The Sun is Finally Setting on Club Nintendo

Bye-bye!

Bye-bye!

Earlier this morning, Nintendo fans were met with some surprising yet altogether not entirely unexpected news: Club Nintendo, the company’s seven-year running loyalty programming, will come to an end in 2015. This isn’t just in North America, mind, but all across the world, including Japan.

In some ways, the news is definitely sad; fans in North America petitioned Nintendo of America for what felt like a small eternity to get them to introduce a program similar to what their fellow gamers in Europe and Japan had been enjoying for some time by this point. They eventually relented, and for a while, things were good. Half a year ago, however, I wrote an article on PoisonMushroom.Org which echoed the disappointment and frustration many were feeling with the program as it continued on with diminishing returns, to which I offered my own ideas of some exclusive items that might turn things around.

Alas, it was not to be. Instead, Nintendo of America will be accepting Club Nintendo code registrations for Coins through March 31st, 2015, with the end of the final Club Nintendo year, June 30th, 2015, being the final day that those Coins may be redeemed for prizes. Fortunately, though the prize vault has been ever-diminishing (leading people to expect the end of the program sooner or later), there is good news for this final stretch as Nintendo is opting to end Club Nintendo with a little more of a bang than a whimper:

Nintendo will add a number of physical reward options for members in February. Members will also be able to choose from a lineup of many downloadable games. As a gift to Club Nintendo members, the Flipnote Studio 3D software will be available to download for free in February. This software will allow users to create unique three-dimensional animations and to exchange their creations via local wireless with others who also own Flipnote Studio 3D. Users who uploaded creations to Flipnote Hatena will be able to download their personal animations from the Nintendo DSi Library menu in Flipnote Studio 3D software. Flipnote Studio 3D will be available to Club Nintendo members until June 30. The ability to create a new Club Nintendo account will end on March 31. All users who register to Club Nintendo before registration closes will be eligible to receive Flipnote Studio 3D.

Note that any products released after today will not feature Club Nintendo codes for registration. A full FAQ on the closing schedule can be found here.

However, though Club Nintendo is coming to a close, the idea of a loyalty program for Nintendo customers is not reaching an end, but rather, a new beginning. Nintendo of America stated that it will be announcing a new loyalty program at a later date, and as The Escapist reports, Nintendo Global President Satoru Iwata said the company will begin experimenting with a Nintendo Network ID-based discount program.

According to Iwata, Nintendo may consider “[offering] flexible price points to consumers who meet certain conditions” with the hope of creating “a situation where these consumers can enjoy our software at cheaper price points when they purchase more.” In addition to increasing “the number of players per title” the company believes fan friendly pricing could also help foster an environment where “players will play our games with more friends,” something that would “help maintain the high usage ratio of a platform.”

In addition to purchasing games, Iwata stated that “inviting friends to start playing a particular software title” could also reap benefits.

That said, alongside talk of separating the Nintendo Network IDs from being tied to platforms, one has to wonder if this– along with the recent announcement of cross-platform purchases– is all part of leading to the unified account system that Nintendo fans have long dreamed of. Plus, with the Deluxe Digital Promotion for Wii U having recently come to an end, it appears Nintendo might be tying everything together in some interesting and beneficial ways.

It sounds like this might be the end of physical rewards for Nintendo customers who have turned in their surveys, and that is sad (I never did get those Hanafuda cards, and the Luigi’s Mansion statue was gone before I could get enough coins), but the future for Nintendo’s loyalist fans may yet still be bright.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I still have a ton of games to register and fill out surveys for (I’ve already hit Platinum).

Nintendo has a tendency to act very peculiar when it comes to the game which helped put them on the map: Donkey Kong. While the legends surrounding its emergence as a retooling of the failed game Radar Scope, the attempts to license Popeye falling through, how Mario came to be designed, and how both he and the titular monkey received their name have all become a prominent part of gaming lore, the company has never seen fit– with but one exception– to release an arcade-perfect port of the game on any of their platforms.

For years, the best the company has had to offer has been the NES port– good for its day, but ultimately inferior to the original, thanks to missing animations and an entire quarter of the game being removed (there were only four stages). Even when cartridge sizes increased, Nintendo released the same version with Donkey Kong Jr. as the combo-pack Donkey Kong Classics.

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Here’s a little song ‘n dance which is no doubt familiar to many a Canadian, though it is a bit unusual to hear of it from Club Nintendo.

As you might recall, Sunday is when the new Kirby’s Dream Collection – Special Edition was released for the Wii. And in addition, you might have even heard about a special contest through Club Nintendo, wherein registering your copy of the game and filling out the accompanying survey would enter you for a chance to win a set of collectible Kirby Round Playing Cards.

But as it turns out, this contest is not open to Canadians, so if that was a consideration for your purchase of the game collection, know that you’re excluded.

So, to sum up: Club Nintendo’s commemorative Kirby collection contest for collectible cards counts out Canadians, and that’s considerably crappy, capiche?

Some good news and some bad news have come out of Club Nintendo this week. First, we’ll start with the bad.

Were you saving up your Coins in the hopes of scoring one of those Mario-themed Hanafuda card decks? So was I, just as soon as I got that Game & Watch Ball unit. Unfortunately, we’re out of luck, as the cards are no longer being offered as a Club Nintendo reward. You can still get them through eBay, though prices run from as low as $27.99 to as high as $75… in U.S. currency, that is.

The good news is that Club Nintendo has added a new item to take its place: A gold Wii Nunchuk controller, made to complement the Wii Remote Plus which came included in some bundles of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. This one will cost you a hefty chunk of change at 900 Coins, and they emphasize that this item is available in a limited quantity (though that could mean a million were made, we’re not sure).

An item such as this is one that many people have long awaited… perhaps even too long, as some commenters to Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda Facebook post note they have already gotten one through other means. Nintendo had stated in April that they had no plans to release the item outside of Japan, which no doubt led fans to take action sooner, rather than later.

This will likely only apply to a small, small minority of people out there, but nonetheless, this is a neat little option for those who– for whatever reason– wish to do so.

I mentioned previously that Club Nintendo will give you double the number of Coins for registering a digital copy of New Super Mario Bros. 2 in the limited launch-day window. But if you want even more Coins from that particular game, it’s as easy as picking up a retail copy.

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The release of New Super Mario Bros. 2 on August 19th also marks the debut of a new feature from Nintendo: The ability to download retail games the same day they show up in stores. And with such a heavy emphasis on coins in this title (click here for more info), Club Nintendo has come up with a pretty clever promotion to mark the event.

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If you are a member of Club Nintendo, a rewards program for Nintendo customers in Canada as well as the United States, then you should know by now that the Club year has ended as of June 30th, and if you’ve registered enough games and filled out enough surveys to qualify for Gold (300 Coins) or Platinum (600 Coins) status, then you are now able to select one free gift at no cost (of real money or Club Nintendo Coins) to you– and that includes free shipping!

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