Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm. Everyone and their mothers have been running around in the hot Summer sun searching their neighborhoods for Squirtles, Pikachus, and the rest of the original Pokemon lineup. How many video games have made you do a tick check on yourself after playing it? This one has and the world can’t get enough of it. From the game’s social-nature that brings people together to the team allegiances and competitive gym battles to the sense of genuine exploration it delivers, no other game has provided so many crazy stories for the news to report on and it has officially become the #1 mobile game of all time in the United States. Nintendo stocks have soared because of this and yet for a moment, I had feared that we were not going to have a Summer of Nintendo this year.
Before Pokemon Go’s release though, Nintendo had a pretty paltry summer showing. The big summer game that they were banking on, Star Fox Zero, ended up crash landing with middling-to-poor reviews thanks to awkward forced motion-controls and lack of content. Their 2016 plans were up in the air now. The game they had dedicated their 2015 E3 Nintendo Direct showcasing did not make the same ripples as their previous game releases of Summer’s past. In 2013, we were given Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Summer 2014 was when we would get Tomodachi Life and Mario Kart 8 and last May marked the debut of the awesome new Nintendo game, Splatoon. All three of these games were lauded for a multitude of reasons including fun gameplay, great multiplayer, unique concepts, and more but they also released at the beginning of the Summer game drought which was another great reason to pick them up.
Other companies had caught on to Nintendo’s May release game plan though. Star Fox Zero went head to head with Sony’s Uncharted 4, Bethesda’s DOOM, and Blizzard’s Overwatch. Those three games are going to be on a number of Game of the Year lists. Star Fox Zero was completely overshadowed and forgotten about in a slew of awesome new titles. This season seemed to be the Summer of Overwatch which had countless memes and fan-made content flooding the internet.
For E3 in June, Nintendo only showcased Pokemon Sun and Moon and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Both games looked great but they are both releasing this Winter, the season where every game comes out all at once for the holidays. Summer releases was how Nintendo had stood out in my mind the past few years and they seemed destined have no way to take back the Summer. Boy, was I wrong.
With one quick update though, Nintendo had let everyone know that the eagerly-awaited Pokemon Go was suddenly out of Beta and coming to your app store for free asap! The news spread like wildfire across the gaming circuit. Upon downloading, I had already bumped into over 10+ people playing Pokemon Go in my neighborhood within the first hour of release. All over the news and Facebook feeds, this charming little AR game had taken the hearts of most who have played it and the ball kept rolling and rolling. The server’s couldn’t handle the load of people wanting to play and has been buckling ever since. From the hardcore to the nostalgic to the curious, Pokemon Go had quickly and emphatically declared the Summer of 2016 for Nintendo.
With the game’s aforementioned endless series of server issues and bugs, did Nintendo force the highly-anticipated game out of Beta before they were truly ready? Nintendo is usually crazy good with quality assurance but their online offerings have always been lacking in sorts. The quick jump from the Beta to release and lack of marketing outside of a few posts could point to this but I feel they always intended a summer release for Pokemon Go, that way people on summer break could take full advantage of the game. They just weren’t ready for the size of the audience wanting to catch ’em all.
When Nintendo love couldn’t seem to be any higher, they announced today that a Plug & Play Mini-Nintendo Entertainment System packed with 30 games built-in. This mini-system has garnered very positive feedback. I’m curious that if this was announced at E3, would the positive reaction still be there for it or would it just be treated the same way the Sega Genesis and Atari plug and play consoles are treated?
So here we are living in a new age of gaming thanks again to Nintendo. Where will the big N take us next using these new technologies? Maybe something like “Splatoon Go” – A game where you try to paint your actual town in your team’s ink. Only they know the answers. For now though, let’s just go nuts living out our middle school dreams of being Pokemon masters.
If you are interested in hearing our opinions on Pokemon Go, check out the latest episode of the All-New ANTiFanboy Podcast here!