The Gamer’s Corner: M.I.A. Nintendo Games

As E3 2011 came to a conclusion, there was one thing in particular which I found highly frustrating: Nintendo still had not commented on whether or not three very exciting Wii games were coming to North America. “Xenoblade,” “The Last Story” and “Pandora’s Tower” are all very promising Nintendo-published games that have been released in Japan, with Europe soon to follow.

The situation surrounding the absence of these three titles is extremely frustrating for a wide variety of reasons. After an absolutely amazing year in 2010, there have been no new worthwhile Wii releases for the hardcore fans at all this year. In addition, there are really only a few 2011 titles on the horizon to look out for, particularly the new “Kirby” game and “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.” That there are only two major new games in an entire year is cause for serious concern.

The three missing games would be welcome additions to bolster the sparse lineup, particularly since “Xenoblade” and “The Last Story” are epic RPGs that should easily contain upwards of 50 to even 100 hours of gameplay each. Even the third game, “Pandora’s Tower,” should also pack a substantial amount of content, as it is an action game similar to the 3-D “Castlevania” games with some “Legend of Zelda” elements mixed in.

The most baffling aspect in regard to these three games not being released here in North America is that because they are being localized for Europe, there are already English versions of these games in existence. While there are often some differences between North American and European versions of games, these games are essentially ready to be released. It should be noted that because Wii hardware and software is region-locked, North American fans cannot merely import these titles when they come out in Europe, as these games would be incompatible with their consoles. Hence, fans are hoping Nintendo of America will decide to officially release North American versions of these games.

In spite of the solid reasons why these games should be released, Nintendo of America has apparently decided otherwise. Maybe they feel that there will not be a market for these games, or perhaps they want to focus all of their efforts on the 3DS and the upcoming Wii U console. Since there has been no explanation, all one can do is speculate.

There is hope on the horizon, however. Recently, a fan movement called Operation Rainfall has brought these titles to the forefront of discussion for hardcore gamers worldwide. What began as a small discussion on an IGN message board about a letter writing campaign has become a huge, multifaceted push across message boards, Twitter and Facebook. With collected fan support, Operation Rainfall managed to push “Monado,” the original name for “Xenoblade,” to not only become Amazon’s #1 Wii game but also to Amazon’s #1 best-selling game overall just based on preorders alone. After being on top for a few days, it has remained relatively high ever since.

Operation Rainfall is already one of the most interesting fan movements of all time, and the free publicity they are essentially providing for these games should give Nintendo reasons to come forth with their plans for these three games. Already the movement has received an official statement from Nintendo that while they “never say ‘never,’” there currently are no plans to release these three games to the Americas at this time.

The brief and disheartening official statement should not deter video game fans from continuing to participate since so much has already been accomplished. The results of the Amazon preordering campaign, as well as the acknowledgement of Nintendo of America, are already significant achievements of which fans should be proud.

The three games in question are definitely worth fighting for. “Xenoblade,” which is sort of a spiritual successor to the previous “Xeno-” series, is an incredibly huge RPG with combat and exploration similar to “Final Fantasy XII” but on a grander scale. “The Last Story” is “Final Fantasy” creator Hironobu Sakaguchi’s latest game at Mistwalker. The thrilling combat, high production values, and music composed by Nobuo Uematsu form a game that was very well-received in Japan and should easily achieve similar success here as well. The action game “Pandora’s Tower,” while not without its flaws, would be an interesting title to be able to play due its more mature themes as well as its mix of action gameplay, platforming and puzzle solving.

For the hardcore, the movement means more than just bringing three games to North America. The fans have asked Nintendo to come through for them after they have spent four years supporting the Wii. If you want to see “Xenoblade,” “The Last Story,” “Pandora’s Tower” and more games like them arrive in North America, be sure to make your voice heard.