As early as the 1970s, Nintendo was already at work making a dent in the then-early age of the gaming industry with the Color TV Game series in 1977 and the development of games like Donkey Kong for arcade cabinets and Game & Watch on handhelds. However, it wasn’t until 1983 that the Nintendo Entertainment System was launched, which gave Nintendo dominance in the industry’s console and handheld wars. Although this was challenged when Sony entered the battlefield with the PlayStation in 1994 and its successor console, the PlayStation 2 in 2000, which topped Nintendo’s sales, the birth of the Wii once again gave Nintendo the edge, and they’ve held their ground ever since. Through the years, Nintendo has picked up and maintained a loyal fan base that grew up with classic characters and game series like Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Kirby.
Despite the legacy Nintendo has left over the past two or three decades in the gaming industry, many speculated that they might be collapsing in the face of far more powerful systems like the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. Due to this speculation, it was assumed that Nintendo would begin changing direction by targeting casual gamers (who are interested in quick games with no long-term commitment or complex mechanics or plot). This certainly seemed to be the case at E3 2008 and 2009, as many of the old-time Nintendo franchises were not mentioned in releases for new games, but instead were replaced by games that easily made use of the motion controls of the Wiimote. Instead of Mario, we were given Wii Fit Plus; in place of Zelda we got games like Animal Crossing City Folk. This enraged and disappointed countless loyal Nintendo fans.
Then, at this year’s E3, the unexpected happened: Nintendo came out hitting hard to reclaim hardcore gamers’ trust while keeping casual gamers happy with a myriad of new games. The hardcore gamers were treated to announcements of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword,Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and a remake of Goldeneye 007. Meanwhile, the casual gamers got Wii Party, , and Mario Sports Mix (which appeals to casual and hardcore gamers alike, as it plays like most other sports titles, just with some fan-favorite Nintendo characters in the mix.). And the action didn’t stop there! Nintendo just kept on going strong with the announcement of their Nintendo 3DS, the successor to the DSi. Not only is it a handheld gaming device, but it’s in 3D, WITHOUT the need for glasses or other eyewear, and one of the launch titles is Kid Icarus: Uprising, a huge announcement given that the last game in this franchise was released around twenty years ago!.
After this year’s stunning display of releases from Nintendo, I believe they’ve finally started down the road to finding a balanced approach that caters to both casual and hardcore gamers.. I am quite excited by Nintendo’s hand being extended to the old fans once again, and I can’t wait for some of these amazing titles on both sides of the aisle.