Can ShovelWare Be Good For Nintendo?

ShovelWare, are the old untouched objects lying in the 99 cents bin. They’re crappy, price-slashed titles which play off the Wii’s initial success to earn a quick buck.

Ever heard of Rig Racer 2? Pool Party? Anubis? No you haven’t….

(but if you did, don’t tell)

A quick glance in the local electronics mart will reveal that Wii shelves are infested with this garbage. You of course should not buy any of these games. Nor should you let your friends buy any, that is unless you hate your friends. So understandably you would think, “How the hell can this crap exist? And how the hell is it good for Nintendo?”

While discussing such an issue with people, you can’t go on 40 seconds without someone pondering on about Nintendo’s Seal Of Quality.

Sure, back in the days of NES, Nintendo would issue such a seal to ensure that Nintendo endorsed the product. As a result, people would know that they weren’t buying a game that was made by any random Dick-And-Jane. Which is good. But nowadays, this stuff means absolutely nothing, it’s on the back of games, very tiny, requires squinting to make out, and no longer serves its original purpose. The seal now, is only for technical regulations and in no way guarantees quality.  What’s new is that Nintendo is loosening its belt on restrictions. Sony however, holds a tighter leash on game development.  For one, 3rd party companies have to send in an evaluation to copy the game’s early stages for Sony to approve. Nintendo of course has no such process.

“Quality is so subjective,” according to president Reggie Fils-Aime

Sadly though, we don’t need to hear ol’ Reggie say anything; a jaunty walk down to BestBuy will reveal that Nintendo truly doesn’t have any quality control. In fact, many of the crap that Nintendo releases, as quick cashgrabs are essentially failed PS2 releases. It’s strange though, as Nintendo is moving along quite nicely. Every ShovelWare copy of NinjaBreadman, (What were they thinking?) however asinine, was sold out by the crate. NinjaBreadman didn’t even make the top hundred in sales, but nevertheless, Conspiracy Entertainment made money, loads of it, and customers left strangely happy. And so, there weren’t any bad dents made in Nintendo’s image. Smash Bros. and Mario Galaxy certainly isn’t of being eclipsed. Appropriately, it’s up to the producer to convince the consumers that their higher-priced, higher-quality products are far better then budget rips. If this basic concept manages to thrive in every industry, then, why not in videogames?

You should probably realize that this recent surge in $20 Wii games is not new. Europe has experienced it, also Japan. Realize that this crap didn’t appear out of nowhere. Many of Sony’s failed concept titles became ShovelWare at the hands of Nintendo. A lot of it also came from Europe. For one, Sony didn’t want Billy The Kid in the US, but there were no objections in the other continents. But it’s not all bad. D3 Publishers, the mother of all ShovelWare makers, tuned its game by retailing third-tier titles. A lot of their games sucked, but a few turned out to be worth twenty big ones. Remember Zombie vs. Ambulance? I do. Much like the NinjaBreadman phenomenon, games like that don’t necessarily damage the Wii. On the contrary, ShovelWare may actually become hits, or at the very least encourage sale of other games. Maybe big leaguers like Namco or even EA should participate in this $20 craze.

Go to the dollar store. Nobody would shell out two dollars for a Magic Fun Cube. No! They’d go to Toys R’ US and buy a Rubik’s Cube. People know what is good, and they’ll go for the real deal. Or how about the 7-11 round’ the block? See that basket full of $2 DVDs? See the DVD suspiciously named Transmorphers? Nobody would hesitate to pay full price for the real deal at HMW. All Nintendo is trying to do is open up the market further by relinquishing some of its control. But who knows what lies in the future? That whole laissez faire philosophy from Grade 10 socials might very well apply to videogames. Sit tight though, because we’re going to have to endure a whole lot more.

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