Operation Rainfall: Nintendo’s Folly?

Operation Rainfall: Nintendo’s Folly?

Nintendo knows how to make legendary games and properties that survive through the decades to be embraced by multiple generations. Nintendo also knows how to infuriate its fans. Oh boy, does it ever know how to infuriate its fans.

Nintendo’s latest punt at the hornet’s nest involves three Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs): Xenoblade Chronicles, Pandora’s Tower, and The Last Story. The games aren’t connected story-wise, but they share three traits. Namely, they’ve been well-received in Japan, they’re a blessing for the content-starved Wii, and all three games are coming to Europe.

North American Wii owners, however, may be out of luck. Even after fans made an initial push in June and Nintendo promised a “special announcement” on Facebook, no commitment was forthcoming. Instead, we got the dreaded “Nintendo of America has no plans to release [the games] at this time.”

The announcement concluded with Nintendo of America thanking everyone for “being great fans,” a line that is impossible to read without mentally adding a sarcastic bent.

Rabble, rabble, rabble.

The ladies and gentlemen behind “Operation Rainfall,” the letter-writing campaign that aims to remind Nintendo that the Wii still an audience for JRPGs and core games in general, have issued a call to arms. “The bottom line is if the games are not released, how are we supposed to take their E3 comments about a ‘commitment to the core gamer’ seriously?” asks an article published on the Operation Rainfall website.

Which brings to mind another question: How far can Nintendo push its fans before said fans lose all faith and confidence in the company? Sure, Nintendo has stiffed its faithful more than once–ask any fan of the Earthbound/Mother RPG series–but Nintendo of America’s nonchalance towards this coveted and already-localized RPG trilogy is borderline dangerous for the company. The Wii is not a healthy system in the prime of its life. Core gamers have been deprived of content for much of the console’s run, and aside from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and a new Kirby game, core gamers will have to tighten their belts until the Wii U surfaces. And to be quite fair, how can we be sure that Nintendo will be paying special attention to its dedicated core audience with its next console if it won’t give current Wii owners the time of day?

Nintendo of America’s Facebook page has already been drenched in promises of boycotts towards the Wii U and Skyward Sword. Needless to say, threatening a boycott and actually carrying one through are two very different things, and it’s difficult to turn your back on an entire system. If disgruntled fans do in fact adhere to a boycott of the Wii U, it’s unlikely the sales damage would amount to much. Modern game consoles are usually marketed to rope in players of all shapes, sizes, genders and creeds, and when the Wii U’s time comes, only a small fraction of these interested buyers will know or care about that bad time in June 2011 when Nintendo told its fanbase to go to hell. An even smaller fraction of those buyers will actually turn their backs on the Wii U to punish Nintendo.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is another story. The game is due out this year, and is meant to seduce the Wii’s starving action/RPG fanbase. But by the time Skyward Sword hits store shelves, the wounds from Nintendo’s previous rejection will still have some sting in them. Bubbling resentment towards Skyward Sword isn’t helped by the rumor that Nintendo of America doesn’t want Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower competing with its biggest Wii release of the year.

Therein lies the biggest problem with Nintendo of America’s seeming snub: All we have to work with is rumor and speculation. As far as solid facts are concerned, we have no idea what the company is up to. When a game company says it has “No plans to release _____ at this time,” it can mean anything. Nintendo hasn’t dished out a firm negative, meaning that one or more of the three games may well still exist on the North American Wii–or might even be retooled for the Wii U. An indie game company would be more inclined to show its and, but as we’ve established over and over, Nintendo keeps its cards close to its chest. It always has, and it probably always will.

North American Wii owners have every right to be irritated over the possible non-release of Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower, and are encouraged to send Nintendo feedback about any game or policy they feel passionate about. But we also need to keep in mind that we don’t know what’s going on behind the curtain, and even if it seems like Nintendo has no reason for giving us three solid games in the sunset of the Wii’s life, there is always a reason.

It’d just be nice if we knew that reason.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

1 Comments

  1. That “great fans” comment made me wish NOA’s Twitter account had a face I could punch.

    For the first time in a long time, I’m actually not convinced I want Nintendo’s next console. Since the N64, the main reason to buy a Nintendo console has been Nintendo games, and despite Nintendo’s “best” efforts to change that, it remains true. If they’re actually going to stop publishing first and second party games besides Zelda and Mario in North America, that’s not even much of a reason any more.

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