Technology

Looking back on Nintendo’s Call of Duty offerings from over the years

This morning, Xbox head Phil Spencer let the world know Microsoft was planning to sweeten its $68.7bn Activision Blizzard deal (perhaps specifically with the FTC in mind) by assuring consumers that, should the company’s proposed acquisition go through, it would commit to putting Call of Duty titles onto Nintendo consoles for 10 years.

As part of this announcement, Spencer stated “Microsoft is committed to helping bring more games to more people – however they choose to play.”

So, how do people choose to play Call of Duty? Well, for this current generation of consoles at least, not on a Nintendo Switch. There simply just isn’t the option to do so.

But while, generally speaking, Nintendo is typically more synonymous with its family-friendly moustachioed plumber, Call of Duty games on Nintendo consoles are not unheard of. In fact, there have been quite a few of them over the years.

Call of Duty made its console debut in 2004 with Finest Hour. Making the jump from PC, this release launched on the PlayStation 2, Xbox and, yes, Nintendo’s GameCube. The following year, the GameCube also saw the release of Call of Duty 2’s spin-off, Big Red One.

Then, as we marched on into 2006, Call of Duty 3 made its way onto the Nintendo Wii. At this time, Call of Duty 3 producer Sam Nouriani acknowledged the Wii version of the game wouldn’t be as graphically exciting as its PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 counterparts, but that it would use the controller’s unique features to enhance the player experience.

Over the course of its reign as the most current Nintendo console on the market, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007), Call of Duty: World at War (2008), Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010), and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011) all joined in the Wii-mote weidling fun. This was made all the moreā€¦ erm, enjoyable (?) thanks to the Wii’s optional Zapper peripheral that meant you could turn your controller into a gun-like accessory.

As a side-note, I played a lot of Black Ops on my Wii console, thrusting my nunchuck confidently up in the air to butt my enemies in the face with my gun if they got too close. I happened to also be pregnant at this time, and my son was soothed by the Black Ops theme music after he was born, but I digress.

Meanwhile, Modern Warfare, World at War, Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3 also saw their own versions come to the Nintendo DS. In a slight anomaly to the rest, the Nintendo DS also saw a Modern Warfare 2 companion game release in 2009.

Activision seemed to lose its enthusiasm for releasing its first-person shooter on Nintendo consoles sometime during the Wii U era, however. This console, often cited as a bit of a misstep for Nintendo in general, only saw two Call of Duty releases – Black Ops 2 in 2012 and Ghosts in 2013. This may well have been a bit of a surprise for Nintendo, as in 2012 Nintendo of America’s then marketing exec Scott Moffitt confidently stated he could picture the Wii U becoming the “prefered” Call of Duty platform for many. Alas, unfortunately for Moffitt, this did not turn out to be the case.

Following the release of Black Ops 2, Digital Foundry’s Richard Leadbetter conducted a face-off for the Wii U version of the game. Here is what he had to say:
“The Wii U version matches the look of the Xbox 360 game and thus gives it an edge visually over the PlayStation 3 release, but unfortunately it comes up well short in terms of performance – an aspect that is all-important to the playability of a COD title.

“The frame-rate variance is such that the PS3 game feels generally smoother, while the 360 release feels like an entirely different game in the more demanding levels. Bearing in mind the commonalities in hardware design between Wii U and Xbox 360, we can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed that Black Ops 2 under-performs so noticeably.”

Additionally, here is a video DF made in 2013, comparing the Wii U version of Ghosts to the Xbox 360 version.