It's not a secret to anyone that many gamers have been very disappointed with the Wii for quite some time, despite its record-breaking success with the casual crowd. With its sub-par graphics, limited selection of promising third party games, and association with the aforementioned casual realm of gamers, the Wii has been the target of much contempt among hardcore gamers.
Now, it seems people have lost confidence in Nintendo because of the slip-up they believe the Wii was, but I, however, still have faith in them. Am I crazy? Maybe I am, but there are certain details that agree with me. Here are a few of them.
The NES was a revolutionary console that essentially was Nintendo's beginning
Nintendo has, historically, been a very strong force in the gaming industry over the past two and a half decades. Starting with the NES days back in the 1980s, the company had a huge grasp on gamers. Nobody was really disappointed, and really, why would they be? The Nintendo Entertainment System was revolutionary, and there were few real competitors. Through the ages, the gaming superpower continued to create innovative consoles with strong libraries to back them up.
They even boasted the first portable console of the "Big Three" modern console manufacturers, the Game Boy, and have had more handhelds alone than Sony and Microsoft have had gaming systems, both console and handheld (not counting different Hard Drive sizes as different systems). Before the Wii, for the most part, people were satisfied with Nintendo's consoles (even the Gamecube wasn't nearly as maligned). Just because the ideas that the company had in mind for the Wii didn't live up to many people's expectations doesn't mean that we should expect all of their consoles in the future to suck. Because of their strong history, I believe that they will make a comeback in the next generation.
It could be said that Nintendo's line of first party titles is unmatched in quality and appeal. Characters like Mario, Link, Zelda, Fox, Kirby, and tons more are loved across the world by millions and millions of people. Because these huge series have been around for about 25 years, they're extremely well known and loved. Even if a game in one of these series happens to be less than perfect, people will still buy it, play it, and many will still enjoy it. Fans of these series such as myself love to see new titles like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, or Kirby's Epic Yarn, two fantastic titles from series that have been around even longer than I have.
Super Smash Bros showcases some of the more prominent first-party characters from Nintendo
However, I know that many people who read this will be thinking the same thing: "But Nintendo has hardly any third-party support, their library is terrible!" Again though, this isn't entirely true. The lack of third-pary titles was largely an issue only with the Wii, because it was so different from the other consoles and developing a game for it was risky. When you look at the differences between the PS3/360 and the Wii in terms of the controls and the graphics, it's obvious why developers didn't port more games over to the Wii. They can't simply switch a few things to make it controllable on the other system, all the graphics have to be redone so the game will run smoothly on the Wii.
If you aren't convinced that Nintendo will be able to garner some more third-party support, just look at what was said at E3 last year. When Reggie Fils-Aime was unveiling the Wii U, he said that Nintendo realized that with the Wii, they took a step back from the core gaming community, and though that ended up working out for them, they wanted to gain the core audience back with their next console. Third-party support is definitely a major part of the core gaming audience, and in making this promise, Nintendo will surely not overlook this.
If you still aren't convinced, look at the 3DS. Nintendo promised at E3 2010 that the 3DS would be a powerful system with a lot of big titles to back it up. Were they lying? No, they weren't. While the 3DS hasn't even reached its prime in terms of the library, there is certainly a good selection of titles to choose from already. A lot of first-party support was put into the handheld to push it forward, and significant third-parties such as Capcom, Ubisoft, and Sega have also had success on the system.
Nintendo was certainly right about having a good library for the 3DS. As a 3DS owner myself, I can confirm that it is a powerful system and is leaps and bounds better than the original DS. In addition, it supports at least some backwards compatibility unike its competitor, the Playstation Vita, and has a library of downloadable retro games to make up for some of what backwards compatibility was lost.
Better Online Support
The Nintendo Network is something to look forward to in the Wii U
In terms of online support, the Wii U will be miles ahead of the Wii. The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection (WFC) will be replaced with the more appropriately-named "Nintendo Network." User accounts will be used instead of friend codes, something we've all been dying for since 2006. It will also have a much better distribution method than the Wii, permitting the purchase and download of AAA games as well as smaller games from their network, rather than "WiiWare" and retro games alone. Though many people are against the digitization of game sales, the availability of both physical and virtual copies of games is something to be looked forward to.
Aside from the issue of user accounts and digital distribution, it's obvious that there are many areas in which Nintendo can (and should) improve their online support in. Security, fairness of play, and server integrity are going to have to be kicked up a notch if Nintendo wants to win back the core audience.
A Dynamic Duo
By this, I mean the combined force of the Nintendo 3DS and the future Wii U. This section will have a fair amount of speculation, but this speculation is by no means impossible. First, I'd like to to point out a similarity that, to my knowledge, hasn't really been brought up.
Is this a coincidence? Only time will tell
As you will see very, very clearly in this picture, the control scheme for the Wii U's controller and the 3DS (with the extra circle pad) are exactly the same. It is possible that Nintendo is trying to standardize their controller layout to match up a bit more closely to that of the PS3 and Xbox 360, but something suggests to me that there's more to it than just that. Is it possible that Nintendo is trying to introduce cross-platform play into their newest generation?
With the commonality of consoles using wireless technology to communicate with each other and with handhelds, I believe it's entirely possible, and even likely that we'll see it in an entirely new way. Imagine being across the country on your 3DS playing Super Smash Bros with your friend who is playing on a Wii U. The possibilities are endless, and if this feature isn't available directly from the start, it's possible that it will be introduced later.
Perhaps the most important argument for console-handheld interaction is that it's been done before. The Playstation Vita has features that allow it to interact with a Playstation 3, so it's already being done by other companies. If you'll remember, some GameCube games actually featured console-handheld interaction. In some games (Pokemon Coliseum and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker come to mind), you could use an adapter to plug a Gameboy Advance into the controller slot of your GameCube and play together. In a more modern example, a few Pokemon games on the Nintendo DS were usable with Pokemon Battle Revolution and My Pokemon Ranch for the Wii.
Nintendo is a company that is fully capable of learning from its mistakes. Historically, they have been able to control their fair share of the gaming market and will continue to do so. Third party support is something that gamers can look forward to in the Wii U and 3DS in the next generation, as well as improved online gaming for both first- and third-party games. There are countless features that gamers can expect to be faced with in the next generation, including console-handheld interaction, a concept that could be extremely useful and fun.
When you consider all the information we have about the Wii U, Nintendo's history, and their promises at E3, it's not hard for me to believe that we are going to see a drastic improvement in the company's performance in the industry soon. With the Wii U expected to release late this year, we won't have to wait long to find out. Finally, here's a quote from Nintendo's own Satoru Iwata:
"The company is aiming to firmly complete the development of the entire system and prepare sufficient software so that the Wii U will be at its best at the time of the launch. Needless to say, we have learned a bitter lesson from the launch of the Nintendo 3DS."
What are your expectations for the Wii U and 3DS in the future? Do you plan to buy these platforms? Thanks for reading and be sure to leave your opinions in the comments below.