By Jared Newman | Monday, October 12, 2009 at 4:29 pm
As the iPhone and iPod Touch look more like portable gaming platforms, I haven’t tired of watching Sony and Nintendo flail. They’re like two incumbent political parties having identity crises in the face of a new competitor who’s hogging the spotlight.
The latest round of this partisan bickering comes from Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, who in an interview with the Washington Post argued that the Nintendo DS does things the iPod Touch does not. As proof, he pointed to the DS’s two screens, Nintendo’s franchise titles such as Mario Kart DS and New Super Mario Bros and innovative games like the recent Scribblenauts, which lets players type out virtually any PG-13 noun and have the object literally appear on the screen.
“All of these experiences are very unique and very different and what you cannot find on their App Store,” Fils-Aime said.
It’s a weak argument. Half the games Fils-Aime mentions use the DS’s second screen to provide superfluous information, and there’s nothing in Apple’s technology that precludes a title like Scribblenauts. But the major problem here is Fils-Aime’s “our console is different” mentality.
Guess what? Every console is unique in some way. Check out Dan Terdiman’s CNet article today on a new breed of iPhone games that integrate your phone and contacts. That’s unique. Or just visit the App Store and pick up a free chess app, a free tower defense game and the entirety of Wolfenstein 3D for $2. That user experience is unique.
The real question is whether one console’s unique experience is better than the competition’s. I’ll concede that Nintendo has powerful franchises in Mario and Zelda, et al, but that doesn’t make up for how Apple is capturing the casual gaming market that Nintendo covets. Nintendo needs to find a solution to that problem, and Fils-Aime needs better talking points.