Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 25, 2011

Email: Purpose of 3DS: Kill 2d Mario

Hi Sean, I’m sure you’ve been reading those comments by Miyamoto about the new 3D Mario on the 3DS.  Recently, he said it’s supposed to be kind of a hybrid of Mario Galaxy and Mario 64.  And if you’ve noticed, he loves to talk about how much easier jumping on platforms will be now that you have depth perception.  According to him, the reason 3D Mario is only really popular instead of ga-ga-gangbusters popular like 2D Mario is that it’s too hard to control, not that finding stars and solving puzzles has less appeal.  When you put this thing in the context of his personal quest to make 3D Mario as popular as 2D Mario (which was the purpose of Super Mario Galaxy and the stupid DVD with SMG2), I think it all comes together–he sees the 3D screen as the holy grail that will finally vault 3D Mario to the top so that Iwata will never force him to make one of those dumb 2D Mario games ever again.

The purpose of a gaming handheld is to allow gaming-on-the-go. The purpose of a gaming handheld is NOT for game developers to be selfish and do whatever they want to do.

It is questionable how 3d Mario can be absorbed by the home console market. But 3d Mario on the handheld console cannot easily be absorbed by the consumer.

Miyamoto, and Nintendo, are abusing their role as console manufacturers to use the hardware as a vehicle for their own selfish desires.

Mario 64 DS didn’t sell DS systems. It only caused the PSP to outsell the DS. Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 didn’t sell the Wii. So why would a cross between a Mario 64 and Mario Galaxy suddenly start selling the 3DS?

Only the 2d Mario people can make the difference. Yet, for the past fifteen years, they do not buy 3d Mario. Why should they start now?

Because the 3d is ‘easier’ now with the 3d output? If that is true, why are Nintendogs sales down? Why are 3ds sales down across the board? Why is the PSP suddenly selling so well?

Because tanooki Mario is included? Folks, the only people who give a damn about Tanooki Mario are Super Mario Brothers 3 fans. And Super Mario Brothers 3 fans tend to not be fans of 3d Mario. When Mario Galaxy was released, it was said that Mario 64 was like Mario 1, the maligned Sunshine was compared to Mario 2, and Mario Galaxy was to be the equivalent to NES Mario 3. Mario Galaxy had many of the trappings of Mario 3 such as the airships and the Mars like music.

It is not that I dislike 3d Mario. I think Mario 64 is a very well crafted game. I just despise having 3d Mario being rammed down my throat in a desperate attempt for it to replace 2d Mario.

I would love to have a new old-school type Zelda game made. It could be on the handheld where there isn’t much risk. It would sell much better than the awful Zelda DS games did. I think even Ocarina of Time fans would love to see such a game as well (they are already having an Ocarina of Time port, so why not?). They could call it ‘New Legend of Zelda’.

Miyamoto has shot that down. Why? He doesn’t want to make it. It would interrupt his cozy lifestyle. The business side of Nintendo has left him alone on that due to Ocarina of Time’s sales. But with 2d Mario, Miyamoto cannot justify only making 3d Mario and never making 2d Mario.

Shigeru Miyamoto is one of the most selfish entertainers I’ve ever seen. Imagine all those generations of children who never grew up with a 2d Mario. And if Zelda is in decline today, who cares? It is only about one thing: that Miyamoto do whatever the hell he wants to do. His selfishness is really becoming apparent that I’m receiving emails on it (where years ago, people would think it is ‘crazy’ to think Miyamoto was ‘selfish’).

There is a quote I want to hold over the head of Iwata. Iwata once said, “The only person who has the right to be selfish is the customer.” Iwata doesn’t say that anymore.

Unrelated: I suspect consoles have in fact been quite good for PC-type games (other than the RTS, which is still almost exclusively a PC genre).  Back in the halcyon days of the 90s, the market was quite small.  None of id’s first-person shooters sold more than a couple million units, and they were one of the most successful companies of the era.  But Halo sold 8 million units.  Medal of Honor started on the PC, but EA centered the franchise on the PS2 when they saw how many units Frontline sold.  Same happened this gen with Call of Duty.   When you expand your market beyond people who are comfortable installing video cards in their machines, you sell more units.

Yes, it is because games like World of Warcraft and the Sims did not become mass market hits beyond any of the dumbed down pc game console games. It is precisely because of ‘installing video cards’ which is why Starcraft did not become a national sport in South Korea.

Sarcasm aside, video cards were unnecessary to install in computers really when 3dfx went splat (around 2000 or so?).

Why do pc gamers need to keep installing bigger video cards? It is because FPS game makers kept demanding it. Around 2006, 2007, Epic Megagames executive (forgot who) publicly complained about the simple video cards installed on the computers sold to the masses. I said, at that time, he needs to make games that can be played on those computers. It is ridiculous to demand someone rebuild their computer each time you come out with a new game. But pc game makers think they have that right. This is why their market blew up on them.

Blizzard realizes that making games not require the best pc game hardware tends to result in better pc game sales. The pc games that are strong are those not on the top end.

I reject the argument that ‘dumbed down pc game computers acting as consoles’ made games like FPS more ‘accessible’. To the contrary, I take the flip argument that PC game companies made their FPS games ‘inaccessible’.

Sid Meir believed in this myth so he made Civilization: Revolution. It was to be a ‘more accessible’ Civilization. Didn’t really take hold after the initial sales spike. The real problem is that a new Civilization, on the PC, demands a ridiculously powerful computer. It’s absurd.

It isn’t useful comparing market phenomenons in different eras of time without factoring in global markets (or lack of them in previous eras) and population growth. Halo selling more than Doom doesn’t make it a bigger phenomenon. In the same way, Halo selling more than PONG doesn’t mean Halo is a bigger phenomenon than PONG was…. or Pitfall or Pac-Man.

When you compare something like Super Mario Brothers to today’s games, it really shows just how massive a phenomenon it was. Despite population growth, despite global market growth (NES barely penetrated Europe due to NOA being held up in US courts), games with ‘massive phenomenon’ do not sell near what Super Mario Brothers did. It demonstrates how depressed the video game market currently is.

And then comes a simple sports games, Wii Sports, which blows up and takes everyone by surprise. But was Wii Sports really a ‘big phenomenon’ or rather a ‘normal phenomenon’ if the video game market was behaving like it did in the 80s? With population growth and growth of global markets, sales of games like Wii Sports should be the norm for many games.

When people try to say Wii Sports or Sims or World of Warcraft were ‘lightning in a bottle’ when they appealed to the Mass Market, they are trying to create an alibi that the Game Industry is not guilty of Mass Mediocrity. And if the Game Industry is not guilty of Mass Mediocrity, that means every game developer should be allowed to keep doing whatever the hell they want to do. The Lifestyle Developer lives on…


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