A Lot Of People Wonder About Nintendo’s Console Decisions, But It Makes Complete Sense When Looking At Their Sales History

I see on the internet all the time and am even asked about it in person a lot. That is, everyone says something along the lines of “I don’t understand why Nintendo make such weird consoles and dumb decisions. Why can’t they just make consoles with good graphics. GRAPHICS, GRAPHICS GRAPHICS!”

Firstly, just improving graphics is super boring, and Nintendo is all about doing something the competition isn’t. Unfortunately, most people have that, “if it doesn’t have good graphics than it’s not a good game” mentality. Interestingly, Nintendo’s unique consoles probably have benefited not only themselves, but Sony and Microsoft as well, for many people have a Nintendo console plus one of the “high-powered” consoles, and some people have all three!

But all one needs to do to understand Nintendo’s console decisions is look at the console sales.

NES-Console-Set

Doing a quick wikipedia search, the original NES sold just under 62 million units, which blew literally everything that had come out prior to it completely out of the water and revitalized a dying industry. There wasn’t really any competition against this console, hence it’s high sales.

snes classic

The SNES, as the name implies, is really a super version of Nintendo’s original console. Sales dropped to 49 million units, probably due to the stiff competition from the Sega Genesis. It was during this rivalry that the “Bit Wars” really took off. Sega kids and Nintendo kids constantly argued about graphics and processing speed. This takes us right to modern day, where nothing seems to have changed. PC, Xbox and PlayStation fans are always talking specs and obsessing over graphics and frame rates. I believe this stems from the veterans of the 90’s bit wars, and most people heavily involved in today’s arguments and technical interests were probably kids in that era. And since current kids always look to be more adult, they have fallen into the same tech-obsessed attitude.

n64

Winning out against the Genesis and it’s many add-ons, Nintendo’s next console, the N64, ushered in the first 3D-gaming and four-player multiplayer. This new console sold around 33 million units, seeing even more decline in sales. Sega might have had something to do with this, but the monster Nintendo created is actually to blame.

After backing out of a deal with Sony to make a disc-based gaming console, Sony made their own. The PlayStation took the world by storm for some reason. Probably due to it’s discs, which allowed for bigger games and full-motion video. The console got a lot of exclusivity from third-party developers and also brought a lot more mature games to the industry. At this time, a lot of the kids who played Nintendo and Sega consoles were now teenagers and young adults, so I imagine, like humans inevitably do, they associated those companies and their games to stuff only kids play, like watching Power Rangers and Nickelodeon. It was time to move on to something for big kids. Hence PlayStation became by far the highest-selling console of all time (at that point).

gcn

Seeing how the world was absolutely obsessed with power, Nintendo entered into the next generation with a powerhouse…the GameCube. From what I understand, this was the most powerful console on the market, surpassing Microsoft’s new Xbox, and Sony’s PlayStation 2.

Nintendo had the power, but not the third-party support I suppose, and this one only sold 21 million, coming in third just behind the Xbox. The weakest of the consoles, PS2, for reasons unknown, sold an enormous amount and is still to this day the highest selling console of all time.

nintendo-wii

So with an overcrowded market of everyone competing with power, Nintendo, at an all-time low, must have said, “Clearly it isn’t just all about power, the heck with it, let’s do our own thing.” Thus they birthed the Wii, a console that sacrificed power for innovation. The Wii, especially in it’s first few years, completely obliterated the Xbox 360 and PS3. This was due to the fact that the console was half the price of the others, and more importantly, because literally everyone was curious about the first fully motion-controlled system. The Wii targeted casual gamers like no other console has done before as well.

But after a while, people reverted to criticizing the graphics, thanks to it’s significantly lower power and lack of HD. And casual gamers didn’t really do all that great of a job supporting it through it’s lifespan. Third-party support began to dwindle due to this as well, not to mention the extra work required to put their games on the console.

But that didn’t stop it from becoming by far the highest selling console of the generation and one of the highest of all time, destroying even the NES sales with almost 102 million units sold. But unfortunately, by the end of it’s lifetime, the masses lost interest in the console.

wii u

Which is probably why no one cared about the Wii U. This console tried to capitalize off the commercial success of the Wii, keeping it’s focus on casual gamers, but also putting more of an effort to please serious gamers as well.

While it was the most powerful console out for a year, the new Xbox and PS4 were just around the corner, which again completely overpowered it. This, with the lost interest of the Wii, led to low sales, which basically made the console lose almost all third-party support after it’s first year. That and again the difficulty to develop on and lower power. This became the lowest-selling console ever for Nintendo with only 13.5 million sales.

nintendo-switch

The Switch fixed a lot of the problems with third-party and they relaxed on some of the rules as well. The console is easy to develop on, they got rid of region-locking, and are far more open to putting third-party games on the console. And the console was deliberately weak from the start, so no one can really complain that it was failing to compete with the other consoles, because by now, clearly they don’t care. Though this does still create issues with development, for the Switch is missing out on some big AAA releases, though it does seem to get ports with all DLC included years later, so clearly it’s powerful enough to run the big guns.

But the biggest appeal to the Switch is the fact that it can be played as a home console, or as a handheld, something people have been wanting for a long while.

For whatever reason, while Sony generally dominates the home consoles, Nintendo has always been king to the handheld market ever since the original Game Boy came out in the late 80’s.

There has never really been serious competition in this market, save for the PSP, which sold very well, but the DS, it’s competitor, nearly sold double. While the 3DS fell short of of even PSP sales by just a little, it’s main competitor, the PlayStation Vita, sold practically nothing at all. I don’t know really anything about this handheld so I can’t imagine why.

So with the Switch giving both handheld and home gamers something to love, with all the support from other developers one could hope for, the system has become very successful and is currently the second best selling system by Nintendo to date, and will likely rise to be one of the highest-selling consoles of all time.

I have no idea if anything I said is true, but just looking at the sales and the consoles and their competition, it’s not hard to come up with these theories, and it’s easy to see that this was what Nintendo was thinking, at least to some degree. I’m sure they put a whole lot more thought into it, but this is the gist.

Maybe. But I think it’s clear a hybrid console will be what Nintendo will be sticking to, at least for a while. They might realize they made more money with separate home and handheld consoles and probably will eventually switch back to that, but at least the next gen console will be a hybrid as well.

 

I Played The First Four Levels Of Star Fox Zero…Here Are My Thoughts

 

Before I get into my feelings towards the game, I just want to say that I am not a huge fan of Star Fox. I mean, I like them, own and enjoy every game, but Star Fox is by far my least favorite franchise from Nintendo. The next thing you should know is that when they first revealed the control scheme of this game, I was mortified. I thought it was a ludicrous idea and it ruined the game. I was still going to buy it, but only because Nintendo and Platinum Games both impress the heck out of me with every thing they do. I even looked at a review or two, something I never pay attention to, to see what others thought. And not surprisingly, they were mostly negative, complaints about the voice acting, graphics and ESPECIALLY the controls being the most prominent.

So I did not actually buy Star Fox Zero, but my cousin did day one. Right away he called me and said he loved it. He only played one level, but swore it was the best in the series. So the next day he came over and I watched him play the first level, and right away I noticed it was neat to watch. Now know, I typically hate watching others play video games, but for some reason, the view on the screen made the whole thing seem like a cinematic, rather than someone playing a game. This made it interesting to watch. I also noticed that my cousin, playing the game for the second time only, had the controls mastered and was flying and shooting like a pro. For those who don’t know, the flying is done on the TV screen, where much of the shooting is on the gamepad in a first person cockpit view.

After he beat the level, he handed me the gamepad and I tried the second level out, not knowing any of the controls whatsoever other than moving the gamepad was how you aimed. In under 30 seconds I figured out all the controls and had them pretty well mastered. So right away all the nightmarish reviews confused me. The controls were so easy to pick up and get used to and on top of it, it utilized the gamepad! Something rare for the Wii U, unfortunately.

It was so much fun to fly around in a Star Fox game again, blasting away at everything. It played and looked and felt just like you would expect it to. Switching from looking at the TV and the gamepad was easy and made for a different experience for each view. I found that this new type of gameplay added a certain tactical element to the game. Did I want to look at the screen to better see oncoming threats and fly more precise, or did I want to sacrifice that for more accurate firing? I found this choice to really add to the depth and strategy of the game, which added to the fun and overall experience.

And I know a lot of people would say, “If they made the targeting on the TV, you could have both!” To answer this, I would simply say, true, but then you would have to focus on one or the other anyway, possibly resulting in an overwhelming and crowded experience. With the two different screens, again, it adds new depth and unique characteristics to the game. Plus looking at the gamepad made me actually feel like I was in control of the Arwing, fighting alongside Falco and the others. I almost wished this game had come out for the virtual reality systems to enhance that feeling even more.

Speaking of adding depth to the game, the new Walker mode allows your Arwing to transform into a walking robot thing of mass destruction. The ability to change into this at almost any time during the stage allows you to flip the gameplay on its head with the push of a button. It feels almost like you have entered into a different, yet incredibly similar game. The Walker allows you to access different areas, attack from different vantage points, and more! And again, looking between both screens is amazing and extremely fun.

I then played through the third level, actively switching between flight and Walker modes and had a blast, the controls completely comfortable and mastered by now.

After I beat this level, I played the first level, but this time I tapped my Fox amiibo on the gamepad. This turned all the Arwings into their SNES Star Fox polygonal glory and even changed the sound effects to their 16 bit awesomeness and even added a graphic for the charged laser, something that was not in the original game. Best of all was the original music from the first Corneria, one of my favorite video game songs ever, started playing thanks to the amiibo. Even the Walker was 16 bit, probably the original design of the canceled Star Fox 2 for SNES it was supposed to appear in. That was a ton of fun to play through like that. Having Walker mode unlocked this time, I was able to go through different paths during the level and even defeated the stage boss in a different way, resulting in a different ending cut scene.

Next, my cousin and I tried out co-op. I took the gamepad, which meant I could do nothing but shoot around, while he watched the TV, so he was in control of flying, but also had a laser he could fire straight ahead of him. We had a blast playing this. I loved the fact that I had no control of the ship, because all the movements were a surprise. I felt like I was on a roller coaster when all of a sudden he would barrel roll or somersault, getting a first person view of the maneuvers the Arwing was doing. Awesome fun. We got to fight Pigma of Star Wolf like this, my cousin flying around trying to keep up with the ship, and me blasting away at it. I felt like I was in the scene from Star Wars: A New Hope when they escape the Death Star, but get chased by TIE Fighters. My cousin was like Chewie, flying the Millennium Falcon, and I was Han or Luke in the gun turret thing, trying to blast away at them. Having a feeling like that is amazing, especially since I love Star Wars.

The next part of the mission introduced a new ship called the Gyro something or another. This was great, especially in co-op. My cousin flew around while I shot at things, then he could drop down this little robot thing that I took control of to hack into things. Lots of fun.

So that was my experience from Star Fox. I absolutely loved it, and it just may be my favorite in the series, though I will wait until I complete the whole game when I eventually buy it to make the official judgement, for playing it took all my doubts about purchasing it and incinerated them in an Arwing laser blast. I hope this encourages anyone else on the fence about buying it to give it a shot. It is well worth it.

I already said I am confused about why the controls are getting knocked by reviewers, but I imagine that it is because the developers took a risk and broke away from traditional controls, and change is something a lot of people are not receptive to. Change can be a bad thing sometimes, but in this case, it is incredible and delivers an experience you can only get on Wii U.

Though honestly, the game is almost completely playable if you wanted to just look at the TV screen anyway, or even if you just looked at the gamepad. So work on mastering that if you have issues with doing both at the same time.

As for graphics, is it the best looking game on Wii U? Absolutely not, but it’s still a great looking game, and the graphical style is everything you would expect from a Star Fox game, so again, I’m not sure what people are upset about.

And as for the voice acting…it is just like its always been since Star Fox 64. Again, this game is everything you would and should expect from a Star Fox game, just with a ton of new features and gameplay mechanics that make it a worthy title in series and well worth your time. Plus it comes with another game with it!

Images from computergames.ro

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