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Forums - Nintendo Discussion - Nintendo's Evolution from Gamecube to Switch (...was pre-mediated imho)

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I know that many like to view Nintendo as a company that chases trends and casuals and has an inconsistent hit or miss success rate with hardware.  Until the launch of the Switch, the success of the Wii was written off as a fluke or aberration sandwiched between the failures of the Gamecube and the Wii U.  I have a different take on this however.  I believe that the Nintendo Switch is a device that Nintendo as a corporation has been working towards going back to the Gamecube era.  It all started with Nintendo's push for "connectivity" of devices and the GBA Link Cable that connected Nintendo's Gameboy Advance handheld to Nintendo's Gamecube home console.


This allowed for innovative gameplay ideas utilizing the Gameboy Advance as a 2nd screen for the Gamecube console.  In my opinion, the best utilization of this was done with "Pac-Man Vs." which was developed by Nintendo and published by Namco to bundled into Namco's releases of "Pac-Man World 2", "I Ninja", and "R: Racing Evolution".  The Gameplay of "Pac-Man Vs." consists of 3 players controlling the Ghosts using Gamecube controllers plugged into the Gamecube's first 3 controller ports, while 1 player played as Pac-Man through the Gameboy Advance connected to the Gamecube's 4th controller port via the Link Cable.  (Both the N64 and Gamecube had 4 controller ports built in, and did not require an adapter to be purchased separately for local multiplayer as opposed to other systems of the day)  The 3 Ghost players could see the small surrounding area of their positions on the TV screen (expandable by eating fruit) as they hunt for Pac-Man.  Meanwhile, the Pac-Man player would see the entire maze on the Gamecube screen.  The Ghost players would have to verbally co-ordinate their search of the maze in an effort to trap Pac-Man, while Pac-Man had the advantage of knowing where all the Ghosts were in an effort to remain elusive.  It was an incredibly fun game and completely unique idea for the time.  I had all of the necessary components (Gamecube, Gameboy Advance, the Link Cable, and a copy of "Pac-Man Vs." that came with my purchase of "R: Racing Evolution"), and some of the people who would come over my house would specifically request that I hook everything up for play, or if I could bring over to attach to their Gamecube at home.


Unfortunately, "Pac-Man Vs." released late in 2003.  Two years after the release of the Gamecube, and by this point production had already been temporarily halted due to a surplus of unsold stock resulting in a price cut to $99.99.  The PS2 was wildly successful by contrast, and so this flew under many people's radar.  At this time, Nintendo was also beginning to dabble with motion technology.  The original idea was to release motion sensing controllers for the Gamecube.  However, due to the Gamecube's sagging sales, Nintendo executives feared that if released as a peripheral, the motion controllers would likewise fly under gamer's radar similar to the Link Cable.  The decision was made to instead build a new console around the controllers, thereby putting them directly into the hands of every new Nintendo console purchaser.  And thus, the Nintendo Wii was born as the successor to the Gamecube.

The Wii was an instant hit as millions embraced the phenomenon of it's pack-in game "Wii Sports" that allowed you to really feel like you were engaging in what your character was doing on screen from physically throwing punches in boxing, swinging and pitching in baseball, swinging a tennis racket, to actually bowling as well.  Nintendo's decision to build a new console around the Wii-motes, rather than release them as a peripheral to the failing Gamecube was an incredibly wise business move.  It propelled Nintendo to the winner of a console generation for the first time since the SNES.  As huge a phenomenon as the Wii was, however, it was a standard definition console, and hugely underpowered when compared to its HD competitors the PS3 and Xbox 360.  As the years wore on, this became more and more evident while many 3rd Parties dumped uninspired motion control cash-in shovelware.  Nintendo executives were keenly aware that they had to release a new HD console onto the market in order to bring back higher tier 3rd party games and the hardcore console gamer.  Thus, the Wii U began development.  The Wii U's Gamepad, with 2nd screen functionality is immediately reminiscent of the Gameboy Advance's connectivity with the Gamecube through the Link Cable.


It is interesting to note, however, that having a screen on a controller was also in the Nintendo mindset during the development of the Nintendo Wii.  One of the original design ideas for the Wii-mote featured both an analog stick and a touchscreen.  Nintendo ended up scrapping this idea, because they believed the Wii-mote should be a simple in design as possible, so that non-gamers would be able to pick it up and not be overwhelmed by a numerous configuration of button inputs.  Another carry over from the Wii into the Wii U Gamepad, was the fact that Nintendo desired an off-tv place to convey messages to the gamer more complex than the Wii's flashing blue-light disk tray.  This was something that was not cost effective in the Wii's cycle, but by the time of the Wii U, the idea had evolved into a full-fledged touchscreen.

In my opinion, the Wii U finally combined the Gameboy Advance and Gamecube into a single cohesive system.  The concept was brilliant.  However, the execution didn't quite nail it.  When first announced, it was conveyed that you could take the Gamepad and continue gaming off-screen anywhere in your house.  In reality, the Wi-Fi communication between Gamepad and Wii U console was actually rather limited.  Walls, floors, and ceilings all interrupt communications.  I've been able to take my Gamepad into the basement and use Netflix or You Tube while working out on my treadmill, but that's if the Gamepad remains perfectly stationary, and therefore would not be practical if playing an actual game.  But, I believe this was just another step in Nintendo's evolutionary cycle.  Nintendo always knew where they wanted to go.  It was just a matter of when they could actually achieve it.  Just like a touchscreen controller was not yet cost-effective/practical for the Wii, Nintendo's dream of a Console/Handheld functionality for the Wii U Gamepad was not yet ready to be achieved either.  The Nintendo Switch, on the other hand, is that perfect marriage.

With the Nintendo Switch, you can console game on your tv.  And when it is time to go out, you can remove the Switch from its dock and seamlessly continue anywhere you want without restriction.  The Switch is proof of concept of the Gameboy Advance connected to the Gamecube via link cable finally delivered into your hands in one package with a unified library.  This becomes even more evident when you consider the fact that "Pac-Man Vs." has even made it's return.

Some consider the Wii a gimmick/fad that allowed Nintendo to "accidentally" recover from the failure of the Gamecube.  A fad that soon wore out and led into Nintendo failing again with the Wii U as they presumably chased another technology craze with tablet gaming.  As the Wii U failed, these people then assume that Nintendo had to rush into develop their newest gimmick, handheld console gaming.  I counter this hypothesis with one of my own.  Nintendo has by design incrementally leading themselves down the path towards the success of the Switch all along ever since the days of the Gamecube. 


There were bumps and hiccups along the way.  And a need to be as cost-effective as possible necessitated that they drive for the long end game rather than produce a prohibitively expensive device much sooner.  But, I still believe that the Nintendo Switch was the dream device Nintendo had been planning all along.  Not, something they stumbled onto out of desperation.  Rather than the Switch being a stop-gap console to replace a dying Wii U.  I think the Wii U was the stop gap console meant to bring in some sales in the interim period between the dying Wii and the actual readiness of a Switch launch.  This is why the Wii U never received the massive price-cuts that other systems normally get to increase sales or liquidate inventory.  The Wii U may have been a swing and a miss in the grand scheme of console sales, but it was also a taste of what was to come, and laid the necessary groundwork for its successor.

Please feel free to agree or disagree and share your thoughts.

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"0" engagement. A new personal best.

I don't have anything to say about this but I find it kinda sad that no one wants to post in this thread in which you seem to have put quite a lot of effort

This is interesting actually, I didn't notice this yet. OP are you familiar with the blue ocean management strategy? I think you should take some time to read up on it. It's how Nintendo conducted themselves going into the Wii era, and I think it'll help better explain what you were trying to say.

I disagree that they knew that this would be the eventual outcome though, I think Nintendo wholeheartedly believed they could utilize the blue ocean strategy and keep a slice of the "hardcore gamer" market share. It was only until the Wii U that they realized their flaws which in turn led to the Switch. Great analysis though.

However they got here, and as you state and brilliantly show it was apparently intentional... Nintendo has really hit this one out of the park, the Switch is a game changer, and now sony and MS will have to fall in line with the next gen, hybrids all around.

Great post sir.

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Posting so I am reminded to read it later.


I'm not sure pre-mieditated is the right way to phrase it, but Nintendo obviously wanted their home consoles to be more portable with the Gamecube, and they've always wanted to bring their handheld games to be the big screen as well. Wii U was a botched attempt to take baby steps towards this - Switch was the full concept in motion.

Again, not sure they were intentionally headed this way, but they've been interested in this style of play for years,

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I agree a lot with what the OP is saying. Nintendo may be hard to follow by some, especially by those who don't want to follow what they are doing. But Nintendo does actually have long term strategies in mind, and they execute all of their strategies with a lot of intention.

However I have some other ideas to add to this. I think Nintendo is an incredibly talented company, probably the most talented company in the gaming industry today. They are also an incredibly arrogant company, possibly even the most arrogant company in the gaming industry today. They are talented, but they often overestimate their own talents.

When Nintendo is humbled, they end up doing some really amazing stuff that takes everyone by surprise, because they are so talented. And then people go, "Whoa all these people bought consoles just for Wii Sports, how did that happen?" And, "Whoa, Breath of the Wild is this amazing open world game. How did Nintendo have this in them?" Those Nintendo developers are talented. They have all of that in them and more. But then they get arrogant and think that anything they do will automatically be ultra successful. So they bundle Nintendoland with the Wii U and think it will be the next Wii Sports phenomenon, but instead people go, "What the hell is this shit? Where is the Nintendo I love?"

So what is their endgame? It isn't Switch. Switch is their strategy to overtake the whole gaming market, so they can follow with their true endgame. Their endgame is virtual reality.

They have never given up the idea of VR, because they are so arrogant. The Virtual Boy was their first try. Any sane company would give up VR after a flop like the Virtual Boy, but not Nintendo. So one thing about the Wii remote is that it makes the perfect controller for VR. We also have the 3DS, which was a more gradual attempt to put in the 3D visuals of VR into gaming. But the joke with the 3DS is that people buy it in spite of the 3D. Now that they are selling 2DS versions their hardware sales have increased. It should be the end of their console's lifetime, but hardware sales are going up. This is because the 3DS was overpriced. Now that they have gotten rid of the 3D and lowered the price more people want the console.

So I think the Switch is going overtake the whole gaming market. Nintendo is going to dominate like they did in the NES days (i.e. 80-90% market share most years). Then their next console will be some sort of VR debacle. Nintendo's pattern is terribleness, then greatness, then terribleness, then..., because internally their pattern is arrogance, then humility, then arrogance, then ....

Tag. I'll try to get around to this in a bit.

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This is a rather excellent thread. You deserve praise for your work and your opinion is backed by fair arguments. It makes me lean into the belief that this was Nintendo's endgame, awesome!

I really had a good read. I hope more people get to read your post.