Why doesn't Nintendo flex its biggest muscles?

Monday Muse: Gaming's richest back catalogue deserves a stronger outing, writes Andy Robinson

I recently had the chance to play Luigi's Mansion 2, a Nintendo sequel which, in an alternative reality, was a fantastic 3DS launch title that demonstrated the handheld's worth in a matter of minutes.


In the real world, of course, the game only managed to do this some two years after launch.

Developed by Next Level (Mario Strikers, Punch-Out!!), the much-delayed ghost-hunter is a fantastic showpiece for the Nintendo handheld; stuffed full of personality, perfectly optimised for portable play, and easily one of the best looking 3D games on the system.

While gameplay doesn't stray too far from the past formula, a great deal of effort has created a worthy follow-up to the 12-year old original (yes, it's that old) - a GameCube classic that, if I'm honest, I would love to experience again on a new platform.

That last point has raised an interesting debate in the CVG office; how many Nintendo veterans would have been just as content shelling out for an updated version of the original?

It's a question which, in a year when the Japanese company's strained development resources are becoming even more apparent, could have an important effect on its future direction.

Since its release in June 2011, (when Luigi's Mansion 2 was also first announced), almost 3 million 3DS owners have voted with their wallets and purchased the visually improved version of Ocarina of Time.

Star Fox 64 3D also achieved moderate success, and it's not difficult to believe that further 3D updates to the likes of Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask would be similarly well received - and yet almost two years after Ocarina's triumph, there's no sign of such re-releases.

"Nintendo is the custodian of one of gaming's richest back catalogues"

Nintendo is, without doubt, the custodian of one of gaming's richest back catalogues, and yet in 2013 it sometimes seems unaware or unwilling to properly leverage its greatest strength.

The Wii U's barren release schedule could have been a block party of gaming legends like F-Zero GX, Metroid Prime and Super Mario Galaxy had Nintendo taken a closer look at its garlanded history.

And yet for the first 6 months of the console's lifespan, gamers willing to exchange money for nostalgia aren't even able to access the Virtual Console service, aside from a drip-feed of discounted Famicom games.

There is some hope; the recent announcement of Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D and Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD suggests Nintendo isn't entirely unaware of demand for classic updates.

It's a strategy that, just as Nintendo did with the outsourcing of Ocarina 3D to Japanese studio Grezzo, should allow its core teams to concentrate on more ambitious Mario and Mario Kart titles for release later this year - two franchises we're all willing to wait a little longer for.

In 2 weeks time the games media's favourite industry gathering kicks off in San Francisco; the Game Developers Conference.


Unlike E3's PR conveyor-belt, at GDC the select journalists in attendance get to meet with the industry's most affable personalities in low-key environments (often a Starbucks), with no script prepared and no product to sell.

It's also a fascinating environment to obsess over the creation of gaming; the man who oversaw Kingdom of Amalur's AI will talk about enemy detection for 30 minutes, and then you can go and sit through a Hideo Kojima lecture. Heaven.

Increasingly it's also where games publisher like to kick off their announcement campaigns. This year EA looks set to unveil Battlefield 4 and Hideo Kojima will discuss Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes.

We'll be bringing you in-depth coverage of both of those and more. And if you're interested in how the AI worked in XCOM? Boy, are you in for a treat...