actually find myself less interested in gears of war and other games that attempt to pander to the ‘hardcore’ crowd as i get older… it feels like watching wrestling or something.

    am i the only one who feels that games like resistance and gears of war are the true kids stuff?

  29. Resistance held my interest over the course of a 10 minute demo. Gears of War lasted a little longer, maybe an hour or so.

    But then, there are far better shooters out there, and beyond that, much better games in general. I’m going to use World of Goo as my example just because I read an article a second ago before seeing your response. So my question would be to you in relation to this post is, would you rather play the games you like more than WiiMusic or similar casual apps or toys?

  30. haven’t played world of goo or wii music yet, so i don’t really know!

    i suppose my point is that i feel like so called ‘hardcore’ games have marketing and art direction that would appeal to the 16 year old me, probably, while wii music and pikmin are more appealing to the 28 year old me.

  31. See, my problem here (Parish, if this gets too far off track, feel free to tell us to shut up) is the loose definition of “hardcore gamer”, or at least that your definition is kind of ambiguous. It sounds to me like you’re talking about the popular shooters like Gears, Resistance and Halo, which appeal to a different set of gamers than I would consider than the ‘core’ crowd, who seem to whine more about things like WiiMusic than those who are probably too busy to hop off Xbox Live than to come on a site like this.

    Then there’s people like myself, who aren’t attracted to WiiMusic but do like things like say, World of Goo or Pikmin which aren’t action heavy. I could add to that, but really, I think Parish said it best in his original 1up blog that sparked this post. That in mind, I’ll rephrase the question: Knowing what you DO know about WiiMusic, does it attract you in comparison to something that’s more… ‘game like’ for lack of better phrasing as Pikmin?

  32. I agree. Nintendo fans are happy to praise anything that Nintendo does as long as they’re getting their four major food groups (Zelda, Mario, Metroid, and Mario Kart), for the most part.

    Whenever they come to the point where they suspect that there isn’t one of those games in development at any particular point in time, they freak out.

  33. well, you’ll notice i didn’t mention ‘hardcore gamers’ in either post, just games that are considered ‘hardcore’. personally i think labeling people as ‘hardcore’ or ‘casual’ is useful only if you are an advertising executive and, even then, only if you’re a lousy one.

    i can’t compare wii music to a hypothetical game about which the only thing i know is that it is more ‘game like’.

    i probably would be more excited about pikmin 3, but i also think music games are in a particularly tedious rut and like the idea of something that isn’t simply simon with toy instruments, so i have to admit i am curious.

  34. I get the feeling that a lot of the Wii Music backlash is simply the last few echoes of the somewhat dying trend of console justification. The fact that Wii Music is Nintendo’s big game for the holidays is not much of a problem considering how much else there will be to play on all platforms. For someone who only owns a Wii, then understandably they might want something else, but I feel that most of the hate comes from fans that still need to justify the console and the company behind it.

    Also, I think some Nintendo fans forget that the Wii has seen new entries in Mario, Zelda, Mario Kart, Metroid, Wario, Smash Bros., etc in a very short amount of time, and we aren’t likely to see them again soon.

  35. But we’re getting a new Punch-Out!!. (Is it grammatically correct for me to use the 2 exclamation points and then a period? There’s a literary quandary for you) Surely that counts for something?

  36. I don’t think the fan hatred is directed so much at this as a game (or non-game), but as a symbol for Nintendo’s abandonment of their long-suffering, self-effacing fan base. The fact that it was the sad finale of their E3 train wreck sort of cemented its this ominous status. While games like Wii Sports, Brain Age, and Nintendogs were clear bellwethers, Wii Music has more or less confirmed our deepest fears. At the end of the day, Nintendo is as mercenary has all the rest.

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