Nintendo Needs to be More Transparent

I love Nintendo, I really do; but they need to get their act together in a few areas if they want to continue the recent trend of leading the competition in console sales. Right now the Wii is outselling the PlayStation 3 by a fair amount (about 5:1 worldwide), but in order to maintain momentum, I think Nintendo needs to be a bit more forthcoming about what they have going on behind the scenes.
Even with all the positive press that Nintendo has been receiving lately, it’s starting to feel a bit hollow. How long can the success of Wii Sports carry the Wii? How long will the mainstream press’ love affair with the Wii last if Nintendo doesn’t drop some info on what we can expect to see in the immediate and distant future? Can it be far off before these currently lovestruck news outlets start to question whether or not the Wii is capable of longterm diversion, or if it’s merely a flash in the pan sensation?

I don’t feel that Nintendo should get into the business of showing so-called target renders or CG  trailers that are supposedly “indicative of the final product”. I do, however, think that Nintendo needs to begin to give more regular updates on the status of their internal projects while allowing 3rd parties to speak more freely at the same time. Nintendo is notorious for showing a few screenshots of an interesting project, tossing a few tidbits to a news outlet, and then going completely silent. How long has it been since we’ve received concrete info, screens, or project updates on games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Project HAMMER, Metroid Prime 3, Disaster: Day of Crisis, or Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles 2?

I have a lot of friends that play games, but they don’t have either the time or the desire to research upcoming releases across the multiple platforms. Instead, they get their info from word of mouth sources, advertisements, or in-store promo materials. I constantly am asked what the Wii has coming, simply because most releases on the Wii are devoid of casual buzz. 

If Nintendo is going to continue to be so reluctant to feed the hype trains, the excitement around the Wii is going to begin to derail. Sony and Microsoft are both great at feeding gamers steady bits of info all throughout the development cycle of their high profile games while allowing 3rd parties to pretty much handle the unveiling of their projects as they see fit. As a result, Microsoft has managed to secure the top-selling title in North America for four straight months.

I’m not looking for Nintendo to unleash a hyperactive hype machine upon us, I simply just want to know what’s going on. As someone who has showed support for the Wii, despite its currently sparse lineup, I think Nintendo owes it to me to justify the future validity of my purchase. 

DS ROM Cartridges

When publishers send out advanced copies of games for either review or preview, they will sometimes arrive in the form of ROM cartridges. For those of you that might be interested in what they look like, here’s a couple of pictures of the Super Monkey Ball Touch & Roll cartridge. If you’ll notice, that the ROM cart reads “Property of Sega of America.” When I finished reviewing this title, I had to send the cartridge back to Sega. I’ve never been allowed to keep a ROM cartridge. For a size comparison the second pic shows a standard DS cartridge next to the ROM cartridge.

It seems like Sega and Atlus are the companies that are most likely to send out these ROM cartridges. It’s not very common to receive a ROM cartridge from a publisher unless you are dealing with a pretty early review or preview. Normally the review copy of the game just comes on the standard retail version of the DS cartridge.

I’m debating whether or not I’ve used the word cartridge enough in this post…

Thursdayton is dead?

No, Nintendo didn’t cancel their upcoming conference tomorrow, but the hype surrounding it is starting to take its toll on several web sites and forums. The most notable victim thus far is the fan-created Thursdayton website. Thursdayton isn’t much more than a site that hosts Nintendo hype-related pictures and animated .gifs alongside a countdown clock to Nintendo’s big moment.

While the death of a silly hype site isn’t exactly newsworthy, the amount of hype that is surrounding the impending Nintendo announcement is nothing short of amazing. System launches are always surrounded with fans pounding popular gaming-related sites, but the Nintendo Wii seems to have managed to stir up more of a fervor than anything else that the industry has ever seen.

After tomorrow’s conference we should all know the price, launch date, and expected launch titles for the Wii. I’ve got my popcorn, soda, and seat reserved in front of my computer monitor.

Nintendo Press Gifts

Have you ever wondered what Nintendo ships to game reviewers alongside the software itself? Well, some of the “press gifts” are pretty simple, some are cool, and some are plain weird. For example, when Nintendo shipped Animal Crossing: Wild World to reviewers, it came with some housewarming items. When I tore open the box it shipped in (which was large for a DS game), the box had a wicker basket, a sponge, a garbage bag, a box of Tide laundry detergent, some animal crackers, a few other things. Recently, Starfox Command showed up with a bag of airline peanuts with the game’s logo on the outside and an airsickness bag. A few of things that have shown up include: T-shirts, special-themed boxes, figurines, DS stylii, posters, stickers, towels, postcards, perfumed letters from Princess Peach, and much more. Below is a pic of some random things from a few titles.