If it isn’t blatantly obvious already, Nintendo seems to be prepared to hit the ground running with the “core” gaming audience when it’s new piece of kit lands later this Fall. It’s no secret that the Wii, for all intents and purposes, was a glorified gimmick for all but those who took the time to see through that facade. So, with the Wii U carrying on the moniker(and perhaps stigma, for that matter) of the previous generation, how does the big “N” go about drawing gaming enthusiasts back into the fold? Software. EXCLUSIVE software.
The announcement of Bayonetta 2’s exclusivity opened a slue of internet eyes to just how serious Nintendo is about the subject this time around(just ask Hideki Kamiya if he’s sleeping most nights). Hell, Platinum Games even admitted to Polygon that the game wouldn’t even exist without them. Add to that, the fact that they’re also publishing The Wonderful 101 and the pieces seem to be converging on a window that could be mutually beneficial, not to say lucrative for each party involved.
The time for Nintendo to make a move for PlatinumGames is now. With Anarchy Reigns being the last title in the extended publishing deal with SEGA, Platinum would basically be freed up for an acquisition(save for that little outstanding Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance project). Actually, a move such as this would be reminiscent of the way in which Nintendo has treated Monolithsoft since acquiring them in the 2007 stake purchase from Namco. Basically, they were left to their own devices but also brought in as collaborative help on The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Imagine, for a moment, a world in which the Project P-100 team is given the chance to work on Pikmin, leaving Masamichi Abe, Shigefumi Hino and Tokyo EAD to get creative. Brilliant.
But, the smart money doesn’t just stop there. Everything about the Wii U thus far mirrors the business model put forth by Microsoft- almost perfectly. Making Platinum a subsidiary could also lock down exclusivity to a Vanquish sequel, hence bringing a franchise that was referred to as the “Japanese Gears of War” by many and carried a Metacritic score of 84(across both platforms). Nothing speaks to Western gamers like cover-based, stop-and-pop third-person shooters.
The complaints regarding lack of innovation in The Legend of Zelda series could come to an end as well. Remember a little game by the name of Okami? Alright, it took the basic formula and added a few mechanical and aesthetic differentiators but, for the most part, played it safe. Being that most of Okami’s art direction staff was lost during the Clover turnover, an established universe would appear prime real estate for a visionary like Kamiya. There’s even the chance we could see something more than the old, tired “discover a dungeon tool, use it to defeat the boss” gameplay we’re used to.
If Nintendo were to promote Monolithsoft a bit more and obtain a solid house such as Platinum under their corporate umbrella, they would have an almost tangible chance at attaining an Eastern version of the sweet success that is the Xbox 360. Triumphant hardware numbers come as a result of EXCLUSIVE software. A little negotiation could go a long way toward securing a foothold for Nintendo when beefier machines begin to spawn.