the-butter-made-flesh
alt_bar

TO THE HIPSTERS AT NINTENDO'S

18 December 2004

The relatively new Donky Konga ad on tv sees hip people playing the Gamecube rythm-game sporting trendy clothing and the cool (but rebellious) attitude that is today's youth's benchmark. Wow, these are certainly the in-crowd of cool; they're the kind of people Pringles would invite to sit in a make-belief livingroom and eat chips on television for all to see. They're that cool.

But they're also totally generic, and more disturbingly; people I absolutely hold no warm feelings to. They're so artificial that it's like watching a sitcom. These people may exist; somewhere outside on parties you're not cool enough for or on schools you're not going to. But even so, for all you care they could be totally phony. Do people that cool even exist? The point is, I have totally no bond with these extremely hip folks. And they so totally don't make me want to play on the Gamecube.

Question: why is Nintendo trying so desperately for the Gamecube to become the poor man's Playstation? Sony's machine is also too cool for words (but not cool enough to fully support the avant-garde David Lynch-commercial they ordered and then pulled out of the air for weirding them out). So cool even, that I feel totally unrelated to it: it's so frosty it's frigid. Its image is directed at your average snowboarder or skater. They seem to have forgotten that their main audience may actually be gamers. Regardless, this seems to be where Nintendo wants to go.

Now I am a Gamecube-man. I am totally the dude that loves a console that dares to be purple and quirky and have a controller that looks like it's a Fisherprice toy but actually proves to be the most comfortable, sturdy and intuitive gamepad ever. Boo~yah! Except Nintendo's awkward struggles to shrug off the apparantly uncomfortable notion that it's a kiddy-console is making me cringe! I'm all for going in a different, less child-aimed direction. But Nintendo seems to think the only way to do that is to rip off Sony's attitude and transform the public opinion of the purple cube into that it's a cooler-than-cool, hipper-than-thou lifestyle-accessory. And yet the last time I checked, the most popular games on the 'Cube were still the quirky Japanese ones. Paper Mario, Pikmin, Monkey Ball, Zelda and its ilk.

Question: why is Nintendo not profiling itself then as the machine for a different kind of gamer? The gamer that has become fed up by the overabundance of dreary snowboardgames, or realistic warsimulators, or gory science-fiction shootemups? Is there still such a hardheaded school of thought that thinks anything not fitting into these categories is automatically kiddy-stuff? Nintendo ought to realise that it can still be proud of exactly the things it is making, instead of trying for it to be something it's not. Nintendo's games are cool enough from themselves. It's just the rest of the world that's so frigid that it doesn't see.

Roderick.