Star Fox Adventures was awesome. The only game Rare made for the system and it was superb. I spent the evening of 31 December 2002 finishing it off and I wouldn't have swapped it for any New Year's party around (not that I received any invites).
Relationships are an awfully troubled matter. By managing to affect our emotions in ways we sometimes did not even know it was possible, they make us feel like heaven even when the slightest detail clicks together, but - at the same time - a tiny mishap may cause a hurricane of emotions that, when not properly handled, can cause a big deal of hurting. It is roller-coaster ride full of ups and downs beyond compare, and while some of those adventures last for a lifetime, others end before you are able to realize it. One of the main differences between everlasting rides and short ones comes down to people's ability to - when reaching the bottom of the steepest slopes - gather up all broken pieces and start climbing up together towards another peak. Doing so takes time and, most importantly, forgiveness, which can be brought by the sweet remembrance that those great moments that built the relationship in the first place can still happen many times if the disappointment or bitterness is forgotten.
Even though that mostly applies to human relationships, anyone who has ever been passionate about a sports team or devoted to a rock band can relate to those feelings quite well. As it turns out, videogames are no exception. It is hard not to find a gamer who did not once claim that they had the greatest day just because another great-looking installment of their favorite series was announced; or that was sulking in disappointment that their highly anticipated title got a harsh reaction from most media outlets. Whenever there is passion, time, money or dedication involved, there will most likely be intense emotions, and to most of us gamers watching a company that is a favorite of ours do well is similar to watching your team win a championship, your favorite rock group walk into the Hall of Fame or even patching things up with someone you care for.
With over thirty years of gaming on their backs, Nintendo and their fan base have been through as many crises as a couple who has been married for the same amount of time. How could we possibly forget the day when Nintendo decided to dump Sony and their CD add-on to the Super Nintendo? Not only did it lead to the creation of the Playstation brand, which would go on to gain most of the third-party support that made the Super Nintendo so ridiculously great, but it would also cause Nintendo to strike a deal with Philips so for the creation of another CD add-on. If things were not already bad enough, Nintendo also dumped Philips and through some sort of bizarre loophole in the contract, Philips gained rights to produce three The Legend of Zelda Games. Nintendo's failure to see that CDs were the future made the company lose its software support, and - worst of all - put a big stain on the Zelda franchise, whose fans will forever be haunted by The Faces of Evil, The Wand of Gamelon and Zelda's Adventure.
Ever since landing on the gaming market, that has not been Nintendo's only corporate decision to hurt their fans. In fact, due to how immediate the effects of that were felt, the Rareware debacle possibly caused much more heartbreaking than the Super Nintendo and its CD add-on. Alongside Nintendo, the company took the Nintendo 64 to good gaming standards, and in less than a decade Rare made shooters relevant on consoles with Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark, beat Mario on his own platforming domain with Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, crafted the only racing game that was able to compete against Mario Kart with Diddy Kong Racing and made the biggest game of the system with Donkey Kong 64. That stellar track record on the Nintendo 64, paired up with the company's past successes on the Super Nintendo were not enough to stop Nintendo from, instead of treating the company as one of their most valuable assets, dealing them to Microsoft as a cheap commodity.
For a company known for its consistently amazing franchises, it is surprising to see that Nintendos poor decisions extend past the business realm and occasionally reach their own characters. In 1994, Nintendo released Super Metroid a game that is often considered to be the best title on the Super Nintendo - a system packed to the hull with amazing software - and the best sidescroller of all time. Undoubtedly, the character of Samus was at the peak of its popularity and the ground was more than set for the start of an incredible series of releases. However, instead of following Super Metroid with a sequel, Nintendo proceeded to keep Samus away from the spotlight for almost a decade. It is the gaming equivalent of an actor following an Oscar-winning performance by going nuts, and deciding to live inside a cave and making everybody wonder if we would ever see him again.
On the list of characters - and fans - who suffered the pains of Nintendo's astounding decisions, Link and Samus are, unfortunately, not alone. After a successful string of glorious platforming gems - including the flawless Donkey Kong Country 2 - Nintendo seemed unable to know what to do with the simian. And since the answer "more platformers" apparently lacks the controversial and heart-breaking potential, they decided to hand him and pair of Bongos and make him star on Nintendo's unappealing response to Guitar Hero. A similar fate fell on Fox's head, when instead of producing more space shoot em up masterpieces, the character was taken out of his Airwing to star in one adventure that felt like a quickly put together Zelda game and in Star Fox Assault, whose on-foot missions were closer to broken and boring than to great and exciting.
Even the company's biggest superstar is not safe from being a source of frustration and conflict in the relationship between Nintendo and their fans. Anyone who is able to recognize the names Mario is Missing, Mario Clash, Mario's Time Machine and Hotel Mario and Hotel Mario knows that while Mario does have the ability to turn unpopular gaming idea into quality best-sellers - Mario Tennis and Mario Golf - his presence alone does not make a broken game good. With the exception of Mario Clash, which was featured in a system whose concept was simply too far ahead of current technology, those titles are the fruits of an era where Nintendo was licensing Mario to other companies as if the character did not have a legacy to protect, and the results were embarrassing at best.
Through so many years of so many letdowns, it is clear that some fans turned their backs on Nintendo either due to one of those doubtful moves or because of the sum of all parts. However, the number of people who decided to forgive, wait and develop - once more - trust in the company's abilities were fairly rewarded. For every Eastern game that was not localized to the West there was an incredible RPG, for every year that Samus stayed in the limbo there were five hours of gameplay on the fantastic trilogy that followed the lull, for every horrible Mario game there was an adventure featuring the plumber that blasted into historical greatness, for every ridiculous song in Donkey Konga there was a stage exploding in creativity in Donkey Kong Country Returns, for every CD-I Zelda game there were many unforgettable Hylian adventures, for every inadequate Star Fox game there was a new IP or a fun adventure starring a reborn Kirby and for every botched up relationship with third-parties there were unexpected partnerships that resulted in incredible titles.
The energy that it takes to forgive is directly proportional to emotional distress that brought harm to the relationship. Thankfully, by realizing that some relationships are worth rescuing, humans are totally capable of finding, in the potential of a relationship and in the good memories of the past, the will to let bygones be bygones. The reward is powerful: though past adventures are sweet, the best might still lie ahead and it might remain forever undiscovered if the ability to forgive is not achieved. If everything still goes wrong, there will always be old pictures to look at every once in a while, or that old dusty Super Nintendo with cartridges full of bits of gaming greatness.
Legend of zelda, metroid, mario, donkey Kong, all these games are great games. This article makes me want to turn on my wii and play some zelda again. Good work.
Good to see you back up and blogging again, Pierst. Looks like GS granted our wish to bring back the soapbox somewhat. I don't think we'll ever get the 200 comments we used to get back in the glory days of the soapbox, and I'm not super happy that GS dictates what we write--But I think I'll try my hand. It's been a while since I've written. I'll wait for the new topic though--I know nothing about game novels or anything like that.
As far as the blog goes, I really enjoyed it. I wasn't able to find the time to write a blog this time around, but I was going to write about Nintendo. This was pretty much what I wanted to say, except said much better than I ever could have said it. :P
I think that's why Nintendo is my favorite. Sure they make stupid decisions, but with those dumb choices always seems to come something great--Masterpieces even. If Nintendo can keep cranking out legends like SMG2 or Skyward Sword, I'm willing to put up with their occasionally outlandish behavior for the most part. I'm really holding my breath on whether or not Nintendo can keep up their legacy with the Wii U.
Once again--Heavily enjoyed it--Looking forward to the next.
@nintendo-naut Thanks a lot! I am not going to try my hand on this week's theme either, I do not know anything about game novels, so I will wait for next week too.
And I agree with you, Nintendo always finds a way to make up for their mistakes.
Great read! Nintendo continue to make a lot of mistakes. NSMB2 seems among them (really milking the "New"), for instance. I'm certainly willing to forgive them because for every slip-up, like you said, there will be a Super Mario Galaxy 2. And that game is my second favorite game ever.
I've become a mainly PS3 gamer this year and last because I had to catch up on releases and because the Wii is done and I don't have a 3DS yet. I need to change that soon, especially for Paper Mario Sticker Star and Luigi's Mansion 2!
@dapman418 Thanks! I also feel Nintendo is taking the "New" franchise a little bit too far, we have had too many of those games in too little time. And yeah, sooner or later the 3DS will become a must-have and those two games are a big reason for that. I cannot wait!
i forgave nintendo for samus' lack of major console presence for a while when they came out with metroid prime ;)
@zyxe It is easy to forgive a company that can create something like Metroid Prime out of a franchise that had stayed frozen in time for almost a decade.
Nintendo may be one of the oldest and the most influencial, but they are not my favorite game company ever. Also, it is not right for Nintendo fanboys to dismiss Sony, Microsoft, Valve and Blizzard simply because they are not Nintendo related. Don't forget about about the Virtual Boy and the Philips CD-i. Nintendo has it's high points and low points and makes mistakes just like any other company.
@samanthademeste I agree, Sony, MS and other great gaming companies should not be dismissed. And Nintendo, like all of them, makes plenty of mistakes. I would say Nintendo has probably made more mistakes than any of them combined, given how they have been around for so long.
I don't think I can forgive Nintendo for a lot of the things they did. I think one of their biggest offenses is the way they use nostalgia and re-releases/ports of old games from the NES, SNES and N64 to keep their fanbase hooked. No matter how bad they are screwing up now, they can always point to the past and say, "Remember when?", and all too many Nintendo supporters will look the other way and make up with them.
I remember back in the early 2000's Nintendo released this device called the e-Reader, which you put into your GBA and bought cards for, and when you swiped the cards through the e-Reader you could play classic NES games. Though the device was kind of lame and a major flop, the concept appealed to me - I could revive old NES games from codes on 5 cards. I went out and got most of the early NES e-Readers ports, which included such games as Balloon Fight, Urban Champion and Donkey Kong - to name a few.
Less than a year later, all of these games were included in the game Animal Crossing as collectible games in-game. It was cheap, because I had spent money on the cards for these games individually, only to have all of them thrown in as an added bonus in another game. Needless to say, it kind of made the e-Reader obsolete to me. But it didn't stop there. Nintendo went on to release several NES games as regular games for the Gameboy Advance in an 'NES Classics' series. And a few years later, all of these games were made available for download on the Wii Virtual Console.
So Nintendo made money off of these games several times, including their original releases. It's just one small example of their nostalgia abuse.
Not enough? Well, I'll give you some more to think about.
In late 2001 I was a launch adopter of the Gamecube, my parents buying me the system and tucking it away from me til Christmas that year. When The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker was announced, I was pretty excited about it and saw potential in the game, despite much negative response surrounding its reveal. I went and pre-ordered the game, and as a bonus, received a copy of The Legend of Zelda: OOT and OOT Master Quest.
At the time, I was thinking this was a real privilage - I had OOT on my Gamecube, as well as a rare version of the game that few Americans had played before. And I also had a brand new Zelda game on the way! It felt like a real treat for me, someone who had faith in the Gamecube when so many criticized them for being too 'kiddie' and behind the times. It was like Nintendo said, "Here, Andrew - since you are such a good fan to us, here is a free game for you."
Imagine my disgust when, a year or two later, Nintendo packages the 'Zelda Collection' with all new Gamecubes for a while. This includes not only Ocarina of Time, but also the first two Zelda games and Majora's Mask. I get that Nintendo did it to push Gamecube sales, but it was really crappy to their fans who supported them early on with the Gamecube and the Windwaker release. It was like they gave us less, and gave the people who finally decided to hop onto the Gamecube wagon more.
Aside from that, Nintendo really just seems to pick up darts and throw them at random game ideas written on pieces of paper and taped onto the walls of their offices. Then they act like these really weird and undesired hardware features are something we all must try so that we know true fun and simplicity when we play games. But in all actuality, Nintendo really just seems to lack efficiency, direction and ideas that evolve and progress the stories and gameplay of all of their major game series'.
Might sound a little bitter, but I had to add my 10 cents. If you ask me, there are many reasons why Nintendo doesn't deserve forgiveness. Unfortunately it doesn't matter if you forgive them or not, since they made a ton of money off of the Wii and really have nothing to lose right now.
@Ovirew Personally, I would not qualify the examples you gave as actions that need to be forgiven. Nintendo has a huge legacy, they are the company that has been around this market for the biggest amount of time, so I think it is nice of them to make that legacy available to us in as many ways as possible. Sure, they get money by doing so, but that is pretty much the way the world works, and there are plenty of people out there willing to give Nintendo their money to have access to that legacy.
As for the Zelda Collection and Master Quest, I think it is pretty much the same case. They kept it exclusive for a while to some fans, but eventually made it available to a lot of people, and - recently - with the release of OOT 3DS any Zelda fan can experience Master Quest, including myself that could not pre-order WW since I live many miles away from the US and that had already bought a GC when they packed it with the system. I think the more people have access to it, the better.
There are some things regarding Nintendo that I cannot forgive. I cannot forgive them for making a grossly underpowered machine (the Wii), because every time I play a great game on the Wii, I keep thinking how much better it would have been had the graphics been competent. Sure, graphics aren't everything, but they are icing on the cake, and even then, Nintendo still doesn't get it. Their Wii U will be on par with current generation consoles, but they are seven years late.
This doesn't make me anti-Nintendo, and I still plan on getting a Wii U, but I will always be bothered by the fact that Nintendo never really applied themselves. They failed to give their fans everything they had, and it honestly feels like they're simply throwing bones to their fans. For me, it's not really a matter of having to forgive them for their past disappointments, it's more a matter of continuously being disappointed by them for always wanting more.
@JustPlainLucas I see where you are coming from. It is a shame the Wii was so underpowered, but it was their business strategy and even though it did hurt some games, it was/is a nice system. It has a large number of flaws, but it is fun and I have quite a large collection of great games to play. =D
Another great blog from you that covers various grounds.
I think for anyone to turn their back on Nintendo is foolish, despite their mistakes. Whenever Nintendo releases a quality title, there's really nothing else like it (people like to complain about the lack of new IPs, but Nintendo proves that new ideas transcend old faces). Not to mention they seem to be the only first-party (or any party these days) who is willing to try new things and not just rely on shiny graphics and cinematic presentations (Sega actually rivaled them in terms of innovation back in the day, to bad it didn't last).
I enjoy my 360 and PS3 (though the former certainly gets more playtime), but their major releases always feel like the same schtick. How many times have I played a game in first-person that opens with my character waking up in the midst of battle (or war, or on my way to execution) with a bunch of troops telling me to "get in the game soldier" and things along those lines ("whoamigosh, it's like they're talking to me!"). And then the opening credits begin during the battle in an almost self-indulgent manner, yadda yadda yadda.
I guess what my point is is that people always complain about Nintendo for things like an overabundance of sequels and staying in a "comfort zone" and things of that nature, but it seems the competition is even more guilty of these (apparently the fact that GTA games are split up into "episodes" means that there aren't fifty-odd games in the series). And at least Nintendo is willing to try new things and express new ideas, they just use familiar faces to do it (with that said, Star Fox NEEDS to go back to its roots and stay there).
Everyone else just seems to emulate movies, and they reap a bunch of praise for it (case in point, Beyond: Two Souls, which so far looks generic and promises nothing special, but it has Elen Paige in it so we're supposed to care).
Man, I miss the Nintendo vs. Sega days...
@SloganYams I don't really agree with your feelings about Nintendo doing new things. Yeah they do new things with hardware, but pretty much every Mario, Zelda and Pokemon game is the same thing over and over and over again.
I agree that most XBox games are just as you described them. That doesn't mean Nintendo isn't the same way.
I also think you're maybe living in the past, based off of your Nintendo VS. Sega nostalgia. Games have evolved a lot since then, we have more games than just basic platformers now. We can still make platformers, but we can do a heck of a lot more with today's games. Maybe you think that anything after the 16-Bit era is bad, but I think the polygon did a lot for gaming. I think it's more than likely games would have become stale and hit a dead end otherwise.
@SloganYams You perfectly summed up why I like Nintendo so much. They are always trying to be different, and although some of their franchises are old, they have managed to stay reasonably fresh by being constantly fed with gameplay innovations and great concepts. The Wii might not have the strongest of the lineups, but there are more Wii games that truly draw me than there are for the 360 and PS3 combined. Those platforms have amazing titles with top-notch technology, but just a small portion of them are significantly unique for me to be attracted by them.
Well as bad as CD-I Zelda and Hotel Mario is they were never on a Nintendo machine. As for Mario is Missing and such alot of companies made dumb edu-tainment games. Theyre for little kids anyway. So I dont think people should hold these things against them.
@wildcat2000 They might not have been on a Nintendo machine, thankfully, but Nintendo should have never licensed Mario and Zelda away or be caught in a loophole that would put those characters in the hands of lesser companies.
Well most all companies make dumb decisions one time or another...Nintendo - CD-I, Sony - PS3 pricing. SEGA made so many they had to go 3rd party.
I'd also argue that Nintendo's poor decision-making has extended to their more recent consoles. The poor third-party support, lack of compelling online functionality, questionable success of motion control, and odd decision to consistently stay behind in terms of graphics technology have really haunted the GameCube (obviously not on the motion control or tech side), Wii, and possibly the WiiU as well.
But, like you said, when Nintendo makes a good game, it makes it easy to look past their mistakes. Even though I occasionally regret purchasing a Wii, being able to play games like Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports, and Skyward Sword makes it all worthwhile. Not to mention the obvious fact that their portable systems are absolutely incredible.
@WTA2k5 Yes, Nintendo's poor decisions regarding the CD media is the main reason why nowadays they have so little support from third-parties. It is still hurting them almost 20 years later.