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Blaming Nintendo.
After the days of the SNES (and even during and before, really - anyone remember Mortal Kombat?), Nintendo has received more than their fair share of flak from the gaming community. Theyíre always doing something wrong, whether it be the chosen medium of their game platform, kiddy marketing, Pokemon, or even plain old bad pricing. Now, donít get me wrong. Iím not out to give a biased cry and say all of these things are illegitimate, but itís important to realize that a few of these are just stereotypes and popular belief. You know, kind of like an urban legend, perhaps?

After long delays and sketchy information, Nintendo finally solidified the medium for their new Ultra 64 as cartridge. While SEGA and Sony were still ushering the future in with Compact Disc media, Nintendo saw the highly visible flop that was the SEGA CD and decided the greener grass just might lie on this side of the fence. This was a completely logical business decision for Nintendo at the time, as carts were still a highly viable form of media, even if the cost was off the charts. Weíll see that Sony and SEGAís decision to choose compact discs will allow them to lower licensing fees to amounts that make Nintendoís 64 look very unappealing.

Itís highly apparent in this day and age that Compact Discs were certainly the way to go. Nintendo touted the fact that carts featured no loading an built-in battery memory whereas Playstation owners had to purchase an additional memory card on top of growing old while the game loaded. But.. For those features to even matter, Nintendoís games would have to be affordable in the first place, which they werenít. Where Sony and SEGA could put out titles for 49.99 and 59.99, Nintendo 64 games were anywhere from 59.99 to 89.99. Thatís almost double in some instances!

That isnít the only instance in which Nintendo has had some problems with competitive pricing. Weíre all familiar with Sonyís Greatest Hits lineup of games that retail for 19.99 MSRP. Well, Microsoft has rolled out their own Platinum Hits line for 19.99, and while itís skewed (thatís a topic for a whole different editorial, though) itís still a solid program. Nintendo, of course, rolls out the old Playerís Choice program. . . With a price of 29.99 per title. One question, Nintendo: Why? Way to be competitive, champ. This act gives me the impression that Nintendo is prancing around like they still own the market - when they truly donít. The Nintendo 64 Playerís Choice titles had an excuse to be more expensive (39.99), as cartridge format media was more expensive to manufacture. Nintendo has no excuse for their silly price point of the Nintendo Gamecube Playerís Choice software lineup.

On the flip side, however.. We have Nintendo, yet again, dropping the price of the Nintendo Gamecube. The cheap unit prices and unit bundles Nintendo offers far outweigh the problematic pricing of their Playerís Choice lineup. Satoru Iwata has always made it a point to keep Nintendoís price advantage over Sony and Microsoft. When the Gamecube was still 149.99, Nintendo was offering a free game (and what a deal it was - making Metroid Prime or the Gameboy Player an option was a fantastic idea) with purchase. With the new 99.99 price point, Nintendo has taken that advantage to nearly half the price of the competition and on top of that - Nintendo plans to offer a Zelda bonus disc this Christmas featuring four complete, classic Zelda titles! With the new additions to the Playerís Choice lineup (while the price of 29.99 may not be ideal, it is better than 49.99) such as the hit Metroid Prime and Super Mario Sunshine, Joe Blow can pick up a Gamecube, two Playerís Choice games, and a memory card for the price of an X Box or Playstation 2. Iím sure this is starting to sound mighty tasty to parents looking for a Christmas present this year for little Billy. Furthermore, people who own an X Box or Ps2 may be looking for a secondary system, and Gamecube offers something a bit different than either of the two, which offer similar libraries.

The Nintendo 64 often receives heavy criticism when brought up in casual game conversation. Why? Why is it that itís so highly bashed? It truly doesnít deserve it. Iím under the impression that Nintendo is once again dragged down by a popular misconception that everything they do is kiddy, and thatĎs all they care about. Nintendo 64ís life span was through the age of Pokemon, which is a game that utilizes simple game play mechanics and cute characters which received immense popularity from younger children. The fact of the matter is that the Game Boy Pokemon games are fun. Really. Give them a shot. Now, 50 versions may be a bit overkill, but it doesnít really bother me. Do you know why? Because theyíre not forcing me to buy any of them. For whatever reason, Pokemon is one of the number one reasons to poke fun at Nintendo. If you were a mega business with a profitable property.. Would you not make the most of it? People complain of Limited Edition Pokemon Nintendo 64 and Game Boy systems.. Why? Last time I checked, theyíre limited for a reason: not everyone wants to buy them. If you want a Pokemon system, BUY IT! If you donít, DONíT BUY IT! Itís pretty simply logic, I think. The same goes for their most recent offering, the Nintendo Gamecube. Sure, it (used to be) primarily advertised in Indigo. So what? If you donít like that color, you can pick up the alternate offered by Nintendo for people just like you, black. I get that idea that Nintendo advertising the GCN in Indigo ruined them on Nintendo forever and I just donít get it.

To further support the idea that the Nintendo 64 wasnít a flop, Project Reality had plenty of stellar and critically acclaimed titles released during its lifespan. Hell, Rareware was experiencing the last of their prime years on the Nintendo 64 with hits like Golden Eye 007, Jet Force Gemini, Banjo Kazooie, Banjo Tooie, and most importantly, Blast Corps. Nintendo put out several stellar titles them selves. Who can forget the first time they laid their hands (and eyes) on Miyamotoís Super Mario 64? Or Perhaps the piece of art Miyamoto still considers his finest, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time? Another title any gamer would recall from that time period was Nintendoís Mario Kart 64. That game sucked the life out of millions with its intense four player battles. Nintendoís Mario Party and Halís extremely popular Super Smash Brothers both made their first appearances on the Nintendo 64. While third party support did die out toward the mid-end life span of the system due to brighter pastures over on the Sony side of things such as licensing and MTV-style mass appeal, Nintendo continued to support the system with first party titles that were second to none.

The majority of Nintendoís criticism is often based on public misconceptions or popular belief more often than things Nintendo has actually done. Nintendo isnít infallible, they make mistakes like everyone else. Thereís no reason to hold absolute hatred in your heart for Pokemon just because all the kids love it - why even care? So what if your friends donít think Nintendoís ĎIndigoí Gamecube is cool - I have some advice for you: get some new friends who arenít so superficial. Nintendo may not be doing ALL they can, but theyíre certainly trying harder to be competitive with price drops and bundles galore. One can only hope that Nintendo continues this trend with the upcoming Dolphin II.
Josh Williams

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