I’ve never been much of a video gamer – I prefer board games, card games, and even miniatures games – but I’ve always been a big fan of Mario games. Nintendo quickly hit upon a great formula that really works, and they’ve been following that formula closely for nearly three decades now. What is it that makes these games work so well?
My opinion about Nintendo is that they do well because they leave the technological race – that is, investing massive amounts into photorealistic graphics – to Microsoft and Sony, while they focus on making great games with affordable prices. As a result, the Nintendo consoles tend to cost less (sometimes a lot less) than those from the other manufacturers, yet at the same time tend to have more games that I’m actually interested in playing. When the Wii first came out, it was hundreds of dollars less than the PS3 (which was released at about the same time), although even with Nintendo producing a million consoles a month for North America, it was still nearly impossible to find near Christmas for three years in a row! These days, you can go to any electronics store these days and pick up a Wii for $200 that actually includes two great games and an improved motion sensor for even better control.
As an example of their great games, consider the recent hit New Super Mario Bros Wii. This game closely follows the earlier titles in the series; in fact, when I first played it, my immediate thought was that it felt just like Super Mario Bros 3 on the original Nintendo. This isn’t a bad thing, by any means; they’ve taken gameplay that just works and upgraded it with modern graphics and the ability to have four people playing at the same time. In other words: don’t keep reinventing the wheel, just take what works and make it better!