4. Nurture Indie Games More
I've emphasized the importance of indie games in today's gaming scene in the past, and for damn good reason. They're fun, creative, plentiful and reasonably-priced, which is why Sony and Microsoft have wholly embraced them. Sony not only dedicated an entire section of their store to indie games, but as seen at E3 last year, they made them a vital part of the PS4's future library. And while Microsoft has been criticized for the way the ways they work with indie developers at times, they still have an eye for securing choice titles to highlight. But then you have indie titles on the Wii U, and this is where Nintendo breaks out the twelve-foot pole.
Yes, some of you will no doubt point to the Wii U's eShop and rattle off some titles, but my point is this: How many Wii U indie games have you seen getting coverage from the press? When Sony or Microsoft debut a new indie title like Guacamelee! or Fez, people notice. In contrast, the Wii U's indie lineup seems to just mainly consist of ports of already-talked about games, and nothing particularly special seems to stand out. For that matter, there are only about three or so exclusive indie games, & most of the titles there barely step out of the "family-friendly" mold Nintendo has been scarred with since '93.
What especially makes this weird is that the 3DS doesn't seem to have this problem at all. Notable indie games like Mighty Switch Force, SteamWorld Dig and Mutant Mudds have all debuted on it to much acclaim and attention. But on the Wii U, it's just another case of Nintendo being interested enough to head to the indie singles mixer at the club but not interested enough to actually get on the floor or have a drink with somebody. Or alternatively, finding themselves hooking up with a potential indie supermodel yet bizarrely feeling ashamed to actually acknowledge any relationships or connections that might have developed. Dammit Nintendo, stop worrying about cheating on Mario or anything! He'll forgive you in the morning! Besides...
3. Stop Relying on Your Big Guns
Given Nintendo's thirty-plus-year history of various quality gaming franchises, it feels sad that the best stuff they could trot out for the Wii U last year was the usual Mario and Zelda (and not even new Zelda). They did give us Pikmin 3, mind you, but even with that the lineup still felt like the same ol' same ol'. Nintendo just seems to keep putting all their eggs into same basket of franchises over and over, and while you can make the argument that the games produced are never bad and thus the basket never gets dropped, the real issue here is Nintendo never seems to consider that the person they're delivering the eggs to might want something other than friggin' eggs for once. Come on, where's the damn bacon already?
And this isn't even the same old case of complaining about Nintendo not making any new IPs (though that being said, Nintendo, make more new IPs already). This is the company that gave us such classic franchises as F-Zero, Star Fox, and Metroid, all of which have been heavily requested for the Wii U yet are suspiciously absent so far. And you don't seem to have any problems putting games such as Pokémon, Animal Crossing, and Fire Emblem on the 3DS, so why not work at getting them on the Wii U as well? A bunch of smaller cannons are just as powerful as a few large ones, you know, and they can cover more ground. So no, just having the same big guns will not blow as many people away as you wish, and as such it won't knock out as many potential customers, thus letting them survive and okay the metaphor is starting to break down a bit. Let's just say that variety is the spice of life, and as such it adds much-needed flavor to the bacon and eggs you want to serve up, so get cooking and whatnot.
2. The New Smash Bros. Game Will Not Solve Everything
IT. F***ING. WON'T.
Sorry, but I had to single this egg out. If there's one thing I can't stand from hardcore Nintendo fanboys (aside from the 143 or so other annoying things about them), it's the current overdeitification of the Smash Bros. games. I fondly recall the Super Smash Bros. as simply being a really fun game. But as time went on, worship of the series seems to have reach the point where Smash Bros. no longer exists as a video game franchise, but rather as a messiah that descends from the heavens every few years to magically summon tit-shaped cheeseburgers that cure cancer for all the loyal fanboys while also single-handedly justifying their purchases of Nintendo consoles. Made even more annoying by the fact that while you can argue that other games like BioShock, Grand Theft Auto, or The Last of Us are overrated and can still find others who might agree with your point, criticizing Smash Bros. in way pretty much has the same effect as a button that instantly summons a lynch mob.
But thinking about it more, Smash Bros. isn't the only one with the same issue here. Go to any article involving Nintendo's potential troubles or a forecast of the Wii U's near future, and there's bound to be at least one guy and his buddies going "Don't worry, it'll all be fine once the new Smash Bros./Zelda/Mario/etc. comes out!" You see, Nintendo has quite a large surplus of fanboys that tend to act like the villagers in the story of the emperor's new clothes. And when Emperor Iwata ends up strutting out naked at times, all they do is reassure him that everything will be a-okay despite him unknowingly walking about with his Master Sword out in the open for everyone to see, and anyone who calls him out his nudity shall be dragged behind a shed by them and introduced to their billy club.
I'm pretty sure I actually had a point here aside from verbally urinating over a chunk of Nintendo fanboys (can't wait for some spirited discussions in the comments!)...oh, right. The point, Nintendo, is that you shouldn't just always listen to your fans and make the few sequels that they've come to expect by now. You're the innovators, dammit, you should be telling them what games you want to make and that they should be excited about. The reason they can say that the new Smash Bros. shall be the savior is because they have nothing but the utmost faith in your games, blind or not. But the people who haven't purchased a Wii U yet aren't the same kind of devotees, so you're going to need to do more to win them over. Just having a new Nintendo console exist is one step that might work for most fanboys, but there's still a huge question mark between that and profit you need to figure out to satisfy everyone else, so get to it.
1. Get out From Your Current Comfort Zone
Look, I know you've probably heard this more than a few times, but Nintendo, you need to get out of your damn comfort zone already. I know it's warm in there with Mario, Zelda, and all of their subsequent followers, but as the old saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So if you actually want to gain anything with the Wii U, you have to leave your little pillow fortress of solitude, think more about a larger spread of games and new non-gimmick things you can try with them, and watch as all of the aforementioned followers join you with their wallets in tow.
And I know this will work because here's the thing: You HAVE left your comfort zone. On the 3DS.
While working on this article, I was noticing a pattern starting to form. And not to borrow a tagline from a video game console that was a complete failure here, but do the math when it comes to the 3DS: A wide variety of quality games from third and second parties given proper attention + a nice spread of games with a wide range of beloved Nintendo franchises + support for a lot of indie games that are also given a good amount of coverage = THE BEST-SELLING SYSTEM OF THE YEAR. Despite some remaining naggy bits like the outdated friend codes and such, the 3DS truly has presented itself as an outstanding gaming platform over time, basically giving you another license to print money. But now this baffles me, because despite having the license, the materials for another printing press, and a way to rig it so that it shoots fireworks that wins over fans and critics alike while printing, you seem to have no desire to do any more printing on the Wii U. Why???
And don't give a half-assed excuse like "but they're different pieces of hardware". The formula above there doesn't apply to hardware, dammit, it applies to games. Because shockingly enough, despite all the hoopla made over new hardware specs and console innovations, it still comes down to having a mix of really good games. So yes, I suppose you could say that the solution is still "MAKE MOAR F***ING GAMES" in the end, but you can't just crap out any old game and say that you've satisfied the wishes of the fans, even if you took a long time to crap out a solid gold brick.
Nintendo, you need to start playing with power again, like you expected your fans to do back in the glory days. And much like the glory days, it needs to be about a constant stream of fun games that can appeal to as many people as possible, not just the cringe-inducing "casual" gaming beasts that you created with your own Wii years ago. And you didn't succeed back then by putting all your stats into the Game Boy while leaving the Super Nintendo with zero charisma and intelligence. So whip out the ol' "Copy/Paste" function and use one of your major successes as the model to create another. It's that easy. Of course, we might find out later today whether or not you've figured this out already...here's hoping you bring out a selection of games that proves you've still got it (so the rest of you, stay tuned).
And if worst still comes to worst, I guess to can have Princess Peach turn tricks behind the club mentioned earlier if you're really desperate and need some more money. Her cake is quite delicious, I hear.
Previously by Kyle LeClair:
The 10 Most Kickass and Kid-Friendly Modern Downloadable Video Games