Saturday, December 08, 2012

Season’s Greetings: A corporation thanks its fans

Maybe it is just me, but there is always a certain emptiness and consumer regret every December.  This is usually the month after I’ve just spent a few hundred bucks buying the year’s hottest releases and it is a time where corporations who sold me those goods slink away into their money vaults to count their sales, where marketing machines of said products wind down, and we don’t hear a peep from them for the rest of the year, plus several more months the next year.

Satoru Iwata, Reggie Fils-Aime & Satoru Shibata
Therefore, it was nice to have an early December NintendoDirect with the corporate heads from my favourite multinational thanking fans(me) for giving them money this year and giving us a preview of their Q1 2013 lineup of things they want me to spend money on.  Heck, between splurging on an 3DS XL despite already owning a launch 3DS and a Wii U, not to mention the games I bought, I would say I ‘deserved’ the thanks, but it’s really nice to hear it anyways.

It also didn’t hurt that my ClubNintendo 2012 Platinum reward, a nice deck of glossy plastic Nintendo themed playing cards, arrived in the mail this Friday, with my Golden Wii Nunchuck also on the way sometime next-week.  The pictured deck of cards doesn’t capture how snazzy the plastic playing cards look.  Note the Nintendo logo printed with a spade on the playing card.  A memory of the company’s roots as a playing card manufacturer, a business the company is still in.  This is why I like Nintendo, despite their sometimes nonsensical decisions with on-line, Wii U accounts migration, and what have you, they know where they came from and it is why I remain fairly confident I’ll get my fill of great Nintendo games for many years to come.  As an aside, I wonder if these cards were printed in Japan by their playing cards division, rather than being unceremoniously farmed out to a third party manufacturer.

A week before the Nintendo Direct, in the last week of November to be exact, there was a rather nice ‘free’ DLC coinrush pack for New Super Mario Bros. 2 that remixed old levels from previous Mario titles, including the now iconic 1-1 opening for Super Mario Brothers, as well as Mario 3 and a homage to Bowser’s castle from the original Super Mario Bros game. Nintendo certainly knows how to push the buttons of their fans when it comes to this kind of stuff.  The pack is great fun. Not difficult, backed with lots of nostalgia and it hits my compulsion to keep collecting coins. 

Then there was also Wii U system update a day before their Nintendo Direct that addressed some of the concerns I had with the Wii U.  The error message I get on the GamePad on Wii U boot up due to attachment of an external HDD is no longer there, as the update seems to address lots of compatibility issues with external HDDs, including adding support for HDDs that are >2TB.  Exiting applications is now faster and Miiverse load times have also been reduced, though still 5 seconds too long by my count! And system stability is vastly improved. After all this, I feel thanked enough!  You're welcome.

Anyways, here are my thoughts on their last Nintendo Direct in a few short paragraphs.

Q1 looks way too empty, and lack of any featured 3rd party title for Wii U is worrying.  Did they choose not to feature any or are there none to show off? We certainly know of a couple of multiplatform titles coming next year.  Aliens Colonial Marines and Injustice from WB.

Also, it’s really disappointing Animal Crossing New Leaf keeps getting pushed back.  It makes me wonder if they have no big games to release in Q2 so they’re just filling a slot with it, while punishing fans of the franchise with more months of waiting.  Remember this is a game that is out in Japan NOW.  

Finally, something of a personal wish is for them to have Miiverse for 3DS ready sooner rather than later.  It's a great app on the Wii U, and I can see 3DS integration making the platform much more dynamic.  I'd gladly lose the Notepad function on the 3DS to have Miiverse replace it on the OS level.  Heck, the notepad function proves 3DS can handle screenshot posting just like the Wii U!   The 3DS hasn’t had a major OS update since folders were added, and one way to keep a platform interesting is to add features.  Just ask Microsoft and how well they’ve managed to keep the 360 fresh by constantly improving the platform’s OS.  3DS certainly needs it given it lucklustre sales.