Can Nintendo do no wrong? It certainly seems that way sometimes. Why do I say this? Well, I’m a member on the message boards for GamesTM (for any non-UK readers its a gaming magazine aimed at a 20+ sort of audience, rather than the normal teenage style market gaming mags tend to appeal themselves to) and recently they, and EDGE magazine (a similar publication, albeit one who seems to aim itself a little higher) for that matter, have received criticism for awarding Mario Kart Wii a 6/10.
EDGE had the same thing happen a few years ago with Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and based on my own experience of that game, I’d say they were a little harsh with the scoring, but not too far off the mark and I’d wager the same is true for both magazines reviews of Mario Kart Wii, although I can’t comment on the main body of any of the reviews mentioned as I’ve not read any of them, nor can I make a personal opinion on the latest installment in Nintendo’s #1 racing franchise, thats not the point of this post.
The thing is, it seems that many places have an automatic score lined up for pretty much all of Nintendo’s biggest names, be it Mario, Zelda, Metroid etc etc, and its an odd thing for me to consider. Nintendo have done alot for the games industry over the years, and theres no denying that their games really do have that extra bit of polish that many third party releases on Nintendo systems seem to be missing, its also undeniable that they usually get the best out of their hardware, unsurprising considering their software development staff (Miyamoto etc) are heavily involved in the development of the machines. But not all their big games are as special as people seem to believe. The recent additions to the Zelda franchise, Twilight Princess and Phantom Hourglass are proof of this, I personally awarded Twilight Princess a 9 as upto the point where I reviewed the game (about half way), it was an enjoyable romp, but it soon become an uninteresting chore that tried to present a dark, tortured world with a sense of foreboding but ultimately failed in that attempt. Now I’m not saying it was an awful game, some parts of it were very good, but they weren’t upto the high standards Nintendo set themselves in the previous Zelda games, if it had been a new franchise it would of been perfectly enjoyable, but The Legend of Zelda brings with it a certain level of expectation, which Twilight Princess failed to live upto. Phantom Hourglass, meanwhile, was a complete travesty, no other developer would get away with the amount of repetition that game has (nor would they get away with having technically the same game for nigh-on 10 years without any change aside from the graphics, again Twilight Princess…), yet somehow this was completely overlooked and Phantom Hourglass got incredibly respectable scores across the board (both EDGE and GamesTM gave it 9/10).
Like with Twilight Princess it became a complete chore to play, in fact it was so poorly done I really couldn’t bring myself to play beyond my fourth (might have been fifth) visit to the Temple of the Ocean King, and I know I’m not the only one. I’m all for a bit of frustration and annoyance, when you overcome those kind of obstacles the sense of achievement is worth the hassle alone, but with Phantom Hourglass I found myself hoping the dungeon I was currently in would never end as I really didn’t want to go back to the Ocean King’s dwelling.
So why do we, or I although I can’t believe I’m the only one who thinks this, have this issue with Nintendo and the reviews of its must-have games? I seem to remember Jeff Gertsmann (yes that Jeff Gertsmann) received alot of flak for “only” giving Twilight Princess an 8.8 on the Wii for Gamespot. Now the fact that 8.8 might as well be a 9 makes the criticism completely ridiculous, so could it be the “Nintendo Fanboy” rising up and, sort of, scaring writers into giving a Nintendo game a higher score than they would normally do. Maybe its an inclination from the writer to give said game a higher score, after all a large portion of today’s gaming community spent a large portion of their youth playing on Nintendo systems. It’s an odd thing though, an the fanboy attacking happens with all of the top games, regardless of their developer or publisher, it just seems more apparent with Nintendo releases.
Now due to this entry, I’m fulling expecting to be called a Nintendo hater or a fanboy of one of the other machines. For the record, my current main console is the XBox 360 but I feel no bias towards it, likewise, my favourite machine is the Dreamcast, but I now have a distaste for modern day SEGA, so I feel no real alliance towards any particular videogame company whatsoever. Maybe thats why I see things in a different light?
This article was originally written back in April 2008 and doesn’t reflect my exact views on Nintendo today.