I am so sick of the same stuff, different year.
True story, conversation I had with a guy at work yesterday on the production line. Young guy, into cars mostly, racing and stuff for reals (you should see his ‘road car’, it’s pretty sweet) but during the winter months he playes video games, WoW, etc.
And we’re talking about the Rock Band announcements for the Wii (no downloadable content), and he tells me, “Oh, I’m a huge Nintendo fanboi. I’ve always bought everything they make. But I sold my Wii a few months after I bought it. It’s awesome they have held their value so well, I really got my money out of it. Nintendo really lost me with the way they handled this one.”
And I know what he meant.
Look, every console Nintendo puts out follows the same cycle.
They develop a console, they have in-house first party software development that puts out polished, solid, innovative gameplay that just shines with style and quality, gameplay that is new and fresh and pretty well tuned.
They sell the consoles and games on the enthusiasm of the community that can see the promise inherent in the new console. It comes out strong, it’s gorgeous, the games blow folks away.
Everyone who buys one then waits for that promise to be delivered on.
Third party developers see the popularity of the console and first party software, and continue to refine the ideas and put them out, and new third party games come out, but highly anticipated titles from Nintendo become few, and release dates stretch out. A few revamped games in their long-running popular brands come out to keep fans going over the next few years.
And that’s it. The console is dead. Longer and longer delays occur between first party releases. Strange peripherals come out that hook up to the regular unit that seem to have little to no actual game use in the long term, just single purpose items that have no broader application, and support for them is hastily abandoned.
The promise, the beauty, the OBVIOUS things that we could clearly see in the vision of the original console never happen. The development path stops halfway and moves on to the next thing, like a ferret boinging down a path headed for a flowerbed, stopping and changing course near a stream, calling out “Oooh, shiny!”
Which console am I talking about? NAME ONE. That’s the one I’m talking about.
The Nintendo consoles have never really cost that much money when I’ve bought ‘em, I’m not an early adopter by nature. So hey, it’s fine. For example, I picked up my Gamecube for $50 on eBay, got a handful of amazing games like Paper Mario 2, and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, and the hardware addon that lets you plug in DS cartridges to play on your big TV, and the Mario Dance Dance Revolution game with dance mat, etc. It is fun, a few great games, not too expensive. I still ahve it, it rocks.
As long as you approach them as good, fun game machines, as is, without expecting them to continue to grow and expand, you are solid.
I changed my style on the Wii. They suckered me in. I did buy early on the Wii.
It just looked too fantastic, it looked like the suits in Nintendo had gotten the idea about the way todays’ game player, young and old alike, are NOT stupid, and want more interaction and more options and new, fresh content all the time.
It was coming with wireless motion sensitive controllers that are inherently ideal for light gun games. Clearly, the thing is a port of the best On-Rails shooter games just waiting to happen.
It’s got wireless internet access, and would come with an integrated marketplace designed for purchasable, downloadable content. It would be far less expensive than the other two next-gen game systems. It would be based around family fun, but also cater to solid console gamers that like their fighting and racing and FPS.
Oh yeah, they suckered me good.
The Wii came out, and I tried the disc that came with it, with the minigames.
Clearly, I was right in buying it. Nintendo had that shooting minigame in there, and it was obvious someone saw how perfect their system was for such games. They would come out in a flood. All the minigames showed that Nintendo had some solid thought into the gameplay for this sucker. It was going to be golden.
The marketplace worked. You could pay for and download content from Virtual Console and play right away, nice and smooth. And Nintendo was not just putting agmes on it, they were throwing open their entire library of classic games eventually. With support like that, they had to be serious this time. Dead serious.
The whole thing was… finished. Clear.
So I bought it.
And once again, there have been a handful of highly refined, polished games that have showcased the capabilities of the system.
And then the third party games that flooded the market with reworked concepts of Nintendo ideas, and ports of crappy versions of things on other consoles.
But where is the follow through? Why have they already abandoned carrying through on the obvious capabilities?
Early on, one announcement I remember being excited about, was the word that third party independent software designers would be able to make their games available on the Virtual Console. I could conceivably buy new content direct on my system from small, in-house software start-ups. The Xbox marketplace had seen this to a wild success, and I wanted it too.
Yes, awesome, thank you, it’s a no brainer, but I was getting worried. But you announced it so maybe you DO have a clue, thank you god.
Well, where is it?
All I see on my Wii are old games that Nintendo is putting out to get more money from us a second time around. Where is the third party Virtual Console presence? Where are actual downloadable game trailers or game demos for upcoming games?
Where are video clips other players have saved from their matches and uploaded to share?
Where the flying f&*k is the downloadable content for ports of games DESIGNED FOR DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT?!?
Are you really this STUPID? How can you have Rock Band, or Guitar Hero, or ANY game that is wide open for expansion through us giving you money for a few more songs to stretch out our enjoyment of it, and NOT do it?
Are you stupid? Is that what it is?
You see this? This in my hands? This is the bucket full of money we want to hand you in exchange for the downloadable content the other console owners get. What, you don’t want it? Why? is it dirty?
I personally work with 5 other people that own Wiis. They all had been really looking forward to Rock band, and had waited to buy it on Wii. All of them just looked at me in shock when I told them there would be no downaloable content int he future, that what came on the disc was it.
And one of them said, “But they could add support for it later, right?”
That one sentence so perfectly sums up Nintendo fanboi-ism. It can’t do it now, and there is no announcement they ever will, but it’s so obvious… hey, they could do it later, right? Right? Maybe they just haven’t thought of it yet.
How about games? When is the next Zelda-quality game coming out for it? You released a beautiful Zelda, we all loved it… it’s been a long time now, Nintendo. Where is the next game of that quality? Anything? Anything at all? Oh, wait, we’re in the part of the development cycle where we get revamps of exiting brands… Mario Kart Racing, Super Smash Brothers, etc.
Where are the light gun games? Not FPS shooters, I’m letting you off the hook for that, you did your ONE. We know you only do one of each type. Metroid was pretty good. I know we won’t see any more after that out of you, you did your one for this console.
But where are the on-rails shooters? Where?!? I’m sorry, but that short little tech demo that came with your lightgun strap-on, Links’ Crossbow Big Game Fishing Hunter does NOT count.
And now, can you say ‘Wii Fit’? Hmm, have we entered the part of the cycle where wierd ass single hardware pieces get released that might have a lot of potential… except we know that it gets dropped without any support, and the potential we can imagine, YOU WILL NOT IMPLEMENT.
You got me. I bought early, I was delighted, I envisioned what would surely come as you capitalized on the potential inherent in your brilliant console design and remote.
Why haven’t I learned? WHY!?!
Look, here is a clue for you. We are gamers. We are also collectors, chasers of hidden things, easter egg hunters at heart, completists at our core.
What games do we love the most? We love ones that let us seek out and find stuff to collect, preferably stuff that makes us more powerful/look cooler/whatever.
Console RPG; start a character, look for stuff to get to customize.
Racing games; play to unlock new cars, new tracks, new wheels, new colors, new suspensions.
If you give us a game, and then you give us some extra features or options we can buy online, then download and use, we will do so.
The whole Guitar Hero/Rock Band thing pisses me off the worst. It really is the capper.
You know what? I love Guitar Hero, for what it promises. But it’s nowhere near what I want for a finished product.
What I want is Guitar Hero or Rock Band, where you buy the damn game and instruments, and it gives you three or four songs from every genre of music. You don’t have to play ‘em all to unlock a damn thing, you can simply choose to play the music YOU like.
You can play your rap, your bluegrass, your country, stadium rock, hair band ballads, death metal, I don’t care, have some of ALL of them. Don’t discriminate, damn it!
Then, you make a large selection of songs, of all genres, available via download. Make it the new karaoke. A large selection. I don’t care if they’re covers, I’m singing along or I’m pounding on my guitar, I could care less if it’s really Charlie Daniels singing “A Country Boy Can Survive.”
If you like a particular type of music, then you should be able to go out and buy 25 songs that are all that type, play what YOU like. And you don’t have to beat 5 tiers of rock songs to get to Free Bird, for f%ks sake.
You like Type O Negative? Dead Can Dance? Do you really want to play the Police to get to your music? I do NOT think so.
Hello? Having no downloadable content at all available for these games when it’s on the other two consoles sends a clear message to me; Virtual Console has been abandoned. It will continue to get old game releases, since there is presumably a department that is converting the old ones and putting them live already in place and funded.
But I sincerely doubt we are just months away from seeing video game trailers, movie trailers, playable demos, or third party independent content on Virtual Console. And if the biggest popular games are coming out wihtout support for it, then yeah… that equals dead to me.
I’m glad I got it for what it already does, it is a great family fun party machine. The minigames deliver on that part of their promise. I love it for Super Paper Mario, I love it for Wario, and I expect that when the reported sequel to Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles comes out on it, if it is in any way as perfect as the original, it will have paid for it’s space on my shelf with that game.
But this is the last time I ever buy a Nintendo product for full retail value, based on my excitement at the possibilities. I’ll buy it for what it does NOW, not what it may do in the future.