Has Nintendo Officially Abandoned The Hardcore Gamer?

If you have read any of our articles here on CB Games, you would probably know that in the early days of the Wii, there was a lot of support from us here. We loved the aim of innovation by Nintendo; we loved the concept of playing new games in a different way; and we loved the idea of the Big ‘N’ making a well welcomed return, with their fighting spirits high. However, as some of you may know, our view on the Wii has slowly, but surely changed.

CB Games (as majority of the articles depict) is in large part a caterer to hardcore gamers. We provide you with the latest news, trailers, previews, reviews and editorials concerning happenings in a market we all really love. So as you can imagine, it has been a painful six months as we watched Nintendo roll out what was supposed to be a revolution for the gaming industry, but turned into a savior for the casual market. We even tried covering lack-lusting crap-collectors such as Cooking Mama, Wii-play and Mario Party 8, but it just seemed like a slap to the face of gamers looking to play real games, and wanting coverage of real games. And this is not to knock the casual market, because the fore-mentioned titles weren’t even good as casual games. For the sake of argument, Peacemaker, Snaky Jake and Venture Arctic would make for cheaper, more interesting alternatives.

Now I know the [small] lot of remaining hardcore Nintendo fans will justly stand up for the Big ‘N’s little Wii, by stating that hardcore gamers has Pirates of the Caribbean, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Red Steel and Call of Duty 3, but so do PS3 gamers (except replace Red Steel with Resistance: Fall of Man and Mortal Kombat with Tekken Dark: Resurrection on PSN). Wii exclusives leave little to be desired, and for the most part it's receiving third-party ports from year (or two year old) games.

The point is not that there aren’t any games for the hardcore gamer on the Wii, it’s that there are very few good games for the hardcore gamer (especially if you want to play something new). In the same time span of the PS3 and Wii’s launch, I at least have to give props to Sony for not only supporting titles such as Calling all Cars, flOw and Super Rub-a-Dub, but also throwing in games that hardcore gamers could [possibly] find duly enjoyable such as MotorStorm, MLB The Show and Resistance: Fall of Man. There was even some decent third-party support that included EA’s Def Jam: Icon and Sega’s Virtua Fighter 5.

In six short months we have already seen the deciding line between the company battle grounds: We know that Sony is fighting a losing, uphill battle – yet they have a towering fall lineup of original IP and excellent, exclusive third-party support. Nintendo, on the other hand, is winning via monthly hardware sales, but the fall lineup is looking like a staggering drunk with a handful of playing cards and a few dice in his pockets. In almost makes you say, “What? Is that it?!”. Yes we have exclusives like Mario Galaxy, No More Heroes, Zorro, Nights,Alien Syndrome, the umpteenth remake of Resident Evil 4 and Metroid Prime 3 on the way – not to mention the elusively secretive Disaster: Day of Crisis – but is that really enough to make you go “WOW”? Especially in comparison to Lair, Halo 3, Blacksite, Hour of Victory, Tekken 6, Lost Odyssey and Grand Theft Auto 4? No...it’s not. Realistically, more casual gamers will buy Mario Galaxy and Nights. Zorro looks exactly like Pirates of the Caribbean for the Wii, and Resident Evil 4 isn’t new, it just gives Wii owners a chance to use the Wii-mote on a game that’s several years old. Only Metroid Prime 3 and No More Heroes are ambitious enough to stand side-by-side to other next-gen hardcore titles on the other consoles. When it's time to go into the brick and mortar EB Games and pick out something new, is it really worth it to pay $50 for Scarface (which you've probably already played on the PS2 and Xbox) when you can pay $10 more for something that hasn't been recycled, like Heavenly Sword?

Sadly, for hardcore gamers willing to buy a Wii, but want something on the line of The Outsider, The Club, Metal Gear Solid, Mass Effect or Splinter Cell: Conviction, they’ll basically have to wait and let the system collect dust (or play recycled material) while Ubisoft or EA whip up a half-done excuse for a game *cough*Red Steel*cough*.

At least Sony has stayed true to the hardcore gaming audience by setting up an atmosphere for developers and publishers to explore and try new things with favorable genres; Uncharted expands on platform hopping, intense shootouts and dynamic environment interactivity; Eye of Judgement finally makes real use of the EyeToy by giving gamers something intense, thought-provoking and visually stylish. And assuming Konami keeps consistent with MGS, Metal Gear Solid 4 will at least expand on the espionage, stealth-combat genre it’s been known to execute so well.

The point is, Sony has shown since E3 2006 that original IP and innovative gaming for the hardcore market is still a vast part of the PlayStation 3's life span (i.e., Little Big Planet). Nintendo, alternatively, has shown little interest with their first-party endeavors to maintain ties with hardcore gamers. Their first-party titles since launch have consisted of mini-games and casual party games; their ties to third-party publishers seem to further push for casual-oriented games that the market seems to thrive on at the moment. But what happens when the market stops thriving? What happens when Nintendo’s casual market buys a Wii for only one game? Then what?

To sum this up briefly, Nintendo hasn’t quite abandoned the hardcore gaming market for the Wii, yet. But they’re definitely heading down that road when compared to the competition. This is still a lot like the Gamecube era (lacking first-party titles for hardcore gamers), except this time the casual gamer is backing the Big ‘N’. Here’s hoping third-party publishers already have a striking lineup of non-recycled, secret games due out by the end of this year for the Wii. Otherwise 2007 will be the precursor for the impending era of endless mini-games and really bad movie-to-game ports.

Related articles:

Drew's Eye View: Nintendo Abandons Hardcore Gamers

Has Nintendo Officially Abandoned The Hardcore Gamer? A Counter-Point

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Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.