Talking Point: Should Nintendo Try to Recapture 'Hardcore' Gamers?

What is hardcore anyway?

In terms of their place in the home console market, it must be said that E3 can’t come soon enough for Nintendo. 2011 has been a slow year for the Wii, at times almost moving backwards. It is looking like a console at the end of its lifespan, showing the tell-tale signs of a feather-light release schedule. For gamers whose only home console is the Wii, titles such as Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Pandora’s Tower and Xenoblade Chronicles are among the only bright lights on the horizon, none of which have a confirmed release date outside of Japan. Some Wii gamers may be trawling the little white box’s catalogue for older titles they may have missed on original release; this isn’t a bad idea, as the Wii has produced a significant number of high-quality titles with a wide range of gameplay experiences. This isn’t a common perception, but let’s break it down.

If you’re interested in first-party titles, then it is a lengthy backlog. We’ve had terrific Mario titles of 2D and 3D persuasions, Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel as well as New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Link had another epic adventure in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess; Samus appeared in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption – not to mention the glorious Metroid Prime Trilogy – as well as Metroid: Other M, which caused quite a stir amongst fans. There was multiplayer chaos in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and family multiplayer in Mario Kart Wii, Donkey Kong and Kirby made their comebacks with some terrific 2D platforming, also accommodating local multiplayer. Legendary developers Treasure even weighed in with Sin and Punishment 2: Star Successor, a relentlessly punishing ‘shmup’.

Then there are third-party offerings. No More Heroes and sequel Desperate Struggle demonstrated a defiant, non-conformist style of video game development. Monster Hunter Tri, from Capcom, brought grinding and substantial online play. The Wii enjoyed the excellent FPS exclusive GoldenEye 007, as well as multi-platform releases such as the Call of Duty series. Okami was a role-playing adventure that, in the eyes of some fans, rivalled Zelda in terms of its epic scale. There’s also been motion-plus enabled sword play in Red Steel 2, artistically stunning 2D slashing in Muramasa: The Demon Blade, and cult hits such as Little King’s Story.

In addition we have WiiWare and Virtual Console. Wii owners have been able to experience classics not only from Nintendo’s old consoles, but also systems as diverse as the Sega Megadrive – or Genesis for our US readers – and the Commodore 64. WiiWare has been the home of innovative download titles such as the BIT.TRIP series, glorious retro re-imaginings such as Mega Man 9 and 10, as well as Castlevania and Contra ‘Rebirth’ releases.

These are just some examples, arguably struggling to even scratch the surface, of one of the most diverse release-lists imaginable. No doubt there are titles that aren’t listed that can be considered as enjoyable gaming experiences, and this article simply isn’t long enough to go into more detail. A common feature of every one of the named releases above is that, in order to defeat these titles 100%, you will require a certain level of gaming skill. In some of these releases less experienced gamers can also join in, and will get plenty of mileage and play time without necessarily conquering the whole game. The key point is this; the Wii has delivered titles to challenge gamers familiar with earlier ‘old-school’ consoles, as well as those who joined gaming in the 21st Century.

What’s not hardcore about that?

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