Nintendo Is Unstoppable
By Patrick Ross
Remember those commercials that said, “Sega does what Nintendon’t”? Well, it turned out to be true. Sega ended up almost shutting down, left the hardware market entirely and is now Nintendo’s slave, as evidenced by their former mascot Sonic the Hedgehog’s appearance in “Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games” and the forthcoming “Super Smash Bros. Brawl.”
A similar thing happened in the last few years, with Sony and Microsoft fanboys claiming that Nintendo had become too kiddy with their GameCube, while “real gamers” play “Grand Theft Auto” and “Halo” and all those ludicrous things.
Most recently, these crowds of what I like to call “newbie gamers,” who have no concept of what makes quality game design, have been trying to pigeonhole the Nintendo Wii as “the casual gamers’ machine.”
Well, that’s crap. Look at the crazy sales figures—Nintendo just missed outselling Microsoft’s Xbox 360 during this past October only because of a supply shortage, and then, by a mere 20,000 units. The Wii has outsold the 360 by double or more almost every other month of the year. Besides that, there is an incredible lineup of titles already out and on the way, including a little game called “Super Mario Galaxy” that came out last week. The game sold 250,000 copies its first day in Japan, and it’s being called “Nintendo’s greatest platformer ever” by IGN.com. Having played it myself, I can tell you it has some pretty astounding physics and graphics for only being on a system that’s supposedly “two GameCubes taped together.”
That aside, the Wii has incredible potential in the future to attract more “hardcore games” from third-party developers, even more so than the 360 and Sony’s Playstation 3, and I attribute this to casual games.
How so? Things like the Wii Remote and upcoming “balance board” accessory have been derided from the get-go by people like Mark Rein of Epic Games (developers of “Gears of War” and “Unreal Tournament III”) as “casual-game devices.”
That may be true as far as games like “Wii Sports” and “Wii Play,” but in reality, these accessories have created the biggest and best revolution in hardcore gaming as well.
“Metroid Prime 3” for the Wii showcases unheard-of precision using the combination of the Wii Remote and nunchuk accessory to recreate mouse and keyboard controls—a control scheme “Halo 3” players can only dream of (or wait for the game’s inevitable release on Windows Vista, thus negating the purchase of a $400 Xbox 360).
The upcoming “balance board” for Wii Fit, a plank that measures shifts in weight, translating them into on-screen action, could easily be expanded for genres like extreme sports, adding real-time motion control to the SSX snowboarding games or Tony Hawk series.
The forthcoming “Wii Zapper,” while packaged with a simple point-and-shoot game called “Link’s Crossbow Training,” has already been adapted for Sega’s upcoming “Ghost Squad,” a first-person arcade-style shooting game in the vein of “Time Crisis.”
People like to say, “Well, Nintendo’s first-party games are the only ones that take advantage of the hardware. Case in point: Metroid Prime.” This, too, is a fallacy. If casual games bring in more of the “mainstream” and, thus, bigger revenues and a wider audience, doesn’t this bode well for third-party support, in that companies will have incentive to devote more money, bigger franchises and higher-quality development teams to third-party games?
The simple answer is yes. Furthermore, it has already happened. “Medal of Honor: Heroes 2” was just released for the Wii and boasts 32-player online capability, which – for a “casual games machine” – is pretty impressive. Besides that, critics have hailed its control scheme as a step above Nintendo’s own “Metroid Prime 3.”
Finally, we can’t forget about another little game known as “Super Smash Bros. Brawl.” From all the information released so far, it looks to be the most hardcore Nintendo has ever been. The game boasts multiple online modes, a level designer, 20-plus fighters with more to come, including Sonic the Hedgehog and “Metal Gear Solid’s” Solid Snake. It will be the biggest gaming extravaganza Nintendo has ever produced and, perhaps, in the history of the industry.
The future is clear: Nintendo will win this Christmas in the short-term and this generation’s console war in the long term with a combination of low development-costs, casual and hardcore software, innovative accessories and the gangbuster sales of the Wii and Nintendo DS. Save your money from that overpriced piece of junk, the Playstation 3 (which happens to be selling worse than the GameCube was at this time five years ago), and invest in some Nintendo stock. Don’t waste your time with Halo. Get a Wii.