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Some ‘Wii’ problems for Nintendo

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2014 isn’t going so well for Nintendo. They’ve announced that profits are expected to make a loss of £205 million at the end of this financial year. Sales have dropped dramatically, and so have the company shares.

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I love Nintendo. When I was a kid I got a bright yellow N64 controller for my birthday, just so I could play Mario Party with my brother and sulk when my losing character got swallowed up by a chain chomp. But the day I lost my faith in Nintendo was the day the Wii Fit Trainer was announced as a playable character on Super Smash Bros for the Wii U. I thought it was a joke.

Just imagine her fighting Bowser, knocking him out with a strenuous sun salutation. But no, it’s all in earnest. Just another mistake Nintendo have made since the release of the Wii in 2006, which was when everything started going downhill.

The Wii initially wowed us with its motion sensor. We could finally play tennis in our living rooms, with accessories so that the controllers looked like rackets! It was everything we had always wanted – for about five minutes. Then we remembered that the Wii was only a mediocre substitute for real life.

Once the novelty wore off, all those games like Wii Sports were put back on the shelf and only played when clutching at straws for things to do with the awkward exchange student over from Germany. Nintendo has brought out a whole range of those games, including Art Academy. Boring games posing as worthwhile.

But the Wii is an ‘ideal family console’, as GAME describes on their website. A lovely idea, but in many ways a big no-no. It has left the real gamers neglected. They’re the ones who’ll buy the Wii U in order to play the next Mario or Zelda game, but who’ll find that there are no other new releases that appeal to them. Nintendo has become all about parents and children. The Wii was never the kind of console you’d have on your shelf at university, with its safety strapped controllers.

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Maybe the Wii U will be an improvement, but in many ways I think it’s already too late. The Wii was a disaster and now many gamers have switched allegiances to Xbox or PlayStation, consoles which succeed in providing for young gamers whilst maintaining a focus on their real audience.

Nintendo have always been very innovative in their ideas. The 3DS for example, was a step forward – but, again, merely a gadget that looks cool in the shop. For gamers, the only thing that matters is the game. That’s why every now and again we get our oldest console out and play those classics without even noticing the bad graphics, because they are enjoyable to play.

Other games companies understand this, and that’s why they’re leaving Nintendo behind. They stick with traditional, practical controllers and create impressive online systems, something which Nintendo has never achieved. When I was in Tokyo this summer I was able to see Sony’s latest development in gaming: glasses which eliminate split-screen gaming on multiplayer modes. Nintendo just isn’t keeping up with other companies.

It’s clear what people really want in a games console, but sadly Nintendo seem to have lost the plot.

 

Jane Rees

 

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