I think the greatest thing I heard this year was that Myamoto was finally working on a new IP.
After 9 years.
"But what about the 3DS?" You scream.
Well, that's great too, but 3DS isn't exactly revolutionary, it's EVOlutionary.
"But it's 3D! Without Glasses too!" You shout.
Yes, that's true, but that's not exactly something completely different. It ISN'T a gameplay changer, however, it IS a game-display changer.
Lets be frank, will the mushrooms in Super Mario Bros pop out at me really change the way I'm playing the game?
Short answer: No
But will it be really cool?
I think what we have to realize is that the 3DS is not the "big step up" that we're trying to make it sound like it is. I think if Darwin was alive today, he'd refer to that picture of the monkey becoming a man, if it were of game consoles, the 3DS would be on the line right after the DS.
We're not talking about the opposable thumbs that makes us different from every other animal, we're talking about something less, like the moment we went from bent over back position to straight up, it didn't re-invent our place in this world, it just makes us see farther and not have as much back pain. Although that's good, it's not a huge deal, I think we could accomplish the same things we do nowadays if we were all running around with our backs bent over, however, try doing those things without your thumbs, and you'll have a significantly tougher time.
Basically, we're going from Gameboy to Gameboy Color, not Gameboy Advance to DS. They didn't even really change the name...
And what I've found is that this is the direction that Nintendo's now heading in.
Tell me, what was their focus this E3?
Time's up, gimme your answer, and it's probably gonna be something on the lines of "Returning Old Franchises"
Correct? Of course it is. What we saw was Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Kirby's Epic Yarn, not to mention, Kid Icarus. You could say their focus was the 3DS, but the 3DS is just a mere vehicle to deliver some of these titles on.
But tell me, how many of those games weren't a sequel or part of an already existing franchise? None.
Tell me again, how many of those games DIDN'T use mechanics we'd seen before? None.
How many could you label as revolutionary? None.
But how many showed some clear improvement on their predecessors? All of Them.
So what we REALLY saw was not REVolutionary, it was EVOlutionary.
They didn't re-invent Link, they gave him some new toys and perfected his sword slashing, but he's the same elf we've all come to know and love.
They didn't re-invent Kirby, they took his copy ability, and put him in yarn, but he's still the same puffball we've come to know and love.
They didn't re-invent Donkey Kong, they gave him co-op, in a 2.5D setting, but he's still the ape we've come to know and love.
They DID re-invent Kid Icarus, but it's merely changing his definition to be a bit more action-ey, his new game doesn't exactly bring anything new to the table.
What I'm getting at here, is that there's no real new things here.
Kirby has co-op, but it's basically gonna be the same thing in Superstar Ultra, but with more yarn.
Link now has some weird flying thing, but I've seen that before in different franchises.
Kid Icarus now kicks ass, but he kicks ass similar to every other pre-gun ass kicker.
We're not exactly seeing Olimar here.
Yes, Olimar, you know, the guy who had a whole new world made just for him so he can Pik-his-min as much as he pleases.
And you know why he had that happen to him? Because that simply wouldn't work with Mario.
What? He has swarms of Toads following him? No, seriously, give me a break. (Although Nintendo DID try that in a different manner with Mario VS DK series, but that's something completely different.)
The thing is, Nintendo has simply run out of room in its own franchises. They cannot revolutionize the way you play Mario anymore, I mean, you've gone 3D, what more can you really change? Yes, they DID make Super Mario Galaxy, which allowed you to circle around planets, but that's not a revolution, that's an evolution.
On the Darwin chart, this isn't a fish saying "screw the water, I'm going to land" and becoming the first land walker, this is the Neanderthal saying to the monkey "hey, I can do what you're doing BETTER then you" and then growing a larger head so he can figure out that a cave's a nice place to live.
Likewise, Mario isn't going do his best Kratos impression, he's just getting his platforming refined, because frankly, there are just so many things you can do with your hammer, and taking down Greek Gods isn't one of them (unless you have the hammer of Thor or something.)
So when the concept of a game that's completely different from anything Nintendo's ever done before, like Pikmin, they realized it simply wouldn't fit in the Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule, OR Popstar, so they had to create something completely new.
Pikmin wasn't an evolution, it was a revolution. I've never played a game like Pikmin before, outside of the game itself, and it didn't take too many/any cues from past games. It was that thing that Scientists are still scrambling to figure out like "how did that thing get wings and become the first bird" or something related. I could tell you exactly where Super Mario Galaxy is coming from, or where Donkey Kong Country Returns is coming from, but I can't exactly tell you where the hell Pikmin came from.
But we're talking about the Nintendo of 2001, Nintendo just doesn't do that anymore.
How many lovable Brawl-Worthy characters have we seen in the last 10 years representing a new franchise, aside from Olimar? None!
There's a problem right there, because Nintendo simply can't do as much with Mario, Link, and Kirby, without the great rubber-band of business pulling them backwards again, and they DON'T build enough new worlds for some truly new things to come around. And what we've seen is more evolution then revolution.
Yes, the Wii was revolutionary, but nobody thought "lets try making something completely new here," or at least, not for long, instead, they thought "lets see how I can put this into my old game without screwing it up," such as with Twilight Princess, the two Galaxy Games, and their pals.
TL;DR version: Screw off, read the full thing dammit.
- Animal Crossing is not mentioned here, simply because it wasn't actually made in the last 10 years, it was originally an N64 game.
- Also, we had an Animal Crossing STAGE in Brawl, no characters though, and outside of the stage, their interaction is minimal.
- Also, I'm not saying the recent games are bad, but they aren't anything exactly different, at least, in my definition, they aren't a whole "take the other road" type thing.
- I don't mention WiiSports, because those aren't as relevant nowadays, taking it that Nintendo's began to recede again into the "hardcore" space.