Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Thought to Chew: The Death of Iwata and a Look Into the Future

On June 11th, tragedy struck as Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, gave his last breath.
The man was a legend. He breathed life into every project he worked on. He helped create Mother. He helped compress Pokemon Gold and Silver to half its size to fit in the Kanto region. He singlehandedly ported Pokemon Stadium's battle system in under a week without a reference to look off of.
He did more than just games to keep Nintendo afloat. He refused to go into battle with Sony and Microsoft, focusing more on consumer relationships than the console battlefield. He cut his pay drastically following the shortcomings of the Wii U sales so nobody else on his team would have to do the same. Most importantly, though, he kept the childlike wonder of Nintendo alive. He was unafraid to make jokes at his own expense, and even though we never knew him, he allowed us to feel close to him.
His death caused a hiccup, to say the least. he joins martyrs of the gaming industry, and alongside the late Gunpei Yokoi, helped to define an era. There will be an empty imprint for the years to come, left unfilled by the man, and while his charisma may be gone, we have to move on.

Nintendo is at a crossroads. It's reaching a middle-aged point, having been hip in the '80s with many of its fans having their own children. The world has kept moving, and with it, Nintendo's had to keep up with the times. The Amiibo craze caused a stirrup, sure, but the biggest thing coming up is Nintendo's foray into mobile gaming. Nintendo has announced that they will be producing five different games, all with different genres and new IPs.
The finest point worth further articulation is the "new IPs". For reference, let's compare to Sega. Nintendo's once-rival has taken to the app store, and instead of producing new games, gone the more safe way by selling downloads of their own games. This makes a lot of sense in the phone game market, especially considering the success of emulators in recent years. Many phone users have emulators, so it seems fair to give gamers what they want: a quick gaming fix-in on the go. However, there's reward, but little risk.
It might bring in some paper, but there will no doubt be criticism involved. Repackaging old games is a hard sell sometimes, and gamers aren't afraid to get vocal due to a lack of originality. However, the same issue is frequently with new IPs. The terrifying truth and reason why this always happens is that originality just doesn't sell.
Some eagle-eyed readers might be quick to point out that a little while earlier, I failed to acknowledge Sonic Dash, but let's be fair, it's a poor man's Doodle Jump with a fresh coating of paint. It's not exactly as ambitious as a full game.
However, I digress. Nintendo has had a good streak with new titles recently, especially with the release of Splatoon, which has gone on to become the best-selling Wii U game worldwide with over one million copies sold. There's a lot of excitement to be had, considering that Nintendo hasn't had a dud trying to make a new IP in as long as I can remember. While it may not be the next Mario, arguably, it's a great sign that Nintendo is able to try something new. All in all, there's a lot to be excited about for the future, but to tie the whole article together, we can never know what the future lies. The future has good fortune as much as it has tragedy, so only time will tell.

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