Nintendo is Boring and It’s Your Fault
Last week saw the release of a new Mario Kart title, suitably named ‘Mario Kart 7’. If you intend to purchase a copy, please exercise caution when finding a copy of the shelf as you may accidentally pick up a copy of the previous titles ‘Mario Kart DS’ or ‘Mario Kart Wii’. This is because, to the untrained eye, they look the bloody same.
Ok, sure, the screen grabs look the same. Surely they’ve added plenty of new ideas. They’ve brought back coins, something they scrapped from the franchise previously and they’ve added glider and submarine upgrades – which can only be used in specific sections of the track making them aesthetic changes and not gameplay innovations. Yes, it’s the same characters going around the same tracks using the same power-ups, complete with everything that made the previous games fun and everything that contributed to the massively unbalanced game play. When we say that it’s the same tracks, this works on two levels. As usual the game runs through the same basic track types and always ends on Rainbow Road, but now half the tracks are ‘Retro Tracks’ – rehashes from old games. Wow, they really burnt the candles at both ends on this one.
Laziness has become the calling card of Nintendo in this day and age. Nobody expects them to deliver anything fresh or original, so they don’t bother. They’ve made great headway in the hardware market, being the first out with decent motion control, and managed to line their pockets with money before Microsoft and Sony released that people will get bored with it within a few weeks. When it comes to their games, however, they don’t seem to give a damn anymore. We get the occasional big, shiny new title to help launch a new console, such as ‘Super Mario Galaxy’, but everything else is gimmicky rubbish shoveled into stores because people will automatically buy them.
Let’s look at the most recent Mario releases. Firstly we had ‘New Mario Bros Wii’, which is the exact same Mario formula that has been photocopied every year or so but with the generous inclusion of four simultaneous players. Now you can have Mario, Luigi, Toad and…another Toad bouncing around the same generic environments at the same time. Sadly Nintendo didn’t go out of the way to design levels around this and every reviewer commented that they preferred the single player option. In addition there’s the baffling inclusion of two Toads instead of one of the many supporting characters the Italian plumber has acquired over the years. Nintendo cleared this up – it was easier than creating a separate fourth that would fit the model. Unabashed laziness. Then came ‘Super Mario Galaxy 2’, which they said was the leftover levels discarded from the first game before it hit the shelves. They’re feeding us scraps!
Nintendo stopped producing new ideas the moment that simplistic tennis simulators and bathroom scales could make them more money, and instead recycle their old franchises so frequently that they are starting to lose their colour. Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Pokemon – each new release features the same characters in the same settings using the same equipment with updated graphics and maybe a token new item whose usefulness is limited to ‘gimmicky’. Meanwhile, on the Playstation, we’re seeing mind-blowing advances in motion capture graphics, development of massive, in-depth game worlds, a wide variety of new and original games in addition to the franchises we’ve grown to love continuing in style.
One can’t blame Nintendo for continuously feeding the golden goose, but gamers are the ones stuck in a battery. If every Nintendo owner rushes out and buys every new Mario game or Zelda game regardless of the fact that it will deliver the same experience as the last one then Nintendo will never feel the pressure to try and shake things up. the last Zelda game I really enjoyed was this one:
…and it’s because it was the first one I played. It was a fresh, original game and everyone I’ve played since has been so similar that I’ve gotten bored and not finished it. Don’t bother commenting on this article to tell me what amazing advances have been made in the new game because I’m willing to bet it’s still Link rescuing Zelda in Hyrule using his sword, shield, speedy boots, boomerang and grappling hook. Personally, I’m going to wait until Nintendo want to start challenging themselves again. In the meantime I’m going to keep planning exciting new franchises like ‘Batman: Arkham’.
Now – unleash the fanboy rage!