Nintendo has been having a bit of a difficult time lately. Most people who aren’t Nintendo fans are either confused by the Wii U or just don’t care about it. Even many Nintendo fans don’t feel the company’s latest offering to the console market is worthwhile. Not to mention the fact that the company lost more money last year than my feeble mind can even comprehend. A lot of people are saying that the Wii U needs more and/or better games; mainly first party titles. Although I would love a newer, shinier F-Zero/Zelda/Metroid/Star Fox game I’m not sure that is the solution. I think Nintendo needs its own version of a “Disney Renaissance”.
For those who don’t know I’ll quickly explain what the Disney Renaissance was. Walt Disney Animation Studios rose to prominence with their early theatrical work. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs started it all in 1937 and over the next 20 years the studio brought us beloved classics like Peter Pan, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Bambi to name just a few. But after Walt and Roy Disney died in 1966 and 1971 the studio fell to new management. In the next few years none of the studio’s new offerings did as well commercially or critically as any of the classics. Also during this time Don Bluth took a hand full of animators and created Disney’s biggest competitor of the time. The studio even started its television animation division simply because TV animation was cheaper to make. Things were looking bleak for Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Then things started to turn around in 1989. The Little Mermaid started Disney’s comeback by raking in 211 million dollars and winning two academy awards. In the years following the studio made Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan and more. Essentially crafting the childhood of anyone in their twenties (myself included). During the Disney renaissance their ten new movies combined made almost 4 Billion dollars and won eleven Oscars total.
I think in a lot of ways Nintendo is the Disney of the video game world. They were the game company of our childhoods. How many of our first video game memories were jumping around as Mario? I’d wager a huge percentage of us. Because of this nostalgia (and the fact that they are legitimately good games) many of us come back every time there is a new Mario game; we are happy to do so.
But for people on the outside it appears Nintendo is always just doing the same thing. I could tell you the differences between New Super Mario Bros 2 and new Super Mario Bros Wii U, but to a non Nintendo fan it all looks the same. Mario is a great example, but it easily applies to a lot of Nintendo franchises.
I think what Nintendo needs is a steady stream of new IPs. Still sprinkle in new entries into the classic franchises, but new IPs could really help bring new people in. When was the last time Nintendo had a successful new IP? Pikman? I can’t really think of anything newer that has caught on.. Maybe Wii fit if we could concepts and not characters.
Nintendo started out of a character factory. But they now rely too heavily on these established, beloved characters. Disney could probably make new Mickey and Minnie movies constantly, but no, they brings us new IPs and we love them for it. In the last two years we were given Frozen and Wreck It Ralph. Disney is still a character factory, but Nintendo has become a character warehouse. Just storing their characters until they decide to go get them for a new game. I think Nintendo needs to go back to being a character factory.
Think I’m right? Think I’m an idiot? What games are you most nostalgic about? What’s your favorite Disney movie? Feel free to comment below.