Occasionally, a Mario Kart or New Super Mario Brothers would emerge, but the core games I loved were still incredibly scarce. As Microsoft and Sony step into the casual market this point hits home even more. The Kinect and Move let me dance, play golf, pet tigers, and both companies still give me Halo, God of War, and other "hardcore" games that are anything but family friendly. Sony and Microsoft haven't forgotten about their core players. Nintendo did, and that shadow still looms over the company. The worst part about Nintendo's casual boom is the fact that the games were a complete train wreck. As I see games like Dance Central and Sports Champion I realize that casual wasn't Nintendo's problem, it was the games being produced. I remember the Nintendo whose third party titles were great: Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Eternal Darkness, and even the "casual" games like Mario Party or Wave Race were amazing. So Nintendo can do casual, and third party companies can do fun. Something happened with the Wii that I use to boast about, that I was so proud of getting a hold of since at the time it was damn near impossible. The games were just a mess, period, and here I sat with this embarrassment of a system that I had, once upon a time, rushed out to buy.
Nintendo knew it had to do something and, finally, things changed. Gamers were bombarded with first party titles and Nintendo finally felt like a company that could stand next to Sony and Microsoft in the ongoing console war. There were still the random, bizarre Imagine Party Babies games, but there was a giant ground-pounding ape right next to them. Finally, the games were getting great reviews, had good graphics, and were worth buying. I thought that this core game boom would please me, but going through all of the extra motions of the ridiculous galaxies of Super Mario Galaxy 2 - that final galaxy is probably one of the hardest challenges in gaming this year - I became more frustrated than ever. It proved a point that I didn't want to admit: Nintendo is behind the times and I'm right there with them, still buying into past memories. It's still Mario this and Zelda that, and every time I see them I drop $50 without blinking an eye. Nintendo relies on these characters to sell their product. It's true that Sony has Kratos and Microsoft has Master Chief, but both companies have given me something new to try: Uncharted, Gears of War, Assassin's Creed, Modern Warfare, all new games with new heroes and stories. Nintendo hasn't changed at all.