Is Nintendo Continuing to Innovate?
What does it take to be truly innovative? These days, especially with the advent of Nintendo's stable of games, emphasis is placed so much on going forward and making waves in the gaming industry that perfectly fun games are criticized for not being innovative enough.
On the other hand, games that are touted as such sort of, well, disappoint. There is no doubt that the Wii U and its ilk (especially when you consider games like Mario Maker and those that require amiibo figures with NFC abilities) is innovative, in that it promotes its remote for titles that use gun play, swords, or even sports mechanics. Mario Kart 8 and games like Hyrule Warriors may not be going outside the box to change up the game, but are they still worthy of being games we look back and remember in our old age?
Absolutely, and the recent Nintendo Direct went a long way to showcase this sentiment, especially with the advent of cards replacing the functionality of amiibo figures (think Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer) and the many ways both home console and handhelds will be able to communicate with each other. To deny that Nintendo has ignored innovation is to deny the Nintendo 3DS entirely, especially the fact that it's the only handheld on the market to allow for glasses-free 3D. As gimmicky as that sounds, it's become a system-seller, and indicative of audiences looking for something a little more interesting than simple improved graphics and/or realism.
All of these tweaks, new releases, and innovative ideas and there are still those who feel the Wii U and its parent system as well as its handhelds feel more like one of those Plug and Play TV systems that you might purchase for a little sister or brother to entertain for a few hours. So much time and energy is put into making groundbreaking titles that a solid story, control scheme, and other equally important elements get thrown to the wayside when it comes to many developers. Meanwhile, when a good, albeit "non-innovative" game is released, it is quickly criticized for being another cookie-cutter attempt from whichever developer was responsible -- especially newer Mario, Zelda, Metroid, or other titles.
Before this bit of a renaissance that we've seen in recent years, the DS library was beginning to languish, but it's the classics that people call hackneyed that started to breathe new life into it. Gamers were of the mindset that ALL of the newer releases had to use the touch screen for absurd reasons or were tepid movie releases with no real reason to exist.
Halo didn't re-invent the FPS, but it was a fun game. Platformers like Kirby and the Rainbow Curse or Yoshi's Woolly World are nothing new, but the games are entertaining. They clearly are drawing audiences in, and they're worth your time and attention as legitimately fun romps for players of any age. It isn't necessary to focus so much on making something "never been seen before" for it to be a great diversion. After all, we're gamers because we like to do what? That's right - play games.
That isn't to say there's no room in the industry for something new. We'd all like to see that, but condemning perfectly fun games because they don't fit such criteria? It's madness, and probably Sparta as well. Here's my message to you, creators of games, reviewers, bloggers, and average gamers: there are great games out there that do what they set out to do well. Let's give them a chance and stop expecting all the sparkly bells and whistles. They're already here in droves. You needn't look too far to find them, either.