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Identity Crisis

| Wednesday, January 29, 2014

WEB_Banner_IdentityCrisisEmily Hoffmann

Identity crises are nasty, but unfortunately quite common occurrences in the development of every individual. The good thing about being a person is when you’re having an identity crisis you can just lock yourself up for a bit, and come out with your head screwed back on.

Unfortunately for corporations, it’s a bit hard to get out of the spotlight, especially when they have to respond to a trend of failure.

That’s where Nintendo stands this past week, after having released reports of an 8.1% drop in revenue in the last three quarters of 2013. In response, Nintendo’s CEO Satoru Iwata has announced he will slash his own earnings by half for the next five months, with board members also seeing a 20 to 30 percent pay reduction.

But I’m not here to pat Nintendo corporates on the back for doing the right thing when they’re losing coins, fast. The biggest problem the company faces as of now is finding out what they’re going to sell, because the consensus is the Wii U won’t be cutting it.

During the buzz about Nintendo’s financial future, Asian business review publication “Nikkei” published a report detailing how Nintendo plans to adapt “progressive” content to smartphones, thus tapping into what many have called “free” loads of money available in the mobile industry.

Since then, Iwata has come out to decline the validity of such rumors, stating what “Nikkei” had produced was a compilation of offhand remarks he had put forth at past conferences.

I’ll give you a moment to take a sigh of relief.

The truth is, Nintendo does not belong on the iPhone, or even on a tablet. For any of you who have used an emulator to play Pokémon during class, you quickly realize that while it’s easy to battle electric mice, blasting rockets and executing wall jumps get extremely complex with the not-so-multi-touch screen.

Nintendo knows this as well as any other pot-throwing, fireball-hurling adventurer. If they wanted to hit the mobile department, they’d have to drop half the concepts they built their company on, or build a handheld attachment to complement the mobile phone.

Thankfully, Nintendo also has seen this and realized neither works perfectly. Those consumers who’d buy an attachment for their iPhone to play games either already have a Nintendo gaming system like the Wii U, or already have some sort of DS incarnation. Furthermore, dropping the basis of Nintendo’s gaming style would be an even worse tactic because their best selling games are the franchises that have been around for decades.

What Nintendo needs to do to conquer the heart containers of its lost audience is to go back to the titles that sent Peach into captivity in the first place.

The Wii U needs its own installment of “Mario Kart,” “Super Smash Bros.,” an original Zelda, while also pushing original titles, similar to the “Wii Sports,” “Wii Play” and “Wii Sports Resort” that made the Wii so appealing. We’re finally getting the first two items on this wish list, but only after a whole two years of sales struggling more than generations of frustrated gamers on the water temple level in “Ocarina of Time.”

Also, it’s time to make the Wii U cheaper. A brand-new copy, with a game, costs $300 today, which is only $100 cheaper than the much more tech-savvy PS4. Nintendo, in my lifetime, has been the choice of the social and stingy kids, and that little of a difference looks like a great deal for “real” games.

So, Satoru Iwata, if you’re out there, and listening here’s the summary — make more Mario games. I’ll buy your darned console if I can see my favorite, pudgy little characters running around again.

Oh, and make “Animal Crossing” even more cute and addicting than before.

Thanks.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Daniel Barabasi

Daniel enjoys taking long walks on the lakes, debating grammatical punctuality and dancing in the swing fashion. In his spare time, he is a neuroscience major in the Class of 2017.

Contact Daniel