Before we begin, please allow me to set the tone for the rest of the article with a simple picture:
I know it's not been very long since we've seen people get up in arms in regards to Nintendo's response to the Project Rainfall petition
to get Xenoblade, Last Story, and Pandora's Tower an American localization, and we've seen the immediate fallout from the likes of Jim Sterling
of Destructoid and Rawmeat Cowboy
from GoNintendo who are completely baffled and outraged at Nintendo's unwillingness to supply its customers with RPGs that they themselves made and are even releasing in Europe, but not in the North American territories.
As for myself, as someone who vehemently supported the Wii when it first came out, I've become more and more disenchanted with Nintendo in the past few years. This is mainly because Nintendo has failed to follow through on making actual games for the Wii. Mario Galaxy and Metriod Other M could have been made on the Game Cube, so they don't count. Instead of getting exciting, action-packed First Person hack and slash games, or third person action hack and slash games, we instead get a fuckhorrible assbastardization of one of my most beloved game series (Metroid), and then we keep getting the stale, ho-hum, and utterly snore-inducing borefest that is Mario Galaxy 2, a game that nobody asked for.
But I still had E3 to look forward to this year. Surely Nintendo would finally announce that the release of at least Xenoblade in North America would be imminent. Surely as someone whose only "current gen" console was a Wii, I would have a reason to be excited and have something to look forward to this year. Surely, right?
Nope. Instead we got a bunch of impending releases for the 3DS, which no one is buying. Then we got to see Skyward Sword, which looks about as bland and boring and lame as Zelda has gradually become in the past decade, and then finally we got the big reveal of the Wii U. And by big reveal, I mean Iwata failed so hard to convey the fact that the Wii U was also a console on top of the controller, that he had to make an addendum via fucking Twitter after he had departed from E3 to settle any confusion.
But outside of Kirby and Zelda, two series that have already seen iterations on the Wii, do we see anything else in the way of games for the Wii? Nope! And apparently I wasn't the only one left miffed about this. Hence, Project Rainfall, where people pleaded from Nintendo about an impending release for Xenoblade, Pandora's Tower, and The Last Story, or even an explanation about why they weren't being released. But of course, they didn't get even that. Just dismissal.
Well, seeing Nintendo's track record as of late, we can only conclude one thing: Nintendo just doesn't give fuck about its customers. In fact, they don't see "customers" but morons who don't buy their games because we're too feeble-minded to understand the intricacies of 3D gaming, or their awesome stories in their games...
...thanks for ruining Metroid, asshole!
History has shown us that Nintendo only wants us to play the games they want us to, not the games that we may actually want.
I've been wanting to play Xenoblade and The Last Story since I first heard about them, but does Nintendo release them? Nope. Well, surely Nintendo will let smaller companies like Atlus, NIS, or Xseed who have shown a pretty good track record of doing great localizations for all sorts of games for consumption outside of Japan have a crack at it so we don't get to miss out on these games for the Wii, right?
What has happened here is that up until they made the Wii and DS, Nintendo was getting their asses kicked in the gaming market, and not just because of Sony, but also because they went in the totally wrong direction with making the N64 and Game Cube. They made games that drove customers away either to competitors like Sony, or from gaming altogether. It wasn't until Nintendo forced themselves to make the right kind of games that they got those people they had driven off back,
and with a vengeance!
But then with their sudden explosion of success, Nintendo got complacent. And that old arrogance came back, and so did their laziness, with some serious interest. Pat pointed out several times that Squaresoft released versions of Final Fantasy on the SNES that were easier because they thought Americans were too stupid to understand their RPGs...even though their "sophisticated" games were actually just dumbed down versions of Western RPGs. That arrogance has never entirely left some Japanese game developers, and with Nintendo we're seeing that become more and more prominent as time goes by.
We saw serious backlash at Nintendo for Metroid Other M but the developers and corporate response of this disdain was dismissal of the audience's reaction. Miyamoto said he wasn't going to half-ass NSMB Wii, but then dumps all his time, energy, and passion into making another Mario Galaxy...which bombed horribly, despite the fact that in some territories it came with an instructional DVD for those of us who are just too dag-gum stupid to understand the finer nuances of plodding around a stupid sphere and spending all day finding MacGuffins while fending off narcolepsy.
Despite that, Galaxy 2 bombed pretty hard, especially compared to NSMB Wii. Customers made their choice as to which kind of Mario game they preferred. Yet Miyamoto keeps making 3D Mario.)
Then of course we had that stupid guide for NSMB Wii, where you could spend coins on finding secrets or the mechanic that plays the game for you if you die too much. Or how about the first hour or so of Twilight Princess where you are stuck doing menial tasks as thinly-veiled tutorials before you can even begin to do anything remotely interesting? Or what about the backlash against the art style of Wind Waker that Nintendo carried on in the DS iterations of Zelda?
What I'm trying to illustrate here is two things. One, I'm trying to show that Nintendo hasn't entirely lost their arrogance or even their lack of respect for their customers, both new and old, in recent years. And second, I'm trying to show that when it comes to doing what the developers want, they always get their way, regardless of the fact that what they want to do may not actually be something that customers are asking for. In the meantime, when the customers want something, we just get ignored. And ignored. And ignored.
Even when it comes to making entertainment, making entertainment is still a job, and when we go to work, we don't have the luxury of getting to do what we want, only what is necessary to get the job done right. And that doesn't change, regardless of your job. Whether it's shoveling shit in Louisana or writing fucking Harlequin romance novels in Wisconsin, you're either doing a job that needs to be done, or you're providing a product or service that is fulfilling a job that people want done in their lives. Was there anything particularly "creative" about Jackson's Lord of the Ring film adaptations? Nope, but they did their job of bringing Tolkien's mystical fantasy land to the big screen, and did so very well.
On the other end of that spectrum we got Michael Bay who got "creative" and did whatever the hell he wanted with Transformers with no real respect for the source material he was adapting, basically wiping his ass with Transformers. And this is coming from someone who fucking hated Transformers growing up. And don't get me started on Star Trek Voyager, Enterprise, Alien 3, or the Star Wars prequels. These were all examples of the entertainers being out of touch with the audience or just not giving a shit about the audience altogether. And this mentality festers in all areas of entertainment, not just movies.
Nintendo (and much of the Japanese game industry) doesn't seem to look at making games in a job-oriented context, or in the case of Nintendo, maybe they understand this but don't give a shit. There is a pretty good example of Japanese game developers who do understand this and whose games are still doing well in their home turf while the rest of the gaming industry is burning down around them.
My favorite game companies are the ones that show respect and actively try to make a connection to their customers. The worst are the ones that distance themselves from their customers and ignore them or even show them contempt, even if they themselves don't even realize it when they're doing it.
You do realize that you were insinuating that your customers were mouthbreathers when you bundled Galaxy 2 with that instructional DVD, right?
What this controversy really boils down to is one of content. Outside of a few old revivals of some of their older 8 and 16 bit console games, Nintendo hasn't released anything new in terms of content in a long time. They keep relying on Mario, Zelda, and a few other IPs, but they've become so bad about doing whatever they want with these IPs and showing no respect for them or their audience, that they're actually getting worse and worse as time goes by. Oh sure, it's nothing on the level of a Sonic Unleashed, but that decline is there, even if it isn't as overt. Mario was swirling the drain until NSMB was made for both the DS and Wii. Now we're seeing a Mario on the 3DS with the Tanooki suit...that can't fly. People rejected the Wind Waker art style but Nintendo continued it with the DS games, and those games bombed badly in Japan, winding up in the bargin bin, and not just because of the art style.
But the real problem is that Nintendo isn't offering any new content, and right now the Wii desperately needs games with content.
In a nutshell, the games that did really well on the DS and Wii are very much reminscient of the kinds of games that made Nintendo so successful in the first place...all the way back on the original NES. But old fogeys like Miyamoto don't want to make those kinds of games anymore, and worse, he knows it. Younger developers at Nintendo wish to make the 8 and 16 bit games they played growing up, but Miyamoto won't let them. He said "We've made those games before. I don't want to make them again." what is scaring Miyamoto is the fact that NSMB Wii and DS did so well. The game that took almost no time or resources to make. But it does take a lot of work. If 3D Mario isn't bringing in the customers, regardless of what he does, he's eventually going to be told to stop making 3D Mario and make the Mario game that will bring the customers in.
This isn't just a Nintendo of America issue. This is an issue with the whole of Nintendo in general. Nintendo published Dragon Quest 9 in America, a game that the developers really love, even though it didn't do as well as it did in Japan. Now don't get me wrong, I love DQ9, but
, at the same time it's not fair that Nintendo publishes a game that they really like that they didn't even make, yet they won't publish games that they themselves did make!
Nintendo has made some serious missteps as of late. The 3DS has bombed horribly, especially in Japan. The response to the Wii U by Nintendo's own investors has been to bail out of Nintendo as though it were the fucking Titanic.
And now with this debacle involving Nintendo's lack of effort of putting games on the Wii, it creates an air of hostility and mistrust among gamers towards Nintendo. Nintendo is saying they want the so-called "hardcore" gamers with the Wii U, yet, they won't make or release the kinds of games that these people want to play. So I ask you, why will so-called hardcore gamers buy a Wii U when Nintendo won't even show a committment to supporting these gamers with the games they want to play on the Wii? And in this case it's even worse because Europe is getting at least one of these games, and it's being done up in English. So why not just release that game over here too? Maybe the biggest slap to the face is the fact that due to region-locking you have to hack your Wii in order to play these games, even if you legitimately imported them rather than straight up pirated them. The 3DS has this problem now as well. Me and a friend of mine were playing Tales of Vesperia on the Playstation 3. A fucking import! I can import games from Japan and play them on my PS3, PSP, DS, but not my Wii. What a bunch of shit!
What this all boils down to is a combination of arrogance, laziness, and a massive case of being out of touch with reality on the part of Nintendo. For a company like Nintendo, it wouldn't have even been a dent in their coffers to localize one or all of these games, or even allowing another company to localize them. The fact that they haven't shows how little they care for or respect their customers.
Pat once commented in one of his Final Fantasy articles that Final Fantasy would keep on going because diehard fans of the series would keep buying the games regardless of their quality. But fast-foward to 2011 and Square-Enix is hurting very badly financially precisely because of Final Fantasy. And it isn't just Square-Enix, it's the entire Japanese game industry. People don't realize this, but reality eventually catches up to everybody, no matter what path in life you walk. Reality has caught up with Square, and now we're going to have the pleasure of seeing it catch up with Nintendo.
The big secret to the Wii's success is that all those people bought it because the Wii had games that embraced old-school console gaming. Wii Sports, NSMB, Mario Kart, and the like. But Nintendo's senior developers hate making those games. And with the Wii U and 3DS it's their excuse to get out of making those games. Unfortunately, they don't realize that those customers they drove off with the N64 and Game Cube are going to be driven off by the 3DS and Wii U. And with their actions in regards to Project Rainfall, the so-called hardcore gamers aren't going to be feeling the desire to support a game company that can't even be bothered to make the kind of games that they want to play.
If the 3DS is a repeat of the Virtual Boy, then the Wii U can only be called Nintendo's equivalent of the Sega Neptune. It's just a stopgap system until Nintendo can make a full-blown 3D output console. The problem is that the economic climate of the here and now is radically different than the economic climate that allowed Nintendo to stay afloat with the N64 and Game Cube. We're in economic stagnation, and making a new and expensive game console is the last thing that should be on any game company's mind right now. Or at least any sane
company. Making and releasing quality games should be the priority. I think Sony has been keen on this with the Playstation 3, and with the Vita Sony knows Nintendo has dropped the ball badly with the 3DS, so they're moving in to try and capitalize on the handheld market, especially in Japan. If anything we've seen the beginning of this with investors bailing out of Nintendo, and the poor performance and overall "meh" reception to the 3DS.
Nintendo has singlehandedly managed to reverse their massive success in 2006 with the DS and Wii, and not only shot themselves in the foot, but fucking blown their own legs off with a bazooka. And not only are they not bothered by this, they think everything is just peaches and cream!
As for me, while I applaud the actions of all of those involved in Project Rainfall, I've been learning too much about Nintendo in recent years and possess the personal experience to know that your cries are going to fall on deaf ears. As an old-school gamer who recieved my NES as a hand-me-down by my cousin Kevin during Christmas years ago, I feel the same way about Nintendo today as I did about 10 years ago when I finally decided to buy a Playstation and relegate my N64 to collecting dust. But I didn't know back then what I know about Nintendo today. So I did more than just go back to a competitor. Not only did I buy a Playstation 3, I sold my Wii, and either sold my games, or gave them to people who wanted them.
Until Nintendo gets their act together, I will no longer be supporting them in way shape or form, monetarily or otherwise. If I buy anymore of their games on my DS, it'll be used. From fucking Gamestop or Amazon. If I ever find it in me to get another Wii down the road, it'll be used. From Gamestop or Amazon. If I want to play their old 8 and 16 bit games, I'll just plug a controller into this laptop, plug the laptop into my brand new HDTV, and fucking play Super Mario Bros. 3 and Metroid 2 that way instead. Or maybe I'll buy a SNES from G2k Games
which is where I bought some old third party N64 games for my nephew.
While it's been demoralizing to see how quickly Nintendo has sunk in the past couple of years, what isn't going to be is when reality catches up to Nintendo. And considering how high up Nintendo managed to climb, it'll only make their plunge back to reality all the more spectacular. And well deserved.
In the meantime, I'm going to give my patronage to companies that don't treat me like I'm some kid of blithering retard, like Atlus, or Xseed, or NIS.
Not to let this article end on a total downer, here's an interview of a nice and kindly employee of Xseed by Jew Wario
, if you want a taste of how Nintendo should
treat its customers if they actually gave a damn. I'm sorry if this seems like a bash on Nintendo along with commenting on Project Rainfall, but everyone is baffled by Nintendo's response to this, but the truth really is that they don't give a shit. They'll continue doing what they like...until the market brings them back down to reality once more. It happened with the N64 and Game Cube. It'll happen again.