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The Legend of Nintendo (bloomberg.com)
394 points by tim_sw on June 24, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 207 comments

>When it was Furukawa’s turn to speak, he noted that Nintendo makes “playthings, not necessities” and that if consumers stop finding its products compelling, the company could be swiftly forgotten.

Never. Never. A thousand times never.

Some experiences are just fond memories. Others are formative. For me, getting 120 stars, defeating Ganondorf, unlocking Mewtwo, throwing green polka-dotted eggs-- those moments rank among the most defining times of my youth. More than Disney, Youtube, TV or any other entertainment company, Nintendo was there for me, and there for my friends.

Happy or sad, when I was alone, I'd adventure in the rolling slopes of the Mushroom Kingdom. When I was with friends, we'd obliviate one another in a final destination. And when we were nowhere near our consoles, we'd argue about our escapades and the “strats”.

Starcraft, Half Life, Age of Empires, and the like are all great, amazing games, and I love them so. But Nintendo has my childhood. Through-and-through.

It would be unfortunate if they go down the path of Sega and and ruin their franchises.

But I will cherish the memories they gave me. And I will never forget them.

For a 128-year-old company, it could take two generations passing away for them to be forgotten and it'd still be swift by their measure.

The best old movies will live forever thanks to the lists from AFI, BFI, etc.

Eventually we’ll likely have better versions of things like this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_video_games_consider...

(Right now it’s still missing NetHack and a bunch of other basic stuff.)

Nethack isn't on this year-by-year list because it transcends them all, as the best game of all time.

Notice the number of games considered the best per year. Late 1990s and early 2000s have a bunch. Are people making lesser games nowadays? Or the stakes have increased?

Games have become increasingly more expensive and take much more time to develop. Especially with the new trend of having games be open-world or near open-world there's a lot more time that needs to be spent making sure the player can't break the game. That's at least in the AAA environment, and there's also been a pretty large decline in single-player based games with the rise of battle-royale and moba style games, there's a lot less churn going on. There's been a large spike in indie development though and with Steam no longer curating their store there may be even more lower price point games entering the market which could be good and bad as finding the true gems that can stand the test of time will become more difficult.

The big AAA titles have grown to insanely complex multi 100$ million projects, so at least in that way the stakes are higher.

Some good games that would deserve awards just don't get the media attention also.

Look at the sources. Only 2 are from earlier than 2003. This list is driven primarily by nostalgia (and perhaps, cynically, secondarily by marketing budgets).

It's rare that something will be declared "best ever" while it is still contemporary. It usually takes a little time to figure that out.

It's a lot harder to stand out from the crowd these days. You can have a mechanic that does something perfect that makes your game the best among a sea of 20 clones, but rarely in this era are you going to find a game on an island alone that makes it shine like a Mario 64 or Grand Theft Auto III. Studios are (and to no fault of their one) making incremental improvements to previous titles.

I think this is more a matter of measuring. Most classics lists have a similar bias. It's hard to confidently say something is a classic except with the benefit of hindsight. In 10 years, it will probably be the 2020s that have anomalously few classics.

My guess is editor bias, the people who edit Wikipedia are in their 20s and 30s so they put the games they grew up with. As younger people begin to edit the page, they'll do the same.

I agree, but I love that they have this attitude. It keeps them hungry.

I find it amazing that, to detect hand and leg movement, the Vive and Oculus teams had to do so much on coming up with expensive sensors and configurations. These systems require the need for a dedicated room, which has been setup basically by experts.

Nintendo delivers 80% of the experience and 100% of the fun with an IR camera (already in the switch) and some $4 cardboard they sell for $80. And it is portable!

While the better sensors will definitely win in the long run, this is one of the best instances of engineering simplicity and "perfect being the enemy of good enough". It's hard to be anything but speechless.

It looks like almost everyone that replied to your comment completely missed the point, but understanding the difference between technology and fun is exactly why Nintendo can be both the most acclaimed game developer and a money-making business.

And it's not like they even try to keep quiet about their philosophy; Gunpei Yokoi called it "Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology" (枯れた技術の水平思考) and wrote a book about it.[1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunpei_Yokoi#Lateral_Thinking_...

I don't think anyone missed the point, it's just a nonsensical comparison. The implication is that Vive and Oculus foolhardily over complicated their solution to the controller tracking problem, and Nintendo did the same thing much simpler. (The space pen vs Russian pencil)

But they are doing entirely different things. Labo is cool, but is entirely unrelated to VR tracking technology.

> The implication is that Vive and Oculus foolhardily over complicated their solution to the controller tracking problem, and Nintendo did the same thing much simpler.

You just missed the point again. That's not the implication at all. The implication is not that they did the same thing, it's that they did a different thing, which is simpler, but is still a good solution for the metric they are optimizing: fun.

There's no implication here to interpret here, the commentator did directly compare the two systems. Here's a quote from the comment:

> Nintendo delivers 80% of the experience

The goal of all gaming systems, VR, Labo or console, is to be a fun experience.

I agree they are all targeting a different fidelity for emmersion, but they are all targeting the same fidelity for fun.

Why can't I compare two very different implementations trying to achieve a similar core goal?

... a Yo-Yo is fun too and is 1% of the cost of the Labo, is that a fair comparison?

They were comparing the experience and the fun, not the systems.

Gunpei Yokoi was a brilliant product designer. I wish the computing industry had a Gunpei Yokoi, he's like the anti-Apple.

Reminds me of the tale of the "hover board". Rudimentary electro-mechanical device versus the dozens of smart-phone empowered personal mobility startups spending incredible engineering effort on objectively better products. The cheap and 80% there product was a viral success, it hit that sweetspot of cost and functionality. It also had the benefit of being an open-source device right from the heart of where it was manufactured.

It's this triumph of marketing over engineering that caused them to really blow up.

Can you elaborate please? Was some motorised longboard product much more successful than others? I seem to remember half-a-dozen products that I noticed during their launch or early marketing, but haven't seen them in the wild or heard of them ever after (Boosted, Onewheel, etc.)

Data point: while I see electric skateboards, longboards, and scooters in slowly but steadily increasing numbers around here, the number of hoverboards out in the wild has lived a short, hyped life and I rarely, if ever, encounter any anymore.

I'm still a bit confused - apparently "hoverboard" is being used by you and the other poster not in the 'back to the future' sense of a hoverboard?

Maybe it's living in a northern climate, or maybe we're behind the hype cycle, but I have seen 2 of those things in my life, one as a kids' toy and the other as an office toy.

This[0] is what is — quite infuriatingly — being labeled "hoverboards" by the general public. Following some marketing hype they were popular gifts around Christmas a couple of years ago, and they're mostly used as recreational devices, to be tucked away on a shelf in a garage as the hype dies down — that is if they ever survive even moderate use, since most of them are bad knockoffs. Those unicycles[1] though, are sort of growing in popularity as last-mile transportation devices, as are electric longboards and scooters.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-balancing_scooter

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-balancing_unicycle

Well, when the screen is attached to your face, perfect is the friend of good enough.

Anything less and you throw up.

For hand and leg movement? Not really. Maybe I can see the case for leg movement if it's considered the same as 6DOF, but you definitely don't need those two to be perfect. You need your 6DOF implementation, and specifically your head tracking to be perfect to prevent throwing up.

But when the helmet already requires it, the setup is already there, so you might as well use the same equipment to track position of hands.

You will not get motion sick, but high latency and imprecise controller tracking feels bad and makes it hard or impossible to perform a large class of interesting interactions in VR, interactions that most existing apps are built on. One thing that Nintendo does not compromise on are poor quality controls or game feel.

How are they in any way related? Nintendo's experience isn't designed for VR and that fact means they don't have nearly the same design considerations. It's a completely silly comparison.

As folks here have said, it's apples to oranges when it comes to VR, that's for sure.

However, I think there's something to be said if we instead compare them as immersive experiences. Nintendo created something compelling by taking an unorthodox route. [Insert joke about thinking inside/outside the cardboard box.]

It's not really comparable. Labo isn't actually designed for VR, everything in VR has to be really precise and fast or it's incredibly noticeable.

You really cannot compare Labo to VR. At all. Like not even a little. They are completely different use cases and more advanced tech is absolutely required for VR platforms.

Even if they were comparable, that last 20% is a bitch (but often worth it.) It's always easy to come up with an 80% solution.

They sell it for $80 because it’s cardboard and a game, which generally retails for $60.

I totally agree with your point! It doesn't necessary to provide a perfect sensor or an expensive VR experience. All we need is developing the production not so mature but containing all the cheap and good enough utilities. With the success of switch, I believe that the higher performance or experience of switch will be released to the market in the future.

"If it's not fun, why bother?" - Reggie

Not to nitpick - but the challenge with Vive and Oculus is that they need to detect the movements without having a camera guaranteed to face the player head on at all times. This adds a considerable layer of challenge above what the Switch has to do.

IR tracking is mostly only feasible if you can guarantee that the user is facing the IR camera at a relatively consistent distance. The original Wii did this, the Kinetic did this, TrackIR [1] started doing this in 2001.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TrackIR

I'll think you'll be pleasantly surprised that the Switch and Labo solved that problem.

The sensors and the IR camera are always in the correct orientation, regardless of player movement. And they solved it with $4 of cardboard. I can't praise enough the simplicity of their approach to the problem.

It's more that the worked their games to fit the constraints of the technology, rather than solved the problem. To the best of my knowledge, you still can't leave the switch stationary and completely turn away from the box. The "problem" that VR constrol schemes need to solve (full 6 degrees of motion, line of sight from a controller and any one sensor can be blocked at any time) is not addressed by the Switch.

The Switch is definitely cool technology, though, but is addressing different constraints than VR.

>some $4 cardboard they sell for $80

I really hope you don't think you're just buying cardboard when you get a Labo kit.

I mean, I suspect you don't, but being this reductive makes it comes across as though it's some sort of scam.

I'm one of Nintendo's biggest fans and I love that they focus on fun over tech. I spent around 120 hours in BoTW.

But... at least for one of their series I loved before, Metroid, the lack of VR will probably mean I won't play it.

Metroid Prime 1 and 2 are among my favorite games ever. They made me feel like I was on another planet better than any other game. But, a year or so ago I played Farpoint on PSVR. It's not a great game and the writing is horrible but the feeling of actually being on another world is unmatched. VR is like visiting the Grand Canyon vs seeing a picture of it. A picture does not give that awe inspiring sense of vastness, size, and presence. VR does. For that particular franchise a non VR Metroid will now be a huge let down from that experience for me.

This is like comparing a sports car and a movie on cost and entertainment value.

One thing not mentioned, that I think will be adding to their legend toward the end of the year is the release of Smash Bros. Ultimate. Smash has always occupied an interested space, Nintendo intended it as fun-for-the-whole-family type of game. Which it didn't necessarily fail as, but it accidentally succeeded as one premier competitive esports titles. There's always been tension between Nintendo's original vision and the competitive scene, with the 3rd game in the series, Brawl being summarily rejected in competitive circles. As esports has gone mainstream over the past 5 years though, other companies have figured out how to embrace and profit from the competitive scenes surrounding their games. With Ultimate, Nintendo seems to have finally started thinking of Smash as primarily a competitive game. Everyone I know who's played Smash at all seriously is incredibly excited for the new Smash. I personally will be buying a Switch just to play it, which is nothing new to me, I often joke that I should just hot glue Smash into my Nintendo consoles when I get them, I literally never take it out, I don't even own other games for them.

I'm not so sure that "smush" is going to be the capstone you're describing. Of course, details are slim and hype is high right now, but I think there are a few factors to keep in mind. As a competitive melee player, Nintendo has proven themselves to be incredibly slow and remains out of date with regard to supporting a competitive community for any game they have. They do seem to be trying to turn a new leaf with Ultimate, but Nintendo Japan has a lot of internal inertia (Sakurai's personal opinions) and regulatory restrictions (gambling laws making it hard to host tournaments with meaningful prize money) that make me skeptical that they're going to go as far to support their game as Valve, Riot, Blizzard, etc, which is what's really necessary to become a tier 1 e-sport. These leading e-sport companies are all American, in contrast to Nintendo which has to work overseas to support smash competitively (the Japanese competitive smash community is tiny compared to the U.S., in part due to culture).

In addition, I don't think Nintendo's going to be able to kill melee and convert all of us to ultimate without also turning off lots of casuals. But without the full support of both casuals and the entire existing competitive community for smash (over half of which is for melee), ultimate is just going to be another profitable and fun game, like smash 4, but not lastingly legendary like melee happened to be.

I am definitely suffering from smush hype delirium, I won't even try to deny it. And I think your skepticism is well placed. I would be surprised (pleasantly) to see Nintendo offering anything close to Riot, Valve, Blizzard levels of support within this decade. Still it feels like they've gone from actively hostile toward the competitive scene in Brawl, to throwing us a few bones in Sm4sh (omega modes, new run of Gamecube controllers, albeit slightly funky ones) to finally at least considering the pro scene as first class citizens in Smush.

That being said I don't really say a way that it could kill Melee either... although I bet melee players are going to buy a lot of controllers. The only thing I could imagine killing Melee is maybe if Smush had a Melee compatibility mode that implemented its mechanics exactly faithful to the original, but I don't see them doing that, and even then people probably still wouldn't leave Melee.

I just want to note that Capcom, another Japanese company, has managed to make Street Fighter an Esport starting with Ultra Street Fighter 4 in 2014 and continuing now with Street Fighter 5. They did this by having a qualifying circuit for their Capcom cup tournament at the end of the year which had a prize of $250k for 1st place. It's nowhere as big as the 3 you mentioned, but I think that's mostly due to size of the scene.

These leading e-sport companies are all American, in contrast to Nintendo which has to work overseas to support smash competitively (the Japanese competitive smash community is tiny compared to the U.S., in part due to culture).

How successful any multiplayer game will be is a thorny question, so I think you are more likely to end up right than the gp. Established properties can suddenly go bust. Fast followers on hot trends can reap all the rewards. Multiplayer brawlers are essentially a one-series phenomenon (SSB) that has had spotty popularity. If I had to guess, I would bet that SSBU will be about as popular as Splatoon 2.

The problem with your logic is that Tekken, Street Fighter and now Dragonball Fighter Z, all made by Japanese developers, are the top fighting games on Twitch. Their popularity is much lower than PUBG/LOL/Fortnite/etc but I would submit that fighting games are simply punishing to get into - it's very difficult for a newbie to find a niche as a support character as is possible in many team games, for example. Furthermore, character balance/competitiveness issues are magnified by the 1 v 1 focus.

I'm nervous about what happens. Smash and even Mario Kart have always great for folks just looking for some crazy fun.

At the same time there has always been this tension between the fun aspects of those games and the competitive community who really wants something else from those games and the things they don't like (randomness, indirect help for lesser players) are also what keep the games fun for everyone. The competitive scene folks have some pretty strict ideas of what they want and it isn't what keeps those games fun for everyone.... bend to them too much and those games stop being fun for everyone else.

I don't think there's much need for you to be nervous. First I think Mario Kart is pretty safe, the competitive scene there is pretty negligible so I doubt Nintendo will prioritize them at all. For Smash, all the stuff they're adding is either togglable in settings or should work for both communities, at least all the things I know about are. Here's what they are afaik:

- All characters from all versions available. Important for pros because having a few players who main characters that aren't included in new versions left out can really hurt the pro scene. Can't see how this would be anything but more fun for casual players.

- All stages have Omega (single platform) and Battlefield (4 platforms) modes. Original versions of stages still exist though.

- Manufacturing new Gamecube controllers, so crucial for the competitive scene where pros have resorted to setting up their own workbenches and making franken-controllers from working components of broken controllers. Shouldn't affect casual play at all.

- An extra decimal of precision on %s allows more precise play, should be at worst a bit of extra visual noise if you don't play competitively.

- Removal of fatigue on Pokemon Trainer, effectively introduces 3 new potential main characters for pros. Takes away a subtle mechanic for new players to learn.

- Game speed, SmashU looks to be a bit faster than Smash 4 and Brawl but not as fast as Melee. This one I can definitely see the argument for being a little less new player friendly. But I think it increases the skill cap but shouldn't make the game less fun in casual play.

Probably the best example of what you're talking about is tripping, which was a mechanic in Brawl but was dropped in Smash 4 and won't be back in Ultimate, I just found that mechanic frustrating, but I'm more toward the competitive side of the spectrum. Overall though, I think Smash Ultimate is going to be the same crazy fun that you're used to from Smash games, it's just going to have a lot of settings that help out the competitive scene. At this point competitive Smash and casual Smash are really 2 very different games.

> All stages have Omega (single platform) and Battlefield (4 platforms) modes. Original versions of stages still exist though.

More importantly, there's a stage hazard toggle. (And also importantly, this time around the Omega stages are all functionally identical, as are the Battlefield stages.)

> ...bend to them too much and those games stop being fun for everyone else.

There is definitely room for multiple configurations though. Splatoon for example has Turf War which is exclusively non-competitive and Rainmaker etc. which are exclusively competitive (ranked). That allows them to fine tune the modes which are intended to be fun for the everyday player. The more competitive modes can be balanced separately for those with a competitive goal.

If Nintendo are serious about Smash's competitive side, they should probably consider an online competitive mode which removes some of that Smash randomness.

> With Ultimate, Nintendo seems to have finally started thinking of Smash as primarily a competitive game.

I don't think Nintendo was ever against its competitiveness. They probably understand that if they focus on keeping the game fun, the rest will follow, regardless of whether the competitive scene accepts it or not. For an example of getting this backwards, of trying to make a game competitive first and worrying about the fun afterwards, look at the painful example of StarCraft II. Blizzard succeeded in making that game competitive, ok. But they failed at making it fun, and as a result its energy as an eSport, i.e. its playerbase and therefore viewerbase of casual and casual-competitive players, fell out from under it.

I do agree the things Nintendo is offering the competitive scene with Ultimate is awesome. I'm buying a Switch before the holiday season starts because it's probably going to get hard to get.

Smash isn't a premier esport. It doesn't even crack top 20 in total earnings, getting passed up by many titles that are much, much younger.


Self describing as someone who literally only buys smash for their console, I think you need to consider that you're heavily biased. Smash can be a wonderful addition for a wonderful community, but the smash community is a pretty small minority of Nintendo gamers.

Sometimes I wish the game that became the "everyone's in it!" game for Nintendo wasn't a fighting game. Limited appeal. Some sort of adventure/rpg game would have been much more Nintendo with a broader appeal. Now that would have potential to be the great Nintendo capstone epic.

You're totally right: after Smash Bros release owning a switch would finally make sense. Up until now I find all the titles pretty underwhelming. Especially the Zelda that was highly praised by the press but which in my opinion does not contains anything of what make the previous ones good (music, story, good gameplay, characters).

I'm also waiting for Metroid Prime 4 and Pikmin 4 as I loved the two games released on GameCube.

I'd strongly urge you to at least try Zelda. I am a fan of past Zelda titles.

This one was different, but wonderful. I went in knowing nothing about it, and was blown away. The first seven hours or so gave me a sense of helplessness, wonder and uncertainty that I rarely experience in a video game.

The longer you can go without reading a guide, the better. Eventually it can become a grind, but I got months of play value out of it, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Super Mario Odyssey is also excellent. It's incredibly fun, even if it's easier than other mario games. Incredible attention to detail.

I already tried it because I owned it. I also wrote a 1,600 blog post explaining my position in French, but I don't feel translating it here in English. But here are my main points: the weapon system and the inventory are (incredibly) frustrating. Getting a new weapon is not a rewarding as it will fade 3 strokes after. Sanctuaries could be labeled as game-designer training, but as a player they lake both fun (heck one time I even gave the console to my girlfriend for her to solve one because it put too much on my nerves) and distinctiveness. The whole world is desperately empty. There is no pressure to complete the game whatsoever (no hostage, no crashing moon). The saving system is crappy as it does not save the game state. What makes the salt of previous games was the story, the feeling of progression, the music, the characters, the distinctiveness of some regions (kokiri forest, zora domain, etc.) and all of that is pretty much non-existent in BotW. Some gameplay mecanism like rain that forbid climbing are hostile to the player by design and really annoying. Monsters: all the same with some color or stat variations.

Basically this "game" is a game engine on top of which a real game could be implemented, but as such I just see it as an empty open world. I'm sure that without Zelda on the title, it would have been judged more objectively, for was it is: an average game to say the least.

It seems you have mostly played zelda games from the n64. I have not tried BotW yet, but from what I have seen, it seems to be close from the the first zelda. A big world with no story, no pressure to complete the game quickly, no explicit path to follow. Just a world to explore.

I have played the first zelda, and OoT, MM, and WW. In all of them, what I have really liked was the pleasure to wander into the world, (mounting epona on hyrule field, get lost in the see while discovering new island). In the contrary I have only played the first few hours of skyward sword, because every two minutes a NPC was telling me what I should do and what I should not, and where I should go . Awful! So I am very happy Nintendo choose to go for less story and more discoveries. Could you post a link to your review, I would be interested to read your position with more details.

Yes, I played mostly at Zelda games available on GameCube: Oot, MM (throught a promotional CD) and WW. The game disk also included Zelda one and two, so I tried the first game and I didn't liked it either. But that was for very different reasons, and comparing games with such generational gap makes little sense.

For the review, please send me an email (visible on my profile) so I can send you the link (as the blog use my real name).

> I'm sure that without Zelda on the title, it would have been judged more objectively, for was it is: an average game to say the least.

Without the Zelda title, it would have been treated the same as every good Zelda-like game: as evidence that Nintendo needs to revitalize the Zelda series. Instead it was a Zelda title, and so was the revitalizing that the series definitely needed. The fact that it was an outstanding game on top of that was just icing on the cake.

I disagree with every single one of those points. BotW is amazing because of those points. BotW has such a huge sense of exploration and finding the unknown. The quest of better weapons, the open world, the way weather affects players and the world. Honestly I think BotW is one of, if not the best game ever made.

Ah, I had mistakenly assumed you hadn't. That's fair then. I can actually acknowledge most of your points as fair, but doesn't detract from my own enjoyment. People have different subjective standards for game enjoyment, and that's totally fine.

Personally, I hardly cared about beating the story. Instead, I focussed on specific goals: buying the house and equipping it. Building Tarrey town. Upgrading armor. Expanding weapon slots. Exploring.

As a byproduct of this, I found I had more or less outmatched all the enemies. But it came as a surprise. I was just having fun pursuing some personal goals.

The weapon system was very interesting to me. New weapons were incredibly rewarding because they were so fragile. You develop interesting relationships with your inventory cycle. It really is a survival game dressed up as a cartoon, that little joyful Link, so full of hope, repeatedly beat down and made to suffer by an uncaring world.

> uper Mario Odyssey is also excellent. It's incredibly fun, even if it's easier than other mario games. Incredible attention to detail.

Super Mario World is one of the easiest games I’ve ever played and also one of the best.

...God Hand is the hardest game I’ve ever played that is still fun. I figured out why: it requires a lot of manual dexterity but is extremely fair. Compare Kaizo Mario et al, which are basically puzzle games in disguise.

> With Ultimate, Nintendo seems to have finally started thinking of Smash as primarily a competitive game.

It definitely does seem that Nintendo are showing more and more interest in the competitive aspects of their games. Some other recent examples include the Arms (which could almost be considered exclusively competitive) and Splatoon tournaments which they often run at conventions they are attending etc.

What I find interesting is the Nintendo is sitting on a billion+ worth of IP that they haven't even scratched the surface of unlocking. The Zelda universe alone could generate millions with movies, novels, merchandising, and other content, but instead it remains on lockdown, with just the flagship game title releasing every 5-6 years with limited toys or figures (basically just Amiibos and some collectibles). The best we've gotten is a rumor of a GoT-style Zelda series headed to Netflix, a rumor quickly shot down by Nintendo.

Had the Switch failed, I believe this could have been their next play. Even if they exited the console market their IP could sustain the company for decades.

After the CD-i debacle in the 90s, it's not surprising that Nintendo holds their IP close to their chest. The value of their IP would go down if the licensed content isn't good.


I think they’re quite sensitive to how the brand is perceived in terms of merchandising.

In the long-term it's to their detriment. If the company finds itself on the decline, they may look back on it as a missed opportunity.

I think the opposite, actually. It strikes me that Nintendo is aware that the value that comes from a video game is very different than something like a comic book or film. I think a video game is something that you express yourself into, and in turn receive a response. It's why the higher-ups felt confident about Breath of the Wild once they felt that the interaction of tree-climbing felt good.[1]

A big-budget television series would push something like The Legend of Zelda into something that it's not, and likely cheapen the brand. By investing and shipping something fresh and well-crafted at a slower clip, Nintendo can ensure that its IP keeps its strength over time.

[1] https://kotaku.com/when-miyamoto-first-played-zelda-breath-o...

I think zelda in particular has a rough spot for them because of the CD-i games, the 80s cartoon, and other rights merchandising stuff they tried in the past that didn't really work out well for them.

>What I find interesting is the Nintendo is sitting on a billion+ worth of IP that they haven't even scratched the surface of unlocking.

Why risk making the next Super Mario Bros. when they can print money making Pokemon videos?

The best we've gotten is a rumor of a GoT-style Zelda series headed to Netflix

That sounds terrible. GoT had volumes of an already successful story from which to build a TV Show. The problem with the Zelda TV show & the SMB movie is the fact that these franchises are pretty light on story to begin with, let alone good story.

I have to agree. I figured it's because every day I become an even grouchier, old man, but I'm getting sick of people ruining my childhood memories with half-baked money grabs that can't even be bothered to try and live up to the legend they leverage. The chances of a Zelda show or movie living up to the mystique it held for me as a kid is practically zero point zero. I respect Nintendo for knowing where their strengths are. Maybe they learned something from the Super Mario Bros television show.

For sure. They don't have quite the roster that Marvel did when transitioning to film/merchandise but Zelda, Mario, and a few others have quite a bit of potential. I hope Nintendo takes note of everything Marvel left on the table with its early Fox/Sony film deals.

I would love to know more about the inner workings of Nintendo corporate culture. For the company to have survived for so long means they clearly know something most games studios and tech companies don't. That their offices don't seem to include any of the flashy bullshit populating the offices of most tech companies seems telling.

Something I vaguely remember from years ago in an interview: Rather like this comment [0] I just read on another submission, it's along the lines of: Don't listen to what people say, throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.

Two things that stuck crazy-well were the touchscreen on the NDS in 2004 and the motion controls on the Wii in 2006. In either case, they were the first to market with both ideas, but before that people would've said the idea was crazy.

Two other examples that didn't stick at all, off the top of my head: Virtual Boy and the Power Glove.

(Small aside: It's long enough ago that plenty of people seem to have forgotten, but the touchscreen on the NDS was a crazy idea at the time because that was nearly 3 years before the iPhone was released, let alone smartphones becoming common/popular. The got-to-have phone at the time was the Motorola RAZR.)

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17387468

Just a gamer here, but there's something to be said about the success and failure of the 3DS and PS Vita.

The 3DS, based on hardware/system alone, should have failed. It was tremendously underpowered, and it forced a terrible 3D technology on all its users, which never really took off or became anything other than a novelty while raising the cost of manufacturing.

The Vita was a truly next-generation portable gaming device, with a beautiful screen, incredible graphics, properly analog sticks, an extremely modern interface, and great connectivity and human-interface (camera, capacitative touch) features. Even incorporating the cost of a proprietary Sony memory card, for the amount of power you got, I think it was very reasonably priced. Comparing the 3DS and Vita was like night and day in terms of a modern gaming device. Even today, I think it can stand head-to-head with the Switch in terms of portable gaming.

But Nintendo continued to pour resources into developing top-tier games for the 3DS, slashing its price to bolster adoption, and sticking to its still unorthodox 3D screen/touch screen combo. Whereas for the Vita, Sony quickly got spooked that the Vita didn't perform as well as the PSP, pulled first-party support and general marketing support, and major 3rd party developers (particularly outside Japan) fled the device.

The 3DS is now seen as a major success for Nintendo, while the Vita died (or is still dying) a slow and unceremonious death.

Sometimes sticking to your crazy guns works.

Another thing is Nintendo's focus on intellectual property over technological superiority. Nintendo has at least 8 different game franchises that consistently deliver (Mario, Mario Party, Mario Kart, Smash, Zelda, Kirby, Metroid, Pokemon...), while I can't think of any time in Nintendo's history where they were ahead of the competition in hardware. They use their dated hardware only as a platform to sell games. This might be changing, though, as online play takes off.

It makes good business sense when you think about it; if you try to out-engineer the competition on hardware, well, any company can hire good engineers. And they're only going to be able give you the same or slightly better. But no other company can produce Mario and Zelda games, at least, as long as they defend their IP to the extent that they do, and make decent hardware and decent Mario/Zelda games at the standards they themselves set, they will make money.

That and the fact that they're sitting on a massive pile of cash means they be creative when other companies can't because their shareholders are terrified of negative numbers. Something American companies really need to learn. Lean isn't always good.

> it forced a terrible 3D technology on all its users

That's a little strong, considering there's a switch to turn it off or even the option to get a 2DS.

I usually turned it off (except for Bravely Default which has gorgeous 3D art in the towns).

I guess I was a little unclear in what I meant. I meant that everyone (prior to the much later 2DS) had to pay for the 3D tech that most people didn't really want. I absolutely turned my 3D off about a week in and never really used it again.

It's frustrating - Sony (to some extent) "gets" online functionality where Nintendo is still stumbling all the way.

I own a 3DS and a Switch and you have to be on each of those platforms to buy games online. I've got a PayPal account linked to the Switch but it's unavailable on the 3DS. In Australia they never opened up ec.nintendo.com so you can't buy games in a web browser.

I'd say the 3DS is in the "dead, but doesn't know it yet" stage - killed not by a competitor, but by the Switch itself.

PS: The price of Vita memory cards is still a travesty.

> Two other examples that didn't stick at all, off the top of my head: Virtual Boy and the Power Glove.

...and the Wii U

Palm Pilot & friends (back to newton and earlier?) had the same stylus and resistive touchscreen for quite a few years before the DS, and the Palm at least sold millions of units, and they had a cellphone model a long time before the iPhone existed, so it's not like the tech was unheard of or untested or even really that alien.

The motion stuff for the wii was a lot more insane and worked out really well, there was no major market product for that stuff prior afaik, so that's a fair point.

Well, Nintendo is not an American tech company. Nintendo is a traditional Japanese company (with its own twists, obviously) and is run as such, which in some ways it's the opposite of our tech industry.

Nintendo is fairly secretive about their inner workings and facilities, so I doubt we'd get much info about what goes on inside.

>> That their offices don't seem to include any of the flashy bullshit populating the offices of most tech companies seems telling.

Nintendo basically funded Rare's offices before Microsoft bought them (when they were doing N64 games) and those were full of flashy bullshit

While Nintendo did own 49% of Rare at the time they did not have any control of how Rare built its offices or how the company was run. They obviously had a close working relationship with the Stamper brothers and Joel Hochberg but I don't know of any Nintendo input on general operations.

I'm not sure how you would characterize flashy bullshit, but the Rare offices were basically based on the same premise as the old offices up the road at Manor Farm... isolated developments teams in their own buildings (or at least their own floor) with a central building containing HR etc. Yes there was a full restaurant, but Manor Farm had that too, and it's kinda essential if your offices are in the countryside. The entire office was designed to be a distraction free as possible.

True the building had a bunch of expensive environmental features to help it blend in to the existing rural landscape and to reduce carbon footprint but I'm sure it was way cheaper than building or leasing any kind of generic office space in London or heaven forbid in SF.

>they clearly know something most games studios and tech companies don't.


For those who have a switch: https://www.switchbru.com/dns/ is a simple hosted DNS server that lets you browse the web. And the web browser runs webkit!

https://i.imgur.com/0h803Ux.jpg shows a Chart.JS demo running in a canvas.

Unfortunately the File API does not work: https://i.imgur.com/GA5kNGp.jpg

annddddd.... patched.

Seriously, though, it's gonna be very easy for Nintendo to patch this particular DNS out. While running a browser doesn't really hurt their bottomline, a browser is typically the weakest link in any console and thus is often used to find an exploit and run homebrew. The Switch as of now doesn't have a non-intrusive exploit, but allowing arbitrary javascript could result in one.

This is a minor abuse of the captive portal resolution function, that opens the web browser to let the user log in to any captive portal.

There's no real way to "patch" this.

> There's no real way to "patch" this.

Just disable custom DNS. Only allow a few whitelisted DNS that 99.9% of people are going to use anyway.

What does that gain? It prevents people from browsing the web, what's the issue with that?

For exploits/jailbreaks/... it'd be easy to use a local fake captive portal, so it doesn't protect against that unless they kill that feature completely, making the device unuseable with many networks.

It would also prevent people with jailbroken devices from blocking *.nintendo.com so there's that.

If you own the network it's not super hard to just filter all traffic doing DNS. If you have a properly owned phone, you can probably run this over your phone hotspot and do the packet inspection that way. Then you can block all nintendo traffic, while still not having a "custom" DNS. If you really tried, you could still even have your custom DNS except it would be spoofing another server.

The point is that if you own the network (and you do), then the clients are nominally at your mercy.

How do you define "custom" DNS exactly?

Well, AFAIK it did result in an exploit for OS 1.x, webkit was patched in later versions.

RCM mode is barely "intrusive". Just shove a paperclip into the joycon port, easy.

Whoa! "More radically to that end, in April, Nintendo began selling a toy line called Labo, which consists of cardboard assembly kits that gamers can use to transform the Switch’s detachable controllers into rudimentary motion-sensitive objects such as fishing rods or mini pianos. The contraptions can then be used to play accompanying games on the TV screen, by catching sharks with the rod, say. The games’ code is somewhat customizable, so precocious kids can program new uses for each of the accessories."

Labo is super cool, but my kids' attention has waned. It doesn't sound like it's been much of a success. On the flip side, we've cleared Mario Odyssey 4 times already. And when we get tired of it, we fire up Lego Star Wars on the Wii.

I considered buying labo for my kids but I thought the cardboard would be destroyed in a week max.

How does it hold up? I have two, one is three and the other is seven.

We've cleared odyssey at least two times as well, and I catch the older one looking for moons from time to time. Kirby seems to be the current attraction though :)

Nintendo released all the labo parts as PDFs.

Granted, turning those files into parts might be more work than most people want to do, but at least it’s an option.


Labo was such a huge hit with my 6 year old. Doesn't even bother me that some items got crunched later -- the joy she had building those things is far better than I expected. And the crunched items still mostly work.

It’s surprisingly sturdy. For your 7 yo it should be perfect: on some parts some help might be needed, but mine got it done 99% by himself. The app is really well done.

One interesting thing is he’s super attached to it (specially the robot one) as it took him so much time to build. I’m waiting for the interest to wane a bit to go for the customizations and try to build new things.

If anyone can make invincible cardboard, it's Nintendo.

"Thankfully, Nintendo is already selling Toy-Con cardboard replacement parts for Labo" https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/4/20/17262280/n...

It's not your average cardboard from what I've heard and once complete the toys sound like they are quite sturdy.

Very sturdy. That hasn't been a problem.

Ive heard the proposal that the Labo launch was mostly a soft launch to build mind-share behind the name/brand, and the real marketing push is going to occur before Christmas. (It’s a perfect Christmas gift purchase for a relative who knows that their grandson or niece or what-have-you has a Switch, after all.) I would expect that a large number of other new Labo accessories would come out alongside that push.

It's the build that you buy it for, which sounds silly but its true. It's like buying a LEGO set, kids don't generally buy a LEGO set and stick it on a shelf once it's built, they pull it apart, upgrade it, build something new with it. Labo isn't about playing the game so much as the feeling of making something cool using one of the cheapest materials around. That said I feel like Nintendo could be pushing the 'make your own game' aspect a bit more which might have extended the interest in it a bit longer.

Nintendo is awesome - they’re absolutely obsessed with making games as fun as possible, which is shockingly rare.

Nintendo, unlike most companies are focused on making games with gameplay. Most companies are making movies with gameplay segments in between.

That's been my biggest gripe with modern gaming. It feels like 2 of the first 3 hours of most modern games are cutscenes. I miss powering on a game, hitting start, maybe reading a paragraph, and going straight to the action.

Luckily some recent indy games have filled that itch. Yooka-Laylee, A Hat in Time, and Hollow Knight have felt like modern updates of what I grew up on.

And bad cut-scenes.

There are some notable exceptions, but storytelling and just narrative quality and variety is .... not really there.

If they're going to fill my time with cut scenes they should be good.

So bad they're good is also quite fun

I still have fond memories of Westwood's Command & Conquer cutscenes (and the CGI!) because it was so cheesy and low budget

I like a game that doesn't take itself too seriously!

Hollow knight, aside from Breath of the Wild, was my favorite game of the year.

It's such a great, great game. It offers a fantastic atmosphere supported by a fitting score, an unexpected amount of unique content, an interesting story and a fitting amount of challenge.

Fantastic experience overall!

Try Nioh or Dark Souls, you’ll have gameplay coming out of your ears. If you want cutscenes and dialogue with balance, try Persona 5, which is balanced by very tight gameplay; likewise with Yakuza 0. Avoid anything from Ubisoft like it was carrying plague.

Speaking of Ubisoft, is it just me or do they repackage the same game with different skins over and over gain? I swear Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Ghost Recon and Watch Dogs are the same game with different skins.

It is not just you. It reminds me of Taco Bell. They’re only working with a dozen or so ingredients, sometimes fried, sometimes grilled, in various combinations. After a while though, you start to realize it’s just a “new” arrangement of the same “meat” and it gets ooooold.

Sounds like the "fast food" (in the street or market) in Mexico though.

Different configurations of the same corn, chiles, and meats. Grilled or fried. Tacos, sopes, flautas, enchiladas, gorditas, quesadillas.

Frankly sounds like all fast food except a place like Chili's, so doesn't seem like very scathing criticism.

It's a shame, they used to be good. I really like the idea behind Assassin's Creed. And Sands of Time is a god tier A++ game.

I couldn’t agree more, I think they just got lost in the easy money. If we’re lucky they might fall on some hard times that fall short of killing them, and rememember that making really great games was how they became huge the first time. Otherwise, it’s hard to see a way forward the way they are now.

Ghost Recon is IMO the best "skin" of those four. Although they look somewhat samey, they are very different games (though I would lump Watch Dogs under "Scifi AssCreed").

Far Cry is a bit of a mixed bag, 3 was fun, 4 wasn't, I'm looking at 5 because it looks fun too.

EA DICE do the same, Battlefront and Battlefield feel and play very similar, they just have different visuals and voices. There's nothing inherently wrong with reusing the same code, especially when the games work and sell very well, but it does make the games feel a bit similar.

No, it's not just you. Here's a video about that:


...how many versions of pokemon have Nintendo released that are the same thing? How many mario parties? (Hint, there are 16 mario party games in the main series)

No one can beat nintendo for that.

Ubisoft's Tom Clancy games are still generally Gameplay.

Rainbow Six Siege is still one of my favorites.

Ghost Recon Wildlands has been my favorite game to fire up and relax with for a long while. The Open World is massive and dense without feeling overcrowded. Esp. playing as squad with friends is fun, even if all you do is fly around in a helicopter and find bases to clear out (my personal challenge is to clear a base without raising alarm once, which I managed 6 out of 8 times). I also positively love how free the mission setup is.

I would wish that OW-games would be more like Wildlands.

Companies of this era, before ps2 hardware class you had to make something a bit fun in its more trivial and most interesting sense.

Sony is the most guilty of this imo. Even Microsoft's 1st party games are more "gamey" than Sony.

cough Uncharted, Last Of Us cough

Two games by the same studio who are praised for their ability to tell a story.

To be honest there are only a few games I played during the ps3 era (bought it for the cell chip+linux and left it unpatched when they removed it from the firmware until the system was broken wide open), but the last of us was a great story and fun game.

Good old id still makes games with 99.9999% gameplay. DOOM 2016 was all about the gameplay.

I like how the (brief) opening cut-scene ends with Doomguy losing patience with the computer trying to narrate to him after only a few seconds, and smashing it. The game's attitude to storytelling is established quickly and decisively.

My favorite part of all that is the fact the developers actually did develop lore and a back story for Doom 2016 that the player is then free to either explore or ignore. The attitude towards storytelling that they established is so much more impressive when you realize that they actually did put effort into making a story.

Hiroshi Yamauchi was a very harsh man in some regards (at least most would agree that he was blunt) but the way he built Nintendo is admirable. He knew what many managers don’t, that you need to find talented people that you can trust and have a hands off approach to their work if you want to scale and that there is probably not a single person or division in your company that deserves all the credit. He had by all accounts equal respect for Gunpei Yokoi who built a lot of good hardware, Satoru Iwata who built a lot of good software and Shigeru Myamoto who created a lot of good content.

I know that Iwata took the company to great heights after Yamauchi stepped down but sometimes I worry that as time goes by Nintendo will lose what made it great, which is their big picture thinking. They’re not a console company, or a game studio or a game publisher; they’re a game company and to create the best experience they sometimes need to reimagine how games are played while not looking too gimmicky. It takes a special kind of philosophy to pull that off and over time I’m afraid it’ll go away.

I remember after the GameCube was short on games and thrid party support. I was done with Nintendo.

Nintendo then said their next console wouldn't compete with MS or Sony directly. I was sure they were just going to be a handheld gaming company after that as they were sure to die in the console market.

Nope, the Wii sold like hot cakes and I bought one and had a ton of fun.

They just keep doing it...

The Switch is the first console that has me excited about gaming in nearly a decade. A relative brought it over during a vacation and we had tons of fun playing Mario Kart.

The last time I was excited for a game was Age of Mythology back in 2002.

Nintendo solves the biggest complaint I have with modern games: they just take themselves way too seriously. So many are just trying to become wish fulfillment vehicles instead of actually being fun.

I don't care about story or sitting through 10 minute cut scenes. I don't have that kind of time or patience. If I wanted story, I'd watch HBO and get far better stuff.

I just want to launch and have fun for 30 minutes.

Nintendo gets that.

Nintendo has somehow managed to pull off a great system where they have arcade like pickup and play fun... and yet still depth to some extent so it doesn't feel repetitive.

There is some serious skill in that.

Exactly. The only games - that I've played - that have the same arcade "pick up and play" level of fun are the GTA series (especially San Andreas) and racing games.

Does anyone else find the overwhelmingly positive coverage of Switch and its games a little puzzling?

From a consumer's perspective I just don't get it. The Switch costs more than a vastly more powerful PS4 or Xbox One S. It (particularly) versus a PS4 has a tiny library of games. And the PS4 has actual VR. But even more remarkable is comparing the prices of games on the systems: often you will pay 2-3x as much for a (probably inferior) version of a game (compared to PS4/Xbox/iOS/Android).

I bought a Switch a few months ago. Played (and loved) the nostalgia of Mario. Played and dropped (as it seemed frustrating/grind-y) Zelda. And as far as I can tell that is basically the two games worth getting it for it. So I sold it. As I have a dozen great games ready to go on my PS4, and seems like more excellent stuff on the way, I just don't get the point of the Switch. If I want to play games on the move I can use my iPhone.

Does anyone else find the overwhelmingly positive coverage of Switch and its games a little puzzling?

No, not really. When it comes to videogames, most people don't care about specs, they care about having fun. Yeah, "fun" is subjective, and it's OK that you didn't find the Switch fun after playing two games. Of course, on the other side of that coin, it means you can't discount that other people enjoy the Switch more than you did.

Also, this isn't a zero sum game. The Switch and PS4 can both earn positive coverage.

Nintendo's weakness, for a long time, has been the lack of quality third-party titles, and I think they're fully aware of this.

I think a lot of people buy a Nintendo console because they want to play Nintendo games. For a lot of people, the cost of a Nintendo console is worth it for Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Smash Bros, and maybe a handful of other games.

So far, the only games I have on the Switch are Zelda, Mario, and Sonic Mania. I've had a ton of fun with all three, but like with my Wii my Switch is probably going to gather dust until the next game I really want to play comes out. Most of my gaming is done on my PS4, and I think a lot of people are similar in that they'll buy two machines - a flagship gaming device, and a fun Nintendo system.

It would be great to see Nintendo try to compete with Sony and Microsoft on hardware, but I think the flagship side of gaming has left Nintendo behind. Their online serving is over a decade behind their competitors, and I simply don't think Nintendo can execute in that market.

With the Switch you are playing for mobility. And for us parents, it's a kind of brand safety thing, too. Nintendo really makes an effort to keep their platform pretty kid focused. Not that there aren't killing/shooting games for it, but there's always a really good library of family friendly titles for it, and the system and its OS is very approachable for young kids.

oops, too late to edit, but meant to say 'paying' for mobility :-)

All those 'indie'/smaller titles out on PC? Most are out/coming out on switch and it's a delightful way of portable gaming.

Right now I'm away from home, but have my switch with me so I can play them, and also enjoy the 'console' level games too, on the move, with a reasonable controller.

The Switch is portable, so most of its appeal is for people who have a commute but don't drive. The nvidia Tegra chip is powerful and efficient enough to play ports of games that previously would only have been playable on a home console like DOOM (2016) that you will never play on an iPhone unless you're streaming through the new Steam app. Nearly every game worth playing will end up on Switch.

The first party games have the same appeal as they always did -- stellar platforming in Mario, a mainline Zelda, etc. Whether those interest people is more or less a known quantity at this point (they didn't make the WiiU nearly as successful).

Doom could EASILY run on the iPhone, Fortnight Pubg Ark: SE and many other high quality AAA games run natively on iOS and Android right now. In fact the iOS version performs better than the switch version of Fortnight, though both are excellent

A ps4 you can't play on the coach while your family is watching TV and get up and lay down in bed playing the same game and same system. The switch is by Far the best mobile game system ever built. Sure it doesn't compete with the ps4's graphics but my PC is way better at high end graphics and I rarely play that anymore. I'm at a desk all day long, I want a game system that goes with me to where I want to play. The switch is head and shoulders above all the other systems for that.

> that is basically the two games worth getting it for it

Splatoon 2, Bayonetta 2, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, ARMS.

Also homebrew and Linux :)

> Splatoon 2

I'd argue that this is the essential game for the Switch. Most fun I've had in 30+ years of gaming.

It's just so sad that they aren't exactly friendly towards homebrew. It would be a perfect gaming device I would buy with no hesitation - instead, I have no idea now if they'll ban me from using their services for using GNU/Linux if I decide to buy it.

GNU/Linux is not detectable though?? You boot an entirely separate OS from the Tegra RCM mode, basically zero bytes of Nintendo code run in that boot.

Modifications to the Horizon OS (like Atmosphere) can be detected, but I wouldn't worry about bans if you don't pirate or cheat.

Yeah, as a developer I do find iOS and Android compelling: there are such low barriers to entry I can (and have) released games for both.

As a developer, I believe it's a mixed bag.

I've made plenty of small, silly games that I could release on Android, iOS and recently also on Steam. That's great, I wouldn't be able to do so on Switch.

However, I'm now also working on a bigger game that takes two years to make, and when releasing on Android, iOS and Steam it will just drown in the sea of crap, which means I will have to rely only on my own marketing efforts. It might also get a Switch port, and it's more than likely that it will be much easier to sell there.

For me at least I went with the switch because it's one of the few consoles that manages to be more than a handicapped desktop pc. The seamless switching between docked and undocked is great.

I want to be able to play Skyrim on the toilet.

You should eat more roughage :)

You may have different tastes and preferences to those who love it.

No mention of the 3DS, which sold 75 million units?

“Nintendo’s existing handheld platform, the 3DS, kicked in an additional $1.7 billion“

That's after the Switch was released. The article makes it seem like Nintendo was about to go bankrupt because Wii U did not do well, and seems to conveniently ignore the fact that the 3DS did relatively well–two thirds as well as Wii did. So while Nintendo wasn't doing great, they weren't about to fail either.

A second failure of the flagship console might have ended Nintendo's run as a hardware maker. Nintendo pulled another rabbit out of its hat. That's the narrative being presented - not a particularly controversial or contrarian one.

This seems to be true of any hardware-based business. Hardware is expensive, has long development cycles, and can't always be fixed with a patch. Maybe they're pulling rabbits out of their hats, but they seem to have an inexhaustible supply. People have predicted Nintendo's demise at least since the GameCube. Somehow, they keep surprising cynics every other hardware cycle.

I am always excited to hear about their consoles because they always do something interesting with the human to computer interface. It also always seems just a bit childlike in its attempts at innovation which I love, and by which I mean "Imagine if you had TWO screens" is something an 8 year old would say with unwavering glee.

It's a sentiment other manufacturers miss out on entirely and that's fine, but I am super glad Nintendo is still around to fill the gap.

Other manufacturers just seem obsessed with raw specs and power, rather than actual gameplay experience.

It's much riskier if you're in a particular, relatively narrow vertical - there are not a lot of survivors in that business that are pure toy & game makers. Sony could eat the PS3 and a string of unsuccessful portables. Nintendo probably can't. You don't have to be a cynic to be surprised at their continued success - statistically-inclined is enough.

Their history suggests they are happy to pivot. I also don't imagine hardware sales are their bread and butter. Merch alone could probably fund their empire for a bad console or two. They seem fairly well diversified at least within the bounds of their industry.

It should be said: Nintendo has always had another console or handheld as a crutch, and lots of money in the bank. They've never been in danger of going bankrupt. Ever.

>The notion of abandoning a core craft was anathema to Nintendo’s culture, though—the company was, after all, still selling packs of hanafuda, the flower-adorned playing cards that it set out with in 1889.

Anybody have experience with hanafuda cards from Nintendo? I'm thinking of buying the Tengu pack. I've been learning Koi Koi (ever since watching Summer Wars.)

One thing that I would really like to see is how Nintendo's Japanese hardware development organization really looks like, because at least since Wii all of their hardware design is quite obviously outsourced to the US.

Don't get me wrong, I love Nintendo, own a Switch, and will happily shell out hundreds of dollars each generation just to get the chance to play 2 or 3 new Mario/Yoshi titles. But from the Wii era on, their hardware and success seems largely based off of gimmicks. Maybe that is what is needed to stand out in an age of increasingly homogenized games and gaming platforms, but for me what makes Nintendo stand out is their 1st party titles that consistently combine nostalgia, excellent gameplay/mechanics, charming visuals, minimal (if any) storytelling, great music, and recently multiplayer co-op (bring your wife and kids!). Ok, I'm a sucker for Mario-type games and have not much been into Zelda since Ocarina, but I struggle to find games with those qualities and quality on any other platform, if at all.

It has nothing to do with the hardware and their gimmicks. I can count on one hand the number of times I've used the Switch outside the house, or seriously played a Wii motion-control game, or a WiiU game that effectively used the dual/touchscreen features (does Mario Maker count?). If Nintendo released Mario Odyssey for PC I'd never even think of purchasing the Switch and very happily play the game at 4k 60fps on my puter. Being able to remap "shake your controller like an idiot" to spin-jump to a button in Dolphin made various Mario New's tolerable.

But yea, that'll never happen. So as long as Nintendo keeps producing on the games front, I'll happily keep biting. Plz take my money.

But how could I go on this rant without diverging into lionizing the glory of the SNES days, when Nintendo and videogames themselves were at a peak which shall never again be reached. The SNES was inarguably (though not at the time, Blast Processing and all) superior in graphics, audio, and control compared to other popular consoles at the time (that being Sega Genesis of course). And developers took advantage of all this power in spades. I'm still impressed by Mode 7 (what, you don't pause SMW when Bowser's clown-ship is zoomed to the max?), and many SNES game music are still among the best examples of VGM, before compressed digital audio removed all constraints on composers (with all due respect to the glorious SOTN and Mario Galaxy compositions).

Many people have stated that early 2d games have aged better than early 3d ones, and I think that is true. The SNES shows this well, with vibrant, colorful, glitzy graphics, and excellent music. But what I think has been lost with the new generation of consoles is unique character. One could tell at a glance whether a game was was produced for the NES, Genesis, or SNES, and even the PS1 and N64. Now that characterness is left up to the developer, and the consoles/PC mostly interchangeable. That's fine I suppose. But there is something impressive, especially as a programmer, about taking these limited machines to their absolute limits, and eking every bit of unexpected power out of them.

I remember once my friend messaged me, he just had to play FF3 (or FF6) like RIGHT NOW. So I sent him the ROM. We then both marveled at how it was only 4 megabytes in size. Kefka is truly rolling in his grave, laughing maniacally.

> I can count on one hand the number of times I've used the Switch outside the house

Do you live in the US and in a non-urban area (e.g. not NYC)? If so, you probably have no reason to use the Switch outside the house. You may have a car commute and live in country where playing handheld games outside isn't normal.

I say this because growing up in a suburb, not many people played their GBA/DS/3DS outside. We all just brought them to each other's houses or played them in cars.

Now that I live in NYC, you might see me playing on my 3DS or Vita during my subway commute (I'm too scared to take the Switch out since it costs $300). In Japan, handheld games and consoles are becoming the norm, so it's very common.

I will say the ability to go from couch/TV/projector to bed and still be playing the same game is awesome.

And yes, FFVI is the best JRPG of all time.

I haven't needed a handheld in probably 10 years, and haven't had one. But I often wish I did as some key titles only exist on them.

Previously my argument was that I wasn't going to spend a few hundred dollars to play games hunched over a handheld in my living room as that's the only place I play. The switch happily fills that niche of having handheld titles but still being a capable living room console.

It seems to me that Ninetendo are great at finding ideas that at first glance seem really silly, but were borne from research into the real world outside of the typical gamer echo chamber.

You're afraid to take out your switch? I am assuming you don't own a $300 phone either. Unless you're in a shady neighbourhood at weird hours of the night waiting for the train no one care about your switch. I see a few people using them on the subway but surprisingly handhelds never seemed super popular on the train because I dont even see many people on the cheaper Nintendo DS's either. I see lots of people gaming on their phones though.

Yeah it's a little weird but I just don't feel good about taking it outside yet... maybe that will change.

As for the second part of your comment, it's simple. Playing handheld video games in public is not typical or socially normal in the US... unless it's on your phone.

Why does it matter whether or not it's typical or socially normal? Are people going to beat you if you stand out as a minor nerd?

No. I play games during my commute all the time. I'm explaining why it is not more common in the US.

> I will say the ability to go from couch/TV/projector to bed and still be playing the same game is awesome.

WiiU has your back there too, assuming your house is not too big. I do kinda wish the Switch managed to keep the feature of dual screen play. Not having it makes my hopes for a new Mario Maker for Switch pretty faint.

> And yes, FFVI is the best JRPG of all time.


And yes, I live in the US in a small town and my commute to work is on the order of ~5 minutes.

>... their hardware and success seems largely based off of gimmicks.

Nintendo’s gimmicks of today are tomorrow’s table stakes. See: shoulder buttons, analog sticks, rumble, wireless, motion, portability.

Actually Nintendo invented the D-pad too (kinda).

"The SNES was inarguably (though not at the time, Blast Processing and all) superior in graphics, audio, and control compared to other popular consoles at the time (that being Sega Genesis of course)."

It was better suited to the kinds of things liked by the mainstream audience, but it wasn't inarguably better. The Genesis had higher resolution graphics for most of its games, a sound chip that didn't sound muffled all the time because of severely limited sample memory, and a faster CPU meaning less slowdown and loading delays (cartridge systems still had loading delays, because when storage space costs that much you compress things as much as possible, and decompress into ram at runtime). The SNES has nothing like the games by Treasure for the Genesis.

While I agree about the higher resolution point (SNES technically did support higher resolutions than Genesis, but not many games used this functionality as it used more VRAM), I'm confused about two other points.

> a sound chip that didn't sound muffled all the time because of severely limited sample memory

Huh? SNES sound chip, SPC700 has 64KB of RAM, supported 8 voices and had 32 kHz sampling rate.

For comparison combination of Z80 and YM2612 used by Genesis had 8KB of RAM, supported 6 voices and had 22 kHz sampling rate.

That said, I agree that SNES sound does sound muffled, although this is mostly due to Guassian filter involved. The available RAM didn't help, but Sega Genesis had even worse in terms of available RAM.

> a faster CPU

Until you realize that all instruction execution times are multiples of four cycles. Yes, the CPU is 7.6 MHz, not 3.58 MHz, but effectively SNES CPU is slightly faster for FastROM games (not all games used fast cartridges however, for slower cartridges, SNES uses 2.56 MHz clock). Not much, but...

>combination of Z80 and YM2612 used by Genesis had 8KB of RAM, supported 6 voices and had 22 kHz sampling rate

Technically true, but misleading, because the 22kHz only applied to the DAC mode. The effective sampling rate (sampling rate needed to reproduce the output using PCM synthesis) of the FM synthesis mode is about 53kHz. And the Genesis also had a 4 channel (3 square, 1 noise) SN76489 PSG integrated on the VPU die, with effective sampling rate of about 224kHz, which could be used at the same time as the YM2612. In practice the frequency response is bottlenecked by the analog parts, but it still beats the SNES. The limited RAM is also of little importance because FM synthesis can generate complex tones without it.

In contrast, SNES music is entirely sample based, so it's entirely dependent on sample RAM size (unless you're streaming samples from the cartridge, which is too expensive to do during gameplay). Theoretically it could use extremely short looping samples for PC Engine-style wavetable synthesis (which to my ears sounds better than standard SNES music), but AFAIK no commercially released game did this.

>Until you realize that all instruction execution times are multiples of four cycles. Yes, the CPU is 7.6 MHz, not 3.58 MHz, but effectively SNES CPU is slightly faster for FastROM games

The Genesis not only had a faster clock, but also a wider data bus, more registers, wider registers, and higher memory bandwidth. You're right that "megahertz myth" comparisons are invalid, but you're wrong that this lets the SNES win. https://segaretro.org/Blast_processing has some detailed technical comparisons.

And yet the Genesis couldn't do Mode 7, which was responsible for some of the coolest graphical tricks on SNES games.

You're putting a lot of weight on a very brief period in which Nintendo's hardware was at the top of the hardware performance pile. Nintendo hasn't been doing that for well over 20 years and it's worked out very well for them, for the most part.

I know, and it's kinda sad, but not really. Nintendo tried the "most powerful" tact again with N64, and even if they did not insist on using cartridges, I doubt the system would have had a clear cut graphical advantage over the PS1.

The SNES was the perfect combo of better color pallet, better gfx effects, better audio, and a better controller, compared to it's main competition. And to be fair, without the slew of brilliant games produced for the system, all that would have been for naught. But it was the whole package that made that system great. It had the best of all worlds at the time.

Of course today building a "most powerful" console would be complete folly with the PC gaming platform around, and no console maker even tries, though Sony and MS might fight amongst themselves. At the time however, consoles were truly head and shoulders above what common PC's could do in the 2d and audio realm.

That analysis looks a little different if you recall the 'wow factor' competitor for the SNES wasn't a PC or another home console - it was the arcade machine. That part of the hierarchy disappeared completely.

Sadly yes. But having that "wow factor" in your home, especially in the form of extended play RPGs, was really something at the time. I'll also say that most arcade games really did not pay much thought to music, probably because of the noisy arcade venues.

And don't forgot some of the excellent SNES ports of arcade games (and the controversy over the "bloodless" Mortal Kombat on an otherwise superior version compared to Genesis).

I still rue the day when my local arcade was shutdown and replaced with a clothing store. Damn you, kids these days.

did not pay much thought to music

Hah, come on now. For all the merits of Chrono Trigger, what goes with everything? That's right. Guile theme.

I'll give you that. Butttttt, I bet it sounded way more awesome on the SNES. Prove me wrong! (no really, I'm enjoying this kinda quasi 16bit war discussion).

Case in point: TMNT: Turtles in Time

Okay, I take it back. Guile's theme sounds way more epic on the CPS2. Damn you Internet.

Are you listening to SF2 Turbo instead of the CPS1-based SF 2 World Warrior? Probably doing the SNES a bit of a disservice since I'm pretty sure it just reuses the original World Warrior music. Which was also re-arranged for the SNES but those two are a fair bit closer. I'd imagine for the SNES ports, the arrangers had to deal not just with the more limited sound hardware but also the fact that the whole thing had to look and sound decent on everything starting from a crappy tv with a tiny speaker and up.

IIRC all the new Marios had a dedicated button to that spin, z I think.

I think Odyssey is the first that has enough variations that you can't just use button combos for some. I tried playing it with a wired controller without accelerometer support while a nunchuk was out to get fixed, it was had to do a lot of the moves.

> I can count on one hand the number of times I've used the Switch outside the house

For me it isn't even about taking it outside or play while commuting so much as being able to pick it up and play it on the couch, at my desk, while watching food cook etc. Also the ability to just pick it up, take it to a friends and play games I own but they don't on their TV.

> I can count on one hand the number of times I've used the Switch outside the house

I use it regularly in handheld mode and in fact Switch is my first Nintendo console, which I would not buy if it wasn't portable.

idk I play it when I poop. Best feature of all time.

The Switch and smartphones have truly increased the value and necessity of having a house with multiple bathrooms.

And the hemorrhoid cream industry.


Nintendo IP is far more interesting, but after living in Tokyo and meeting a lot of people that liked Disney. It's a difficult task to not have fun in a Disney property. They just make it enjoyable for everyone. Not sure if it's worth the price outside of families in the US, but I have always had a good time no matter what continent I was on, even as an adult.

I'm not that attached to the Disney IP at all. I don't care about Pixar, Mickey Mouse, Starwars or Marvel. I'm very attached to video games, especially from the gamecube/ps2 to the wii/ps3 era. That was my childhood, Halo3, Bioshock, GTA San Andreas, Mario Galaxy. I got recently into more retro games from the N64/PS1 era, and I absolutely love those, they have this charming simplicity to them. I just don't feel anything for Disney, didn't grow up with it.

While it is really fun (I went a bunch of times and it was enjoyable every time), I think the pricing is so exorbitantly high that it doesn't compare. There are other things which I really love doing that I could do very extravagantly for a tenth of the price. I wish that was hyperbole.

I was about to go with a different console to stop my 10yr old bugging me about Fortnite. Him and his friends short attention span and deserve to be messaging with friends means be still spends much of his time on mobile or laptop.

I’ve read this about 4 times and I still can’t quite figure out what this comment is trying to communicate.



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