Nintendo: Once Pioneer, Now Struggling

Nintendo was once the reason why video games were considered profitable. The gaming giant was a pioneer, and now it’s struggling to stay afloat.

Here’s hoping this article isn’t a eulogy. It would be a shame if the company that brought video games back from the dead ended up failing in its last attempts to compete. If it happens, we can only hope that they go the way Sega did and just make games from then on. Nintendo always made amazing games.

Nintendo gave us most of the innovations we take for granted in controllers these days.

With the Nintendo Entertainment System, the US equivalent of the Famicom (which celebrates its 30th anniversary this month), the gaming giant took the joystick and threw it to the wayside temporarily as we were then given the gamepad, a plastic plus symbol we use to this day for digital control. Sega did the same thing, but its controller wasn’t as well received for being basically a square with relief patterns on it telling our thumbs which direction we were hitting.

Nintendo added shoulder buttons in the next generation as the Genesis kept all of the buttons on top. Sega eventually doubled the button count to compensate for the release of the big fighting games, which really needed six buttons to control them well at all. The SNES had the six buttons the whole time, and started the trend of putting them in front.

The N64 brought back the joystick, in a way, as competitors once again copied their controller from the previous console. Nintendo’s controller was once again the favorite, this time for first-person shooters, as the stick and the new trigger buttons made such games a breeze. Nintendo later introduced the Rumble Pak, which has been a standard feature from that point forward in all consoles. Where do you think Sony got the idea for the DualShock?

Nintendo was also the first to successfully introduce mobile gaming with a variety, as the GameBoy allowed us to switch games using smaller cartridges. The GameBoy has gone through countless variations before evolving into the 3DS and Wii U.

If the Oculus Rift ends up a success, we may have to look back and thank Nintendo once again. Even though the Virtual Boy was a giant heap of failure, it did give us virtual reality gaming’s first meager step.

Nintendo’s last great innovation in controller technology was the Wii, which used a motion sensing remote control with its games. In the wake of the Wii Remote, Microsoft made the Kinect, and Sony tried to make their own motion sensor device, but it looked so ridiculous with its ball on the end that it was an instant failure.

Nintendo has been at the heart of nearly every mainstream innovation in gaming controls. What was your favorite Nintendo innovation?