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Round Table: Is Nintendo Neglecting the 'Hardcore Gamer'?

Posted by Thomas Bowskill

The first of a new series of features that sees the Nintendo Life staff members sit down and discuss all things Nintendo.

Welcome one and all to Nintendo Life's new feature: The Round Table. This is where you get to see the staff debate and discuss the most topical issues going around. From stereotypical views of Nintendo’s consoles, to our feelings on the evolution of gaming; you’ll find it all here on a regular basis. And, at the end of each discussion, we welcome your input on the issues at hand.

Starting off these features was our staff discussion on Nintendo’s focus. Our staff were asked whether or not they though Nintendo’s dominance of the family market has lead them to neglect the ‘hardcore’. Here are the results:

Tom: I suppose I'll kick this one off... Yes, Nintendo are neglecting the hardcore gamer, there is no other way around it. Games like Wii Fit, Wii Sports, and Wii Music are their creative direction now – family games. Even titles like Mario are becoming simpler; Galaxy took me little effort to fully complete, it even started to get a bit tiresome with how easy it was. Twilight Princess is the only game that I feel can be deemed hardcore – that and maybe Fire Emblem.

I always wonder if this is a good or bad thing, and it's hard to tell. One thing is clear though: the Wii has become a new platform for gaming – a social experience – out of necessity. Nintendo didn't have the resources to compete with the likes of Sony and Microsoft, so they went in a different direction and sacrificed power for innovation. If they tried to emulate a machine like the 360 or PS3 they would have been dead in the water within the first year. So, yes Nintendo have lost their focus on the hardcore, but they did so out of necessity. And let's be honest, the Wii has some great casual multiplayer games that even the most hardcore amongst us can enjoy.

Brody: Tom, it's obvious that Nintendo is definitely going full force towards their new market, but I wouldn't necessarily consider this a change in focus. Looking back at their previous consoles, it's clear that Nintendo has always been about innovation. The Gamecube stood still however, and obviously lost against its competition. I think that with the Wii, Nintendo has more or less gotten back to their old ways. Sony and Microsoft are upgrading their consoles by streamlining and polishing what they had before, whereas Nintendo is completely renovating. The difference this time is that they got a huge result from their efforts, and as such everyone is concerned with how Nintendo is going to use their power over the market.

I honestly don't think that Nintendo has forgotten the hardcore audience; they're simply trying to keep the market alive. In the process we're getting some very different games than we're used to, and those are the ones that are selling like hot cakes: Wii Sports, Wii Fit, etc. Despite how well that approach is going for them, Nintendo still dishes out the occasional comfort food for gamers, Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3, Brawl, and so on. I think in 2009 that fact will be even more evident. My point is, despite the success of casual titles Nintendo is still providing for hardcore players. Whether or not they're providing enough is up for debate, however.

Eric: Nintendo is aiming their sights where shots are easier made, and I don't blame them for this one bit. The Gamecube was not a success (despite it having some successful titles), and the Wii seemed to be a far out, last ditch effort to get back into the “wars.” The gamble paid off, and the Wii is currently the champ – the main cause of this being that more people who were not gamers bought the Wii. As Tom said, if they would have tried to just make a PS3 or 360 clone, it would have been the Gamecube all over again – which makes Miyamoto sad. ;)

I think Nintendo is going to put effort into the direction that the support is coming from – the “casual” market. – look at Wii Fit. It’s still sold out everywhere I go – and despite its price, it’s outsold GTA4 and Halo 3. The “hardcore” may be loud, but I don’t believe they’re the majority here. I think Nintendo has made the right choice by catering to the audience that has brought them back to the top.

The whole “hardcore” versus “casual” thing gets to me sometimes, as the definition of each can vary depending on the person using the terms. Casual, to me, does not mean family/party games being played by soccer moms and retirement home occupants, rather it means people who don’t have hours on end to devote to gaming. In the same way “hardcore” doesn’t mean that every game has to be rated “M” for Mature and be filled with profanity, severed limbs, and suggestive themes – it’s a term referenced to people who like a challenge, and don’t want the game to be helped along with answers to every puzzle given by a NPC. I like to think of myself as somewhere in between those two definitions, as even though I don’t have the time I used to play games anymore, I don’t want to have my hand held through the whole thing.

Darren: I think there is no question that Nintendo are neglecting their "hardcore" fanbase following their success in reigniting the “causal” market. I can’t really blame them either, as a business it makes sense to keep churning out stuff that sells like Wii Fit, Wii Music, Brain Training, etc – it’s obvious now there is a massive market for this. While I think Super Mario Galaxy and Mario Kart Wii were both excellent, sadly Nintendo are neglecting their core franchises too much these days (unless you count those rip-off repackaged 'Wii control' Gamecube games). Why are we still waiting for an F-Zero Wii game? Can’t they just outsource it to Sega again if their internal studios are too busy making the next big hit for Johnny Casual?

As a result of this shift in focus I am finding myself spending more and more time gaming on the 360 nowadays. The 360 game library has a much broader appeal, they have causal stuff like LIPS and Scene It on offer of course, but they do not neglect the games, which core gamers enjoy. It’s not just Nintendo’s Wii platform to make a novelty quiz game or some waggle controlled monstrosity in order to make a quick buck. Only SEGA have really tried to buck the trend recently by publishing HOTD Overkill and MadWorld, soon to be joined by The Conduit, which is a welcome change of pace. If Nintendo only made 20% of their upcoming games to appeal to that market I wouldn’t have any complaints.

Tom: Darren, I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the New Play Control! games: it's Nintendo churning out previous hits for a new audience, without thinking of those who played them before. Sure, the games are still as good as they were before – if not better – but I would prefer something new!

I'd certainly say that Eric is right in the sense that the 'hardcore' are hard to define- therefore hard to neglect – but it's certainly the loyal fanbase missing out. If only a few more of Nintendo's games were aimed at the hardcore, it would be enough to satisfy the demand, but the 3rd party developers also have a heavy impact on this. Put simply, Nintendo need a new RareWare: a company willing to provide the truly epic games, not these shameless cash-ins. And I certainly agree that even if 20% of games were hardcore, then I would be happy.

I also want to go back to a point Brody mentioned: the innovation that Nintendo have shown. Sure, they've captivated the market now, but will they be able to sustain this demand? The trouble with things like Wii Fit is that they are one-trick ponies: unlike GTA, I doubt we'll see so many Wii Fit incarnations – there's only so much you can wring out of these games. That leads me to wonder what will happen if the new userbase starts to dwindle: will people like Darren (and myself), who play their 360s for the 'hardcore' games, still be around? And we have to consider the next round in the generation: Sony and Microsoft will definitely try and latch on to Nintendo's business model. Nintendo need franchises that can be sustained- i.e. Mario – well, to be more accurate, I need these franchises! ;)

Do any of you guys find that, to get the best of the casual and hardcore, you are becoming one of these Wii60 or PSWii 'true gamers'?

Sean: Well define "true gamer," I mean I've never been a big console gamer. Every time I've bought a console it's been because I'm trying to recapture something from the arcade -- so does someone who almost exclusively played games in arcades for years and completely skipped the 8 and 16-bit Japanese console era (outside of playing at friend's houses and then limited largely to playing arcade ports like Street Fighter) count as a "real" gamer? This is my fundamental problem with the framing of the question because it implies that people who play games can be slotted into neat categories. I'm enjoying Fire Emblem right now and I don't play Bejewelled at work, so clearly I'm not exclusively interested in casual titles, but the bulk of what I own and play can be played for 10min and put down.

In order to frame is conversation properly I think you need to state what it is you're looking for that Nintendo isn't doing and look at their actual published output objectively because I think you'll find there is a good balance there and they're putting out quite a lot of content compared to other publishers. "Nintendo has abandoned their fans" usually seems to translate as "Nintendo hasn't put out an update to my favourite franchise", and whilst I can understand that, it means something different from "Nintendo has stopped servicing true gamers." I for one would rather see Nintendo put out new content than a sequel to a game that's appeared on multiple consoles. I mean we have the VC, so if you want to play game X from system X, then Nintendo should really just do that and be done with it. If there's some fundamental improvement, then great, but otherwise move on.

I don't want to compose a list here, but I'm pretty sure Nintendo has put out at least two releases to appeal to their traditional fanbase per year so far -- is that not enough? If they were the only publisher on the system then clearly the answer would be "no," but they're not the only publisher for the system, so given the number of other releases they're publishing (and let's not forget they're publishing a fair amount of WiiWare as well), I think the answer is "yes."

Between WiiWare the VC and 25+ disc titles both Gamecube and Wii on my shelf I feel no need for another console (if the PS2 was less hideous I would be tempted if only for the arcade compilations), so no I don't find myself leaning towards Wii360/PS360 status, but clearly my tastes and past experience differ from others contributing here...

Brody: I can certainly understand why someone would want to be a multi-console owner at this point. The fact is, these platforms are extremely diverse, and a complete experience may require two or three consoles. Personally however I am content with my Wii and DS. Maybe that counts against me as a "hardcore" gamer, but I personally find it more than enough to keep me interested.

Now in regard to what Sean was saying, about the actual number of games Nintendo is putting out. I think that's where the debate begins. To look at Nintendo's quality titles on the Wii, it's easy to be impressed. However, are there enough of these games? That's the big question. For most company's I'd say it's more than enough, but with Nintendo people expect more since in the past they've always been the main support for their own console. People always wanted to see more 3rd Party support, and now they're getting it. But the flip side is that Nintendo doesn't need to support themselves as much and I think people are having a hard time with that.

The problem is that the 3rd Party support, while admirable, is just not up to par with Nintendo's classic reputation for good games. We've seen quality titles here and there, but nothing substantial. Sega is obviously pushing towards a change with games like MadWorld and The Conduit. Only time will tell if others follow suite, but I certainly hope they do. A year ago I was saying that the Wii would turn out like the DS, with games to satisfy everyone, casual and hardcore alike. At this point I don't think that has been quite achieved, at least not in the best sense.

Tom: You're right Sean: trying to categorise gamers into casual and hardcore is a bit of a mistake – many are hybrids, as you pointed out. You're also right about them releasing the right quantity of their traditional franchises, but there has been a noticeable shift in the content of these games. I alluded to the difficulty level of Super Mario Galaxy in the start of this thread: it's simply too easy, nothing required thought – it was aimed at the casual market. I like games to have a bit of challenge to them, a sense of reward after completion. Who, when they got all the stars in Galaxy, felt like they had achieved something significant?

I'm also not inclined to play too many of the old games available, because I've played them before. I want new iterations of titles and new challenges, even if they add new levels and follow the same format as the previous game – Fire Emblem is a casing example of where keeping the format the same doesn't detract from the quality. At the same time I still want the games that are short and fun to play. Brody's example of the DS catering to all audiences is what I would like to see applied to the Wii: the best of both worlds.

Sean: Points taken, although I couldn't get all the Stars in SMG and felt pretty chuffed about getting 102. Of course that turned to disappointment when I found I needed to get all of them to unlock Luigi, which apparently provides for more of the challenge you might have been looking for. For me the shadow races were beyond my platforming skills and over my frustration limit.

I still think you guys are just being too picky!

Corbie: I agree with most of the assessments made so far in that Nintendo is clearly pointing their focus on the casual gaming market. And in truth, why would they change that approach given how successful it's been for them so far. While I'd love to see a bit more emphasis placed on some of the more "hardcore" genres, I've finally come to the conclusion that if those are the types of games I want to play I either have to stick with the retro consoles I own or the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles. While it's not practical for everyone to own multiple consoles, it has become necessary for those of us who love Nintendo and their first-party offerings, yet still like to play some of the more hardcore-style gaming titles.

I guess we can hope that eventually Nintendo will try to be more open-minded with their approach to the Wii, but considering how far into the lifespan of the console we already are, it's difficult to imagine them altering their focus enough to produce any type of significant change.

REN: To begin with I wouldn’t exactly call any of this a change of focus; since when are we talking about here? I think since Launch and shortly before Nintendo was pretty clear that Wii was strictly a game machine focused on playability and fun – they were indeed trying to reach the giant looming market of less-than-hardcore gamers. I was plenty impressed with the measured challenge level of SMG. Sure, there was always a little in my mind that said “this is still no where near as hard as some of the old 2-D classics including other Mario’s”, but there was a lot of enjoyable content there that lasted a while and still managed to get pretty hard near the end.

I think there is a big point missing here, that is a little hard to define and it’s part of what bogs down this long running debate about “casual vs. hardcore” (which I also tire of since it’s totally subjective anyway). Difficulty levels have just changed and there’s no going back from that. Nintendo was simply looking for a new way to attract an audience with different expectations than the aging gamers (and impressionable 12 year old boys). Think for a minute about the fundamental elements of what makes a video game: like in film there is a need for a certain amount of what's called “suspension of disbelief”, but in a game it was almost essential that this was always in play. There was so much absurdity going on that had to be overlooked in order to just go about the task of jumping onto floating cubes made of brick or tossing fireballs or eating turkey off the street to repair ones health. As game technology rockets forward this suspension of disbelief gradually decreased due to the relative accessibility of truer physics and realism within a game, which means that ultimately games are easier to play and simply require more content and much deeper gameplay to sustain for the number of hours that an older game did.

In short, games have changed. What so many of us fondly remember as great games that were so much harder and longer were often hours of memorizing where hidden heart shapes are, trying to find the actual edge of a jumping point, trying to work through challenges that had to be memorized so meticulously as to be done the 6 times it took to come back without any saved game, even learning to find just the right camera angle to help a character run straight as a 3D engine tried to compensate while you move forward and had you veering off an edge. Now what do we want in expect in our great “hardcore” games? : that a story be dramatic, with good voice acting, lots of action, crisp cinematic cut scenes, great nuanced AI, limited re-spawning, clear visual edges, deep original puzzle parts, intuitive camera, multiplayer options, even online options, achievements, unlockables, etc.

Did any of our favourite games before, say 1990 include anything unlockable? Was there ever a single year with more than one SMB or Metroid or Zelda release at a time? It didn’t matter because even though we had more time to play them they still took a hell of a lot more running around and experimenting than any game now does. Does no-one remember the days when these were just game challenges to overcome once you’d had too much pizza and soda and stayed up for 10 hours? I’m not saying those are good things for a game, I’m just pointing out the selective memory of the “hardcore” gamer.

I’d love to get a PS3, or more likely an Xbox, for some of the hardcore titles but when I’ve played some recent games on them I find that once I get the hang of the controls they’re very easy to master. It’s like too much is possible, and too well spelled out. We’ve saved so many princesses, so many times while battling archaic technology so now that it feels really real, we can save her with our eyes closed and I’m over it. So I say bring on the weird casual games and let the indie developers run with the new play controls. Find us new hardcore entertainment, PLEASE, but until we get headsets with VR stuff, I’m stoked to try some more creative and even practical tools that are built into all the high tech consoles we have now (net stuff, cooking, waggle sports, puzzles, whatever). I get enough cheesy sci-fi from movies so I don’t mind waiting for the really great games.

Sean: I like where you're coming from REN and without getting too much into the next topic, it's a big part of why I think old franchises should be left alone; especially when we have the VC for re-experiencing them.

Tom: Blimey Ren, I think you've pretty much covered all our loose ends there – even touching on some future round tables! Looking back to the past, I find myself agreeing with you about games being hardcore due to control issues. I never considered that a game being well developed could make it easier to complete and less of a challenge. It's good food for thought!

I suppose we’ll wrap it up here guys, and see what everyone else has to say…

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User Comments (42)

Objection

#2

Objection said:

NPC talk: if one of the forums is any indication (with 400+ posts) that's dangerous territory. ;) You pretty much hit every nail that people have been picking at, such as Ninty needing a new RARE WARE (maybe SEGA?) and to give us at least a few more titles in our beloved franchises, especially Star Fox for me and F-Zero for the people who like that. ;)

warioswoods

#3

warioswoods said:

The use of the word "casual" is always so incoherent in these discussions. Most of the time, the word simply gets applied to any game made for a different demographic than that of the traditional young-ish male gamer. The worst part is, by using the word in distinction from "hardcore," it comes off as if one is trying to assert that his own involvement with games is fundamentally deeper than those who play "casual" titles, but that's another mistake.

The examples of casual cited above are in fact good counter-examples to this entire line of reasoning. Brain Age may seem casual to you, but I know of a couple of grown women who spend hours solving Sudoku puzzles, and who have become incredibly fast at it, like second nature. Is that really a fundamentally different experience than repeating and mastering an old "hardcore" game like Contra? No, it just doesn't appeal to the typical gamer the way that game does. If you've ever seen a complex re-arrangement in Wii Music, you know that one can spend hours toying with the harmony and bending a song into something new. As for Wii Sports, a relative of mine who has a couple kids and isn't a traditional gamer has played it to the point of near-perfection in all the sports, with perfect control of the spin on the ball and other details. One of my sisters, who was formerly a sports therapist, works hard to perfect her form on the strength and yoga exercises in Wii Fit. I've also played Dr. Mario against a girl who was not a "gamer" but who was blazingly fast, and even something along the lines of Bejeweled can be mastered over time with enough sessions.

These kinds of games may appeal to those who are older, have more complex responsibilities, have no interest in traditional gaming themes, or who cannot sit for hours playing at once. Are the experiences, however, any less deep than those who play traditional games? No.

Traditional gamers need to stop patting themselves on the back with the "hardcore" label. It's not somehow a mark of distinction or greater ability; it's just a misunderstanding of how games can be enjoyed in completely different ways that may not connect with the limited interests of your particular demographic.

XCWarrior

#4

XCWarrior said:

I love the site and all, but this article failed at the headline. Here's come grammar help guys:

"IS Nintendo neglecting the 'hardcore gamer'?"

The article is way too long. The answer is one word - yes.

Shinjix2

#5

Shinjix2 said:

I agree with Sean as well. I think about the Star Fox franscise and now have a bad taste in my mouth from the last two games, it overshadows the good. Look at Sonic.... Also I enjoy playing through Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy repeatedly and find that the difficulty is about the same. (I will say I HATE the Luigi's Purple Coins Star! There was nothing easy about that!!) Also, I do now own a Wii60 :P

Shinjix2

#6

Shinjix2 said:

And i remember a discussion stating that maybe Nintendo isn't changing. The gamer is just growing up. We just expect Nintendo to grow with us. They have always put gimic games out like Will Music. Anyone remember Mario Paint (which rocked!!)

CorbsAdmin

#7

Corbs said:

This is something new Tom's put together. I got in a bit late so I didn't get to say much. That's me for you.

Adam

#8

Adam said:

" that a story be dramatic, with good voice acting, lots of action, crisp cinematic cut scenes, great nuanced AI, limited re-spawning, clear visual edges, deep original puzzle parts, intuitive camera, multiplayer options, even online options, achievements, unlockables, etc."

Oh gosh, please, no more puzzles in the middle of action / adventure games (or at least not all of them). It's so out of place and ruins suspension of disbelief. Why would Space Pirates build all these morph-ball sized tunnels that lead to door switches? Who authorized this? Metroid and Zelda have strayed so far from their roots, and there really is room for a good game in 3D without puzzles. Ever since Ocarina though, people assume puzzles are what games are all about... Gosh I hate Ocarina. (Sorry, Zane!) :P

Achievements and unlockables are even more irritating. As Sean rightly points out, not everyone is equally as good at everything. I hate not getting the full game I paid for because I haven't jumped through enough hoops, and achievements make games more like work where people put in hours just to earn these to show off. Not my idea of fun.

I play more casual games on PS3, oddly enough: SingStar and Buzz rule. And conversely, I use my Wii for Brawl, VC, and a few WiiWare games (Bit Trip, MM9, Gradius, Lit, and soon Cave Story). The system has plenty to offer, but most of Nintendo's main series are following the years-old trend of becoming more and more dumbed down, which maybe isn't a bad thing I guess.

Retail games have to get bigger and bigger for people to be excited about them. With multi-player games, it is easy to improve on this by adding more characters, courses/levels, etc. to choose from. But if Zelda keeps getting longer and longer but remains as hard as it was on NES... I don't know if I want to sit here for months trying to finish a game. I am going to throw my controller through the TV, and it won't be the wrist strap's fault.

So maybe games do need to go a different route, at least at retail. But I still think they're doing it wrong. Zelda, Metroid, and even Mario have become way too serious, and their stories uninteresting. Mario shouldn't even have a story. Zelda and Metroid need to rely more on atmosphere like the old games. I have a very strong sense of a narrative structure behind the first Zelda and Metroid without hardly any dialog to speak of. Games can still do this, I am sure of it.

As for traditional "hardcore" titles (meaning challenging titles, for me), WiiWare is really the best outlet for this, I think, though it's unfortunately not getting flooded with a lot of family stuff which would be better off at retail in compilations.

madgear

#9

madgear said:

What happened? I'm sure Nintendo used to be for the more hardcore gamers in the past. People who owned a GameCube, snapping up titles such as Zelda, Mario, Resident Evil, Metroid Prime etc were always seen as more hardcore than the people buying their GTA's on the PS2.

Now, for some reason, people who buy those same games this generation are casual gamers. Is it simply because Nintendo's console is the most popular this time? Last generation it was dull looking "gangsta" games, countless FPS titles and sports sims that were considered casual titles. Now they're the hardcore games this generation?

Really it just seems to be a matter of oppinion mixed with fans of rival consoles using it to put others down.

I'll tell you why I'm confused by all this. I've always considered myself a hardcore gamer. I previously owned a GameCube and, before that, a Dreamcast, Saturn, Megadrive with Mega CD etc. I have a ton of rare games for those consoles - does the likes of Radient Silvergun seem hardcore to you? I've bought the classics, imported the rare titles and have some absolute gems in my collection.

However people I talk to, especially those at work, consider me a casual gamer simply because I own a Wii. I'm not playing Gear of War, GTA 4 etc like those at work. How do these guys who just buy whatever big 360 release come out that week suddenly become hardcore gamers? They've never even heard of the majority of games I've owned. It's ridiculous - I own a Wii, I love it, and I'm a hardcore gamer...I think.

thewiirocks

#10

thewiirocks said:

Hardcore - You guys keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. In fact, the Wii is full of "hardcore" games like shmups and other insanely difficult challenges.

What it doesn't have is games that target the "core gamer" audience. You know, first person shooters, Grand Theft Auto, 3D beat-em ups, etc. To which I have to say--!!! I have mixed feelings on.

I don't want to see a GTA on the Wii. I don't really need a Gears of War. I don't need a Half Life 2. (That game was so insanely boring. I felt like I was playing it just because I paid for it. Beyond that, it was more work than fun. The story didn't even pay off.)

However, I do think the Wii is generically a good platform for FPSes. (Onslaught, Conduit, Red Steel, Metroid Prime) I do think the Wii is an excellent platform for driving games. (Excite Truck, Mario Kart, Excite Bugs). I do think the Wii can do adventure quite well. (Zelda) So there is room for games that appeal to the core gamer audience.

But doesn't that create a bit of a dichotomy? I mean what is so different between what's on the 360/PS3 and what's on the Wii? Well, the answer is: Those other two systems take themselves too seriously.

Back in what I think of as the golden age of PC gaming (~92-96), games were wide and varied. No idea was too wacky or outlandish. I'd bring home a copy of PC Gamer and read about the games where I got to shoot space-farring furballs, solve tongue-in-cheek mysteries, learn to build cities, become a dystopian taxi driver, fire insane amounts of ammo from a 3-story tall mech, learn the identity of who is beneath my mutant facade, outsmart insane computers, take to the skies for the freedom of true flight, get transported to other worlds at warp speed, fly hovercraft through cliffs at breakneck speeds, hunt down replicants while questioning my own identity, etc., etc., etc.

The games of the past were so inventive and engaging that the signal to noise ratio was nothing short of astounding. You really could travel to new worlds and pique the imagination. Yet it worked because there was an element of unrealism the entire time. The adventures were engaging, but surreal enough to where they were an escape from the real world.

Modern gaming doesn't do that for me. It evolved from that history, but it lost the magic along the way. Too focused on realism and simulation at the expense of engaging the user in new and interesting ways. Is there any wonder that the gaming market appears to have peaked just prior to Nintendo's coupe de grace?

For right now, Nintendo is offering the next best thing to deeply engaging gameplay. They're offering arcade fun that any age or personality can find enjoyable and interactive. They are a bit more than skin deep, and they are enjoyable. But they don't hold you in like the PC games of yore did.

If someone can recapture the magic of what made early PC gaming so spectacular, they'd really have something. A real solution to the ever shrinking issue of the core audience balanced against the need to upgrade the casual audience.

That's my 2 cents anyway. Take it or leave it. :)

warioswoods

#12

warioswoods said:

@Adam

No offense, for I do sincerely respect your viewpoint, but I'd hate for Nintendo to follow any of your suggestions above. The introduction of puzzles into many of these series is one of the most important innovations. In the 8-bit days, it made sense for the difficultly to be of such a nature as to force the player to repeat the same sections countless times, since the cartridges couldn't really hold a long game and you needed some way to stretch out the experience.

Once games moved into 3D, however, puzzles allowed for a different sort of difficulty that extends the play time and gives a sense of challenge but without having you die often and need to repeat an entire stretch, which is pointless given the length of these games now. You say that it requires a suspension of disbelief to get through puzzles in an adventure game, but I would contend that the one thing that completely pulls you out of a modern 3D game and its atmosphere is dying and having to repeat an area from the beginning. It just doesn't feel the same when you make your way through the same sections again and break up the movement of the level; 3D games are about marveling at the worlds and the atmosphere as if you are wandering through them yourself, and puzzles fit that very well by letting you take a step back to look at the situation around you rather than plowing on through, but without forcing repeated deaths and having you begin the section of the game again, which to me requires the ultimate suspension of disbelief and breaking of the cohesion of the first-person experience.

@thewiirocks

"I mean what is so different between what's on the 360/PS3 and what's on the Wii? Well, the answer is: Those other two systems take themselves too seriously."

Agreed. Playing video games is always just playing with toys, imagining yourself to be in fictional worlds, and similar childlike experiences. It's such a joke when you hear someone act as if playing a realistic FPS lets them escape that fact and be more hardcore than someone who plays as a plumber in a cartoon world. It's fundamentally the same, and the real immaturity is taking yourself so seriously that you won't admit you're playing with a toy.

CorbsAdmin

#13

Corbs said:

This is one of the reasons I don't like the hardcore and casual tags. Everyone has a different definition of what they mean. I myself consider hardcore gamers to be those who eat, sleep, and s**t video games. Who have a vast knowledge of gaming, past and present and the collections to match. Those who would rather go without food than video games. Okay, maybe that was a bit too much, but you get the idea. To me casual gamers are more those who play games, but their participation doesn't go much beyond just picking up the controller and having some fun with it.

That being said, I don't think either type of gamer is "better" than the other, they're just different categories of gamers to me. I'd personally rather refer to people as either gamers or non-gamers. Makes it a easier to classify that way. :)

Adam

#14

Adam said:

@theWiiRocks
I think we got more like a buck and 2 cents from you. ;)
I completely agree though. I was never big into PC gaming, but the NES / SNES hold the same place in my memory as PC does for you. I think WiiWare could be the solution, but it isn't completely being used that way. Same for the other consoles' downloadable games.

RonF

#15

RonF said:

"What so many of us fondly remember as great games that were so much harder and longer were often hours of memorizing where hidden heart shapes are, trying to find the actual edge of a jumping point, trying to work through challenges that had to be memorized so meticulously as to be done the 6 times it took to come back without any saved game, even learning to find just the right camera angle to help a character run straight as a 3D engine tried to compensate while you move forward and had you veering off an edge."

Fortunately, these nightmare designs are a thing of the past. Level memorization, long phases without saving, and inefficient camera angle are all poor design problems. I appreciate challenging games. Indeed, Fire Emblem is one of my favourite games but those examples are just flawed designs.

Bahamut_ZERO

#16

Bahamut_ZERO said:

Great article. I personally find that everyone here is finding one flaw. Is the Wii hardcore. Is Nintendo hardcore. I'd argue yes.

Just name every 1st party Wii game you can. Galaxy, MP3, LoZ: TP, FE, Punch-Out.... Oh, what's this. Are all these titles hardcore? You bet they are. With the exception of some stuff such as Wii Music, Nintendo sure as hell is still making great hardcore games.

But what makes the Wii casual is the sheer lack of 3rd party support. The 1st party 360 games aren't what's keeping the system afloat (I can only think Halo and Gears right now), it's the 3rd party guys who make things like Bioshock and Street Fighter IV. The Wii lacks this 3rd party support, I can only name a small handful of great 3rd party Wii games.

That's my analysis :)

CowLaunch

#17

CowLaunch said:

I think being a 'hardcore' gamer is more to do with with mindset than anything else, not that it helps narrow it down at all.

As much as core Nintendo fans moaned during the N64 and Gamecube years about how Nintendo was overlooked by casual gamers, I think for some being a hardcore gamer is an almost secret pleasure of being a sort of outcast (at least in the mind of the 'hardcore' gamer). In their mind they are the last bastion against the all consuming tide of casual gaming. I've known people like this, I'm guilty of this with regards to comedy shows; when they become popular I can lose interest, and plenty of people have this attitude towards bands.
With regards to the lack of good core franchise games I can see what people mean, but I've learnt to be careful for what you wish for. In retrospect, I preferred waiting ages for Ocarina rather than getting the clearly unfinished Wind Waker relatively quickly.

Adam

#18

Adam said:

@WarioWoods
Well said, I see your point, but that just brings up another aspect of modern retail games that I don't like: they are way too long.

But how to keep a game short without making it less appealing to the silly audience that thinks a long game you'll play once is worth more than a short game you'll play for a lifetime (hello, Mario World)? Well, I'd be fine if Nintendo just ignored that audience obviously, haha, but of course that won't happen. Releasing short games on WiiWare would be more acceptable, surely. Nintendo could certainly do something other than Art Style and puzzle games if they wanted, and it'd be a big hit.

Another possible route is -- and this is very love it or hate it -- is the MGS4 route. It was easily the best 3D adventure game I've ever played, and how long is it? Not terribly so. And for me, especially on Big Boss Hard, it meant repeated deaths. But it is considered a huge game because there is so much you can find by wandering around, and the huge amounts of cutscenes are actually lengthier than the game. It's a very weird approach, but to me it worked. Of course, I don't expect Nintendo ever, ever release a game like this, but that's fine. :)

CorbsAdmin

#19

Corbs said:

The first party offerings are what keep me coming back to the Nintendo consoles. And because I'm fortunate enough to own the other two competing consoles, the somewhat lack of rampant third-party support on the Wii doesn't bother me much. But for those who only own the Wii, I can see where they might feel a bit shorted.

Adam

#20

Adam said:

Third party this year looks good. I'm not sure the problem. Conduit, Sin & Punishment 2, Murasama Demon Blade, A Boy and His Blob, not to mention several anticipated WiiWare titles. For once, I'm more concerned with Nintendo than any other company. They've announced and released more games that have already been released than otherwise -- never a good sign. I expect E3 to turn that around though. Fingers crossed.

thewiirocks

#21

thewiirocks said:

@warioswoods - I think you just nailed it with your description. "Childlike wonder" is exactly what games are missing today. That euphoric feeling of your childhood imagination leaping out into the screen in front of you. Truly a magical experience. :)

@Adam - Are you saying I'm long-winded? Huh huh huh?!? pause

No arguments here. :P And the SNES did have some pretty engaging titles back in the day. Not quite as deep as the PC gameplay, but still just as engaging. I can't count how many hours my siblings and I lost to Street Fighter II...

@Corbie - I find that a bit surprising. The first party offerings have actually been a slight disappointment to me. It's not that I don't like Mario Kart or Zelda. I just feel like we've been here before. The Wii versions have great new controls, but they don't really move their series forward by much. (Though I will argue that Mario Galaxy is the exception that proves the rule. ;))

Personally, I've found far more entertainment in third party offerings. Geometry Wars: Galaxies, Boom Blox, Guitar Hero, Red Steel, Zack & Wiki, Pinball Hall of Fame, Ghost Squad, Defend Your Castle, Toki Tori, Onslaught, etc. Just to name a few. :P

ejamer

#22

ejamer said:

One thing I don't get: why do people accuse Nintendo of abandoning their hardcore audience when Nintendo has always been quick to censor games in favor of a family-friendly image? Maniac Mansion? Sega does what Nintendon't? A blood-free version of Mortal Kombat? Nintendo has NEVER been hardcore, although they are still producing the same high quality gaming experiences that we have come to expect over the years.

I am a core gamer who has been playing since the Atari days. I enjoy the Wii and will openly admit that to anyone. The internet at large seems to think less of me because of that, but screw them -- there is nothing wrong with knowing what you like and standing up for up.

djshep1973

#23

djshep1973 said:

Wow, interesting discussion..

I'd have always said that I was really happy with Nintendo's support of the Wii, especially as they seem to have updated most of the series' that I have been interested in playing - SMB, Zelda, Mario Kart - but I have to admit that since I bought a PS3 a couple of months ago I've barely touched my Wii.

I'm sure I'll get round to getting back into the vast array of VC titles I have, and into completing Galaxy, Metroid Prime and Mario Kart Wii, but at the moment I am really enjoying playing a lot of games that aren't available for Wii.

For as much as I do really like my Wii and the majority of games that Nintendo release for it, I do also find it very frustrating that so much harmful and cynically released shovel-ware has been made available for it too. Wii-Ware has in particular seen some truly horrendous releases, the sort of games that really could only appeal to the sort of gamer who has been completely sheltered from what most of us would call 'a good game' - if that doesn't sound daft. Mindless waggling and irrelevant gesturing can surely only be considered fun for so long. I think the evident abundance of unpolished and frankly shoddy games being released for the Wii has played a large part in the damaging of Wii's reputation as a console that is capable of quality gaming.

I've probably gone way off topic here, but I guess my answer to the actual question here would be to agree with many other posters - I don't think there's really such a thing as a 'hardcore gamer' as the definition of this seems to be so broad. I guess it's all relative anyway; I'm a lot more hardcore than, say, my wife, but I haven't actually completed a game in years. But I do love games, have done so for more than 20 years, and will probably be playing them for significant chunks of time for the rest of my life; and I hope there's always going to be a Nintendo around to make the sorts of games that I continue to find fun.

SmaMan

#24

SmaMan said:

I'll just quickly dish out my opinions on my view of this whole thing...

I think the hardcore abandonment issues can sort of be likened to the "I liked them before they were cool" statements that a lot of people say when they liked a band better when it was indie and non-commercial and most of the time had a completely different sound back in those times.

It's easy to see that Nintendo's changed its tune, and now that the Wii is a household name because of this, a lot of the people who were fans back at the NES or SNES ages and who actually enjoyed the Gamecube era (myself included) feel a little rejected and liked them "before they were cool" and don't like all these noobs fooling around with their beloved company. (Though I know I can't make assumptions about this entire "group") I guess it's kind of how I feel when people keep referring to the first US Fire Emblem game as the first in the series, when it's really the seventh, and a prequel to the sixth. Just a pet peeve of mine.

But I can already feel my self veering off topic... better stop now before I zoom into a tangent.

shogunhitokiri

#25

shogunhitokiri said:

The Wii is doing well because like it or not gaming is changing. It did so when the NES was released and those who played games on computers hated the NES and saw games like Super Mario Bros. to be crappy unsophisticated games. Then with the release of the Playstation gaming moved to the cinematic style that the core gamers are enjoying today and some decided to abandon gaming because of the change. Gaming is changing and the core gamer of today will not be the core market in the future, those who are callously referred to as casual will be the future core customer. The Wii is selling well because Nintendo saw that the industry was ripe for a shift and the sales show that.

DaVeMaN99

#26

DaVeMaN99 said:

I don't see there being hardcore games, but hardcore gamers.
People see "hardcore" games as totally different things.
Some think hardcore needs blood, some think difficulty and others think depth.
I don't know, and i don't care. I just play all types of games, whether they are kiddy or bloody.

odd69

#27

odd69 said:

great read guys!! i enjoyed that.seriously though ,nintendo could actually make a system in par with the ps3 or xbox 360 if they really wanted to. do you really think they would make another gamecube? im glad they made the wii and all but when i think about it,nintendo really could make a system as powerful as a ps3. yes i admit, i play the ps3 for "hardcore games". but dont think that nintendo is without it's share. can anyone say "no more heroes". im not sure if i feel like nintendo has ignored me or not. i dont reallly care as long as they keep on making games. ive been supporting nintendo since 1987,so does that make me a hardcore gamer??

Nanaki

#28

Nanaki said:

Good call on the title, and a lot of other fantastic points mentioned there!

We used the phrase 'hardcore gamer' to invite just this very discussion, as we know it's something many of you do not agree with (hencewhy the ' '). I think it's well and truly apparent that 'hardcore' is an incorrect mindset, or at least a term that has a lot of ambiguity. Phrases like 'core' do tend to be more appropriate (bot not as interesting to get debate going!)

Personally, I view hardcore as the strong basis of gaming for a particular machine - the real gritty material that is the basis of a company's titles. Just like hardcore in building terms: it's a term used for the foundation material of bricks and stones (maybe it's not video games that have skewed my view of 'hardcore', but rather my time working as a landscaper ;))

Seriously though guys, there are some great replies here and they've been great to read. Glad most of you like the new feature!

maka

#29

maka said:

Well, I for one, don't think Nintendo really needs another Rare... the games I've played from them were not that good... Starfox adventures was pretty bad and the Donkey Kong game for the N64 was so boring too... The DK games fro the SNES were pretty bad too... nothing like SMB at all... They might have made some good games (haven't played Goldeneye) but I think they're one of the most overrated companies around...

Anyway, I don't think Nintendo has neglected anyone, they have just broaden the style of games they make... Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Bros, Metroid Prime and Zelda are good examples of this. Third party suppor seems fine too with games like those already mentioned (Madworld, No More Heroes, the upcoming Sin&Punishment, Mega Man 9, etc...)

Nintendo knows the difference between console gaming and pc gaming (something MS and Sony seem to have forgotten) and as a result, I'm not really interested in most of the "hardcore" releases for xbox360 or PS3. And after playing a good FPS on the wii with the wiimote, I don't won't play one of those games with a traditional gamepad (or even mouse). No matter what the graphical quality is, the fact you're actually aiming and shooting yourself can't be beat...

Gizmo

#30

Gizmo said:

For me every title can be a hardcore- or casual-game, depending on how I play it.
(I can play Wii Sports for hours and for the reason to get highscores, and immediately it is a "Core Game". But if I play it just once in a week/month and for few minutes, it is accordingly a "Casual Game".

@ "Starfox adventures was pretty bad and the Donkey Kong game for the N64 was so boring too... The DK games fro the SNES were pretty bad too."

Wow, then it is no surprise that you think Nintendo doesn't need another Rare anymore, but I think you belong to a minority ;).

maka

#31

maka said:

"Wow, then it is no surprise that you think Nintendo doesn't need another Rare anymore, but I think you belong to a minority "

Maybe so... but please, did anyone here really enjoyed Starfox Adventures?? c'mon... after that I was actually glad Rare was bought by Microsoft.... :p

To me Rare represents what's wrong (and has been wrong for a while) with many modern videogames: Excellent graphics with crappy gameplay...

Gizmo

#32

Gizmo said:

"but please, did anyone here really enjoyed Starfox Adventures?"

Yes, I enjoyed it very much. And if I look at the scores StarFox Adventures got I think I am not the only one.

calculon

#33

calculon said:

@maka: I, like Gizmo, enjoyed Starfox Adventures very much.

As for the debate - you guys seem to be missing one very important point. Nintendo's 'core' gamers rely on Nintendo too much to provide the goods. Maybe if we (I also also consider myself as a core gamer but also enjoy casual games too) were a bit more open minded and realized that Nintendo's shift does not define the Wii's gamer base but has simply expanded it and also that it's not Nintendo's place to make us all happy but to make money where a market is most promising.

Nintendo are one company and have limited resources - if they're finding success in what they're doing then I wish them all the best. I harbor no resentment toward their decision. Yes, the whole casual market WILL collapse eventually but that will be a long time coming, certainly well past the lifetime of this generation. Guitar Hero if nothing else has proven how frivolous and easy to please the casual market really is.

Why not look to third parties and criticize them for not focusing effort to fill the gaps you so long for? After all, there are huge gaps to fill in from racing games to fighters and even platformers - all common staples of Nintendo's 'core' requirements. Maybe we should ask ourselves if it's because they're too comfortable doing the same damn thing and hence have no need to bring games to the Wii because they're already on the 360/PS3. Simply looking to Nintendo to provide us with 'core' games is the direct route to disappointment, sadly looking to third party developers isn't giong to be any better.

It's a sad fact that the Wii is where it is, caught between so many different ideals and requirements and so is failing to attract a solid, consistent user base because of it.

Gaming isn't what it used to be five years ago and nor are the consoles - it's an interesting but frightening time for 'core' gamers. On the one hand you have familiarity and on the other the unknown - no-one can say which route is the best route because at the moment, both rely on acceptance. When will core gamers get fed up of playing the same thing? When will casual gamers find the next-best-thing to purchase? I say accept the Wii for what it is and enjoy what you can of it - there's not much, I know but that's just tough luck. If you don't like it, move on.

maka

#34

maka said:

Well, looking back I see reviews were quite mixed for that game, it certainly doesn't rank with the best of the system at all... It's still a bad Zelda clone with boring repetitive gameplay to me... (and I did play it to the end).... The review from Eurogamer (6/10) is pretty much spot on: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/r_starfoxadventures_gc

That issue aside, I think the Wii is at a point similar to where the DS was a couple of years ago, with many ported games from inferior systems with tacked on motion/touch screen controls and lots of simpler games like Nintendogs and Brian Training. But look at the DS now... It seems once the developers start to get the special features and potential of the machine, excellent games start to crop. The DS right now has loads of interesting games in all categories. It took the DS quite a while to reach this, so I'm not really worried about the Wii right now. Not with what's coming.

Gizmo

#35

Gizmo said:

@ maka:

Beside the thing that you don't like DK64 and SFA, but what is with the other games like Banjo-Kazooie, Goldeneye & Perfect Dark? They all belong to the best of the best of their genre.
(But don't get me wrong, I do not find that Rare is still so good as they were in the days of the SNES and N64.)

@ Wii & DS comparison: Let's hope so^^.

KDR_11k

#36

KDR_11k said:

Compile a list of all "casual" games Nintendo (not third parties!) have released on the Wii, now compile a list of core games from them. Count the entries. When I did that I ended up with a core list that's twice as long as the "casual" list, others say they've ended up with a 5:1 ratio of core to "casual".

Some people apparently thought that the drought was caused by Nintendo focussing on "casual" gamers but games dried up for them too. Others declare any game that's not to their personal liking shovelware or casual.

Wiiloveit

#37

Wiiloveit said:

If this was in audio, I'd listen, but that's a LOT of writing, and since I'm a bit busy, I'll just assume everyone's right.

Pastry

#38

Pastry said:

They're not neglecting us, it's just that all of the good game developers are working on PIKMIN 3!!!

ASDFGHJKL

#39

ASDFGHJKL said:

Though I believe Nintendo has been more interested in the casual market, it looks like it is beginning to change. Mario and Luigi 3, the unannounced Zelda and Marios, the DS Zelda, Punch Out, Pikmin 3(we all know it is coming soon), Sin and Punishment 2, etc. And now, 3rd party support is growing. HVS is interested in actually making good games for the wii and the wii only. Sega seems to be publishing a lot for the wii lately. And Ninty's bringing us wiimotionplus to give us an opportunity to even better experiences on the wii. I just have a feeling that they have learned their lesson, and that this E3 is going to be big in quality games, For core and casual gamers alike. We all saw how monster hunter boost wii sales up. They know casual doesnt work on japan as much as Mario and Zelda and Pokemon.

KDR_11k

#40

KDR_11k said:

They know casual doesnt work on japan as much as Mario and Zelda and Pokemon.

Wii Sports is the best selling game for the Wii in Japan despite being sold separately.

astarisborn94

#41

astarisborn94 said:

I remember this article, so I'm going to disucss on it.

My answer is no, Nintendo has not neglected the core audience. Sure they are more casual then earlier generation, but they haven't neglected us. In fact, I think the only part where Nintendo actually neglected it's fans is in the Virtual Console.

Now for why I think Nintendo isn't neglecting the core audience. We have tons of solid games made for core players. 3rd party support is decent. But most importantly, Nintendo still make the best game. I consider Super Mario Galaxy to be absolutely flawless!

Rocketship92

#42

Rocketship92 said:

It should always be considered that gamers expect too much these days! Also I think that a lot of people are missing out on good games like world of goo because theyre too focused on so-called "hardcore" games. If everyone took a step back and looked at what is on offer, then I think less people would say the wii is neglecting them.

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