Posted by: seanmalstrom | February 21, 2014

Email: A question

There is something I’m wondering.  The Wii U is failing massively even with some sequels to classic 2D games.  Of course, the software library largely screams “GameCube!,” but some 2D games are there.  There’s even a Wii Fit game and a remake of Wii Sports.

The question is, why did the Game Boy Advance do so well with mostly remakes and ports (Mario, Zelda and Metroid were all ported or remade, not to mention various third-party games such as Contra, Street Fighter, Final Fight, Doom, etc.) whereas the Wii U can’t do well even with Wii sequels such as New Super Mario Bros. U and Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze?

Is it because the Game Boy Advance was purely a portable SNES with no N64/GameCube influence?  Does a mixed SNES/GameCube console instantly repel all sides?

Look at Ocarina of Time port on the 3DS. People bought a 3DS to get the Ocarina of Time port because Ocarina of Time is a GOOD game. People thought it had enough value to spend that much money to have a portable version of that game.

People obviously loved Super Mario Brothers, Zelda, and other games where they saw the mobile ports as having value. I think it is as simple as saying that ‘the games are very good’.

Minecraft selling big on the 360 doesn’t surprise because Minecraft is a very good game. We know it is a good game because apparently people keep spending their money to get to it. There is something in the game people want.

As some people are emailing me, “How can you say Wii U’s library is bad when you don’t have a Wii U and don’t play the games?” You’d think ONE GAME at least would sell the hardware. Game quality has to be based on sales because money is a representation of value. Message forum posts are not a representation of value. As absurd as it is, it seems like Nintendo is basing the ‘quality’ of their games more on message forum posts than on actual money flowing in. Just as contentness is best measured by sales, discontentness is best measured by non-sales. If people are not buying the product, there is likely something about the product people don’t like.

Let’s take 2d Mario. I think it is a huge mistake to assume NSMB U is of the same or better quality of game as NSMB Wii let alone compared to the classic 2d Marios. This is a very simplified way how I think the consumer is believing (I know I believe it).

Reactions to…

Super Mario Brothers- “OMG! *runs around in circles due to excitement* This game is AMAZING!”

Super Mario Brothers 2 Japan- “WTF is this? This game is more frustrating than fun. The game looks and feels just like the first game. Lame.”

Super Mario Brothers 2 USA- “This game is nuts. It is so cool to be able to pick which character you want.”

Super Mario Brothers 3- “OMG! This game is awesome! Mushroom Land is fleshed out!”

Super Mario World- “Getting formulaic. Yoshi is cool. Dinosaur Land is cool. Very fun game. Doesn’t seem as groundbreaking as earlier games.”

Now let’s go to…

NSMB DS- “OMG, OMG, OMG. First new Mario game in 16 years!” *plays it much later* “Boy, this game is terrible. Still, some mario is better than no mario for 16 years.”

NSMB Wii- “This game is SO MUCH better than NSMB DS. The multiplayer is really cool and fun. Yay Mario.”

NSMB 2- “This game feels like it came from a factory. Lame.”

NSMB U- “It feels I’m playing a formula more than a game.”

I think it is a mistake to compare NSMB Wii and NSMB U and go, “Oh, one sells 30 million and the other sells 2 million. Clearly, something must have largely changed in the definition of consoles.” No. What is more likely is that NSMB U is not considered a game of value to those NSMB Wii owners. I can tell you the reason why I have no rush to buy it: I feel like I’ve played it already. It doesn’t even play like a game. It plays like a formula. It is why I stopped watching many movies. They become formulaic. There is no surprise and no discovery.


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