22 January 2017

Bye U Billy O

Waltzed into a Gamestop today and finally got a straight answer about the status of the WiiU. After noticing it disappear from shelf stores, seeing a few conflicting statements of questionable credibility (redistributing stock, ceasing production in Japan...), and seeing a few WiiU games on my Amazon Wishlist skyrocket into scalp/flip/gouge territory, the console is dead. Breath of the Wild will be the last game released for it, and that's coming about a week or two after the Switch edition. I'd held out this hope that the reason for the discontinuing was for the sake of a redesign. This whole "Pibb Xtra" sort of switcheroo is nothing new to the likes of Sony, given the sheer number of redesigns for the original Playstation, to say nothing of dos and san. It's not even anything new to Nintendo, albeit their Wii-Mini was a disappointment on a colossal scale... and jury's still kind of out on the GameBoy Micro. Sadly, the math is against the world's oldest Hanafuda-maker; with the sole exception of the Wii, every console since the original NES has sold worse than the last. 
The SNES took blood out of Mortal Kombat. 
The N64 stuck with cartridges. 
The Gamecube was Johnny-Come-Lately after the PS2 and XBox. 
The Wii won... by the law of averages at best and a fluke at worst (*cough*shovelware*cough*). 

None of these points was at all the notorious blue shell that crashed Nintendo's kart, except that they do speak to a handful of overarching problems with how Nintendo conducts itself. 
The Mortal Kombat Kon--Controversy plus Sega's aggressive infantalizing campaign against Nintendo didn't help them shed their image as the Disney of games, closing out an older audience with bigger wallets. Madden football may have played a big part as well, but let's stick to bullet points. 
The cartridges in the 64 further showed that Nintendo really was not the fit-in/play-nice type with 3rd party developers, especially Squaresoft (who took their franchises and legions of fans over to camp Sony). 
The GameCube appeared at first to carry on the "our way or no way" philosophy of the 64 with its quirky "not quite mini-disc" format while its competition offered CD and DVD players. 

The WiiU's failure... is somewhat hazy right now. Some say the marketing made it sound like a peripheral (wouldn't that have generated MORE interest, though?), others say the marketing fell back on bad habits and forgot how old their core audience had become, and still more point to the one-two punch of a novel interface with barely-there third-party support (small library, fewer readers). My own idea is simply that they could have waited; Sony proved with the overlap between each generation of Playstation that the five-year cycle is a joke, barely an observation and certainly not a law. Hardware is not even half the equation when it comes to consoles; people will come for the specs, but stay for the games. 

Going back to the Gamecube, for as shameless a Sony fanboy as I am, for as invested as I became in all it came to offer me and deliver upon, I stand with Caddicarus (an even more shameless fanboy than me) when I say that if I had to pick between the two, I would legitimately take the GameCube over the PS2 any day of the week. It's a great console with superior hardware (Metroid Prime still looks better than Halo 2), a surprisingly liberal third-party policy (SEGA, anyone?), and a games library which ultimately favored quality over quantity. Like the WiiU, I think their problem with it was itchy feet. Metroid Prime 2 and Twilight Princess alone showed what untapped potential there was in that off-the-shelf Radeon card; there's no reason they couldn't have buoyed themselves on their handhelds while letting the Cube find a stronger, more loyal audience. Hell, when I was looking into springing for a U, my wishlist only had two items on it, both HD upgrades of perfectly adept Zelda games I already had for my perfectly viable Gamecube. I guess all I truly wanted was a backup with benefits, a silver medal with no strings attac--okay, I'm not doing myself any favors here.  

As for the Switch, I genuinely just now caught a glimpse of the new Bomberman title for it while writing this, and I am now officially excited. I'm no longer worried Nintendo may be jumping the gun and not giving the U the chance the Gamecube never had. I don't think I'll be going the early adoption route, but I don't see why there won't soon be a Switch happily docked next to my TV. 
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