Is Nintendo Ripping Us Off With Wii 'New Play Control' Versions?
In the past we've seen some great examples of games that have been re-released in ways that improve the original, re-working content for a new audience to help spread the word of great games of the past.
However, re-releasing classics no matter how anticipated, is a practice that will always provoke scepticism, especially from an easily remorseful buyer.
After all if you are considering buying a new version of a product that you bought a year ago or even 10 years ago there has to be something there to validate that second purchase whether it's a facelift or just for the kicks of nostalgia.
A few months back Nintendo announced plans to bring some of the heavy weights from its previous effort the Gamecube and enlightening them with the unique Wii interface ala slapping some new controls onto the game and selling games ranging from about four to seven at the budget price of £29.99? Are you kidding me?
Let's go back a few years, as far back as TGS 2005, Nintendo had lifted the lid on their revolutionary controller to the world and behind closed doors were showing the press what the controls really meant for gaming to the extent of taking the opening level of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and tacking Wii controls on. A good choice, we would have to wait two years until we saw such a control scheme realised in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
Once out in the open, people would speculate generously the potential of the Wii controls on other Nintendo franchises and we've seen some of these realised in The legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy and Wario Ware: Smooth Moves. Now don't get me wrong, we know another Zelda is on its way and heck probably even another Mario Galaxy but right now they still look quite far from release and it has been Nintendo's choice to launch the 'New Play Control' range to keep players old and new occupied in the upcoming months.
There isn't anything totally wrong with what they're doing, in fact I give them credit for giving great games that were missed by many like Pikmin a second chance but while this is good for an underappreciated game originally released in 2001 especially in light of Pikmin 3 returning, for Nintendo is surely thinking here's a great way to cash in by putting out old games with new controls and unleashing them on our now vast, accommodating audience.
I think the first question you ask yourself when it comes to buying something you've already bought is: 'Ok, how much am I going to pay this time?' Turns out if you want to shell out on this 'New Play Control' version of Pikmin or Mario Tennis, you're looking at a £29.99 price tag (which translates to just over $40 in North America).
I think that is the price I paid for the same game about seven years ago, I can walk into most videogame retailers that sell pre-owned games and pick up a copy for about £10, less for Metroid Prime. Some games, like Pikmin 2 (which has been listed for the Japanese line up but I think it is safe to say the rest of the world will see a re-release) are hard to come by and due their short shelf life are priced fairly highly, not £29.99 but not too far from that price tag so if I hadn't spent the time probing second hand stores then maybe Pikmin 2 at budget price would be much more enticing purchase today.
We must not forget there are 'other' improvements made to the 'New Play Control' games. Nintendo has been kind enough to add some light graphical touches to those picked, 16:9 widescreen support and even make some changes adding levels and in Pikmin's case a more flexible save system.
Could this be the factor that sells the re-release to gamers? Maybe but is this what the hardcore Wii market wants? Sure we have quite a few names from third parties coming this year but is this 'New Play Control' series really worth the same attention as any other Wii exclusive?
Nintendo have already begun releasing these games in Japan and other countries are following in Q1/Q2 of this year. Confirmed are games like Pikmin 1 & 2, Metroid Prime 1 and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, Chibi Robo and Mario Power Tennis.
All great picks from the Gamecube's back catalogue and we imagine more will follow and if they do, we have a list of titles we think might share some potential with new controls and tweaks but right now, Nintendo doesn't need to have grasped the idea of 'budget pricing', £29.99 is not a good deal to buy a seven year old game especially when the changes are what I'd consider to be minor. I'm sure the prices will vary in different countries; the games sell at 3,800 yen in Japan which comes to around $36 which isn't much better.
However Nintendo Europe stated that they do not set the prices. In their own words: "It is up to retailers at what price they sell any item for. However, our trade price for these games will be below our usual trade price for Wii games and our present estimate of the likely retail price is in the region of GBP 29.99."
I'm sure if you shop around online or in your favourite game store you might be able to find these titles at the right price, or maybe you'll settle for the original product at somewhere near a third of the price. I'm going to spend a little longer sitting on the bench, after all I've owned and finished these games.
Some still sit in my collections as staples of great gaming experiences but I couldn't undertake unlocking all the extras again, investing hours upon hours into a game that I have already invested in most likely won't offer the same reward it did all those years ago.
Don't get me wrong, not everyone has played these games and if not then I urge you to give some of Nintendo's golden moments a go but at £29.99 each you might have to think about this one before you decide whether it is worth it or not.