Nintendo Not Doomed, has enough money to last the century

That’s not an understatement either.  You know how some sites and fanboys like to think Nintendo is doomed or will go third party or close down in the near future?  Well, someone found some of Nintendo’s financial data recently, and it suggests pretty much the exact opposite.

Nintendo apparently has Nintendo has £6.7 ($10.5) billion in the bank.  That’s pretty good already, but they can apparently make massive losses every year and still at least last the next 50 or so.  That money could keep them going until about 2052 with much trouble, and that’s just a worst case estimate.

Nintendo Gamer was where this info came from, and it said this:

Nintendo have 812.8 billion Yen (£6.7/$10.5 billion) in the bank – enough for it to take a 20 billion Yen loss (£163/$257 million) every year until 2052

So if all goes wrong, Nintendo could last… about 10 more generations even making a massive loss on every console/game. Far from being over after the Wii’s come and gone, they’ve got enough cash to screw up more times than there have ever been consoles.  Those figures also assume they’re making a loss every year, they’d only to need make a significant profit every now and then to have enough money to keep going for much longer, even the next 50 years.

If all went wrong, they’ve got 469 billion Yen (£3.8/$6.0 billion) held in premises, equipment and investments, which could keep them going until about 2075.  By now, many of the people who thought they’d be dead are probably at best retired or worst long gone, and the company would have likely outlasted all the analysts and pretty much anyone currently working in the video game industry.

Games Radar (who covered this story) also figure that about 189 new Mario games could be released in that time frame if about three of them are to be released a year.  Based on that, I’d guess we’d easily reach about the 20th 2D Super Mario Bros game, likely more.  That’s about 16 more Pokemon generations and likely about 20 or so more Legend of Zelda games too. Well, again assuming Nintendo was somehow to lose money on a Mario, Pokemon or Legend of Zelda game.  Which itself is kind of unlikely seeing how every mainstream Mario game ever made has sold at least 5 million copies, with every Pokemon game selling about 10 million and every 2D Mario game about the same.  They’d have to really, really screw up their most popular franchises to end with millions of dollars worth of losses a year and these series not covering most of their expenses.

All in all, don’t panic.  It’s very, very unlikely Nintendo will be doomed within the century.  Besides, until I see a 2D Mario or Pokemon game fail miserably sales wise, it’s pretty likely those franchises alone will do a fair bit at keeping Nintendo afloat.  Do you know how unlikely it is those series will fail?  It’d be a bit like everyone in the world suddenly deciding not to buy Coca Cola or not to go to McDonalds, it’d require a radical change in people’s tastes in video games.

Either that’d or they’d have to lose enough money making said games that the sales wouldn’t make up for it.  Kind of difficult really considering exactly how little Nintendo has to change for each next game, and the 2D Mario games in general are hardly the most expensive games in the world to make these days.

Still, nice to know Nintendo’s not going anywhere in the foreseeable future.


Nintendo Tokyo Not Making The 2D Mario Game for 3DS

Just a minor factoid from a recent interview that’s interesting:

Hayashida on the 2D Mario that was announced for 3DS by Iwata recently…

So the team that makes the 2D Mario games is actually a different team, so I’m not involved with that project. But I do hope that you’re looking forward to the eventual announcement with more details about that game.

Yeah, I assume it’s being made by the same team as New Super Mario Bros and New Super Mario Bros Wii were, or one of those teams with Nintendo Research and Development as part of their name.  But he does know about the game, which is neat.

Do you think a different team making the 2D games and the 3D games is a good decision by Nintendo?


Why Mario & Luigi is a better RPG series than Paper Mario

Paper Mario is an extremely popular Mario spinoff on the internet, so this probably won’t be a popular opinion to hold, but the title says it all.  I prefer the Mario & Luigi series to the Paper Mario series and honestly think the former are closer to a good Mario RPG than the latter.  Here’s why.

1. Mario & Luigi battle system is actually like a Mario game

This is why I adore the battle system in those games so much, because they actually feel completely different from the battle systems in every other Japanese RPG.  Instead of the all so common quick time event like button presses that games such as Paper Mario and Mario RPG fall back on so often (these have no real connection to what’s going on in the battle itself and exist purely to add interactivity to what would otherwise be a purely ‘strategic’ affair), you actually feel like you’re making Mario and Luigi jump out of the way or attacks or hammer away projectiles and line up their special moves properly.

Above: Blocking the Shadow Queen’s attacks or timing your own isn’t too logical.

While battling Dark Bowser here feels more like playing a Mario game, and is easier to learn

Skill plays much more of a role than intellect because of this, and I like it that way.  If you’d be able to logically dodge an attack then you can, and you’re not limited to any strict timing window (you can repeatedly jump or hammer away attacks at will until either you deflect the shot or get hit).  It means it’s much easier to beat enemies through skill despite a massive level difference due to how easy it is to time dodging their attacks.

It’s hard to explain, but the battle system just seems more logical in Mario & Luigi than in Paper Mario, and is most intuitive to learn as well.

2. The style of the Mario & Luigi series is much more like the platformers than that of Paper Mario

Both have fantastic art styles, but the later Mario & Luigi games are far less offputting to your standard New Super Mario Bros player than the later Paper Mario ones due to how much more similar to the generic ‘Mario’ style they look.  Compare below:

Both styles are well designed and look really nice, but I think the Mario & Luigi look is just closer to what a Mario game should look like.

It’s not that any one style here is bad, just that the Mario & Luigi series art style works best for the franchise in general, and is more ‘accessible’ to the casual gamer brought up on the 2D/3D platformers and sports spinoff games. The Paper Mario one is arguably what will forever keep it a bit of a niche series.

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My thoughts on… Difficulty Levels.

What has spurred me to write this article is the new “Fiend’s Cauldron” feature in Kid Icarus Uprising. This basically allows you to set the game to about 9 different levels and then ‘bet’ the game that you’ll beat it. 9.0 is apparently nigh on impossible, while 0.0 makes you practically invincible. So, onto difficulty level in general.
In order to establish an opinion on difficulty, one must first question, “why do we play videogames?” Is it for enjoyment? For a challenge? A stress reliever? A form of escapism?
Depending on your answers to that question, that should change your viewpoint on difficulty level. For example, if you play games as a stress reliever, you’re not going to play the Mega-Man platformers as you’ll be worse off than when you started. So, it’s obvious that your opinion on difficulty would be “not too difficult, but enough to provide a sense of satisfaction”. Well, that’s how I would think.
But what do I really think? (You may ask.) I play games as a challenge, but I also do it for enjoyment. My opinion on difficulty level is that it should be difficult, but not unbeatably (I know it’s not a word) difficult. Basically, Skyward Sword Hero Mode would be my idea of a good difficulty level.
But back to Kid Icarus as there are only 11 days to it’s release (for us anyway). The Fiends Cauldron seems like a brilliant idea which should be implemented into more games. When you fail a stage, it automatically reduces the ‘intensity’ so you don’t have to quit, change the level, then reload the stage again. In my opinion, nigh on a perfect system. Those who like tough games can have a tough game, those who want to fly (pardon the pun) through it may do so too.
Which brings me on to the idea of a difficulty curve. Basically, for those who do not know, a difficulty curve is the rate of increase in difficulty versus time played. A smooth curve is common in adventure games, where you follow a strict storyline and the dungeons (in the case of Skyward Sword) get sequentially harder. But, some games ignore this concept and give us difficulty ‘squiggles’. We’ve all played them. Y’know, when you spend ages trying to crack one level, but then breeze through the next one? Yup, you probably do. Of course, this is unavoidable in some games, especially in games which are more free-form and don’t play sequentially) but sometimes you get it in well established series too.
Now I know this may cause some uproar, but my example of this is Ocarina of Time. Only towards the end, however. How many here found Bongo-Bongo and the Shadow Temple much more difficult than Ganondorf’s Castle and Ganon? I certainly did. Not that it affected my enjoyment of the game, but just a small example of such a ‘squiggle’…
So, where do you stand on difficulty?

Mario won’t become a yearly franchise like Call of Duty says Nintendo

Along with various other interesting bits of information confirmed by an interview of Koichi Hayashida by the website Modojo.  Indeed, there’s a lot of interesting things said here which should interest people who want more Super Mario 3D Land, as well as about the Mario series in general, so read on!

They first ask:

Do you see this as a possible series? Could there be a Super Mario 3D Land 2?

To which Koichi replies:

Well I guess I have to turn around and ask, is that something you’d like to see?

Immediately this is getting interesting.  They’re not counting out direct sequels to Mario games!  Then again, is that really a surprise? First we had Super Mario Galaxy 2, then recently we had Pokémon Black and White version 2, I think a Super Mario 3D Land 2 seems like a fairly plausible choice of sequel for Nintendo to make.  I also love how naive the guy is when he asks ‘is that something you’d like to see?’  Because apparently, there are some people on the planet who would say they don’t want a sequel and would be disappointed if one was made.

Would you consider adding downloadable content to the game? How easy is it to create new levels?

This question seems pretty interesting too.  Good thing they asked how difficult it is to make new levels, my experience in the past indicates that making a new level in any video game is much a more difficult challenge than it looks.  But hey, Super Mario 3D Land has a fairly simple graphics style which relies almost on 3D tiles for making up the levels, so it can’t be that difficult, right?

It’s not something we had initially thought about. Thinking about it now, there would be some challenges, but if there was a really good opportunity to use the stereoscopic effect to create some interesting new elements to introduce to the game, I suppose it’s a possibility.

However, the response worries me.  I think Nintendo are putting far too much stock in ‘gimmicks’ with their recent titles.  Why not just make it so you make fun levels?  No one cares if you come up with ‘interesting’ new elements using the stereoscopic effect other than elitist ‘critics’ who think that games should be all art like.  The rest of us just want fun levels regardless of how technically fancy they are.

I guess if you look at the staff credits for the game, including the localization teams at NOA and NOE, it would come out to about 100 total?

When asked how many people worked on the game.  I won’t quote the full interview for legal reasons, but it comes out as about 100 people and two years of development.

What do you think of Mario becoming a yearly franchise like Call of Duty?

Yikes, talk about a difficult question to ask someone on the internet!  Have you seen how much hate Activision gets for releasing games every year with minor changes?

Well, the way we approach the Mario series is through evolving hardware. Every time we have a new piece of hardware, we look at it and say, what can we do with this? What sort of gameplay experiences can we create? Then we take that and try and match it to the world of Mario, the kind of expressions you would find in Mario games.

Unfortunately, the answer given worries me even more.  In fact, some will say that its Nintendo’s biggest problem with their recent titles, they seem to be designing them based on the hardware rather than just letting the games dictate the console.  Putting the cart before the horse or something.

Really, as much as his ideas are rather disliked, Sean Malstrom said it best with this quote:

A video games console is just a box people buy to play video games.

Paraphrased of course, but you know what he means there.  People don’t enjoy buying games consoles for their own sake, they’re just there as a means to play the games  It’s best if Nintendo realised this and just made their games just as good games first and foremost and the console ‘gimmicks’ thrown in where appropriate to the series and game design.

If we were going to come out with a Mario game every single year, the only way we could really do this is if we also came out with new hardware every single year, which starts to get a little difficult to imagine.

Well no, you could also just make some new Mario games that aren’t designed around the hardware, or just make more use of the existing hardware.  Like Super Mario Galaxy 2 was.  Or Super Mario Land 2 on Game Boy was.  Or heck, like Super Mario Bros 2 and the Lost Levels were back on NES.  The whole one Mario game a system stuff was a fairly recent invention if you look back at Mario history, it only held true of the SNES (assuming you don’t count Yoshi’s Island), Nintendo 64 and Gamecube.  Hell, if you were bored enough and wanted a change, you could even have a successful Nintendo system with no mainstream/new Mario games at all like the Game Boy Advance.

What about the possibility of a Super Mario Bros. level editor? Would it do more harm than good to the franchise to give users that sort of power?

I’d love to see some sort of level editor.  Because it’s not that hard to make one given how every Mario game to date has had an unofficial one built by fans.  Is it really that difficult a concept to release an official equivalent to Lunar Magic or Toad’s Tool?

so we’re certainly not opposed to the concept of introducing a level editor

So it’s not entirely hopeless.

but in my mind, it’s not really about the users having power or hurting the way the franchise is viewed, but rather, whether we can see the possibility to create a really unique and fun experience with that level editor. It’s not something we’ve explored in any detail yet with the Mario universe, but as with everything, if we sense a good idea and a good possibility, it’s certainly something we’d pursue.

Yet while hope for an official level editor exists, it seems Nintendo’s staff seem to have missed one key point.  See the bolded.

No one finds a level editor fun in itself.  What is fun is playing the levels others have made and sharing your work with other people.  That’s not something that can support a whole game (hence why fairly few people bought WarioWare DIY), but it should still be an optional feature or tool you can either get for free or buy seperately.  No one who would use a level editor would give a toss whether it was fun to use in a conventional sense.

You can look at this as comparable to an art set or a writing/office program.  No one thinks paint in itself is ‘fun’ in the same way a video game is fun, but they enjoy the activity in a different way.  No one thinks using Microsoft Word in itself is an entertaining activity but they might like writing a novel  Any level editor for the Mario series would be enjoyed in the same way.

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