Kyle’s Game Corner: New Naming Nonsense

Some of Nintendo’s recent naming habits might be falling flat.

By Kyle England. Posted 02/17/2015 09:00 2 Comments     ShareThis

Welcome to Kyle’s Game Corner! It’s my new column where I discuss topics relevant to games and the Nintendo world. Exactly what topics, might you ask? It’s whatever comes to mind! It’s a bit of a gamble! That’s why it’s called the Game Corner! It’s a new column!!

And speaking of “new,” what’s the deal with Nintendo’s names lately? New Nintendo 3DS, New Super Mario Bros., new things coming out. You know what’s the problem with names like these? Names are forever. New stuff stops being new after a short while. 30 years from now, the New Nintendo 3DS will be a confusing name. It will be quite old at that point. And it doesn’t exactly help that its abbreviation of N3DS could also be misinterpreted as simply being “Nintendo 3DS.” Imagine the secondhand market for these: are you looking for a new Nintendo 3DS, a used Nintendo 3DS, a used New Nintendo 3DS, or a new New Nintendo 3DS?

This debacle truly started in 2006 with the release of New Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo DS. For the first time in a long time, a brand new Mario sidescroller was created! The game spawned its own sub-series of Mario sidescrolling revamps, with four full titles (five if you count New Super Luigi U) under the New Super Mario name as of now. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with dubbing something as “new” but the name falls short in the long run, and it’s not really much of a descriptor.

Let’s take a look at some movies titles. The film industry absolutely loves to release remakes of old movies. More often than not, these remakes will share the exact same title of the original movie, meaning that every time you mention the name, you have to add a bit of a clarification as to which one you’re referring to. What year did it come out? Was it the remake or the original? The Karate Kid, RoboCop, Friday the 13th, and so on. And “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” could be referring to any one of a handful of movies. In one of the most baffling instances, a prequel to 1982’s The Thing was made in 2011— it was titled The Thing.

Games do this too, with such reboots like the recent Tomb Raider. What I’m getting at here is that with each of these titles comes a little caveat. It’s going to be strange referring to 2006’s New Super Mario Bros. when the next re-envisioning of Mario’s adventures eventually comes forth.

Nintendo has shown future-proofing in a few of its rebooted game titles like Donkey Kong Country Returns. It’s not “New Donkey Kong Country.” It’s more akin to Batman Returns, which cements it as the sequel. The name sounds more like a follow-up that we can remember. At least you can count on Nintendo to clearly name these games so they are differentiated– even if they occasionally just throw a “new” onto the front. Imagine if the next Zelda game was a gritty reboot simply called “THE LEGEND OF ZELDA.” *shudder*

The naming issue has become especially relevant since the release of Wii U. I won’t go too far into what so many have said before, but Wii U is not such a great name. I get that Nintendo was trying to ride off the brand it had established with Wii, but sticking a U on the end wasn’t the best choice. I’d even venture to say that Nintendo 3DS isn’t the best nomenclature progression to come after DS, but it’s still a bit better than Wii U.

Throw a couple names in front of someone who knows nothing about video games. Ask them which name sounds like the newer and better platform. Game Boy to Game Boy Advance. Nintendo Entertainment System to Super Nintendo Entertainment System. PlayStation to PlayStation 2. These are pretty cut and dry. But I’m not saying you should always do this– in fact, establishing a new brand for your name can be great. Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii, and Nintendo DS were great original names that created new identities. But you shouldn’t reuse a name without adding anything meaningful to it– like a clear indication of advancement.

Is that why “New” is being used? Because it’s a nonthreatening and abundantly clear way to show that this product is an advancement over the last one? Maybe so, but I still have my gripes with it. Who’s in charge of the naming, anyways? Fortunately, when it comes down to it, Nintendo has really only given a handful of products the “new” moniker– let’s hope this number doesn’t grow too much.

But I’m getting a bit pedantic here. The vast majority of games thankfully just add on needlessly long subtitles, like Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations. Now then, I’ll just go play New Super Mario Bros. and Yoshi’s New Island on my New Nintendo 3DS with New Play Control.

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