For some reason I started my day feeling nostalgic this morning. Maybe it was the smell of chai tea brewing in the kitchen or the Christmas shopping that I managed to squeeze into my lunch break, but I found myself thinking about a lost time. I thought about the console generations of the past and how the consoles of my childhood always seemed to go out with a bang, how each console had numerous swan songs that felt like a warm thank you to all of us who bought their console.
The NES in its late years saw some amazing Ninja Gaiden titles, Super Mario Bros. 3, and a number of other memorable games. The SNES and Sega Genesis had an amazing array of games to play them out including some sleepers that amazed us all. I get giddy when I think of all the amazing titles from that 16bit era and it would be impossible for me to narrow the scope in this blog to just a few.
The Playstation 1 and 2 both had strong finishing titles including Final Fantasy 9 and God of War 2, respectively. Of course these two titles were simply drops of sand in the hourglass of all the great PS1 and PS2 games that helped us say goodbye to that generation. Both systems said their goodbyes with a technological prowess that was thought to be impossible at the start of their lives.
Even the original XBox somehow managed to wrangle Doom 3 into it, an amazing achievement when you consider that your average PC was unable to obtain full frame rate until long after the XBox was gone and dead. The XBox could have had at least one more strong year, but at least it showed the world that Microsoft was a contender.
Now that we are coming to the end of this generation of consoles, I have to ask myself; will this generation have its swan songs? I look at Nintendo, and their DS is having a strong goodbye with titles like Aliens: Infestation and solid Castlevania games, but the Wii is showing signs of a complete abandon ship. This year, in 2011, it was a sad time for any kid who only had a Wii in his family room. If you are not a fan of the Just Dance series, you probably spent your days *gasp* outside, playing catch or something instead of combing your local game store for the next big Wii release.
More and more it seems that Nintendo’s first party library is too much for its internal development teams to get their heads around. Spread thin across the staples like Mario, Zelda, and Metroid they are now forced to work on multiple iterations of DS, the Wii and now Wii U hardware. None of this includes the revived franchises such as Kid Icarus or the mixed franchises like the Kart and Smash Bros. series. Nintendo is falling behind in first party releases and refusing to ship quality jRPG titles that have already been translated for European markets, and as a result, it appears that they will probably let the Wii die quietly. With a whimper and a sigh, we’ll look back on the Wii and only have Skyword Sword as its defining/shining star, in a time when the Wii is practically on an IV drip and begging you to pull the plug.
Microsoft seems to be lining up Halo 4 as its final thank you to the core gamers, while Sony seems to be blowing its load a year early. Microsoft is pushing hard in the casual direction which scares me. It makes me think that this piece of hardware that was made for core gamers is going to putter out and lose its core mojo in the final moments of its life. They are quickly positioning the XBox 360 as a kid-brother machine, but hopefully they do not forget the people who plan to keep their box. Kinect mini-games and new shirts and hats for my Avatar are not exactly my idea of a farewell party, more like a lame office party where attendance is mandatory.
I do wonder what Sony has planned after a year of all the big trilogies closing the books. Perhaps another God of War or Killzone to round out the last days of the PS3 would be in order, but whatever they do I am sure it will be big. Sony doesn’t seem to know any other way except to go big or go home in their final stretch and you gotta love that much about them. If that rumor about a Sony licensed fighter is true, then it would be one hell of a swan song, especially if they commissioned Capcom to take the helm on that project. With the resurgence of fighters this generation, it could be the modern day Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters. (An awesome but maybe lesser known fighter on the SNES by the way)