There has been a Nintendo for every generation. For the better part of the 80s and 90s, Nintendo was the king of console gaming. Despite the rise of Sega, Sony and later Microsoft as gaming powerhouses, Nintendo continued to innovate and entertain gamers around the world.
At a time when Sony and Microsoft had invested in high-definition graphics and processing power, Nintendo was leading the market with simple innovation. For example, the ‘Wii’ utilized an infrared remote wand called the ‘Wii-Mote’ that would interact with the screen and give you full-motion control. This meant you could be Roger Federer, Tiger Woods or even Luke Skywalker depending on the software.
However, in recent times, Nintendo has slowly lost its appeal factor. With the ‘Wii U’ failing to meet the benchmark set by its last generation sibling, Nintendo needs to go back to basics once again. Back in the 90s, the Super Nintendo was one of the hottest consoles in the market giving a fair fight to Sega’s Genesis. Super Nintendo later paved the way for the Nintendo 64 (N64) in the mid-90s, which was able to ward off threats from Sony’s PlayStation and Sega’s Saturn.
The reason Nintendo survived the 90s, was because it was not afraid to push the envelope while staying true to its roots. Both the Super Nintendo and N64 included tech upgrades along with quality titles to boot. Their mascot ‘Mario’ has become one of the most-loved mascots of the 80s and 90s just because of the superb, yet simple games that Nintendo pushed featuring the adorable plumber. Mario even gave Sega’s ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ a run for his money.
This is exactly what Nintendo needs to do today to ensure its survival in the current console war currently being led by Sony’s PlayStation 4. Nintendo’s Wii fever lost its momentum when Sony and Microsoft launched rival peripherals. Ideally, Nintendo should have designed the Wii U with hardware comparable to the PS4 and Xbox One, and then unleashed next-gen supercharged Mario games alongside their other famous franchises like ‘Zelda’ and ‘Donkey Kong’. This is the strategy that worked for them in the 90s.
Nintendo need to learn from the mistakes of former rival Sega. Sega failed to capitalize on the success of the Genesis with the disappointing Sega Saturn. Despite launching the Dreamcast to mass appeal, their market had already been taken over. Sony launched the mammoth PlayStation 2 within a year’s time sending Sega’s hardware factory into oblivion. Dreamcast was an amazing 128-bit machine but was unable to survive against Sony’s advanced hardware.
Despite the mediocre reception of the Wii U, it is not yet over for the Japanese giant. Nintendo certainly has the ability to reboot the Wii U with better hardware, and make Mario the focus of their games library since this is where they have an edge over their rivals.
Whatever they choose to do, Nintendo isn’t about to say Sayonara…