Why Are There No New Nintendo Franchises?

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Let me start this off by saying that I love Nintendo with a Fire Flowery passion. One of my first gaming memories is when I was convinced that the main goal of Ocarina of Time was to smash pots and cut grass, not to go inside the scary talking tree. My first big achievement in gaming for me was getting to the first boss of Donkey Kong 64 all on my own, and getting all 120 stars in Super Mario 64 had me bragging to my friends for weeks (“Guys, YOSHI is in the game, I swear!”). While I had a Playstation and plugged many an hour into Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot, titles like Banjo Kazooie and Super Smash Brothers and GoldenEye were the ones that got me excited to play video games.

I mention this history to highlight the rage quit level frustration I face as a Wii U owner. I got my WiiU in March of 2013, so the console had been out for over a year at that point. I figured that the savings I made with the lower price point would allow me to purchase all the games that had come out in the past year. My excitement was palpable.

Imagine then my frustration when the only good games I could find were Arkham City and Assassins Creed 3 (and I use that last title very loosely). There were a few games that were good cross-console games, but very few Nintendo-exclusive games that justified purchasing the console. Two years later, this remains mostly true.

Sure, there have been some great titles for the Wii U since then. Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, WindWaker HD and Super Smash Bros Wii U are amazingly beautiful games. Rayman Legends and Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze exceeded my expectations as fun and engaging games, and the Arkham games for Wii U do a good job at combining the GamePad mechanics with the actual gameplay.

That being said, there has not a single original IP (intellectual property) for the Wii U in the 3 years it’s been out; instead, Nintendo has been pushing out HD remakes of older games, making sequels, or reusing the same cast of characters they’ve been using for the past 10-20 years.

As of April 24th (when this article was written), it has been over a month since the last Wii U game was released (Mario Party 10, which I’ve played and give a resounding “meh”). Prior to that, the only other game released in 2015 was Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Most of Nintendo’s new titles in 2015 have gone to their handheld consoles or their virtual shop (read: indie games, which are more often misses than hits), and Nintendo has all but stopped putting out cross-console games.

How is possible that we are almost to May and there have been exactly two AAA games released this year for a Nintendo console, with one of those titles being the 10th in a series and the other starring another popular Nintendo character? Barring stuff for the 3DS or for the eShop, there are exactly zero original IP’s on the WiiU.

Yes, the Xbox One and PS4 boast similar stats of console-exclusive games featuring brand new IP’s, but the difference is that many new and original games are playable on the PS4 AND the Xbox One. You can still play Evolve or Destiny or GTA V on those other consoles; just not the Wii U. In the past, that’s never been an issue due to the great library of games the Nintendo console has offered. But now I sit here in disappointment as I wait months for games that feature characters from the 80’s and 90’s while my friends are playing The Last of Us or Titanfall.

And while those titles aren’t the kind of games that fit Nintendo’s brand, it’s frustrating being a Nintendo fan when they refuse to put out games in a timely manner. Worse, the games that Nintendo DOES put out only feature the same cast that we’ve been seeing for the past 10-15 years.

I’m not saying Nintendo should sacrifice quality for quantity, but two games in five months is ridiculous and we know it. Originality and innovation is what brought Nintendo to the forefront of gaming; let’s bring that back.

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