Dark days ahead

Well, if you’re reading this, it’s more than likely that you’re a person who makes the effort to keep up with things going on in the gaming world.

Saturday, Satoru Iwata passed away due to a bile duct tumour.

I know that I’ve ridden Nintendo pretty hard up until this point. That being said, I don’t intend for this to come off as cold as many of you reading will likely think it is. By no means do I wish to or intend to dishonour the memory of an icon in the gaming industry, or for that matter, a man who has just died. Though, I feel like it needs to be said:

His passing may not be the worst thing for the company.

Now, now. Don’t click off of the page so quickly. I know many people liked Satoru Iwata, and respected him and his accomplishments. Myself included. He worked on a lot of games that I both enjoyed playing, and still cherish the memories of from my childhood.

But the truth is, Nintendo has been struggling for a long time. I’ve covered that in fairly good detail.

The last decade or so hasn’t been kind to the big N. Their focus on hardware and new “innovations” has been the wrong course for a while now. They really need to think about who they want to carry on Iwata’s memory, but at the same time, attempting to bring something new to the company. The decision is definitely one that cannot be taken lightly. The next king needs to take the Nintendo in a direction that is way off of where they are now. Gimmicky hardware needs to be a thing of the past. Good games – that’s the future. Well, technically that’s the past, but should be the future as well.

Not to say the Wii wasn’t a good idea. It was. And it sold incredibly well. Over 100 million units is nothing to spit at. Sadly, its successor has not fared so well. And, to be fair, despite it being the better of the two hand-held portable systems, the 3DS is still not that great of an idea.

I think a look back at what made the company great is what is so desperately needed. The next president needs to set a course that is counter to its current trajectory. The ship is headed straight for the rocks. The situation that the successor will be left with isn’t too far from how Bush left things as such a mess, with Obama stepping in to clean it all up.

I think that’s sufficient.

Now I want to acknowledge all that Satoru Iwata accomplished. I think he is a man deserving of praise for his involvement in games like Pokemon Stadium. Not only was he a fantastic game developer, he was solely responsible for bringing the combat system from the Red/Blue games to the N64 Stadium. I still have my copy, Gameboy cartridge reader and all. I think, after Goldeneye, that is one of the top three games that I’ve spent my time on in the past 26 years. Being able to port over the pokemon that I had slaved over leveling, and developing into my strike-force was such an incredible thing for me. Every time I watched my Kingler (still hands down my favourite pokemon) appear in front of me, large-as-life in 3D, brought me so much joy. It’s those moments, playing Stadium, that make me want Nintendo to make a proper console game.

As much of a hard time as I give Nintendo, both here and at work. There isn’t a company that is so well-rooted in my being and my memories. I started my gaming life on the NES in 1986. Nothing made me happier than bringing that to my grandparents when I spent the summers with them.

And while Satoru Iwata might not have made every game or console I played, his loss to the company, and to the world, is a major one.

– The Ego


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