Nintendo had a really good year last year with a lot of there holiday releases being really good ones such as Donkey Kong Country Returns and Sonic Colours, for us UK people it started off strong with the release of Kirby's Epic Yarn. This year was all about the Nintendo 3DS for them so all of there attention was on the 3DS, however the 3DS didn't launch to great. The console itself was really good, it was a fantastic step up from the DS with the one friend code, street pass, graphical improvement, analog nub and the 3D was acutely pretty cool. Nintendo faced two problems with there launch, the first being people don't really want game exclusive handhelds anymore. When the original DS launched the smart phones that we know today did not exist, there was a few but nowhere near as popular as they are today. So if you wanted to play games on the go, you needed a DS, and sales show people were happy to do so with the DS becoming a huge success and it brought a whole new market of people in to video gaming.
All is not the same in 2011, with the rising popularity of iPhones and iPods and iPads, people are not as willing to pay $250 for a handheld device that just plays games. Because they can buy an iPod that plays games, is a music device, a wide variety of apps, is more trendy and is cheaper. Nintendo would charge $40-$50 for a 3DS game when they could buy a decent game from the App store for $3. The hardcore Nintendo fans seemed to be the only people who bought a 3DS as sales show, but even they were not happy. The games at launch were not all that interesting, sure they were good games, but that is all they really were, good. There was no Mario or Zelda or even a Wii Sports equivalent, the game that I picked up (As did most others) was Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition. Though it was a good game that showed off the graphical power and 3D power of the 3DS, it was a port of a game that played and looked better on a console.
Nintendo also delayed there online store which was highly anticipated by 3DS consumers, months passed with hardly any games coming out, people were really excited in June when the eShop opened its doors. But then what did we get, a Excitebike 3D version and a Pokemon Pokedex, not exactly console sellers. Even up until this day there are no great original games no the eShop, there are some good virtual console games, but yet again these are not the things that make people get 3DS's, and this is not the worse thing they did.
Nintendo made a difficult decision, just after 4 months of the 3DS being out they cut the price from $250 to $170, a huge price drop that we do not usually see for years. This of course improved 3DS sales, but the people who bought the 3DS before this were quite simply, pissed off. They had paid a large amount of money only to be then slapped in the face by Nintendo for being the people that gave them there money first. Nintendo had a plan though, they announced the Ambassador project. Simply put, if you bought a 3DS before the price cut, you would be entitled to 10 free NES games and 10 free GBA games that would not be available to anybody else who got it after the price cut (Or so they say.). The list of games was pretty decent, they were mostly solid games, although the GBA games have yet to come out.
In the early summer The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D arrived on store shelfs, at last 3DS owners had something to play until the rest came out. I'm personally not a huge Ocarina of Time fan, but even I snatched up a copy instantly and convinced myself that I made a good decision to buy the 3DS. Towards the end of the summer a few more games came out, Star Fox 64 3D arrived with Resident Evil Mercenaries which were both good games. And just last week Super Mario 3D Land came out, which is the 3DS game we have all been waiting for, but should it have taken this long for a game like this to come out?
You would have noticed I have not even talked about the Wii this year yet, if you own a Wii you will know why. That is because the only proper Wii game worth talking about came out last week, I am not joking there. If you live in the UK you got Kirbys Epic Yarn and Xenoblade, but if you don't you pretty much got nothing. It's like Nintendo put all there effort in to the 3DS and around October sombody said.
- "Hey Bob how is the Wii doing?"
- "I was told you were doing it Fred"
- Oh but I was told you were doing it Bob!"
Nintendo are of course hard at work with there next console too, but I still find it sad that Nintendo really do not care about the Wii anymore. They know that they have made as much money as they are going to make with the Wii because everybody already owns a Wii. The people that they are targeting already have enough games so they say fuck you to the rest of us, until last week where they give us Zelda. I have not mentioned the DS at all here either, which in retrospect was a decent effort, what with Pokemon and Professor Layton.
2011 has been an interesting time with Nintendo, last year was an incredible year for them, so it was hard to compete with that. Sadly it seems they didn't really try this year and all they have really done this year is pissing people off.