Discover what makes Nintendo so special in today’s gaming world through Nintendo Inquirer’s N Factor series!

“What do you love about Nintendo? The more I ask myself that question, the more complex my answer gets. I decided to use the term “N factor” to describe my feelings, because while it’s near impossible to define, Nintendo’s best games all have some undeniable and exclusive allure about them. They’re the result of finely tuned ideas and ideals that collectively personify the company behind them.”

The N Factor series:


For as long as Nintendo has been developing games, a significant portion of its focus has always been on multiplayer. Each of its consoles has played host to a solid variety of cooperative and competitive experiences, many of which are among Nintendo’s greatest achievements. These days, despite nearly every game featuring some sort of multiplayer option, gaming feels more like a solitary activity than ever. The majority of game developers have opted to join the online revolution, and very few of them seem willing or capable of recapturing the magic of good, old-fashioned local multiplayer. Thank goodness there’s at least one company out there that still prioritizes the idea of bringing gamers together in both the figurative and literal sense.

As we near the homestretch of the Wii U’s life cycle, a look back at its library of games is a strong reminder of Nintendo’s continued commitment to unity. Sure, this generation has taken more of Nintendo’s characters and franchises online than any other, but never at the expense of their couch appeal. If you take a look at Nintendo’s biggest releases in the past three years, you’ll see that nearly all of them give us some compelling reason to grab a buddy to play with. Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Pikmin 3, Yoshi’s Woolly World; each of these titles uniquely justifies passing out a few controllers. Even Super Mario Maker, a game seemingly designed with a single user in mind, offers some of the best pass-and-play in recent memory.

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There’s no shortage of great local multiplayer games in Nintendo’s recent (or lifetime) library, but one example stands head and shoulders above the rest: Super Smash Bros. For over 15 years now, this series has best embodied Nintendo’s affinity for bringing people together, the scope of which goes far beyond just buddies on a couch.

That said, let’s not discount buddies on a couch, because that’s where the Smash Bros. series found its groove. Right up there with Goldeneye and Halo, Smash Bros. is one of the original dorm room games. Since its first incarnation on Nintendo 64, this four player, shared screen battle royale has been charming groups of gamers and obliterating hour after hour of free time. Its combination of simple controls, inviting visuals and iconic roster of characters make it the ideal pick up and play game, it practically broadcasts an invitation to anyone in eyeshot. I can’t count the number of nights that one, two, four hours passed me by in the blink of an eye while I laughed, occasionally cried, and smashed with my friends.

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Naturally, a game with this much inclusive, competitive appeal was destined to inspire larger scale gatherings, as well. In the early days of Smash, small, informal tournaments were held in dorms, basements, and mom and pop game shops. Despite the simple controls, players were constantly finding effective new techniques. The simple act of getting together to explore a shared interest is what began to fuel a more serious approach to Smash play, and is ultimately what lead to the bigger events that would follow. Smash Bros. eventually found a place among its more serious brethren, like Street Fighter and Marvel Vs. Capcom, at Evo, the world’s largest fighting game event. These days, wherever there’s a convention where people unite to celebrate video games, you can almost bet someone will have organized a Smash Bros. competition as a part of it.

As cool as it is to see the Smash Bros. series receive the broad recognition that it does at these gatherings, Nintendo still does it best. Leading into E3 in 2014, a few months before Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U launched, Nintendo hosted the Super Smash Bros. Invitational in Los Angeles. This formal tournament showcased some of the most renowned players and announcers in the competitive Smash Bros. scene. To be perfectly honest, a lot of the high-level play and nuanced maneuvers went way over my head as a more casual player, but there’s a reason I kept watching. Seeing a massive, crowded auditorium of fans gathered in one place to celebrate their love for this franchise and Nintendo’s characters was simply sublime. The cheers and gasps didn’t let up once for the duration of this nearly three hour event.

SSB-Invitational

I sincerely hope that the online renaissance never changes Nintendo’s personable approach to multiplayer. We have plenty of options when it comes to sitting alone in front of our televisions and yelling into a microphone at someone across the country (or world). But sitting with friends, sharing a screen, and laughing uncontrollably as Peach sends Bowser flying with a well-timed smash from her frying pan will absolutely never get old.


Credit for the Super Smash Bros. Invitational image goes to Next Level Gaming Online.

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Written by Brittin Shauers

Brittin literally grew up with Link, Mario and Samus. These three characters and their worlds collectively capture everything that he loves about video games.

Brittin Shauers

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