Can I just go ahead and be a bit of a Nintendo fanboy for a minute and say that Nintendo kicked so many butts during 2010? I have so much good to mention that I’m not sure how to contain myself. However, as with anything, they hit a few major stalls, just like the other two from The Big Three. Gus started us out rather well yesterday with Sony’s 2010 Year In Review, but now it’s Nintendo’s turn. Here’s Nintendo’s 2010 Year In Review!
Can we not just take a moment and celebrate the return of the platformer? Super Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid: Other M, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns. Man, I am a happy platforming camper! Let’s dissect those titles just a bit.
First off, Super Mario Galaxy 2 was and still is my choice for 2010 Game of the Year. I’m even going so far as to say that it’s my favorite Mario game, period. Hefty claims, sure, but I was so, so pleased with the final product that it’s hard for me not to sing its endless praises. You get your money’s worth from Galaxy 2, and while a lot of people keep complaining that it’s just more of the same from the first Galaxy, what the hell are you talking about? The basics are the same, but there are new elements added and over 95% of the game is entirely new. If you love Mario, you’ll probably love Galaxy 2. If you hate Mario, duh, you’ve been hating on Galaxy 2 for the worst part of 2010 and need to just step aside and enjoy whatever game you like instead. This is just MY favorite.
Metroid: Other M is mainly positive but what people have been talking about most is the stupidest aspect from the game: Samus talks. A lot. I’m of the camp that Samus absolutely should be allowed to talk, but not very much. No, it doesn’t ruin the game, but there are some elements that the Japanese team from Team Ninja fumbled pretty bad. Samus’ reasoning for running around the game depowered? Her superior officer, a guy named Adam, hasn’t okayed certain powers yet. Yikes. Samus, one of the strongest examples of a female not used like an idiot in video games, runs around in lava because her male superior said she couldn’t turn her heat suit on. That’s just, yikes. Otherwise the rest of the game is perfectly solid. But, ugh, can we get a collective facepalm here? *collective facepalm* Thank you.
With Kirby’s Epic Yarn, the emphasis was placed more on creating a game based around fun rather than a challenge. It was impossible to die in any level, making a handful of hardcore fans turn away, but those that stayed got a chance to see the Wii shine as a graphical marvel. Why? Because everything really, truly looks like it’s made of yarn.
Donkey Kong Country Returns is the near opposite of Kirby with platforming segments that’ll make you want to punch your co-op partner right in the face. Thankfully, Retro Studios pulled off a perfect recreation of the style from the original Donkey Kong Country games, making for so many good times.
And while I didn’t do a review or anything of it (don’t ask me why, I must be a bad editor), Monster Hunter Tri sold exactly one gazillion copies and has quickly become the most-played title on the Wii. So good job Monster Hunter! Keep up that…monster hunting I guess.
In the DS department, holy cow, can we say Dragonquest IX and Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver? Two massively successful RPG’s both attuned to the DS sensibilities of simple gameplay and deep, lengthy adventures with craptons to do. Both games can easily reward you with hours in the abundance of hundreds worth of gameplay. You’d hardly have a reason to buy any other titles. Except Super Scribblenauts. You should have bought that one, too.
So the big letdowns from Nintendo this year sort of come down to what they didn’t do. The Wii’s sales have begun to take a heavy downward slide, and while I could go on and on about how hardware sales don’t really mean much, the basic gist is that the Wii has hit its peak. Why don’t we have a Wii HD? I have no clue, but yet another year without one just gives ammunition to graphical nuts that demand every game look as amazing as possible, otherwise they have no reason to play it.
In addition to the omission of a new main console update, Nintendo has continued to do a really, really sucky jobs promoting 3rd party developers on the system. There have been some great games released for the system, such as Masamura The Demon Blade, and too few people ended up playing it to reward the developer with a reason to make another title for the Wii any time soon. You may argue that it’s not Nintendo’s job to promote 3rd party titles, but keep in mind that Microsoft and Sony do that all the freaking time and as a result, sales go up on their systems and on the games promoted. Nintendo is just shooting themselves in the foot with 3rd party developers at this point. Anyone remember what happened in the GameCube era? We got a lot of good Nintendo titles, Resident Evil 4, and not much else. All because Nintendo was being stubborn.
My point here with Nintendo’s “bad” category is that while they didn’t do anything inherently wrong this year (thankfully they already got their stupid motion control system release out of the way), they didn’t particularly do anything to inspire confidence that their console titles will be much to look forward to in the future. Also, yet another year they haven’t hired me as a Localization Writer/Editor. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!
Somewhere In Between
With Nintendo, they usually just shift toward a definite “Good” and a definite “Bad.” Of the games that came out this year that fall somewhere in the middle, Epic Mickey sort of defines the middle ground. It isn’t a bad game by any stretch of the term, but it also isn’t quite the title people were hoping it would be. Plus, Warren Spector started griping about people griping about the camera, and that just bugs me. A bad camera is a bad camera, no matter what. Deal, Warren.
Another Not Quite Bad, Not Quite Good title was the Wii remake of GoldenEye. This was supposed to be the exalted return of the FPS to a Nintendo console but it turned into a big heavy “meh.” You can certainly do worse, but it’s not even interesting enough to mention more than what I just did.
Finishing off the Somewhere In Between are Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers and No More Heroes 2, both titles that have their fanbases but both titles that I completely forgot existed since the beginning of the year. But hey, go play those if you feel inclined. They’re probably in the cheap games pile by this point, so you have nothing to lose.
Where Nintendo really hit the hardest is their lineup for next year. I’m sad they have no plans for a better home console (announced anyway), but I am getting a 3DS at launch even if I have to give up a lung, a kidney, and a testicle. Might as well since Nintendo has me by the balls so frequently.
Anyway, enough of that imagery for you, the 3DS had demos for a new Kid Icarus title, a new Paper Mario title, a remake of both Star Fox 64 and Ocarina of Time, possibly a new Metal Gear Solid game, and perhaps the most impressive graphical feat, a Resident Evil title that’s sure to make a lot of those aforementioned graphics nuts very, very pleased. Damn do I want a 3DS.
The Wii doesn’t really have anything new I’m hoping for other than Skyward Sword, the new Zelda game, though that assumes it doesn’t get pushed back as usual to make room for…actually I’m not sure why Zelda games get pushed back so frequently. Make with the new Zelda titles already! Dance, monkey, dance!
Oh, and lastly, new Pokemon games. The 5th generation is already out in Japan, but the US will be getting Pokemon Black & White in the early months of 2011, so keep an eye out for when those come out and dominate the sales charts yet again.
What sort of rating does Nintendo get this year? I’m a diehard fan, so of course I’m handing Nintendo its A’s like I fixed the test in its favor. From a business standpoint though, Nintendo is scraping by with a D, which means it’s passing but it’d have to retake the course for credit toward its major. Simply, Nintendo needs to make friendly with the 3rd party developers as soon as it possibly can, otherwise it’ll be all alone again and we’ll have to watch as Microsoft gobbles the market (yeah, eat it Sony fanboys!).
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