An open letter to Nintendo Fans: Where's the new Nintendo franchise?

An open letter to Nintendo Fans: Where's the new Nintendo franchise?

Written by Charles Husemann on 6/9/2008 for DS   Wii  

Dear Nintendo Fans,
You deserve better.  Really you do.  Your blind devotion to Nintendo, which is rarely seen outside of Apple conventions and religious cults, is commendable but you deserve something new.   You deserve a new set of characters with their own plotlines and Nintendo is letting you down.  The launch of the Wii would have been the perfect chance to introduce a new franchise that used the controls in a new and innovative way.  Instead we got iterations of the same franchises we’ve been playing in the past (Zelda, Mario, Metroid, MarioParty, Mario Kart, etc).  The Xbox 360 (Gears of War) and PS3(Resistance Fall of Man) got new franchises within a year or so of their launch and yet Nintendo has been content to keep using the same roster of characters we've seen before.

There's no doubt that the Wii hardware is unique and innovative but why hasn't Nintendo expanded their character roster in years?  I did a little research and checked with our in house experts and the last new Nintendo franchise they could remember was was PikMin back in 2003.  That’s right, it’s been almost five years since Nintendo created a new franchise.  Compare that with Electronic Arts who has delivered four major new IP’s in the last year, two of which (Boogie and Boom Blox) were for the Wii. I know Shigeru has been working on WiiFit but why haven't we seen anything new from him recently?  You could argue that Nintendogs,WiiSports, or WiiFit are new but are can you really put them in same league as a Mario or Zelda game?

You have to wonder why Nintendo has become comfortable to just crank out slightly update versions of their old franchises.   Is it because it's easy to crank out new games with existing characters because they know their fans will eat it up no matter what?  Is it because they are afraid of creating something new that won't fly with their faithful?  Is it possible that the roster is full and that they think adding more will dilute it?

It doesn't help that the Nintendo faithful eat up every new game that Nintendo cranks out even if the game just features updated controls or a slight twist on the gameplay.  Why are the fans still content with rescuing Princess Peach and Zelda year after year?  I haven't seen this much of abuse of a fanbase sense George Lucas unleashed Jar Jar Binks on his fans.  The only difference is that the Star Wars fans actually rebelled against Lucas while the Nintendo fans have continued to buy the games in droves while the Nintendo fans seem content to continue to do the same thing they've been doing for years.

Look at Super Smash Brothers Brawl.  If you’re a long time Nintendo fan this was a near perfect game but to an outsider the game was average at best.  The plot of the single player game barely makes any sense and the controls aren't exactly the most intuitive in the world  The same could almost be said of Wii version Mario Kart which maintains the same flaws of the previous games but sold like hot cakes because of the emotional investment the Nintendo faithful have in their core franchises.  I'd go on about online support but I think even the most ardent Nintendo fan will admit that the friends code system is heavily flawed.

EA catches a lot of crap from fans because they milk their sports franchise every year but isn't that really what Nintendo is doing with the Mario brand?  If EA owned the Mario brand and came out with Mario tennis and soccer games fans would be up in the air but Nintendo is able to avoid the ire of their fanboys.  I'm not saying these games are bad and they are certainly of a higher standard that what EA cranks out on a yearly basis but where are the new characters that this generation of game players is going to fall in love with? 

I'm not saying that having and using franchise characters is a bad thing as it's nice to grow old with characters but shouldn't we be getting something new?  There are other companies out there that live and die of core characters but they continue to develop and expand their universe.  Look at Disney.  Disney's bread and butter is Mickey Mouse but they  continued to introduce new characters to their lineup every few years.  Not all of them were classics but it does help expand their empire a bit.

Again I'm not casting aspersions on the quality of the product that Nintendo is creating, I'm just asking why one of the most creative companies in the world hasn't been able to come up with a new IP in years.  Is the focus on the new hardware been such a time suck that Nintendo hasn't been able to focus on creating a new game for their fans?  Again I hope that changes soon as I have a lot of respect for Nintendo but I think it's time for them to expand the roster a bit.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.

An open letter to Nintendo Fans: Where's the new Nintendo franchise? An open letter to Nintendo Fans: Where's the new Nintendo franchise? An open letter to Nintendo Fans: Where's the new Nintendo franchise? An open letter to Nintendo Fans: Where's the new Nintendo franchise?

About Author

Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom.   I have been a Microsoft Xbox MVP since 2009.
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