With Nintendo doing their best at riding their flagship IPs this holiday season, they should also take a moment to look at the fact that some sports games need to appear on their console as well. Of course with EA basically thumbing their nose at Nintendo, the lack of simulation style sports gaming will be likely be absent for quite some time, until they decide that developing for the Wii U is a worthwhile venture again. But simulation sports games aren’t the only type of sports games there are and Nintendo could go a long way in somewhat filling the gap with their “arcade” style Mario sports franchises.
Games like Mario Tennis and Mario Strikers are not only fun to play, but also provide that pick up and play muliplayer experience that party games always strive for. Not only that, but why not expand the roster ala Smash Bros? Mario Strikers is positively ripe for a collaboration with Sega, with Sonic and his gang being a perfect fit for the field and would be a nice change of pace from the Olympics game. Of course these wouldn’t be flagship games that are hardcore system sellers on their own, but they serve to bolster the lineup of games and give not just families a chance to play together but also friends that may not exactly want to play Nintendoland with you. In fact Mario Strikers was one of my go to video gathering games, right alongside Mario Kart Wii and Rockband. When I have people over that play video games, Nintendoland isn’t always a guaranteed sell, but I have yet to fail to get people to play Mario Strikers, and it’s always a fun time regardless of whether it’s their first time playing or not.
That’s definitely one area that Wii U is lacking right now. Despite it partly being based around the local multiplayer experience, it lacks games that are as universally easy to pick up and play as a Mario sports game. Sure there’s the rehashed Wii sports Club releases (which feel overpriced), but those serve largely the very casual crowd and can be a turn off for the more hardcore friends one might have, whereas a Mario sports game or any arcade oriented sports game, builds a nice bridge between the two. It would equally serve the more hardcore sports crowd who would shred any non-sim sports game player in say the latest Madden, and the casuals that thrive on simplicity and only know the game because they recognize the sport. It largely gives both crowds equal ground on which to play, and thus ends up being equally fun for both.
But these IP’s aren’t the only sports IP’s Nintendo has up their sleeve. Wave Race and 1080 Snowboarding have been absent for far too long, having been dormant since the Gamecube days. With the Wii it was mildy understandable that Nintendo wouldn’t revisit the franchises as the Wii probably didn’t represent a strong enough of a leap in hardware power to really warrant a fresh release in the either series. That changes however with the Wii U, and while it obviously doesn’t have the horsepower that its competitors do, it does represent enough of a step up in graphical capability to give a fresh new perspective on two IP’s that certainly merit revisiting.
With Mario Kart 8 looking to fill a much needed multiplayer gap, Nintendo should look to the future and get Mario back in the field (or court), while simultaneously breaking out the jet ski’s and snowboards. Will it please the hardcore sportsim crowd? No, but it would serve as a nice compromise as well as filling in some gaps with local multiplayer options. Who knows, maybe that’s what Reggie Fils-Aime will be announcing at VGX next month. Or maybe it could be an F-Zero related announcement? That would be nice too.