Monday, August 11, 2008

Simple Hardcore Appeasement for Nintendo

I still cannot believe how bad Nintendo’s E3 press conference was. Everyone’s conference was sub-par but, I think every gamer agrees that Nintendo was the worst of the three.

The Nintendo Wii is still coming out with great games, and I’m genuinely excited about most of the games they showed at their conference. Wii Music looks a little cheesy but the free form drums look amazing. Wii Sports Resort also looks like a lot of fun and the Wii Motion Plus looks as though it has a ton of potential.

This has been the problem with the Wii since it came out though. Everything with their system has great potential that game developers aren’t taking advantage of. Imagine the amount of fun a well-funded sword-fighting adventure game would be with the Wii Motion Plus. Or, imagine how cool it would be to have a futuristic racer *coughExtremeGcough* using both the Wii wheel and possibly the balance board to accelerate.

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But no, game developers don’t need to make games like that to appeal to the hardcore gamers. Like it or not, the casual games sell on the Wii, and they sell well. Wii Fit, Link’s Crossbow training and Big Brain Academy are just some of the examples. And since the developing costs are far less, they rake in more profit, even if the games aren’t the best-sellers of all-time. Nintendo has an excellent business strategy, as they reached an untapped market of casual gamers.

I understand that it is very hard to come out with big-budget games every year and make them successful. Luckily, Nintendo has an edge with their first-party games because if they put Mario, Link or Samus on the cover, it’s going to sell. These games don’t necessarily sell because of the characters but because they have consistently put out great products. When the next installments in those series come out, I expect to buy them as I have consistently enjoyed them.

But there’s even simpler, cheaper ways to appeal to hardcore gamers like myself.

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Make some Virtual Console games have online play. Why not make some the Virtual Console games playable online? Imagine being able to play Mario Kart 64 with anyone around the world. Or how about Street Fighter 2? Or maybe they could add a multiplayer mode to the original F-Zero and make it have online play. That would be so much fun and probably increase the amount of Virtual Console sales. The old SNES and N64 games were immensely enjoyable with my friends when I was younger and I can’t imagine that it would be that difficult to put them online. Sure, this idea is a little bit of a copout as it recycles old content, but as a hardcore gamer, I would love this.

Make downloadable characters for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Making a balanced character might be a little bit difficult but they already made so many of them that are balanced. They would not need to fit them into the Subspace Emissary or into any events. Making a new downloadable character would not cost a lot of money and it might cause people who have stop playing the game to go back into it. First-party characters they could add with little trouble could include Isaac from Golden Sun or Samurai Goroh from F-Zero. Sure, they are already assist trophies but, does that really matter? Third-party characters like Geno or Mega Man would cost more but would also be nice.

Nintendo must have known months before E3 that they had nothing to show the hardcore gamers. These ideas could have been implemented that fast and would have been nice interludes to put in since they don’t have the next Mario, Zelda or Kid Icarus game ready to show. There are simple, cost-effective ways of appealing to the hardcore gamer. Hopefully, Nintendo didn’t forget that.

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