“The fate of a video game system is often influenced greatly by the introduction of a single title.” Truer words have never been spoken by Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata. Iwata said this to investors in a recent Q & A session and cited a legendary example to prove his point.
“As many of you probably remember, before the release of the Pokémon game, Game Boy had been showing slow growth, and many people wondered whether it was the end of Game Boy. But the Pokémon game singlehandedly changed the landscape of the system, which then started to show the strongest sales in the lifecycle of the system.“
It has been a very long time since people bought Nintendo systems for their third party support. With every passing generation Nintendo promises better support from third party companies but leaves gamers more empty handed in that regard each time around. However up until the Wii U and especially in the last generation, Nintendo consoles have done well regardless. Why? Because most people buy Nintendo consoles for Nintendo games. They are the only place where we can get our Mario Party on, stomp on goombas, and catch Pokémon. For that reason alone Nintendo has been able to stay afloat and stay independent.
However things aren’t going according to plan for the Wii U, at least not yet and there is a really good reason why. The first party offerings so far, such as Super Mario 3D World, have been solid games but don’t do anything radically different that the Wii and even the 3DS can’t or didn’t already do. Upcoming big name games such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. might do the trick or at least get things going in the right direction, but both of those games are updated iterations of games people have played many times before.
While already established franchises can do a lot of the heavy lifting, Nintendo needs a fresh idea to change the Wii U’s current destiny. Looking back at successful Nintendo consoles, you can pick out at least one game that set the video game world on fire. When Pokémon Red and Blue burst onto the scene and reinvigorated the Game Boy, it was a fresh idea from Nintendo that started a worldwide craze. More recently, Wii Sports and motion control did the same thing. The Nintendo 64? 3D platforming and Super Mario 64. As of right now, the Wii U isn’t offering anything that hasn’t been done already. Just some tired (albeit well made) games for old franchises and an under utilized tablet controller.
One game can change everything and what the Wii U needs is a fresh idea and a new franchise to be the face of its comeback, just as they have done many times before. Nintendo has pedigree and the vision to pull it off, its just a matter of doing it before it’s too late for the Wii U. Or if all else fails, Pokémon for the Wii U. That ought to do it.