NintenRants III – Nintendo and the Internet
For my third NintenRant, I wanted to tackle an issue which I hear a rather large amount from other gamers both old and new, whether affiliated with the Big N or not; Nintendo and their seeming incapability to sort out online on their games or consoles. That isn’t to say that Nintendo have never made good moves and calls with the internet, just that they are now trailing behind their contemporaries.
This is far cry from the humble beginnings of Nintendo (as a games developer) in the ancient realm of the 80s, in which the Big N were the most innovative and boundary-pushing of all the developers. I mean, Nintendo even had the capability to connect to an early form of the internet with the NES in 1988. Albeit it never released outside Japan, also it had just about the capability and functions of the UK’s CeeFax pages, but nonetheless it was there. It was impractical, it was cumbersome, and it was far from what we think of today as a console “being online” but Nintendo kept being innovative regardless of success.
This is far from Nintendo’s current strategy. We do, admittedly, have both current consoles with internet connectivity but can we really claim to be up-to-date? Both other major companies have robust online connectivity, with diverse friend list capability, a plethora of online games, and decently organised online communities. Nintendo lacks most of this, and there are seemingly no reasons for any of them.
Firstly, the friend list concept, and Nintendo’s version of it. There are few reasons I can think of as to why Nintendo have chosen to make their friend lists such a nightmare. Why, for instance, can you not add a friend that you have played with online directly? For instance, if you were playing Smash with someone online, were really enjoying the fights, and wanted to add them to your friend list to play with them again, why can’t you just add them? All of this friend code nonsense is childish Nintendo, a lot of your players now are adults and grew up without you babying them, why start now?
The online connectivity mainly gives me issues when it comes to, similar to the above, voice chat (or the lack thereof). I can potentially understand the lack of voice chat (outside a friend lobby) in games like Mario Kart and Smash as those games get competitive and horrific in language very quickly. However, Splatoon (Nintendo’s newest IP) lacks voice chat, which strikes me as odd in a TEAM-based shooter. Why does a game where co-operation with other players not have the capability to talk to said players?
The online games issue isn’t AS pressing as the other ones, but it is still an area that Nintendo needs to put in some work on. Smash for Wii U is, for the most part, a good example of Nintendo doing online. However, Mario Kart 8’s messed up online modes are infuriating if you’re trying to organise a tournament with friends (or with a StreetPass group), the lobby system just does not work, and they have had now three generations of Mario Kart to get this right. Then there are games that either have online modes that make no sense, or are lacking online where games really should have it. A perfect example of the latter is Hyrule Warriors, that game would be incredible with online co-op, but instead it has a local co-op that severely detriments the CPU of the console.
The two paragraphs above tie into the issue I take with the online community on Nintendo consoles. With hardly any voice chat, a messed up friend code system, and other strange choices with online features, it is no surprise that people view the Nintendo pair as being essentially offline. But what adds insult to injury on this is Miiverse. Don’t get me wrong, I do like Miiverse for what it is, but it is a bit of wet blanket as opposed to Sony and Microsoft’s equivalents. It is almost insultingly featureless, and lacks any of the real capabilities that PSN or XBL have.
This could all change with their next wave of consoles, however I lack the faith in Nintendo in that regard any more. Nintendo have gone from one of the most innovative games and console developers in the world to trailing behind their contemporaries. Sadly, I don’t see any real change in this until there is a shake-up in Nintendo’s management; luckily though their games are still stupendously worth sticking with them for (with a couple of exceptions).