Although Nintendo is still revered as one of the best video game designers in the world — with classics like Metroid and The Legend of Zelda, on up through modern classics like Wii Sports and Super Mario Galaxy — their latest home console offering hasn’t really caught on with gamers and consumers.
In comparison with the adoption rates of newer consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4, the Wii U just hasn’t been able to catch up, in spite of the fact that it’s released some of the best games of this console generation. From incredible platformers like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, to the blockbuster Mario Kart 8, along with the unique and addictive shooter Splatoon, owners of the Wii U will find no shortage of very fun first-party Nintendo games to play.
Be that as it may, though, it’s still far from a blockbuster sales success, and one of Nintendo’s key people for the last thirty years has some ideas on why that is. In a recent interview with NPR, superstar game designer Shigeru Miyamoto — the creator of Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and The Legend of Zelda — was asked by Laura Sydell what he attributes the Wii U’s lack of success to, especially in comparison with last generation’s powerhouse, the original Wii. His answer reads, in part,
So unfortunately with our latest system, the Wii U, the price point was one that ended up getting a little higher than we wanted. But what we are always striving to do is to find a way to take novel technology that we can take and offer it to people at a price that everybody can afford. And in addition to that, rather than going after the high-end tech spec race and trying to create the most powerful console, really what we want to do is try to find a console that has the best balance of features with the best interface that anyone can use.
[...] And we thought that with a tablet-type functionality connected to the system, you could have the rapid boot-up of tablet-type functionality, you could have the convenience of having that touch control with you there on the couch while you’re playing on a device that’s connected to the TV, and it would be a very unique system that could introduce some unique styles of play. I think unfortunately what ended up happening was that tablets themselves appeared in the marketplace and evolved very, very rapidly, and unfortunately the Wii system launched at a time where the uniqueness of those features were perhaps not as strong as they were when we had first begun developing them.
Miyaomoto went on to say that Nintendo always strives to do new and different things, without specifically trying to get into “a race” over technical specifications. Sometimes the uniqueness works for them — as it definitely did with the original Wii — and sometimes it doesn’t, as evidenced by the failure of something like 1995′s Virtual Boy.
It’s always interesting to get the perspective of someone so revered and respected in the gaming industry, but wherever you may stand on Nintendo, it’s always hard to deny one thing: they make fun games. For more on big gaming news as it unfolds, keep an eye on GeekNation!
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