Nintendo has an Imagination Problem

My favorite video game company hasn’t sold me on its new system, and that is a serious problem.

Why? Because I am the biggest Nintendo fan in the world. However, I never spend money without major justification, and so far, the Wii U isn’t a worthwhile purchase. You’re looking at someone who bought a Gamecube over the PS2. The Wii instead of the HD systems. The DS over the PSP. The Gameboy over the Gamegear. N64 over PS1. The SNES over Genesis. The NES over Atari.

I have them all… except the Wii U. 

This next generation, I am craving only to play the Playstation 4.

Nintendo, this is a serious problem.
Take this seriously! I am THE BIGGEST Nintendo fan I know. I am one of the only people in my group of friends to own either a Wii or a 3DS. My friends all own PS3s and 360s. I am your diehard supporter. Your most loyal customer. I am become death for you, Nintendo!

It all started a year or so after buying my Wii. I enjoyed it, don’t get my wrong, but I really wanted to play a little game called Oblivion. All my friends had played it, and I felt left out. So, I got a PS3.

From then on, I mostly bought PS3 games, and I realized something: Nintendo is having a major imagination problem. What I loved most about Nintendo was that I would get the weirdest, quirkiest types of games from them. Less violent first-person shooters, and more things like Gorillas in minecarts, plumbers stomping mushrooms, and monsters in my pocket.

But even the most unique idea can get old when it is done over and over and over and over. When a unique idea gets overworked, it becomes not-unique anymore.

Mario is an imaginative idea that has been repeated so many times that it has now lost its charm. Pokémon. Kirby. Zelda. All of Nintendo’s major franchises has been run into the ground by a severe lack of innovation. Nintendo has lost all sense and spirit for imagination, and it’s killing itself by continuing to retread ground without bringing something new to the table.

And it hurts that Sony has become the leader in imaginative new experiences. For someone like me that doesn’t care about first-person shooters, Sony’s PS3 was the best platform I could have asked for: Infamous. Fat Princess. LittleBIGPlanet. Stardust. Pixeljunk Eden. Warhawk. Puppeteer. Uncharted. Modnation Racers. Flower. These are highly-imaginative franchises BORN on PS3, I’m not even including games like Skyrim or Diablo 3 that are sequels.

Sony is out-imagining Nintendo. What a weird world we live in.

The Wii was a sequel machine and a method to play terrible party games for children, such as Wii Music. For all that, the Wii U is worse.

New Super Mario Bros was only NEW on DS. It now has not one, but TWO sequels on Wii U and one on 3DS. They are planning TWO Smash Bros games. They are creating a direct sequel to Mario 3D Land. There was a sequel to Mario Galaxy. A sequel to Wii Sports, and soon a remake of the original pack-in game. There will soon be TWO sequels to Wii Fit. They remade Wind Waker, Star Fox 64, Ocarina of Time. They sequalized Luigi’s Mansion, Pikmin, Kirby, Zelda. Donkey Kong on Wii was remade for 3DS, and now there’s a direct sequel. Animal Crossing got a minor update on Wii, then 3DS. This list could go on and on and on…

Sakurai, the man who created Smash Bros, once pointed out during the development of Brawl that there haven’t been very many new Nintendo characters created in recent years. He noted that Olimar was the newest addition, and he was even growing old as a character. Truly, I can only think of one recent new Nintendo character, and that is Dillon the Armadillo. For the new Smash Bros, Sakurai has to resort to adding the trainer from Wii Fit… While I love the joke character, it clearly demonstrates Nintendo’s imagination problem. If Smash Bros has to resort to including a generic yoga instructor from an exercise game for its most popular game franchise fighter, it has needs to consider the idea that it is running out of new ideas.

Nintendo isn’t creating. They aren’t imagining. They are losing the war for new ideas to Sony, and they are losing me as a customer.

Dear Nintendo,


1. Create new games with new characters and experiences. It seems like when you take bigger risks, you do better. The Wii U was not a risk; it was over-thought and planned for mainstream. The Wii, by contrast, was so new and wild that it surprised us. Don’t give us what you think we want. Give us what we didn’t know we wanted.

2. Stop making direct sequels.
No more New Super Mario Bros, especially. Bowser does not always have to be the end boss. The Princess doesn’t always have to be in distress. Remember when you would give Mario new big-bosses to fight? Remember
Tatanga? Wart? Wario? Don’t bring them back, but give Mario a NEW challenge / world.

3. Give your old franchises a break, or else use them in new ways that truly shake things up. No more walking from gym to gym in Pokémon. No more Elite Four. No more Team-whatever. Think outside the box! Isn’t there some other type of adventure a Pokémon trainer might go on? Each game has the SAME exact story as the last. OR, consider giving a franchise a break. If you’re just going to make another Kirby game that plays exactly how every other Kirby game already does, why not just let him sit a generation out? You’re KILLING your franchises by overworking them. Nobody is excited for games that don’t have anything new to offer.

4. Start games without having to collect everything you’ve already gotten in the last game. Zelda, I’m looking at you. Every Zelda game has you collect the boomerang, the iron boots, the bow, hookshot, the shield, etc. etc. Why not just have Link start the game with all of his cliché gear? We all know, by now, the basics that make Link Link. Start him fully equipped, and then give us brand-new ideas for things to collect. Metroid could learn this lesson, too. When I start without everything I’ve earned in the previous game, it makes me feel like everything I’ve done in the last game was meaningless.

5. Add a unified achievements system. This is the biggest, best new community feature. Hop on board. I love being able to look up what my friends have been playing. It makes me want to buy games, play them, and compete to build my achievements with my friends. Nintendo is missing out on sales because of this. I refuse to buy a multiplatform game on anything but my PS3, because I know my achievements will always be there, like a trophy room, to remind me of what I have accomplished.

6. Hire me. No, seriously. Look. At. All. I. Have. To. Offer. Disney has Imagineers, and you’re in need of one. I have so many practical ideas, and you’re my absolute favorite video game company. Let’s work together to design fresh, new experiences and characters. You need someone that is hip to what the people are thinking. Someone who can speak corporate while encouraging vision and innovation. Email me.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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