It’s easy to write off Nintendo. They’ve spent the last couple of years fumbling hardware launches, releasing incremental Mario sequels, remaking Zelda a few times, and scaring off third party publishers with their now-legendary lack of giving a shit. And with new Sony and Microsoft consoles storming out the gates at launch, it’s not hard to look at the Wii and DS, look at their successors, and conclude that Nintendo have had their day.
Then they release three games in the space of two months and remind everyone why you can’t write off Nintendo.
Since October, Nintendo have released one of the best Pokemon games in years, one of the best Zelda games in years, and what is apparently one of best Mario games in years. Suddenly my Christmas is full of Nintendo games again.
It’s easy to forget that Nintendo aren’t all about terrible marketing decisions, baffling hardware revisions and abysmal Wii U sales. Nintendo are still making games too, and when they’re on form, they’re still putting out the best games around.
And right now they really are on top form. I’ve sunk over 80 hours into Pokemon X, and still haven’t caught all those bastards. I wasn’t that interested in A Link Between Worlds before a ton of critical endorsements persuaded me to try it, and now I’m having the best time playing it. It’s rekindled my love of Zelda to the point that I’m seriously considering picking up both the Ocarina of Time remake and Wind Waker HD and gorging myself into a Zelda coma.
And thanks to the super-generous (and very clever, go and buy 3Dses right now everyone) Super Mario 3D Land promotion I’ve got that game to play as well, and straight away I started it up I realised it’s not one of those cheap-feeling ‘New’ Super Mario games we’ve been getting too many of recently. 3D Land is a proper Mario game, and though I always forget this, proper Mario games are just some of the best games, period.
It’s made me excited to pick up Super Mario 3D World, which is the first time I’ve been excited about something on the Wii U since…well, since I got the Wii U.
And that’s something only Nintendo can do – take something I’ve played a million times before, that I’d have sworn blind I was tired of, and make me excited about it all over again. These games are just that good.
The Wii U might be a useless lump right now and the 3DS might feel like a bath toy compared to more ‘serious’ mobile devices, but these are the platforms with the best new games this Christmas.
I’m sure I’ll manage to write off Nintendo all over again in the new year, when the torrent of quality games dries up and my Wii U continues to gather dust – and I’m sure that once again they’ll disabuse me of this malaise by releasing something incredible that, against all odds, fills me with joy.
No one can do that quite like Nintendo can, which is why, however many missteps they make, they will always be a prime mover in the gaming landscape. And when the games are this good, I couldn’t be happier for that.
So have a good Christmas everyone, whether you’re playing Nintendo games or not – but if you’re not, then you know deep down that you probably wish you were.