I have to admit that my PSP and Xbox 360 have been getting more of my attention of late. From the emotionally powerful and gorgeous Crisis Core for the PSP, and a stable of “new” (for me, anyway) games like Halo 3, Bioshock, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and of course, Grand Theft Auto IV, I’ve become a bit of a ‘box junkie, which is funny, because the I was usually disdainful of the original Xbox due to its controller designed for gorilla hands.

What’s changed me? Online. I enjoy shooting the breeze with my friends over headset, downloading demos, trailers for upcoming games, racking up achievement points for little crazy stunts or progress in my game, and of course, adding afriend to my list is easy: Type in the name, and there you go. No “Friend Code” crap that just allows you to get Miis and messages, but doesn’t allow you to play games together. There’s a whole separate code for that, and after dealing with the 360’s relative ease of building a gaming community, it’s apparent where the Wii is going wrong.

And Nintendo’s completely to blame.

Nintendo is a interesting “addiction”. They have wonderful customer service when it comes to repair, but it doesn’t give a damn what you want when it comes to gaming (Ask the folks at Starmen.Net about their continual Earthbound struggle). They were kings in the NES and SNES days, but some incredibly stupid decisions during the Nintendo 64/Gamecube era costs them some of their best franchises. Square-Enix walked away. Capcom did minimal support for the N64, and Konami wasn’t much better. The Gamecube saw the loss of Rare, and for a while, Factor 5 when the Wii came around (until recently). And then the Wii hit, and “all was better”. I thought so too, and thought this will be a better Nintendo.

After playing Wii Sports, I thought they might be on to something different with all their wiggling and waggling.

And then I realized that so few games actually do anything of value with it.

Metroid Prime 3 strikes me as a great example of how the technology works. I am hopeful that Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Ghostbusters will follow suit. Mario Kart Wii isn’t a bad use of the Wiimote, but the game itself is disgustingly marred by incredibly cheap AI that will severely punish you for showing any kind of driver skill. 3-5 power-ups in a row pushing you from first to last place as you’re about to cross the finish line isn’t fun. It’s actually disturbing that Nintendo would let one of their big franchise titles out with such a major gameplay flaw.

It makes you wonder: Does Nintendo even care about the gamers who helped build up the company over the last 20 years?

Sure there’s Smash Bros. Brawl with its “Ooh! Here’s R.O.B.! And Pit! And Ice Climbers And Mr. Game & Watch and two Earthbound characters! We LOVE you guys! Bask in our history!” And for this title, it works. It’s a history lesson where you can beat each other up in the process. And all really was good. But after this, and Kart, and Wii Fit, is anything left for 2008?

Despite the ever hopeful rumors of a new Kid Icarus or Punch-Out!!, there’s also rumors of “No”.

Nintendo’s channels for the Wii have been underwhelming to say the least. Solving the great mysteries of whether people would travel out of state or not for a concert event or do we floss after we brush isn’t holding my interest. And the Nintendo Channel, after a 7 month delay is yet again, underwhelming. Not to mention I had to delete a grip of VC titles just to download the Channel due to the Wii’s pitiful memory space. I was hoping to learn more about upcoming titles, or have more customized suggestions based off my tastes, or some demos besides a few several month old DS titles No Wii titles? REALLY?). Again, so much potential, and Nintendo refuses to do anything.

They’ve gotten a little better, having internet at all now. But they act like they are introducing the world to something amazing and new and never before seen, when the PC, and Dreamcast, and PS2, and Xbox, and 360 and PS3 have been doing since their gradual releases since 1999 (PC being even longer). Online gaming is not this amazing new invention, and yet, Nintendo treats its user base like total idiots.

The Virtual Console selection, my main point of buying a Wii, has completely lost my interest. With Japan having 80+ more titles than us, and all regions save for the U.S. getting an average of 3-5 games a week, it’s clear that NOA has abandoned the American gamer. For a moment, I almost conceded that maybe they’re cutting back with this 0-2 average/mediocre/rarely good titles a week as a means to encourage players to save their tiny memory space (and money) for the impending WiiWare titles.

And then I remember the 80+ more game thing that Japan has, and there went that theory.

The face of Nintendo has changed, for largely worse. Nintendo is banking on every new gamer freaking out to get a Wii to play Wii Sports and Carnival Games and Game Party and all these other mini-game collections. I’m sure Wii Fit will by lauded by sales records as comparable to the coming of Video Jesus. And Nintendo’s banking on this. And they’ve forgotten that these “new” gamers aren’t so much “gamers”. They’ll have 3-4 games and pretty much stop there, unless more mini-game collections are announced, which somehow sell over every other title available. But these aren’t gamers. What’s the point of having a few million systems out there when the majority of your user base buys 1-2 titles a year versus the now “minority” demographic that buys 6-15 games a year? More?

Brawl can be argued, but that was meant to be a launch title, and Mario Kart was a given. Is there anything left? I’m thinking that’s why Brawl was pushed back so much in the first place: Nintendo’s dry for the time being. They staggered that one because really, looking at their line-up past Wii Fit, they’ve got nothing.

They may not be able to keep Wiis on shelves, but there are millions who already have one. Why not cater to them, and stop cutting off content? What are they waiting for? The 360 didn’t wait for me to buy one 2 1/2 years after its release to start putting content and games on it.

Wii Sports was a great novelty title, but it’s also one of the worst things to happen to the Wii. When a game hits success, other publishers take note and try to emulate it. When Ocarina of Time came out for the Nintendo 64, every 3D adventure game had a Zelda feel to it for years after that, but not many could get it right, or capture that magic. Same thing for Wii Sports, but even less publishers “get it”, and we’re getting some abysmally poor games as a result for the lack of 3rd party understanding. They don’t get why Wii Sports was catchy: It was unlike anything else on a home console. But when the clones come out, the “ooh, ahh” novelty of the experience is gone, and old Nintendo gamers suffer through the worst knock-offs, ports and shovelware imaginable. I remember when the “Nintendo Seal of Quality” actually seemed to stand for something. Now it’s just box art filler.

It’s great that the Wii has drawn in all these new demographics of gamers. But they managed to bring them in like sheep without guiding them into a good direction to try higher quality titles, not the first title they see. Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero have more relevance as a “casual” game because anyone really can pick these titles up and become good at them over time.

Nintendo, for the most part, really has dropped the ball on their long devoted fanbase, and given them the middle finger. They have made their most loyal fans a minority, and are catering to a crowd that has a very short and less devoted attention span that will leave the “Big N” just as soon as something newer, shinier and prettier takes its place. When I realize the gaming well has run dry, and they’ve totally given up on the Virtual Console, it made my 360 purchase last month so much easier.

Nintendo made me into an Xbox customer.

When it comes to exclusive, mascot games, and games that actually do something with the Wiimote that genuinely make it relevant and interesting to gameplay, I’ll pick the title up, but after supporting this company for over 20 years, and realizing that they are still pulling the same arrogant, oblivious crap that alienated all their 3rd party companies over a decade ago, well now, it’s extending to us, the decades long devoted. The “minority”.

Well, at least the DS is still putting out some good, unique stuff.

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under: wii channelwii gamingxbox 360 gaming