Thursday, January 15, 2015

5 Ways Nintendo Can Keep Improving

Early yesterday Nintendo aired the first Nintendo Direct of 2015, and what a glorious showing it was! We got release dates for a group of new products and games (Majora's Mask 3D and the New 3DS XL are hitting early next month in the US), got our first look at the upcoming DLC pack for Hyrule Warriors, were introduced to a few new games including the unexpected Fire Emblem 14, and most important, today marks the day Nintendo finally showed an interest in improving its business practices to the benefit of the consumer. That might sound like a statement contrary to the half-hour ode to slightly upgraded mid-gen handhelds and would-be Skylanders, but two key announcements show Nintendo's evolving interests. First and foremost, Nintendo announced the very first title to include cross-buy between its Wii U and 3DS releases: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. The two versions appear to be nearly identical games and even feature some form of level creator which can be used across both games. Hopefully this experiment will prove successful and Nintendo will take the hint; we could certainly use some of that cross-buy magic when it comes to Virtual Console. The other announcement of note: Nintendo is going to be releasing Wii games in the Wii U eShop starting about twelve hours ago with Super Mario Galaxy 2. Like Virtual Console titles, these Wiireleases are little more than game dumps being played in a compatibility mode. Unfortunately this means they won't be rid of waggle controls. On the other hand, all of the about ten first-party titles that worked with the Classic Controller are compatible with the Wii U Gamepad. These games can be launched right from the Wii U menu, presumably loading the Wii Mode in the background (something I've said they should do from the very beginning). They're all priced at a hefty twenty dollars, but that's honestly not such a bad deal for games which seem to be ageless.

With these announcements it honestly seems that Nintendo is finally implementing the sort of practices I've been ranting about since first getting hold of the Wii U almost a full year ago. Now that they're seemingly on track to Step One of Nathan DiYorio's Patented Save Nintendo System, it's time to start talking about Step Two.

1: GameCube Virtual Console

That's actually a little inaccurate. Much like the Wii games, the GameCube games wouldn't need a true virtual console; in fact, GameCube games can be played natively on the Wii U but the option to do so was intentionally locked away by the boys at Big N. Regardless, now that Wii games are making their way to the eShop, and Nintendo 64 releases are supposedly still on the menu, it's time to give us the complete package. The Wii U has the potential to be the Ultimate Nintendo Entertainment System, featuring the greatest technology the company has put out and a library of every title they've ever published. GameCube games are pretty much the only ones missing from this equation (not counting HD remakes like Wind Waker), and there's no reason for it. Getting them to run is as simple as putting the data onto the console, and more important: they fill the pricing niche between N64 ($10) and Wii ($20). I can't imagine paying twenty-dollars for a GCN game that hasn't been touched up, but fifteen? Yeah, for fifteen dollars I'll double-dip Super Mario Sunshine with off-TV play.

2: DS Games on 3DS

Now that Wii games have made their way to the Wii U's eShop, it's only natural that their mobile counterparts should do the same. The 3DS is already capable of playing Nintendo DS games right from the cart, so it's really only a small matter to have them launch internally. Unlike the Wii U, the 3DS has a leg-up on this front: there was never a slow-loading DS Mode. DS games and DSi Ware have been able to launch right from the 3DS dashboard since the platform's release. Give them a $10 price point (the DS is basically a portable Nintendo 64, after all) and let us at 'em!

3: Let the WiiWare Run Free!

So far all we've seen of this new Wii-in-the-eShop thing are disc games, and that's a crying shame. There's a plethora of fantastic games released through the Wii's own store. These titles—dubbed "WiiWare" to make them seem more special than their multiplat counterparts—are technically able to be launched from the Wii Mode menu, but who wants to do that? There really isn't a reason to keep them hidden like that, and even if we have to pay some kind of upgrade fee like with Virtual Console titles, it would be nice to finally have WiiWare right on the Wii U menu. Allowing these games to run with the Gamepad would be nice too.

4: Game Boy and Game Boy Color on Wii U

Do you remember the Super Game Boy? Chances are if you have the time to read so much about video games you found my blog you're too young to have ever touched the thing. It had successors on both the Nintendo 64 and the GameCube. The N64's version was severely limited, only able to play Pokémon games in conjunction with Pokémon Stadium, but the GCN iteration is often said to be the greatest way to enjoy a Game Boy game and it goes by the infamous moniker of the Game Boy Player. These devices brought little titles to the big screen in a good way, and featured a variety of tools such as improved color palettes and unique border themes. The themes themselves have seen a spiritual resurgence in the form of the 3DS' system themes. Allowing these titles to play on the Wii U through Virtual Console (with cross-buy, of course) would be marvelous. They've already played with this a little by including some Game Boy classics in the Masterpieces gallery in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (ugh that title). Actually publishing them on a device that already handles their more advanced counterparts is the next logical step.

5: Show Us Third-Parties!

Nintendo has gotten pretty comfortable with Bandai Namco these past couple years—comfortable enough, in fact, to have them handle the bulk of SSB4's production. Despite this, Namco doesn't have a whole lot lined up for the House of M's main offering. While Sony and Microsoft are getting exclusives, Nintendo is largely left to deal in glitchy multiplat releases. Ms. Pac-Man is MIA from both of the Virtual Console stores, and Mr. Pac himself only has three oldschool releases. Soul Calibur hasn't seen a Nintendo console since the GameCube, and even though Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is best played on the Wii U its successor is not going to support the platform at all. This is startling from a company which seems to be on pretty good terms with Nintendo.

Okay, maybe Tekken 7 won't be on the Wii U because of hardware limitations. That's perfectly understandable... but I don't think that's a reason to overlook the Wii U in its entirety. Nintendo is a company that has thrived by reselling products to its most loyal consumers, and it's very clear that they're working to mix things up a bit by bringing everything under one roof. They're making a point of remaking the Zelda franchise, publishing old hits to the Virtual Console, and relaunching the Wii's star titles—it's time for third-parties to do the same. Obviously they can't be expected to do it on their own, but if Nintendo is really intent on proving that old titles are viable sources of income, and that their machine is worth owning, they should put more effort into helping their third-parties port titles. Even if a division needs to be created for the specific purpose of getting third-party titles up and running on the Wii U eShop, that should be done. No title that can run on platforms less powerful than the X-Box 360 (and even the majority of those titles) should not eventually make its way to the Wii U. Nintendo has set this precedent of making old games compatible with new technology, and they're charging full steam into that arena like they never have before. Throw more coal on that fire, boys! It's time to crest that hill.

No comments:

Post a Comment