A hardcore gamer used to mean someone who played a variety of games because the welcomed the challenge and different game play experiences that the world of gaming offers. Today the so-called hardcore gamer is someone who is loyal to a gaming genre or franchise and doesn’t want to play anything that is not gritty and dirty. They are also people who are so loyal to their favorite consoles or gaming genre that everything that is not what they like, are regarded sub-par and not worthy of a single look. This contrast could be the fault of the game makers who are after the next big game or there is truly no creativity in gaming anymore.
Back during the mid 1980’s through the mid 1990’s Nintendo could basically do no wrong. Nintendo had some of the best companies in the world working on some of the best games in the history of video games. The Game Boy was the best-selling handheld gaming device in history. Most Hardcore gamers had the Nintendo Entertainment System, The Super Nintendo and a Game Boy and enjoyed the games on all three platforms.
Now in the mid 1990’s The Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation consoles were released and brought CD based Gaming to the mainstream. Those consoles changed the way video games looked and sounded with the advanced CD technology in the hardware. The hardcore gamers were seeing games in a whole new light. Then came the Nintendo 64 system, and that is the day the love died for most hardcore gamers.
Deny it if you want, but when Nintendo announced that they did not choose the CD format because of loading times and they were going to stick with cartridges some fans abandoned them. Some of the “hardcore” gamers never went back. In the eyes of the hardcore, Nintendo dropped the ball and they were from that day on, a generation behind. However, in the grand history of video games, the Nintendo 64 was a gaming marvel. If not for the N64, there would be no Goldeneye 007, Super Mario 64, Super Smash Brothers, The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time or Mario Party. These are games that broke the mold as far as game design and game play mechanics.
Super Mario 64 was the blueprint for the 3D platformer. Goldeneye 007 single-handedly brought the first console first person shooter into the mainstream, until Halo on the original Xbox. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time helped mold the 3D action adventure genre into what it is today. Super Smash Brothers and Mario Party both were a phenomenon like no other and they have both spawned numerous clones. However some hardcore gamers couldn’t get past the cartridge hump. Which, in this writer’s opinion, doesn’t make them hardcore at all. With that being said, let’s move on.
Enter the GameCube. Now this was the last time that a Nintendo console was technically comparable or superior to the competing consoles. The PlayStation 2 and Xbox dominated that generation with the third party support. The GameCube had great games like Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil Zero and the remake of the first Resident Evil game. They also had Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, Killer 7, Skies of Arcadia Legends, Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes, and the Metroid Prime series. Other games like Super Mario Sunshine and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess would have been included in that list, but those are not considered hardcore because they are not M-rated.
Next is the first lightning rod of all the hardcore Nintendo hate, The Nintendo Wii. Now it is a popular saying among gamers that the Wii console is for your grandmother, little kids or casual gamers. This author begs to differ. The Nintendo Wii DOES have some hardcore games, you just need to open your eyes and look. Games like Sin and Punishment: Star Successor, Madworld, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, Donkey Kong Country Returns, No More Heroes, and many more. Most of these games were overlooked by the so-called “hardcore gamers” because these were franchises that were not established. That is the fault of the gamers not being willing to try anything new.
Let us turn to the Nintendo 3DS/DS. This is one of the highest and fastest selling handhelds in history. With that being stated, The Sony PlayStation Portable was considered the handheld for hardcore gamers. The Nintendo DS outsold the PSP in the US at a ratio of 4 to 1. The thing about the DS/3DS was the fact that many of the classic gaming franchises we consider hardcore we released on the device. Titles like Contra, Metroid, Castlevania, Chrono Trigger, and The Zelda and Mario series helps keep the DS/3DS in the hands of the hardcore gamer who likes true portable gaming. The unique game play styles the DS/3DS gives us is one of the main reasons the handheld does so well.
Now, the second lightning rod of Nintendo hate, the Wii U. A console that is not released yet, but already has the hardcore gamers generally dismissing Nintendo. Some gamers have even suggested that Nintendo set the gaming generation out because in their eyes Nintendo is dead and buried. More suggest that Nintendo go the route that Sega has gone, third-party developer. Both are nonsense, in this author’s opinion. What most of these gamers don’t realize is the Wii U is made for us core/hardcore gamers. It has HD graphics for the graphic whores and even a new pro controller for traditional game control. After Nintendo gave you all that now you are complaining about the games. Have we become a nation of whiny gamers? That is for another editorial by this same author.
Now with all of that said, the hardcore gamer still questions the relevance of Nintendo. While their consoles and companies of choice have been playing catch up with the innovation of Nintendo, now the hardcore are throwing stones and the Wii U and now at the 3DS. This practice is sad by this author’s standard. While Nintendo is finally catching up to Microsoft and Sony on a graphical level, Sony and Microsoft have not caught up to Nintendo on an innovative level. So is the Wii U the console that will both innovate and satisfy the graphic whores? It will probably not. One thing it will do is get even more people enjoying the gaming experience in other ways than currently available. As previously stated, the thing about the Wii U is that it was made with the hardcore gamer in mind. This is the Nintendo console for you. The fact the Nintendo made a Classic Controller Pro is proof of that.
Hopefully this editorial doesn’t come off as a fan-boy rant. It is not intended to seem that way. All companies and consoles deserve their shine and when a segment of society bashes them without an informed opinion, it is not fair. The bottom line is, Nintendo has always had the games and the audience. Many of you have grown up with Nintendo. The problem is many of you are not growing with Nintendo. Nintendo never abandoned the hardcore gamer, it is the other way around.