For a while now, Nintendo consoles have been the “second system” for a lot of gamers. This is because the Xbox and PlayStation consoles often share similarities whereas the Nintendo consoles are radically different. As such, it makes sense to buy a Nintendo consoles once you have the funds and are looking for some variation. But there are reasons that, for many, Nintendo isn’t their “first console.”
For better or worse, Nintendo seems to pride themselves on their reputation of being both innovative and family friendly. This manifests in a variety of ways and has been the case for a while. With the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo created a party system with an atypical control scheme that broke the conventions of controller design. They found profound success in this move and, indeed, families seemed to gather around titles like Wii Sports or, unfortunately, an onslaught of shovelware. Oh well, they were having fun and Nintendo was making money. But their approach was alienating for some.
Third Party developers, for example, struggled to develop games that would work on the Wii as well as the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. This meant that, aside from the rare adaptation, gamers wouldn’t have the option of playing most of the popular games on a Nintendo Wii. Again, this didn’t really matter for Nintendo. They were making money and capturing the hearts of casual and younger gamers.
The other issue was Nintendo’s refusal to incorporate proper online play because exposure to adults wasn’t necessarily a good idea for children. This point is hard to refute. But, in doing so, Nintendo was making it clear that children were a huge priority for them.
Nintendo also serves as a gatekeeper, turning away mature or controversial games that could otherwise find potential success on their platforms. They famously didn’t allow The Binding of Isaac to release on the 3DS even though that game is relatively tame compared to a lot of other titles out there. In fact, Mad World is one of the only decent mature games that was released on the Wii and, despite its over the top, almost cartoonish violence and heavily stylized graphics, it caused a controversy. Were it on another system, I can’t imagine this would have been the case.
The pattern seemed to wane with the Wii U, which was closer in terms of controls and power to other contemporary consoles. There was also a bigger online presence, even if there was a lack of proper channels for communicating with players. It was all a hint that Nintendo’s consoles were growing up. Almost as if they were testing the waters with games like Bayonetta 2, Zombie U, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin’s Creed, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge.
It is, however, no secret that the Wii U wasn’t immensely successful so, in a relatively short amount of time, Nintendo began work on a console that would become known as the Nintendo Switch. This seemed to be a paradigm shift for Nintendo. And it was clear that their innovative design could appeal to a range of gamers. It is portable but can also function on a TV. It is comparable to competing systems. It has tons of exclusive as well as 3rd party support. The ability to play these 3rd party games in a variety of locales might even give an advantage to the Switch in the eyes of some gamers. The online capability is approaching something resembling decent and doesn’t seem to discriminate against voice chat. And, most importantly, it is welcoming to so many mature titles.
Doom, for example, is available on the Switch. South Park: The Fractured but Whole is available and that’s based on a show that I was forbidden to watch as a youngster. In the short time it has been out, adult gamers have had a lot of options for mature games that they are more than equipped to handle. And, in the ultimate show of Nintendo’s changing attitude, gamers can now buy The Binding of Isaac Afterbirth +. So, is Nintendo growing up alongside its audience? I’m leaning towards yes, definitely.
Image Credit: TakakiArts