Nintendo doesn’t love you anymore

I was gonna post this in my 1UP blog, but since the site no longer works for me — the delightfully inexplicable side effect of a speed-enhancing hardware transition that seems to be working a treat for everyone else — I guess it goes here! We’ll just consider this part three of my Seattle photo blog. Uh, but I guess we need a photo first.

Ah, there we go. As we can see from this book I spotted at the first night’s dinner, Nintendo is studying up for dealing more effectively with the Internet.

Anyway! I have recapped this week’s Nintendo event. At first I was worried I was too, you know, forgiving, too supportive of Nintendo’s new approach. But then some guy got his whiny little fanboy panties twisted in a knot because I made a reference to the “two GameCubes duct-taped together” school of thought, clearly missing the fact that it was a disparaging reference. So maybe I need to borrow that book I spotted.

But yeah, I’m totally down with Nintendo’s new hook. Of course, like everyone at the event this week, I was disappointed not to see Mario Galaxy or whatever, but apparently I was one of the few who also didn’t expect to see it. I’ve been aware of the company’s new tactics since the DS launched, so this was basically just a formal declaration of intent for what they’ve been doing for years now. And while it does seem something of a waste to fly up to Seattle just to look at Brain Age, there’s enormous significance to what was shown — just not in the usual OMG OMG SO AWESOME EAT THAT 360 AND PS3 sense that serves as the metric for most gamers.

Video games to date have been a depressingly limited medium, jealously lorded over by a narrow-minded and insular bunch of consumers. Which is precisely why there was such negativity in the air this week — the enthusiast press, like the gamers it caters to, is conditioned to expect certain things, and the likes of Carnival Games and Boogie fall waaaaay off the mark. Some of us were able to grudgingly accept the new face of Nintendo, others not so much… and I worry for the latter camp, because they need to come to grips with it. There’s more of a future in Brain Age than in Mario. Look at how many of Nintendo’s games are being presented in simple, elegant and mascot-free packaging; the new target audience doesn’t need a fuzzy mammal or angry space marine to enjoy a game. They just want, you know, a simple, accessible good time.

There’s nothing more pathetic than message board rats who mope about the evil of “non-games” and how Nintendo is ruining video games (ruining, I say!) by daring not to push graphical boundaries and further refine the WWII first-person shooter genre or whatever. And then to see the same people turn around and lambaste opportunistic politicians who decry the violence of video games.

Time for some advanced taxonomic reasoning.

The same casual games that some gamers hate so much are a major part of the solution to the violence in games debate. You’re never going to convince people that violent games aren’t violent — but if you let the medium expand to encompass a wider variety of games, including games that appeal to the critics themselves, then the controversial content becomes a tiny subset of a much larger and more inclusive medium. There’s more to the motion picture industry than summer blockbusters; there’s more to print than Tom Clancy potboilers; there’s more to music than what’s on the radio. Games need to expand like that as well, or they’ll founder into irrelevance.

So just suck it up, forum rats. Nintendo’s not replacing you. You still get your Marios and Zeldas and Metroids this year, your Halo sequels and your dozens of Final Fantasy-branded games and your freedom to pretend to be a scantily-clad level 70 lady elf. By opening the medium to a broader audience, by transforming casual games from niche PC-based time-wasters into a major business element for the world’s largest gaming company, Nintendo’s subsidizing the blockbusters you love so much, introducing new people to the hobbby, and making the industry in general healthier. Please let me know how that is bad! (Preferably with many cusses.) Personally, I’m not seeing it.

Alright then. Other orders of business: One, the new Retronauts is up. The topic is Starcraft. I say practically nothing. It is probably the best Retronauts to date. Ergo, we may deduce that my participation is to the podcast’s detriment. And two, I will try and restore the forums over the weekend. I can’t even begin to describe what a moron I am, but I seriously screwed the whole thing up. Soooo, back to the drawing board. Thank you, PHPBB, for your amazing UI design.

71 thoughts on “Nintendo doesn’t love you anymore

  1. Another good podcast this week, but it seemed almost like it was, “1up Yours: the Retronauts Edition,” since it didn’t really have Retronauts normal cast and subdued charm.

  2. “There’s more to the motion picture industry than summer blockbusters; there’s more to print than Tom Clancy potboilers; there’s more to music than what’s on the radio. Games need to expand like that as well, or they’ll founder into irrelevance.”

    I think that’s the best summation of what the games industry needs to be that I’ve heard.

    Also, nice use of “pejorative” on the podcast.

  3. Great podcast, can’t believe you’ve never played StarCraft though… Time to turn in your gamer card? Looking forward to the Megaman one! Oh, question, When, if ever is the bonus stage coming back?

  4. Um, why don’t you take the weekend *off*? It’s a holiday, for crying out loud.

  5. Excellent article Jeremy. I don’t consider myself a “hardcore” gamer, though my friends probably do and I completely embrace this casual games revival we’re starting to see. I love Oblivion, Gears of War was completely eye candy, but the games that have really sucked up a lot of my time lately are casual ones. Puzzle Quest has been the only game I’ve had in my DS for the last month. I picked up a PSP two Fridays ago and Loco Roco has barely left it.

    Your book and film analogy was spot on I think. How boring would life be if we could only see Die Hards and Rambos and never Pink Flamingos and Spirited Aways? If all we had to read was V.C. Andrews and never Vonnegut? *shudder*

  6. Parish, if you need the lowdown on the story of Starcraft, here’s a particularly good site for reading the in-game script:

    Starcraft is alot more complex than simple Marathon-esq “rampant dude comes to power” story that you would assume in the podcast. (And if you were too put it like that, think Durandal gets what’s comming for him.) Kerrigan and Raynor do have this thing going on with them, but it’s not pushed and is supperceded by the other races stories.

    On that note of Nintendo Summit, I’m glad they finally let Panel De Pon just be released as Puzzle League ($15 bundled with Dr. Mario on GameBoy), although I still would’ve liked to see a little bit “Lip serivce” just to get the context of some of the items in SSBM. It’s like playing a sanitized Magical Drop (which is, Magical Drop devoid of chracters and charm). I always though a little-bit of moé wouldn’t be too bad just as long as not oversaturatingly done like Twinkle Star Sprites to the point it might be deemed disturbing.

  7. Well, I meant in regards to restoring TT – I can’t speak for your other 1UP-related obligations.

  8. I want to play Starcraft now. Good show.

    When something small starts to become something big there is always an element that resents it. They have confused their early adoption as some small part of a collaborative process, and mistaken the bonds of friendship that have formed with other fans as something exclusive to their shared interest. The change that is coming is something to fear because that interest has become such a part of their identity. If everyone likes it, then the thing that made them unique will be gone. It is a rage born of fear and misunderstanding and deserves pity instead of scorn. They know not what they type. The change is inevitable, but so is the kvetching. It’s the circle of fandom.

    Unless the interest in question is Talking Time. It’s a pretty unique situation. I’ve never been a frequent poster anywhere, but managed to rack up a huge post count in no time at all. What do we have in common? Good taste in videogames and a distinct lack of melodrama? Is this the future of the internet or some bizarre aberration? In any case, I think you deserve the weekend off. We’ll be here when you get back.

  9. Everyone should go and doodle on the oekaki over the weekend so Jeremy can enjoy his holiday! It’s a comment-athon!

    Actually, here’s an experiment:

    Sketchy Topic # 1: If you could create a piece of Toasty Frog merchandise, what would it be? Draw it!!

  10. This is bad because YOUR A FUK SHIIT ASSBAG SONOFABITCH!!!

    Seriously, though, while I’m not particularly excited about Carnival Games or Big Brain Academy, I respect them. My only worry at this point is that at some point even the casual gamers will get sick of minigame-fests. Boogie, though. I’m fucking STOKED about that shit. For real. As long as the music doesn’t suck.

  11. Casual players won’t get sick of minigames. They are casual players. They don’t play enough to get sick of anything.

  12. OK, but WHY is it so important that gaming reach the largest possible audience? In the past year or two, this idea has emerged that a game or console has “failed” if your grandparents won’t buy it, and I don’t understand where it came from.

    Gaming is a hobby, not a life essential. And just like any other hobby, it’s only going to appeal to a limited audience. I don’t imagine that people into collecting stamps are trying to figure out how to “expand” the stamp “market,” or that wine tasters are gloating about their “blue ocean strategy.” Everyone’s got their own interests, and, if gaming doesn’t appear to Aunt Clara, that’s cool — I’m sure she has her own interests and isn’t fretting that Capcom hasn’t targetted her demographic yet.

    The only real explanation I have for this non-game fervor is that a lot of gamers are desperate to have mainstream society validate the amount of time/energy they invest in gaming, often because it’s the only interest they have :P. I think there’s notion among the Internet bed-sit crowd that maybe if the Wii sells out in the heartland, suddenly their parents and the girls who turned them down for dates will suddenly respect their decision to spend all weekend collecting every chocolate medal in Kirby’s Air Ride. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the Wii’s audience is still males 12-24 (aka “Man-Children”):
    I think this might not be an entirely inaccurate guess.

    Honestly, I just don’t think it’s that important for gaming to be more mainstream/popular. I’m sure other people feel perfectly happy with the hobbies they have and aren’t waiting for game developers to appeal them. And as for myself, I’ve got plenty of other hobbies/interests. (And, considering the current proliferation of Brain Training/Phoenix Wright type games, most of them are more appealing to me than gaming is :P.) If someone doesn’t care for games, that’s cool with me. I don’t feel any real need to force my interests on them or “introduce them to the hobby.”

    I think most developers that aren’t targeting the Animal Crossing crowd aren’t dumb — they’re well aware of they’re doing. They’re making the kind of games that gamers like to buy. And that’s not a failure at all … unless you’re also willing to argue that, say, Pet Sounds sucks because it shifted fewer units than Kidz Bop.

  13. …ok, so I’m gone on vacation for a week, and I return to find TT gone? I’m sorely disappointed in you guys.

  14. Amazing. I stand up in ovation for the awesome lucid mind of Mr. Parish. He, gets it. Now, I wonder what type of game may appeal to critics like Jack Thompson.

  15. Gaming, whether or not its products are deemed successful, or artistic, or even fun, is still a business. Dozens of products, from the hardcore violence-centric shooters, to the esoteric post-modern-media products, to extensive sets of prose punctuated by random battles, fall by the wayside because there was not interest, or because surveys did not respond, or because some executive someplace thought that maybe a rabbit walking across a line was a stupid idea for a game in a market full of guns.

    Diversifying a publisher’s portfolio, and thereby expanding the market into new areas, is one of the most highly sought-after grails of business. Rather than resell to current customers, you’re bringing new ones into the flock. It’s much more profitable, and much less risky. Blizzard is a master at vertical growth — they resell products to the same customers over and over again, because they know what that demographic wants and deliver it in spades. They take risks, but they pay off. Vivendi (yes, I know, apples to oranges), on the other hand, produces a staggering amount of material, and Blizzard’s only one of its properties. Successes in the small, peripheral, new market — Brain Age is a good example — FUND the Marios and the Zeldas and the Metroids. So you allow for a broader space in the market, and everybody, ultimately, benefits. At least in theory.

    And if nobody is trying to broaden the market on hobby stamps, why does the post office keep putting new pictures on them? And wine tasters are even more evangelical about their hobbies than gamers are. How many foreign game companies make their games specifically to cater to the tastes of a single magazine editor?

  16. Fritz, it’s not a matter of “this means nothing if my grandparents don’t like it,” and certainly not some sort of desperate need for validation. It’s a matter of diversifying beyond a limited demographic. Look at comic books for a frightening example of what happens when a medium becomes trapped pandering to its shrinking fanbase. Games have so much potential — I’d really hate to see that happen to them.

  17. Aren’t there studies that demonstrate that once you account for “casual gamers” who play things like online card games and bejeweled and cell phone games, the overall audience is as large if not larger than the console gaming audience, and the number of female gamers becomes pronounced?

    Nintendo didn’t suddenly invent casual gaming as a backlash against Gears of War to validate their craft, or to make pasty cheeto dust fingertipped gamers feel better about themselves. There’s money to be had in them thar hills. And Nintendo has to overcome the hurdle of pushing a hardware purchase (though, so do Sony and Microsoft who are also pushing hard toward the hoop toward casual gaming, lest we forget), whereas “Popcap Gamers” are generally playing Slingo and Hold ‘Em Poker on the PCs, cellphones or iPods they already own.

    On this topic, it’s interesting to see the iPod finally get an original game, and one based on a huge franchise like Lost, at that. It’ll be really interesting to see if they do any sort of iTunes cross-promotion (buy 3 episodes, download the game for free).

  18. Precisely. That’s exactly what I meant by “transforming casual games from niche PC-based time-wasters into a major business element for the world’s largest gaming company.” It’s no challenge at all to get people who don’t think of themselves as gamers to play a free browser game, but convincing so many to buy software and the hardware to run it on is quite a feat.

  19. The problem I see, Parish, is that you are being over optimistic. And here is why: Are you sure someone will buy a piece of hardware other than their computer to play Bejeweled or a “casual game”? I don’t think so. We are happy with our PCs. The casual gamers and the people like me who have been completely ostracized by the video games industry: Adventure gamers.
    I don’t want a PS3 or a Wii or a 360. I just need a PC because I actually use it for my other hobbies, and it lets me play games I like from time to time (like Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Simon The Sorcerer and Zork, are these hardcore anymore or just casual?).
    Now, I do agree that the video games industry needs diversity. I for one, feel completely ignored by them. I feel like shit. Also, shooters, man, I love “shmups”, but am I better off with a Wii or pirating with MAME for my shooter fix?
    So, on Nintendo being some sort of visionary pioneer I do not agree, on the need of diversity I agree. Or something.

  20. Core gamers = the new emo.

    LOL I’m just kidding you guys are alright.

    I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that Picross DS is two months away, given that it’s already been out in Europe. (In before EUROPE GETS ALMOST EVERYTHING LAST THOUGH BLAHBLAHCAKES…)

    At least the downloadable puzzles appear to be coming our way.

  21. Firstly, the Starcraft podcast rocked. The only saddening thing was that I could only listen. Despite never actually finishing game or expansion, the game’s plot is something I can totally geek out over.

    On the topic at hand, it’s a pity so many have to get so fussy about the likes of Brain Age 2… personally, finding out about it it’s now probably among my most anticipated games this year. More mind puzzles and sudoku? Yes plz. I like this new direction, because ultimately we’re still going to get the kinds of games we love anyway.

    RE: Calories Man: Mr. Nicolai has an old forum of his setup for us to make use of until TT makes its return. Find it here:

  22. There should be a big X or something on the forum button so I can maybe stop clicking on it.

  23. There’s no question that “non-core gamers” will buy systems to play things like Brain Age. It’s already been proven that they will. See: Japan, and even here to a lesser extent.

  24. Never played Starcraft before, but after listening to the podcast it sounds like something I would want to play.

  25. So, Parish, I think I love you and want to have your babies. I think I’m going to need to get a uterus, but other than that I think we’re good.

    Anecdotal evidence: my mother loves her DS. I have been pushing other games I think she’d like (Phoenix Wright, which is nothing more than an interactive operatic Perry Mason), but I don’t think it’s taken.

    But my mum is a shameless fangirl these days. She will talk to anyone about Brain Age and her DS, and usually force them to do the brain check. I have absolutely no doubt that the sort of obsessive behaviour we normally see from people who play games hasn’t taken root in the population because of the limited appeal of the games themselves.

    Moreover, having gaming be a bigger, more stable business has a huge amount of advantages; Parish mentions one, in that it makes gaming as an industry a lot harder to attack. There’s a couple of others I can think of – in the movie industry, if a company has a few movies they know will make money in the pipeline, they’re generally willing to allow their producers to be riskier. EA already does this with Will Wright – they know they can probably afford to keep him with Madden making money hand over fist, and who knows, it might be a hit. The other thought is that as a larger industry there’s more money to be made in minor niches. While I still think that Beyond Good & Evil and Psychonauts were flawed in their concept, I also figure that most games are but they’re tolerated by the players until those flaws are corrected.* I reckon that the niches that Beyond Good & Evil and Psychonauts lived in will only grow with the rest of the industry, which then means antecedents of those games will have more breathing room in order to turn a profit, which should mean more of them. And what sort of games could there be in the niches that haven’t had the business cases to grow?

    *It’s my theory here that games – computer games, at least – are an uneasy mix of art and software. Art tends not to respond well to being massaged, whereas software usually improves over a period of years. I reckon this explains why sequels tend to be better than their prequels, but it doesn’t quite explain why throwing away your game engine and rewriting it from scratch is done as often as it is. Surely you’re making your game worse by doing that.

  26. Hardcore gamers are upset about Nintendo bringing in non-gamers with non-games because they want the whole pool to themselves. There’s a sense of total entitlement at work here, the same sense of entitlement that causes people to SHIT BRICKS when Sony sells the PS3 for $600 a pop, which is about $500 cheaper than what you’re actually paying for. A sensible person would complain that Sony made a system that’s too powerful and ambitious for its time, but of course no one would do that because the hardcore crowd wants the most powerful system possible for the smallest amount of money.

    Etc etc etc. It’s all denial and doublethink, but then again, what else is new.

  27. The PS3 could be considered a case of technological overkill, Toups. Couldn’t they have gone with something a bit more fiscally prudent, along the lines of XBOX 360, a system whose manufacturing cost per unit fell under its MSRP within a year, and never lost nearly as much to begin with?

  28. A system on par with the 360 would be unable to play Blue Ray discs, which is the linchpin of Sony’s plans for world domination.

  29. After watching your segment on the 1up Show, I know you say the slow down in battles isnt too bad, but watching Agrias cast a sword spell on three guys took pretty long.

    But you’re right on how sweet those new movies look.

  30. I think the PS3 is proof that Nintendo is doing the right thing in diversifying the industry. The Wii, with its simplistic games and “lacking” hardware, is thriving. Meanwhile, the PS3 has dropped below 100,000 units sold in a month with no sign of sales picking up any time soon.

    As time goes on, it looks like the gaming industry will become less of an arena for the technology race, and generally more fun because of it. As Merus mentioned, creating a completely new engine for a series only one or two sequels in can’t be good for the game. Sure, it makes it look nicer, but what else? If it’s still on the same hardware, the developer probably won’t get a significant amount of new performance. Therefore, the gameplay will not really improve.

    As the tech race slows down, gaming will diversify. The casual market could very well become the dominant market in the industry. That’s not a bad thing. The core gamer of today will still have a place. In fact, if the industry grows to its potential, I can only see even more and better games for the hardcore sector. Diversification isn’t bad. It is, however, the only way that video games will remain viable as time progresses.

  31. I don’t know. You could kind of read the PS3 as what happens when someone with all the power has a nervous breakdown when designing a console.

  32. But after seeing the trailer for Final Fantasy CC: The Crystal Bearers …


  33. What a fantastic article. I wish more Games Writers cared about the big picture, and not just giving a game a 7.9 so they can keep their access and their free travel and all their swag. (Not talking about 1up, obviously). Many games writers don’t even seem to care about the roots of the hobby or how healthy the industry is – like a baby throwing her dollies out of the pram, they whine and bitch about any game that dares to move away from the Fantasty/Military/Sports/SciFi genre pigeon-holes.

    Also, count me as someone who didn’t care much for the Starcraft podcast. I need
    my Kohler and my Sharkey to feel like I’m getting the Retronauts experience, and the abridged “This Week in Retro” was disappointing. No Virtual Selection, either. Plus, I like it when you’re more involved in the conversation.

    As far as the board, don’t slave over it on my account. I do miss it, but I also feel bad that after all the entertainment and knowledge I’ve gained from your oeurve, I pay you back by stealing your weekend so I can leech even more entertainment from you.

  34. Hey Fritz, are movies a hobby? Is TV a hobby? What about books?

    Games are an entertainment medium. Step through the looking glass and start living outside the box. YOu know, in the real world.

  35. Damn straight, Parish. I couldn’t have put it better myself. I could, however, have stated it much more rudely.


  36. Now that Fritz has been brought up again (albeit in an ad hominem, I thought you were better than that, Tomm): I used to work at a post office, and you’d better believe they do everything they can think of to try to expand the stamp collectors market. Like publish stamps with Mario on them to try to rope in people who like Mario (which totally works, because they get all the gaming blogs posting pictures with commentary that amounts to “wow, Mario stamps! boy those Japanese love games, don’t they?! :D … :( – silly Joystiq, you’re bein’ played).

    I think the chief difference between stamp collectors and game players is that gaming has attracted the attention of Washington. That particular issue seems to come down to an impression that because players are causing the violence on screen, it must have more of a harmful psychological effect. While most gamers will (at any opportunity) say that it doesn’t quite turn out that way (and some will go so far to say that it has no effect, which is essentially saying the violent images in games have less of an effect than violent images in movies, which is a losing argument) it’s only through a greater understanding that games will cease to be demonised. Nintendo’s expanding of the market is crucial here to make games more familiar to people and to show them that their appeal is not mysterious. From there I think most senators can extrapolate Wii Tennis not being quite the same as real tennis to Wii Manhunt not being quite the same as an actual manhunt.

    Consider again comic books. They went through the same issue – the exact same issue, in fact – and lost, got saddled with the Comics Code, and are now being driven out of existence by pandering to the hardcore while the Japanese translate their far more mainstream books for a ravenous American market. And comic fans are acting the same way – that comics should be for fat 30-year-olds who want to read about superheroes and all these other people somehow like something other than sequential art. Despite the fact that Dragon Ball is basically a Japanese version of a superhero comic, it sells like hotcakes, and the rest of the market doesn’t make it any harder to get Dragon Ball published.

    Somehow I think that we’ll still get our Metroid games and our Zelda games. In fact, I think it’ll make it easier – one of the main complaints leveled at publishers is that they’re too conservative, but if you look at a game like Boogie it’s hard to argue that EA is not up to taking a risk. Publishers won’t need to be nearly as conservative if they’ve got more than one demographic to chase, and that’ll trickle down to games that are slightly left of hardcore. Maybe Beyond Good and Evil 2 won’t appeal to the current average game buyer. Maybe it’s a great game for 25-40 year old women. Until we’ve got that sort of market, who knows? I know I’d like to find out.

  37. I went to a friend’s birthday party last night and it was videogame-themed. People in attendance were playing games like Guitar Hero, Tetris, and WiiSports. While the birthday boy (man?) is a gamer, most of the attendees weren’t. They were mainly early 30-somethings (most of whom had children) who had just gotten into games BECAUSE of factors like Nintendo’s new apporach. One of the gifts the guest of honor was given was Zelda: Twilight Princess and many of these new gamers were eager to look at the box and “ooh and ahh” about how neat it looked.

    So, I totally agree that what Nintendo’s broadening of the audience is a good thing. The more systems that are in homes, the more chances there will be that a wide variety of games (including the “hardcore” stuff) will be developed and find its way onto store shelves. The expansion of the casual game market is a very good thing–it legitimizes gaming as an acceptable form of entertainment for adults and, in away, ensures that the hardcore games will keep being made. The core audience that play Zelda and Metroid will always be there, but now that Nintendo’s doing so well financially, they’ll still be able to make those games AND make mad money with the casual market as well.

    It’s all good!

  38. Hmmm, I’m apparently an idiot. Typed a comment out and then clicked post at the wrong time. Here’s the garbage I said, only condensed:

    Good podcast, would’ve been (very) slightly better if one of the music breaks was Radio Free Zerg, it was not good because Parish was quiet, Starcraft is good, and also JP should try Starcraft as a penance for making many want to play it again with the ‘cast.

    I think that was it. I’m dumb.

  39. My one concern is that, with Nintendo pushing in this direction, there will be even less offered to me, the “regular” (i.e. “non casual”) gamer. Yes, I’ll be getting Mario, Metroid, Zelda, etc….but not very often, and it seems like (on Nintendo’s platform) there’s less and less to fill the gap between.

    Example: I loved Super Paper Mario, played it to death, but the next game I’m looking forward to on Wii isn’t coming out until, what, October? I know everyone’s complained about the “Wii drought” to death, but I think it deserves consideration here. There are PLENTY of casual games coming out between now and then, but I can’t think of one game I’m interested in on the platform. Furthermore, after Mario, Metroid, and SSB:B all ship, I have no knowledge of any games on the horizon that I’m looking forward to.

    I’m not arguing that expanding the market is a bad thing, I agree with just about everything you said here; I just worry about how hard it’s going to be a non-casual gamer on the Wii.

  40. Merus – Sorry, I just get all touchy when someone says “Gaming shouldn’t expand, because then the real fans get cheated.” Cause you know of all the possible harm going mass market causes… like lower prices. Ouch!

    Also be careful, last time I compared to game industry to the comics industry I got shivved.

    CaloriesMan – Metroid comes out in August.

  41. Am I the only one here encouraged by the seemingly endless stream of good previews and impressions of Mario Strikers? I mean, Mario sports is usually a pretty safe bet for fun, but I don’t remember ever seeing one outside of a Mario Kart game getting this much buzz.

    Certainly it’s not a first-tier release, but it’s still fairly significant.

  42. The Wii drought is a myth. How is 2007 different from any other year from Nintendo? Why is it harder to be a non-casual gamer on the Wii than it was for the Gamecube or the N64?

    Merus – Tomm’s right. I was totally ready to shiv you. That’s a treacherous analogy.

  43. I prefer this pissed, blunt Parish that states his mind and apologizes for nothing. Rock on d00d.

  44. yeah it’s me. that guy from years ago. jesus fritz, we grew right on up.

    my roommate (who’s a girl! like in that anything but joey song!) has lately acquired this smart but definitely geeky comic book nerd boyfriend. and it seems like every day he has off work and she doesn’t, he’s hanging out in the apartment watching network TV. and what i’ve suddenly realized is that in a way, “mainstream” media aren’t any less geeky than superhero comix. the same way that, i don’t know, Justice League or something panders to the worst instincts of its relatively small audience, television does the same thing for its relatively large audience. veiled racism, sensational horseshit, persecution of the weakest people in society, and general devaluation of human life outside the narrow spectrum of polite middle-class white society– they’re all encoded into the fabric of damn near every half hour slice of vacuum tube bullshit, from the news to cop shows to exploitative daytime circuses. that’s not to say that comics are any better, just that now that we’re finally growing the fuck up and rejecting the fetishized solipsism of the kinda cheezy media we used to fawn over, we shouldn’t suddenly get all hard for Socially Acceptable Behavior.

    i started to be kind of a punk since last you heard from me, parish. i know you don’t care for that. oh well. god-in-skitzoid-mind

    i can’t afford a wii, much less that other shit.

  45. Perhaps a stupid question, but is the distinction between “core” gamers and the casual lot all that important? Considering the lack of time I usually have to put into gaming, I’d have to classify myself as a casual gamer, yet I know all kinds of trivia and other junk related to the hobby/industry. I think what people are trying to say, and only getting to the edges of, is that Nintendo isn’t just tapping into an previously inaccessible market here, they’re responding to the desires of their consumers. Remember that the Big N’s focus has always been on Japan, and since the Japanese are workaholics and have little free time for games, they need to have something that can be played in 10~15 minute gobs on a train ride to work or school.

    The fact that a lot of non-gamers, those who typically only play Yahoo games or whatever, got sucked into it is more a lucky synergism resulting from the accessibility of stuff like Brain Age than the Nintendo bigwigs trying to corner the market. You have to remember that Nintendo was 0 for 2 in the console end of things and was rapidly going the way of Sega until the DS and stuff like Brain Age kept the company afloat, and opened their eyes to the possibility of the Wii. Should be noted here that most of the Wii games out right now are of the quick and easy variety, and it’s no mistake I’m sure.

    At first Nintendo was probably only trying to hold onto some kind of presence in the market beyond just as a software and portable hardware manufacturer, but the success of the DS and games like Brain Training and all that among the uninitiated set is what has gotten them their place in the big “race,” irrespective of how much BS that concept is.

    In short: Serendipity is a wonderful thing, since the shot Nintendo took on the DS paid off in the form of a vastly increased consumer base and profit margins. They’re merely playing to the tune of their consumers’ interests, and the more rabid lot of the faithful will have to accept they’re not in charge anymore (if they ever really were I suppose). All this is a sign of change, and a good one at that. Expansion does mean more innovation (to some degree), and stuff like Final Fantasy won’t go away either, as others have already said.

  46. Mightyblue–it’s one of the biggest misconceptions ever that Nintendo was “going the way of SEGA.” The big N is probably still spending the money they made of the NES and SNES. They’ve still got the cache that Pokemon built before they eve start to touch the D$ earnings. They were never in any danger of “going SEGA.”

  47. Nintendo even made money on the N64 and Gamecube. They’re the most financially stable of the big three right now.

    At worst, they were more comparable to pre-iPod Apple than Sega. And right now, they’re comparable to post-iPod Apple. Go figure.

  48. While I’m flattered that people notice me enough to want to shiv me, I do wonder exactly how fast a video games/comics fan is able to move, and how much force they can put into it.

  49. I think the problem with the Wii is a problem that isn’t all that new to Nintendo and one that they grappled with during the N64 and GameCube years. There are only 3-4 good “core user” games coming out each year. With the N64 and GameCube they didn’t have anything to fill the gaps, but now the have these “casual” games to complete their schedule with.

    The problem with many of the “core users” is that they play more games during any given amount of time. A casual user may only need to buy a few mini-game fests a year to keep entertained on their DS or Wii, but a core user needs a more than a game a quarter to be satisfied. These people need to invest in either a PS3 or a X360 in order to be satisfied and I don’t find that very different than the last few generations of systems for the core user. The idea that Nintendo alone will not satisfy the core user should not be a surprising one, but now, unlike previous generations, Nintendo can point to these casual games in the interim while before they had to point to games of usually suspect quality while waiting for the next core game to be released.

    What I hope is a number of the casual gamer, having been courted by the industry, will want something else. A friend of mine, having started out far into the world of casual, recently bought a 360 after telling me that he wanted more than all the minigames that his Wii had to offer. Now no one can pull him off Gears of War.

  50. There’s a very simple but important distinction between “core” and “casual” gamers: One group seeks out and buys hardware and software, while the other may enjoy gaming but simply makes due with whatever equipment they have on hand. That may mean flash games on Yahoo! (hi mom) or playing Tetris every day on their kids’ hand-me-down NES. The breakthrough Nintendo has made is that they’re creating software that makes casual gamers seek out the DS and Wii.

  51. Hmm… I’m reminded here that Fritz was the name of Frankenstein’s assistant (his “Igor,” if you will) in the 1931 film.

    Six Degrees of Dwight Frye aside, and speaking of forum rats and fansqueal in general, it’s weird how no matter what medium you’re talking about, there’s always people who feel threatened by the idea of appealing to the general public. (I knew people, or at least read irate posts from people, who were furious that just anybody could watch Gundam on cable. I wish someone had informed just anybody, since they never bothered and it’s now long gone.)

    I mean, it’s one thing- and bad enough in my opinion- when you let your identity get defined completely by your interests and hobbies. I see them as part of a whole and not the whole itself. But when knowing who does or doesn’t like the same things you like starts dictating your sense of self, like, what the hell, man?

  52. Well, as long as people make enough “core” games to satisfy my interests, I guess I’m good. The problem would come in if it became apparent to the publishers that they could make more scratch off of unending streams of minigame collections and what not and the creation of hardcore games was affected.

  53. Well, that’s the thing. The broader the industry, the more money it’s pulling down collectively, the more it can afford to accomodate the hardcore. When the PS2 arrived, I was worried that the niche games that made PlayStation so interesting would vanish due to rising costs. For the first few years, it was pretty grim. But eventually PS2 became more popular than its predecessor and ultimately became home to tons of those niche games.

  54. I don’t own a PS3 or an XBox360 because atm none of the games on them appeal to me. So how does a “core user” like me feel satisfied with JUST a Wii?

    PROtip: (and this is a shocker coming from me, I’m sure). Virtual Console. Plenty of “core user” games there, gents and ladies. The DS pulls its weight too, as I’m about 5 games behind my purchase schedule on that one.

  55. Yeah, VC has a ton of game games, but I already played the majority of them before I’d even touched a girl. So that’s not going to cut it for people like me. But, before we start the eternal battle, hopefully relief is coming soon. Q3 and Q4 are looking good, as always. Just wish they’d share the love with Q2.

  56. I played all of them before I touched a girl too, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t kickass games. They’re a lot more replayable than the crap we get nowadays.

  57. If nothing else, I think we find common ground on what constitutes a good game.

  58. Like I haven’t said enough already, but I somehow recall that Nintendo did exactly the same thing leading up to E3 last year as they have this year. Remember when they announced the Wii name a week before E3 so it wouldn’t overshadow their E3 presentation?

    I expect they’re doing something similar here: making a song and dance about their casual games so that come E3 they can make a song and dance about their end-of-year and 2008 lineup without letting the hardcore games overshadow their casual game. While this doesn’t invalidate the whole premise that Nintendo is willing to “slap” their hardcore, longterm fans “in the face” in order to secure a greater overall market and innovation and respect for all, it does suggest that when Penny Arcade go on about Nintendo making out with casual games in the broom closet or whatever the hell Tycho was on about, they may yet have jumped the gun.

  59. Different news for different people.

    If you’re interested in jumping on mushrooms, or in telling people about jumping on mushrooms, the recent conference was probably not your cup of tea. There will be conferences and Mushroom Hunting later, one assumes.

    But if you have money in the industry, or produce in the industry, or just inform people who do, learning about Brain Weight Gain Age Obsession 2 satisfies in a way that stomping mycelia couldn’t ever match.

  60. So how many copies of Brain Age 2 will I have to buy in order to secure a US release of Freshly Picked Tingle’s Rose Colored Rupee Land?

  61. M.Nicolai – it probably won’t help, as I understand that in Japan Tingle was a breakout character, while here in the US he’s loathed. Freshly Picked Tingle’s Rose Colored Rupee Land was capitalising on that popularity, so I doubt they’ll find a reason to bring it here.

    One question remains: how many copies of Brain Age 2 will we have to buy in order to secure a US release of Mother 3?

  62. Mother 3 and Tingle RPG are worrysome examples of what could happen when Nintendo stops catering to the traditional gamers. These fantastic games are forgotten, never mentioned, while Nintendo rides the wave of the casual games, and publishes only big name hits for the “core” gamers like Mario, Metroid and the Final Fantasy Advance series (translated to English by Nintendo). I’m all in for Brain Training et al, but no amount of sudoku is going to appease my disappointment of not getting a translated Mother 3. I’m still holding out hope for Tingle.

  63. Look, I’m the biggest Mother fan you’re likely to find, but the sad truth is–if you wanted Mother 3 to come out? You sure as hell should have bought Earthbound 13 years ago. THAT is why it won’t come out here. Because the first release in America did THAT BADLY.

  64. I think the Wii drought is going to be ending soon for the simple reason that the Wii is selling in huge, vast, ridiculous numbers. Once there are twice as many Wiis out there as 360s and PS3s combined, a lot more third-party publishers are going to be compelled to bring their games out for the system with the biggest userbase. So have patience, oh hardcore! We’ll soon be seeing .hack, Brothers In Arms, Maximo, and suchlike, all full of waggly goodness. So maybe this too is validation of The Frog’s casual-funding-hardcore theory—the casual-driven success of the Wii will slowly but surely force publishers to port games that they once wouldn’t have dreamed of releasing on a Nintendo console.

    Of course, I still haven’t bought one because I’m waiting for bigger library…

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