Nintendo has been around forever. Think before you started playing video games, before you were born, and chances are Nintendo was already there. Now when a brand is around for so long, it gets synonymous with certain attributes. The same thing has happened to Nintendo. They are usually coupled with strict quality control, a secretive approach to their company policies and churning out some of the best games this world has ever seen. Unfortunately with time, they have also accumulated some tags, like the ‘Nintendo is for kids’, ‘Nintendo’s hardware is underpowered” or ‘Nintendo hates third parties’. Sure some of it is Nintendo’s own doing like we discussed in an article before, but most of what you see in memes and comments when it comes to Nintendo bashing is just plain lying. Let’s look at 5 myths that popular culture has spawned about Nintendo.
1. Nintendo only make kiddy games with cartoon graphics:
Nintendo have a huge catalog of IPs and while they do have games that can appeal to younger audiences such as The Legendary Starfy, Kirby and Animal Crossing, several others are not meant for them, case in point: Metroid, The Legend Of Zelda, Earthbound, Fire Emblem, F-Zero, Fatal Frame – just to name a few, and all of these also offer challenging gameplay as well as engaging stories.
Both Metroid and The Legend Of Zelda have some pretty mature vibes, with the former relying on a sense of isolation, dread and exploring the unknown (not to mention, has hard as nails bosses) while the latter focuses on brilliant puzzle design, exploration and fighting for what you hold dear (with Link’s bold quests to save Hyrule and her denizens from evil).
Even Earthbound, despite it’s cartoon-ish look can get surprisingly adult, with dark humor and mature portrayal of characters. Don’t mistake this series for your typical JRPG; it’s a journey, not about a hero saving the world, but an ordinary young child who battles not monsters or dragons, but ordinary beings like a stray dog or a hippie. Add in a brilliant and crazily varied soundtrack, fun and wacky combat system (that also incorporates the sound design), memorable and heartfelt characters and a great plot, and you’ve got a recipe for an out of this world RPG experience.
Fire Emblem captures the sense of war with its tough strategic gameplay, engaging dialogue and relationships between comrades and perma-death that threatens to wipe out your favorite character for the rest of the game, lest you make a single miscalculated move.
F-Zero’s fast paced races and brutal track design pose a challenge to even veteran gamers, requiring fast reflexes and track layout memorization.
While the rights to the Fatal Frame IP are actually owned by Koei Tecmo (the original developer), Nintendo does co-own the rights to the games starting from Fatal Frame 4 on the Wii – and survival horror games aren’t for kids, are they?
2. The Wii is for kids/has bad graphics/has no good games:
While its true that Nintendo did bring out the Wii primarily to attract non-gamers, it did have plenty of mature and core first party offerings to enjoy. That’s evident with excellent first/second party Wii games that had both impressive visuals and solid performance, like:
- Super Mario Galaxy
- Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
- Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess
- Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword
- Xenoblade Chronicles
- The Last Story
- Pandora’s Tower
- Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
- Donkey Kong Country Returns
- Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
- Zero: Tsukihami No Kamen (or Fatal Frame 4: Mask Of The Lunar Eclipse)
All of these show that Nintendo did not forget their core fanbase and these games were also well received by both critics and fans alike, with Super Mario Galaxy and Xenoblade Chronicles being hailed as two of the best games ever made.
Even third parties did not hold back from bringing mature-oriented games to the system, with some examples like:
- Call Of Duty: Black Ops
- Resident Evil 4
- Monster Hunter Tri
- Red Steele 2
- Dead Space: Extraction
- Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
- Deadly Creatures
- FAST Racing League
- The Conduit
I should also mention that all of these were technically and visually impressive for a console that’s pretty much an overclocked GameCube – from COD BO being a 1:1 replica of the other versions (despite the system having no native support for the IW Engine) to The Conduit boasting engine features that pushes the hardware’s limits with effects generally not utilized by Wii games, such as bump mapping, real-time lighting and shadows. While most of these games got good reviews, the COD Black Ops (due to performance issues) and The Conduit did end up being mediocre games.
This is only a small sample of underrated gems among the Wii’s shovel-ware infested library. Speaking of shovel-ware, even the PS2 is home to tons of garbage in it’s library of 4000-ish games (more than the Wii, which has a library of about 2000 games) and it was quite popular among non-gamers as well, and not to mention was weaker than the GameCube and Xbox… so one has to wonder – why was the Wii slammed for having shovel-ware and weaker specs but not the PS2? Perhaps demographic and brand name has to do with it (which were strong on the PlayStation side).
3. They only rehash Mario and don’t make new IPs:
To be frank, nostalgia can only take you so far and milking can only be tolerated to an extent (Call Of Duty and FIFA fans are familiar with the latter) but neither are the reason behind Nintendo’s success; their IPs are still loved because they manage to breath fresh air into their franchises by injecting new gameplay mechanics, while still maintaining the core functions.
In case of Super Mario: 64, Sunshine, Galaxy, 3D World and the upcoming Odyssey all are very different games despite being 3D platformers; each have a central mechanic that sets the game apart, be it the FLUDD from Sunshine or cap manipulation from Odyssey as well as a variety locales and level design suited for different gameplay mechanics of each game. The most recent Legend Of Zelda entry, Breath Of The Wild breaks all traditional Zelda conventions to bring an entirely new Zelda experience; it is hard not to be impressed with Nintendo for showing the courage to try out so many different things with one of their most sacred IPs – but then that zeal for variety is what makes Nintendo, Nintendo so to claim that Nintendo don’t try new stuff is quite ironic.
To prove my point: ARMS, Splatoon, Codename STEAM, Pushmo, are some of Nintendo’s newest IPs and each one present a fresh take on their respective genres. And ALL OF THEM are NEW IPs that also bring new ideas to the table: like ARMS being a unique spin on boxing due to the extendable and springy punching mechanics and Splatoon focusing on ink-based map control rather than killing enemies, something that’s not been done before in third person shooters.
4. Nintendo always makes under-powered hardware (compared to the competition):
This is perhaps the most used argument against Nintendo. FLASHBACK: the NES, Super NES, Nintendo 64 and GameCube also existed; storage issues aside, the latter two were more powerful than their competition, the PS1 and PS2 respectively, and the former two were no slouch during their generation either. Ultimately, the only underpowered home consoles from Nintendo are the Wii and the Wii U – with the former and latter both being an entire generation behind in specs to their respective competition.
As for the Switch, it’s a hybrid system utilizing modern mobile tech and not a traditional console like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One; it has to contend with issues like form factor restrictions, a battery, a screen and low power draw, not to mention very different in terms of demographic and execution – so it’s kind of pointless comparing it to Sony and Microsoft’s stationary consoles.
5. Nintendo ignores third parties:
This actually held true, right up to the Wii. The NES/SNES/N64 era Nintendo was quite arrogant and loved turning a deaf ear to developer requests; while they softened a bit with the jump to GC/Wii, they still preferred doing their own thing. The Wii U seemed promising at first, what with huge launch support from third parties and major projects like Bayonetta 2 and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, the system’s failure ended up obstructing their progress; it was not until the Switch that they would finally redeem themselves.
With Tatsumi Kimishima in charge as the new leader at Nintendo, they have been more understanding towards third parties by engaging with them, helping them out and seeking support. Take Capcom for example, who requested Nintendo to increase the RAM amount in the Switch. Nintendo heeded their request by upping the memory to 4 GB (from what likely would’ve been 3 GB). They’re also welcoming indie devs with open arms as seen with the humongous indie support for Switch, exclusive titles and collaborations (like Snipperclips). A small step, but one in the right direction.
All this points towards a new Nintendo, one that’s finally outgrown their old, “casual” image. They’ve at last put their confident face on and stepped back into the ring – now we’ll have to wait and see if they emerge victorious.
So that was our attempt at debunking the 5 myths that are commonly associated with Nintendo. What do you think? Do you agree? Do you think Nintendo has done enough? Let us know all this in the comments.