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Nintendo's consoles vs. Nintendo's handhelds.

CastletonSnob

Smash Cadet
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
39
Why are Nintendo's handhelds so much more successful than their home consoles? Most of Nintendo's handhelds have sold over 100 million units, while only 2 of Nintendo's home consoles have sold that much.
 

LiveStudioAudience

Smash Master
Joined
Dec 1, 2019
Messages
3,073
Given that Nintendo's first forays into video games pretty much were handhelds via the Game and Watch, it could be said they always understood that market better than home consoles. Portable systems fit in better with the company's sensibilities as a toy business and the company's lack of interest in having the most cutting edge hardware has often meant that they can excel when convenience and style of easy play is the major factor.

It's also worth noting that the three most successful home consoles prior to the Switch all had significant factors that helped explain their success beyond the quality of the hardware. The North American video game crash allowed the NES to effectively take over that continent's gaming scene quickly and the strict policies with third parties and retailers ensured no competitor could challenge them until the next generation. The momentum from that allowed the SNES to do fantastically, but did not surpass the NES' numbers, was in a dead heat with Sega in North America, and actually lost to the latter in Europe. The Wii's novelty allowed it insane numbers, but the low attach rate for software beyond Wii Sports and other related titles demonstrated that it had a shelf life to many of the casuals that bought it.

Basically they know why a handheld is appealing far more often than they do a home console
 

Janx_uwu

Smash Champion
Writing Team
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May 17, 2020
Messages
2,120
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The pink Dr Light capsules in Mega Man X3
The consoles have better individual games, but the handhelds have much better game rosters.

Like if you told me I could only have one Nintendo device for the rest of my life, I would choose the GBA in a heartbeat. As much as I love the Wii or the SNES, I would absolutely take any Nintendo handheld (GBC onwards) over them because they just have more games, usually being really good versions of preexisting games.

The Switch I consider to be in a league of its own though, since we now live in the smartphone age, where a handheld device can do most things a desktop or console can.

Also, handhelds just have a way more universal appeal, because our world is getting increasingly focused on constantly go-go-going, so it's really enticing to have a video game that you don't have to wait until you get home to play.
 
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Laniv

Smash Lord
Joined
Apr 20, 2014
Messages
1,522
Something I've been meaning to ask about the Game Boy Advance: why, do you think, the GBA had so many remakes in its library? I mean, it had the Super Mario Advance series, A Link to the Past, the Donkey Kong Country trilogy, Metroid: Zero Mission, both Kirby's Adventure and Gen I of Pokémon got remade, and I think even the first two Mother games made it on there. Let alone the Classic NES series...

What do you think happened? Did they see that the GBA was basically a portable SNES and just go hogwild with it?
 

LiveStudioAudience

Smash Master
Joined
Dec 1, 2019
Messages
3,073
Something I've been meaning to ask about the Game Boy Advance: why, do you think, the GBA had so many remakes in its library? I mean, it had the Super Mario Advance series, A Link to the Past, the Donkey Kong Country trilogy, Metroid: Zero Mission, both Kirby's Adventure and Gen I of Pokémon got remade, and I think even the first two Mother games made it on there. Let alone the Classic NES series...

What do you think happened? Did they see that the GBA was basically a portable SNES and just go hogwild with it?
I've had a hypothesis that the strategy was twofold. One, Nintendo is always keenly aware that younger people are going to be the audience for gaming, so utilizing older games to kids that might not have had an SNES (or at least all the prominent releases in the library) allowed them to effectively make more money off such legacy titles. In an era before Virtual Console, NES/SNES Online, etc ports like this were the most practical way of getting old games to new fans.

Two, it's worth noting that many franchises were experimenting in various ways on Gamecube; some more successfully than others. With Metroid going first person, Zelda being cell shaded, Mario Kart trying Double Dash, Kirby with only an Air Ride spin-off, Star Fox venturing into LoZ gameplay, DK attempting sigh Bongo Controllers, and even Mario bit out there with FLUDD? Playing things a bit conventionally with the GBA releases via ports/remakes might have been Nintendo hedging their bets; even if certain fans didn't like the new direction on home consoles, there were portable games that could be more to their tastes.
 

Quillion

Smash Master
Joined
Sep 17, 2014
Messages
4,537
Laniv Laniv and LiveStudioAudience LiveStudioAudience

I've seemed to notice that Nintendo's remake game was in top form on their handhelds. Even when they introduced the Virtual Console, they didn't really stop making remakes with some good additional content.

Ironically, it was with the Switch where they seem to have slowed the good-effort remakes to a trickle, whereas every other developer like Capcom and Square Enix have been making remakes that full-on retool the originals.
 

Oracle Link

Smash Champion
Joined
Oct 9, 2020
Messages
2,247
Location
Germany
I've had a hypothesis that the strategy was twofold. One, Nintendo is always keenly aware that younger people are going to be the audience for gaming, so utilizing older games to kids that might not have had an SNES (or at least all the prominent releases in the library) allowed them to effectively make more money off such legacy titles. In an era before Virtual Console, NES/SNES Online, etc ports like this were the most practical way of getting old games to new fans.

Two, it's worth noting that many franchises were experimenting in various ways on Gamecube; some more successfully than others. With Metroid going first person, Zelda being cell shaded, Mario Kart trying Double Dash, Kirby with only an Air Ride spin-off, Star Fox venturing into LoZ gameplay, DK attempting sigh Bongo Controllers, and even Mario bit out there with FLUDD? Playing things a bit conventionally with the GBA releases via ports/remakes might have been Nintendo hedging their bets; even if certain fans didn't like the new direction on home consoles, there were portable games that could be more to their tastes.
Zelda Being Cartoony isnt really an Experimentation i mean look at some of the Artworks from Zelda 1:
and its not like A link to the past looks particulary serious either!
 

LiveStudioAudience

Smash Master
Joined
Dec 1, 2019
Messages
3,073
Zelda Being Cartoony isnt really an Experimentation i mean look at some of the Artworks from Zelda 1:
and its not like A link to the past looks particulary serious either!
Perhaps, but after two games that fell closer into realistic designs (the first of which was a paradigm shift for the series that ended up being the most famous LoZ title prior to BotW), a cell shaded Zelda game with cartoony expressions, especially after the Space World video got so much attention? It was going to be seen with some skepticism by fans, and unlike LttP, its gameplay strength hadn't entirely become known to mass audiences yet.
 
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