Nintendo At A Spring 2008 Crossroads -- Where Is The Company Heading?

'Mario Super Sluggers'I wrote a column at today about the state of Nintendo.

Meanwhile, here at Multiplayer, Patrick Klepek has begun publishing his impressions of the the games he played at last week's Nintendo summit in San Francisco -- Sonic DS, Major League Eating, with more to come...

The big question, as I touched upon in my column, is: What kind of company will Nintendo be and what kind of games will Nintendo make one year from today?

The company appears to continue to be in a metamorphosis.

Some factors to consider:

Nintendo is approaching the mainstream more than ever. Nintendo's "Wii Fit," announced today to retail for $89.99 when it is released in the U.S. on May 19 is clearly the flagship title of the company's spring, even more-so than "Mario Kart."

The company is currently more secretive about its plans than it has been perhaps in its history. On today, April 15, Nintendo of America has dated no software for release beyond May 19 and only announced one title -- "Mario Super Sluggers" -- to come out some time afterward.

The company's style of games may be changing. In November I suggested that Nintendo might significantly de-emphasize games that are primarily single-player. There has been nothing in 2008 to prove me incorrect, as I state in the column:

I was looking at patterns and had seen Nintendo produce fewer single-player adventures, more multiplayer party experiences like the hit "Wii Sports" and the omnipresent "Mario Party" series. Even the big "Mario" game of the fall, "Super Mario Galaxy," was developed with a "co-star" mode geared for two-person, cooperative play. Some people said I called it wrong, but look at the announced slate of 2008: "Mario Kart," "Super Smash Bros. Brawl," the baseball game and others, with the scuba-diving simulator "Endless Ocean" serving as the only primarily single-player adventure in the bunch.

Nintendo seems to still be entertaining a wide variety of people. "Super Smash Brothers Brawl" proved that Nintendo still cares about longtime Nintendo fans. So a changing Nintendo isn't necessarily a bad Nintendo for anyone.

Pull out your crystal balls: What's Nintendo going to be up to one year from today?