Nintendo will release the Wii U this holiday. The console carries with it a bunch of buzz, both negative and positive. While I’ve looked at it from both sides, I already know I’ll be buying one on or near launch.
I don’t like motion control, I’m a staunch supporter of HD graphics, I can’t stand shoehorned gameplay gimmicks and I absolutely hate the abuse of franchises and characters.
So, why am I here? Nintendo is essentially guilty of everything I just listed.
Growing up Nintendo.
If you’ve read my author bio that runs along the base of every post I publish, then you know that one of my favorite gaming memories is when my dad brought home the original Nintendo and a copy of Paperboy. Back then, console gaming was still a novelty. Nintendo was the company that took what Atari and Commodore were doing and made it absolutely blow up.
On my eighth birthday, my mom told me to have a seat in the recliner in the family room and close my eyes. It was like seven in the morning, and she’d woken me up in order to give me my present early. My dad (an in-flight engineer for a cargo airline) was on a trip.
I’ll never forget feeling the weight of the SNES on my lap when she set it down. I just had this gut reaction that I was getting a new console, one that I’d spend the rest of my childhood enjoying; I was right.
I wound up buying a Sega Genesis a bit down the line with my own money, once the thing was considered old, so I was a Nintendo kid until the late 90s. It’s not that my folks weren’t capable of buying me another console, it’s just that they felt that one machine was enough for me to enjoy. And they were absolutely right.
The only games I owned and played for more than a decade of my life were those made and sold by Nintendo and their third party publishers. It’s for that reason that I’ll always have a soft spot for their products. They talk, I listen.
As a writer, I suppose it’s my biggest bias. I always give Nintendo a chance. While so many traffic hungry writers are ready to pile up on them and scream “foul play” and “these guys are dying,” I’m the guy in the background reassuring those around me that they’re fine.
For the record, I do think they’re fine.
So, why will I always buy Nintendo’s hardware?
I think the best argument that anyone can make about Nintendo is their license abuse with stuff like the Mario brand. The company has been slapping Mario’s name and likeness on unworthy games for literally decades.
Mario had a stint with PC and CD-i games (like Hotel Mario), he’s been featured in typing tutorials, he has a line of sports games and he even has a party franchise. Some of them have been fun, some of them have been absolute crap. And, yeah, quite frankly, they are a big negative point for Nintendo’s overall franchise image.
However, Nintendo’s also very, very good with their legacy franchises. Forget the one-offs for a second, and consider the fact that Nintendo has a core line of products that they treat with the utmost respect and love.
Super Mario Bros., the 3D Super Mario adventures, Link’s main line titles, Pikmin and the main Pokemon games. If you completely ignore the spin-offs and look directly at the main line of products, I’d say that Nintendo’s first-party efforts are among the best in this entire industry.
Am I sick and tired of Mario sports games and party titles? Sure. But I’ll never get enough of the main series. The good thing here is that Nintendo really only releases one or two major hitters per platform.
The Nintendo 64 had one main Mario title and two Zelda efforts. The same goes for the GameCube. The Wii had two Mario games and two Zeldas. Not counting remakes and spin-offs, there have only been five Pokemon generations in more than 15 years.
I’ve learned to ignore the fodder Nintendo produces with the likes of Mario Party and Pokemon Ranger. Because of that, I don’t even consider Nintendo’s abuse of its franchises a problem.
They make wonderful, magical games that I can’t find on any other platform. And that, friends, is the primary reason why I’ll always buy a Nintendo console. I can’t get Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda or Pikmin anywhere else. I grew up loving the crap out of these games, and Nintendo’s always shown me that they know how to build them.
They can keep making weird console designs and gimmicky gameplay mechanics, but their well-made core games will always be a fixture. Because of that, I’ll never leave. I think a lot of fans would say the same thing. I know developers have.