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Wei Man takes a look at what Nintendo's first- & second-parties have to offer

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The Difference
A look at Nintendo's change in gear between two generations of consoles
Page 2

Waning Quantity

Counting the number of software titles available within the N64's library never was such a difficult chore. Game droughts were a lot less rare than they had been on previous Nintendo consoles, with worthwhile N64 software releasing literally months apart. The fact that the N64 was difficult to develop games for is likely to blame for this shortcoming in quantity. Developers who were interested in releasing games for the N64 had to make sure that their software was to be of the utmost quality (in accordance to their skill). The manufacturing costs for the carts was also an issue, which rendered each and every game release a risky one. Wasting resources and money on a game that wasn't deemed as quality was rare, and as such, plenty of games were cancelled and/or delayed for long periods of time.

With the arrival of the GameCube, Nintendo had to be certain that the mistake with which they previously had to cope wouldn't again be made. Their new console would be developer-friendly and allow for faster development time, thus allowing for more titles being released in shorter periods of time. At the same time, manufacturing costs for their new mini-disc format wouldn't nearly be as costly as the N64's cartridges', entailing that companies could release games with less risk.

To this day for the GameCube, early in the new year of 2005 and having been on the market for just over three years, in excess of 460 games make up its software library. And it isn't slowing down, even more software is coming this year, with perhaps more in 2006. These releases aren't slouches, either; exclusive games such as Resident Evil 4, Star Fox Assault, and perhaps the most anticipated GameCube game ever, the next installment of The Legend of Zelda, are yet to be released. In contrast, the N64's library barely made it to 300 titles in five years, which included a severe drought in 2001.

A Delayed Game is Eventually Good...

Asking any hardcore N64 gamer about delays will result in a return of one common answer: Nintendo and its partners truly were the kings and queens of delay. With the exception of Diddy Kong Racing, anyone will have a hard time thinking of a major N64 exclusive game that wasn't delayed at least once, if not three times each. Even Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64 may have had a role in the delay of the N64 system's launch itself, which was originally supposed to launch in the spring of 1996 and ended up coming in the fall in North America.

The release of the GameCube seemed to be the remedy for this evident problem; the system's launch signaled a turn of events for Nintendo and its delay troubles. Gone were the days when the majority of big games were delayed for a year. While a small number of games did get delayed (Star Fox Adventures and Eternal Darkness are prime examples), this time, the majority made their promised release dates. To name a few, The Wind Waker, Metroid Prime and Mario Sunshine all came out when they were supposed to.

Whether the reason for this sudden halt in delays was caused by the fact that the GameCube system is much easier to develop games for, or the fact that Nintendo perhaps ceased getting ahead of itself and announcing pre-mature dates, does not matter. The only important fact to make note of is that Nintendo delays have slowed down considerably, hinting at another sign of change at the company.

The Difference

For a company that has been so heavily critiqued, even to the point where it was compared to a sinking ship since the N64 era, Nintendo sure seems to be doing things a lot better today. Such so-called professional analysts who predicted that the GameCube would indeed be Nintendo's last console need to stop deluding themselves. Nintendo has been doing things better than they were last generation, and there's no sign of them slowing down. The faults which emerged from the N64 are being patched up quite nicely. The company is not by any means perfect, but it definitely isn't getting worse either.

As gamers, what more could we want? There are more games. There are more games featuring favourite characters and franchises, as well as brand new ones. More completely new and innovative genres of interactive entertainment. Less delays. How can this not be an improvement over the Nintendo that we knew just four years ago?

The road is rocky for Nintendo, with strong competitors, analysts predicting nothing but doom, and even a self-image that hurts the company among the majority of the general public. However, where mistakes were once made, they are now being remedied. Whether or not that affects the company's sales is a whole other matter, and one that you, as a gamer, should simply not be concerned with.

Editor's Note: This editorial was not meant to showcase Nintendo's improvement with the quality of their games, but rather to objectively take a look at their steps in fixing some of the problems which they ran into last generation. "More games" does not necessarily mean better games: whether or not they were better would be entirely up to each and every individual gamer


Written by: Farid El-Nemr

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