Nintendo (in my personal opinion) is one of the best gaming developers of all time. Sure their consoles aren’t packed to the brim with cutting edge hardware, but that isn’t necessary; after all they did practically save the entire gaming industry all those decades ago. Nintendo instead focuses on making their games feel like actual video games instead of war simulators. Granted, their way of dong things isn’t for everybody, I just see a lot of merit in how they run it.
Despite having such a great track record, Nintendo hasn’t been perfect (and if you don’t think that, Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival says hi). Luckily for them, their good games heavily outweigh their bad. Just count the total they made for one console and you’ll definitely see what I mean.
Unfortunately for them though, many choices they made went far beyond the games that they made. As a matter of fact, some of their decisions as a company were so incredibly bad that they nearly put themselves in the grave for it. Anybody who remembers the Virtual Boy could easily attest to that.
Nintendo may be a great gaming company, but they’ve made an embarrassing number of mistakes that hurt them deeply in the long run. Some, you may not believe, and others may come as no surprise. But these 15 mistakes by Nintendo are undoubtedly the most shocking.
15. Lack of Online Play
When Sony and Microsoft came out with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, their big staples (among better graphics processors) were online play functionality. They both attempted to delve into it with their previous consoles, but with the PS3 and 360, they really tried to hit it home. And for the most part, it worked really well. Online play was fun, had functionality across the majority of their libraries, and was a must try for any self respecting gamer. Then Nintendo had the Wii. Where was the online function for it? Only for Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. And trust me when I say it was clunky and didn’t work nearly as much as it should’ve.
14. Behind in Hardware
As gaming consoles got more and more powerful, the public became enamored with it. It became a matter of “who has the best processing?” As a result, and to this day, many people feel a war between Sony’s and Microsoft’s consoles, and Nintendo’s console sits all alone. This is because they’ve always been a generation behind in graphics. When the PS3 and 360 were boasting HD graphics, the Wii was still using standard definition. They didn’t upgrade to HD until the Wii U was out, and the other consoles had already taken it a step further past that.
13. The Virtual Boy
Anybody remember this weird thing? Honestly, with the VR gaming trend that’s growing bigger and bigger today with products like the Oculus Rift, it’s hard to remember who tried it first: Nintendo. Attempting to stay ahead of the curve and be innovative, they created this to feel like you were more immersed in the gaming experience. However, the only colors that could be displayed were unattractive reds, the console was very uncomfortable to use, and because of a lack of understanding from the public, it sold terribly throughout its short lifespan. Nintendo ended up scrapping and sweeping it under the rug, pretending it never happened. But we remember, Nintendo. We will never forget.
12. Creating the PlayStation
When Nintendo was busy with the N64, a small company reached out to them for a potential partnership. The proposition from said company was that they wanted to make games with the Big N and in turn pitched an idea about using disc drives to store content as opposed to cartridges. Nintendo effectively turned them down. That didn’t stop the company though. Feeling their idea was still good, they created their own gaming consoles using disc drives instead of cartridges. You might recognize the console today as the original PlayStation.
11. Losing Final Fantasy VII
If you’ve played Final Fantasy VII, you know how impressive and amazing it was. It defined the entire RPG genre as a whole and set the standard for every game after it. Did you know that it was originally planned to release on the Nintendo 64? That was the original plan. However, when Square began to develop it, they realized that the game wouldn’t fit on the N64 cartridge. If they used multiple cartridges, they would’ve come in at around 20. Because of this, they opted to strike a deal with Sony so they could use disc drives which would be able to fit their game. Good thing they’ve resolved their differences to put Cloud in Smash Bros.
10. Giving Themselves A “Kiddy” Image
In gaming, there are generally two demographics: casual and hardcore gamers. Sony and Microsoft definitely gear themselves toward the hardcore crowd, while Nintendo likes to open themselves up to the casual gamers. However, their marketing strategies instead make them appear to be more of a “kids’ console”. While this isn’t the case, a lot of the people who see the commercials don’t know that. It ends up driving many gamers away because they feel Nintendo “can’t handle them” or whatever. I’m a grown man and still play Nintendo. Get on my level.
9. Lack of Third Party Support
Despite the Gamecube not having sold nearly as well as they hoped, it had a decent amount of third-party support. Then that grinded to a near halt with the release of the Wii. Because of the new addition of motion controls (and back step in graphics), developers didn’t want to take the extra time to port their games over. Nintendo tried to change that with the Wii U, and I can honestly say they kind of failed. Their indie support isn’t bad nowadays, but they still really can’t win those third parties over.
8. Losing Rare to Microsoft
Remember when Donkey Kong Country came out on the SNES? That was one of the best platformers of all time. Rare was a developing behemoth. They created great games almost like it was second nature to them. For a while Nintendo owned them because they owned a majority of their stock. However in a momentary lapse of brain function, Nintendo didn’t renew said stock. When the stock finally ran out for them, Microsoft jumped on the opportunity, bought most of the stock and won Rare over. Just like that, Nintendo lost one of its best gaming developers.
7. Naming The Wii U
Now, I’m not going to get into this debate about whether the Wii U is a good console or not. I have one, and enjoy plenty of games on it, and if you don’t that’s your decision. I will agree though, that the name of the console was a really poor choice on Nintendo’s part. Because it was named the Wii U, many consumers that that it was an add-on or peripheral for the Wii and opted to ignore it. They’ve been distinctly naming their consoles differently for generations, but they decided to shoot themselves in the foot instead.
6. Crappy Launch Titles
I still remember when the Wii came out and everybody was flocking to stores because Twilight Princess was a launch title. For decades, Nintendo had been really good about giving consumers plenty of incentive to buy their new consoles at launch. Then came the issue with the 3DS and Wii U. Both consoles suffered from a major game drought at launch and for the next year or so. There were only two games worth getting when the Wii U came out, one of them being affiliated with Mario. They eventually got their acts together, but the launch was just awful.
5. Philips CDI Games
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, do yourself a colossal favor and look up “Link the Faces of Evil cutscenes” on YouTube. If you want to give yourself a good laugh, now is the chance. When Phillips decided to release a console, they struck a deal with Nintendo to be able to make some games using familiar characters. The end result was a Mario game that looked and played bizarrely and a Link that could talk. The games were so bad, that Nintendo doesn’t even acknowledge that they existed.
4. Milking Mario
Mario games are generally really good and an example of platforming genius. However, when you have over 170 games starring the same cast of characters, you know you need to mix it up a little. Because there is essentially a saturation of Mario, many gamers are turned away from Nintendo consoles because they feel that Mario is all their getting. I think Mario needs a break for a few years, then they can bring him back. Focus on other properties like Kirby, Star Fox, and the long dormant Metroid series. Just anything but Mario, please.
3. Super Smash Bros. Melee Competitive Play
Read my lips. Smash Bros is my favorite game series of all time. Now hold onto that thought. I am a firm believer that Smash Bros. Melee is not the best Smash Bros game (Smash 4 wins that spot). Everybody loves it because of the intense competition that comes along with it. However, all of the mechanics that make people good at the game are based on technical glitches and exploits. Nintendo decided not to fix these to appease the public, but they ended up making it worse for themselves. There is a devout crowd of Smash fans that now complain every time the new Smash Bros isn’t a form of Melee.
2. The Wii
Wait, what? The Wii was one of their most successful consoles of all time? You had to wait in line for the first year or so before you could even get one! True, very true. I’m not saying that the Wii was bad. I was so excited for one I saved up my allowance for a year when I was 10 so I could buy one. What the mistake was is that Nintendo focused so much on motion controls for that console. Casual gamers loved it, but again, hardcore gamers were turned away. Because that console ran as long as it did, by the time the Wii U came out, nobody wanted motion controls anymore.
1. Sticking with Cartridges
Final Fantasy VII and the PlayStation are both huge mistakes by Nintendo, but the root of that cause was sticking with cartridges. They even tried to correct this by releasing the N64 Disc Drive, but they were too little too late. Console peripherals never do well anyways. Cartridges just didn’t have enough storage, but Nintendo was determined to stick with them. This resulted in a forever reputation that they would always be technically behind their competitors, thus people always bashing them for making inferior consoles. At least their handheld game is on point.