Like many of my gaming counterparts Nintendo was the first console that I could truly call my own and is largely responsible for starting my love for video games. It is this very reason that it pains me to say that Wii U Is Dead and there might not be a way to resurrect it. For years the name Nintendo has been synonymous with gaming, it was the name that those outside of the gaming world seemed to use when referring to consoles as a whole and that kind of brand recognition is terribly hard to screw up. While it might have been hard, Nintendo has somehow found a way to tarnish their once proud name and is now on the bottom of the totem pole looking up and gaming juggernauts Sony and Microsoft. Some might ask where this downward spiral began and what Nintendo can do to try to revive themselves in a marketplace that is more competitive and advanced than ever before. I don’t think it’s as simple as making a few minor changes and reestablishing themselves atop the gaming world, Nintendo is going to have to take some drastic steps and do some serious soul-searching before they will ever come close to the brand that we have grown to love.
It has become abundantly clear over the years that Nintendo suffers from a common ailment to those who have been at the top of their field, which is none other than pride. When you dominate anything for an extended period of time you start to believe your ideas are infallible and soon after you are passed by the up and coming innovators that share your particular space. In the 80’s and 90’s Nintendo had all the freshest ideas, they made household names out of a pair of plumbers and a kid in a green dress, but those days have passed and everyone at Nintendo has been grasping to their relevance ever since. During the golden era of Nintendo you saw three consoles that will be remembered forever for the great gaming experiences and innovations that they brought. The NES, SNES and Nintendo 64 brought us adventures and experiences that we still hold dearly even to this day. In previous features you have seen me give praise to the Zelda series that I loved so dearly, and A Link to the Past still holds a place in my top five video games of all time., but love for the classics does not sell consoles in 2013. Ever since the Gamecube we have seen a lack of innovation from Nintendo’s first-party developers that is both alarming and insulting to the lightning fast growth of the video game industry. While Sony is putting out games like The Last of Us, Nintendo has just recently released New Super Luigi U… Whatever that is.
As we all know it is hard to argue with the hardcore Nintendo fans. They take a very defensive stance to the topic and refuse to see the flaws in a company that has provided them with so many years or enjoyment. I get that completely, hell I continually bought Madden games for a long time even though they were stale and failing to innovate time and time again. Did the Wii sell more systems than both the PS3 and 360? Absolutely it did, I had a Wii (which I did not purchase for myself) as I am sure many of you did, but did you buy games for it? Did you support the software that came out in the years following its release? If you did, was it anywhere close to the number of games you bought for your PS3 or 360? Software sales will say that not very many of us did, and the reason was that we were all too busy buying better titles for our other consoles. The reason the Wii had such insane sales numbers was simple. Casual gamers and non-gamers alike fell in love with “the bowling game” and I can’t say that I blame them. Wii Sports was a lot of fun and I loved every moment of playing it, but it came packaged with the system. Instead of capitalizing on the market and finding new and cool ways to innovate using their new motion controls they slapped together a new Zelda, shoved shovelware down our throats and asked us to turn the controller sideways to play the New Super Marios Bros.
So in all of this the question obviously becomes “can Wii U be saved?” or even “is the Wii U worth saving?” The answers to these questions certainly aren’t as simple as yes or no, there is so much involved and Nintendo truly has so much to offer that it would be sad to see them disappear forever. Would we truly be better off in a world with no Mario? Or would we all just be better off with better Mario games? Is it such blasphemy to ask the worlds most famous plumber to step outside of his comfort zone in a way that isn’t a Mario Party, Smash Bros or a Mario Kart game? Is he not allowed to have dialogue that is more extensive than “it’s a me, Mario!” What about Link? Is Link never allowed to grow into an adult capable of kicking ass with the likes of Kratos and Master Chief? How incredible would it be to play a true RPG style Zelda game with choices and a level-up system? What if Link wasn’t simply a slave to certain items and had the ability to carry the weapons and items that the player felt were the coolest? While these are all very simple ideas and solutions it seems that no one in the entire Nintendo corporation has had the creativity to even consider something outside of their standard platforming or adventure genres. Certainly it is going to take more than the franchise poster boys to bring the Wii U out of its slump. Its going to take new and interesting IPs as well as creative new directions to take the gamepad in order to draw in the gamers who might have given up on Nintendo lately.
While Nintendo continues to focus on their insanely popular DS handhelds it seems as if the Wii U is in the back of their minds. When discussing this very topic on Twitter with a buddy of mine I was told that “Nintendo is taking it slow”. This comment was more than a bit alarming to me as one would think that Nintendo would need to be carving out its own corner of the market as Sony and Microsoft make their push into the real next generation. I do not want Nintendo to fail, quite the contrary actually. I believe it is better for all gamers when Nintendo is alive and well and giving gamers fun experiences to enjoy. The problem I find is that the same old experiences just aren’t that fun anymore, and I am absolutely not going to pay $399 to buy a Wii U when they haven’t even proven that they’re going to provide us something new and exciting to enjoy on it. I hope that they can do something to change my mind, but for me as it stands right now, the Wii U is dead.