Hey there. When you think of the big gaming companies three come to mind: Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Of the three, Nintendo has been in the game the longest. They launched the gaming industry to astronomical levels by dominating the home console market in 1985 with the revolutionary NES. Almost a decade later, Sony jumped into the home gaming console market in 1994 with the Playstation. 8 years later, Microsoft made it a console war when they introduced the Xbox to homes everywhere. And what a war it has been. Since then, these three have battled each other year after year, in an attempt to gain the upper hand. Microsoft and Sony decided to incorporate advance technology into their gaming consoles. High resolution graphics, blu ray discs, strong processors. On the other hand, Nintendo decided to come to the fight with their tried and true methods. Kid friendly games, cartoon like graphics, Mario, Mario, and more Mario. You see, Nintendo was my old neighbor. Nintendo was my old school mate. Nintendo was there through my early adolensence. But you know what… like many others that grew up with Nintendo, we have drifted apart. We’re not as close as we once were. Though Nintendo has fought valiantly to keep my attention in recent years, I believe it may finally be time for them to put the gaming controller down and press the power button on their home gaming consoles.
Nintendo has always been one to make bold moves. Some of those moves proved to be successful (really, who would have thought that a card making company making the jump to a gaming company be a smart move?) others, abysmal (Virtual Boy, anyone? No… ok), but you have to be bold to be successful. You have to be willing to try something new in order to grow and expand your horizons. That’s how you evolve as a company. Nintendo evolved when it jumped from 8 bit to 16 bit. It evolved when it jumped to 64 bit, introduced a rumble pack and expansion pack. It evolved once again when it introduced motion sensor gaming. Being a kid from the 80s, I grew up with Nintendo. It felt as if Nintendo was growing with me. I grew up, I learned, I adapted. Nintendo did the same, or did it? We both made mistakes along the way and we both took huge leaps and bounds into the future. The problem? I’m still taking those leaps, I’m still adapting to new technology, I’m still conforming to what society throws at me. Nintendo is not and it has fallen way behind. Too far back that it may not recover.
I started to notice the disconnect when Nintendo simply refused to provide advanced graphical video. Today, High Definition graphics are in. Actually, they’ve been in since the early 2000’s. It was one of the main draws of Sony’s PS3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Nintendo, however, decided that graphics weren’t everything and released the GameCube (released in the US in 2002) console having, at best, a 480p video output. Surely the Wii will get on the ball and have a better video output… right? Nope. The Wii (released in the US in 2006) was also in 480p. Later that year, Sony’s PS3 was released and it supported 1080p HD video. It wasn’t until the release of the Wii U (released in 2012) did Nintendo finally offer 1080p HD video output but by this time, Sony and Microsoft were displaying beautiful HD games 6 years before. Nintendo was more than late in getting on board with the HD graphics. My good buddy, Nintendo, still was looking like a pre-pubecent kid while I was looking older and scruffy. Yeah, we can still hang out and be friends, but just like that older teen that loves to hang out with the younger kids in the neighborhood, it just doesn’t look right. Also, I started to take notice of some of the “prettier, more edgier” girls on the block. I began to wonder if I should leave the kid friendly graphics behind. My eyes wandered into what other gaming consoles had to offer and you know what… I was liking it.
Don’t get me wrong, looks are not everything. Some of the most deep, thought provoking games were played on a Nintendo console (FFVI, A Link to the Past, Earthbound), but don’t underestimate the power of eye candy. Appearance sparks conversation and I started to chat it up with Sony and Microsoft. I can only save Hyrule and Princess Peach so many times before I need more from my games. Bioshock made me question free will. Shadow of the Colossus turned the whole, “saving the damsel in distress” on it’s head. I was getting more elsewhere than what Nintendo was offering. Yes, Mario Party is fun. Yes, hunting down metroids is pretty damn awesome. And yes, putting Ganon in his place can be quite rewarding. But it’s simply not enough anymore. Mario is oversaturated, I haven’t been able to see Samus the same since Other M, and I haven’t seen Link on my big screen since Skyward Sword. These are Nintendo’s flagship franchises. These are the guys that are supposed to usher in a new Nintendo gaming console. Aside from Mario, they all were noticeably absent from the Wii U launch. And that’s where I believe the root of my ties with Nintendo have been severed. I simply do not see myself committing to a Nintendo gaming console anymore.
You see, Nintendo has more than enough great franchises (I’m using the Mario, Zelda, and Metroid franchises as the creme of the crop), and the majority of them got their start in the NES days, but let’s take a look at the previous 2 home gaming consoles for Nintendo: the Wii and the Wii U. The Wii released stateside in 2006. The biggest draw being the motion sensor gaming. My initial thoughts were, “The new Mario game is going to be AMAZING using motion sensor tech! I wonder how they’ll showcase it!” But alas… there was no Mario game at launch. What?! They did have a Zelda game, though… but it was Twilight Princess. A Gamecube title. I already had that game. I didn’t want to buy it again. Even though Wii Sports was pretty cool, it wasn’t enough for me to want to buy a Wii at launch. That hurt. That hurt a lot, actually. Nintendo made a bold and revolutionary move in gaming and I wasn’t as intrigued as I should have been. It wasn’t until Mario Galaxy came around that I got my Wii, but it only highlighted the troubles between us. I bought a Wii for Mario. I shelled out $200 on a gaming console so that I can play a game starring an Italian plumber. If it was Skyward Sword, I would have bought the Wii to play as Link. If it was Metroid Prime 3, I would have picked it up for Samus. But I would have felt cheated afterwards. I would be sitting with a gaming console that I know I would not be using for much longer. Once I got through those games, I wouldn’t touch it anymore. And that is what’s holding me, and several consumers, back from getting a Wii U.
With the Wii U launch, Nintendo promised more fun and a tablet controller. Pretty cool, I said. I wonder how that will be used for gaming! But guess what… it was more of the same from Nintendo. No Link, no Metroid… but this time there was Mario. But you know what… the game played out like any other Super Mario game. On the surface, it looked no different than The New Super Mario Bros Wii version of the game. It wasn’t enough to draw me in. I’m not going to make the same mistake that I did with the Wii. It’s now been a year and half after the Wii U has launched and Nintendo still has not released a Zelda game or a Metroid game. And it sucks. Not only for Nintendo, but for our relationship. I love the games, I love the franchises, but I do not love the fact that each gaming console from Nintendo will cost me several hundred dollars and I’m only going to use to play a handful of games! You’re killing me, Nintendo. You’re killing our relationship. We’ve been through a lot together and I do not want to lose you forever! So please hear me out when I say this. Nintendo, it’s time to ditch home gaming consoles. It’s just not working anymore. But that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to make games.
Imagine my delight when an edgier first person shooter, featuring Samus, is released for the PS3 or I can pick up a copy of the latest Zelda game for the Xbox One. Not only will I, your lifelong buddy, be happy, but you’ll be happier as well. Let’s face it, at this moment, you are in third place in the console war… and it’s not even close. Your gaming consoles just does not have the power and support to compete with the Xbox One and PS4. Third party developers are beginning to jump ship. They are following the crowd. As much as I love your franchises, I wouldn’t buy a Wii U if given a choice between you, Sony, and Microsoft. And that sucks. But you can make it better. By allowing your big name guys to appear on competitors’ consoles, you allow us to continue to have you in our lives. You could be the biggest software/hardware company ever! Any gaming console would kill to have a Mario title. Gamers would be grateful to be able to enjoy their Zelda game without having to get a Nintendo console. It’s a win win situation.
I want you in my life, Nintendo. There have been many obstacles between us over the years and I don’t want to lose you forever. I’ve grown up and I want you to continue to grow with me. We’ve made mistakes together, we’ve learned from them. I’ve learned to cut my losses. You haven’t just yet. We all know you were the king back in the day. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Like a great boxer that has kept fighting past his prime, you need to step down from the home gaming console war before it’s too late. I don’t want to see you get knocked out permanently by Sony or Microsoft. By bowing out, you continue to be relevant. With some of the most recognizable gaming characters on the planet under your belt, it would be a shame if they were to be auctioned off. Nintendo, you are not just a name. You are a friend. A friend that I wish to have until I decide to hit the power switch.