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Nintendo: Schadenfreude sells

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In the age of online gaming, games that focus on solid local multiplayer are becoming less common. As fun as it is to play with friends from around the world, nothing beats having the gang all in one place for the purpose of fun. Luckily, Nintendo is there to bring us great “couch co-op,” and nobody knows the appeal of schadenfreude like the big N.

Nintendo says they want to foster togetherness and friendship, but here in the real world we all know that their local multiplayer is about using your friends as stepping stones on the way to the goal. At least that’s what happened in practice when my friends and loved ones gathered to play Nintendo games from the N64 onwards. The New Super Mario Bros. series took competitive co-op multiplayer to the extreme by allowing character interactions like lifting and spring boarding. Many times partnerships come to an end with one player casting another into the nearest bottomless pit as soon as the flagpole is in sight.

If there are still doubts about Nintendo’s appeal to the cruelty of man, look no further than the Super Mario 3D World Crown. It’s a glorified bull’s-eye singling out the player that has it in his or her possession for concentrated friendly fire. When one player has the crown every one else will target them, even at the cost of their own life pool. When players are given the opportunity to get the better of their friends, especially if it’s to their own benefit, they will.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze returned to friendly co-op platforming. One could make a case for Tropical Freeze being the best 2D platformer ever made. It was widely loved, critically and by fans of the original Donkey Kong Country series. Despite being an amazing game, it sold terribly. Do you know what it was missing? The ability to lift your friend’s Cranky Kong over your head and cast him into the abyss.

Mario Kart 8 was a return to the conflict. The entire purpose of the game is to pummel your friends with items as you all race to the finish line. There can only be one winner and, for the most part, there are no teams. From the outset there’s no need to work together, there’s no chance of you harming your own progress when trying to get ahead, so competition is ruthless. Red and blue turtle shells become pride obliterating missiles. Even the characters themselves have become possessed by the competitive spirit, giving each other the death stare and laughing maniacally or trash talking as they bombard their virtual rivals. Coincidentally the game was a huge success, despite straining so many friendships.

Look ahead to the holidays, and what has Nintendo prepared for their fans? A new Super Smash Bros.. They finally drop the facade of cooperation and encourage players to beat each other senseless with an array of weapons. Fitting, as many feel the need to vent frustrations after the paroxysms of rage caused by repeated blue shellings. Hilarious, as the blue shell makes its grand appearance in Smash. To facilitate the beatings, Nintendo has gone through great pains to turn even common items into tools of destruction. The mild-mannered Pokeball may as well be a nuke for all the fear it generates on a crowded stage.

Many will ask if all of this couldn’t be done online, and to that I answer: Yes, it could. However, it would be like experiencing a great piece of art through a blurry photo. The best part of these games is the lack of a filter. The look on your best friends face as you fire the blue shell. The string of profanities after flinging your brother into a path of falling Thwomp. The fun of being a screen peeking scum bag, and the inevitable controller swats that always come from heated contests. These are all sweet nectar moments of schadenfreude that are best experienced within earshot, so you know your trash talk is heard loud and clear.


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1 comments
Obscenely Great
Obscenely Great

Even before Street Fighter and the stupid tourneys and players (and hahaha Brawl) Super Mario Kart was an enlightening point of life. My acquaintance was playing it by himself when I was doing something else and he was moaning and whining about everything he saw in the game - that were around the various cheapness of the computer opponents. And I told him: isn't this what real life is, where people often cutting apart the competition by selling their civilisation and conscience and stopping each other even by unjust and unfair means? And he kept quiet. And among him and the others I was the only one beat the game on 100 cc and when 150 came up I felt enough was enough. I don't think Shigeru or Hiroshi could go half as far in their own monstrosities, and whatever others do with their rented copies is none of my concern and interest.


It seems that people like to fight each other while jointly enriching the video game industry, but interestingly Namco's market studies revealed that wasn't often the case with their offerings which resulted in their lone-based free-to-play (love this) Soul Calibur (the idiotic staff should release a PC version but obviously that would dominate and invalidate the kiddy console ones hahaha). 


The last arcade game I saw that involved co-operation was Metal Slug (ironically by SNK that couldn't sell KOF to the first world and now has to do music to stay afloat) that I felt was like a Contra copycat. All others is just a same-same activity of killing each other happily (Daytona USA is still popular for this that would have caused new profitable rises in the medical care and casket industries). Gone are the days of Final Fight, Streets of Rage and Golden Axe, and other joint-venture opportunities like Bad Boys, Moonwalker, Captain Commando et cetera. 


I don't care about you guys but I don't really enjoy fighting people. Even after beating the better ones I find that I still dislike them and the idea all in all. Most of them are misfits, they take this seriously because they are good at nothing else and have nothing else to go for in their lives, their defeat don't beautify their horrible personalities and rubbishy ambitions, and for some of them that are my contacts I sometimes feel bad for them too. In my history I also see a rare few who yell and cry like hurt dogs when I have the edge over them too and prank them into greater mishap, whether it is just steering the wheel or hitting buttons. It's just a game, so why don't they admit their inferior skill and intelligence and just die off or be killed quickly? Holy Mother of Jesus they should just die quietly!

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