Relationships are an awfully troubled matter. By managing to affect our emotions in ways we sometimes did not even know it was possible, they make us feel like heaven even when the slightest detail clicks together, but – at the same time – a tiny mishap may cause a hurricane of emotions that, when not properly handled, can cause a big deal of hurting. It is roller-coaster ride full of ups and downs beyond compare, and while some of those adventures last for a lifetime, others end before you are able to realize it.
One of the main differences between everlasting rides and short ones comes down to people’s ability to – when reaching the bottom of the steepest slopes – gather up all broken pieces and start climbing up together towards another peak. Doing so takes time and, most importantly, forgiveness, which can be brought by the sweet remembrance that those great moments that built the relationship in the first place can still happen many times if the disappointment or bitterness is forgotten.
Even though that mostly applies to human relationships, anyone who has ever been passionate about a sports team or devoted to a rock band can relate to those feelings quite well. As it turns out, videogames are no exception. It is hard not to find a gamer who did not once claim that they had the greatest day just because another great-looking installment of their favorite series was announced; or that was sulking in disappointment that their highly anticipated title got a harsh reaction from most media outlets.
Whenever there is passion, time, money or dedication involved, there will most likely be intense emotions, and to most of us gamers watching a company that is a favorite of ours do well is similar to watching your team win a championship, your favorite rock group walk into the Hall of Fame or even patching things up with someone you care for.
With over thirty years of gaming on their backs, Nintendo and their fan base have been through as many crises as a couple who has been married for the same amount of time. How could we possibly forget the day when Nintendo decided to dump Sony and their CD add-on to the Super Nintendo? Not only did it lead to the creation of the Playstation brand, which would go on to gain most of the third-party support that made the Super Nintendo so ridiculously great, but it would also cause Nintendo to strike a deal with Philips for the creation of another CD add-on.
If things were not already bad enough, Nintendo also dumped Philips and through some sort of bizarre loophole in the contract, Philips gained rights to produce three The Legend of Zelda Games. Nintendo’s failure to see that CDs were the future made the company lose its software support, and – worst of all – put a big stain on the Zelda franchise, whose fans will forever be haunted by The Faces of Evil, The Wand of Gamelon and Zelda’s Adventure, the trio of Hyrule quests poorly crafted by Philips.
Ever since landing on the gaming market, that has not been Nintendo’s only corporate decision to hurt their fans. In fact, due to how immediate the effects of that were felt, the Rareware debacle possibly caused much more heartbreaking than the Super Nintendo and its CD add-on.
Alongside Nintendo, the company took the Nintendo 64 to good gaming standards, and in less than a decade Rare was able to: make shooters relevant on consoles with Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark, beat Mario on his own platforming domain with Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, craft the only racing game that was able to compete against Mario Kart with Diddy Kong Racing and made the biggest game of the system with Donkey Kong 64.
That stellar track record on the Nintendo 64, paired up with the company’s past successes on the Super Nintendo were not enough to stop Nintendo from, instead of treating the company as one of their most valuable assets, dealing them to Microsoft as a cheap commodity.
For a company known for its consistently amazing franchises, it is surprising to see that Nintendo’s poor decisions extend past the business realm and occasionally reach their own characters. In 1994, Nintendo released Super Metroid a game that is often considered to be the best title on the Super Nintendo – a system packed to the hull with amazing software – and the best sidescroller of all time.
Undoubtedly, the character of Samus was at the peak of her popularity and the ground was more than set for the start of an incredible series of releases. However, instead of following Super Metroid with a sequel, Nintendo proceeded to keep Samus away from the spotlight for almost a decade. It is the gaming equivalent of an actor following an Oscar-winning performance by going nuts, and deciding to live inside a cave, making everybody wonder if we would ever see him again.
On the list of characters – and fans – who suffered the pains of Nintendo’s astounding decisions, Link and Samus are, unfortunately, not alone. After a successful string of glorious platforming gems – including the flawless Donkey Kong Country 2 – Nintendo seemed unable to know what to do with the simian. And since the obviously correct answer “more platformers” apparently lacks the controversial and heart-breaking potential, they decided to hand DK a pair of Bongos and make him star on Nintendo’s unappealing response to Guitar Hero.
A similar fate fell on Fox’s head, when instead of producing more space shoot ‘em up masterpieces, the character was taken out of his Airwing to star in Star Fox Adventures, a game that felt like a quickly put together Zelda installment, and in Star Fox Assault, whose on-foot missions were closer to bland and boring than to great and exciting.
Even the company’s biggest superstar is not safe from being a source of frustration and conflict in the relationship between Nintendo and their fans. Anyone who is able to recognize the names Mario is Missing, Mario Clash, Mario’s Time Machine, and Hotel Mario knows that while Mario does have the ability to turn unpopular gaming ideas into quality best-sellers – Mario Tennis and Mario Golf – his presence alone does not make a broken game good.
With the exception of Mario Clash, which was featured in a system whose concept was simply too far ahead of current technology, those titles are the fruits of an era where Nintendo was licensing Mario to other companies as if the character did not have a legacy to protect, and the results were embarrassing at best.
Through so many years of so many letdowns, it is clear that some fans turned their backs on Nintendo either due to one of those doubtful moves or because of the sum of all parts. However, the number of people who decided to forgive, wait and develop – once more – trust in the company’s abilities were fairly rewarded.
For every Eastern game that was not localized to the West there was an incredible RPG, for every year that Samus stayed in the limbo there were five hours of gameplay on the fantastic trilogy that followed the lull, for every horrible Mario game there was an adventure featuring the plumber that blasted into historical greatness, for every ridiculous song in Donkey Konga there was a stage exploding in creativity in Donkey Kong Country Returns and Tropical Freeze, for every CD-I Zelda game there were many unforgettable Hylian adventures, for every inadequate Star Fox game there was a new IP or a fun adventure starring a reborn Kirby, and for every botched up relationship with third-parties there were unexpected partnerships that resulted in incredible titles.
The energy that it takes to forgive is directly proportional to the emotional distress that brought harm to the relationship in the first place. Thankfully, by realizing that some relationships are worth rescuing, humans are totally capable of finding, in the potential of a relationship and in the good memories of the past, the will to let bygones be bygones.
The reward is powerful: though past adventures are sweet, the best might still lie ahead, and it might remain forever undiscovered if the ability to forgive is not achieved. If everything still goes wrong, there will always be old pictures to look at every once in a while, or that old dusty Super Nintendo with cartridges full of bits of gaming greatness.