Why Nintendo games need a stronger sense of continuity.
I’ve been playing a lot of Nintendo games recently. While I’m having a lot of fun with the new Donkey Kong, I can’t help feeling as if I’d be enjoying them a lot more if there was more continuity to them. Sure, it’s fun saving the island again in Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze, but I’ve already done it before. This is nothing new, and people have been criticizing Nintendo for this for several years, saying that they are tired of rescuing the princess, or acquiring the master sword.
It’s disheartening to know that every time you rescue Donkey Kong’s island, none of your actions will have any continuity and that the next game will never address the events of previous games. I’m sure that Nintendo would argue that this makes them more accessible to newcomers, something that they seem to always strive for since the Wii became popular, however not having any sort of progression in their story-telling is making me less interested in their products.
Take Yoshi’s New Island, for example. It looks like it has the potential to be a solid 2D plat-former, but is it going to do anything to expand the fiction of the series? While it’s admirable that Nintendo focuses on gameplay first, unlike many modern developers, not having any sense of story progression between games is a mistake. There is very little reason for somebody to buy the new Donkey Kong game right now. While it received great reviews, is fun to play, and has plenty of content, you could play the game a year from now and have the same experience as someone playing today. Nintendo games have always been designed to be timeless, meaning that many of them still hold-up today, despite being decades old.
This style of design doesn’t put much pressure on people to buy the game right away. In a world where phone games have daily challenges asking customers to come back each day as well as story-driven games such as the Walking Dead (a game that has a strong sense of continuity, requiring you to keep up and remain up-to-date), games like Donkey Kong end up feeling inessential. While the gameplay should be a good motivation to buy, with other games having more sense of progression it can be hard to summon the enthusiasm to play yet another 2D platformer.
They do have some continuity in the Zelda franchise, but the time-line is confusing to all but the most dedicated of fans. I personally feel that by adding more story continuity between games, Nintendo would make products feel more relevant, even at the added risk of screwing up the canon. People seem to want Metroid: Other M to be ignored for example, as it made unpopular changes to the story. What do you guys think? Would you like more story progression in a new Zelda game? Or would you rather have Nintendo focus on the gameplay and leave the story in the background?