Maybe Nintendo’s Just Not Into You

At the ripe old age of three, my mom changed the way I spent my free time forever by giving me a Nintendo Entertainment System. After graduating to the SNES and Nintendo 64, the allure of Nintendo completely escaped me as the launch of the Gamecube began at a time when the PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast were already in my home and the Xbox, and Master Chief, would soon be invading my living room. Maybe I had grown tired of the same characters being carted out each console cycle or perhaps I was just a traitor leaving for a newer, flashier product. Either way, I was done.

The Wii came along and, after more than a decade since my last home console purchase from the Big N, I bought the console that was small on horsepower but big on interactivity. That novelty soon wore off as it became more and more clear that Nintendo hadn’t missed me and didn’t want me back.

I cannot say the same for some of my gaming compatriots.

A large, vocal and rabid group of Nintendo fanboys has supported the company through thick and thin ever since they collected their first gold coin in Super Mario Bros. and shot their first duck in Duck Hunt. Through November 2006, these fanboys have had games targeted at them to hang their hats on and enjoy despite their slimming numbers and the Gamecube’s failure to gain traction with an audience outside the group.

For these fanboys, November 19, 2006 will be a date which will live in infamy.

The launch of the Wii signaled Nintendo’s admission that they had lost the battle for gaming supremacy with those who would identify themselves as gamers and their desire to conquer a new, larger group: everyone else. This desire would lead to Nintendo steering its focus away from the fanboys, although delivering core titles to them early on, to other groups such as the very young, very old and females.

Fanboys have staunchly defended the Wii. Whether they be run-of-the-mill fanboys on Internet message boards or those who would be counted as members of the gaming press, Nintendo fanboys have praised each and every core title from NIntendo for the Wii, granting them perfect scores, glowing reviews and passes on huge flaws and the fact that they all took steps backwards. They also managed to overlook first party titles not targeted at them such as Wii Fit, Wii Sports and Wii Play as afterthoughts. Those titles, and countless third party mini game collections, have been the titles that have made Nintendo the most money and have helped reach a larger audience then ever before, not Zelda, Metroid or even Mario.

Still, fanboys persisted. Claiming that E3 2008 would be the E3 in which Nintendo would deliver us a new crop of first party, core titles. This class was to be headed by the return of Kid Icarus. This drum was beat so loudly that it was hard to believe that core titles would not be at this year’s E3 press conference.

Then we all actually saw Nintendo’s E3 2008 press conference.

Animal Crossing and Wii Music were the big draws. Adults gyrating toward hip breakage and barely playing “music” were the sights and sounds we would be left with. All the while, Nintendo boasting about how they had reached so many more gamers and had expanded their market. In other words, Nintendo had moved on.

So, why can’t the Nintendo fanboys move on as easily as Nintedno has?

Nintendo has made a killing by getting Liv Tyler to play the DS and Matt Lauer to play Wii Fit. They have two grandmas and a Midwest housewife for every 30 year old former NES owner. Sure, they can tease about the teams behind Zelda and Mario working on new titles but Shigeru Miyamoto has recently brought us Nintendogs and Wii Fit. What’s to say that these teams are working on titles for fanboys? They could simply be creating the next big Nintendo casual game and peripheral.

Nintendo fanboys, please listen closely. They appreciated you for a long time but the greener pastures of mainstream acceptance and piles and piles of money have changed the Nintendo you know and love. You may just have to accept that maybe Nintendo’s just not that into you anymore.