Is Nintendo highly incompetent at HD development?

By -

Nintendo just had their latest “Nintendo Direct” Live Stream recently, where they announced release dates for games on Wii U/3DS in 2013. What’s lacking from that announcement was brand new games for Wii U. Heck, even the previously announced Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze for Wii U has been now delayed to February 2014. One has to wonder what’s going at Nintendo after transiting to HD development.

The Wii U was released in November 2012. At launch, it had good amount of first party titles ranging from New Super Mario Bros to Nintendo Land. They might have not seen like much but Nintendo also planned to release Wonderful 101 and Pikmin 3 during the launch window of Wii U release. As it turned out, both Pikmin 3 and Wonderful 101 got delayed from early 2013 to July and September 2013 respectively. While we know Wonderful 101 is not a first party title, it was strange to see Pikmin 3 getting delayed since it was long rumored to be in development for Wii and then pushed to Wii U.

Going back, Nintendo really started the Wii generation with a bang. They released games like Mario Galaxy, New Super Mario Bros, Wii Sports, Wii Fit along with the usual Mario Kart, Mario Party, Donkey Kong and Kirby games. Compare this to Wii U and the output feels pale in comparison.

For 2013, the upcoming Wii U title from Nintendo is Mario 3D World, which is going to be released on November 22, 2013 for US and November 29, 2013 for EU. Wii Party U and Wii Sports U will also also be released this year along with Wii Fit U but the thing that is lacking here are mainstream Nintendo titles. Donkey Kong was originally supposed to be released along with Super Mario 3D World but as usual, it was also delayed to next year.

While i agree that next year looks a little brighter for Nintendo, their ability to efficiently deliver HD titles in a timely manner seems to be several lacking. Innovation is also a big aspect that seems to be lacking for their console titles. Outside of NintendoLand, the best use of the gamepad for Wii U was in Zombie U, a third party title. It is almost strange to imagine Nintendo – who is always associated with innovation – lacking it suddenly now.

They announced Mario 3D World for Wii U, which is basically a HD sequel to Mario 3D Land on 3DS. They also announced a bunch of sequels instead of introducing us to some new gameplay elements that use the gamepad in an innovative way. Mario Galaxy comes to my mind here, which is still the highest rated title from Nintendo in recent years. Both the original Galaxy and its sequel were highly innovative titles and were a critical and commercial success for Nintendo. Somehow, things don’t feel the same way for them now.

Looking forward to 2014, we are going to get Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 9, Super Smash Bros Wii U, Bayonetta 2 and Yoshi Yarn. Other than that, we do know that X and Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem are coming but we haven’t seen or heard much of both of these games so we can’t really expect them in 2014.

3DS on the other hand gets most of Nintendo’s attention and just had a new Kirby game announced for it. But again, 3DS doesn’t require HD development or more resources so it is understandable that it gets the most support.

What does this mean for Nintendo? As usual, they are slow to start next generation development. Nintendo used to be the pioneer of gaming during the Nintendo 64 and GameCube era but it seems like they have lost the touch now. After the lucky success of Wii, they thought it was another easy victory with Wii U but it turned out to be the exact opposite. Their lack of experience in HD development is also a big hurdle now. Perhaps, Nintendo will finally sort out their stuff and get back to fast and efficient HD development by taking a page from Sony’s book and strategically setting up Studios Worldwide. We sure hope to see this instead of Nintendo leaving console gaming and focusing solely on handhelds, which are the biggest sellers for them now.

What do you think about this article? Let us know in the comments below.

Stay tuned to GearNuke for latest news and info on this topic.

Khurram Imtiaz

A Geek and Gamer, who loves JRPGs and VITA. Follow him on Twitter and Google+

  • Axe99

    Well said Rinslowe :).

  • chode

    Started Wii generation with a bang??

    Are you serious?? There was a massive drought beyond a sprinkling of titles for the first 2 to 3 years of the consoles lifespan. After which, a lot of people had already moved on, bought another system, or just stopped caring.

    Incompetent in HD???
    I dunno, i’ve played and looked at their HD games and they look great. Some of those titles you mentioned are also third party devs which worked on other HD consoles prior to the Wii U. I think its a case of their stated releases being too ambitious rather than incompetence (given the actual visuals of the games are quite good).

    • Marcus2012

      What?! the first few years of the Wii’s life Nintendo was dropping games constantly, after 09′ (it’s third year) is when nintendo really stopped giving a shit and you could tell they were working on the Wii U, of course they should’ve really started making games for the U then, but hey, that bad decision is what got them here i the first place.

  • filip

    yes. that zelda HD demo looked like unreal engine 2 level stuff

  • sd

    Pretty much everyone knows you buy Nintendo to play Nintendo. I must say I agree with this article. The Wii U is great, but Nintendo need sales to increase 3 fold for the Wii U to be a success. At the moment this is not happening. Sales have just increased in the US to a weekly total of 33k. This is not enough and Nintendo really need to start slamming out the games. Also like the article says where are the clips of the next lot of games. What is being released after Mario Kart, SSB, Yarn Yoshi and Bayonetta. I have a concern that there will be another game drought after mario Kart and SSB are released, but I hope I am wrong. If Nintendo do have a heap of game coming after the supposed Spring release of these titles why have they not announced anything. Surely they would start talking about games that should be coming in May June next year.

    It has me yet again concerned.

  • Axe99

    Nintendo is a _very_ capable developer, but the switch to HD has hit almost every dev studio that went through it hard. The start of the X360/PS3′s life was hit with similar delays and cost blow-outs as they came to terms with it. Ninty is just going through the same thing now. They’ll be turning out some stunning games before too long, but they need to adapt their studios to different ways of doing things, and that takes time.

    Third party delays are a little more confusing, given that most third parties have been producing HD stuff for a good while now.

    • Marcus2012

      Well, logic dictates that if a third party studio is compenant with HD, and they’re having trouble releasing Wii U titles that are HD, it’s because the box isn’t all that capable of it, and has to be dumbed down for it to work.

  • Stealth

    no, nintendo is doing great with it. Did you see mario? Looks better than 99 percent of HD games I have ever seen. This article while well written, is unwarrented

    • http://www.gearnuke.com/ Khurram Imtiaz

      Mario 3D Land looks great, so does Mario Kart and Smash Bros, but they aren’t coming any time soon. Only Mario is the one that will be released soon. While i understand your point, i don’t get all these delays.

      But like i said at the end of the article, i hope that Nintendo steps up their game like Sony did and invests in studios worldwide. This will be great for their HD development and they can divide work among each studios. Sony did the same and look at how they can keep bringing a constant stream of titles to Vita, PS3 and PS4. They are supporting 3 platforms here.

      Nintendo did the opposite and dropped their support for Wii quickly and even 3DS support took a while to come.

      • Stealth

        Mario is coming in 2-3 months……..

        Remember 3ds year one?

        zelda port, and a mario. That was it. Wii u does have more, and look at 3ds now?

        Sony stepped up? by dropping all vita support? Nintendo has to support 2 systems. Its hard and not easy. Nintendo has studios everywhere too. But 2 systems again.

        Sony is barely supporting ps3, not supporting vita, and its all in ps4.

        Even if we disagree, I respect your view.

        • http://www.gearnuke.com/ Khurram Imtiaz

          Just to clarify, how is Sony barely supporting PS3? PS3 is in its 7th or 8th year now. It still got games like Beyond Two Souls, Rain, Puppeteer and the upcoming Gran Turismo. It also got a blockbuster The Last of Us in June so the notion that they didn’t support it now is wrong. Sure, in 2014, the support will decrease but they have done an exceptional job so far.

          As for VITA support, i fully agree. But i also say that it wasn’t so dire. Killzone Mercenary just released and Tearaway is coming. And they are slowly starting to show some support like Murasaki Baby, Gravity Rush 2 and Freedom Wars are all from Sony. Sure, it isn’t as good as Nintendo support for 3DS but again 3DS is successful, VITA isn’t so far; so it is understandable.

          • Stealth

            It actually developed 4 games. Is that a lot to you? If you think it is. Then I will concede that point.

            2 games, and no games announced after that, is not support. Gravity rush 2 wasnt official was it?

            Nintendo is supporting Wii u/3ds as much as PS3/4/vita in my view

          • http://www.gearnuke.com/ Khurram Imtiaz

            Gravity Rush 2 was officially announced by Team Gravity at TGS.

            Anyways, yes, this is not enough support, especially in terms of first party support from Sony. But there is a big reason i am still content and happy with VITA. Sony has at least worked enough to keep some sort of Third Party and Indie support on the platform. Wii U has gotten none or slim support so the library for Wii U looks more bleak now. This is another topic, of course. But to conclude, VITA has worse first party support than Wii U, especially in term of upcoming games. Hope this clarifies my point for you now :)

          • Stealth

            Vita has next to know actual third party support and what I mean by that is exclusives. Everything on it you can basically get elsewhere.

            3ds has far more impressive third party exclusive support. Wii u is less than a year old. Things will improve (hopefully)

            You didnt need to clarify, I got you. lol

  • Theiz Zzee

    The answer is No. There are many factors here. One thing they probably tried to increase the production speed due to poor system sales. Another thing is they were still getting used to the Wii U technology too. Also, they want to make sure the quality is there. Many games like 6 months ago were delayed which to increase quality when launch games ran into performance issues. I am sure this pushed back other titles. They did misjudge the scope a bit initially but, then added the necessary staff. The earthquake was also a factor and many were taking of Wii U stuff to help the DS catch it’s stride. Would you say the same thing to Crytek who didn’t get Ryse in 1080p on XBOX One???

  • Rinslowe Calrision

    Q: Is Nintendo highly incompetent at HD development?

    A: No…

    • Marcus2012

      Either they’re incompetent at HD, or their hardware is shit and requires a lot of dumbing down.

  • KuchikiSentou

    Short answer: No.
    I still think they are in their launch days and the spectacle of Pikmin 3 and the upcoming Mario Kart and Smash show that they are bringing the best in HD out of their system.

    • Rinslowe Calrision

      Exactly, Pikmin 3 is a visually striking game…

      Super Mario 3D World after seeing the latest direct looks really interesting, beautiful and fliud. Mario Kart 8 a great show of talent in design, art style and leveraging the consoles advanced feature set.

      Honestly I have to wonder what this guy was going for with such an article…?

    • http://www.gearnuke.com/ Khurram Imtiaz

      The problem is that most of their focus is on their handheld development. And i don’t get this “not ready” part. They were at the top with technology and graphics when they made Nintendo 64 and GameCube. The generation jump back then didn’t effect them much.

      • KuchikiSentou

        No, that’s not where their focus is, that’s where they’re more successful. The people who bought Wiis in the millions don’t need a WiiU and the people who are left prefer the other consoles. This is why the discussion of 3rd party support is prevalent, but obviously a poor one. Nintendo rarely relies on 3rd party for success, certainly not as much as their competitors do.

        The WiiU has games out already that are full HD and are of high quality, Pikmin, Wonderful 101, with games coming this year and next such as Donkey Kong, Mario Kart and Smash.

        The GameCube flailed even though it was higher spec than the PS2, so it’s obviously not that they are “incompetent” this time around. There is software to show this released, and upcoming.

        The 3DS is successful not because of the magnitude of technical marvels of the games. So I don’t see how that is a factor. The 3DS is an easy choice for parents to buy for their kids because of its price, the gamers have their choices on the 3DS, but I can’t say these games are technical accomplishments compared to some VITA and iOS games. The success of the 3DS is not due to Nintendo “shifting focus” at all. It’s simply not in the same position, time-wise, and price-wise as it was relative to where the WiiU is now.

        Remember the first few months of the 3DS?

        • http://www.gearnuke.com/ Khurram Imtiaz

          The Wonderful 101 and Pikmin 3 are not “Full HD”. I think the upcoming smash bros is aiming at 1080p/60 or “Full HD”, which is technically impressive for sure. But Smash won’t be out until later in 2014. So they haven’t even delivered a “Full HD” title yet.

          As for the 3DS, the same thing has happened with Wii U but Wii U seems to have suffered worse than 3DS. 3DS started receiving games like Mario 3D Land, which is a highly innovative take of Mario on a handheld, Mario Kart 7 among others and it was soon after its launch and eventual price cut. Wii U seems to be lacking so far. I don’t count Pikmin 3 here since this game was so long in development for Wii(4 years to be exact). Wonderful 101 is a Platinum Studios game and not made by Nintendo, they are just the publishers.

          In any case, like i mentioned, the question will be only cleared next year when most of their big titles will hit.

          I personally can’t wait for Smash Bros, which is going to be a technically impressive game for sure.

          • KuchikiSentou

            What’s the definition of HD exactly?

            WindWaker is especially HD. ZMost of the current WiiU titles are HD, I really don’t know where this 1080p/60Hz classification is coming from. Most current gen games are 720/30 and are still HD. New SuperMario Bos; Super Luigi, Sports Connection, all these games are HD.

            If Battlefield 4 on next gen consoles is still 720p, then I think we’re not really sure what HD is any more.

          • http://www.gearnuke.com/ Khurram Imtiaz

            Every PlayStation 4 first party title is 1080p except for “The Order”. Killzone is 1080p/30, so is Knack, Drive Club, Infamous among others.
            Of course, multiplatform developers have different priority hence we see BF 4 as 720p but we are talking about first party games here. Wind Waker HD is a GameCube HD Remake, it is 1080p i.e Full HD but we got these games back on PS3 like God of War HD Collection and ICO HD Collection, both of which were Full HD i.e 1080p. So WindWaker is nothing to talk about here.

            We have yet to see a “Full HD” title from Nintendo. There is about 50% pixel difference between HD to Full HD and it matters a lot, especially now, and will do more in the future.

          • KuchikiSentou

            Well I guess I misconstrued the article; I read HD development as HD ie 720p with whatever frequency is available. There is indeed a distinction between HD and “full HD”. Though I haven’t read such distinction in the article. Nintendo WiiU titles are certainly HD, although not full HD. The God of War HD titles were native 720p, to be exact, so they were not fullHD.
            I think that full HD is not as commonplace as one thinks. There are but a handful of titles that render natively at 1080p among games that are already out. Nintendo have one of such titles in Wind Waker so I’d say that they’re fairly competent. Native 1080 on console is not that common.

          • http://www.gearnuke.com/ Khurram Imtiaz

            Full HD in the title would have been weirder because we haven’t seen much “HD” titles from Nintendo yet, have we?

            So yeh, my point was for both HD + Full HD. It is true that Full HD on consoles isn’t common place yet but this is soon going to change once PS4/Xbox One are released next month. Most of the titles that are going to be released on it are Full HD. They will likely keep this resolution for the most part going forward.

            God of War HD Collection and ICO HD Collection were both native 1080p i.e Full HD and not native 720p.

          • Marcus2012

            Yeah, that handful of titles are all on the Wii U, or even older hardware. the Xbox One and PS4 will have 90%+ FullHD titles, with a few even reaching 4K.

          • Rinslowe Calrision

            This is simply false… And fails to address the difference between the style of a game and how it taxes a systems performance.

            WW HD is full 1080p for eg. But that is because it is based on a game built for Gamecube. Still the real upgrades aren’t in the resolutions alone. It’s in the advanced features that the game now employs having more advanced programmable shaders etc…
            The game would be possible to run at 60fps on Wii U, but as Anouma stated himself it would have required a complete overhaul in the animations, so for the reason of maintaining the most stable build, he chose to keep the frame rate at a steady 30fps. This of course is not the same thing as “cannot” output games at 1080p 60.

            Having said that Wii U is certainly built with native 720p in mind and 60fps looks to be the norm with the majority of titles coming next year; Kart 8, Smash, X, Bayonetta 2 etc…

            Once more, too much is placed on the importance of resolution… I would prefer native 720p & clever upscaling with a full gamut of newer features employed than 1080p 30/60 and a scaled back experience overall…
            You will find in fact the majority of big budget next gen launch titles are not running in native 1080p…

            And it’s not that important…

          • Marcus2012

            Uh, what? the Wii U’s cartoony models will require LESS graphic power, because they’re less detailed in the first place.

            if Nintendo can’t hit 1080p with cartoon models, the Wii U has an incredibly shitty GPU.

            LOL “most stable build” are you really buying that shit? Nintendo was lazy and wanted to get Wind Waker out on the Wii U thinking it’d help pick up sales, they didn’t give a fuck about remastering it properly, they were just trying to use a trick up their sleeve, that didn’t work nearly as well as they though, in part because they did a half assed job.

          • Marcus2012

            Framerate doesn’t matter (although 60fps would be nice) but to say a 720p title deserves the title “HD” is bullshit to me, when people hear “HD” they think of FullHD 1080p, and playing semantics to make your game seem more impressive than it truly is, isn’t at all acceptable to me.

            What? Battlefield 4 won’t be 720p on the Xbone and PS4 dude…

          • Rinslowe Calrision

            Too much hype has been placed on resolutions coming out of this current gen. Just look at the majority of games being released on “next gen” consoles. Most of them are not “full” HD…
            But it does it even matter?
            Console versions of Black Ops 2 for eg. ran at 880×720 but due to Treyarch’s very clever algorithms, the game up-scaled very nicely, before even considering hardware assistance…
            Most people would be happier with 720p 60, with effects rather than scaled back versions @ 1080p 30… Again look at the majority of next gen launch titles coming at sub “HD” resolutions because dev’s prefer to A; pack in more advanced effects while incorporating clever software solutions to up-scaling in addition to hardware & B; Spend the time to learn how to utilise the more powerful hardware before over stretching their current performance boundaries. Another thing to point out building on the last example is in how the rule of diminishing returns has more of a real world effect this coming gen than the last two and yet here we are with proof that with each new console comes a time for studio’s of any calibre to learn how to best leverage the hardware to get best performance…

          • http://www.gearnuke.com/ Khurram Imtiaz

            “Just look at the majority of games being released on “next gen” consoles. Most of them are not “full” HD…”
            Huh?
            What are you talking about? Every first party title from Sony so far has been Full HD. Only the order has a weird resolution something like 1920×800, which is still a high resolution than 720p. Microsoft exclusives are also targeting native 1080p or 900p for the most part. 720p will be there but not in as many titles as in previous generation.

            You talk about Black Ops 2 resolution, it was pathetic. You know BO 2 on consoles had a much lower resolution than a VITA’s native resolution… it was that bad. Looked blurry as hell if viewed on a TV above 40 inches.

          • Rinslowe Calrision

            “You talk about Black Ops 2 resolution, it was pathetic. You know BO 2 on consoles had a much lower resolution than a VITA’s native resolution… it was that bad. Looked blurry as hell if viewed on a TV above 40 inches.”

            I game on a 1080p top of the line projector at 2.2 meters by 1.4 roughly, of pure screen real estate. I’ve had both PS3 & Wii U versions running through it and I know for a fact they were both using very clever up-scaling algorithms for the base resolution. On a side note the Wii U’s built in up-scaling is very nice work, kudos to them…

            You have very little technical understanding of resolutions in fact which is why I think such a comment like this one exists; “. You know BO 2 on consoles had a much lower resolution than a VITA’s native resolution… it was that bad.” This is ignorance.

            ” Looked blurry as hell if viewed on a TV above 40 inches.”
            This is simply false…

          • http://www.gearnuke.com/ Khurram Imtiaz

            Please take a look at both of these screens. Tell me seriously, you don’t notice the blur?

            PS3 version = 880×720 – dips even lower sometimes since it is dynamic
            PC version = native 720p with 4x MSAA
            Xbox 360 version = 880×720 with 2x MSAA

            http://cfa.eurogamer.net/2012/articles//a/1/5/2/8/9/3/7/PS3_034.png
            http://cfa.eurogamer.net/2012/articles//a/1/5/2/8/9/3/7/PC_034.png
            http://cfa.eurogamer.net/2012/articles//a/1/5/2/8/9/3/7/360_034.png

            Which looks better here?

          • Rinslowe Calrision

            I provide you with information of the type of set up I’m gaming on and you reply with screen shots?
            Dis-ingenious act take 2…

          • Marcus2012

            Uh, no. everyone I know would prefer 1080 30 over 720 60.

      • Rinslowe Calrision

        ” And i don’t get this “not ready” part.”

        You don’t need to “get it”, the fact that both Shigeru Miyamoto & Satoru Iwata addressed the point openly means they were likely telling the truth…

        ” The generation jump back then didn’t effect them much.”

        This comment grates on my patience like you wouldn’t believe! It is simply so ignorant to the gulf between technologies of the times and how they have increased from the N64 and Gamecube’s era to today. Heck even the Wii U from Wii is a huge, huge leap forward in complexity. Learn about the differences in processing power to code for something as simple as 1080p vs 720P and 30fps vs 60… The basics… While incorporating the same level of detail, effects etc…
        All this requires larger teams with greater experience in designing HD games, just look to how games improved over time with 360 & PS3 this gen…

        • http://www.gearnuke.com/ Khurram Imtiaz

          So what was Nintendo exactly doing during the Wii era? Couldn’t they think of the future and make a plan to handle HD development. The Wii U didn’t release until 2012 and Nintendo only supported a single system 3DS from 2011 to 2012. They ditched the Wii as quickly they can but still couldn’t muster up enough support for Wii U on time.

          • Rinslowe Calrision

            This is anti Nintendo rhetoric at it’s most basic…

            You actually lost all credibility in my opinion after the heading: “Is Nintendo highly incompetent at HD development?”

            Either you were looking for clicks by baiting or you really have beef with the big N?.

            Allow me to elaborate; By incompetent you are making a statement and a question simultaneously but by placing “highly” in the mix to boot you’re basically proving your venom and bias towards them. Dis-ingenious.

            Then to further argue your point, you use resolution as the basis of your argument. I believe I said enough on that topic…

            All upcoming games from Nintendo even incl. the recently released WW HD, shows that Nintendo no longer have difficulty in HD coding.
            For eg; Super Mario 3D World is showing a very novel (and highly talented) approach to shading, which takes a lot of technical skill to pull off in the way that I’m seeing it; consistent specular comps, multi layered; shadow maps decals etc…
            Textures are detailed and clean, lighting is fantastic…

            Then there’s MK8, Smash, X…

          • http://www.gearnuke.com/ Khurram Imtiaz

            How many games have been delayed so far? Let me count them for you:
            1. Pikmin 3
            2. Donkey Kong
            3. Wii Fit U

            Mario Kart was supposed to come out this holiday but ended up as a release next year.

            And if you consider second party development then add Wonderful 101 to the list as well.

            Using WW HD as a basic for HD development is a poor excuse. It is a remaster, no more than that. A well done remaster but still it was not a game built up from scratch in HD. We will talk once Nintendo releases a actual Zelda Title like the one they demoed at E3.

            Lastly, are you absolutely sure that the upcoming games somehow won’t face a delay?

          • Rinslowe Calrision

            “How many games have been delayed so far? Let me count them for you:”

            For reasons we have already covered… I fail to see your point beyond this junction…