Original post here.
I've had this thought in my mind ever since 3D World Switch got packaged with Bowser's Fury, but the recent reveal of Pokémon Legends has lead me to post this. It certainly feels like ever since Nintendo's "lateral thinking with withered technology" philosophy has caught up with the ability to make open-world, explorable, and/or very non-linear games, they have put in the work to invest in non-linearity while leaving linearity to re-releases of their old games:
- Not only did 3D Mario return to a modernized form of the exploration of 64 in Odyssey, the Switch port of Mario 3D World was packaged with a collect-a-thon-type side game in Bowser's Fury.
- Zelda fully embraced the modern open world format with Breath of the Wild, and the next original console release will be built on its engine.
- Pokémon first took baby steps into non-linearity with the Wild Area and DLC of Sword and Shield, but now the prequel(!) Legends Arceus looks to fully commit to open world.
- Fire Emblem kinda-sorta experimented with branching storylines with Fates, but Three Houses does it again and better thanks to not splitting the game into three.
- Xenoblade Chronicles was heavily non-linear (albeit wide linear) to begin with, but its surprise success has lead Nintendo to invest in it even more, leading to the truly open world Xenoblade Chronicles X and the still wide linear Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
And honestly, I welcome this development. I've come to welcome the modern open-world explosion that started late in the PS3/360 generation because it has lead to a major refocusing of the video game industry towards player agency and freedom. The fact that Nintendo has finally caught up to that trend means that their "gameplay-first" philosophy can reach new heights. Even if some of their developed and published games aren't truly open world, they have still experimented in ways to deliver a sense of choice and/or depth.
Now, just to be clear, I don't unilaterally hate linear games; I love good linear games, and I can recognize the importance of Half-Life, Persona, Uncharted, and The Last of Us as all-time classics. But in my opinion, if you're going for an "extremely gameplay-first" mentality to developing games like Nintendo usually does, I can't really see any reason to make a game linear nowadays. Plus, the most consistent benefit to linearity in video games is said to be story, yet as seen with many of Nintendo's relatively recent attempts at storytelling (Fire Emblem Fates, Zelda: Skyward Sword, Pokémon from Gen 6 onward), they don't exactly have much talent in that arena.
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© Post "Because of their gameplay-first philosophy, I’m glad much of Nintendo’s major franchises are downplaying linearity outside of remakes and rereleases as of late (and at one point even then) (x-post r/truegaming)" for game Gaming News.
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