In last week’s Demise Of Nintendo feature I explained how Nintendo has lost their place in the hearts of hardcore gamers and has continued to alienate their mature audience by devoting the majority of their resources towards appealing to a new generation of gamers, a generation consisting mostly of females, housewives and old folks. For the remainder of this three-part article I’m going to outline issues that Nintendo needs to solve and steps they have to take in order to win us life-long fans back. This week I’ll talk about a key thing Nintendo should do if they wish to reclaim mind-share in the handheld market and that is bring back the Gameboy!. When the DS was first announced in E3 2004 it was said to be “The Third Pillar” in Nintendo’s hardware trinity and it was meant to co-exist along with their Gameboy brand. Sadly, due to the DS exceeding all expectations and achieving global dominance, another Gameboy branded piece of hardware never come in to fruition and to be honestl it was never really needed, until now.
The lackluster sales of Grand Theft Auto’s DS debut proved that mature gamers have little-to-no interest in the DS. The DS has carved out its own casual market and is unlikely to ever break away from it, that is why I feel a new Gameboy should enter the playing field and win back the millions of gamers who view the DS as nothing more than a “toy” and has flocked towards the PSP and iPhone as portable alternatives. But what exactly should a new Gameboy do to keep true Nintendo fans happy? Thankfully I’ve compiled a Top 10 List (designed specially for you lazy readers) explaining exactly that. So Nintendo if you’re listening, sit back, relax, and let me do your hard work for you.
01. Sexy/Sleek Design
The Clam-Shell design of the DS doesn’t make it particularly attractive, Nintendo should take a look at their competitors and really something more sexy and stylish, something that a grown ass man like myself wouldn’t be embarrassed to pull out on the bus.
02. A Single Screen
Sadly most DS games don’t fully utilize both screens, therefore I think Nintendo should revert back to using a single screen, one with an improved touch functionality and multi-touch support. Dual Screens may have seemed impressive 5 years ago but these days it feels more like a gimmick than an innovation.
03. Tilt Controls
This may seems like an unnecessary feature because tilt controls on the iPhone and Wii usually feel unresponsive and cumbersome, but an accelerometer built in to the Gameboy would be perfect. Anyone who has played Wario Ware: Twisted on the GBA would tell you how brilliant tilt controls could be if developers use it right and don’t try to shoe-horn it in where its not needed.
04. Slide-Out Controls
For the sake of design Nintendo should take the cell-phone approach and conveniently hide most the buttons out of sight. Not only will it make the new Gameboy look far more sexier, it will also be practical when playing games which only use the touch screen, shoulder buttons and/or tilt controls.
05. Full Wi-Fi Store
Apple did it right, Sony is looking to follow and Nintendo needs jump on the bandwagon too and offer the ability for consumers to purchase entire games via a Wi-Fi store. This will allow developers to release smaller, more original titles which simply wouldn’t cut it as a $30 retail games, However…
06. Nintendo’s Official Seal Of Quality
…The last thing Nintendo needs is an Apple situation where 9/10 games on the system completely suck!. Even the Wii and DS are being flooded with an array of crappy software which developers promptly release to make a quick buck. Nintendo needs to start regulating which titles make it on to their hardware and keep their systems free from shovel-ware.
07. Virtual Console Support
How awesome would it be to re-visit old Gameboy and GBA games on your new handheld?. Technically Ninty have the ability to do this will the current DSi but as I previously mentioned, most people who are interested in vintage Nintendo classics wouldn’t be seen dead playing any DS of any kind.
08. Wider Range Of Genres
I’m not asking for much here, just more Fighters/Shooters and less Animal-Sims/Self-Improvement games, thanks.
09. More Mature Titles
I don’t necessarily mean bloody, violent, gore-fests; just games which cater to a mature audience. Sony seems to be taking this route with the recent announcements of games like Soul Calibur, Tekken 6, Motor Storm, Gran Turismo Portable and LittleBigPlannet all making their way the PSP, Nintendo needs to follow.
10. Extra Functionality/General Applications
I don’t just want my handheld to play games, why can’t it also play mp3’s and video? Why can’t I have youtube support so I can watch videos of games that I’m thinking about purchasing? Its 2009 Nintendo, get with the times!
The saddest thing is I doubt Nintendo will do any of these things I mentioned and I’m pretty sure the Gameboy will remain dead for the rest of eternity. If all the rumors about the PSP 2 are true, Sony seems to be on the right track and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Sony becomes everything we all want Nintendo to be. The DSi currently looks like a massive step in the wrong direction as it presents nothing of interest for us hardcore gamers, it just sweetness the pot for casual consumers and pushes us away even further.