Nintendo – From Childhood to Adulthood
N. „Guten Tag“ Burg
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarin of Time. Aahhh … this brings back memories. We all remember our childhood. We remember the lightheartedness, our favorite toys, a harmless and innocent time. For my part, I owned the local skate park, rode my bike through our surrouding areas, and played videogames. My brothers and I had a blast figuring out Turok 2 (plus its multiplayer), enjoyed Bomberman (also multiplayer) and – of course – Nintendo games. It all began with Super Mario Kart for the NES. Quickly adapted to Pokemon Blue, Pokemon Snap, Super Mario 64 and one the greatest videogames of all time: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Which brings me back to …
Many of us owe Nintendo our childhood. We all had our certain systems and favorite games. All of us had a blast. The thing is, Nintendo is not actually for kids only. It was just the Zeitgeist. Gaming was coming out of the eighties, the nineties were about to end, and due to globalization and the internet; gaming, became a worldwide thing. People of all ages bought games or rented them. Games shared their cartridges and the rise of the CD made piracy a big thing. It was a fascinating and exciting time. We literally played everything on the market. There was no Steam store filled with 99% trash games. There was no digital market places for keys. All people – played all the games. And Nintendo reached – before it even began – its zenith.
In 1998, two game changing games were released: Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64. There were no spin offs at the time. There were no remakes. There was only the Nintendo 64 and those particular video games. Nintendo managed to crack the 3D code and used it to its full potential. Both of them. And it lay the foundation for the Nintendo formula. Which meant: no progress, no change, no risk; only re-iteration. Let’s examine the factors by those two games. To say one thing upfront: Majoras Mask was an excpetion of such rule. And: Nintendo Sunshine proved Nintendo sucks at storytelling. Back to topic.
What does a Mario game consist? A few points. Coins. Stars. Some enemies like Koopas, Goombas, Boos, maybe other colored coins and stars. And of course the same story over and over and over again. Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach. The Legend of Zelda. A cursed land – Link needs to save it. Hyrule in OOT, Termina in MM, in WW, in TP, in SS and in BOTW. Other things include dungeons, specific items, and an overworld to explore. And let’s not forget the sidekick who helps you. Such behavior – or simply playing it safe – is foremost trying to please shareholders, which I can understand, and not trying to alienate the playerbase. Okay. I get it. But what problems arise from such business strategies?
Yet, you may say: It is creative. Everything in their own right. You cannot compare all game and generalize. Yes, that is true. Each Zelda dungeon is unique, each Mario level offers plenty of creativtiy. But times move on, you know. I am not a child anymore. You cannot please me with the same shit over and over again. I am a reasonable grown up now. I leaned to make decisions, learned to analyze, learned make up my own mind. As a kid I played everything. Because it was simply fun. But as an adult. I am sorry – I cannot waste a single dime on Nintendo anymore. I grew up – and Nintendo – did not.
I don’t want to sound particularly cricital, because people will tell me: It is about the gameplay! Who cares for the story. And that’s the point. People do not care for storytelling. And that’s the point I am trying to make. As a child: Mario was simply fun. And I did not even care for the story in Ocarina of Time. Just wanted to explore the world and find dungeons. Yet, you cannot maintain this forever. People change, they evolve, they mature. And an adult wants to be taken seriously. Sure, sure. It is Nintendo, it is family, it is elderly; it is for everyone. But that is no argument. Yes, they are mature games with mature stories for mature gamers. Like Half-Life or Metal Gear Solid. But my question is: Why can’t Nintendo grow up too? Why can’t it change and evolve? Just because it is Nintendo? No. This can’t be it.
Nintendo is a master in stagnation without regression. It does not move forward, yet, it does not move backwards either. It just maintains the status quo. Re-iteration. What bugs me especially is the way we treat Nintendo. I find – and always found – it laughably that Nintendo games are always the best of the best. Every Mario and Zelda games get almost the best ratings every time a new game is released. Why is that? Yes, the games are good. But why can’t we be critical with them? Why can’t we critize re-iteration? The re-use of concepts and ideas, the implementation of one-idea-at-a-time-per-game? People seem to be satisfied with Nintendo games. Which make my plea totally pointless, huh.
People have zero demand. Literally. People swallow everything Nintendo offers them to eat. Which annoys me. The only exception are total and utter failurse like Star Fox Zero. But anyway. As long as people do not demand change; Nintendo won’t change. Yes, we get good games. Yes, they are often flawless; sometimes perfect. But that is no excuse to be a mature person. To question things, to explore things differently. To find new ways. To change. Why change? Why do I stess it so much? Why do I make myself so important? Because adults are not children. As long as we grew up. I perceive the world differently, I see things differntly. I cannot be pleased by the same meal at the one-thousand its time.
Nintendo won’t change. My video won’t change Nintendo. (Or anything else.) But at least I can find a way to critize it. To challenge known perceptions. I want Ninendo to be better. I want Nintendo fans to be better. We all can demand something different. Something like at least a new franchise. Or a grown up version of a known franchise. We can demand for Nintendo to listen to its playerbase and – in the end – its fans. My entire goal was, is, and will be, to improve gaming as a whole. To make it more enjoyable for everyone. And if all you can say is: Gaming is fine. Well, then at least I provoked a thought inside of you. Nintendo. I owe you a childhood. I wish I’d owe you my adulthood.
The next Depht Note will be about … telling interactive stories.