Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What Nintendo needs to do to "Win."

  Console wars are kind of a weird thing to even talk about. From an intelligent, and rational person's point of view, it makes sense to want all the consoles to do well. Success for every platform, while remaining competitive, means better games for us. It's fun to root for your favorite and condemn the obvious loser, that's all fine and good; it's part of the game. I don't want to start any flame wars, so if that's all you're interested in doing, take a hike. I'm here to discuss a few strategies that I think will help ensure that Nintendo, as a company who is in a very strange position right now, continues to thrive as a competitor.

  It's no small secret that Nintendo as a publisher and as a developer is at a sort of crossroads. The 3DS came out and had a shaky start, but has come through looking better for wear. If they can keep this momentum going, we're in luck. Recently, they announced a new Mario game, so I know I'll be slavishly waving my hard earned money at the person behind the counter to pick up my copy. Here's to hoping they do a little innovating on this title.

Ice White Nintendo 3DS
Ice White Nintendo 3DS

   The future of the Nintendo Portable platform has me a bit intrigued though. The 3DS is here, and it looks like it will remain mostly successful. But what's next? A lot of Nintendo's share holders are calling for a Nintendo Phone, but that'll take a shoehorn the size of Montana to eke out an existence in that sea. If you think about the (complete, global) saturation of iPhones and Androids, there's really nothing left for Nintendo to bring to the table other than Mario. Perhaps Japan has a vastly different cellular market that has enough legroom for a new cell phone company, but over here isn't so likely. Nintendo could open up and just slap the Android interface in there, however, Nintendo is traditionally very tight-knit with it's devices. I foresee more of an iPhone path for them, if they were to ever go that way. And that's just not going to be viable in this ecosystem. Would you trade up your smart phone to a Nintendo Phone? Sure, there are some people saying yes. I don't think I would, though. I love my Samsung Nexus S and I'm addicted to Google's infrastructure. I'd probably still get the Nintendo Phone, but just to keep around as another dedicated gaming device. Because of that, I'd rather they spend their time making quality handhelds like they do now, something they pretty much own the market on.
  Looking at the WiiU, I think Nintendo has the opportunity to make a bajillion dollars right off the bat. Would you like to know the very simple answer to this? Angry Birds. I won't deny any love loss for what i feel to be a lackluster game, but the fact is that it's got wings. If you slap that grumpy, red bastard on the front of a WiiU box, you're making money. Pack it in with every console as a game that can be played on the WiiU's tablet-like controller, and you've just banked. If you're Nintendo of course. Imagine now, if I may expand, all of your favorite iPhone and Android app store games coming over to Wii U. Game Dev StorySword and SorceryCanabaltAnomaly: Warzone EarthCut the Rope. All streamed from the big white box to your lightweight tablet controller. Some of them even could come with button controls, which YHVH knows they need. And the Stylus that comes with it would make games like Cut the Rope more accurate, and more playable. Plus, you could have high-end graphics for all of them. Forget Infinity Blade's shine on the iPhone, imagine how good it could look with more horse power? The long and short of it is, opening itself up to this kind of an App Store (and preferably partnering with an existing partner, like Google) would be a killer.
Imagine: Angry Birds... Right there. And on the big screen, so the whole family can enjoy.

  I just thought about playing Plants vs. Zombies (for the 9th time) on this controller, and I would kindly set fire to a puppy orphanage to have it.
  Last, there's this little bit about the Virtual Console and how they handle it. For one, it's no secret that the Wii Virtual Console is kind of dead in the water. I'm not sure how much of that is Nintendo choking it out while they focus on the 3DS, and how much is that nobody just putting anything up there anymore. For another thing, they've been putting out NES games on the 3DS now, and I can't help but wonder why I'm paying for these. Again. With the WiiU, there needs to be enough forefront to create a way to convert my Virtual Console games from my Wii, to my WiiU and to my 3DS. If I have to be that roundabout, that's fine, I'm gonna move everything to the WiiU anyway. But having I'd be much happier not having to pay for Startropics again. At that point, Nintendo is sort of just asking people to go get emulators on their SD cards and go from there. If they open up that Virtual Console on all their machines, on your same profiles/accounts, that would be stellar. While on the subject of Virtual Consoles... Why haven't we seen Mother, Earthbound, and Yoshi's Island yet? There's some work to be done there, and I'm sure somebody on the interwebs would gladly take a contract job to do it.
 With that off my mind, I want to know what you think? Can these strategies be improved? Do you have other ideas? Better ones, even? Please feel free to sound off below!
  As a programming note/advertisement, I plan on discussing a -lot- of Smash Bros. in the coming month. Starting May 1st, and every day through E3, I'm going to drop something else I think should be in the next Smash Bros. All of that will lead up to hopefully -some- sort of announcement at E3 that I can geek out on, and then see if I have anything to expand upon with some crazy new knowledge. I look forward to the discussion!
  Social Media Go: @DocRandle FacebookThe Midnight Roost
-Make it a good one.

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