When one thinks of Nintendo, the mind tends to gravitate towards their A-list games. Titles that have either garnered a level of success and critical acclaim that puts them at the head of the pack. Mainline Super Mario games easily clear this bar. So do the mainline Zelda games. While it’s one of the newest franchises, the massive success of Splatoon would put it up on that pedestal as well. Where you and I draw the line may vary here and there, but I think we can generally agree on which Nintendo games are at the top and which ones aren’t on that same level.
It’s not necessarily because these games are worse. Maybe they just haven’t found their footing. In spite of being great since the start, it took Fire Emblem decades of time and like a dozen releases before finding a wider audience. Some franchises sell well enough to still get multiple sequels, such as WarioWare or BoxBoy. Others are meant to be niche products, such as Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball. Though Nintendo probably would like for all of their games to sell in the 10+ million range, I get the sense that they’re willing to make and publish B-tier games so long as they make enough of a profit to justify their creation.
In any case, not every game and franchise in Nintendo’s ecosystem is on the same stratosphere. But with a bit more love, maybe some of them could be. Here are a few of my picks for B-tier Nintendo games and franchises that deserve another shot.
As Microsoft, Sony, and to an extent, Apple, went on their merry way in 2011 with their gaming ventures, it seemed like Nintendo sputtered all the way through. As a lifelong Nintendo fanboy and a Nintendo-only console owner up until this generation, it’s tough seeing what Nintendo has done (and not done) in 2011. If you’re a Nintendo-only household and you’re as hardcore into gaming as I am, I feel your pain.
Let’s look at Nintendo’s fronts, discussed what went wrong and their outlook going into 2012.
To even the most diehard Nintendo fans, the name Fire Emblem means nothing to them outside of Marth, Roy and Ike, who all appeared in various versions of Super Smash Bros. They may not be household names like Mario or Link, but little do they know that those three guys come from one of Nintendo’s oldest and longest-running franchises, which dates back to 1990. Most people also don’t know that the Fire Emblem series of games are awesome. I don’t think I could do my love for this franchise justice in a blog post, but I’m going to try anyway.
For those with a jones for retro gaming, the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console was supposed to be a dream come true. It was supposed to be the home of every old Nintendo game you could ask for. As time passed, the Virtual Console grew to include the Sega Genesis, TurboGrafx-16, Sega Master System, Commodore 64 and arcade games. It’s been almost 5 years since the launch of Virtual Console, and we as consumers have access to over 300 games.
On the surface, that sounds decent. I’ve been able to buy a few favourites, try older games I’ve never played before and even grab a Japanese import game that never came out here (in my case, the very awesome Sin and Punishment). However, that number isn’t even close to representing the full catalogue of platforms represented in Virtual Console. Between the NES, SNES, SMS, Genesis, TG16, N64 and Neo Geo, the Virtual console has only made 10% of their combined catalogue available to consumers. It’s only going to get worse, as the once weekly updates have slowed to once a month, if we’re lucky.
What started out as an amazing idea is fizzling fast. How did Nintendo screw up what should have been a sure-fire win?