If you’re a hardcore Nintendo fan like me, then Mario’s 3D titles are likely to hold a special place in your heart. I personally regard Super Mario 64 and Galaxy as masterpieces, and I have many fond memories of playing those games growing up. That’s why I was, and I wager many of you were stirred to a wondrous excitement when Super Mario 3D All-Stars was first announced on Nintendo Direct. Immediately, a world of possibility came to life in my mind: “Nintendo could give Mario 64 a graphical overhaul! I bet they added some new levels to all the games! I can’t wait to beat Mario Galaxy 2 on the Switch!” Unfortunately for me, that ended up all being wishful thinking. There was no Mario Galaxy 2, no bonus levels, and no major graphics overhauls. Particularly confusing was Nintendo’s decision to make the game only available for purchase through March of next year. Even though I have come around to view 3D All-Stars as mostly an alright product, I must admit some disappointment lingers from the thought of what could have been. Yet there are people who are much more upset with the game than me. Many of these people have put out into the internet concerned responses to Nintendo’s handling of 3D All-Stars, voicing their complaints and criticisms. This is by no means a bad thing in itself, but I have taken issue with the way that some of these fans have responded. Below you will find two criticisms of Nintendo, and my responses to each.
First, I’d like to start with the statement that “Nintendo has gotten lazy.” This is a somewhat popular sentiment among Nintendo fans lately, not only because of 3D All-Stars but also because of Nintendo’s sub par display in things like online multiplayer, so this is a little bit bigger of an issue than just the one video game. However, I disagree with the diagnosis that Nintendo as a whole has become lazy because while it may be true that Nintendo has exhibited laziness either currently or in the past, it has not been enough laziness to assign it as an attribute of Nintendo. Let’s take a close look at the claim: “Nintendo has gotten lazy.” This implies that Nintendo at one point was not lazy, but in light of recent events has relinquished the general ability to put proper effort into things. If you hold that Nintendo has really become lazy, then I would ask “when exactly did this change occur?” It must have been quite recent. I would contend that over the last three or four years alone Nintendo has exhibited tremendous effort and craftsmanship multiple times. 2017 was an incredible year for Nintendo, with Super Mario Odyssey and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Both games sit at a 97% on Metacritic, with several perfect scores from other reviewers such as IGN and PCMag. Odyssey featured incredibly meaningful open world environments with all sorts of challenges to supplement the masterfully crafted movement system. And while I don’t even particularly enjoy Breath of the Wild, I have trouble finding fault with it, as the world of Hyrule feels completely consistent and immersive while also delivering on gameplay that has satisfied gamers with hours upon hours of exploration and quests. In 2018, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate came out with an unprecedented level of fan service. Ultimate stepped up their fighter count from 58 in Smash 4 to 74 in Ultimate, some characters being decided by the fans via poll. AND they’re not even done adding characters. AND the dev team is still putting out free updates to enhance and balance the game to be the best it can be, the most recent patch having been released less than two weeks ago. Just this year in 2020, everyone and their mom was talking about Animal Crossing: New Horizons which features several new fan favorite mechanics such as custom designs that can be shared over the internet. Not to mention that it receives an update for each season with unique events and items, as well as regular bug fixes and the like.
This isn’t to say that Nintendo far more exhibits activeness than laziness, just that laziness isn’t a good reflection of the entirety of the company. If we observe their entire catalogue and history of products we will find that Nintendo’s effort has fluctuated over time. We can all recall Nintendo’s greatest triumphs such as saving the video game industry with Super Mario Bros. or setting the standard for 3D platformers with Super Mario 64. If you look at these games alone you might think Nintendo an all-effortful entity. But when you look at the full picture you see things like the New Super Mario Bros. series. In 2006, Nintendo put out a fresh new take on their classic 2D platformer games with New Super Mario Bros. The next installment New Super Mario Bros. Wii was very similar to the first game. The innovation that made Nintendo such a powerhouse wasn’t present, but there were new levels and power ups put over a solid and established formula. Then came New Super Mario Bros. 2 which did much of the same. And yet again with New Super Mario Bros. U which provided a foundation for years of content, as it gave way to the New Super Luigi U downloadable content, and the New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe edition for the Switch. I would not contend that any of these are bad games, but Nintendo had briefly taken the Call of Duty route by reusing the same formula with relatively small changes between each installment. This all took place over 13 years. Nintendo has demonstrated periods of immense quality and craftsmanship as well as times of mediocrity. For either side of the issue to describe Nintendo as a whole it would need to dominate an established pattern, of which outliers only occasionally occur. So I submit to you that in light of the many recent and past achievements of Nintendo, they would have to do a lot worse for a lot longer to become essentially lazy.
The second response I want to look at is that Nintendo is guilty of “unabashed corporate greed.” I do not wish to disprove this statement, in fact for the purposes of my argument we can just assume it’s true. What I think is more important is whether or not proclaiming and convincing people of this is helpful to those who want Nintendo to change. I want everyone to remember that Nintendo is operating under the established system of capitalism. This system serves a great many economic purposes, and one of its features is that it allows the consumer to (in some ways) exhibit force against companies. If people decide they don’t like what a company provides, then they won’t buy it and the company either adapts to provide something desirable or they go out of business. Certainly, one way to convince people that they don’t want to support a company is to show them that they’re a big, dollar guzzling monster. The people who are saying this are (as far as I know) simply upset with Nintendo’s products and performances, meaning that the way they decided Nintendo was greedy was that they first saw the products as being low quality. So to convince the public of their stance they’d have to first convince people that they don’t want games at the level of quality of 3D All-Stars. After that they’d have to make the case that this meant Nintendo was greedy. I think this second part is unnecessary, if you just convince people that they don’t want games like 3D All-Stars then they won’t buy them. If that happens, Nintendo will be forced to adapt or suffer financial losses. The same effect is achieved, but with more efficiency since you only need to convince people of one thing. As it stands, Super Mario 3D All-Stars has sold very well and has made Nintendo a lot of money, meaning the majority sees little or no issue with that quality of game. Either way you’re at the mercy of the majority if you want Nintendo to step up their effort, and it will be much easier to convince them that they should have higher standards in video games than to convince them of that AND that it means Nintendo is greedy.
To wrap things up, again I want to iterate that I do not think it is bad to criticize Nintendo’s handling of 3D All-Stars, but if it is to happen it should be done in an accurate and helpful way. When I first set out to write this I was hoping to cover a much broader variety of responses, but I ended up going with these two to avoid overwhelming myself. To compensate I hope that you readers will bring your own ideas into the comments. Please share your thoughts! Do you agree with me? Are there other responses to talk about? I would love to engage in conversation with you about it.
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