This may seen as a bias post. I come from a perspective most cannot deny. When we think of multiple art styles and a universe of characters, Nintendo has that lockdown. When we think of the present day, some will say otherwise. Presentation have two different outlooks from gamers.
The first is numbers. If the numbers are high, that means most of the game will somehow wow those who have purchase it. It’s an easy reason to use in a discussion on why the game is popular and great. They believe being number 1 and selling millions showcase why that developer is the best of the best.
The second is what the game offers, regardless of sale numbers. What people take away from the game or the genre is something people get from the presentation. Story, art, character development, level of challenge and more. It can seem as the average fodder that we hear in most game discussion but is what a lot of people attract them to a game.
Nintendo has a different take on things. While they’ll try different art and introduce new and quirky characters and refining game play mechanics, it’s willing to try it in their own way that bring a balance of numbers and content. If the content is justifiable and fun, a steady seam of sales will come in. Being number 1 is great but being consistent week by week and month by month, it’ll all make the presentation worth it.
At a time, if the sales weren’t high, even though the content was chock full of goodness, the publishers will seem that the developers and all those who came together feel like work isn’t respected and they didn’t do enough. Nintendo isn’t like that. They’ll keep marketing and highlighting the title.
Just look at Nintendo and even with their Nintendo Direct. From Super Mario Bros. 2 to Captain Toad. From Kirby Epic Yarn To Samus Return, Nintendo has have decades of using different art styles and bring new characters to form new stories and diverge paths and expectations the series is known to go. Where games like Gears Of War or Grand Theft Auto fail to change due to its safe and sometimes tight game mechanics, they haven’t tried anything different yet to make them feel fresh and new. Yes, Gears 5 seems to be on the path to change that (and I can’t wait for it) but it’s been safe for to many releases.
Even the Metroid series had to change up their format in order to be presentable. Love it or not, Prime being a huge and successful leap from Super Metroid, was the only way Retro Studios could introduce the world to who they are and to make Metroid enticing again with minor linear progression. Nintendo allowed Retro to take that risk and see how it paid off.
Companies like Ninja Theory, Wayforward, Drink Box, Sega, Nicalis, and more small or mildly important one, understand the level of Nintendo they individual are on. Wayforward use different art styles and game mechanics but also work magic with the Shantae games. Ninja Theory knows their action yet created Hellblade for and by themselves. Their own ideas, characters, and music, and themes. Sega, for all its triumphs and falls, understand the business as well as Nintendo and yet they take the risk with the presentation in the games they release. Jet Set Radio created a new art style that Nintendo even borrowed. Nicalis has expanded from Cave Story to allow smaller companies to bring their ideas and games to the audience so different art styles and characters can expand just like a First Party or Third Party game.
So while a lot of companies rely on safe bets, Nintendo will make a Rhythm Heaven. They’ll make Codename S.T.E.A.M., Starfox Zero, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and get Atlus to make Tokyo Mirage Session. The presentation may be there and not the numbers, but Nintendo will create a feeling of wanting players and others willing to give it a try.
Don’t get me wrong, Sony and Microsoft makes phenomenal and beautiful games with gorgeous lands and favorite characters. Yet, their stuck in how a game feels and layout and that might be because of little improvements and risk. Yes, we have Little Big Planet, Ico, Cuphead, and Quantem Break. As enjoyable and valuable those games are, where are their big RPG’s or Mario Thousand Year Door or even to a laughable extent, Uniracers?
We all know Activision and EA doesn’t care much about presentation. As long as they can speak the numbers, nothing else matters. They’ll take business or consumer. Sad to say it but a lot of us know it. We know Nintendo is also in for the business but they try to make it less known and try to deliver us a beautiful experience we are going to have or are having. The delivery of the presentation makes fans and newcomers happy. The happier they stay, the more the presentation can be spread to others who need it (which in term will come into the business aspect).
In time though, other companies will catch up to Nintendo and understand what makes them successful and beautiful in the eye of the world and gaming community. Once company get past that fear, I think most of us will see another time of rejoicing among all. For right now, Nintendo is sitting pretty with their presentation.