Whenever I think about Nintendo NX, the first thought that springs to my mind is that it must not fail.
Nintendo announced NX in March of 2015 at a conference, along with several other things, including mobile games – one of which has succeeded and rocketed Nintendo’s share price. The mobile games have seriously showed that innovation has benefited Nintendo once again, as the N64, DS, and Wii did. However, Nintendo tried this with Wii U.
It didn’t exactly succeed. Wii U has flopped massively, becoming Nintendo’s worst-selling home console. It has sold, to this day, only 13 million units, eight million short of the company’s secondworst seller. Nintendo expected to sell 100 million.
The Nintendo NX is a big risk for Nintendo in this case. With the success of its mobile games, it could potentially draw back fans that moved to smartphone after the Wii and DS era, but once again that’s a risky strategy for Nintendo. What Nintendo must have with NX is a smart concept idea, and thirdparty support – especially the latter. These are what Wii U missed out on. I think the GamePad was far too chunky for its own good, and whatever thirdparty support did come Nintendo’s way was always the worst version available.
And if NX does fail? Nintendo will struggle to get back into the rhythm that the Wii and DS provided. Fans will start to move elsewhere and, unfortunately, it will surely mean the demise of Nintendo in the console market, the company following perfectly in the footsteps of Sega. James Baldwin Pokémon Go’s effect on Nintendo’s share price was more about the investment community hitching itself to a phenomenon – however shortlived that phenomenon might prove to be. It’s earnt Nintendo goodwill and good PR, if not a proportionate amount of revenue. Given the momentum, the right time to launch NX would be now, but of course Nintendo isn’t ready yet.
E297 exposed a striking synergy, but also important contradictions, in the interrelationship between videogames and real-world events. While Battlefield 1’ s senior producer Aleksander Grøndal argues that, “First and foremost we’re a game”, so relegating any ethical considerations to secondary concerns, both Hideo Kojima and the developers of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided demonstrate considerable levels of sensitivity to the capacity of games to deliver ethically sophisticated social and political commentary.
What seems crucial to the successful delivery of a game with politically informed sensibilities and sensitivities is the effective intersection of the story of the game and the gameplay possibilities the game affords.
While I have not yet had the opportunity to play Battlefield 1, it seems clear that the developers have little intention of thinking hard about this. WWI, it appears, is to be used as no more than a backdrop, essentially to secure commercial advantage by differentiating the game from Call Of Duty’s rush to a sci-fi-oriented future. For EA DICE, WWI is a mere framing device with its politics explicitly depoliticised – itself, of course, a political act.
In contrast, both Kojima and Square Enix Montreal are acutely sensitive to the role that games could play in the delivery of narratives and gameplay experiences that allow us encounters with politically complex issues. Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid series has wrestled with themes such as the power of the
“It has sold, to this day, only 13 million units. Nintendo expected to sell 100 million”
Military Industrial Complex, the threats of nuclear war and perils of technologically facilitated warfare; Deus Ex: Mankind Divided explores social polarisation in a world beset by terrorism. In light of such themes, it’s integral to the coherence of these games that they allow, even encourage the player to operate within their respective game worlds based on stealth. In contrast to Battlefield 1 with its focus on a shoot-and-destroy mechanic, many players are explicitly attracted to stealth-based games precisely because they challenge a focus on gunplay.
Games that explicitly seek to provoke thinking are vital in these increasingly complex political times and I for one am delighted that Kojima didn’t see fit to move into movies, instead taking the time he needed to find a project that stimulated his creativity. Edge rightly describes him as an auteur. If that is a term used to describe a visionary who exploits the possibilities within games to invoke critical and reflexive thinking then Kojima is certainly worthy of such a label, as perhaps are the developers of
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. It is to be hoped that his forthcoming production delivers a similar synergy between narrative and gameplay. It would be a true sign of the maturing of the industry if the developers of Battlefield 1 similarly sought to deliver a reflective engagement with war. Perhaps it’s best that we don’t hold our breath. Nick Robinson Well put, Dr Robinson. A New 3DS is on its way. We look forward to your next missive – on the sociopolitical subtexts of Rhythm Heaven Megamix, perhaps.
Truth and reconciliation
Edge magazine is changing. It’s been a subtle change, but it was always inevitable, right from issue 1 in October 1893 (or something like that) when the magazine declared itself as “the future of videogaming”. It was only a matter of time until there were reviews of virtual reality games within the magazine.
Over the past year or so, VR games have pushed themselves onto the pages of Edge. I have to confess, up until now I have skipped over them because VR is something that just doesn’t interest me. In fact, I almost get a feeling of frustration each time virtual reality gaming gets a mention. But wait! I’m sure I’ve experienced this feeling of magazine rage before… Back in the day when I subscribed to a Commodore magazine, it used to annoy me no end that Amiga games were gradually squeezing the coverage of C64 games off the pages. Eventually I bought an Amiga, and it represented a true golden age of gaming for me.
So I’ve come to realise that maybe I need to have more of an open mind when it comes to VR gaming. There are naturally obstacles to me accepting this new method of videogame witchcraft (the cost of the new hardware, my suspicions on the comfort of wearing the new gear, and the varying quality of the games themselves), but perhaps one day I too will find myself embracing the future of videogaming. Ben Bulbeck Fortunately, VR deserves the attention this time around – although there’s no shortage of subpar Rift/Vive titles. But there’ll always be a place for traditional games within these pages. If they ever stop being made, we can fill the magazine with old Amiga stuff.
This summer, I decided to take my old Nintendo DS with me on holiday. My plan was to play, from beginning to end, one of the games I most enjoyed on Nintendo’s handheld. I am talking about Professor Layton
And The Lost Future, the best instalment in the series. How big my surprise was, however, when I discovered that I didn’t have the cartridge: a friend of mine had lent me the game years ago. I quickly visited every videogame shop in the area, but the game was nowhere to be found. It had been discontinued years before.
Emulators for my Android and other different alternatives soon sprang to mind, all of them of dubious legality. Despite the fact that the industry has progressed by leaps and bounds in recent years, fundamental questions remain the subject of lively and often thought-provoking debate. However, none is as poorly addressed as the matter of how we are to preserve the legacy of the interactive medium. Technological obsolescence is part of the essence of videogames, but it may well be time for both players and creators to think about how we are going to ensure access to old videogames in the future.
All of us, both experienced players and newcomers, should have the chance to educate ourselves by playing the classics: those games that changed, redefined and moulded the industry we love. We should be able to have instant, and legal, access to a digital shop where we can buy and play any game regardless of its release date. How are new players going to learn about videogames if trying to play Shenmue, Super Mario 64 or Metal Gear Solid in an emulator is an absolute nightmare? Steam has done a great job on PC, and Nintendo’s Virtual Console is another case in point, although nothing compared to what it should be.
That’s right – I am talking about building the Library Of Alexandria of videogames. I know what many people will think: it isn’t just about emulating the games. There will be trouble related to controlling them, related to copyright and censorship. It’s a daunting challenge, undoubtedly, but one that must be tackled sooner or later if we want to preserve the legacy of the industry. This Library Of Alexandria 2.0 is vital if we really want to have a medium with a traceable history and past in the same way literature has. Noel Arteche You’re not alone. Organisations such as www.efgamp.eu are growing, and we’re right behind them. If we can help anyone involved in these initiatives, drop us a line.