Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New Nintendo IP in the Making

I have been complaining for a long, long time that Nintendo seriously needs to reinvigorate its approach to IPs.  The first part of that mostly relies on...making new ones, which Nintendo -has- been doing, obviously, but not on the correct scale and not with the correct weight, is what the problem is.  Which is why, upon hearing the news that Shigeru Miyamoto is busy with a new IP, I'm not immediately jumping with joy.  Yes, it's good that they are working on a new IP, but once upon a time, Nintendogs was a new IP as well, one that Miyamoto personally came up with.  Still, Miyamoto works directly on a lot of games, which is definitely admirable, so his involvement isn't surprising or really different in a sense, nor is it any sort of indication of.....well, anything really.

Which is why I'm not focusing on that aspect, but rather the new IP part of it, since that's what's especially important here.  I'm fully aware that Nintendo has -made- new IPs in previous years.  I'm fully aware that Steel Diver, Xenoblade Chronicles and Pushmo were all new IPs in recent memory.  I'm also pretty sure that those are all of Nintendo's new IPs from recent memory, at least the first-party ones which is honestly what I have to stress the most out of everything that I say.  Second-party IPs are full of muddiness, because of the range of possibilities from whence it came and where it can go in all honesty.  You never know which IPs were born with a developer and then 'bought' by one of the big three to make it happen, which were simply loaned out to an outside developer because their internal studios were too busy and all of the other possibilities that exist.  Second-Party efforts are always, always going to be -close- to First-Party ones, but almost never are they quite there.

Of course, it's not even just about making the IP, but trying to establish it, which is a different beast altogether and one that Nintendo hasn't mastered since the days of yore when Pikmin and Animal Crossing were new and exciting.  They're getting better, of course, because Xenoblade Chronicles is -almost- a good example, given that they're clearly intent on keeping it as a continued thing with a sequel in the works for the Wii U.  The issue I take with it is the lack of faith and follow-up Nintendo had in the title to begin with.  It was one of the three Project Rainfall titles that were almost assuredly not going to see a western release (all three titles ended up getting one) and even when it -was- brought over, there was an incredibly small print-run of it.  Which is...understandable, yes.  Nintendo was wary about its success, or rather its ability to be one, and yet it definitely was a success in all facets.  The problem is that Nintendo...didn't really re-print it.  If they did, they didn't re-print enough of them, because the game reached rare status which should never, ever, ever happen with a First-Party title for any reason whatsoever.

Regardless, that's all negative stuff and we should move away from it far sooner than I managed to.  The question at play here has to be "What kind of game is going to come of this new IP"?  It's a blank slate thematically and realistically.  Genre, setting, characters, all of it is up in the air and it's something that we'll never be able to guess at before it's officially unveiled (likely next year, during E3 Nintendo Directs unless they do a proper presser next year) and that is definitely alluring.  We can analyze what genres Nintendo are filling already and sort of try to go from there, but it's all guesswork.  And if it's all guesswork anyway, why can't we just go full-bore with guessing?  Stop caring about what's there already and try to imagine a scenario with a Nintendo coat of paint.

Personally, I want to see Nintendo take on something a little more modern, a little urban.  Nintendo games, at least what they're known for, tend to be fantastical adventure titles in sparsely populated countrysides and it's always nice and cheery and whatnot, but I'm confident they could do something with it.  After all, Earthbound as a series were all games set in a decidedly modern-day setting and fans swear by those.  Of course, we only technically have the one example of three (in an official sense), but still.  I know Nintendo will want to do light-hearted stuff like....well, usual, but there's still plenty of light-hearted things you can do with a  modern, urban setting regardless.  I think my dream game out of this kind of scenario would be an action/adventure affair with light simulation aspects that are carried out through your in-game smartphone/tablet which are, of course, presented ala your Wii U tablet.  Certainly gives a good reason to use the thing and in an intuitive way, which I believe is what Nintendo worries about in actually implementing uses for it.

The other idea in my head is a little more focused, though it's honestly something I could see Nintendo running with.  Once again, it's sort of built-around the tablet, but it's closer to Nintendo's 'comfort zone' in that it offers plenty of room for fantastical adventure and magic and charm and such.  What it ends up being, really, is sort of Nintendo's take on Sorcery in which your apprentice uses spells out of a spellbook rather than a wand.  I understand that it seems a little off-putting at first, the thought of looking down to see a spell before you look back up and cast it, but done right, I think it could really be enjoyable.  If there's anyone I trust with such a task...well, Nintendo's not at the -top- of that list, but they're on it, I assure you.  I just think it would be an interesting mechanic, and Nintendo assuredly wants to put the Tablet out there and see it used in ways that actively enhance or work with the games on the system, rather than the purely peripheral uses it's been seeing so far.  Of course, that does cut out the chance for Remote Play of this game (and the previous suggested), but what's cooler - being able to play a game ten feet away from your console while the TV is doing something else, or being able to play a game that's fully connected and integrated with the giant pad with a screen in your hands?  Personally, I think the latter.

Whatever the new IP is gonna be, there are at least two things it -has- to be.  Namely, it -has- to be a Wii U game (which just seems obvious) and it -has- to be something big that they're willing to push and make a series out of.  One-offs won't do them many favors at the moment or in the future.  Remember, it's not a problem that Nintendo keeps making Mario, Zelda and Pokemon, it's only a problem that it's all they seem to be making.  Yes, we want those games, but we want new things too, not just new mechanics, new coats of paint for the 25-year-old franchises.  Like I've said before, Xenoblade Chronicles is a step in the right direction, so let's hope they keep up that momentum and start really swinging for the fences.

swinging for the fences also includes re-printing Xenoblade Chronicles btw, come on make it happen

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