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Nintendo doesn’t make games for hardcore gamers

Chi Kong Lui's picture

Nintendo game designer/producer/muse Shigeru MiyamotoI know the title of this blog post is a little strange when you consider that Nintendo is notorious in the game industry for having the most loyal and rabid fans that regularly worship at the house of Super Mario and affectionately/annoyingly refer to Nintendo's game designer/producer/muse Shigeru Miyamoto as "Shiggy." Since Nintendo defined the modern game console era, if you consider yourself a hardcore gamer, it's more than likely that you're a Nintendo fanboy (even if you don't want to admit it).

Yet, not too long ago, hardcore gamers started feeling a little uncomfortable with the release of the touch-screen based DS handheld system. They were skeptical of the touch-screen novelty and frustrated with the release schedule of games that seemed few and far between. Of the few games that were released, the ones that were considered high-profile successes by Nintendo were games like Nintendogs and Brain Age. This left gamers scratching their heads as these titles were radically different from what their expectations of what a videogame should look, feel and play like.

Handheld-gaming has long been the ugly stepchild of home consoles so perhaps many fans were able to shrug off the DS as an anomaly and thought that with release of the Wii, Nintendo would return to traditional form and reclaim its rightful throne that it had lost to Sony. Now months after the release of the Wii, hardcore gamers are feeling even more on outs with Nintendo and have similar complaints along the lines of DS about the lack of software, poor graphics compared to costlier competitors and questions to the validity and longevity of the Wii-mote as a functional controller.

To the hardcore, the Wii validates their fears that stem from the DS. Nintendo isn't in-touch with gamers, but rather out-of-touch and will subsequently fail for it. The funny thing is none of this should come as a surprise since Nintendo has a long history of eschewing the status quo and alienating hardcore gamers in favor of reaching a more family-orientated mass market.

R.O.B. (robotic operating buddy)

Starting with its very first game console NES, Nintendo put in the gimmicky R.O.B. (robotic operating buddy) accessory so that it could distance itself from the typical games of the day. R.O.B. was only good for two games, but its inclusion successfully got stores and buyers to lower their guard similarly to what the Wii-mote is doing today. The Super Scope (which incidentally uses a similar motion technology to that of the Wii), Mario Paint, Pokemon, Game Boy Camera, eCard Reader and Virtual Boy all represented out-of-the-box attempts by Nintendo to transcend traditional gaming conventions of the day.

It's also worth nothing that the GameCube console, which is one of Nintendo's biggest failures in recent times, was also one of its least unique systems. Nintendo executives consistently preached the same non-traditional mass market ideals that it does today, but mistakenly thought that presenting an oddly cube-shaped console with bright colors, a lunchbox handle and slightly modified controller would be enough for it to stand-out to the media and on-the-fence gamers. It didn't.

Cel shaded child-like LinkThe Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker also represented another effort by Nintendo to break away from the hardcore mindset. So much so that it literally defied what hardcore gamers demanded at the time and presented a cell-shaded child-like Link instead of the expected darker, more mature Link, but by then it was too late. PS2 had an insurmountable lead and software alone was not enough to convince non-gamers that the GameCube was truly different.

It's not difficult to infer that the failures of the GameCube and Wind Waker were strong factors that drove Nintendo to realize what they doing just wasn't enough and they really needed to do a drastic 180 in every respect—from graphics to the controller. Hardcore gamers may mistakenly think that with the more mature and darker Twilight Princess is signal that Nintendo will finally getting in line with making games that cater to their tastes, but those gamers would be wrong.

Twilight Princess is merely a bone (Nintendo occasionally does this) and doesn't represent any major shift of thinking on Nintendo's part, which has been pretty consistent since the NES. This is only becoming clear now because the success of the Wii and DS underscores the disparity between what the hardcore expect and what Nintendo has always strived for. For those to are devoted to Nintendo, this may be a hard pill to swallow, but the reality is Nintendo doesn't make games for you.

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I see the DS as a pretty

I see the DS as a pretty "Hardcore" system, and I thought Wind Waker was a "Hardcore" game(At least it had a much more mature story then Twilight Princess in my opinion). The problem is my hardcore might be different then your hardcore and both of ours might be different then others.

How do you define Hardcore?

You are horribly wrong.

You are horribly wrong. Sure, the DS and Wii aren't centered around hardcore gamers. In fact, they are aimed at non-gamers (hint: that's why they're succeeding), but they made many hardcore games already for both systems and they have much more on the way.

Wii: Zelda TP, Super Paper Mario, Wario Ware Smooth Moves, Fire Emblem, Metroid Prime 3, Disaster, Battalion Wars, Project HAMMER, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Mario Galaxy.

DS: New SMB, Tetris DS, Yoshi's Island DS, Advance Wars DS, Electroplankton, Elite Beat Agents, Hotel Dusk, Kirby: Canvas Curse, Zelda PH, Mario & Luigi, Mario Kart DS, Mario vs DK 2, Metroid Prime Hunters, Star Fox Command and Trace Memory.

Can you tell me that ALL of those games are not hardcore games.. or are they just "bones"? If they're just bones them I am one happy pup.


No, Nintendo does not produce the most violent/adult-themed games out there. So if that is how you define hardcore gaming then perhaps you are right. But when it comes to pure unadultered gameplay, Nintendo reigns supreme. Nintendo doesn't play it safe, the Wii and DS are great examples of this. When everybody though that next-gen meant overpriced consoles that can produce, arguably, photo-realistic graphics, Nintendo decided to go in different directions with those two consoles. When it comes to games Nintendo is still capable of coming up with fresh and innovative intellectual property, unlike the other guys that think hardcore next-gen gaming equals "Ultra Violent Grand Theft Super Gears of God of War III - Now with more Hookers"...

I would define a "Hardcore

I would define a "Hardcore Gamer" as someone who is principally concerned with games rather than the company or system purveying them.

I've been playing games for over 25 years, and this year I am looking forward to games from Sega, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Konami, Capcom, and Namco all on various formats. Does this mean I'm not a "hardcore Gamer"?

I personally think that to single out a company as you have is very short-sighted. Ultimately if anyone who is a true gamer listens to your advice then they will be able to experience less great games, which is surely what every "Hardcore Gamer" strives for.



How is experimental gameplay not hardcore?

You seem to have an odd and very conservative definition of hard core games and what a hard core gamer is. Why must all hardcore games be traditional genres with traditional interfaces? Shouldn't hard core gamers be exactly the one's seeking out the new game experiences that the Wii and DS represent?

I don't think anyone calls someone a hardcore film person if all they watch are Hollywood action films. You call them a hardcore film person when they actively seek out odd and unusual films, films that try to redefine what films are about and what they can do. Same for hardcore gamers.

It used to be that to find those unusual genre breaking games you had to mod your Playstation and import games or hunt down rare Dreamcast peripherals on ebay (maracas anyone?). What Nintendo has done with the DS and Wii is to encourage the development of these sorts of games and introduce them into the mainstream.

This is a good thing for hardcore gamers and games as a medium.

Chi Kong Wrong

I have owned every single Nintendo System and will continue to own I am sure the future systems. Nintendo has been making and supporting great entertaining games and system for years. Before they centered around consoles they would sell playing cards and entertainment of that nature, gaming before consoles is pretty hardcore to me. Sure the past of Nintendo has been not centered to much around violence but is that what makes a game a game or a gamer hardcore, if you think that them maybe you in fact are not the gamer. A hardcore gamer is a person that plays games hardcore.

I have tons of games for my NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, WII and then also have tons of games for my PS2, Xbox, PC and I find my self always going back to the WII (also includes Gamecube games of course) because the games are fun..... Fun what is that, I guess fun means killing mindless mounds of zombies, killing armies of people, killing someone to steal their car... Have we all become that mindless that only killing things equals fun?

I think not, I return to these consoles because the games are fun, make me think and hold my interest. Nintendo has always been about entertainment, maybe not about the graphics but people were stuck on games like Pong and Pac-Man which had horrible graphics but were fun, and while the graphics are incredible today I am sure everyone here plays a little PacMan every now and then.

Chi Kong Lui, do you consider yourself "HardCore"? Maybe you should reconsider that title to something like "Hardcore Violence" "Hardcore FPSer" "Hardcore Close-minded". Every single console has some great games but most have forgotten what the Entertainment system is supposed to do, Entertain.

nintendo is hardcore as they

nintendo is hardcore as they come, while other systems crap out the same old rehash nintendo is taking risks and innovating!

wii , ds? = innovation.

psx3, xbox 2 (no i wont call it 360 b/c thats just a dumb name)
= rehash.

pc = hardcore.

Are you kidding me? Nintendo

Are you kidding me? Nintendo doesn't rehash?

We are on how many versions of Mario, Mario Party, Mario Kart, Zelda, WarioWare, Animal Crossing, etc, etc.

While MS and Sony are guilty of this as well, Nintendo is King of rehashes.

If you think a "hardcore

If you think a "hardcore gamer" is someone who only plays violent "mature" games, then you're right. Nintendo is not a hardcore company, by and large.

...but if that's your definition of a "hardcore gamer", you're kind of a short sighted twit, to be honest. No offense...
They regularly release 20 hour+ games like Mario, Metroid and Zelda. Mario Kart and Smash Bros. are pretty 'hardcore', too, I'd say.

Someone who only enjoys "mature", violent games does not a hardcore gamer make.

Yepp, thats try.. Nintendo

Yepp, thats try.. Nintendo uses all their old titels just to be sure that the Machine will sell. But hey, im not complaining, they can do how many Zeldas as they want. Nintendo always produces fun games. I love all my Nintendo consoles. I regret that i bought the Ps3, its was such a disappointment. Nintedo for life!

I'm not gonna even bother...

... with a thoughtful, articulate, well reasoned response, as CLEARLY no thought or reason went into the authorship of this blog. I will say that is quite possibly the DUMBEST, most asinine bullshit I've ever read, and I'm sorry for having wasted the five minutes of my life it took to read it.


To say that Nintendo is the king of rehashing is really to miss the point. They may take franchises from one system to the next, preserving the name as a consequence, but each iteration of zelda, mario, metroid, etc. is unique and different from the previous. Compare original Super Mario Bros. to Paper Mario, or Mario Sunshine, and you'll see that the games are similar in decor and name only. The fundamental gameplay is always changing. The same can be said for all of the other franchises.

Rehashing is what has consistently happened with the Steet Fighter series. Same game, new graphics.

Make sense?

This guy is right, nintendo

This guy is right, nintendo has forgotten about the hardcore gamers. I think this has to do with the fact that in terms of hardware, they just can't compete with sony and microsoft due to lack of resources. Its too bad everybody has fallen under the spell of the Wii, despite it having no games worth playing. I assume its a novelty that will wear off

Everyone calling the Wii

Everyone calling the Wii "innovative" is insane. if anything the silly wand is restrictive, as if the underpowered system wasn't restrictive enough. I don't know when suddenly sony turned into the big evil corporation with blind fanboys, and I dont know when microsoft turned into the little company that could. I also dotn know when people started thinking nintendo did anything original (i cant wait to play mario water polo), but the insanity has to stop. A year or two down the line, the 360 and ps3 will still be the only systems with games worth playing, the 80 year olds and 6 year old girls will tire of waving a remote around, and things will be back to normal.

The bottom line is, the wii is a step backward. People claiming you dont "need" bluray and you dont "need" such great technology is crazy, game systems should be about pushing the limit.

What is a Hardcore gamer???

Lets get one thing cleared up from the start!
The definition of a Hardcore gamer is a gamer who takes gaming seriously.
The definition of a Casual gamer is a gamer that likes playing games but doesn't play often or likes games to be simpler (as too get through the game quickly).
The definition of a Non gamer is someone who either had no interest in games or gave up playing games.
What you are trying to define is a core gamer which although sounds similar, does not mean hardcore gamer. Core gamers are those who like segmented games and it depends on which segment they fall into. Example: FPS's are a core segment. If Nintendo (or it's third party devs) do not develop FPS games, then you can say that Nintendo does not provide games for that segment.
But your argument is that Nintendo does not develop games for the hardcore gamer. Since I beg to differ, lets define what a hardcore game is:
A hardcore game is any game, that a gamer can take seriously to a degree that it shows off their skill/s to a level that others find hard to achieve. This is not exclusive to FPS and sports games.
Take speed runs for example in games such as Super Mario Bros. 1 to 64 and Zelda games. Hardcore games can complete these games (that can normal take months) in less than 3 hours, which any casual gamer or non-gamer would find pointless or to complicated to achieve.
The irony is, most people who consider themselves hardcore, actually fall into the Casual gamer bracket and all hardcore gamers become casual gamers at some point depending on the game their playing (It can actually be proven statically).
The point is, you are only a hardcore gamer if you are (seriously) devoted to the game you are playing. And does Nintendo still not make games that fans are devoted to???



Oh come on. What a naked

Oh come on. What a naked attempt to stir a little controversy and get yourself a little reader action. Hoping to get someone, anyone interested in your blog.

What would have been an interesting aspect of this story is what makes the recent Nintendo offerings such a success when compared to what Sony and Microsoft are currently offering. I'm not a Ninteno Fanboy, in point of fact, I own an Xbox 360, but I can read sales reports. Something you neglected to cover in your article.

So give Nintendo their due while they are enjoying some success.

No games to play,...

For no games to play they are sure rocking in the sales. You know like when I buy my car and don’t get wheels with it, it needs wheels to drive on and the Wii needs games to play on. I got the system with Zelda and am still playing it, since then I have bought Wii Play, Mario Kart (for the gamecube) Excite Truck, Red Steel and a few other games and sure some games are not that great you have plenty of other games to fall back on and if not wii games for right now (since the console is relatively new) you can play gamecube games or Virtual Console games, that seems like a lot of games to me.

So go on and buy your PS3 for 600bux or your Xbox 360 for 400 bux (mind you both are also good systems) but Nintendo attracts all, young and old and from the casual to the hardcore. You are basing your reply on opinions not facts. Nintendo is dominating sales with the Wii also despite the fact that they cannot not meet the demand and are backordered.

Hey apply here; maybe you can get a job at game critics as well. Chi Kong cant write all the bad articles by himself. Also check out all the websites I posted below, unlinke you I did not make up stories in my head or becuase I am a fan boy or not a fan boy, these are printed (Data at least)











Clarifying a few points

Hi everyone, I just wanted to clarify a few points.

1) I am a Nintendo fanboy at heart. The NES is the system that made me into a life-long gamer and I currently enjoy the Wii and DS very much.

2) For a little background info, I wrote this article because I noticed that since the launch of the DS, there has a growing discontent from hardcore gamers over the kinds of games that they are use to playing and the kinds of games Nintendo has always made (most of this was observed at my own site). People seemed to forget that Nintendo has a long history of making gimmicky hardware and mass-appeal games.

3) For my article, I used the terms “fanboy” and “hardcore gamer” interchangeably to generally describe a person who spends a lot of time playing games and isn’t intimidated by the dual shock controller, the mouse and keyboard or the complexity of many of today’s popular genre games. I agree that you can be a fanboy and not be a hardcore gamer, but it would have taken me another 1000 words to explain the difference. ;-) I think it would also be fascinating to see internal documents as to how Nintendo sees it target audiences.

4) This article is in no way meant to be negative towards the Wii or Nintendo. Like the headline says, I found it strangely ironic that while Nintendo has some of the most dedicated fans but, generally speaking, that is not their target audience. That doesn’t mean you should abandon the system or dislike their games. Nor does it mean that Nintendo hates you and doesn’t want your money. I’m just noting this interesting dynamic that Nintendo has with its most loyal customers (me included!). Nintendo truly is a remarkable company for being able to meet the needs of all customers.

Anyway, thank for reading.

Thank you....

1. Thank you for the Clarification but if you were to re-read your article one can only assume that you no longer would associate yourself as a Nintendo player.

2. You are right, nintendo does have a long history of making gimmicky hardware and mass apeal games but as a company would you want to do the same to stay in business appeal to the masses?
Intelligent business decision I think. You have to apeall to both hardcore gamers and non hardcore gamers to stay in business and no, thats not called selling out, thats called staying in business.

3. Internal documents at Nintendo I think (opinion) would say "raises for everyone, great job, sales are incredible". Losing very little to no money on their console, I am sure even making money off of it unlike the competitors. Just a few websites about the Xbox360










4. Typically fanboys are dedicated to a system or to a company becuase they make quality products, I did say typically. Target audience for Nintendo (and for any company) I would think would be everyone, you cant place your target on one type of person or you would go out of business or make little to no profit.

Like you, Nintendo also brought me into gaming and will bring many others into this space and the same I am sure with many of the readers.

Good point

Chi, some thoughtful commentary as usual. I think that you are right to an extent. I would also argue that Nintendo as a developer has lost touch with the "hardcore"/"traditional" gamer to an extent. Most of the games Nintendo themselves has developed in the past 2-3 years has been geared towards the more "casual" crowd. For example, thhe Brain Age series, the Warioware series, Animal Crossing and ther Kirby series. There have been games geared towards the more "hardcore" crowd such as Custom Robo, Twilight Princess, and Pikmin 2, but again there are the exception and not the rule.

However, Nintendo's impressive 2nd party developers are making games for the hardcore gamer. Intelligent Designs (Fire Emblem, Paper Marios,. Advance Wars), Retro (Metroid Prime) Game Freak (Pokemon), Bronnie Brown (Mother 3, Magical Starship) and Camelot (Golden Sun) all create games geared towards the hardcore crowd.

So I agree with you that Nintendo themselves does not create games for the hardcore gamer, but they do provide the resources and the guidance to 2nd party developers to do so. In my interpretation of the blog entry, it seems that you suggest that Nintendo has lost touch with the hardcore gamer (please correct me if I'm wrong here) and I do disagree with you there. I think Nintendo does provide the games for the hardcore gamer, just indirectly.

1. Thank you for the

1. Thank you for the Clarification but if you were to re-read your article one can only assume that you no longer would associate yourself as a Nintendo player.

I may be a Nintendo fan at heart, but as a writer, I try to be as objective as possible. What surprises me is that if you reread the article, I do not make any judgements (positive or negative) towards Nintendo or the Wii.

Intelligent business decision I think. You have to apeall to both hardcore gamers and non hardcore gamers to stay in business and no, thats not called selling out, thats called staying in business.

I did not say Nintendo was selling out or this was hurting their business.

3. Internal documents at Nintendo I think (opinion) would say "raises for everyone, great job, sales are incredible". Losing very little to no money on their console, I am sure even making money off of it unlike the competitors. Just a few websites about the Xbox360

If you think that Nintendo simplistically targets "everyone" than you are grossly underestimating Nintendo's business sophistication and acumen. Like any success business at the level of Nintendo, I'm sure they have extensive amount of focus groups and demographic studies that breakdown exactly who their customers and potential customers. I think it would be a fascinating to know exactly how Nintendo breaks down its audience and how valuable do hardcore gamers are to Nintendo from a internal standpoint.

RE: Thank you

Of course you have to be objective but as I read it (of course, leave it up to both of our interpretations) you just abandoned Nintendo.

I do apologize for the selling out comment as it was not geared towards you and I did not mean it to sound that way. It was geared to the people that possibly would have replied Nintendo sold out.

Of course every company has their target audience but a bigger target would be everyone. You have to start off small before you can get large. Nintendo (Imagine) first targeted the fan boys (like you and myself) then the fanboys parent's, grandparents and friends saw how it was and how easy it was to control and then they would buy it and the cycle would continue. I am in the gaming business (I cannot mention what company) and I know you have a target audience and the audience catches another audience, free marketing.

Finally! Someone Speaks the Truth

Well done, Chi. I've been saying for years that Nintendo needed to eschew the "hardcore" trappings and become the "Fisher-Price of Videogames" and that is exactly what they are doing. Nobody is saying that the Wii is unsucessful, only that the Wii and the DS aren't necessarily all that important to the typical gamer.

I see nothing on the Wii that interests me, but that doesn't make the console less of a success. I don't need to own a Wii in order to be a gamer and, similarly, Nintendo doesn't need every gamer to own a Wii to be successful.

Nintendo has purposely targeted a different demographic. It's a wise move because, as the GC clearly showed us (for those who didn't heed the warning signs from the N64 days), the "hardcore" gamer's thirst for new content could not be sated by Nintendo's infrequent offerings. Rather than continue to hear the banshee-like wailing of gamers complaining for more content, they purposely decided to cater to a demographic that doesn't buy new games every week. It's great that the Wii is catering to moms and uncles, and family units instead of single males as these people have traditionally proven to buy games for special occasions only -- birthdays, holidays, good grades., etc.

Nintendo's departure from trying to compete with Sony & Microsoft for the attention of the "hardcore" gamer is a win/win for everyone. As for me, there's no longer any temptation to give Nintendo one more shot. I hate the Wii. And because Nintendo made it so easy for me to disregard their latest console, I save money and end up with one less console collecting dust.

graphics are not the only

graphics are not the only reasons for playing a game nintendo has the best gameplay and the best first-party games

There is such a flimsy

There is such a flimsy definition for hardcore and casual games. A game with cartoon-like graphics can be just as hardcore as a gory, violent FPS.

I agree

My thoughts exactly! The Wii goes for gameplay. "Hardcore" is a defintion that is not set in stone and varies from person to person. Maybe some people still aren't too cool to play a Mario game simply because Mario has excellent gameplay, be it gory and "hardcore" or not.

What matters

I have a wii and at first i thought it was a mistake to switch (i had a ps2) but now i see that it is the most enjoyeble thing i ever played so in my opinion ot doesnt really matter if it has hardcore games or not but if u enjoy the games that come out on it.

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