OPINION: Nintendo and the Cost of Creativity

Friday, June 17th, 2016

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Note: This is solely the author’s opinion, and does not represent the opinions of oprainfall as a whole.

First I feel compelled to assert something – I am an artist. That may seem like a total non-sequitur, but bear with me for a moment. Artists, in my estimation, are creative individuals who are passionate about their creations and stick with them, regardless of their popularity. These are people who are steadfast with their creative pursuits; who feel joy and pride at seeing their creation rendered into something tangible. Now, I’m not using this definition for myself to sound arrogant. In my own view, I’m a piss poor artist, but I still enjoy creating. I doodle, write stories and generally spend a large portion of my days with my head firmly in the clouds. The reason I am starting with this is because I find that Nintendo is essentially an artistic entity, and as such, their is a definite cost to their creativity. For Nintendo, that cost is their public opinion.

Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games™ 4

Now with that definition in mind, let me direct you to this IGN article: in it, Reggie discusses how the NX isn’t about graphical horsepower, but about content. I saw various reactions to this assertion that basically equated to people shaking their heads in shame. These people feel that Nintendo is incapable of learning from their mistakes. After all, it’s easy to look at the Wii and Wii U and only see a company obsessed with gimmicky technology. But I don’t see it that way. I also want to shoot down the implicit allegation here that Nintendo’s commitment to doing things their way has resulted in failure.

Wii U

Granted, the Wii U was not as successful as the Wii. There are many reasons for that but I don’t think it’s because people hated the ideas the Wii U represented. Nor do I blame it on horsepower. I put most of the blame on the lack of third party support for the console and on the turmoil caused by the tragic loss of Satoru Iwata. He was such a leading figure who defined Nintendo for so long and they couldn’t help but be dramatically affected by his abrupt passing. I don’t pretend to know much about his replacement but I do feel he lacks that creative spark, personally, which smoldered in Iwata. Having said that, I hardly think this means the creativity of the company as a whole has been lost, but merely dimmed somewhat. Nintendo is still very much the odd man out in the publisher world, sticking to its own beliefs and structure. They do this even when Sony and Microsoft do all they can to outdo the other in the upgrade wars. Frankly, it’s easy to look at Nintendo next to both other companies and see it as if it’s doing something wrong. After all, it’s stubbornly adhering to principles that have given it both success and failure in equal measure. It digs its heels in and only shows one game on the E3 convention floor. Yet despite of or perhaps because of Nintendo’s quirks, they manage to pull wins out of nowhere.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

First, let’s look at the outpouring of support and interest Nintendo got from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. They spent a lot of time showing it off during their Treehouse coverage, and fans were glued to their computer screens. It even got one of the top spots on Twitter, as people just couldn’t stop tweeting about how exciting, different and even crazy the new Zelda game was. The point being, this one game seemingly made as much or more of a splash than all the games combined at any of the other conferences. If that’s what failure looks like, I want to see success. Now, some may say that Nintendo only fails as a publisher, but not as a developer. I grant you, Nintendo has done many questionable things with regard to localization in recent history. There was the Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water fiasco which I still haven’t forgiven them for. Then there was the alteration of features in both Fire Emblem: Fates as well as Bravely Second. Some fans saw this as a grave insult, and refused to support either game. As for myself, I did some research, gave both games a chance and absolutely loved them, changes and all. And I was hardly the only one, as Fire Emblem: Fates was one of the best selling Fire Emblem games of all time. And for those who see Nintendo unwilling to publish games that don’t adhere to their personal code, I ask you – how is it that The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth exists on Nintendo consoles? This is a game full of violence, religious symbols and madness, yet Nintendo still agreed to publish it, albeit with some minor changes. Which raises the question – is it wrong for Nintendo to force changes on games if those games amount to financial success? Furthermore, is it our place as gamers to serve as the compass to gauge the rightness or wrongness of any publisher’s decisions?

Binding of Isaac Afterbirth

I know that last point is going to make many people sore, but consider something for a moment: having access to a flood of information before games even come to our shores also has a bad tendency to make gamers feel entitled. I’m not picking on anybody here as this applies to me as well. I feel publishers and developers owe me for my investment in their projects when the sad truth is, that’s not really the case. Granted, when it comes to crowdfunded projects, it most certainly is, but not for the other 99% of games that get released. I remember when I was a kid and just counted myself lucky a cool game left Japan at all. Which brings us back to the question of whether we should be so quick to judge Nintendo guilty for doing what all publishers do. No publisher is inherently good or bad. Microsoft and Sony both make mistakes, and the simple reason for that is because every company is run by humans. We are all imperfect, flawed and make stupid decisions. All I am saying is perhaps we shouldn’t allow a disproportionate amount of blame to be leveled at one company and not do the same for the others. It’s become all too popular of late to point the finger at Nintendo for every little thing they do, which is probably where this editorial stemmed from. I got tired seeing all the Nintendo hate.

E3 2015 Sony - The Last Guardian 10

Now, this isn’t because I’m a Nintendo apologist, but rather a fan who still enjoys the company while not loving everything they do. And let me be clear – Nintendo fans aren’t just fans because they are stupid or ignorant. They are fans because they recognize that Nintendo often takes gambles, and succeeds more often than not. After all, I’m not at all happy with the direction that the Metroid series is heading, and have absolutely no desire to play Metroid Prime: Federation Force, but that doesn’t stop me from loving other things coming down the pipe. Despite the current controversy regarding Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, I find myself lured by the siren song of the game. After seeing actual gameplay during the Treehouse, I couldn’t help but grudgingly admit the game looks absolutely gorgeous. While it’s true I haven’t preordered it, and may not buy it the month it comes out, I still have a feeling it will quickly end up in my collection. And that’s because of the unique aesthetic and presentation in the game, something which Nintendo brings to every product they have a direct hand in.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE | oprainfall

Which brings me to another point – art is meant to be appreciated. It’s very easy to get caught up in the political morass of opinions and hate about games and game companies. There is legitimate concern about changes to Age Ratings in France and possibly other regions. But ultimately, I play a game because I want to enjoy the experience, and despite the questionable aspect of whether Nintendo is making smart decisions by editing games they publish, the truth for me is that they still make incredibly fun games. Perhaps that is because Nintendo is committed to their art, despite the negative reaction to decisions which inevitably lead from them staying true to their vision. We may not like everything Nintendo does, but those decisions are made in accordance with their vision of what games mean to them. I’ll be damned if I blame them or anyone else for being true to themselves, regardless of the consequences.


About Josh Speer

Josh Speer is addicted to two things in equal measure : Books and Videogames. He has a degree from the University of Washington in English with an emphasis on writing. He joined Operation Rainfall last year while following it on Facebook. His two giant life goals are to write his own series of fantasy / science fiction novels and to get into the creative side of the video game industry. He is beyond pleased to now have his proverbial foot in the door thanks to the opportunity provided by Oprainfall!

  • deadeye

    Nintendo’s philosophy has always been trying to deliver strong first party games. That’s worked decently well for them in the past. Since the DS, they’ve been trying to come up with new ways of playing games, thus delivering experiences that no other platforms can offer. A good plan on paper, but they ultimately fail in execution, and they failed to realize that it would drive a good chunk of people away.

    People don’t want want all these new ways of playing games, especially when Nintendo themselves struggle to put them to good use, let alone third party developers. Consequently, third party developers are reluctant to jump on board because they’d have to spend so much time coming up with some way to use Nintendo’s new gimmick, and it would ultimately reach an extremely small audience.

    Horsepower really isn’t an issue either. Consoles shouldn’t try to be budget PCs, which is why I’m really not on board with MS and Sony doing iterative console releases. I feel like trying to offer experiences comparable to PC is just setting themselves up for failure. That’s not a battle they can win. Look at Nintendo’s history, and they’ve never pushed the envelope in terms of power. The Gameboy used totally archaic hardware, yet it blew its handheld competition out of the water and put Nintendo as the kings of handheld video games that maintains to this day. What it offered was games that no one else had.

    If they just focused on that again, you could easily say “I’m a Nintendo fan” and not have to explain yourself. The new Zelda is their most ambitious game in a long, long time, and it’s really got peoples attention. If Nintendo put out a console with a normal controller, and it had a strong line up of all their beloved IPs + new IPs + decent third party support, people will jump on board regardless of the hardware. The Wii U has games that both look great and run great even though its underpowered compared to the PS4 and Xbone.

  • Mr0303

    People criticise Nintendo, like they criticise every other company out there – they make mistakes and get called out for them. This is not unique to them – MS got tons of flak after the initial Xbone reveal and that forced them to be more consumer friendly. Sony learned from their mistakes with the PS3 (exotic architecture, 599 US dollars, get a second job etc) and made a much more developer/consumer friendly machine.

    “I put most of the blame on the lack of third party support for the
    console and on the turmoil caused by the tragic loss of Satoru Iwata.” – the Wii U had many problems even when Iwata was alive. Staring from the unmarketable name, weak and exotic hardware, no unified accounts region lock and gimmicks that developers don’t want to deal it. Even Nintendo themselves barely found any good use of the gamepad. The new Zelda game is not using it. At all. Given how popular it is among gamers and their social circles it seems like the gamepad is something that no one really wanted.

    I give Nintendo credit for following their own vision. Hell, they may be the only ones using the classical console life cycle model with all those mid gen upgrades from Sony and Microsoft. That being said they should at least consider what specs developers need to port their games to the NX – a console can’t survive on first party exclusives alone.

    My last point here will be about them censoring games. This is unacceptable and they should be called out for it. Same with Sony (Street Fighter V), Square Enix (Star Ocean V) and anybody else. You don’t get to complain about creativity while altering art to appease the masses (or a fraction of them) – art should be provocative, challenging and often controversial. Given the author of this opinion piece is an artist himself I would’ve thought that he would value ones freedom to express himself.

  • j0eeyy_p

    I do respect Nintendo for being faithful to their own ideals and that they are among the most respected in the industry becaus of their successes past and present – but this is coming at a cost of their relevance to the games industry too. Like, the NX may be a console that works for them – but will it work for third parties? The Gamepad barely being used by third parties and the lack of horsepower menat the Wii U was not worth the porting costs of games released on PS4 and Xbox One. This menas that third parties that published AAA games won’t be seen as relevant in the eyes of the core gamers.

    The censorship and the region lock is also what is putting off niche gamers for the both the Wii U and 3DS, because the domestic versions of their products are seen as inferior to the Japanese or even American ones and they cannot import region exclusives. The Nintendo fanbase is getting smaller and this is entirely Nintendo’s fault for not adapting to the market. The reason why Zelda and their IPs are still the most talked about is because of the nostalgia that the masses associate with Nintendo’s IPs. They have brands recognised the world over – but because people can’t justify buying their modern hardware, they don’t get to experience for themselves how the series has evolved since their memories of playing the older titles. These discussions are not translating into eqivalent sales figures. Their lack of market orientation will see them out of the home console and possibly the handheld market in the next decade to come if things keep going down this path.

    I used to be a big fan myself but the last year has turned me right off. Like, I’m expecting Grezzo’s new game to get censored, for example. I will also be getting all of their niche games used as if their next projects turn out even worse than Second and Sessions it will be because people have disrespected themselves and the original developers by supporting such awful English releases. It’s inadequate localsiations like these that push these “entitled” gamers to initiate homebrew, fan translations and piracy – to fix what Nintendo shouldn’t have broken in the frist place. The 3DS has already been hacked and soon the homebrew will start affecting sales, it’s only a matter of time before the Wii U is.

    I love Nintendo and want to see them become successful again – but at the moment their corporate mindset and strategy just isn’t what the market want – no matter how good or “arty” their games are, past and present.

    • Firion Hope

      good post however I want to mention the 3DS has been hacked for a good year to year and a half by now, and Wii U has been hacked at least 6 months.

    • j0eeyy_p

      I don’t believe it’s possible to pirate/patch Wii U games yet though. I’m waiting for a fan restoration patch for Tokyo Mirage, personally. I’m sure the translation is fine aside from the age changes.

    • Firion Hope

      It is possible, theres a restoration patch for XCX

  • qmystery

    Nintendo has been publisher of the year this year

  • TrueWiiMaster

    I think the power of the NX will generally be irrelevant. The Scorpio and PS Neo, as I understand them, will be premium versions of the existing systems, with the biggest difference being 4K capability (for that small percentage of people with big 4K TV’s). They will play the same games as the original systems, but at “Ultra” settings, to borrow a term from PC’s, and they will be priced to reflect that. The generation will be the Xbox One, the PS4, and the NX, all on roughly even ground, with the first two having suped up versions for those who want it. For me, until the day comes that I have a 60″+ 4K HDR TV with wide color gamut, 1080p will do fine.

    I agree with most of this article. While the “censorship” Nintendo’s been engaging in is generally a negative, it’s rarely anything significant enough to really make the game worse. In other words, even if you dislike that the change was made, the change itself usually wouldn’t affect how much you’d enjoy the game (unless, of course, your whole experience is tainted by the idea that something was changed). Many of these games are excellent, and they’re no less excellent if a bikini becomes shorts.

    I also think that Nintendo should be given more credit for bringing these niche games West at all. People are so busy worrying over the localization, or whether they can buy a physical version, that they don’t seem to notice that very few big publishers bring this kind of stuff over in the first place. Nintendo may “censor” games more than Sony, for example, but how often does Sony release anything that would “need” censoring? Almost never. Furthermore, when publishers besides Nintendo, big or small, make retail games digital-only, they get little to no flak, while Nintendo gets bashed, petitioned, and/or boycotted.

    All of this is not to say that Nintendo doesn’t deserve criticism. What they’ve done recently with some of their most-loved IPs (most specifically Animal Crossing) has been terrible. Amiibo Festival shouldn’t exist. Mario Party 10 is perhaps the most frustrating party game I’ve ever played. The Virtual Console has been, overall, a big letdown this gen, despite a few highlights. Region locking is annoying. I can only hope that many, if not all, of these issues will be addressed with the NX. Regardless, I plan on playing Breath of the Wild on my NX come March. I’d rather play Nintendo’s games than not play them just because of relatively minor complaints.

    • Josh S.

      Oh I never said they don’t deserve criticism. Hell, I criticize them for some things. But they haven’t only made mistakes either, like some people seem to think. Glad you agreed with most of my points.

    • TrueWiiMaster

      I didn’t mean that as criticism of you or of this article (I applaud you for taking a position often considered controversial on this site). I wrote that paragraph to show that I personally don’t just excuse everything Nintendo does, as others on this site have accused me of doing. It’s not being an apologist to say Nintendo’s “censorship” is unfortunate, but isn’t nearly enough to make the games bad, and I’m glad to see a writer here making that point.

    • Josh S.

      Thanks. I try very hard to be fair and objective towards Nintendo and other publishers, which can be a challenge at times. Trust me that I don’t excuse everything they do either.

  • Melody

    As a pc gamer that plays games on console, and handheld as well, I disagree with the notion that the hardware should be disregarded.

    The games I play on my pc are the same kind of games I look for on consoles, and handhelds. This goes vice versa as well. I’ve played many games on multiple platforms and for me it’s not so much “this version looks nicer” it’s more that “this version runs a lot better despite looking a lot nicer.” I always aim for performance in my video games, even if that means having to turn down settings to achieve the framerate I want. I see how games run on the ps4 and xb1 despite them being run at low-medium setting. I see the tricks used to mask the low framerate, motion blur is one such trick that I tend to turn off when given the choice on pc along with depth of field.

    But there is a limit to turning down settings. If the other components aren’t up to snuff then even on low you might not be able to run something at a good framerate. This is why developers are struggling to get good framerates on the ps4 and xb1. Those consoles were not the leap in power that Sony and Microsoft promised and there is a pressure to make games look much better even when the hardware really can’t do it without serious sacrifices to the performance.

    Nintendo’s strategy has pretty much always been to force other developers to adapt to their weaker hardware and this strategy really only pays off if there is a good base to develop for. In a lot of cases sure, the hardware is just used to make good looking games, albeit not very good.

    But graphics and gameplay are not mutually exclusive. And for that matter great hardware and simpler games (in their graphical department. On my pc for instance I might be playing The Witcher 3 on it’s highest settings, and then decide to play one of the ys games. Then I might play some skyrim, some final fantasy x hd, and then end the day playing A Link to the Past. My pc can handle graphically intense games, but also plays less graphically intense games just fine. I’m not locked into 3d or 2d at all.

    People assume that by being restricted that developers will be more creative, but that is false. Having more power under the hood can lead to far more creative freedom. To create something much closer to your vision.

    Making a great game also doesn’t require any gimmicks. Going back and playing the greatest snes and genesis games for instance and you’ll notice their greatness was not because of motion controls or a second screen or anything. They’re just fun which is what is required of a good game. The irony is that these consoles sold themselves on having better hardware than the other and the opportunities afforded by the hardware were increased.

    There truly is an ignorance I see a lot though among many Nintendo fans. So many people assume that only Nintendo is creative, that everybody else only focuses on graphics. They also assume that if these devs were working with Nintendo that they would suddenly gain the creativity they supposedly lack. I disagree with both of these. The developers with little to no creativity are such a small subset of developers and even then much of the time they are stifled by the publisher. Look beyond the front window of Gamestop and you will see many games that are great, and many of them do use the power of their platforms. I love the project Diva games for instance. There’s also the Ratchet and clank series, as well as it’s competitor Jak and Daxter. There’s the Sly series, the infamous series. Nier Automata (which isn’t out yet) looks mechanically (no pun intended) sound, which is great because the first Nier had an amazing soundtrack, story, and atmosphere, but the gameplay was a little clunky. Falcom makes the ys series, which is one of my favorite action rpg series. They also make the Trails in the sky series, which are tactical rpg games. In fact, as an fan of rpg games especially action rpg games, you find a lot of good games on sony consoles, and pc is getting a lot of them too. The 3ds is pretty good though on that front, but there are many rpg games that are exclusive to the vita or are on the vita and the ps4 or one of Sony’s consoles. Persona 4 Golden for instance, is a great game and it looks really good on the vita. On the playstation tv it looks even better, far better than the ps2 version for instance.

    The 3ds competes hardware wise. Sure, it’s not as powerful as the vita, but as it is a handheld with a lower resolution screen, games can often just be rendered at a lower resolution and there not be much difference. In other words, if a game was running at something like 60fps on the vita, it would generally run about the same on the 3ds. Developing costs for the vita also proved favorable for the 3ds. The two ended up targetting largely different audiences in the west, though in Japan (where handhelds tend to be much more popular than console) the vita is still selling very well which is why so many rpg games come to it.

    The lower resolution doesn’t hurt it much. The Wii U on the other hand is an entire generation behind the ps4 and xb1, and they aren’t even that powerful. Developers couldn’t get their games to run at satisfactory framerates at even the lower hd resolutions. Consider that Quantum Break on the xbox 1 runs at 720p 30 fps, and at 720p the Wii U would have ran it in the single digits most likely. On console the resolution hurts things far more, When the ps4 and xb1 came out, and games were 1080p on the ps4 but only 900p on the xb1, that really hurt sales for the xb1, Kinect being forced and raising the price also didn’t help but the resolution being consistently lower even by that much seriously haunted the xb1 in the beginning. On a bigger tv you notice these things far more than on a tiny handheld screen.

    Nintendo is sticking to their guns, they really think that if they do the same thing they have been that the NX will be successful. For the NX to be successful they need customers. To get cutsomers they need good games. To get good games they either need to make all of them themselves or get third party support. And to get third party support they need to make sure their hardware can handle what devs throw at it. The Wii U could not handle next gen games. And the earlier games that got ported to it often looked and ran worse than last gen consoles. This has an effect that cannot be ignored. If I have the choice between two different versions I will choose the version that is best for me. Why would I choose the inferior version? And to make things worse, the Wii U version often had a bigger price tag. Why would I choose the more expensive version if it was the inferior version?

    Nintendo needs third party support and customers. More customers mean more third party support. More third party support means more customers. It’s a cycle. Even if a developer doesn’t make games I like, it’s still good to have them because they will draw in customers that do like those games and with more customers that will draw in more developers that perhaps do make the kind of games I like. Nintendo can’t do it all on their own, they need third party developers and choosing weak hardware will not help. People seem enthusiastic because the NX will supposedly be more powerful than the ps4, but what they might not realize is that the ps4 has a customer base of ~ 40 million. Xb1 has supposedly sold ~18-20 million. Both Microsoft and Sony are going to release stronger versions of their consoles, Eventually they will release their next gen consoles as well. Nintendo will again be behind because the Wii U was supposed to be stronger than the ps3 and 360.

  • TachyonCode

    I agree with your point, and perhaps this is splitting too many hairs, but it was frankly unnecessary to refer to games as art, or even to invoke the concept of art in your discussion of how Nintendo succeeds and blunders.

    While games may or may not be art, it’s infinitely more apt, and conducive to holding an audience, to simply acknowledge that a game’s *aesthetic appeal* is roughly half of what is responsible for its overall appeal (or lack thereof). It would also be a more inclusive means of discussion, if you were to reference *elements* of aesthetic appeal such as those that are often overlooked in reviews of games despite the strength and frequency with which they contribute to any popular game’s following (or to bad reviews, by their absence).

    If I were to criticize Nintendo, it would be routinely impossible for me to make an argument that revolved around a lack of aesthetic quality in Nintendo games. Quite simply, they almost never lack an appealing overall aesthetic quality, and this is (I assume) because that is Nintendo’s natural strength, and one of the aspects of game design it primarily focuses on.

    This remains true if we neglect to talk about the quality of their 3D visuals and environments. It’s even true if we instead discuss the techniques employed to design and animate attractive 2D visuals, or the richness of their games’ audio tracks – and I don’t mean to imply that this only manifests in their music, either. In Nintendo games, we can reliably recognize the on-point delivery of a character’s vocals (no matter which particular emotional reflex the combination of character and vocals might produce, and regardless of how little they may say), and infer that exceptional attention to the effect they were *intended* to produce in the audience was a constant pursuit for the developers. Even the narratives of most of their games don’t tend to fall flat on analysis, which is (I suggest) another way of assessing a game’s aesthetic appeal.

    That said, to say that Nintendo is obsessed with gimmicky technology is to misstate a fact: other console companies are *even more obsessed* with gimmicky technology. They just happen to be obsessed with the gimmicky technologies that drives their sales figures through the roof – which are cutting-edge processing hardware, and 3D graphics, if the “AAA games” always being released on their consoles and their technical requirements are any indication.

    Which brings me to the point I wish to make: “technical requirements” are not an inextricable component of good games, and that is the design philosophy we Nintendo fans are so fortunate our favored developer/publisher adheres to.

  • Tiredman

    Horse power is the exact reason Nintendo is failing this gen, and there is no way to sugar coat that. It isn’t the developers and publishers onus to make games that fit a particular platform. It is the platform makers onus to build a platform that the developers and publisher want to work with. Yeah, the Wii U can make some very pretty games, but the vast majority of publishers and developers out there aren’t up for learning the ins and outs of a single platform, so if the platform isn’t easy to work with, they become less interested in it. Hence, no third party support. That is the only thing that Nintendo did wrong this gen, but it was a doozy.

    So no, they won’t make that mistake again, Reggie is just sounding the usual tune, but I am confident the actual system will have plenty of power. Why do I say this? Too many developers have been saying over the last few months that their games are coming to the NX, including their supposed big games that would normally require a good bit of system specs to run.

  • Rampaging Zeroroute

    Phew, for a moment I thought all the staff hated Nintendo or something. Glad I’m not the only one here in the love/hate NIntendo relationship boat

    • Josh S.

      Nope, we’re all individuals 🙂

  • Panpopo

    First of all, Nintendo is not going anywhere in our lifetimes. People speaking of Nintendo’s decline go back to at least the N64 – console wars never change. Nintendo will continue to be able to do what they want simply due to the strength of their IPs – like a giant elephant that lumbers around an area, not giving a care. Everyone, even people that don’t play video games, know what Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon are. As long as those IPs remain popular, they can do anything.

    That being said, don’t waste time or too much energy worrying about what others think about Nintendo (or any other video game company). Nintendo themselves don’t do that – they are a business, and think what’s best for the company and their brands as a whole – like all companies, regardless of industry. Their localization changes are neither altruistic nor evil nor anything in between – it is simply a company that thinks it is best to help them grow altogether.

    What it ultimately comes down to is if you think think the game or system you buy will be worth your time. As you get older, time accelerates and becomes infinitely more valuable. Get the necessary information about the game, and if you think it is worth it, don’t worry about anything else but your own enjoyment.

    • Josh S.

      The only reason I care is because I am perplexed by the whole situation. But you make some very good points.

  • While this is a fair and balanced article (to some extent), I find it ironic that the author, being an artist himself, justifies the censo… whoops I mean “alteration” of content to pander to the group of overly-sensitive little crybabies.

    There’s a huge whiff of censorship apology in this article.

    • Daymon

      So, which is it? A fair article, or one that enables butchery?

      I think you’re putting an awful lot of words into the writer’s mouth. I don’t see where he discussed “”alteration” of content to pander to the group of overly-sensitive little crybabies.” In fact, I have a feeling he stayed away from that whole hornet’s nest and the word “censorship” to avoid people focusing on just that and ignoring the rest.

      Not everything is censorship apologia just because it doesn’t focus solely on the negative of Nintendo’s business practices. Censorship, alterations, localization changes – whatever you want it call it, it’s an incredibly complex issue, and I think the author did a pretty damn good job of trying to express what it’s like being in the middle ground.

    • “Not everything is censorship apologia just because it doesn’t focus solely on the negative of Nintendo’s business practices.”

      The author said he wasn’t happy with the localization/censorship of Fatal Frame, Fire Emblem Fates, Bravely Second and Tokyo Mirage Sessions. He’s also said that he still hasn’t forgiven Nintendo for the Fatal Frame censorship.

      Then he goes onto say that he did some research to find out what was censored in FE Fates and Bravely Second, and after finding out the changes, he still gave those games a chance and “absolutely loved them”. Therefore I presume he bought them.

      That completely reeks of indirect censorship apologia, and buying the games KNOWING full well that they’ve been butchered is an act of censorship apologia.

      Remember, I’m NOT advocating that he boycotts the games. He gave them a chance, bought them (I assume) and enjoyed and loved them. Good for him, I’m happy for him. He can do whatever he wants with his money, it’s his decision.

      But I need to say that if he (and others) keeps on buying Nintendo USA’s butchered games and putting money into their pockets, they’ll keep on censoring future games because they know people are still going to buy them.

      “Censorship, alterations, localization changes – whatever you want it call it, it’s an incredibly complex issue”

      That’s a very vague argument to throw around.

      If anything, making alterations/localizations/censoring is the thing that makes it complex, because to do this they would have to examine through the entire game, look at what’s questionable, list what needs to be changed/removed, evaluate it, and work out how to do it. And how long they will need to do it. Time is money.

      Compare this to a straightforward localization with NO changes/alterations. Not complex. Or at least, far less complex when compared to making alterations.

      The only justifiable instance where localization would be complex is of course, language translation. But if the localizers did their job properly, it should be a straightforward translation which results in the same meaning, and NOT butchering dialogue to suit their personal feminist agenda.

      Yes, I realize that Japanese-to-English cannot always be directly translated exactly. I’m well aware of that.

      But yes yes, I need to go and learn Japanese and play the Japanese version if I’m unhappy with the censorship etc etc etc

    • Daymon

      You can disapprove of the changes Nintendo has made to some of the games that have been localized, still buy them, still enjoy them, and that doesn’t always make you a “censorship apologist.” Some people, like myself, choose to buy these games to show support for the developers or the creative teams that made the games. I don’t approve of many of the localization changes, nor do I make my decisions lightly when I choose whether or not to buy a game. There is no singular, “right” way of expressing dissatisfaction with Nintendo’s current practices, and some people, myself included, feel that it’s not fair to use development teams as collateral. I don’t think my way is any better than your way, but I’m not going to call you and people like you “censorship extremists.”

      I also wasn’t trying to be vague – I was responding to you specifically making a wisecrack about “the censo… whoops I mean “alteration”. The reasoning behind making changes/alterations/whatever *is* complex and I think that’s what the author was trying to get at. I’ll agree that going in and altering it is stupidly complex and unnecessary, but I also think that the reasoning leading up to those changes can be hard to unravel. I don’t think that it always boils down to “pandering” to any one group. Sometimes? Possibly. Always? No. Just my opinion.

      You won’t find me disagreeing with the way localizations should be handled. I fully believe that they should be translated as close as possible to the original text, keeping the original intent, theme and tone. I’m also not going to tell you to learn Japanese, because I don’t think anybody should have to do that to enjoy games.

    • Steve Baltimore

      Then how exactly do you tel you don’t approve when you still handing them money? Nintendo does care how you feel about what changes they have made, they only care about their bottom line. They have zero respect for the art of Japanese games, nor the fans of them.

    • Daymon

      How do you prove that the reason a game isn’t selling well is because of the changes? Sure, you can see a bunch of comments online saying people aren’t supporting it, but how do you know who would have bought the game and who never would have been interested?

      Why can’t you buy a game and write Nintendo a letter saying why the changes aren’t necessary? Why can’t some people, who do their research and consider it carefully, support the developers *in spite* of the publisher’s bad choices?

      This is what I mean when I say the whole thing is complicated, and I don’t think any one way is right.

    • Josh S.

      I think the important distinction many are unwilling to make is that there is a range of possibilities. I don’t believe there is just for and against censorship. I think there is a lot of middle ground for those who want it.

    • “Why can’t you buy a game and write Nintendo a letter saying why the changes aren’t necessary?”

      Because as Steve had already said, Nintendo could not care less about how you feel about what changes they have made, they only care about their finances.

      “Why can’t some people, who do their research
      and consider it carefully, support the developers *in spite* of the publisher’s bad choices?”

      Because as mentioned before, all NoA care about is their bottom line. So when you keep putting money into their pockets and they meet/exceed their financial targets, they’ll keep on censoring their games because they know people will still buy their butchered products.

      It doesn’t matter how many thousands of politely-worded letters you write to them. If they are meeting their financial targets then no change will be made.

    • Daymon

      Those are all fair points, and it’s fine if you feel that way. There are those of us who don’t see it that way.

      Say a game tanks. How do you determine if it was due to localization changes, or due to no interest, or just because the game itself sucked? How do you determine who would have purchased a game had no changes been made, and separate them from people who had no interest in the game, but were upset by alterations?

      I personally believe that it doesn’t just come down to money. There are tons of factors, and carefully considering your options doesn’t always make a person a “censorship apologist.” There’s a difference between blindly endorsing a product and carefully weighing your options. I imagine the people who choose not to buy certain games carefully weigh their options as well. But why is it that that conclusion can be the only possible way to approach this problem?

    • Steve Baltimore

      Then how exactly do you let them know this? They don’t give to shits what people write in letters to them only what their sales numbers look like. So as long as folks support these kinds of things with their wallets they will continue to do them.

    • Daymon

      So, if Nintendo doesn’t care how we feel about changes to the games, and they don’t care what we say in letters, how are you expecting them to realize the reason a game did poorly in sales was solely because of changes or alterations?

      I don’t believe that there are only two options here – that, by buying a game, you support censorship, or by abstaining, you’re taking a stand against it. That makes this a “with us or against us” situation, and I don’t think it’s like that at all. You’re saying that your way is the only way. I’m saying that there isn’t any one right way.

    • Steve Baltimore

      No I’m not saying it’s the only way, what I’m saying is Nintendo cares more about their bottom line than the art. They’ve made that abundantly clear over the years. At this point I don’t care either way tbh I just don’t buy their products, nor do I need to support them with the amount of niche products on the market these days. If you choose and enjoy the games that’s fine, but don’t expect any better out of them.

      However if you feel the letters and contacting them will make a difference I encourage you to do that, but get plenty of different emails ready, they will block you after the first one you send from each.

    • Daymon

      I totally support your choice – you’re doing what you think is best, and you’ve obviously put a lot of thought into it. My entire original point was that there are people who do put a lot of careful thought into why the support certain projects, and it’s no more fair to call them “censorship apologists” than it is to call people like you “censorship extremists.”

    • Steve Baltimore

      No, some people still support products that they don’t approve of the changes in. They fear if they don’t Nintendo just won’t localize anything if they feel it is not worth their time. They could be right, but I don’t see how this will ever change so long as your giving them support.

    • Daymon

      See how complicated it gets? This is my point.

    • Steve Baltimore

      Yea, but from my point of view I’m not gonna get it either way so they’d may as well have left it in Japan. Cause why would I pay them to get their version of a product and not the original product.

    • Daymon

      Which is okay for you, but may not be okay for everyone.

      Some people do weigh the pros and cons and carefully make their choices, and protest their own way.

      There are just so many variables and angles and circumstances that it’s a difficult knot to untie, and I just don’t think it’s fair to lump people into a category one way or the other.

    • Steve Baltimore

      I agree there, you have to look at your choices and choose whichever you think is best. However, NOA has proven they want to be 100% family friendly at this point so if you ever expect to get a localization from them that is anywhere close to the source, I doubt it will happen. Yokai Watch is a shining example of what they have gone back to, the 90’s

    • Daymon

      Only time will tell, unfortunately.

      And what did they do to Yokai Watch? I’d only heard of them changing miniscule things – takoyaki to donuts or something like that.

    • Steve Baltimore

      Yokai are based on demons from Japanese folklore, a lot of this was toned down for our release. I’m sure this was done since they we’re marketing this at children and occult things would be frowned upon.

    • Daymon

      Well, I think context is a little important here. It is a children’s show, and essentially a children’s game. What’s the one thing more than anything else people in ‘Murica rage about? Religion. Mixing a children’s game with anything seen as remotely religious is a powder keg most companies likely wouldn’t want to touch.

      I think there’s an important difference in understanding why something may be altered, and being happy with it. This is yet another example of why the whole issue is exceedingly complex.

    • Steve Baltimore

      While I can see this in certain cases, there was no excuse for Fatal Frame since it was rated M, nor an excuse FE Fates since even if they left it intact I doubt srly if the rating would have changed, and TMS is a train wreck. The slope kept getting worse and worse.

    • Daymon

      That’s exactly it – it’s different for every game.

    • Steve Baltimore

      But they are doing it across the board so it’s no different now.

      The edits are getting larger as well, TMS has a lot changes,

    • Daymon

      Again, it depends on the game. It’s also hard to give a change a weight or score to compare it against changes made between totally different games.

      Like you said – there are certain cases. I think every game is its own case. Which is why I make my decisions on a game-by-game basis.

    • Steve Baltimore

      Not hard for me to weight a change. if you didn’t do it to avoid getting an AO, you probably shouldn’t have done it. There are a few exceptions to this but generally this is how I feel about it. .

    • Daymon

      Not quite what I meant. I agree with these sentiments, but I was more referring to how it’s hard to gauge what’s a “bigger change” between games, or what constitutes a “worse change” when comparing games – TMS being an exception there, because the changes are exceptionally confusing to me.

    • Steve Baltimore

      If they didn’t change these things for no reason to start with we wouldn’t have this problem.

      I also think Bravely Defaults 2’s changes are just as confusing.

    • Spot on, well said.

      And my reply to Daymon seems to be flagged. Probably by people who disagree with me I presume?

    • Daymon

      That’s odd – it was showing up just fine earlier.

    • No idea. Oh well not that it matters anyway.

    • Steve Baltimore

      It got sent to moderation somehow I just re approved it.

  • Daymon

    Hey, first off, I commend you for even writing this. It’s not a popular opinion these days, a pretty touchy subject, and an odd place to find yourself in personally. I get it – I find myself in that awkward middle-ish ground myself more often than not. And it’s not blind fanboy-ism or censorship apologia. It’s a complicated mess of trying to make sense of things, and trying to look at it from multiple angles.

    It’s also great that you offered up a bunch of food for thought – you encouraged me to look at a few things that I hadn’t really considered before.

    At the end of the day, it’s really okay to like a company, and not like their decisions. You certainly don’t have to support everything they do. Personally, I usually end up siding with – and supporting – the developer. I weigh the pros and cons of supporting the game itself, and the team that created it.

    As for the hate? It’ll always be there. Even if Nintendo changed overnight, started doing everything everybody wanted from them, there would still be some hate remaining. There’s nothing you can do about it. My advice is to ignore it. Engage in discussions with dissenting opinions to challenge yourself, but never let anything get to you. It’s just not worth it. There’s an awful lot of hate in the world already, and games are my happy place – I’m not gonna let anybody take that away from me.

    • Josh S.

      Thanks for your support 🙂 I did try very hard to not offend anybody here, which is a challenge with unpopular opinions haha.

  • MusouTensei

    I have a huge problem here, it sounds like you see Nintendo as one big entity, but that is simply false, NoJ normally decides what games are made, NoA and NoE decide what to localize, they don’t make their own games. The censorship that is plaquing western Nintendo releases comes solely from NoA, because since Iwata died they have now full control because that new guy doesn’t gives a damn.
    I mean, please remember that Aonuma wanted the Bayonetta costumes to be even sexier than they already are.
    Why censoring a horror game (Fatal Frame) that is M/18+ rated for other reasons regardless? Where is the sense in that?
    I don’t hate NoJ, they do what they do, I hate NoA and NoE for censoring NoJ’s work, often absolutely unecessary (usually NoE doesn’t censor, they just take what NoA gives them), nothing they censored in Tokyo Mirage would warrant an M rating.

    • “Why censoring a horror game (Fatal Frame) that is M/18+ rated for other reasons regardless? Where is the sense in that?”

      Exactly, it’s already rated M/18+.

      Which means NoA has either adopted feminist ideology or there’s an asswipe SJW on board in a high position with a personal agenda.

  • David Dolnick

    I really enjoyed reading this article and Josh makes many outstanding points. One item that I see missing is that fact that Nintendo is a public company, with over 5,000 employees and a market cap of over $20 billion. Nintendo’s decisions effect the livelihood of too many people to dismiss their missteps as artistic decisions. Being committed to their art is really important, but first and foremost Nintendo is a business. A business that tens of thousands of shareholders and employees are counting on. Their stock has not performed well in the last few years and I would like to see them step up their game.

    • Josh S.

      Though to be fair, these missteps, perceived as such by some, have still made them a lot of money. And they have made a ton of money off of amiibos. That said, I do want to see them try and improve some practices. But either way, thanks for reading!