Many would say that, in recent years, Nintendo has been a hollow shell of the company that it had once presented itself as. It appeared as if they had forsaken their core fan base in the name of innovation with the release of the Wii and, whilst that may have been a massive success with just shy of 102 million units sold to date, it just wasn’t that good. The Wii U followed a short 6 years later with a baffling and cringe-inducing reveal at E3, marking their last live E3 performance to date, and rightfully so. While both Sony and Microsoft were making strides in their respective markets, Nintendo appeared to have lost their magic altogether.
I believe, however, they’ve found it once again. After the superb reveal of the Nintendo Switch, followed swiftly by a seemingly renewed focus on the ‘core’ gamer with promises and hyperbole alike, Nintendo fever is at an all-time high, at least when compared to the last decade or so. Coupled with the meteoric success of Pokemon Go which, while it wasn’t designed by Nintendo per se, capitalizes on what Nintendo have stood for in recent years, being the formation of social connections and new experiences. The new strategies, and possible catalyst for change, appeared to come into play when Nintendo came under new leadership, specifically being Tatsumi Kimishima, who succeeded the much-beloved Saturo Iwata after his passing in 2015.
The recent release of Mario Run furthers the apparent re-invigoration displayed by Nintendo. I stated a while back that they would be better to ditch the hardware, focusing purely on their software experiences without having to worry about fitting and/or forcing it around their latest gimmick, whether it be motion controls or a second screen experience. To me, Mario Run competently shows that they could do just that, and regardless of the platform they put their beloved franchises on, they would be able to make it work whilst still retaining their own identity. If they had ditched the hardware, however, they would lose a primary characteristic of what makes them who they are, being their stubbornness and, as an extension, perseverance, to deviate from their beliefs and goals. I would never knowingly wish that deviation on any individual or entity as, as stated, their identity would be lost, but if it was the deciding factor on the life or death of a company as a whole, exceptions can be made.
I digress; Nintendo continue to walk their own path as they have always done and, despite walking said path, they have continued to remain in the shadows of both Sony and Microsoft, companies that were once considered their rivals. Under the leadership of Tatsumi Kimishima, 2016 has been a somewhat promising year for Nintendo, with 2017 being a true return to form. Excitement had all but vanished from the gaming industry, for me at least, but the next 12 months are going to be very interesting indeed.
Are Nintendo still a force to be reckoned with? Let us know!