Nintendo of America Big Cheese Reggie Fils-Aime recently went on record about the impossible challenge of satisfying Nintendo fans’ appetites for software. And I’ll be honest - I have to agree with him. Fans have been banging on Nintendo’s door for a new Pikmin, a launch lineup including a traditional Mario game, and a new IP for years now, and now that Nintendo’s delivering all three, it seems that people still aren’t satisfied.
Another big complaint I’ve heard is that Nintendo’s current software lineup is way too conservative - particularly in the Mario department. I’ve seen some people call the Wii U launch slate “absolutely dreadful.” Where are all the ambitious games that made Nintendo famous? Where is that classic creative charm? But a number of these same complaints also point to the libraries of previous consoles, stating that it was time for Nintendo to win them back.
I don’t know about you guys, but I can think of plenty of ambitious and creative games that Nintendo’s released in recent years. A number of them have one thing in common: practically nobody bought them. No wonder Nintendo hasn’t decided to focus on these kinds of games! How many of these greats do you own?
Of all the games on this list, Xenoblade Chronicles may be the most notorious in terms of low sales performance. The game was developed by Monolith Soft, famed creators of the Xeno franchise, recently acquired as a first-party developer by Nintendo. This means Xenoblade is technically a Nintendo game. It also happens to be one of the most ambitious console RPGs ever made, boasting a seriously massive world that’s chock-full of monsters, characters, collectibles - oh, and sidequests. Lots and lots of sidequests.
The game may not be the most robust graphical or technical experiences out there, but the art style is superb and articulated really well through the in-game visuals, the worlds are positively sprawling, and the battle system surprisingly deep given its on-the-surface simplicity. Many critics and fans have ranked Xenoblade among the best JRPGs of this generation - even of all time. Personally, I’ve got to say that I agree with them.
Fans fought long and hard for the game’s localization, and while its sales seem to have met Nintendo’s expectations, they’re certainly nothing worth writing home about. In America the game topped out at about 250,000 copies - and it’s unclear whether that’s “copies shipped” or “copies sold.” The game was only sold through GameStop and Nintendo’s online store, but I can attest first-hand that there are still plenty of new copies in circulation. If you want Nintendo to take your request for more top-notch hardcore RPGs and you haven’t picked this one up yet - suffice to say I can’t blame them for not thinking these kinds of games are worth their time. (Also, make sure to pre-order The Last Story before it hits our shores; so far the game’s momentum in the States has been absolutely pathetic.)
I have to be honest: even if the Best Handheld Zelda Ever manages to find its home on the 3DS, even if Nintendo eventually really releases Majora’s Mask 3D, if anyone forced me to choose one game for the system while throwing the rest away forever, I’d probably still pick Kid Icarus Uprising. The game really is just that good, and massively replayable on top of it. There are over two dozen stages, nine difficulty levels, hundreds of weapons and powers to choose from (each with unique properties and attributes), and the most fun and chaotic online multiplayer mode I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
You want Nintendo to pour more passion, ambition, and creativity into their games? Uprising is the paragon of all three of those qualities. If you’re a 3DS owner, help us prove to Nintendo that this is how software is made and go out to support the system’s best game yet.
I’ll be honest: even I haven’t gone out and bought a copy of Sin & Punishment... but then I’m not complaining about getting a new Super Mario Bros. game, either. I won’t even try to do the game justice - here are some thoughts from our very own Jackson Murphy:
“The arcade style shooting of the title is basic, yet fun. The game plays similarly to Kid Icarus: Uprising’s aerial segments, and the action never lets up, offering one of the most difficult games in the Wii’s library. Just when you destroyed a squadron of enemy robots, the game throws a giant dinosaur at you. The set pieces are astounding. When you’re driving a flying vehicle through the desert while shooting a gigantic lion, you feel the sheer insanity of the game. Though the story is short (about three hours), the title has incredible replay value. With two different campaigns, as well as different difficulties, you’ll be playing this game for a long time. Co-op and online leaderboards only add to the fun. The boss fights are amazing as well, particularly the boss gauntlet during the last stage of the game, offering some of the most insane shooting action you’ll find on any Nintendo system.
“This is one of the best Wii games around - and it’s become very cheap in recent years due to its poor sales. Give this shooter a chance and I guarantee you’ll be hooked. What do you have to lose? Thirteen dollars on Amazon?”
We’ve already talked a bit about Pikmin, but I feel it’s important to bring it up again anyway. Why? Because Pikmin 2 didn’t even break half a million sales in North America - and Nintendo’s still giving you a third game. The second game addressed a number of big fan requests, particularly the elimination of the first game’s time limit in favor of a bigger focus on freedom and exploration and the addition of a multi-player mode.
And just in case you just innocently missed out on this sequel the first time, a new version adapted for Wii controls just hit stores. If you like Nintendo’s creative side, go buy it immediately - if you can find a copy, that is. As far as I can tell, the game’s pretty rare. I only managed to scrape one up thanks to a random trip to Walmart. I’ll be playing it extensively as soon as I can get my Wii fixed; I positively adored the first game (and will seek out the New Play Control version as soon as I can), but the 140 hours I poured into finishing Xenoblade fried my system’s disc drive.
This one’s especially heinous when you consider how much of a fuss people make over third-party support on Nintendo’s systems. Guess what, folks: there’s a host of great third-party games that are already on Nintendo platforms - and many of them are or at least started out as Nintendo exclusives. Third-parties were most tragically undersupported on Wii, so here’s a list of a few of the gems our staff recommends:
So there you have it. If you’ve been wondering why Wii U isn’t bursting to the seams with all the awesome “creative” Nintendo games you’re demanding to see, the fact that these games (along with many other, even lesser-known ones) massively underperformed is probably one of the biggest reasons.
Want to change this? First you’re going to have to go out and support some of Nintendo’s more niche software - yes, that means the kind of stuff that slipped even under your radar. If you aren’t willing to do that - well, it’s no wonder Nintendo isn’t willing to cater to customers who effectively don’t exist in the first place.