Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Legend of the 7 Stars: Nintendo keys to victory

This time, we will have a little change of mood, I think you had enough about industry criticism so let's go with something a little more optimistic. This week, we have all heard/read a lot about Nintendo and how they are trying to take the Wii U away from the edge of the precipice and turn it into a force to be reckoned with. Right now they had their first step in the right direction with the success they are having with Mario Kart 8, a game that has put the Wii U back in the gaming community as a cool thing to have. Now been things as they are, many people are still skeptic about Nintendo's machine and  those are the gamers that Nintendo has to get back in order to return into the console race at full strength.

Nintendo can still pack a punch, we all know that.

Most probably you people have seen how in some  pay per view boxing bouts, before the fight starts, they show what are the "keys to victory" for each of the boxers. These "keys" are the things that they should do to maximize the possibilities of winning. Now, we are going to do the same thing and Nintendo will be our "boxer", so let's begin:

Nintendo keys to victory

If you remember this box art, you live through Nintendo's best moments.

1) Revival of dead (or snoozing) important Nintendo franchises.

This is something that has been talked about many times and expressed by gamers all around the world through various forums and media channels. Nintendo has basically forgotten about some of the games that actually made them what they are. Sure, we have our fair share of Mario with the occasional appearance of a Kirby game, but we need some more of that quality content that Nintendo is capable of. It would be very good to see a new Metroid game (possibly of the prime series), a Star Fox game with an emphasis of fighting enemies in the skies or even an F-Zero game with good customization features, lots of unlockables and an online multiplayer mode. There are ways on each of these franchises to make them look fresh, while keeping the good stuff from previous games. It is just a matter of creativity and we all know that Nintendo has that and more.

Project X is one of the most anticipated games on the Wii U.

2) Tap into the JRPG gamer niche

JRPG games are a niche, but a very powerful one. Role playing game enthusiasts are the type of gamer that is very loyal to the games they like and although they have been receiving some love in the form of some few new games, it is not nearly enough. For instance PS4 owners are still waiting for a definitive JRPG to come to their machine while the people behind the Xbox One haven't shown much interest for the genre. This is a great chance for the Wii U to become "the jrpg gamers machine of choice" just like the PS ONE did in the 90's. The Wii already started this trend with games like The Last Story, Arc Rise Phantasia and Xenoblade Chronicles, so it wouldn't be that hard to continue that effort on the Wii U, specially knowing that Nintendo has bought some good rpg game studios that they haven't been using at all. A good start for this would be to present a little more about X and the Shin Megami Tensei / Fire Emblem crossover because these games even with a moderate success can very easily open the door on the Wii U for this kind of genre.

3) Aggressive advertising like the Nintendo of old.

Ever since the Wii released, back in 2006, Nintendo has taken an all too passive stance on advertising. Their adverts look too white and clean and there is no "over the top" factor to make gamers feel like they really want to buy their product (you know...Something called hype?). Right now they are relying mostly on relaxed talking and corny sitcom-like jokes to give a more "mature and family oriented" image, but what they really need to do is to go back to the style they had with the Super Nintendo. At that time, their advertising was radical. It was like they were shoving the message to our faces, a message that said "we are the best, our machine will make your head spin with great gaming experiences, you will have so much fun that you will not be able to turn it off". That sort of thing was a hype machine that made people line up to buy the SNES and made Nintendo look bad-ass and cool which is one thing they need, because skeptic gamers still believe in the nonsensical old notion that Nintendo is for kids (Yeah, go give a toddler some Mario Kart 8 and see how "kiddy" Nintendo is).

Any one who plays zombie you for more than an hour knows that the game grows on you.

4) Shoot down the criticism over the Wii U game pad.

The Wii U tablet styled game pad is something that many gamers have shunned since the Wii U was released, but none of that criticism has any facts to back it up. The game pad, is not as big and clunky as people believe it to be, it is very comfortable to play with and the touch screen is very useful when developers actually use it, so there is no reason for it to be a let down. Nintendo must look for a way to make those skeptics know that the game pad is good and not just a gimmick. One of the ways that Nintendo can do that is by enforcing the use of it on games. For example, on Mario Kart 8, while you are having a race, you can see all sorts of helpful things on the touch screen, things that would be otherwise taking unnecessary space on the big screen. Another example is Zombie U, which is a very good game that makes use of the game pad in very efficient and fun ways that add up to the overall experience and even Pikmin 3 has an excellent menu on the touch screen, full with tools that work wonders when playing the game. In a sense, the Wii U game pad doesn't have to become the next big thing, it just has to be accepted.

It cool and all, but be smart, work it separately.

5) Keep "quality of life" far away from the Wii U.

As Mr. Iwata once said, Nintendo can do other things beside been focused on gaming and he is totally right, because Nintendo has done a lot of other things like trading card games and mini (tiger electronics like) handhelds. So, in Nintendo's search for a next big thing the phrase "quality of life" is one that has been mentioned a lot of times and it can bring a whole new audience to the Nintendo platform... Just not on the Wii U. This is because the Wii U even on its limited marketing, was presented as a hardcore gamer console, sort of like a resurrection of the Game Cube concept in terms of games and mixing it with another concept that is not about gaming, may make things worse for the console, as skeptics will have even less respect than they already have. Let's face it. The machine needs to build a better reputation and that will not happen with balance boards and vital sign peripherals. Don't take me wrong, it is a good idea to tap into the quality of life trend, but it will be best to do it on a separate platform.

Here we hope that the Wii U Zelda game still looks this good.

6) Show the Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U on this year E3.

From rumors to shy announcements and short interviews on the most known gaming websites, The Wii U Legend of Zelda game is something that has been present all along and something that everybody is waiting for since the tech demo they showed when they presented the Wii U for the first time. Right now, the game has built up so much hype that many gamers believe that Nintendo would easily win the E3 battle this year if they just show it. Now with the momentum that Mario Kart 8 has given to the console, it would be perfect to top it off with a killer app and by killer app is the Legend of Zelda console game that Nintendo fans have dreamed about since Ocarina of time and Majora's Mask. There is absolutely no reason to pass on this, because it is in all its right, a golden opportunity. Sort of like been backed to a corner in the heat of battle and suddenly finding a fully loaded rocket launcher just lying beside you, waiting for you to blast away your path and even the odds.

A mystery game that could be anything at all. That would spark our curiosity.

7) Show a new mysterious new IP as work in progress.

One thing that Nintendo can do to keep our minds wondering is to show us a new IP (intellectual property or also known as a completely new game). This would keep faith and interest in the console from suddenly dropping as it has happened before and still gives us a reason to believe that the Wii U is far from out. It would be even better if they could get a respected developer to do it, like Mr. Miyamoto if it is a first party game or any other like Kojima or even one of the developers that has gone independent like Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil, The Evil Within) or Koji Igarashi (Castlevania). This new game has to be barely shown, in a kind of secretive fashion so it looks so mysterious that our curiosity as gamers is poked and the hype train begins to move.

To wrap things up

The momentum is there, Nintendo has a great chance here and those 7 keys to victory are part of what can make the magic happen. There have been a lot of rumors about games and concepts, but in the end what will matter is if Nintendo is capable of changing their image of a defeated old company into a winner in the eyes of those who still don't believe and that can only be done with good content and smart company decisions. Now only one question remains.Will Nintendo deliver the goods? Let's just wait and see.

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