Nintendo is a name which has been synonymous with video gaming for the past 30 years. Now in its 120th year, having spent it’s early years making cards and dominoes, the company is beginning to feel the pressures of the ever-increasing competition in the sector.
This year’s E3 was a mixture of the company’s “Everyone is a gamer” philosophy and it’s traditional strong points, namely that over-enthusiastic, red-hatted plumber Mario.
While it’s important to put effort into franchises which consumers associate with the brand, Nintendo’s press conference, which lasted just over an hour (nearly an hour shorter than the other two big names), spent around five minutes showcasing only three third party Wii titles: The Conduit, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles and Dead Space: Extraction.
While all three games look interesting and offer a “harder edge”, according to Reggie Fils-Aime, President and CEO of Nintendo of America, only The Conduit is an entirely original IP (Intellectual Property).
It certainly looks like Sega have done a good job with it, and it will give people a reason to think again before dismissing Wii as a “kiddie console”, but all signs point to it going against the grain of the norm on Nintendo platforms.
Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is the natural sequel to The Umbrella Chronicles, an on-the-rails shooter which made the most of the Wii Zapper, and follows Leon S Kennedy and Claire Redfield as they play through the events of Resident Evil 2, offering a new perspective for the player. If it’s predecessor is anything to go by this will be an excellent and addictive title.
Dead Space: Extraction is a prequel of the edgy psycological horror which impressed critics across the world last year when it was released on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. It’s obvious that this will be a different type of game in the same universe, but should still offer an exciting gaming experience for Wii players.
With the non-Nintendo developed announcements hidden away at the end of the conference, it was difficult to ignore the BIG announcements:
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 announced
- Wii Fit Plus announced
- New Super Mario Brothers Wii announced
- Wii Vitality Sensor announced
- Metroid: Other M announced
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers
- Wii Sports Resort re-announced
- Wii Motion Plus re-announced
- Mario and Luigi: Bowsers Inside Story announced
- Golden Sun DS announced
- The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks announced
- Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box announced
- Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Prisoners of the Sky announced
- Facebook photo sharing announced
Chances are if you just skimmed that you’re thinking something along the lines of “same old, same old” or possibly “what on EARTH is a ‘Vitality Sensor’ when it’s at home?!”.
Concrete details about how exactly it will be used in games are scarce, but essentially the plan is to detect stress levels and other things from your pulsebeat. I’d really like to see it used in a psychological horror, upping the weirdness as your pulse increases perhaps?
The big game releases come as no surprise, with Mario abound, but the prospect of a straight sequel in Super Mario Galaxy 2 seems like a lazy cash-in and risks cheapening the frankly astounding brilliance of the original. Then again, riding Yoshi should be good fun.
As for the DS release, the name Bowser’s Inside Story sounded exciting and original, a chance to find a little more about the growling nemesis of that plucky plumber and unleash some of his power, but sadly that potential is denied when the name is taken literally and the Mario brothers go on a journey through Bowser’s insides instead.
The latest Samus project, Project M, sounds more promising, if mysterious, but the focus on back story to add depth to the character is undoubtedly a positive step. Making the character progressively more than just a super suit.
Embracing social media, albeit in a small way, with the integration of Facebook photo sharing on the DSi, is definitely another step in the right direction, but a far cry from the bold partnerships Microsoft have announced (full MS round up coming soon).
In the end Nintendo seem to have taken their “Games are for everyone and everyone’s a gamer” ethos a little to far and a little too literally. It’s all well and good making games which appeal to the masses, and work as tools rather than games in the case of things like the blatantly obvious Wii Fit Plus, but it has to remember that games for everyone aren’t really for everyone.
Sometimes people want something a bit more specific, tailored for people like them. Nintendo may argue that it fulfils this by letting players tailor games to suit their own tastes, but sometimes it’s nice to have things done for you. Rather than being able to adapt games to your needs, it’s a nice feeling when you switch on a title and think “This game was made for me”.