Monday, March 16, 2009

Dear Nintendo

Dear Nintendo,

I congratulate you on the amazing and continued success of the Wii and DS. You've really changed the way that people think about video games and introduced some true innovations in an industry increasingly notorious for risk avoidance. I also want to apologize for writing the DS off as a "gimmick" and for making fun of the Wii's name. (Although I think you missed an opportunity when you chose to name the Wii's built-in Nintendo Entertainment System emulator "Virtual Console" instead of "WiiNES.")

I was curious, though, Nintendo- do you ever sort of get the feeling that you're successful despite yourself? Allow me to clarify:

Why don't your first-party games have voice?

Even though you adopted DVD-ROM as the storage medium for Wii games, all in-game dialogue in Nintendo-produced titles is printed on-screen, rather than spoken. Now, I like to read as much as the next person, but since your games are designed for standard definition television sets, you can only fit about three words per line on the screen. Also, you apparently think players like to watch every single character individually rendered on-screen as we're trying to read... as if a little Mario is packed inside each Wii, dilligently typing out every word. A typical gameplay session with a first-party Wii game usually goes something like this:
[Press Start]
[Watch cutscene]
[Wait for page 1 of text to render and press A to continue]
[Wait for page 2 of text to render and press A to continue]
[Wait for page 3 of text to render and press A to continue]
[Wait for page 4 of text to render and press A to continue]
[Wait for page 5 of text to render and press A to continue]
[Wait for page 6 of text to render and press A to continue]
[Wait for page 7 of text to render and press A to continue]
Three seconds of gameplay! Wewt!
[Wait for page 1 of text to render and press A to continue]
[Wait for page 2 of text to render and press A to continue]
[Wait for page 3 of text to render and press A to continue]
Did you know that this actually isn't fun? Well, that's not completely accurate. It is fun, but perhaps less so than undergoing unanaesthetised dental work. Don't you guys do focus groups or anything? Do people who playtest your games understand that they're intended for entertainment, or do they think you're designing thumb-torture simulators?

Why do all your first-party games have General MIDI soundtracks?

I remember being really blown away the first time I ever saw a home video game that used the power of MIDI to generate its soundtrack, but the novelty wore off sometime in 1988. Is this just a case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it?"

Did you know that it is now possible to actually record music digitally and then play it back inside a video game? Take a look at, say, every video game produced by anyone other than Nintendo in the past 17 years for an example. I thought that maybe you were just cramming too many standard-def, low-poly graphics onto your game discs to accomodate digital music, but I looked at a bunch of your titles under good lighting and it's obvious you're nowhere near filling your discs to capacity, so what gives?

Why does the Wii Shop Channel suck so bad?

The first time I ever bought a Virtual Console title through the Wii Shop Channel, I thought, "Gee, entering all my credit card and address information with the Wiimote really sucks ass. At least I'll only have to do this once. Right? RIGHT???" But no- every single time you purchase anything from the Wii Shop, every Wii user must fumble through the process of providing complete credentials and payment info with probably the least appropriate text-entry device ever. Dude, Steven Hawking has an easier time entering text than the average Wii user.

And yes, I know that there are now keyboards you can plug in to the Wii- wait... I bet you call them "Wiiboards," don't you? But even websites remember customer information, and websites can work from any computer. You only access Wii Shop from your own Wii- there's no excuse for you to not remember who your users are, is there?

Why isn't the new Animal Crossing game any different from the first one?

Ususally the idea behind a game sequel is, "Ditch the things that didn't work, keep the things that did, but make them better." Oddly, the idea behind Animal Crossing: City Folk appears to be, "Put the original Animal Crossing disc in a new box." Seriously, after seven years of development you can't evolve the gameplay or graphics at all, other than make the player character look like less of a serial-killing clown?

This franchise is in dire need of a reboot. Let's just pretend City Folk never happened and release a true "Animal Crossing 2." As you're obviously starved for ideas, let me recommend how to bring this game up-to-date: The new game will be an open-ended stealth action FPS sandbox thriller with occasional first-person parkour segments. You're an undercover vice detective and the guitar-playing dog K.K. Slider is your in-game companion (controlled by AI in single-player or your friend in co-op mode). Together you go into deep cover in Tom Nook's megastore chain, investigating his textile sweatshops and alleged prostitution and drug trafficking operations. This should serve as a good jumping point; contact me if you need more detail.

Oh yeah, and what the FUCK is up with bringing back Resetti? It's not bad enough it takes 10 minutes just to load a goddamn game of Animal Crossing (even if you DO save before turning off your system) but you have to continue torturing players once the game finally loads? Just for this, I am officially putting you on notice: If I ever see Reggie Fils-Aimé in person I am totally gonna punch him in the piinis.

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