Hi! Erm... wel lesee, I've been a 'gamer' all my life really. When I was a toddler I used to play Atari, my earliest 'favorite' game was Centipede. Since then I've played most noticeable games for all the noticeable consoles. Like pretty much everything, though modern FPS games tend to rub me the wrong way. The two most influential games I've played are probably Final Fantasy VII and Deus Ex. I neither subscribe to any real favorite between genre, consoles or PCs. Games are games regardless of what you play them on. I believes games peaked around 1997 - 1999; a period which included a lot of 'best game evah!' candidates, and entries which are usually considered the best in their respective series: FFVII, Tomb Raider II, Resident Evil 2, Metal Gear Solid, Ocarina of Time, Banjo Kazooie, Goldeneye, Half-Life etc.
I know this is a game website, but I've seen movie blog posts before so, here's one of mine. Besides gamer culture and nerd culture go side-by-side anyway. Who here isn't interested in Batman?
Anyway, suffice it to say this blog post has lots of >>>>>>>>>>> MAJOR SPOILERS <<<<<<<<< starting after this sentence. You have been warned.
Aaaand here... we... go! (By the way, forgive the ugliness of this post, but apparantly Destructoid blogs don't like bulletpoints or something.)
The Thematic elements are none existent or dubious at best. You could argue that it attempts to show the best and worst of both right-wing and left-wing politics whilst ensuing an agenda of open and transparent government (instead of one built on lies), but that's grasping at straws, and (even if it's the biggest) it's not like it's the only fault:
The movie presents itself as uncompromising but buckles under the pressure. (We'll come back to this later)
Selena Kyle's character never stops being established.
Despite eight years of isolation, a mere robbery is enough to get Bruce back in the suit.
The theft happens to coincide with Bane's attack on the stock market though, allowing Batman to return in the nick of time. What a coincidence.
Gordon survives an explosion that kills four cops, but is given an unspecific injury (to keep him out of the next portion of the film) from a mere punch.
Those rigged explosions are the only thing keeping the cops out of the sewers, yet Bane's only held in the sewers because of a ridiculously convoluted plan to use Dagget's construction company to break into the Applied Sciences of Wayne Enterprises.
This plan included planting Bruce's fingerprints on the Stock Exchange. I guess the political implication of that scene was just trailer bait.
Those fingerprints were taken by Selina in a way that's supposed to mask the attempt, but only draws attention to it, considering that she was already disguised as a maid, who (by chance) managed to gain access to Bruce Wayne's apartment.
More trailer bait includes the scenes of Selina telling Bruce to 'batten down the hatches' despite the fact that nothing thematic come from the whole 'rich' versus 'poor' thing. Bane may as well have been using dial-a-henchmen.
As well as the fact that the equipment gained from the Applied Sciences division is never really used, save from the Free Energy device, which is stored elsewhere and taken during a different ploy. Why did they take the Tumblers and other equipment? Why wait for their attack at all? Keep in mind that they couldn't have used the equipment to take over Gotham, since they rig the sewer charges for that before hand. (Psst. It's because it's filler to spread the plot out.)
and of course the combat Jets which are featured in the trailers in literally the only scene they have in the movie where they do a quick meaningless pass-over.
As well as Gordon, Alfred finds himself missing from the second two-thirds of the plot, and apparently decides to render no assistance, when Bruce's company goes under, he has a fling with Miranda Tate (despite his lack of companionship being one of his stated reasons for leaving) and Bruce's fears of Bane are confirmed and Gotham is rendered a No-Man's Land. As if his reasons of leaving made any sense to begin with. Nice to know you care, Alfred.
John Blake happens to have figured out Bruce's identity based on nothing but a mutual feeling of hatred towards crime. Well... fuck. Let's hope his enemies never feel that way.
Bane and Batman have no repoire. They meet once before their final confrontation, where Bane clearly expected not to see Batman again.
The second half of the film clashes with and undermines the first half...
...due to the Nolan's crowbarred-in Howard Hughes plot, which is only tangentially related to the rest of the film.
Bane and Batman's final fight is one of many scenes that are underwhelming after build-up including:
The moment where Bane breaks the Batman
Bruce Wayne's 'escape' from the Lazarus Pit. Where a big jump magically turns in to a small ledge near Bruce's head. Is Nolan trying to make people disappointed?
The Miranda Tate/Bruce Wayne romance scene comes from absolutely nowhere, as are the hints left by both Lucius and Alfred.
Crime-family element is no longer represented, creating a disconnect from previous films.
Other things not brought back from the previous films include the entire Ramirez plot, despite her being one of the only people who know the truth of what happened.
As well as the Batmen, despite them seemingly being a reference to a similar group in The Dark Knight Returns, which would've presumably been relevant to this plot.
When in the Lazarus Pit, Bruce it told a critical piece of information by a freaking hallucination of Ra's Al Ghul: That Bane is apparently his son. When he wakes up he finds himself listening to a story of a boy who escaped the prison, which he just assumes is Ra's' son. This of course is true (but not really), as this lays the seeds for a plot-twist despite the only plot being twisted is based on these assumptions, that happen to be related by sheer coincidence. Speaking of which, it's lucky that Bruce was in that cell.
How does Bane get Bruce into the Lazarus Pit? I thought they had Gotham City locked down? Actually, how does Bruce get back in for that matter? 'Console: Teleport 0,1,1 npcselena_kyle'?
The Bat and the Batpod are both locked down despite a 5-month period of anarchy and "everything belongs to everyone" mentality, protected by a high-tech security system: an easily removable tarp. Keep in mind that Bane was actually seeking out Batman's equipment.
Actually, why didn't Bruce put the Bat or Batpod in the Batcave like everything else?
Batman's role is questionable in a conflict of this scale. He's a crime-fighter, not a soldier. Realistically he'd be shot half to hell, except that...
Inexplicably, the cops and 'people' fight each other hand-to-hand despite the easily available resource of guns.
Which makes the Bane vs Batman fight at the end seem utterly ridiculous. Batman was only ever one dodgy scene away from looking too stupid to work properly. It was always about context and this scene drops the ball. Batman just looks daft fighting in a crowd of cops. Not to mention...
Bane's look and abilities aren't tonally justified, despite Nolan's prior attempts to keep things from getting unrealistic. It would have been better if Bane's mask was just a theatrical ploy to induce fear ala the League of Shadows teachings.
The predictable and cliche fight scene itself lends to the overall 'reality-clash' of the whole surreal scene. It's like somebody got some Schumacher in my Nolan. The fact that fight scene itself is arguably the worst in any Batman movie doesn't help. Bane should've just lay down for Bruce. Speaking of which...
Bane has a lot of bare skin showing. Doesn't Batman have tranquilizers or something in that Utility Belt? Or anything at all really. What about the flying fin things he fired at the Joker? No, nothing?
Then comes the plot twist of the movie: Talia fucking al Ghul. I admit, as a fan, I fangasmed a little when it happened (and it was well executed) but that doesn't stop the plot-twist from being batshit retarded (see what I did there?), and a big wad of fanwank:
Firstly, the reveal that the boy in the flashback was Talia leaves several bus-sized plot-holes. Foremost amongst them being: What about what Ra's said? Never mind the hallucination. I'm talking about the flashback that the hallucination was built on? Are we supposed to believe that Ra's didn't know the gender of his own child?
Isn't the presence of somebody like Bane one hell of a coincidence? Just how old is Bane anyway? Considering the age of the boy/girl versus the flashback of Bane, he must've stopped aging at some point, or at least aged very well. It's convenient for Talia that he ended up the way he did though, right?
Accept that the past of Bane is the entire focus of his character. Both the fact that Lazarus Pit was supposed to act of a catalyst of his rebirth, (being helped out by Ra's men) as well as the source of his abilities and the whole "Born in Darkness" dialogue. Perhaps Bane was just breathing in gas-based steroids or some shit like that.
And of course there's the classic of plot-twists like this: Why didn't Miranda Tate just kill Bruce when she had the chance? Bane (and presumably Talia) knew Bruce was Batman from the start afterall. It was key to their plot of taking over Wayne Enterprises. Why could Tate merely catch him unaware (when he wasn't wearing protective armor) after he shows her the Free Energy device? How about faking his suicide, whilst they're having sex? You know, just after the presumed-instable recluse has just lost his fortune and only known associate: the only legacy of his murdered parents.
Lastly, there's the simply fact that the plot-twist adds nothing to the plot and only takes away from it. Bane is promptly killed (by a Deus Ex Machina-riding Catwoman) and after a crappy chase sequence (usually something Nolan excels at) Talia dies (believing her plot has succeeded) and Batman flies the easy-bake nuke into the sunset and faked martyrdom.
Since nothing is thematically tied together in this film. A question needs to be asked: Why exactly did Bruce give-up being Batman? Apparently his entire crusade (and the basis of the entire series) was just given up, just because he had an opportunity. If at first you don't succeed, stop trying kids.
In fact Bane is (by the end of the movie) so unrelated to anything else that the entire takeover operates as essentially 'just another madman' plot, that has no relationship with Bruce's decision to leave. This undermines the entire story of the movie.
The relationship with Selina is a complete last-second asspull, for the sake of the mega-happy ending. (Party on Bruce!)
This is despite the fact that Gotham is arguably worst off than it's ever been: It's infrastructure has been completely destroyed, it's economy is in ruins (remember how that acted for the catalyst of crime in Begins?) and the world has just lost a working Free Energy machine, which also means that Wayne Enterprises (which bet the last of it's fortune on it) is about to go bust. I hope Lucius doesn't mind dying a pauper.
We only know Bruce survived because the Bat apparently survived a FUCKING NUCLEAR EXPLOSION intact enough for them to be able to tell that Bruce fixed the autopilot with a 'patch'. Well, shit, now I know that next time I spill something on my laptop all my data should be juuuuust fine.
And now John Blake is Batman (which nobody saw coming), despite the fact that he lacks the years of training, League of Shadow expertise, and personal fortune that allowed Batman operate as more than just a man in a suit. Oh and his base (which bad guys will be attempting to locate and target) is now below an orphanage. Remember that bit in Begins when the mansion burns down? Yeah... Which reminds me...
"The world is too small for someone like Bruce Wayne to disappear."
BONUS!!!: Silly fan-theory to explain all this nonsense.
Ra's al Ghul survived the monorail crash. That's why his ghost/hallucination/whatever looks noticeably older than his living self. He told Bruce about his 'son' because everything that's happened in all three Batman movies was planned from the start. When he told Bruce that he would do 'What was necessary' he meant providing the crime and villainy (including the Joker) to act as a catalyst for Bruce's potentially world-changing crusade. But the Joker went too far, corrupting Dent and causing the lie that undermined the Batman's effect on the world. Thus Bane came to be the symbol that Batman couldn't, and now Batman's defeat of him (and his own selfishness) has doomed the world to corruption and the further division of rich and poor. Makes more goddamn sense than the actual movie at any rate...
When looking at the Elder Scrolls games and their application to it's own (fantastic) mythology things can become a little confusing. For instance, TES III establishes that Lorkhan's Heart was indeed thrown into Red Mountain (as established in certain Elven mythology), indicating that Lorkhan was indeed the trickster that the Elves insist. However, on the other hand, TES IV clearly establishes the divine right of the 'Dragonborn' and the Empire as the chosen platform for Akatosh' invocation. Add to this the confirmation of Alduin's existance in TES V (and the ramifications of this) and it seems that not everything is clear.
Complicating the matter furthur is the idea that the et'Ada (the Gods) are merely representatives of ideas or 'concepts' even within these mythologies. Even the titular Elder Scrolls themselves (supposedly passed down by Akatosh at the beginning of the First Era) seem to work on a bottom-up approach to metaphysics, indicating that the universe is merely nothing more than an extension of the limitations of the conscious minds within it, with the Scrolls being a sort of metaphysical infinite regress: A story that contains itself within it.
This is supported by the concept of 'Dragonbreaks', which, as the name would suggest, are points where time seems to break. These represent gaps in everyones memories, but written evidence seems to suggest paradoxical accounts of history that all end up at the same point anyway. The most famous (and second) of the Dragonbreaks occured during the 'Missing Millenium'. Based on the retrospective evidence, all civilisations claim that they achieved a level of superiority only to regress back into an identicle unified history as the Dragonbreak comes to an end. The other famous Dragonbreak is the 'Warp in the West' event where all four endings of TES II occured simultaniously, leading to a stalemate in the usually chaotic Illiac Bay region and the so-called 'Miracle of Peace'. The fact that the former Dragonbreak occured due to members of the Alessian Order trying to seperate 'aspects' (whatever that may mean) of the elven Aurial from human Akatosh is telling to me, and indicates that indeed, all myths may be simultaniously true, even where this should be impossible.
On the other hand, both the mythologies of the Nords and the Redguard purport a cyclical form of existance (which is also hinted at elsewhere, particularly in Psijic beliefs) that is relatively hard to reconcile with the myths of men and mer. The basic division of the elven and human perspective is that the Elves view the gods as their 'ancestors' (IE, that they are lesser forms of they who were trapped into mortality by Lorkhan), where the humans see themselves as distinct part of the et'Ada (and their 'concepts') and are greatful at their chance for existance: that the universe should consist of more than Gods. Even the Cyrodilic myths say that they were created from the Gods, but as a form of self-sacrificial mutilation: as the divine 'concepts' that the et'Ada consist of, are brought down into 'Mundus': the world of limitation to become Nirn. In this sense, both the Elves and Humans are right, but are divided by a matter of perspective: the humans view existance as a gift (and a means of testing, possible resulting in apotheosis, as with Talos), whilst the Elves view it as a punishment they must indure, and thus do so with overwrought pride. Nevertheless , despite beliefs (and even hints) to the contrary, it's obvious that the Elves 'Aedra' and the Humans 'et'Ada' are one and the same pantheon, and that Aurial is Akatosh.
Whilst the myths of the beastkin, differ in only superficial ways from those of the Cyrodilics (indeed in the 'Shezarr's Song' myth, beastkin are considered equal benificiaries of Shezarr alongside the Imperials), the Redguard mythology presents a rather more unique aspect to the monomyth that may explain the truth of the creation of Mundus. In this myth the world exists in the 'world-snake' Satak, which is originally coiled up, so that the thing living on it dont' really have the means of existance (unformed concepts). Thus the 'hunger' is created from inside Satak, known as Akel (the Redguard version of Sithis or Padomay). Satak begins eating himself, and everytime he devours his own heart, he is reborn, shedding his old skin, but the people living on him can only survive thanks to somebody named Ruptga or 'Tall Papa' (the Redguard equivelent of Akatosh), who shows them how to survive these 'cycles', by reaching up and placing the stars as a means of allowing them to find their way out to a waiting place they call the Far Shores. These Far Shores seem to be the Redguard equivelent of the Aetherius. It's also worth noting that Ruptga's use of the stars mirrors Akatosh's use of 'time' to allow spirits to better know themselves in Elven mythology. However, these souls build up until there is no more room on the Far Shores between cycles and Ruptga creates a 'Second Snake' (out of the shed skins of Satak) to help him called Sep (the Redguard Lorkhan) who decides to create a new world (out of the leftovers of those skins) where they can wait. Thus were mortals created.
In this version of the monomyth, whilst mortality is treated as a punishment by the Redguard (as with the Elves), Sep is treated as a fool, who created Mundus as an act of ignorance rather than malice. What's intresting about this version of the monomyth is the fact that Akel exists 'inside' (or as a part of) Satak, creating the infinite cycle. Similarly as Lorkhan (and Mundus) are treated as represeting of 'limitation', so too is Satak's shed skin. IE, the limitation created from Anu and Sithis' attempts to coexist (the consumption). This possibly allows one to unify the cyclical myths (including the Nords) with the non-cyclical. Indeed, all myths follow a similar pattern: the two fundamental opposite forces of unity and division (status and change, or order and chaos) are created as the unity attempts to know itself. These forces create spirits which are eventually enabled by a spirit that gives rise to self-awareness (Akatosh, Aurial or Ruptga) leading to the formation of new spirits. They then create Mundus and the mortals from parts of themselves, due to the agency of a spirit of limitation (Lorkhan, Shezarr, Sep, Shor), whether realising the concequences or not. This reconstructed monomyth is made up of the fundamental aspects of conscious beings (with the gods being the basic 'concepts'), definitely making them prone to metaphysical extrapolation.
With the waxing and waning of Anu and Sithis representing a possible 'cycle' this also accounts for the existance of cyclical myths and the Nordic Alduin, who is the opposite of Akatosh, representing the opposite concept to that of time: time's end (for which we have no word). This also gives an interesting explaination for the creation of Mundus (again, as defined in the Redguard myths): as a means to escape the cycle via mortals (as aspects of the Gods) and a 'final end' of the concepts. Indeed this is supported by the 'Mythic Aurbis' segment of the Monomyth, which details a breif (and purposely unspecific) version of the monomyth, where it is said that the creation of the mortal world was 'the ultimate story' of the spirits: that of "their own death" via the creation of Mundus: the ultimate form of Aurbis (existance). Yet all conscious beings fear death (hence those that refused and became the Daedra), so the death is both a good thing and a bad thing: something they try to escape (hence the creation of the sun and stars by their retreat and the punishment of Lorhkan), but felt compelled towards (as beings attempting to furthur define and refine themselves via self-examination), hence their adoption of the Imperials as their sons and the bestowing of the Dragonblood. This creation of the Mortal world, as an end to the cycle, would also explain both the Nordic prophecies and Alduin's betrayal (as a God made irrelevent) during the Dragon War. Since the Elves and Alessians both hold mutually exclusive interpretations of the monomyth, naturally they deny the cycle and Alduin only appears in the Nordic myths, ironically kept alive via (usually undependable) oral tales (and often falsily identified with Akatosh), whilst the Redguard acknowledge the cycle but make the devourer and the devoured the same entity.
One last oddity: The Serpent Constellation. This constellation moves around freely. In folk lore it is said that the Serpent is attempting to devour the other constellations. The Serpernt is also the only constellation that isn't under one of the three 'Guardian' constellations (the Warrior, the Mage or the Thief) and is the only one with no season accredited to it. This is despite the fact that (according to Elven mythology) the stars and suns were the holes made in the barrier between Oblivion and the Aetherius by the retreating Aedra. The only mythology that accounts for this (and may have been based on it) is the Redguards', who say that after the creation of Nirn, Sep was seperated from his divine aspect (an aspect of hunger, reflecting Sep's connection to Akel, and his origins as the skin of Satak) and his body became the constellation, seeking to forever devour the others. This has obvious parallels with the fate of Lorkhan and the fact that his 'Earth-Bones' became the basis for the moons (as the spirits were the basis of Nirn's) as his own essence; his heart, was cast down. Naturally, I think it's safe to say that both are probably true, as none of these mythologies are fully accurate, for one reason: which is that they all represent primal fundemental distinctions of consciousness that are simply given name. However, it is obvious that the Elven mythology is closest to the truth (and noticeably the Old Ways of the Psijic Order, which predate this and still maintain certain 'cyclical' aspects of the proto-myths) particularly in regards to the retreat of the surviving spirits (who became the Aedra) and the punishment of Lorkhan.
Other legends also exist. For instance only the Annotated Anuad (an early religious precursor to the religion of the Eight Divines) references the settlement of the 'Ehlnofey' the ancestors of men and mer and the Hist (the trees) following the chaos of Nirn's creation and a possible war between the Aedra and the Daedra. It's probable that the beastkin also shared an ancestor that probably settled Akavir, as the Ehlnofey settled Atmora and Aldmeris.
The Psijic Order also represent a different interpretation of Aldmeri religion known as the 'Old Way' which regard the ancestors-worship of the mer in the light of the cyclical model (and thus don't worship them). They are obsessed with 'change' (which they call the eleventh force, the other ten remain unknown but aren't regarded highly). They believe that in the first instance (when Akatosh was born) it was due to Sithis' influence on Anu and the impossibility of 'Static' becoming 'Change' represented in the impossible-to-pronounce word PSJJJJ (which gave the Order it's name). They also believe in the 'Psijic Endeavour' a means for a mer to become an Aedra by means of transcendence. They believe that when the cycle repeats those that practised the Psijic Endeavour would become the new world builders and hopefully wouldn't repeat the mistakes of Lorkhan's failure. Noticeably, the Daedric Prince Boethiah (considered one of the three 'good' Daedra) told the mer of the Endeaver, causing a sundering amongst the elves resulting the Chimer and their pilgrimage (led by the Psjic Order member Veloth) to Morrowind, and the eventual basis of their worship of the sixteen Daedra Princes. Since these three Daedra are indeed good (certainly more so than the always-neutral Aedra), it's possible that they can represent an alternative pantheon of sorts (along with the other Daedric princes, which are believed to be necessary) to the Aedra. In light of the conclusions raised above, it remains to be seen whether such a cycle could ever come to pass. Who knows, perhaps if TES V can be said to be the start of a new cycle, then TES VI could focus on the Psijics back in Alinor?.
Back before Nintendo's Press Conference at E3, quite a few analysts and so-called 'industry veterans' did what all analysts and industry veterans do before an E3 Press Conference: They 'analyzed' the shit out of Nintendo, and attempted to guess what the companies priorities and big announcements for the show were going to be. One of the most popular sentiments I saw expressed this year, was the seemingly universal belief that Nintendo was going to blow the lid off of the Wii U, by way of a series of first-party titles that would be the 'killer apps' (does anybody use that term anymore?) for the console's big upcoming holiday release.
I was confused by this belief. Throughout the development cycle of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Nintendo (perhaps unintentionally) revealed something about the way in which they made games: Namely, the protracted development that comes from making each entry in their first-party line up (the biomass of endlessly churning Mario spin-offs notwithstanding, of course). Skyward Sword entered development almost immediately after the release of Twilight Princess, largely due to the consumer desire for a true 'Zelda Wii' to show off the 'true value' of the console. When Skyward Sword was finally released last year, the sentiments of gamers and reviewers generally agreed over one thing: That it was simply too little, too late.
Needless to say, whilst I was curious about Nintendo's Press Conference, I didn't think there was a hope in hell of seeing a new Mario or Zelda in HD. But I hoped nonetheless, because I also happened to believe, as I'll discuss below, that those games were necessary for the continued future survival of the company. So the Press Conference came and went, and when Reggie Fils-Aime walked off stage, so too did the last vestiges of that hope.
Naturally, after this happened and people were announcing their surprise at these absences, I decided to take this lone indication, as the only evidence necessary to pronounce that I knew more about games analysis than the so-called 'experts', and that my greater fears of Nintendo's downfall were vindicated at the same moment as they were seemingly affirmed. Thus, I came to write this blog page; a prophet to warn against the coming Nintendocalypse.
Google Image Result for Nintendocalypse. Insert joke about cannibalism here.
Now, I should point out, I don't want to light any fires under arguments concerning the benefit of motion control versus the power benefits of the PS3 and 360. Everybody has their opinion on the subject and it's not really relevant to the problem at hand. However, it's become increasingly obvious (first to gamers who felt alienated, and now thanks to the reports of Nintendo's first ever annual loss) that the Wii had a critical failure. If Skyward Sword had released earlier, would it have convinced more companies to make games for it? I'm not so sure.
The elephant in the room here is the third-party support. Or rather, the lack of it. Back when the Wii came out, it's new controller functions were touted as the next big thing to entice gamers and developers alike to a platform that saw no need in greater technological output, and wanted to bring more people into the fold of gaming. Hell, this is a console that was once codenamed the 'Revolution', after all. But in reality, the decision facing developers and publishers during this time was simple: Release a more high-end game on the PS3 and 360 and get the option to advertise games more visually (after all most advertisements are visual in nature) as well as the ability to release the game across multiple platforms, with relatively little change in the game's code. Meanwhile, releasing a game on the Wii, meant specializing with unique interaction (that devs weren't that sure how to implement) and less power.
Specialization, however, meant exclusivity, to a console that consumers were themselves unsure of. After all, most consumers were expecting a similar leap between the hardware of the two generations of console as had become the norm in generations prior. Here began a viscous circle: No consumers to buy games, and no game to keep consumers playing. By comparison, releasing the same game on PS3, 360 & PC maximized both the ability to advertise the game with high-tech visuals, and the game's potential userbase: New markets with relatively little alteration between different versions of the game.
At this point, some of you will be shouting, that the Wii did indeed have consumers. After all, when it launched (very successfully) back in 2006, it quickly grew to be the most successful console launch in history, at the time. But most of the people who bought the console were people playing what we now call 'Casual' games, most notorious of which was 'Wii Play' which came bundled with most releases of the console. Nintendo had successfully mimicked the marketing strategies that Apple had effected in popularizing their iPod and iTunes brand, and had found an entirely new market in the process.
Some markets were more specific than others.
However, what happened next is well known history, which lies at the very importance of the relationship between first and third-party games in Nintendo's lineup: By alienating the third-party developers (in turn, alienating the so-called 'hardcore' gamers), whilst allowing for such long development time gaps between their first-party games, the Wii release schedule settled into a pattern of peaks and valleys. The story is now a classic one: Wii consoles lying dormant for months at a time, gathering dust, until a brief spike is punctuated by the release of one of Nintendo's first-party behemoths, only for them to inevitably fall back into hibernation once more, after all the excitement and buzz dies down.
Nintendo had created a new life-form, but had forgotten to give it a pulse.
So how did Nintendo fall into the pattern, and how is this relevant to the Wii U or the Press Conference? You see, this is the latest in a long death for Nintendo, that's existence has only just been confirmed. I'd liken it to having a friend with cancer: Even when you know the friend is ill, you continue to support them and hope for their recovery. Then one day, they come back from the hospital and deliver the bad news: Their illness is terminal. You continue to support them, but it's never quite the same when hope is lost. For me, Nintendo's Press Conference was that bad news. You see, whilst the Wii was the earliest most visible symptom of Nintendo's illness. It wasn't the first.
At the crux of my fear is the belief that Nintendo, by presenting a hardware that (in terms of it's gameplaying ability) is behind other consoles by a generation, they've effectively dug themselves into a hole, that they had to dig themselves out from. Now I don't think they will. Yet, even before the Wii came out, there were signs of this approach and signs of it's effect in it's predecessor, the Gamecube. Now, the idea of the Gamecube having bad third-party support may sound ludicrous, but that's when viewed with a modern eye, with some unfortunate perspective on what 'bad' means. Whilst the Gamecube had many great third-party games (especially in comparison to the Wii's support), at a time when the PS2 was dominating the market with an almost obscene amount of third-party games, back when the Gamecube was out, it seemed underpowered, under-supported and generally uncompetitive.
This was probably more apparent outside of the US, where Nintendo never quite managed to gain the same sort of cultural foothold as it had in the US during the late eighties. In my native UK, by 2005, I walked into a Cash Generator store and saw a bucket full of used Gamecubes which were all selling for 50p. No, I haven't mistyped that. That's fifty pence sterling. I bought three of them, because why the hell not? Keep in mind, that this was still a current-gen console. And finding games was even harder, since most retailers refused to stock Gamecube games. When the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess came out, I made my first ever Amazon purchase due to the fact that I couldn't find any store that sold Gamecube games near me.
You see, Nintendo had made similar bargains with the Gamecube's hardware: They had sacrificed raw game-making potential, in order to create a machine that they envisioned as a small, 'funky', portable console, which even had a handle on the back; the idea being that you shared the console with friends via an interconnected world of Gamecubes and Gameboy Advances that, in an age before wireless, resembled a serving of spaghetti in practice. Sadly, those concessions had similar results, at least here in the UK.
One of the first Google Image results for 'Gamecube handle'. Never change, Internet.
It's with the Gamecube that we find the source of Nintendo's ill-fated first-party release schedule, which was the main root of the Press Conference disappointment. Twilight Princess provides the most suitable demonstration, as it was released simultaneously for both the Gamecube and the Wii. A question raises it's head here: Given the fact that Twilight Princess could never properly demonstrate the Wii's capabilities (as proven by the clambering of a proper 'Zelda Wii' afterwards), and the fact that Nintendo must've been working on the Wii at least some time prior to it's release, why then, did they bother making Twilight Princess for the Gamecube at all? The development of Twilight Princess and the Wii crossed over, so why not make it an exclusive launch title for the Wii? It could've done what people were hoping Skyward Sword would do, but as previously stated, Skyward Sword (as a demonstrable continuation of this release gaff) came too late.
Honestly, we'll probably never now the answer to that question. Given the questionable choices of the Wii's limitations, it wouldn't surprised me if the Wii was originally intended to be a peripheral of sorts, for the Gamecube, before Nintendo decided to redesign it as their next console. Regardless the mistakes were made: the Wii was underpowered, the consumers were confused, third-party developers were alienated (this time to a much greater extent) and the first-party games were locked onto a series of unsupportive release dates, leading to a console whose biggest problem can be summed up in a single word: Redundancy. After all, it doesn't matter how great you're controller is, if the game support just isn't there, and how can it be, when the Wii's own hardware inferiority, renders it too much of specialized consideration for the devs and publishers? It can't.
By identifying this pattern, the lackluster results of Nintendo's Press Conference show a worrying continuation of this theme: The release dates of the next hypothetical Zelda and/or Mario are just as long-lived as ever. As a result, this all but confirms that Nintendo has nothing but 'long-term' plans for the console. This isn't a 'stop-gap' as some had surmised: This is Nintendo's true next-gen console, and a resource-sink which ensures we won't be getting the big guns for it until at least a few years (which will be after the launch of it's rivals).
The ramifications of this reveal a horrible conclusion: History is repeating itself, as Nintendo tries to climb out of the hole it dug itself into, by allowing for such a technological gap to exist between itself and it's rivals. The third-party support we've seen is merely the equivalent of the enhanced PS2 re-releases (like O'kami) the Wii had after it launched. I don't know what I had expected from the Press Conference. Did I expect them to magic some new Mario or Zelda out of thin air? Or did I expect the Wii U to be more powerful than previously thought? I'm not sure, but I (like everybody else) expected something. Just not the same redundancy all over again.
Mark my words: The Wii U's unique features will not be enough to deter third-party developers from developing better games for the PS4/720, and once more Nintendo (locked into a series of bad first-party release dates), won't be able to save the console in time for it's rivals' release. The redundancy of the Wii U is becoming more apparent to everybody but Nintendo, and I expect the same 'viscous cycle' as mentioned above to take over again.
Nintendo may have made more money than ever with the launch of the Wii, but since then they've done nothing but lose money thanks to it's lack of support, and the Wii U will be their next bleeding wound. At this rate, how can Nintendo close the gap they've allowed themselves to fall in and bring back both relevance, and third-party support? I honestly don't know, but I believe one thing: If they don't find a way, the Wii U will probably be their last console.