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An Open Letter To Nintendo

Dear Nintendo

I used to love your products. I was a proud owner of a NES, SNES and N64, and later a Wii. I feel that you have a great capacity for producing quality games and your impact on the industry as a whole is pretty clear.

You ended the video game crash of 1983 by showing Atari how it was done. You created a legion of well-loved and well-recognised characters. You set standards for gaming across the board. You drew in a casual audience with the Wii, attempting to make it accessible to many who would otherwise never touch a video games console.

Because of this sort of thing, for example

However, I believe you have a problem. You may have noticed this problem with the poor sales of the Wii U, which continue to decline. I myself have not bought a Wii U, nor do I have any plans to, and my reasons for doing so are likely a big part of why others are also avoiding the console. My reasons also apply to the 3DS.

I loved the classic Mario games. I really did. I even re-bought most of the main series on the Wii’s Virtual Console, and I thoroughly enjoyed Super Mario Galaxy. But, can I be honest here? I never want to see another Mario game for as long as I live.

Sorry, but it’s true

Ever since the release of New Super Mario Bros and Mario Galaxy, I feel you’ve stopped trying. Let’s be honest, Super Mario 3D Land was a stripped down Galaxy, and the new title Super Mario 3D World just looks like more of the same but with the novelty of a cat costume. Every single NSMB release seems to forget exactly why the original DS game was so exciting – it was a game that captured the essence of the older games and brought it back after a long absence – and each instalment that follows feels like a gimmicky cash-in.

E3 was the moment where I’d had enough. At E3, you announced exactly two Wii U exclusives that weren’t lazy sequels or remakes of existing titles, and neither of them came from within Nintendo (although you are publishing both). Three of your new titles have Mario on the cover (Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros 4). One of these titles was the new Pokémon game, which will inevitably have the same gameplay as every other title in the series since 1998. Another title was a 10-year-old Gamecube game in HD. One of the brand new titles, from Monolith Soft, was given so little information that it seems pointless to get excited over it.

And no, today’s “big announcement” that Luigi is in Super Smash Bros 4 did not change things, because, well, that’s probably the most anticlimactic announcement you could have possibly made.

Is this all you are capable of now, Nintendo? Lazily re-releasing every game in your catalogue and just giving it a HD shine or a cat costume? I’m sure all these games have a decent level of quality, since I don’t think you’ve ever released a technically bad game, but it all seems kind of pointless.

This being the most pointless thing

The Wii U seems so desperate to cash in on the success of the Wii that it’s basically doing the same things with an expensive tablet controller and system stats that are playing catch-up to the PS3 and Xbox 360 in a desperate attempt to win over the hardcore gamers again (a tactic that fails to work because, well, we all have a PS3 and/or 360 at this point).

I want to like your console, Nintendo. I want to have it sitting proudly next to my current consoles, because you have a certain charm and a certain dedication to quality that is admirable next to the faceless corporatism generally expressed by Sony and Microsoft. But when buying a Wii U feels like I’m spending money on something I already own, I won’t be buying it.

What you need is some genuinely new ideas. Not the same old ideas with cheesy gimmicks thrown in, but a brand new title that doesn’t require a second- or third-party developer to produce, a break from incredibly samey Mario and Zelda titles, and a real attempt to produce challenging and engaging games again. I’m not asking for gritty reboots or a push towards more “mature” games. You can keep the family friendly image. That’s all part of the charm, after all.

But when the charm is coming from the company and not the games you’re producing, it’s a problem. The Nintendo Direct announcements are a lot of fun, but it feels like more effort is put into them than the stuff actually being announced. I want to like the Wii U and the 3DS, but you are making it very hard, Nintendo.

All I’m asking is that you give me a reason to be excited by Nintendo games again. I will buy a Wii U if the company starts showing some real imagination again. I will come back. I may not be 100% loyal because I like my PlayStations too, but you will get much more of my attention than you have right now.

Please Nintendo. Let me love you again.

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