Mention Nintendo on any online forum and usually about half the replies are from people lambasting the hell out of the company. Every time Nintendo releases a new system angry gamers and video game journalists alike predict their downfall. The N64, Gamecube, DS, 3DS, Wii and Wii U were all, at some point, labelled terrible systems that were going to sink the company by the geek chorus.
What’s going on here? What about this mild-mannered Japanese game company makes people so damn mad? Why has there been a palpable sense for at least the past 20-years that a large portion of the gaming community just really, really wants Nintendo to fail? This Nintendo fan has a few ideas why…
Nintendo’s Burned Us All Before
Over the past three decades Nintendo has released a dozen different gaming systems (and that’s not even counting all the minor revamps to its handheld machines). If you’ve been at this gaming thing for any length of time, there’s a very good chance you’ve purchased at least one Nintendo product you just didn’t care for that much. Maybe it was the N64 with its lack of games, or the underwhelming Gamecube, or, God forbid, the Virtual Boy.
Point is, Nintendo’s been around so long, and released so many systems that they’ve simply had more opportunities to disappoint people than a company like Microsoft, which has only released two (very similar) consoles.
Nintendo Fandom’s A Religion
Often the most rigid, uncompromising atheists are people who were once pretty serious believers. When you reject something you once deeply believed in and cared about, you have to reject it completely and utterly lest you backslide. There’re no shades of grey — the world’s black-and-f–king-white.
Well, Nintendo fandom is the closest thing to a religion the gaming world has. Nintendo has it’s own deities (the trinity of Miyamoto, Iwata and Reggie) and its holy tenants of game design, and when a person rejects Nintendo, they reject it hard. Ex-Nintendo fans don’t even want to hear about a promising new game from the company lest they find themselves tempted to buy a Nintendo system again.
Nintendo Refuses To Mature With Its Fans
One of the most cited grievances against Nintendo is that “their games never change”. This isn’t really true. Take the Mario series — Mario 3 and Mario World added world maps and a ton of extra complexity, Mario 64 went 3D, and hell, you went to outer freakin’ space in Mario Galaxy.
But really, it’s usually not gameplay the critics are upset over when they say, “Nintendo doesn’t change” — it’s the stories the company tells. Nintendo see themselves as toy makers, not storytellers. They’re going to keep perfecting and refining their toys, but they’re never going to change the tales they tell. Mario will always save the princess, Link will always fight Ganon for the Triforce. This can be incredibly frustrating for long time fans.
People want Mario, Link and Samus to grow and mature along with them. A gamer who first discovered Mario when they were six in the mid-80s is now probably in their 30s with a family and real-world concerns, and yet Mario still only cares about cake and princesses. But hey, there’re still six-year-olds waiting to be introduced to Nintendo’s franchises, and much to the chagrin of long-time fans, Nintendo’s always going to side with the six-year-olds.
Nintendo Isn’t Predictable
People like the expected. They like to be able to look at what somebody’s done before and predict what they’re going to do in the future. You can’t do that with Nintendo. Suddenly the Mario series, for one game only, will be about Mario when he was a baby and look like it’s been drawn with crayons. One day they’re making extra tiny versions of their handhelds, next their making extra huge versions. Motion controls! Touch screens! You never know. People hate not knowing. People don’t like things they don’t understand.
Nintendo’s Kind of Full of Themselves
Nintendo maintains a carefully cultivated a “humble” public persona, but in reality the company’s anything but. All the “sincere” apologies from Iwata during Nintendo Directs or Miyamoto being impish in the world doesn’t hide the fact that these guys clearly think they’re better at making games than anybody else. They might be right, but it doesn’t make it any less grating.
Mention a non-Nintendo game in front of somebody from Nintendo, and they invariably pretend they’ve never heard of it while making wanking gestures. Every time they come out with a new system they talk big about 3rd party support, but never deliver, because who wants to play crappy old 3rd party games when you can play Nintendo games? I mean, come on. If you want to act like you’re the best in the world, you better consistently deliver.
Nintendo Fans Are Kind of Full of Themselves
Hey, as a Nintendo fan I’ll admit it — Nintendo passes a lot of it’s smug, humblebrag-ey obnoxiousness onto its fans. If any game resembles a Nintendo series, Nintendo fans are always right there to call it out as ripoff and clearly inferior to Nintendo’s creation. People who don’t play Nintendo games are all dummies who prefer flash over substance and so on, and so on.
I’ve trained myself to identify and curb my own jerky Nintendo fan behavior, but most folks don’t get paid to blog about video games, so have no reason to bother. Have patience with Nintendo fans — we’re usually not trying to be jerks, we just, you know, really like Mario and have a bad role model in Nintendo.
You’re Never Free From Nintendo
Even if you reject Nintendo’s games and consoles, there’s no escaping their influence. Motion controls, analog sticks, rumble, touch screens — Nintendo’s creations usually end up becoming industry standards. In other words, even if you turn your back on Nintendo, you’ll never truly be free. To be truly free, Nintendo has to fail. Nintendo has to die.
Too bad they probably never will. Heh.