Nintendo, Stop Messing Around and Kick it Old School

There are few things in the gaming world as tried and true as Nintendo’s pantheon of characters and franchises. System after system, Nintendo meets our expectations when it comes to delivering a great game in one classic series or another. But there comes a time when, no matter how much we love those time-tested favorites, we need a large dose of originality.

Nintendo needs new IPs, but this isn’t “out with the old and in with the new.” No one’s asking for major changes to be made to any of the Big N’s mainstays, because, quite frankly, they are still some of the most beloved cash cows in the industry. It’s just that gamers crave more. Nintendo needs to muster up some new heavy-hitters — titles that can line up with Mario, Zelda, and StarFox, and hold their own. These new franchises need to be more than Pikmin and Animal Crossing.

The launch of a new platform is the prime opportunity to introduce a new IP. Nintendo was poised to do just that with the launch of the Nintendo 3DS, but it dropped the ball. The titles available at launch were not only uninspired and lackluster, but there really weren’t many to choose from in the first place. Steel Diver is not the game I’m looking for at the birth of a new handheld.

Nintendo is no stranger to laying the blueprint for a successful line of games. It did, after all, virtually perfect the process. You build your game around bright and amiable characters, develop a unique and enjoyable gameplay mechanic, inject a sense of quirkiness, and have Koji Kondo throw in a great soundtrack just for good measure (lulz, music joke). I know it’s not that easy, but Nintendo certainly makes it seem as such, and it was done so consistently for so long, it’s as if Nintendo just got tired of it and decided to go in a new direction.

No one questions Shigeru Miyamoto’s genius, but I challenge whether or not his time is best spent developing the next Nintendogs or Mii-themed game, as has been his occupation of late. Of course, I’m looking at this from the standpoint of a traditionalist and a dyed-in-the-wool Nintendo loyalist. You can’t fault Nintendo for wanting to piddle with different technologies and incorporate them into new games, but it felt as if Nintendo had somewhat lost touch with what gamers want. GamerNode’s own Greg Galiffa noted Nintendo’s most recent commitment to “core” gamers, but it will take more than a handful of updated classics for Nintendo to get its groove back.

We want to see Nintendo display the high level of competency and creativity we all know it’s capable of. Attention needs to be given to the franchises that Nintendo built its legacy on, but a new focus should be put on developing fresh and original titles that gamers can sink their teeth into. The area where Nintendo used to excel now seems to be where it lags behind. All of that can change.

Someone just needs to tap Mr. Iwata’s shoulder and say, “Hey, let’s get back to what we were doing.” A return to form is needed, and it seems it’s beginning to happen, but Nintendo can’t accomplish this alone. Nintendo hasn’t had the greatest of relationships with third party developers, dating all the way back to the days of the Nintendo 64. Companies that used to thrive on Nintendo consoles jumped ship and latched on to other console manufacturers. There have been obvious attempts over the years to reunite with long-lost partners, such as Konami with the release of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes on the GameCube. Even more recently, Nintendo has reached out to former rivals, such as Sega, with the inclusion of Sonic into Super Smash Bros. Brawl. These are nice gestures and certainly good stepping stones, but if Nintendo is to shake the image of being the place where third parties come to die, a full-blown effort will need to be made to get the industry’s best and brightest on board.

Nintendo needs to re-evaluate its mission and clean up its messes. With the launch of Nintendo’s next home console, tentatively titled “Project Cafe,” another opportunity awaits. I’m sure Nintendo has a lot of surprises in store for us at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. Hopefully one of them is a brand-spanking-new original IP.


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Author: Josh Robinson View all posts by
Josh is a 25-year-old man-child who loves pizza, video games, baseball, cartoons and anime. Most of his heroes are middle-aged Japanese men, and he's been known to quote Seinfeld at random. You can find him on Twitter using the handle @averagejosh.

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