Travis questions his love for Nintendo for the 634th time

Nintendo is like that badass biker dude who has no care for education and I’m the young goody-two-shoes protagnosit depicted in most teen hearthrob drama movies. I know I should stay away but damn he just keeps pulling me back in in new ways that surprise me. I’ve shared with a lot of people over the last year why I love and why I also find troubling times with the big N and now with production stopping on the NES Classic Mini I feel it is time to talk about Nintendo some more.

I have started and never finished many stories on Nintendo on both this blog and others and I wonder why that is. I end up being a massive hypocrite basically and realise whilst coming to my conclusion that, even though Nintendo might be one of the most problematic companies in the history of video games that I could look back on and shake my head profusly…I just love their video games and franchises. When the NES Mini was announced I thought it was a neat concept and looked pretty cute but, I had easy access to the majority if not all of these re-released games on my Wii U. The big difference was the playing styles such as CRT, 3:4 and HD along with save files that weren’t possible on the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

One Sunday at my old work place I saw a NES Mini and bought it due to my thoughts on this being a very limited item and I wasn’t wrong. Now I am an owner of an original NES and I love it to pieces but I also enjoy the modern copy. It’s quick and easy to use and those save files are a life saver. They save me some money from buying expensive games like Metroid, Mega Man 2 and The Legend of Zelda II. The main issue I had was the cable length of the controller and how I had to sit on the floor to play games…it’s not really an issue but the original controller is nothing like this. The other issue is the 30 games capacity on a box which only has a motherboard inside and tonnes of empty space. I guess it’s because it’s a greatest hits and licening would have amped up the price but obvious hacks have shown how pointless it can be.

Where does Nintendo become a real problem in all of this? Oh it’s the fact that there’s a high demand for their product and they had limited numbers once again. They thought there wouldn’t be much hype and that sounds like they don’t even know their own products. The NES is one of the most iconic pieces of tech that ever existed. To make matters worse is that even now there is and has been high demand for the NES Mini but oh guess what? They cancelled production just like they cancelled production on the Wii U as Breath of the Wild was just around the corner. For a company that still rakes in billions but is also a shadow of the titan it once was is really bad at decision making. Maybe the NES Mini was expensive for the demand but, the fact that a lot of people won’t be able to own it and the capitalisting owners of said console are really exploiting this with outrageous pricing.

Nintendo or sources are trying to make everything sound better by saying “hey remember that other great console we had, yeah you know the one, the Super Nintendo, we’re going to do the same thing with that” and by the sounds of it it’s going to be even more limited. The main appeal is to collectors like myself but as nostalgia is the main selling point of products these days, lots of people who played on the NES and SNES in their hey-day will really want to play them again in an easier way. I imagine this list of games will be featured: ‘Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Mega Man X, F-Zero, Donkey Kong Country, Yoshi’s Island, Kirby Superstar, Super Mario Kart, Contra III, Star Fox, A Link To The Past, Super Tennis, Tetris Attack Super Punch-Out! and Castlevania IV’. These are all solid games and in terms of prices, another £50 pricing is great in terms of physical comparisons of these games. What would really seal the deal would be Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana which aren’t the cheapest.

The Snes list is wonderful and reminds me of why I love Nintendo but jeez I really hope they produce enough because I mean isn’t it all just about money incentives? I get asked daily for Nintendo Switch’s at work and there are so little produced at a time. The demand for Nintnedo is as real as it would have been in Christmas 1991/1992 and we are all suckers for a good time and a good price. I enjoy buying retro but damn I’d even pay out a few more pennies for a Snes Classic Mini. No doubt this will also be hacked and is probably a reason that Nintendo has cut production. It’s hard to blame them when thinking about that but at the same time a lot of people would not do that.

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Before the Switch was released I was writing a 2000 word article on how I’m angry at everything about the console and then guess who buys one of launch day. Guess who is buying Mario Kart 8 again, guess who loves Breath of the Wild on the Switch and the portability aspect and has not yet bought a pro-controller…yet. I mean it’s still not the perfect console but I have a good time with it and Super Bomberman R has also been a pretty sweet game to play on it. This console still needs a bunch of highly and longly requested franchises getting a new game, new ideas for those existing franchises and brand new ones. Splatoon was brilliant and I loved playing it, Nintendo can make so much money from one franchises alone with merchendise like amiibo and new franchises keep everything fresh. Look at Sony and the Playstation 4 for example. I mean console wars are bad enough but they really do give a lot to their fans.

So Nintendo halts production on a popular product that lots of people wants and tries to move on to the next stage in development. They don’t see the brilliant money incentive which video games are about a lot of the time and they shovel out a lot of the same old game. Those games on the other hand are great and I’ll play the time and time again. Their new console has so much promise and E3 really changes everything for its future.

You can’t survive on Mario and Link forever even if they comfort the nostalgia. Don’t be stingy with third parties even if cartridges do cost more for production. Communicate well with third parties for their online games on the eShop to be competitive with Xbox and PS4 (I am Setsuna, Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+). Console launch pricing was fine and obviously peripherals are a bit high and 1, 2 Switch! should have been a complimentary add-on but you can’t win ’em all. (Am I just bitter?)

The big N is a company that could once again claim the gaming world with so many easy alternatives to what they are currently doing and as it pains me to see such a wonderful console like the Wii U fade away and a console like the GameCube not given more time, I finally hope the Switch and other novelties can really shape up the content we are given.

At the end of the day there won’t be another gaming company that makes you feel the way Nintendo does. Maybe Sega back in the day but, both had different genres of games. Mario Odyssey should remind us of that potential.

Nintendo NES Classic Mini: The hype train keeps on chugging

There’s nothing I love more than seeing people rekindle their love with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) or people experiencing it for the first time. The NES was released in 1985 following the success of the Famicom in Japan in 1983. The console launched with titles such as Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt which would go on to be well associated with the console. 30+ years later we see a console old and new with 30 ‘classic’ games on it. You’d think I would be over the moon…is all what it seems?

Nintendo don’t half know how to force retro onto us as they remaster there games or transport them onto each console one way or another. This can turn people away from the big N as they are still riding on the same old titles…then again HD remasters on modern consoles is practically the same. It is an easy money making ordeal as people loved the NES and giving people the opportunity to play it in an ‘easier’ way is appetising. I can see this leading the way for other retro inspirations. We have also seen a Mega Drive replica brought into stores but this was not made by Sega. So…

What is the new ‘NES Classic Mini’?

Well it is a new usb console with HDMI input and 720p playback. Oh yeah it also looks like a NES but smaller than your average large phone. The console comes with one NES controller replica which indeed looks exactly like the original in every shape and form besides one little tiny baby thing…the lead is so so short, a lot shorter than the original. You will have to bring your TV a hell of a lot more forward or push your sofa in the opposite direction if you want that chilled out feeling. The console only comes with one controller and to get another you will have to pay out. You cannot connect an old NES controller due to them both having different inputs.

You can play the games on the console in three different formats which include CRT and 4:3 as well as your more modern picture. The gameplay is nice and is a decent move-on from the Wii U which will no doubt have more ease when playing as less buttons and less space. My personal favourite is the CRT due to its authentic original feel of NES gameplay like an original vinyl making that crisp sound as it starts playing. The console features 30 games that Nintendo deems ‘classic’ which are by majority, their titles. This is understandable due to ownage rights and the amount that it would cost to pay companies for such games.

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This does leave a bit of disappointment that I cannot play DuckTales or any other classic Capcom Disney titles or even Batman or Warner Bros. titles. We could spend hours debating what should and shouldn’t be on the console. A couple we could debate is that we have Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest but not many sequels for other games and there is Super C and not Contra or the first Double Dragon. We have Bubble Bobble, Dr. Mario and Pacman but we have no Tetris…which was a phenomenal game on the system.

What else do we have that’s abscent? Jackal, Ice Hockey and TMNT as a couple. Battletoads is liscenced under Rare for Microsoft so that is written off. However, at the end of the day the list that we do have has some impressive games. It leaves open the question that if they released a second would it just be full of sequels to Castlevania and Mega Man series’. This idea then makes it seem that the next format we will have will probably be (hopefully) a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) model. Maybe we could just get a console full of some god awful NES titles.

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The possibilities of modern gaming and the amount of NES titles on the Wii U Virtual Console leave further questions to why there aren’t more than 30 titles on the console. The idea of usb support is obvious as to why such adding of games would not be done to Nintendo because who knows what roms and hacks would be added, and we couldn’t possibly have that. Not like it ever stopped anyone on the original NES.

I think the most bizzare event in this is that for a console that has been retailing just over £50, why now it is sold out are people desperately paying hundreds of pounds/dollars (highest I’ve seen £200 in UK) for this machine? It’s going to be back in the shops soon so why are people so desperate to grab something which content you can play be many other means? We have Wii U, GameBoy Advance, the originals and emulators. It is easy to be patient and obtain these games many other way. For me personally it is nice to want one, but, as a collector I’m not going to rush out to buy it. At the end of the day there’s a lot of extortinate selling of items online whenever there’s something everything wants.

When it comes to the NES you’re going to get different types of people. If you’re a collector obviously you will want this console for said purpose but, also you will most likely have an original NES so can collect the other games you desire. If you’re wanting to get into retro titles and more into retro gaming, or get a child into it, then this is to be honest…perfect. It has some of Nintendo’s best of the best and for its price it is too good to miss.

With less complaining what do you get with this console? You are greeted with a screen that has Mario and Luigi and remnants of other games. You have taken to a menu which has a reel of all thirty titles and some options including which format you want to play in. It’s very Nintendo and very chilled and simplistic. What is a big feature is that after playing the games you are given FOUR not THREE, FOUR game saves. We’re moving up in the world and this is good if you have a few people in your household wanting to play the console. The original NES didn’t have save files so this is another sweet taste of modern freedom.

One of the best parts however and I really mean this, is that with games like Startropics and I guess The Legend of Zelda these days is that you need the manual to play them. Well the console has a QR code that you can scan onto your phone and download the manuals onto there. It’s those little gems that make everything better.

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What’s most important is that it plays well and it has many great games on it whether there’s disadvantages to the system, peripherals or exploitation from other sellers.

Finally, if you played the NES 25-30 something years ago and want to play specific games from your childhood, then I suggest getting a retro console that caters for multiple consoles and at a cheaper price for its content. Such examples are the Retron5 where you can play most retro titles from the NES onwards and then choose what you want. (Not sponsored)

If you love Nintendo and collecting then this is the console for you because it’s another gem for your collection. With its HDMI output and great framerates it ain’t bad at all. It is important that both American and Europe did get some different titles to Japan. If you’re wanting to get into retro gaming or want to get your child into your beloved games, then this is the perfect start as it is simple and straightforward and there are enough save files for all the family. To be fair with its price and when it comes back in stock it’s not like it would cost so much to buy two.

From someone in my position as a collector it isn’t something I would run out and buy because I also have the Wii U and Nintendo still needs to make its money on its eShop so obviously there are other virtual games. There are some things that could be improved and once again with Nintendo marketing could have been handheld better. Just make more, extend that controller and don’t make people feel ripped off. It’s a nice idea and opens up many windows for the future of bringing retro back to our homes.