So, with all that history between myself and Nintendo, all the warm memories of curling up for a good game of Crystalis or whipping my way through Castlevania, you may be reasonably surprised to hear me say this: Nintendo is no longer worth my time or attention. They’ve ceased to be relevant in the modern age. Yes, I went there, and said that. Nintendo has become so completely out of touch with modern gaming that they’ve completely ceased to be relevant, relegated instead to strictly family-friendly junk that only sells because soccer mom and daddy be safe want something to keep little Johnny and Janie’s attention that won’t turn them into axe murdering psychopaths while at the same time avoiding as much parental interaction with their kids as possible. Hey, they have to have time to get out there and campaign against violence on TV and video games and movies and whine that today’s generation is drifting away with too much electronics and not enough social interaction, right? I mean, it’s not like they could be doing something else... like SPENDING TIME WITH THEIR KIDS...
Sorry, that’s a different rant folks. I was talking about Nintendo, the company that believes that flailing around with a TV remote and a disjointed thumb stick makes for a revolutionary control experience. Well, let’s be fair, it’s certainly added a new layer of interactivity, when properly implemented. But that’s the rub, isn’t it? When properly implemented. When properly implemented, using a plain old wooden block with bore worms in it could be a revolutionary control experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth doing. No, after waving, slashing, thrusting and waggling my way through Twilight Princess, and pulling, rotating, pushing, fishing, and oh yeah, let’s try to aim while we’re at this in Metroid Prime 3, I think I can safely say that I just do not like the WiiMote. That it is, indeed... another gimmick from Nintendo.
Another gimmick, from the company that brought us the really incredible polygon based graphics of Star Fox all the way back on the SNES... I’ll be the first to admit that it was really awesome then... but 3d graphics on the SNES was a waste, let’s be honest. Another gimmick, from the company that brought us the three pronged controller of the N64 – the one that no human could possibly use all of. I mean, why layout the control so you can access the thumb stick and the crosshair pad at the same time? Another gimmick, from the company that came up with a scheme for connecting a portable game system to their console, in the name of ‘improved controls’ and for ‘added content’. Another gimmick, from the makers of the DS, a game system featuring a touch stylus. There are many really, really awesome, incredible applications that this could be used for. Expecting me to whip out the stylus and draw random symbols in the middle of a boss fight that requires my fingers on the damn buttons is neither an awesome nor welcome application of the stylus. *coughCastlevaniacough*
But the WiiMote... wow. Nintendo has taken the art of Gimmick-Fu to all new levels with the WiiMote. I mean, stop and think about it. The WiiMote is a simple concept. It’s a TV remote that uses IR tracking to figure out where you’re pointing on the screen. It has just enough brains to notice how level the remote is too, and when you shake it. And then, they thought, but wait, don’t most 3d world games require a thumb stick for moving around? And then it hit them... instead of putting one on their little tiny one handed remote... they stuck a port on the bottom, and made the thumb stick a separate – and here’s the really important part – optional component. Wow... I mean, think about what they’ve just done. All of a sudden, they have a controller that can be customized to the game. Remember the promises we made about one to one motion capture way back when we first talked about the WiiMote? Here’s your brand new MotionPlus for $19.99!! Sold separately, of course. Golf? Great, we’ll make a little golf club add on. Driving? You don’t actually need to plug it in, we’ll just sell you a stupid little steering wheel shell to put the WiiMote in. You just know somewhere somebody’s probably written a WiiSex game and made a WiiDildo and WiiPussy to go with it.
It’s actually even worse than that, though. Forget all the extra parts and pieces that can go with the WiiMote, take just sitting with the thumb stick and playing an average game. The WiiMote has got to be the first time I’ve seen a Nintendo Gimmick... have a gimmick. I’m talking about the waggle. No, why map actions to dependable, reliable buttons when you can have the player shake around like a fucking idiot and end up throwing the controller by accident trying to get the damn waggle to trigger. And no, don’t map a relatively unused action to it... fuck no! Map the SINGLE MOST USED ACTION to it. Use it for everything! Use it in multiple contexts! Use it to heal in one situation and kill in the other situation and then reverse it for shits and giggles! Use it to have Mario stand on his head and administer fellatio to a gomba! Use it, use it, use it to fucking DEATH, to the point where the players can’t fucking stand the damn waggle, but have no choice but to keep using it because it’s the SINGLE MOST OVERUSED GIMMICK ON THE SYSTEM.
And it doesn’t stop with the WiiMote, folks. Nintendo really had something with the WiiMote, with the concept, and the fact they dropped a complete bombshell on the gaming world that it worked as well as it did – which wasn’t great, but was certainly playable – years ahead of MS and Sony. And they’ve utterly squandered it. Nintendo had a three year head start on the other two companies to get out there and really make motion control work wonders for them... and because of the way they’ve marketed it, the horribly underpowered system, the fact that they’ve driven their 3pd support into the ground and their insistence on ignoring market demands – read: online playability – Nintendo has completely squandered the advantage they once had. Wii players are still waggling their way through mini-games galore, and then going to the 360 and PS3 when they want to play something adult.
I can’t blame it entirely on Nintendo. I’ve said all along that Motion Control, as it stands, is a red herring. Even when Project Natal, MS’s answer comes out, without tactile feedback and physical controls, Motion Controlled games just won’t be able to live up to what we’re used to. I’d love to see a Natal controlled game in which my view point follows which direction I’m looking... but my 360 controller handles movement and other such options. That, I believe, is a good, useful purposing of current Motion Control technology. There’s no denying the allure, though, the potential for immersion provided by MC. Gaming isn’t ready for it yet, though – we don’t have the complimentary technologies that will complete the illusion.
Nintendo’s sin, though, is that it’s put all of its stock in the WiiMote. All of it. They’ve built a system that doesn’t come close to standing up against the 360 and the PS3 – it’s really little more than a souped up GameCube. Nintendo has had a long history of getting the most bang for their buck out of their systems, but I don’t see that as being enough in the face of the HD graphics and gaming capability of the 360 and PS3. However, as Mr. Iwata himself says, the Wii has NO HD capability – in fact, they felt there was no significant reason to make it HD compatible. You know – aside from the fact that everything, EVERYTHING, was going to HD. I mean, when the freaking EMULATOR for the Wii looks DRASTICALLY better than the console itself does just because it enables HD support, there’s something very wrong with that statement. And going online for multiplayer with the Wii? Forget about it. The system doesn’t have the processing power. I mean, it can’t even take the New Super Mario Brothers online. Yet online multiplayer is all but built in for the other systems. And Nintendo’s reasoning for not supporting it? Just like HD, they felt that the players weren’t really interested in it yet. They said that when they made the Game Cube too.
Then there’s the question of 3rd party developers – or more specifically, why Nintendo, once the king of 3pd development, doesn’t seem to have any serious contributors. When I bought my Wii, I picked it up with Zelda and Corruption, with the full expectation that soon enough there’d be other games I’d want to play. I waited. I really did. And waited even longer. I was stunned to eventually realize that there wasn’t so much as one other game on the Wii that I wanted to play that hadn’t already come out in a better looking and controlling version on the 360. Just look at Ghostbusters, and the absolutely beautiful graphics in the 360 version... and then turn around and look at the childish, cartoony, cell-shaded junk that Nintendo demanded be done for the Wii version. Is there attraction in that version? For a child, maybe. For me, the idea of suffering through that graphic style AND the visions of waggling ghost captures was more than enough to send me running for the 360 version, not that there’d ever been any real doubt on that one... I wanted to play the multiplayer online, too.
The final straw, though, the absolute, last straw for me, came last week. I’d heard all about the WiiVitality sensor from E3, of course. I chalked it up to Nintendo being even further out of touch than I’d thought, along with the endless parade of WiiMote addons that do nothing but addon to the price of the system and inflate Nintendo’s bottom line. Inflate, as it turns out, was the right word. Last week, I saw a news story about the latest Nintendo addon patent. A new set of controllers that they’ve patented and I assume will be producing before long for yet another mini-game collection. Their new controller? It’s an inflatable horsey ball that you plug the thumb stick into and then sit on, riding it with the thumb stick used as reins. I’m not making this shit up. They patented a fucking balance ball to use as a controller.
And where will my Nintendo Wii be, when this next greatest controller for the Wii comes out? Last week, I packed everything up, sold my copy of Zelda and Corruption for trade-in value on the WiiFit, and sold the whole lot to my aunt, who has two under-preschool age grandchildren and has been thinking about buying one for the last year. I’m done with Nintendo. They’ve lost all touch with reality and the market. Anybody that wants to drown in their endless flood of Gimmicks, mini-games, addon price tags, and general stupidity in the face of modern gaming is welcome to it. The Nintendo that I knew, that I grew up with, is dead. The people that brought us Zelda, and Samus, who introduced us to Final Fantasy, Castlevania... they’re all dead and buried. The husk that remains is going to keep churning out this junk until the market place realizes how far behind and out of touch they’ve become... and then that too will collapse, and all we’ll be left with will be our nostalgia and a corner full of dust-covered WiiMote condoms.
Nintendo is dead. Long live Nintendo.