Nintendo’s got a lot of problems: Their new hardware, the Wii U, is bleeding money due largely in part to launching extremely close to more powerful hardware from Sony and Microsoft, a lack of third-party support (a Nintendo staple) and a lack of steady, must have releases. I can’t really think of ways in which to fix the first two problems, but after putting a lot of thought into it, maybe they’re actually onto something with the last one.
I’ve been reading a lot of articles about the Nintendo 64 the past week with people reminiscing about one of the first true 3-D consoles on its 18th birthday. Back in the day when the machine was considered new, I went from being in love with it, to putting it away in a box for extended periods of time after I got my first PlayStation. Don’t get me wrong, there are games I love on that machine; Super Mario 64, Star Fox 64 and Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time would make my top ten favorite games of all time list any day, but for every one of those, there was months of waiting for something else to play once I squeezed everything I could out of those games.
While this frustrated me to no end back in the late 90’s, mainly because I didn’t have a lot of friends and my Nintendo 64 was got me through many a weekend (not asking for pity, I had some GOOD times with that machine, man!) it’s got me thinking that having only a few new releases every once in a while is not a bad thing.
There’s so many games coming at us today that we can’t really keep up, especially in this time of year. You’ve got a new AAA blockbuster or two every week, on top of a slew of cheap mobile offerings and for the PC crowd, a backlog of steam games bought on sales that you may not have even unpacked. No one really stops to savour a release anymore because we’re too busy rushing on to the next thing. Sure, we may finish a game’s story through to its conclusion, but how often do we go back for seconds? I’m guilty of this, a prime example being Uncharted 2, a game that I loved, which I haven’t bothered to play through a second time since its release in 2009, because after that game came Brutal Legend, Assassin’s Creed II and another, and another.
It could have been for many reasons, one that I was a teenager with no steady income and couldn’t afford games like I can now or that releases back in the N64 days were allocated to a mere handful of major releases in a year, but I got so much out of each game that I was privileged enough to own. I can’t count how many times I ran through Peach’s castle to gather those 120 stars, flew through the armada surrounding Area 6 or killed those 100 golden skulltulas. The first N64 game I ever owned, the awful Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (I was a MK junke and Sub-Zero was my favorite character, don’t judge,) I played on every difficulty just to see if there was something else and because it was all I had.
Sometimes I would make up my own games within a game to prolong its lifespan just a little bit more. In Christmas 1999, I bought Resident Evil 2 on the N64 with the money I had gotten over the holidays. It was my first game ever with the series, as it was the only one that made it to the system, and for those who have played it, you know how short it is: There’s four campaigns, all of which brilliantly overlap at some point or another, that take around 3-4 hours to complete your first go around. I completed anywhere between one through four of these every weekend because I adore(d) that game, playing on hard or making short saves such that I could watch each of the games cut-scenes whenever I wanted, such was the pre-YouTube days.
It’s something that I kind of get to relive again with this site, as it’s both a blessing and a curse that there’s only a few comic book themed games that came out in the course of a year. A curse in that I can’t fill up this site with content the way a movie site would, but a blessing in that I get to really get into every game that I do get. I’ve gone through Lego Marvel Super Heroes through to completion on both the Xbox 360 and PS4 and collected all the trinkets in Batman: Arkham Origins and gone on to beat it in New Game plus mode, for example. I look forward to doing the same with Batman: Arkham Knight next summer and Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham in under a month. I suspect that die-hard Wii U owners get to experience this as well with the major releases on that device still coming mostly from Nintendo. The likes of Hyrule Warriors, Mario Kart 8 and of course November’s Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will be worn out before the calendar year even ends.
I don’t think that we’ll ever slow down the big machine as gaming is a bigger business as it ever was, but we as players should learn to appreciated each game we get rather than shoving it on a shelf or trading it into EB Games for that shiny new release that’s around the corner. Instead of picking up that new game, why not hold off for a while and pick something off the shelf you haven’t thought about playing in a while. Maybe it’s time for all of us to stop the Steam sales, the shiny new game of the week and just run through Peach’s castle again and pick up some stars. I’m not the biggest Nintendo fan in the world, and have been hard on them for more than one occasion, but perhaps there’s something to be learned from only having a new game every once in a while.