I’m not particularly upset about Nintendo’s shift towards casual gamers. Wario Ware, Animal Crossing, and Mario Kart are all awesome series and if I need a second console to play long jRPGs then so be it. Even if expanding the market somehow eliminates niches that are occupied by Japanese RPG developers, which seems counterintuitive, there will still be more good games than I have time to play.
What upsets me about Nintendo is how they allow publishers to use the Wii as a toilet. Boogie could have easily been a good game but it seems EA just gave up halfway through development. Sega had an unknown (to me at least) developer work on their Alien Syndrome game. The best way to pay homage to an arcade classic and to revitalize a franchise is not by making a mediocre game.
Then there are Blazing Angels, Splinter Cell and a handful of other garbage Ubisoft releases. At the bottom of the list we find Bug Island, Rampage, Wing Island and Chicken Shoot. All compelling titles, to be sure, and at least they aren’t bad licensed games, such as:
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
The Ant Bully
Pirates of the Caribbean
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Shrek the Third
Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
Meet the Robinsons
Ice Age 2
The problem is not just that the Wii is home of ports and shovelware. Most successful consoles have hundreds of shitty games we don’t notice because we are too busy playing awesome titles. The Wii lacks awesome 3rd party titles and thus all that’s left is Tamagotchi Party On! The system’s best 3rd party game already came out years ago on two other consoles.
Then there is Nintendo itself. Twilight Princess was great, Super Paper Mario was very good, but right now they haven’t given us much else. I’d love more casual games as good as Wii Sports, but they aren’t releasing those, either.
The DS has been printing money for a while now and the Wii is also making Nintendo some cash. Why don’t they use their treasury to, I don’t know, make games? Nintendo has shown with Retro, Rare, Silicon Knights and Camelot that they have a knack for partnering with talented developers. They should buy another second party or two, work closely with them and make something great. Develop a fully fleshed out console version of Golden Sun or make Mother 3. Pay Sega to make Skies of Arcadia 2, give Square a truck of money and ask for a real RPG in return. Something, anything.
Or, if these games are too hardcore, make some more highly polished casual games. Just do something, for god’s sake. It looks like Nintendo will be releasing games at their standard pace despite the recent influx of money. Yes, Galaxy, Smash Brothers and Metroid are coming out soon but we could always expect a few big games a year from Nintendo. Why not give us a few more, or tell us a few more are coming? Nintendo can afford to corner the casual market and be a serious competitor in the hardcore market, but instead they prefer to just sit on piles of yen.
There is a slight chance that a dozen blockbusters are currently in development for the Wii and Nintendo is just too shy to tell us about them. The company is historically tight lipped, but now is not the time. The 360 and PS3 are wooing me with announcements of games that may not even come out in 08, but never the less, I am wooed. What the hell are you doing with your money, Nintendo?