Op-Ed: Crossovers and Collaborations Could Save Wii U

All while providing more great games for us to play.

By Jason Strong. Posted 01/16/2014 09:00 12 Comments     ShareThis

The coming year will see the release of several high profile entries in some of Nintendo’s greatest franchises. Titles like Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and of course Super Smash Bros. will go a long way to injecting new life into Wii U after what has admittedly been a slow start for the console. The fact remains, however, that Nintendo does not have the resources to single-handedly keep a steady stream of must have titles flowing across both its home console and handheld systems. This issue, combined with the likelihood that several high profile next gen games will be skipping the Big N’s platform could present a serious problem for the company in the coming year and beyond. Many of us have lived through the great game droughts that plagued the original Wii as well as GameCube and even N64. Without drastic action on Nintendo’s part history could all too easily repeat itself. In the midst of all of the doom and gloom that I’m spouting, however, there are several bright spots that give me hope that Nintendo has a long term plan to combat this kind of stagnation, chief of which are the recently announced Hyrule Warriors and the collaboration with Atlus to produce Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem.

For decades now, Nintendo’s greatest strength as a company has rested in its fantastic roster of franchises, beloved characters, and the near bottomless well of nostalgia that these properties inspire in the hearts of hardcore and casual gamers alike. Often, however, Nintendo is so caught up in development of the next big Mario or Zelda that other titles, not quite as popular perhaps, but with rabid fan bases of their own, go ignored. How long have gamers cried for a new EarthBound, F-Zero, or Star Fox game? The announcement of Hyrule Warriors and the Fire Emblem crossover (not to mention Nintendo working hand-in-hand with Namco on the next Super Smash Bros.) show a willingness on Nintendo’s part to put some of its core franchises into the hands of developers outside of its internal stable, a move which could ensure that many long ignored properties could finally get the attention and the affection that they deserve. My heart beats just a little faster when I imagine what a studio like Level-5, the geniuses behind last year’s fantastic Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch could do in the world of EarthBound, or what a perfect match the comedic and lighthearted elements present in many Platinum Games titles would be for the Star Fox universe. A steady stream of such collaborations could satiate the desire of Nintendo’s hardcore fan base for quality titles featuring their favorite characters as well as providing some much needed padding for what currently looks to be a sparse release schedule for the company in the coming year.

Crossovers and collaborations of this sort do, of course, come with their own set of risks. Past projects in this vein have given us three great games in the Zelda franchise; namely the Capcom co-developed Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages, and The Minish Cap. Some might argue, however, that the collaboration between Nintendo and Team Ninja on Metroid Other: M was less successful. While by no means a bad game, the title ultimately failed to capture the essence of the Metroid franchise and that ineffable Nintendo magic. If the company were to press forward with the strategy of lending out its franchises to other companies, quality control would be paramount. The main question would be whether Nintendo could ensure the integrity of its properties without expending an amount of resources that would negate the benefit of working in tandem with another studio.

In a perfect world every game featuring a Nintendo character would be developed by an in-house studio. The company has the greatest developers in the world at its disposal, a fact made apparent by the consistent quality of its games and the undying loyalty of its fan base. With the increased time and resources required to make games in the HD era, however, Nintendo’s ability to deliver titles in both quality and quantity decreases. Is farming out its characters the only way for the company to solve this problem? Certainly not. It may be that the Big N is way ahead of me and dozens of as of yet unannounced first party games are already in the pipeline, just waiting to surprise me at this year’s E3 or in an upcoming Nintendo Direct. If Nintendo did decide to continue to partner with a few trusted companies to produce games in a few specially chosen franchises, however, the result could only be more great great games for us– an outcome that I’m all too happy to embrace.

12 Responses to “Op-Ed: Crossovers and Collaborations Could Save Wii U”

  • 219 points
    PanurgeJr says...

    Even if there weren’t the question of the Wii U needing content I’d love to see Nintendo allow others to work on some of their properties. They have too many characters and too much gameplay that are going unused.

    Thumb up 1
  • 0 points
    says...

    The Wii U is caught between a rock and a hard place.

    The rock being that second screen, which prompts developers to not just port, but completely reconfigure every title they would port to the Wii U. It’s essentially asking companies who like to spread their resources razor-thin when making games to consider an extended development time and process (going down to the very basics of game-play) for the console with the least number of units moved, the smallest visibility, and an absolutely stringent “father-knows-best” attitude that has burned more than one third party developer in the past.

    The hard-place being the console specs. They’re dealing with a machine that is, for better or worse, an entire generation behind. While amazing things are no doubt still possible on the Wii U – the breath-taking graphics and computational situations that game-developers will be working on for the PS4 and X-Bone can’t be translated over to the Wii U. So now, on top of already having the smallest slice of market share, they’re going to have to convince developers that people will be more than happy to buy their graphically down-graded and less game-play intensive versions of their more popular titles.

    And while Nintendo certainly can loan out its franchises to third parties – one has to understand exactly what that means. In the case of Metroid: Other M, it shows a company who got a contract and didn’t even know of the property they were handling. Or, didn’t care very much for it. On the other hand, in the case of the Capcom Zelda games (they were alright – not mind-blowing), we simply got what Nintendo would have produced if they were having a B- out-of-sorts kind of day.

    If the two options that exist there are play a few super-quality Nintendo games far between its console life-span, or watch its key-franchises get pumped out of a factory that treasures style over substance, there really is no good spot for the game-player or consumer there.

    It’s a shame that six home consoles into this thing, Nintendo has still failed to pick up the lessons learned in the third generation. They think they’re this automatic “big thing.” That people should be falling over themselves to produce for, and to own a Nintendo. But it doesn’t work like that. If you want a big thing – you have to earn it.

    Telling everyone that you’re no longer a part of the video game market, but an entity that exists outside of it, producing video games nonetheless, is a sure-fire sign that they weren’t positioning themselves as number one for this generation. Same with the “Year of Luigi.” What better year to celebrate being second than the one when your competition comes out with their offerings. Too bad Mario and Luigi didn’t have a third brother, then the year could have been named after him, seeing as even second place is going to remain elusive after watching the “non-existent” competition readying itself to blow past Nintendo’s total units moved, in a fraction of the time.

    What the Wii U needs is an identity. Vision. Somebody that can produce something so fun to play on it – that second screen becomes like a magical-pass to another world (available only on Nintendo). That would take daring, innovation, and a time machine. Because the Wii U needed those games when it was released, well over a year ago. It missed that boat. Nobody was forced to know what the Wii U was. Nintendoland was no Wii Sports. And now people are playing their more current, more advanced, more advertised, more powerful gaming machines.

    It’s going to take more than Donkey Kong Country 5 to fix this problem.

    Thumb up 2
  • 225 points
    wombatguy880 says...

    This is going to insult some people but seriously some need to be insulted. The problem Nintendo faces is its fans. Every forum before the WiiU launched was doused with these are 360 ports!!! and The WiiU has no games!!! and the also present I’m not going to buy CoD on WiiU because all my friends have it on 360!!! Here’s the reality for you supposed fans. No other fanbase is like this. I used to think it was just trolls but as I’ve spent time here, I’ve realized its worse than that. It’s the nintendo fans in the media. It’s the nintendo fans that come to a site about Nintendo. It’s gotten ridiculous. It’s fine if 36 games (and bc) was not enough for you…. but if you are now acting like the 20 the PS4 got are good enough then you are a problem. It’s fine if you think ports are nothing to get excited about… but if you are acting like announcements of 360 ports into late 2015 for PS4/XBone is some good thing now, then shut up. It’s fine that CoD has never been as big on a Nintendo console as it has been on other consoles that didn’t have to wait 2 years for a port…. but if you are wondering why they aren’t throwing other games at you despite you ignoring their titles then wake up. You don’t need to bow at the statue of Nintendo. They make mistakes. Stop treating them differently then you treat systems that got Injustice, AC4, Need For Speed, Madden, CoD, or Angry Birds. The WiiU has those games. The only reason those games have stopped…. is because of you. Those new super duper powerful machines… that Nintendo can’t compete with in spec wars? THEY ARE GETTING 360 PORTS TIL 2015. DRAGONAGE, TOMBRAIDER, AC4, WATCH_DOGS, ALIENS WHATEVER, DESTINY, AND OTHERS…. ARE ALL AVAILABLE ON SYSTEMS THAT DON’T HAVE 8 GIGS OF RAM. THE POWER ARGUMENT IS MUTE. Stop acting like this is what stopped the WiiU. It’s You. It’s your constant idiocy. Sorry if that insults you because if it did then you are probably who I am talking to.

    Thumb up 1
  • 0 points
    says...

    Easy there Charlie. Didn’t mean for you to blow out your caps lock key. I had like, six points up there. You addressed none of them.

    I’m just honestly surprised that Nintendo didn’t deliver on that —SECOND SCREEN—. They seemed to suggest that its driving purpose was to act as the main screen, when somebody else wanted to wrestle the television from someone playing Nintendo (like, what?).

    So, instead of being promised crazy shooters, where the guy on the game-pad is controlling the camera for the guy on the television, and vice versa. One’s driving a car, the other is gunning down foes. Or, the Penny Arcade example where you’ve got a D&D game going, with the Gamepad dropping hints to the television via the Dungeon Master’s sorcery. Or, a romantic style game to play in the dark. There’s so much you can do with this.

    And we get? More Mario Kart. More Smash Brothers. More Zelda. These things are all fine and dandy, but for myself, I really cherish the new game-play experience I’ve never had before. A Minecraft, if you will. Something that sincerely wows me. That’s difficult to deliver on a constant basis. Especially this late in the video-gaming history of innovation and change (or lack thereof). Which is why it’s puzzling that Nintendo is so adamant to give us our more traditional experiences, with a “bit of a twist” (not really). The Wii should have shown them that people are down for the new and uncharted. That if Nintendo wants to deliver compelling game-play mechanisms, that there is a gigantic market for it.

    All those great Smash/Kart/Zelda titles on the Wii. They were the garnish. People had played those things before. It was Wii Sports – and the promise of what you could do with the Wii-mote – that got people excited. Got them using their imaginations. Got them opening their wallets without question.

    Now – with the whole tablet and “pad” generation in full swing – Nintendo unleashes an unheard of, left-field idea that, logically, finds a lot of support. That’s a rarity. Then Nintendo delivers. The Wii U – as a hardware peripheral – is spot-on (with the exception of the generation old technology taken into account). But the soft-ware portions are non-existent. The software updates upon first purchase and set-up were unnecessarily punishing. The functionality of the main machine not much better (when adding friends is confusing, complicated, and frustrating – you are failing the mission objective for a Mii-centric-database hard). Add to this the lack of games, advertising, and momentum – and it almost begins to feel as if Nintendo was hoping to coast on the Wii’s success – and be able to sneak one in. Like the SNES after the NES, the PS2 after the PS, and the X-Bone after the 360.

    Well, they misplayed their hand. But that really doesn’t matter – because they still don’t have one game on it that grabs me. With that trademark Nintendo innovation. Not so much the extra game-play variants of A Link to the Past, but the very core concept of the first Legend of Zelda.

    I’d like to say that the Wii U at least has the greatest selection of games that require a secondary controller/screen – but all things considered – that distinction could very well be argued for the GameCube. At least there – the strides taken towards introducing new game-play elements were -huge.- In comparison, the Wii-U has played it safe. Not a distinction you want to have when convincing the masses that this pricey $350 gadget can’t work outside of your home like an actual tablet – and that it’s main function is just a rewiring of your otherwise standard controller. You want to get people excited about the premise. Like playing real bowling in your living room. There’s no premise for the Wii U yet. It doesn’t have its signature.

    The X-Bone and the PS4 might not have much meat on their bones yet either, but all things considered, at least the public is aware that they launched their product. Ask the majority of people about the Wii U, and I assure you you’ll still get confusion.

    And why wouldn’t they be confused? What has the Wii U done that dramatically alters the game in any way? Two years in – and they still don’t have a clue what to do with that second screen. Your upcoming release-list of guaranteed crowd-pleasers does a good job of polishing the dust off the old formulas – very little in reaffirming that the creative Nintendo spark is still alive and well.

    Thumb up 0
  • 225 points
    wombatguy880 says...

    You people are so frustrating. I assume you came to a Nintendo specific website because you are a fan. You are definitely one of the persons my above rant was directed towards.

    ZombiU has a mode where you can summon zombies and another player must fight them. NintendoLand has 12 games dedicated to innovative ideas that utilize this controller in amazing ways. (that’s way bigger and badder than 5 sports sims showing off swinging the wiimote).

    I also have to do this little rant here. I hate the revisionist history of nintendo “fans” with regards to Wii Sports. I love Wii Sports. It’s awesome. I do think that if you go back in time though you’d see it wasn’t this amazing instant must-have. People were rating it 7.0 and C… and so on and so on. What made it a thing is that it is now one of the greatest selling games of all time. NintendoLand is 10 times more deep and diverse. Yes it targets people who know what a videogame is. If you are sitting here praising the PS4 today though then you certainly know how to play a traditional videogame and aren’t confused by NintendoLand.

    Nintendo, like every other company, will always make what sells. So yes we will see Mario. However like many of your compatriots you also seem to ignore the Pikmins, the Lego City Stories, the Wii Party U, and the plethora of other titles Nintendo has brought to the table so far. We also have titles like X, Bayonetta 2, and Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei coming.

    I’m not saying forgive Nintendo all its transgressions though. I’m saying be real.

    Let me give you an example of something real. In 2012 from November to the end of December. Nintendo WiiU sold 2.2 million units. Now you’ll probably act like that’s nothing impressive. This is because of how unreal you are. That was amazing. Every Nintendo “fan” site of-course was quick to note it wasn’t Wii numbers. No other console is treated this way. This is honestly why the WiiU isn’t being talked about. If the “fans” are like this… then why would you want to talk about it. I’d hate to have a real life conversation about console gaming today. You’d have the PS4 and XBo fans versus me and the “other Nintendo fans” (who will probably sound more like PS4 fans like yourself). I’ve had nintendo fans tell me how few games Nintendo got just to talk so highly of the 20 titles released for PS4. I’ve seen gaming sites with a large Nintendo fanbase boast that a defender clone (defender was an atari 2600 game) is somehow the future of gaming… just because it’s on a PS4. I hear about this power bull all the time…. and last week 3 new games were announced for PS4….. and every damn one of them is coming to PS3 (disproving the power argument completely). Nintendo fans though? Complacent as ever. Writing threads about how Nintendo messed it all up. They got ports of Madden, Darksiders 2, Batman, Mass Effect, Fifa, Need For Speed, CoD, Assassins Creed, and exclusives like ZombiU, Rabbids Land, Monster Hunter Tri, Dragon Quest X, Sonic Lost World… and others but they screwed it up. They launched with more games than any console before or since but it’s all Nintendos fault. Yea Right.. Seriously you guys. It’s your fault. You want to defend yourself then defend yourself. Lock yourself in a bubble and just tell me how wrong I am as you constantly ignore the innovation and originals and act like it’s Nintendos fault.

    Thumb up 1
  • 150 points
    Lewis Hampson says...

    Hi Wombatguy! Given that Nintendo (not even to themselves) would think that the Wii U is failing because of its fans, I find it hard to take what you are saying with any real seriousness. It’s just your own opinion as to why Nintendo has failed with Wii U.

    Just because you think something it does not make it the truth for everybody reading or commenting on this article.

    The fact is, Wii U is failing and if you were put in charge of Nintendo with this overly defensive shift of blame to the Ninetndo Fans (who, incidentally, you also acknowledge as buying an “impressive” 2.2m units) then they would probably never recover.

    Kudos for “Xbox 360 ports till 2015” that made me smile.

    Thumb up 1
  • 225 points
    wombatguy880 says...

    Lewis, it’s not going to come off properly here but I do respect you and this site. I also agree Nintendo can not say its the fans fault. Examine the facts though. First Nintendo launches with a lower price point a full year ahead of others. Second they didn’t cut backwards compatibility or other features like the controller to get here. They released with 36 titles on day one. These titles included tons of AAA 3rd party titles like AC3, CoD, and others.

    Now you say the fans have no blame in this… but
    “Has Nintendo dug its own grave with the Wii U GamePad?”
    Sorry to pick on you but you are part of the problem. I’m not going to find an article on PS4dojo saying “Has Sony dug their own grave by cutting backwards compatibility, charging $100 more than WiiU, and blah” This is the problem. It’s not can you wonder what marvelous new things can be done with the controller. (many were done at launch and like your article above they were treated as nothing by the Nintendo fan even when they were drawing plays, dungeon master vs player type ideas, and other innovations) It’s just a straight bias.

    Now in all reality. Nintendo made some mistakes. They aren’t nearly as big as the mistakes the fanbase is making. You laugh at til 2015 but seriously. Aliens, Dragonage, Destiny, Watch_dogs, Tomb Raider… and many others are going to be available on systems with 512 megabytes of ram and dvd media. The WiiU could get those games. The fanbase doesn’t grow though. You guys act like Nintendo should always have a bunch of carrots at the end of sticks though. The reality is that if a console couldn’t sell when it got more games then any prior console or since. If it couldn’t entice more players than Nintendo didn’t make the mistake. If I hear about the horrible drought on the WiiU again then I’m going to scream. The WiiU for reference had as many titles going into this holiday as the 360 (a console with 4 million more users than the WiiU). There was no drought. There will be. Who wants to buy a console when all the fansites are talking about droughts when tons of games are actually available on the system.

    The difference between the Wii and the WiiU was hope. We didn’t condemn it to die. We said it was going to do amazing things. Some people got upset that some of that never went as far as it should have… but the missing factor here was 3rd parties. Noone was ignoring the WiiU on day one like they did the Wii. SquareEnix planned DQX for it. They greenlit the Deus Ex port. Capcom brought Monster Hunter and then got Resident Evil Revelations. EA brought Madden, Fifa, Mass Effect 3, and then ported Need For Speed. Activision brought us CoD, Skylanders, 007, and continues to bring us more including Spiderman and other titles. Sega brought Sonic Racing and then brought an exclusive Sonic to the table. Ubisoft had ZombiU, Rabbids Land, An exclusive Wii Sports type clone, and was intending Rayman to be exclusive. They were all here. What happened was they saw all this negativity by “fan” sites and then more of the same by supposed “fans” and they adjusted their expectations. Gone was hope. It seemed like every Nintendo fan was saying if it wasn’t 1080p and 60fps then they weren’t going to buy it….. and that would be fine if not those same “fans” now rejoicing over year old ports running on hardware that costs $100 more and still running below that resolution and below that framerate.

    Thumb up 1
  • 150 points
    Lewis Hampson says...

    Hey, Wombatguy. Feel free to pick apart anything I have written or said, at the end of the day its just an opinion of mine and people can agree or disagree. (btw I don’t write for Nintendojo anymore).

    It’s great that Nintendo has fans as passionate as yourself, because to be honest, many (myself included) just dont have the desire to defend them anymore, which is a shame because out of Sony, MS and Nintendo, the Big N are easily my favorite console manufacturer.

    I still believe the gimmicky iPad style controller drove focus away from the console and resulted in the confusion as to whether NIntendo had even released a new console (which continues to this day).

    I predicted doom and gloom for Wii U before it released in quite a few of my articles and turns out those articles were pretty much right! Look what has happened, it is an utter, utter mess! Sales projections slashed massively, less sold in a year then a ps4 in month and a half. I think we have to be realistic here and say to ourselves that Nintendo has misjudged the console market this time round.

    Unfortunately its hard for anyone to see how this can be reversed. It will take some huuuge announcements at E3 this year (or before) to turn people around and even then people need to follow that through with hard cash.

    I think apathy for Wii U is just too prevalent now. Nintendo needs to learn that it will not always dictate where the consoles will head. It did so with Wii, but that was an oddity, when you look at GameCube and N64 sales before it.

    They don’t know what the pubic want, they did with Wii, (which was announced EIGHT years ago), but times have changed, technology moves forward and now Wii U is stuck. They really need to pull something out of the bag now, before the Wii U does a Dreamcast and dies out altogether, with a few great games to it name and Nintendo starts all over again.

    Thumb up 0
    • 393 points
      James Stank says...

      Right on target Lucas, but we used to agree all the time anyway. I’ll say that right now the PS4 and X-box One have no must have games, and I’m sure they’ll come. But what does it say when they have no games and vastly outsell Wii U, when the Wii U has two Mario games? We’ll see how things turn out this year with two must have games in Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros. If their fortunes don’t turn around after that…. we’ll see…..

      Thumb up 0
  • 225 points
    wombatguy880 says...

    Don’t know how proud you should be of your correct prediction…. but I do think if we had had less “fans” like you writing for Nintendo “fan” sites then it could have helped. The reality is Nintendo has not sat on their ass and done nothing. They got all those games at launch including exclusives from Capcom, Squaresoft, and Ubisoft. They continued the trend getting exclusives from Sega. They’ve released some amazing games this year and next year has even more. The problem is that you think your “opinion” doesn’t have any effect. That’s pure idiocy. This site here is dedicated to Nintendo. Does it even make any sense that Nintendo “fans” would come here see a “fan” site preaching doom and gloom and then decide to pick up the WiiU? What really is the WiiU missing? It’s missing a userbase. Great games are on the system. CoD, Sonic, Deus Ex, Splintercell, Injustice, Disney Infinity, Mario, Zelda, Pikmin, and soon Watch_dogs…. but no let’s talk about how the controller held it back.

    What can Nintendo do? This year they’ve released more than 15 exclusives on this console. They’ve release 100 games. Those games include Zelda wWHD, Super Mario 3D World, and Pikmin 3. The third parties brought us Deus Ex, Splintercell, Batman, Assassins Creed, CoD: Ghosts, and more. These aren’t no-name games. These are somewhat significant. Next year Nintendo will release Mario Kart, SSB, and a load of other games. Let’s not be excited about this though. I mean you can buy Angry Birds on PS4 right now!!! How amazing is that? I mean they released a full 24 games for PS4…. most all of them ports. Many of them from early last year… some from 2011…. Many PC titles noone cared about on PC and from the looks of things still don’t care about. CoD sold really well though. CoD for PS4 sold amazing. Too bad WiiU didn’t get CoD, Assassins Creed 4, Injustice, or any of these titles that sold so well on PS4….. Open your eyes. This is not a Nintendo problem. This is a “fan” problem.

    You are now just defending the idiocy that I’m pointing out though. You aren’t doing a good job either… The argument I said it wasn’t going to do well and now it’s not doing well doesn’t really work as an argument against my “theory”.

    Thumb up 0
  • 1 points
    Kevin Knezevic says...

    This discussion has gone on long enough, especially since most of the comments in this thread have nothing to do with Jason’s article. If it derails any further, I will have to shut it down.

    Thumb up 0

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