--Posted by Straydog @ 22:27 PST.
Today I would like to discuss a subject that is near and dear to
many of our hearts: Nintendo. There was a time (in the mid 80's
and early 90's) when Nintendo was synonymous with home console gaming,
sass mouthing aliens freely ate cats, and overgrown sewer turtles
beat up robots (the PAKer knows what I mean). You would say to your
school chums, who were playing with blue Army Ants and trading Garbage
Pail Kids, "Fellows, I am off to play Nintendo now." And
they would reply, "okay, see you later." It was a simpler
time, if I do say so (and I do). No one had a doubt in their mind
that Nintendo would be the one and only console. Sega who? Then
things, as they are wont to do, changed. Many would say that Nintendo
made some bad decisions. I am forced to grudgingly agree. After
all, they did pave the way for (and even assisted in the development
of) the largest and most widely distributed game console so far
(the PlayStation, which then evolved into the PlayStation 2. Do
the math) by disagreeing with Sony. For those who don't know, the
PSOne was originally going to be a SNES CD add on. Oops. And while
the Big N squashed all the competition hands down in the hand-held
market, their initial strangle hold on the market (which included
third party developers who had to sign exclusivity contracts just
to develop for the NES) lost ground to the Genesis and it's meaningless
hyperbole filled "blast processing" and gradually let
the competitor's Trojan Horse through the castle gates. Then while
Nintendo was sleeping on its huge pile of laurels, thousands of
little bandicoots and purple dragons ransacked the Mushroom Kingdom,
making off with a great deal of the older "mature" audience
that found Nintendo to be to child oriented, casual and sports gamers,
as well as Square Soft (now SquareEnix, "Final Fantasy"
and "Mana" series developer) which had been, until that
point, a huge feather in the cap of the SNES.
To make matters worse, Nintendo answered with the N64. While a
competent machine, was still in a cartridge format as opposed to
CD, due to Nintendo's (justifiable) fear of piracy. This is all
fine and dandy for keeping games from being copied but, as it is
hard for software pirates to recreate cartages, it is difficult
and quite expensive for publishers to produce them. This and the
lack of storage and inability of the cartridges to play grainy,
antiquated video caused a lack of third party support. Some games,
if kept in the form their creators intended, would take up 20 or
more cartridges (ahem, FFVII).
This meant that these franchises had to go to 3 or 4 CDs instead
(i.e., PSOne) leaving the Nintendo faithful to wait out the long
droughts between first party titles, excellent though they were.
Fast forward to the present. Is Nintendo doing any better? A little,
I think. The strength of their first party titles is undeniable
and nearly absolute. With franchises in its pocket like Mario, Zelda
and Metroid, Nintendo isn't doing to bad for themselves. They have
also been redoubling their efforts on the third party front with
such exclusives as Capcom's "Resident Evil" series and
the long overdue return of Square. The "kiddie" image
still hurts them, though they have released many mature titles (just
none about Mario killing prostitutes, as the Pres. Of N said at
E3 gaming expo). Not to mention the fact that they are the only
company of the major three that actually makes money on console
sales rather than losing it.
And yet, there is still their baffling decision to stay offline
and focus on Game Boy Advanced to Game Cube connectivity and new
accessories. Connectivity is an interesting prospect, if not impractical
but one must also weigh the merits of the online community. I myself
have no use for it but I still understand that there is money to
be made. As for the peripherals the range from the useful (GBA player)
to useless (E-reader) to strange (Donkey Kong Bongo, anyone?). Let's
focus here, guys!
Speaking of hand-helds, the GBA is finally getting some completion
on three fronts and, though I have no doubt that the GBA can easily
stomp the Nokia N-gage, it may have a tougher time with the Palm
Pilot highbred that is the Zodiac Tapwave and its old rival, Sony,
with the PSP. I hope that Nintendo's execs are taking these threats
more seriously than they say they are.
Still, deep down I have faith that Nintendo will carry on, despite
the odds and continue to produce quality products. I also can't
help but wonder if Nintendo is holding back a little and testing
the waters waiting for the next generation of consoles, of which
it plans to be the first to arrive, not the last. Who knows what
they have up their sleeve but it better be good. Oh, and if they
are going to make a new console so soon, it had better be backwards
compatible. You hear me? Well do you?
Stray Dog's Bargain Bin: my games: $20 or less: their games: $50
or more. That's a 60% savings on the other guys' video game reviews.
Think about it.
This time: "Golden Sun" for GBA used: $19.99
This was one of the first and the best RPGs released for the GBA.
An epic and engaging quest and battle system, mild GBA to GBA connectivity
options this one has it all, and it's priced to move. He best thing
about picking this title up now is that when you reach the ending
(which is a huge tease) you can buy the sequel (which is the second
half of the game, actually). When it came out, it beat the heck
out of that Breath of Fire port (it had aged poorly) and is still
relevant to this day. Do yourself a favor if you like good games
and buy this one while you still can. I'll be watching to make sure
you do it! Don't think I won't!
If you have any questions, comments or derogatory comments for
the Stray Dog, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org