Copyright ©2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

So we've heard about Microsoft and Sony. Where does all the news about Xbox and PlayStation leave the third great game console power, Nintendo? It took Nintendo a year to sell as many Wii U consoles as Sony sold PlayStations in just a few weeks. And some say Nintendo, the company that gave us "Mario Brothers" and "Zelda," is on the way out.

As NPR's Laura Sydell reports, those old franchises may be enough to keep the company alive for a long time.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: In preparation for this story, I put out a call to die-hard Nintendo fans. I was inundated. Brian White is a 30-year-old who grew up playing the "Zelda" games.

(SOUNDBITE OF "ZELDA" VIDEOGAME)

SYDELL: Now he's got a daughter.

BRIAN WHITE: We named her Zelda.

SYDELL: White says, as a dad, he's happy Nintendo games aren't filled with violence.

WHITE: It's something I can play and have my daughter sit in front of the TV and not be ashamed of or wonder how corrupt she's going to be.

SYDELL: For those who are not "Zelda" fans, it's a series of fantasy adventure games where the main character, Link, has to save Princess Zelda and the world. The soundtrack is so beloved, it's been performed around the country as a four movement symphony.

MANNY CONTRERAS: I've seen that twice.

SYDELL: Twenty-five-year-old Manny Contreras says the music reminds him of great experiences he's had playing "Zelda."

CONTRERAS: It's great music, just in general. I think even if you're not a fan, if you listen to it, you're probably surprised by just how good it is.

(SOUNDBITE OF "ZELDA" THEME MUSIC)

SYDELL: This love of these long-time franchises is the main reason that game analyst P.J. McNealy thinks that predictions of Nintendo's demise are overblown.

P.J. MCNEALY: If you look at videogame sales over the last 20 to 25, even 30 years, and look at the top 10 games that have sold, Nintendo has probably owned five, six, seven, eight of those games on those lists.

SYDELL: Among them: "Mario Brothers," "Zelda" and "Wii Sports." McNealy thinks the problem for Nintendo's Wii U is that there haven't been enough updates to its beloved franchises made specifically for it. But he imagines that as the game franchises come out with updates, it will help sales.

MCNEALY: Even though the Wii U hasn't been selling as well as Nintendo certainly has hoped, no one is sitting there calling it un-fun.

SYDELL: The Wii U is different from the original Wii console because it has a sort of tablet accessory called a GamePad. Kelly Bohm bought the Wii U as soon as it came out and she's been a little disappointed.

KELLY BOHM: There's not enough games to play on it. It's like, you want to play more with the console 'cause it's a cool concept, having the touch pad.

SYDELL: But this past fall, Nintendo came out with "Super Mario 3D World," specifically for the Wii U. Mario is a plumber who goes on a lot of adventures.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEOGAME, "SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD")

BOHM: This one's a lot better because a lot of the levels in the "Mario" game require you to use the touch pad. But you have to press buttons to unlock things or open pathways and stuff like that.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEOGAME, "SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD")

SYDELL: Later this year, Nintendo is releasing even more updates of popular franchises for the Wii U: "Super Smash Brothers," "Mario Kart" and "Donkey Kong."

But a lot of analysts say Nintendo is getting more competition from new titles created for mobile devices and PCs. Meanwhile, the hardcore gamers will buy the Xbox and the PlayStation for the power and better graphics.

But the love of Nintendo's franchises does run deep with fans like Bohm. She plans on buying every update and hopes to share the experience someday with her kids.

BOHM: It's happy memories from your own childhood. And you always want to pass on stuff that you did as a kid to your own kids.

SYDELL: And Nintendo is betting its future on many people feeling that way.

Laura Sydell, NPR News.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.