AAG Feature: Nintendo’s Fight through the Ages

2nd February 2010 - Nintendo have had to battle against many companies over the years to remain one of the powerhouses in the gaming industry. In this article, we look at Nintendo's history and look at their various consoles. Couple that with opinions from everyday gamers, and we get an interesting insight into how Nintendo has affected the games industry.


Technology is forever changing and Nintendo seems to be continuously grabbing these advances Mario style and spinning them off into space. A world of multicolour characters, technical story lines and intricate terrains are just some of the features Nintendo consoles are renowned for. The introduction of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985 sold sixty million units in two years and almost single-handedly revitalised the video game industry. This is why it is not hard to believe that Nintendo has been a long standing competitor in the gaming world. Many believe that this is due to Nintendo’s ability to build upon their original unique designs and tap into unforeseen niche markets. With internationally known and loved staple characters including Mario, Link and Samus, Nintendo continues to set the bar for consoles, hand held portables and the overall gaming experience. In the twenty four years since its first gaming machine hit the market Nintendo has revamped the ‘save the princess’ plotline and given life back to the platformer genre. Four consoles have been released which have each been evolved to suit Nintendo’s ever changing demographic.


The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (1991) saw the birth of phenomena like Mario Kart, Super Probotector: Alien Rebels and Super Metroid. It also saw the return of heroes such as Yoshi, Donkey Kong and Mario. The SNES ran faster than its predecessor and the picture quality was greatly improved which made it one of the most advanced consoles at the time selling forty nine million systems. Super Mario World, although over seventeen years old, is ranked as one of the best games of all time and acted as spokesmen for the SNES. It was the highest selling game on the console and the world’s love for an Italian plumber playing super hero lives on to this day.


David, a full time digital arts student at university, recalls playing his Super Nintendo Entertainment System when he was five:


“Looking back the graphics were horrible but at the time I didn’t know any better. The giant pixels and grainy picture was the most elite quality at the time. My favourite game was Zelda: Link to the Past, because, like all the other Zelda games, you stumble across secret side quests without even meaning to. Like I said the graphics were shocking but so much effort was put into the story line that it made up for it. ”


Still in operation David played his SNES as early as last year and enjoys playing it as a solo player rather than as part of a group:


“This was my third console and although I’ve played all the Nintendo consoles I would have to say the Nintendo 64 was the best, purely because it was like the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, but 3D.”


The console war between Nintendo’s SNES and Sega’s Megadrive (Genesis) resulted in what Steven Kent, author of ‘Ultimate History Video Games’ claims to be: “one of the fiercest console wars in video game history.” The Super Nintendo Entertainment System eventually prevailed in the 16-bit console market and would remain popular well into the 32-bit market. 


At the heart of a lot of gamers is a Nintendo 64 which in 1996 set new standards for gaming with its realistic 3D gaming. Super Mario 64 and Zelda Ocarina of Time, to this day rightfully continue to place in the top ten best games of all time for their hours of enjoyment and cliff hanger storylines. Thirty three million units were sold worldwide. All with lifetime warranties.


Jake is twenty two and works fulltime as a DVD sales assistant. Although only eleven when he first played his N64 he still remembers his favourite games:


“Golden eye 007 and Perfect dark showed that first person shooters were possible on a home console, though it was still flawed compared to a P.C, it was the first step in the right direction. GoldenEye looks dated now and the characters face's look like they were cut from a magazine and pasted on to the polygonal models by a fingerless child. But at the time it was the peak of a full 3d environment on home consoles. Also, the multiplayer functions on these games were just amazing.”


In a new direction for Nintendo, Conkers Bad Fur Day was a new kind of game on the N64 and was aimed more so at adults than at kids with its funny yet crude humoured characters, smartass one liner comebacks, blatant sexual references and a mountain made of poo. This was only the beginning for adult aimed games and other consoles were quick to follow suit. This game pushed the typical ‘collect as much stuff as possible’ scenario and made it a little bit more mature.


And then there was Mario 64. Jake described Mario 64 as:


“An awesome game and one of the first successfully open world 3D platformers which has been remade and out on the Nintendo DS” Jakes says. “


The Mario 64 game changed typical game play and turned it in a new direction with an abundance of collectables and secrets to stumble across and unlock. Zelda: Ocarina of time was a masterpiece and solidified what an adventure game should be. Even though the texture is somewhat bland the fact that it’s set in a massive open 3D world is what’s impressive. With solid combat and amazing story telling it is the most memorable game from the N64 library. Although Jakes Nintendo 64 no longer works he says he was more of a solo gamer but there were many times where he would get together with his friends to play multiplayer. 


The Nintendo GameCube, released in 2001, one-upped the graphics and game play of the N64. It was also the first Nintendo gaming unit to use discs instead of cartridges for its games which unfortunately eliminated the fun of blowing into the cartridges before playing a game. The GameCube had a strong line up of games such as Luigi’s Mansion, Super Mario Sunshine and Pikmin which stayed true to their previous games roots. Although it was not as well received by the public as previous Nintendo consoles, 21.74 million units were sold worldwide. It was at this point that it seemed Nintendo’s days were numbered as a giant in the gaming industry. But this view was quickly reversed when it produced its DS range, Nintendo’s first handheld console since the Gameboy Advance in 2001.


Richard, seventeen and just graduated from high school, says he used his Gamecube the most when he was thirteen:


“My favourite games were The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess, potentially one of the best games I played on the system. Starfox Adventure because of the length and vastness of the plot which challenged me throughout the game. Super Smash Brother Melee was a great multiplayer game which had many things to unlock in the solo adventure setting. And Super Mario Sunshine was an adorable typical Mario game which was enjoyable overall."


Although the graphics were not as advanced as they could have been Richard says he enjoyed playing on his GameCube:


“It was a different experience in regards to the graphics and controls I had become accustomed to with the Playstation One.”


Although still operational, Richard’s GameCube is left at their holiday apartment for the family to play with when they are on vacation.


The Wii was introduced in 2006 and with it a whole new way to view gaming. With its motion censor wireless controllers, built-in Wi-Fi capability and downloadable content the Wii has become one the best selling console system of this generation. Stephanie, a twenty year old TAFE student, has had her Wii since she was eighteen years old and says that she was drawn to the Wii’s interactive motion controls and the imagination that this gave its games. The traditional analogue stick used for movement is replaced by swift movements of the controller. It is clear that the Sony PS3 and XBOX 360 dominate over the Wii when it comes to graphics but the smoothness of the game play is what Stephanie says makes the Wii a perfect console for group or solo gamers. Her favourite games are Super Smash Brother’s Brawl and Wii Sports Resort which she loves to play with friends and the Guitar Hero series which she prefers to play individually:


“They're so addictive. I enjoy unlocking new levels, characters, guitars, outfits and whatever else the game has to offer. And playing an instrument virtually, although not as fulfilling as playing one in real life (she plays both guitar and the flute), is still really fun! Because the Wii games mostly fall under the ‘party’ genre it’s great to be able to show my skills off with my friends.”


The Wii is Stephanie’s first Nintendo owned console but she has played the others claiming the N64 to be her favourite of the entire Nintendo range. The Wii caters more so to casual party gamers but also excited lovers of classic Nintendo with the capability to download games from the NES, NSES and N64. But the Nintendo Wii has tapped into a niche which has never been attempted by the gaming industry. The release of Wii Fit in 2008 was built off the foundation Wii Sports had paved out for Nintendo’s range of fitness games. It records the gamers current BMI and then monitors their weight loss as they play the games. With a rating of 7/10 from Gamespot and 8/10 from IGN it is clear why Game Rankings aggregated from various online reviews gave the Nintendo Wii an average rating of 81/100.  


Nintendo may have taken a step in a different, more multiplayer direction but it is still producing great games which can match up to the classics. Whether you are a Nintendo veteran or consider yourself a noob to gaming, Nintendo has something which will challenge the gamer inside of you. And there is a gamer in you; there is one in all of us. Forever wanting to master that last side quest, conquer that last boss or even just pull off the perfect headshot, Nintendo’s skill in being able to give every gamer what they expect from a game is why it is still in the console wars and why it still puts up one hell of a fight.


Article By Sussan Nunez