Show me the perfect Nintendo game, please

Infendo


If there’s one thing I would have loved to have seen revealed at E3 this week, it was a long-term memory for people who frequent the Internet. Something they could download easily and upload into their cortex. Nothing fancy. I say this because, by and large, the apoplectic reaction to Nintendo’s “sell out” press conference has been baffling.

Forget the fact that I’ve been seen as public defender number one to Nintendo since 2006. This article isn’t some impassioned knee-jerk reaction to every little bit of negative news that trickles out about Nintendo. It’s just a bare bones look at the history of gaming over the past three or so years, and how things like “facts” (and events occurring as recently as E3 2008) make all this bellyaching an unnecessary, foolish waste of time.

First, the presser itself. It was lame. It was poorly executed by certain Nintendo reps (Dunaway, please take a few acting classes or something, sister, please). But it was also filled with a number of Nintendo exclusives and new tech that should have any free thinker scribbling down ideas for the next great game.

Already the MotionPlus hands-on are trickling in, and the majority of them come off pretty impressed with the Wii Sports Resort demos they’ve been playing. In the near future, you really will be having 1:1 sword fights with your friends and enemies. How is this revelation already “old news?” How is that no one is excited about this? You’d think it was old news, however, and all because Nintendo didn’t reveal games like Kid Icarus Wii, or a new Mario title or whatever. Of course, we complain and complain, and all the while these were all rumor titles that were actually created by sites like IGN, not Nintendo. Again I ask, these unconfirmed games weren’t announced, and people got mad about that–Who’s fault is that, really? Nintendo’s, or the people who got mad about imaginary games?

And so what if the presser was bad? All the negative press I’ve read reads like a bad emo novel, and that’s saying something considering how pathetic that social caste has become. “Boo hoo, we got left in the cold by Nintendo. They don’t care about us anymore. Me me me” Well–and here comes the context–a little company named Sony also gave a terrible E3 press conference once upon a time (something to do with crabs’ IIRC), and they’re actually doing just fine today (well, better than before). In the end, this was just a press conference. Things never happen AT press conferences. They happen afterward, when people get their hands on the tech, and developers start developing, and consumers start voting with their wallets. In this day and age of the dying E3 conference, I was not at all surprised that Nintendo blanketed the “hardcore” press corps with crap they didn’t care about. Time and time again these past few years, Nintendo has proven that regardless of the title, they will sell it with their own marketing and on their own terms. And you know what? It’s worked out for them, I think, just a little. (please research E3 now, and the ESA, and then come back and tell me that the Big Three didn’t take E3 seriously this year. I dare you). While you’re at it, please research the mainstream reaction to the Wiimote in 2005, and tell me how it differed from yesterday’s display. Cliff note version: It was exactly the same.

To imply that Nintendo kicked people in the gut yesterday, or neglected anyone is incredibly short-sighted and borderline selfish, and says more about the insecurities of the person attacking a company for branching out with “nontraditional means” than it does Nintendo. It also does 3rd party players a disservice, especially those, like High Voltage, who are legitimately putting their heart, soul, and livelihoods into developing a killer title for the Wii.

That leads into a second point. All this me me me talk has apparently blinded a great deal of us to the incredible third party titles being showcased at E3 this week. Your “core gamer” list goes thusly (but is by no means compete)… MadWorld (plays great, looks cool, says Joystiq); The Conduit (infinitely customizable, looks comparable to Super Mario World, says RMC at GoNintendo); GTA on the Nintendo DS, with wi-fi support; a new Rayman you play with your ass; an Animal Crossing from Nintendo that, for once, contains everything fans had asked of it! (first party game, I know); Guitar Hero World Tour with everything the other systems offer; Mega Man 9 (hard as f***, says WiiFanboy); Spore Creature Creator on DS; Call of Duty World at War, another looker; and on top of all that, both Reggie and Miyamoto and Iwata confirm the Mario and Link dev teams are hard at work on new games for those franchises. And, you can bet Nintendo has more announcements up its sleeve for later in the year. They’re not going to waste major first party IP on a show like E3, and you’re an idiot if you think they don’t have more major titles planned for the traditionally madhouse holiday rush. Seriously, you’re an idiot.

This all leads back into the headline for this article. The keynote was sub-par for some people, but that’s to be expected, especially for a dying, all-but-irrelevant show like E3. Again, context, facts, and understanding about what E3 has become. But the “show and tell” part of the show itself, with hands-on impressions piling in by the hour (most of them positive, and most of them regarding third parties), has led me to ask the question: What’s this perfect game that Nintendo should have revealed to make this bottomless pit of the Internet happy? Are you not entertained?

“How could you feel left out?” Fils-Aime said Tuesday. “The Animal Crossing that we’ve been hearing about that people wanted. Fully connected to the Internet, go to other people’s towns. Plus, as I said, Grand Theft Auto on the DS. How do you feel left out with those types of announcements?”

I dunno, Reggie. I guess people are still looking for that perfect, angelic, megaton-plus game. I fear the day it arrives, however, for such is its brilliance and grandeur that it will block out the sun, boil our oceans, and turn the rivers red with the blood of humanity.

Sorry folks, you can’t have it both ways. Either Nintendo relies too heavily on first party titles to drive its console sales, or it doesn’t. And third parties — just like with the DS — are rushing to the Wii banner with new titles, or they’re staying away. I’ll make a bet that many of the people attacking Nintendo yesterday were the same ones who attacked it earlier this year for “pimping” Mario and Zelda franchises into the ground. And now they’re attacking Nintendo for trying something new, while 3rd party games play in the background? Hypocrites, much?

In the end, the easy thing to do was join the vocal minority and criticize Nintendo for the silliness on E3 stage. It was the predicable thing to do. It was obvious. I refuse to do that. There was so much potential on that stage Tuesday, and the reaction to it so obvious, that it felt like 2005 all over again. People were laughing at Nintendo’s expense, Reggie was looping around the stage like a buffoon demonstrating new tech, and the predictable backlash appeared almost instantaneously on blogs and forums. How boring that is.. How easy. How oblivious to history. How irrelevant it will be in 12 months.

So please tell me, once again. What is this perfect game? The same conversations are happening every year now. The words are rearranged, and the products and games different, but the theme is still identical to what it was in 2005. Super Mario Galaxy wasn’t it, apparently, nor will it be Mega Man 9 or Mad World, or an IR-controlled CoD. The goal posts keep shifting. These games we requested years ago finally come out, but we want something else. We’ve forgotten what we asked for in the first place, because it was easier to look at some jackass Nintendo PR woman making a fool of herself onstage.

The results, by and large, have been consistent, too: the detractors are eventually proven wrong, and Nintendo sells 500,000 units during months when analysts said it couldn’t be done. Then long tail 3rd party titles like Boom Blox become quiet million-sellers over the course of a few months. And yet, we ignore this too, year over year. I guess, once again, it’s easier to conveniently forget such pesky details about ourselves, like how we were wrong so many times before, and attack an easy target FTW.

So, like I said earlier, long-term memory, anyone? I hear it’s going to be a new Wii attachment this winter.

PS — And yes, I appreciate the irony of this post. A long-winded rant from me after negative Nintendo news is, of course, predictable. Let’s focus on the message, however, and not me, shall we?