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Top 5: Nintendo's Biggest "Mehs"

Kaes Delgrego

As the fallout of E3 rests upon the public, Nintendo finds themselves pelted by fierce criticism. Forum posts and blog comments have been predicting the assassination of the Wii core gamer. Not surprisingly, the most ominous declarations have been coming from within Nintendo's ranks. A civil war has been declared, and the fanboys are ready to revolt against the casuals. Though this core gamer is not ready to take sides, I will admit that Nintendo's press conference was quite underwhelming. It wasn't a complete and utter failure; the bigwigs at Nintendo made no bones about their intentions. Additionally, one can argue that the financial foundation of the casual gamer endows Nintendo with more capital to support first party efforts. And by having the most successful console, third parties are likely to focus resources on Nintendo's magnificent machine. Certainly, all parties had impressive titles associated with E3, such as Dead Rising, The Conduit, NHL 2K9, Wario Land: Shake It!, Mega Man 9, and plenty to be excited about on the DS.

Though Nintendo didn't close with a Jobs-esque "one more thing" slobberknocker, they accomplished what they set out to do. Yet dissatisfaction remains: the definitive description of Nintendo's E3 presence is a resounding meh. Here is a look at some of the most famous "mehs" in Nintendo history. Not utter failures, mind you. Rather, items that were simply met with indifference.

5. The Super Scope - The Nintendo Entertainment System was offered in several different "bundles," with the most successful bundle containing the successful NES Zapper. The light gun was a relatively new concept and simple to use. Plus, my cousin's friend said you can totally shoot the dog if you get to the 50th level in Duck Hunt and enter the Konami code on the second controller. Like many successes of the NES, Nintendo tried to transfer the idea of gun play to the SNES. Thus, the Super Scope was created. While the Zapper was similar in appearance to a revolver, the Super Scope was shaped more like a bazooka. This proved to be uncomfortable and not nearly as cool as the original. Plus, the device relied on infrared instead of light flashes, which was found to be less precise. The nail in the coffin was that the Super Scope went through AA batteries like I go through cheesesteaks: in ridiculous numbers.

4. Wii Music - It's difficult to label this title as a full-fledged "meh," mainly because it's yet to be released. It could very well become the Wii's next big thing. However, whereas Wii Fit has wiggled its way into many core gamers' libraries, Wii Music seems less likely to accomplish the same. It certainly seems ... interesting ... but lacks the innovation and whimsical imagination of Electroplankton. And retail success may be siphoned by other titles, as most music gaming enthusiasts are much better suited by the numerous available alternatives. We'll have to reserve judgment until it is finally released, but the outlook seems bleak: a first-party Nintendo title that is severely lacking buzz (though this isn't always fatal). Perhaps it may find an audience with the youngest of gamers, but it's difficult to picture the fervor of Wii Fit being echoed by Wii Music.

3. GCN + GBA connection - The GameCube era was tough for Nintendo. In an attempt to catch up to the PS2, Nintendo tried to focus on innovation. Like most revolutions, the movement started in increments. One such step involved connecting the Game Boy Advance to the GameCube as if it were a controller. Although the concept wasn't completely new, the innovation in play was unmistakably Nintendo's. Games like Pac Man Vs. and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures were very intriguing and incredibly fun. However, the public failed to take notice. Additionally, critics felt that certain GCN + GBA implementations seemed tacked-on. Perhaps Nintendo was simply trying to give the GameCube a shot in the arm by tethering it to the much more successful Game Boy Advance. Either way, it proved to be unfruitful at the time. Yet, one should consider that the two-screened gameplay could have simply been a prototype for greater things to come.

2. e-Reader - What's good on paper doesn't always work in execution. Nintendo's e-Reader was a card-scanning device that plugged into a Game Boy Advance. Users would purchase card packs for a variety of reasons, including the addition of content to GBA games, and also loading entire stand-alone games (including several NES titles). Though seemingly awesome in concept, the device proved to be too clunky and not quite as portable as the GBA itself. Plus, the copious scanning wasn't very enjoyable. For example, requiring 20 scans to play Ice Climbers per playing session seems silly when you can probably dig the NES out of your closet and connect it to a television in less time. It's a shame, really; the idea was fairly ahead of its time. As the predecessor to DLC (and microtransactions), the idea of adding additional content eventually proved to be quite attractive for gamers ... just not in this method.

1. R.O.B. - Poor R.O.B. Nintendo spends a large amount of time and money to create a robot that will assist gamers, yet there's more fun to be had with Gyromite when using the second controller to flatten Professor Hector. While I imagine that many young gamers had visions of their robotic friend getting them involved in wacky situational comedy where everyone learns a lesson at the end, they may have been disappointed to find that R.O.B. acted more like this. In the end, poor R.O.B. was utilized in only two games. Though R.O.B. sits atop the "meh" list, what saves him from transcending into the "complete failure" category is his overall significance. After the video game crash of the early 1980's, Nintendo wanted to portray the NES as unique and a fun family computer, and R.O.B. was a key component in this ultimately successful campaign. GameSpy went so far as to call him one of the 25 smartest moments in gaming. I'm not sure if I can get behind that, but he certainly did serve a purpose. And let us not forget his ironic iconic appearances in recent Nintendo games. It's safe to say that R.O.B. will hold a place in Nintendo's heart for the long haul. But don't get too sentimental: unlike some other classics, don't expect to see many folks petitioning for Gyromite Wii.

The Top 5 is a new weekly feature that provides us with a forum to share our opinions on various aspects of the video game culture, and provides you with a forum to tell us how wrong we are. To further voice your opinions, check out What Are You Playing?, submit a vote in the Wii Fanboy Poll, and take part in the daily discussions of Wii Warm Up.

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