Nintendo were never that popular here in New Zealand. Now I have a Wii... so what happened? A Nintendo noob's opinion on it all:

Monday, May 28, 2007

short history part II: up yours, sony

Saturn. Playstation. The end of Sega!

What a tragic era. My Mega Drive was old, Sega of Japan were making stupid decisions. Sega of America made the 32X, only to have Sega of Japan designing their lovely abortion, the Sega Saturn. Sega made some grave errors, and suffered for it, especially in America. Here... Sega sort of faded. People were interested in that new thing Sony were going to release. It would do 3D! Oh my god! I was still faithful to Sega though, and I didn't have a high opinion on this new console. I mean--Sony? What were they doing with consoles? People around me talking about Playstation, and they had no idea of the consoles before it. They only had a faint idea of what Sega or Nintendo were. "Thanks" to Sony's excellent marketing, they showed the mainstream the gaming world.

I used a Saturn--I didn't own one, I used to hire it out from the video store. It was pretty good. Though to me, the console world seemed to be falling down. That is probably a strange thing to say, because once the Playstation was released the gaming world became more popular and its audience broadened. Sega seemed to have failed, so I, in a sense, ran to the PC gaming world to "wait out the storm".

Though the Playstation seemed quite firm in everyone's minds. I stayed 'faithful' to Sega, hoping for their come back. I discovered emulators on computers (go KGEN and Genecyst!!) and was reminded of those great old days. I viewed Playstation as the destroyer of Sega, even though it was just as much as if not more Sega's fault for their own failure.

When news of the Dreamcast came, I was surprised, to say the least. Sega could come back! What an awesome console! But it seemed there was no place in the world for Sega--again, they failed. You might remember that I mentioned distributors distribute the console here. Well, Sony was awesome at this. They actually advertised!! TV ads! They were pretty much the first mainstream advertisements of a video game console here. Sega? I remember seeing two. And they were the first Sega ads I had ever seen. Nintendo ads? Non-existent. Nintendo's distributor here was useless. You'd be lucky if you actually found what you wanted--stock levels were so poor. I think this applied to Europe as well (who manage our distrubutors too, remember?). America and Japan were Nintendo worshippers. The rest of the world were pretty much shunned. I don't know why. It's not like the rest of the world hated Nintendo, but Nintendo were so damn poor these other regions of the world you'd think Nintendo hated everyone. In any case, Sega died. With much regret I let go of Sega.

Still it took me a while to come back to the console world. When I did return, it was with a Playstation2. Ha! I felt weird buying this Sony .. thing. I'm glad I did though, of course there were good games on it, I had a good time! Just because it was Sony didn't mean I couldn't have fun on it. Even though... Sony... you bastards. Destroyer of my gaming life. Well, that might be a bit dramatic and over the top, but you get the idea.

So! I loved Sega, I grew (or forced myself?) to love Sony, but Nintendo? Where were you? I actually played a few SNES games on emulators. They were good--it's a shame Nintendo didn't have such a presence here. I love emulators! Though Nintendo.. Nintendo 64? HA! Gamecube? Only hardcore people would have had a Gamecube. No one would have known what it was. It's almost as if Nintendo couldn't be bothered. And the Xbox? That new console back then stomped all over Nintendo's offerings here. Why did people so readily accept the Xbox but not the Gamecube? Again, I think the most likely theory is distribution. Playstation2 and the Xbox were the champions, Nintendo? That was for Pokemon.

So why could they be bothered with the Wii? Or has nothing changed? I'll talk about this later. Though I can tell you--there's definitely no Wii shortage here! I saw a shop with 10 copies of Zelda next to about 10 consoles sitting on the floor, all in the corner of the shop. Playstation3 and Xbox360 took centre-stage. Nintendo?! Don't do this again!?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

short history part I

I might start off with a short history or point of view on Nintendo in my region of the world.

Nintendo... Nintendo weren't that popular here, at least in my opinion. In my primary school ('elementary'), when I was about 10 or so, a few of my friends and I were the only kids to play video games. They just didn't seem to be that popular. And even then, most played on a computer (Commodore 64, Amstrad etc.) Only two of us had a console--my friend and I both had SEGA Master Systems. Oh, Master System! It was pretty damn good, I enjoyed it a lot. Micky Mouse was surprisingly good and I loved jiggling the cartridge while playing Wonder Boy, which made the levels go all corrupted and pretty-coloured.

However, it was the only thing we had. I'm sure there were Nintendos somewhere, but I didn't know what they were and neither did the people in my school. This doesn't mean we were somewhere in the middle of nowhere. We were actually in the biggest city of the country, in a fairly upper-middle-class area. If there were Nintendos, I think we would have noticed.

Note: I'm talking about consoles, not handhelds. Although I didn't notice many Gameboys around back then, in any case, my focus is on consoles.

Next Generation
When another of my friends got a Mega Drive (Genesis), I was a bit miffed because I still had my Master System. I wanted the new one! My friend, however, seemed to go off consoles. I'm not surprised -- I think his mother might have gone against getting anymore because he bashed his head against the stairwell when a game of Michael Jackson: Moonwalker didn't go too well.

Note: An quick history about console distribution here. Australia and New Zealand don't have their own "Sega of ...." or "Nintendo of ...", they just have distributors that have license to distribute consoles/games to shops from the European divisions of the companies. So a Sega console would come from Sega of Europe, then to Ozisoft, the distributor of Sega products in Australia/New Zealand, then to a shop, then to buyer. This will be important factor in this!

Anyway, I wanted that damn Mega Drive. It would take a while... It was then when advertising became more noticeable to me. I noticed that whenever a company wanted to be "cool" (ugh, I remember when "cool" became cool. Word flow from America took a while back then), they would offer video games in competitions. Video games were cooool. And were they ever Nintendo? No.

When I went into a shop, Sega's products took up most of the space. And lo! There was some Nintendo stuff! I didn't go near it though. It was too strange. Not many people went near it. They all wanted to play Sonic. Mario? No... Sega, Sega, Sega. I even had a Sonic soft toy. Was my life in the technological area too sheltered? Perhaps. However, Sega seemed to be King.

By the time I got my Mega Drive it was the second revision. No problems though, I thoroughly enjoyed that console. It was awesome, I loved it. I had magazines (given free to me, so I didn't really have a choice on which I wanted) full with stuff about Mega Drive games, which were so critical about Nintendo. Nintendo, to me back then... it was still pretty mysterious. I still hadn't seen one.

It's Coming...
The video game world kept advancing. 32X came out, I hired it out from the video shop every now and then. My friend had a Mega/Sega CD, which just had some lame Make a Music Video "game". I went with my friend to some guy's house. And what did he have? SNES. Still, very mysterious. I didn't play it. It was all grey and strange looking. Articles I read were hinting at something wrong with Sega. My Mega Drive, which I still loved, was becoming outdated.

Then the next generation was upon us. Saturn. Playstation.
It would change everything.


Hi there,

I know what you're thinking -- how can I be "old" to videogames but "new" to Nintendo? Nintendo is pretty synonymous to video games, right? How can I be a gamer and not be "old-school" with Nintendo? And what makes me "new" to Nintendo now? (I can answer that now -- Wii)

Well, I suppose it comes down to where you live. Nintendo is huge in America and Japan. I'm from New Zealand, and Nintendo here... didn't too that well. Who was king during the 8bit and 16bit era? Sega, most likely. Why? Because Sega actually gave damn about this and the Australian market (though only just!)

It's a tragic story, really. I'll tell you soon history of Sega and Nintendo in New Zealand and Australia from my point of view, and why the Wii has affected Nintendo in strange ways...