The Real Reason Nintendo Made MiiVerse

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I probably should’ve talked about this before the Xbox One’s unveiling, but recent developments in MiiVerse have actually made me optimistic about the service (and Nintendo’s whole platform) despite how much people like to laugh at those developments.

Of course I’m talking about the people posting questions about how to get past certain parts of Super Metroid, which came out on the Wii U Virtual Console not too long ago. You can laugh at people all you want for not knowing how to plant a morph ball bomb, or for being too coddled by modern games, but isn’t this pretty much exactly why Nintendo designed MiiVerse?

What Nintendo has done is basically take the GameFAQs forums and built them into an entire console. Valve has pretty much done the same thing and even let users upload guides. I actually see it as a nice alternative to the way games are designed to help players now.

MiiVerse really plays into how Nintendo used to develop games in the past. Miyamoto often recounts how he designed the original Legend of Zelda on the NES to be a bit mysterious so that players would figure the game out by sharing information. I can tell you right now a lot of people probably got through NES and Super NES games by discussing them with their friends at school. We always used outside help to get through games, we just didn’t always have the internet for it. MiiVerse is basically that old philosophy taken online and designed as part of the console’s OS.

Even Sony’s doing something towards a similar purpose with the PS4. Being able to livestream games while your friends watch and engage in party chat is pretty much the same as playing an old game with your friends watching at your house, just online. Sony’s even throwing in the ability for your friend to take the controls over PSN. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony and Microsoft evoked the idea of having discussion forums for each game built into the console as well. I think it could end up being a better way to help people finish games.

For a while now Nintendo has been trying to find ways to help out gamers who might have trouble with the latest Mario games (like me), going through methods like super guides or items that appear after the 15th time you’ve died. Other developers have pretty much just made every game treat you like an idiot. Why not just let the community help each player out?

What if every developer made games knowing that such a socially-driven, communal help system existed at the platform level? It’s not unlike how Demon’s Souls was designed, but now potentially every game would have access to such a system. Might that encourage more developers to make games more challenging, or at least not needlessly hold players’ hands so much?

That’s probably a fantasy but I think it would be preferable to how games currently treat everybody like the lowest common denominator. Reliance on community help would let game difficulty be more flexible — let the people who can figure out the game for themselves figure it out, and let everyone else just ask around on the discussion boards.

Oh, and if nothing else these MiiVerse posts show that Virtual Console is indeed exposing classic games to new audiences, not just cashing in on nostalgia.

BULLETS:

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