I wanted to post this as I haven't seen much coverage of the Ouya here and I just received mine in the mail. This is my brief unboxing video of the limited edition console. *Spoilers* I've been enjoying it quite a bit.
Let me know if you have any questions. I'd be happy to answer them.
The next generation of hardware is coming. I'm only going to talk about WiiU. Why? I have zero interest in what Microsoft is cooking up and I'm moderately related to Sony, so I can't talk about them for fear of risking my job. So….only Nintendo it is. Maybe some bits of what I hope everyone is going to be doing as well.
I recently got to attend a WiiU experience event at San Diego ComicCon, so luckily I'm no longer firing blind. I have a bit of hands on knowledge with the WiiU. I liked quite a bit of what it has to offer and was pleasantly surprised by what they had on display. I'm generally excited for the WiiU. Here's simply my pie in the sky wish list:
HD upscaling for Wii games:
Simple right? I've seen the amazing things people are doing with the Dolphin emulator. It would be great to bust out my Wii games on the new hardware and see them looking crisp and clear on an HD screen. That is all.
Don't allow for a WiiU list:
Ahhh, the dreaded list of a Wii fan. Knowing my audience I know we've all seen one of these before. This is the list of games people come up with whenever someone slags off the Wii. Hell, my list is probably 30 titles long by now.
Wait, you mean there's 30+ good games for the Wii? Yes, maybe a few more. Here's the problem with the list: It exists because it is easy to name every good game on the Wii and hard to ignore all of the digital fecal matter also available. The Wii's library is 90% garbage, shovelware, shoddy ports and other various detritus. Maybe more. Nintendo needs to be more selective about who they give a license to. I think the biggest risk of becoming a crap catalog is inside the eShop. Nintendo completely fucked their DSi shop by loading it with the bottom of the barrel of mobile games and they need to make sure the same does not happen for the eShop on WiiU (or 3DS for that matter).
Support Indies, Support Alternative Business models:
In game purchases, out of game purchases, curated web stores, F2P, subscriptions, episodes, web page links for eShop purchases, etc. Open the number of business models developers can use to sell their product. Also, actively seek out incredible independent developers and help them bring their product to market on your console. Don't make them get an office. Offices get you Chicken Shoot and Ninjabread Man and make you miss out on games like Lone Survivor and Super Meat Boy.
Nintendo of America needs to change
Nintendo of America is crappy at their job. Knowing the little I do about the video game business, I don't know what's holding them back. They only seem capable of bringing out the most mainstream of new Nintendo IPs and the most popular of Nintendo's franchises. Are their resources so stretched they are unable to publish already translated JRPGs with heavy demand? Is their reward structure so fucked it would harm Reggie's bank account if every game they sell doesn't break a million copies? Does NoJ undercut the resources they need to continue to satisfy videogames' core and expanded userbase?
Somethings not right at NoA. NoE is at least capable of knowing what their core contingent is interested in and localizing and publishing the niche Japanese games with the greatest demand. Nintendo of America may be trying to be the Disney of the late 90's, holding on to their Family Friendly™ image to the detriment of their business. I don't know what's wrong at NoA, but something needs to change. I need to know I will be getting the full spectrum of Nintendo entertainment from Nintendo of America and not just the stuff appropriate for ages 8-80.
Back in the day, there was only one way to inexpensively import games available to a 13 year old. Piracy. This wasn’t the modern, run of the mill, easy as pie, download off the Pirate Bay torrent piracy of today. This is the find a guy from China on an "internet message board" and hope he doesn’t rip you off when he burns you stolen games and mails them to you kind of piracy. Very similar to the story Xenoblade of today(minus the happy ending), the reason I pirated might sound a bit familiar.
As a note, I do not condone or endorse piracy. I think it is the wrong thing to do and have not done it since I’ve been able to have a job. You can make your own choices regarding this matter.
There was a game company called Squaresoft who recently formed a studio called Game Factory. Game Factory was a combination of developers with experience on the Tekken and Virtua Fighter franchises as well as some Square/Enix mainstays like Akira Toriyama. There first game out was a little one on one fighter called “Tobal No.1.”
Tobal had a very unique Toriyama art style, solid combat mechanics and grapple/throwing mechanics which are still unmatched today. Forgoing the use of texture maps allowed the creators to use very high polycount (for the time) models and the game ran at a constant 60 FPS at a time when developers were reaching for 30. It threw in a very robust RPG mode where you could fight unique monsters, explore and unlock secret characters. Also it came with the demo for 3 of Squares most memorable games: Final Fantasy Tactics, Bushido Blade and one of the biggest games of all: Final Fantasy VII.
I really enjoyed Tobal No. 1. Me and my friends put hundreds of hours into it. My Hom was unmatched. My Brother would execute Chuji’s punch combos flawlessly. My friend Moe (Not his real name) had a cheap-ass Ill-Goga (to be fair, we considered every character Moe played to be cheap…). Right in the middle of all this, Square announced the sequel. The greatest sequel I had ever heard of.
Best of all? It was coming out in America.
I couldn’t read about it enough. Diehard GameFan, EGM, GamePro, GamePlayers. Every one of them put out previews. I read them all. I bought them all. Bigger RPG, new graphics (Gouaraud Shading! I don’t even know what that is!), projectile attacks, no more “No.” and holy crap, the coup de grace bullet point:
• Over 200 Playable Fighters!
I was hyped as hell, couldn’t wait. Then next month’s issue came out.
My heart dropped to the floor. I was mad. So mad we quit playing Tobal No. 1. So mad I didn’t finish reading the rest of the magazine. I was depressed for days. What news could possibly ruin my happiness for this new series? Tobal No. 2 was cancelled in North America.
Months later my older brother found a website. This website promised us 20 PS1 games for $20. They offered to sell you a “Mod Chip” for $40, with “easy" instructions on how to do it yourself. We opted for the swap trick instead. We split the cost, $11 a piece ($22 total for the Money Order, envelope and stamp). Soon we’d see Tobal 2, ChoroQ, Parodius, Vib Ribbon, one of many Sailor Moon Fighting games (my Brothers, I swear), Tail of the Sun. All the sharpie labelled games of our dreams, right to our door.
2 Months later, no games. No email reply. No pen top jammed in the back of my PS1. No shitty illegal games. Worst of all. I still was not going to be able to play Tobal 2. I wasn’t going to get to try out over 200 playable fighters. I wasn’t going to get to punch a Chocobo in the face. I really wanted to punch a Chocobo in the face.
About a year passed and my buddy Moe got the same hair-brained scheme. Order pirate games over the internet from China. I warned him he was going to get ripped off. He still asked me to pick one. Scrolling down that huge alphabetical list, I realized my heart still yearned for the game that got away: Tobal 2 was sitting there. I pointed at it and walked away, hoping to never have to read that game’s name again and suffer the heartbreak. I was not going to ever play it and I would always want to. I knew this in my heart.
Four weeks pass. I went to Moe’s house after school and a large Manilla envelope full of hard cases was waiting for him. Opening it up, some of the most professional Piracy I will ever see fell from it. Full CD cases, artwork on the disc. Moe’s Chinese pirate had come through. In the package was the game I thought I’d never play all gussied up like it was the real deal: Thrill Kill! (True, but also and much more important, Tobal 2!).
Pop the lid. Jam a pen top in the back against the “closed” button. Pop in a legit disc. Let it change speeds and slow down. Switch in pirate disc. Let it spin up to speed. Watch carefully for speed to drop, switch in legit disc. Let it spin about 3 times. Switch in Pirate disc. That is all I had to do to play Tobal 2. And I did it. I freaking did it!
Tobal 2 was everything I hoped it would be. It was a wonderful fighter. It has some of the best graphics and gameplay of any fighter of that generation. It had further improved and deepened the originals grappling mechanics. It had a quite fun amazing Diablo clone for the quest mode. It had cheap, overpowered projectiles. It had over 200 fighters, most of which were palette swaps which didn’t bother me because
Also, I was finally going to live my dream for the year. I was going to punch a Chocobo in the face:
*Images are Copyright to their respective owners. All composite images were composed by me for satirical purposes. I don't remember where I got all of them, sorry :\
So, I've read much in the way of illegitimate criticism on the 'Wii U'. The majority of what I've read is stupid, knee jerk reaction, gamers-hate-change unreasonableness. Other stuff just seems to be a simple misunderstanding of what Nintendo presented. Of course, there are plenty of legitimate criticisms of the new hardware, but that is not what this blog is about.
"The iPad is already doing this!"
No it isn't. The iPad is playing iPad games. iPad games are near universally shitty. When your best game is an inaccurate mess of a PunchOut clone with swords, do you really care if you can play it on your big screen? This also applies to the "Sony can do this with the NGP." crowd as well.
The main difference is this: The controller and the console system are the baseline for Wii U developers. Every Wii U player will have a dual analog controller with a built in touch screen, sound and motion controls. This is the default. You might get something close if a developer takes that route with an NGP-PS3 combo title (If Sony will even allow this) but my guess is most PS3 owners will not own an NGP and this will be an incredibly expensive option ($550 minimum buy-in) for a not quite similar experience.
To note, I'm really excited for what Sony is doing with the NGP. The dual touchscreens and Transfarring style cloud saving will create a very unique experience I can't wait to try.
"More Casual Crap!""Nintendo abandoned the Hardcore gamer!"
I am so sick of this. People were wrong when they said this about the Wii and they are certainly wrong saying this about the Wii U. Yes, Nintendo makes some simple titles for less experienced gamers and the expanded audience. However, 24 of 63 titles they've published for Wii are for the hardcore gamer (Titles like Metroid and Sin & Punishment), 11 of 63 are crossover titles (like New Super Mario Bros. Wii) that can please both audiences. Shift those titles between those two groups however you want, 35/63 titles are for hardcore players (not including the Atlus made games they published in Europe). Over 50% of what Nintendo released was for hardcore gamers.
What's worse, is hardcore players abandoned Nintendo's hardcore games (or perhaps are pirating everything after Smash Bros. came out). Metroid Prime 3 only sold 1.5 million copies. Metroid Prime Trilogy sold less then a million. Both of those games were critically acclaimed (I loved them myself), directed at the hardcore and some of the best values in gaming. Both of those games combined sold worse then Wii: Music (3 million). Who abandoned what now?
The Wii U is what hardcore gamers have been asking for in comment after comment: Standard set up dual analog sticks and button controls, HD graphics (supposedly more powerful then PS3) and M rated games. It has the added benefit of a large touchscreen, built in microphone, headphone jack and SIXAXIS style motion controls. The casual market are still buying Wii titles so Nintendo will continue to serve them, but every addition to the Wii U is obviously added to please the hardcore gamer.
"Nintendo's online service is crap!"
This is absolutely true when talking about the original Wii, as well as the DS/DSi family. Their one friend code per game tomfoolery, comparatively horrible storefronts, lack of support for multiple users and missing standards like voice chat, messaging an even friend status were, at best, hard to deal with. Spotty connections and missing features make those systems far more then deserving of the negative reputation.
You'll notice I left one system out: The 3DS. The 3Ds is a major step up in connectivity. Not just for Nintendo but for console gaming in general. There's a solid infrastructure as most online matches I've played have been lag free. The games and system automatically download updates whenever you're near an open WiFi connection. Automatic downloads of DLC bring a new element of surprise every time you start a title. Friend Codes have been reduced to 1 per console (making it like a phone number). There's still some room for improvement, but it is leaps and bounds ahead of where Nintendo was and certain features are above and beyond what anyone else offers.
I'm pretty sure Nintendo will not stop the progress of their online service with the 3DS. It's already been hinted at new online capabilities the Wii U will offer. Ubisoft, at e3, talked about checking what your friends were up to and receiving messages from Ghost Recon on the controller screen when the console was not active. I think it's pretty safe to assume the Wii U will have it's own built in friends list so you can easily see what all your friends are up to just by checking out the controller. With a built in mic and a forward facing camera, perhaps video-chat will arrive in a big way as every controller comes with the ability to do that video chat standard.
"The Wii U is the worst name ever for a console EVAR"
Even worse then the WonderSwan?
I hope people who've made these same complaints will read what I have written and stop and think before jumping to negative conclusions. Some of what I've wrote about the Wii U is conjecture which isn't dissimilar to what I'm writing against. I'm just writing positive conjecture. Nintendo still has a lot to show us and a lot to prove. It pains me to read when someone expects the worst out of promising new technology, especially when it's based more on memes then reality. I'm not saying to have wishful thinking or to even to give everything a chance, just don't malign somethings potential before you have a real reason to do so.
(All sales data from VGcharts.com)
(List of Nintendo published titles for Wii available @ wikipedia)
Something I've been trying to wrap my head around lately is the 'Core Audience' pride that I see going round and round videogame blogs, comments, message boards etc. etc. etc. Often it is brought up with an air of superiority over "Casual" gamers. Also, it is retarded.
Do these people who say "I'm a Core Gamer" even know what the fuck they are talking about?
The "Core Gamer" is a demographic. The "Core Gamer" demographic is (increasingly less) young adult males. That's it. Core games are games designed and marketed to appeal to (increasingly less) young adult males. That's it. That is all that "Core Gamer" is. The average video-game player.
Which is to say, there's nothing wrong with liking what you like. But calling yourself a "Core Gamer is not calling yourself a "Hardcore Gamer". You are calling yourself a tool of some publishers marketing department. You are admitting to making the average purchase decisions(according to the ESA's latest statistics) of a 37 year old male.
Now, I imagine the majority of people out there reading this blog are not 37 year old men. I'm also sure there's plenty 37 year old male gamers out there who are more down with experimental, niche or casual titles then Battlefield 3. That's exactly my point:
Do not worry if a title or game system is "appealing to Core Gamers." Worry about whether a title or game system is appealing to you as a you gamer. In fact don't even worry about it, just enjoy and look forward to the gaming stuff that interests and appeals to you and try not to thumb your nose at the people enjoying and looking forward to something different.
Or, in the great words of some dumb gamer T-Shirt:
(37 year old male images from a Google image search)
(T-Shirt Graphic from Shirtoid.com)
So, there a lot of things people want to see @ E3. Here's some worrying trends I would love to not see in the next fiscal year:
Final Fantasy VII Remake Burn this idea with fire. Seeing the quality of Final Fantasy products Square has been putting out, there is only one thing Square could do to FF VII: Ruin it. Seriously, the Square of today will fuck this up royally. For now, I'm content with my original copy and I'm occasionally tempted to download it on PSN so I can play it on my PSP.
Music Games Seriously, just let Rock Band be the king and leave it at that.
Retro Revivals I love old games. I recently finished A Link to the Past over the weekend. I have the original Sonic the Hedgehog Trilogy (+Knuckles) on Virtual Console. I play Toejam and Earl once a month. I do not need another NES Megaman game, I already have 6 of them. Show me what you can do TODAY within TODAYS limits.
More Realistic Graphics I'm sick of the ever growing trend towards realism in video game graphics. I see a very negative trend where designers are letting the graphics inform the gameplay instead of the other way around. The push for realism in graphics is equaling the push for realistic games. I hope developers take the opportunity at E3 to show me things I've never imagined.
(Gordon Freeman Pixel Art jacked from Oli Smith)
(3D David Render jacked from Max Wahyudi)