This article is slightly opinionated. You are allowed to disagree.
Back in early 2015, Nintendo revealed at an investors briefing between them and DeNA that they were developing the Next Generation of hardware codenamed “NX”. In their statements revolving around the project, they stated it would have “a totally brand new concept”. The news shocked the Community and sent waves of confusion and excitement throughout the Internet. This caused speculation among the fanbase as to what the console was and what the “gimmick” would be.
Now, the word “gimmick” can have a variety of different meanings. One trend that is generally felt throughout the Video Game Industry is the negative connotation of the word “gimmick” among the group of consumers who follow these types of industry trends and information. One noteworthy example is the discussion about upcoming Nintendo products and peripherals. Certain individuals among the fanbase would love to eventually like Nintendo to just make a traditional gaming console without some sort of thing to make it new or fresh in the market. The truth is though, Nintendo has always innovated with almost all of their consoles since the beginning. Let’s take a look back on what they innovated upon with each of their individual consoles…
The Nintendo Entertainment System/Family Computer
While the NES/Famicom is the most famous for making a huge impact in Japan and reviving the West from the Video Game Crash of 1983, it also brought innovation to the forefront with a new revolutionary control method. Gone were the days of joysticks. For the first time ever, you could play Console Games with Nintendo’s own Directional Pad (D-Pad for short.)
Even though the Game and Watch was arguably the first one with Nintendo’s patented D-Pad, the NES/Famicom was the one to bring it to a wide audience and laid the foundation for the controllers that exist today. Basically perfecting the innovation that the Game & Watch’s control scheme brought.
In Japan, the Famicom actually had a mic on it’s second controller. It was used in certain games such as The Legend of Zelda.
The Super Nintendo/Super Famicom
In 1990, the Super Famicom (SNES here in the West) launched in Japan and became a success. It was then launched in North America one year after its Japanese counterpart. Not only did the Super Nintendo bring about 16-bit graphics for Nintendo games, but it also innovated in its controller design just like its predecessor did.
The SNES/SFC controller added the familiar shoulder buttons that are on almost every gaming controller to this very day. This meant that the controller could handle way more buttons that its competition and allowed for easy ports of fighting games from the arcade to take advantage of it.
The Nintendo 64
Once again, Nintendo took the challenge of developing something new and fresh with their 64-Bit successor to the Super Nintendo/Famicom. This time, they focused on the third dimension.
Just like it’s predecessors, the Nintendo 64 innovated in it’s control scheme and offered the first ever rendition of the Analog stick that gave games free movement for the first time. This allow games such as Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie to go into a full 360 degrees of motion with relative ease.
The Wii is probably the most well known Nintendo console to be a heavy innovator and really bring out the term “gimmick” to the home console industry. Released in 2006, it brought in an entirely new control scheme that wasn’t just a new button or an analog stick. It brought the concept of motion controls to gaming and to a large audience.
The Wii U
In 2012, Nintendo released it’s 8th Generation console with a name very similar to its predecessor. Through the use of its Gamepad, the console managed to bring the Nintendo DS’s dual screen capabilities to home console use for the first time.
Unlike that of the PSP and PS Vita, it was the first home console to offer a dual touch screen experience. The controller also features NFC capabilities and a gyro-sensor which allows you too add certain features to your game such as scanning in figurines or simple motion controls all built into the Gamepad.
With all these facts in mind, Nintendo has always innovated in some form or fashion with most of their consoles and mostly with their controller schemes too. The only exception to this has to be The Nintendo GameCube. While the console is well known for its tremendous software library, it had everything the Nintendo had set as a precedent before. All the buttons and analog sticks that were present on the GameCube controller were already present on past controllers from previous consoles including the Analog triggers which the Dreamcast (or even the Sega Saturn 3D Controller) had way before.
Otherwise, Nintendo has always been an innovator within the gaming industry, and it doesn’t like it’s gonna’ change from here!
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