For the past few days, I have found myself rummaging through the depths of the internet. I was peeking and peering upon all of the gaming news. I scrolled through all of the comments reading them one at a time and as much as I already knew about all of the gaming stereotypes, I found myself in a new level of confusion when someone simply asked, "Hardcore? What does that mean?"
I try to stay neutral in my opinions of all of the game systems. I own all of them except the PS3 which I have full access to. I even own a GP2X and hopefully a Pandora soon as well. I love them all. However, I find myself playing on the Wii more than any other console and with the extremely negative views toward the system I jumped right in the flame war to defend it even while heavily outnumbered on the communities I was in.
The Xbox 360 and the PS3 are considered my the majority to be considered the "hardcore systems". The Wii is considered to be the "casual system". I am always confused by this so I decided to look deeper once the question was sprung upon me. In this article, I'll cover some various complaints with the Wii and try to understand why it isn't "hardcore". I'll also argue many of the points made against the Wii. Don't get me wrong. The Wii has many faults. Every system out there does. However, it isn't a "dust collecting" worthy machine like everyone seems to believe. I'll attempt to dispel some of that thought.
What is a hardcore game?
Let's go over some various options for answers.
1: A game that has a steep learning curve. Be it controls, game play, depth of options, or anything else.
2: A game with either great reply value or a game that requires a great amount of time to advance or complete.
3: A game that involves an incredible amount in intense, heart pounding action that causes a high level of emotional stress.
4: A game specifically targeted towards an adult audience and not toward anyone else.
5: A game that is very unforgiving and/or requires a great deal of skill to advance or complete.
What is a hardcore gamer?
We'll go over some options for this as well.
1: A person who puts a great deal of time into playing and researching video games.
2: A person who generally plays on a console opposite of what the majority plays on or plays on the console with the least amount of "shovelware titles" (Shovelware being poor quality games quickly produced at low cost).
3: A person who only plays games specifically targeted toward an adult audience and no one else.
So, lets begin by going through the options of the first question. The are quite a bit of games that have a steep learning curve. Most RTS games, western RPGs (Elder Scrolls, Bioware, AD&D), tactical RPGs, stealth action games, or fighting games. Occasionally, a FPS requires a small learning curve like System Shock, C&C Renegade, or UT2k4 / 3. Each system seems to have these games. Going by exclusives, PS3 has Valkyria Chronicles and a beautiful Naruto fighter. Wii has Brawl, Tatsunoko vs Capcom, Battalion Wars 2, a few great anime fighters, and Fire Emblem. Xbox 360 has Fable 2 and two great Naruto platforming/adventure/rpg/fighter games.
Replay Value & Action Games
When it comes to reply value, it's always a plus. It gives the players a reason to keep coming back for more. Unlockable characters, items, and tougher difficulties make the games more fulfilling. Fast-paced action games are great and all but it seems that there haven't really been much innovation with it in a while. I suppose that's why I've stuck with Quake 2 & 3 as well as the UT series when I need to get my blood pumping.
Adult only or extremely mature games don't necessarily make them good. You can't just throw some titties and gore and random profanities into a game and call it a day. But if that's what you go for then each system still offers plenty of gore for everyone. The Wii will supply you with a healthy dose of No More Heroes, Manhunt 2, Godfather, and Mortal Kombat: Armageddon and we have Dead Rising and MadWorld coming up soon.
I began pondering about what exactly the other systems have that the Wii doesn't. The Xbox 360 only has a few exclusive titles and most of those are sure to be ported to PC eventually (Fable 2, Halo 3, and maybe Gears someday). The only thing it's lacking in compared to the other systems is online shooters. That must be it, right? The PS3 and Xbox 360 are littered in online shooters, most of which can be played on both systems and on the PC. The Wii really only has Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 and CoD:WoW, both of which play fantastic online (which makes me confused about the so called "poor online service"). There's also The Conduit coming soon which will support online, voice chat, and the Motion Plus adapter for better accuracy.
Poor Online Service
It is assumed by many that the Wii has a poor online service. In comparison to the one you pay $60+ a year for, sure it is but overall, this is a myth. In fact, most of the online games play great over the Wii. There are a few exceptions such as Brawl. Hopefully, they'll get it right next time. I won't lie. Friend codes are bullshit. But did that stop me from enjoying Medal of Honor, CoD, Mario Kart, Guitar Hero, Metroid, Zelda and a large amount of other online Wii and DS games? Not at all. I do hope Nintendo learns for the next time around. There are far better methods of parental controls that don't prevent you from meeting and befriending other online players in the games.
It seems to me that the people who claim to be "hardcore gamers" can usually be lumped in the the #2 and #3 categories. But wait. The Wii is full of tons of shovelware, right? That must mean it's catered to non core gamers and rather to families or stupid people buying random things for their kids. Most of the Atari 2600 games were shovelware. The original Nintendo had more shovelware than anyone can count. The Super Nintendo (Genesis had a large share too) had the same. The PS1 and PS2 had a MASSIVE amount of shovelware. The DS is more guilty than anything else of this. Do you know why? It's because they were the most popular systems. If you're going to pump out quickly and cheaply made crappy games, what system is the obvious choice? The one that sold 100 million or the one that sold 20 million?
No Good Games
It's commonly thought that the we doesn't have any decent titles worth playing besides the handful of first party titles. This is a huge myth which I will dispel at the end of this article. See the very end for a large list of many excellent games and many fair games worth checking out.
Conclusion of Study: My Answers
A Hardcore Game
is still not clearly defined and probably won't ever be. Opinions of what it is vary from person to person. Some people may not think Mario games are hardcore since they are targeted to the general population. I tend to think they are up there with the best hardcore games. In my opinion, a hardcore game includes many, but not all of the elements previously mentioned. It is addictive. It requires a fair amount of skill. It may cater to ANY audience at "E" or above. It has great reply value. Sometimes it includes many of the other elements mentioned. If a steep learning curve is what determined hardcore then Eve Online and Dwarf Fortress would be a couple of the most hardcore games currently. I do think they are hardcore but I don't think it's for that reason alone that makes them that way.
I remember when being able to get past the first level of most NES, SNES, or Genesis games meant you were pretty bad ass. You'd spend hours and hours trying to makes any progress and you could be on the last boss, die, and have to start all over. These games today don't generally offer the same amount of challenge. Even most of the games today that are considered hardcore don't make the games too hard at all. I dare all developers to make a shooter game or RPG as difficult as Radiant Silvergun or BattleToads.
A Hardcore Gamer
can easily be defined by myself. A true hardcore gamer is a person who has love for ALL games and ALL game systems. They might have preferences but are never "fanboys". They understand that every system was good and bad in it's own ways and don't make lame excuses for why a system is doing good or bad. Does the 360 commonly have faulty hardware? Did Sony drop backwards compatibility on their system and disappoint many customers as a result? Does the Wii have hardware on par (or not much more powerful) with the original Xbox and have a terribly small storage device? Sure. But that doesn't mean any of them are bad systems.
A hardcore gamer is never afraid to try out any title and ignore poor ratings. They always look for a challenge and look to achieve as much as they can. They research both the games they love and the ones they don't like. Their hearts always warm to the sound of a good game regardless of what console it may lie on. They are not graphics whores. They can pick up and play ANY good game even if it's text based or uses ASCII symbols for graphics (that's truly hardcore). They are never afraid to try new things.
Large List of Great Wii Games
I'm almost done. Most of the people out there don't even research all the great titles on the Wii and just assume there isn't anything good on it. That's a HUGE myth. The system has only been out for a couple of years but has a decent library of great games. You people with dusty Wiis have ZERO excuse for that. Here's the promised list. Bolded are my personal favorites.
Great Games Worthy To Buy New:
Animal Crossing: City Folk
Battalion Wars 2
Castle of Shikigami III (note: not exclusive in Japan)
Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
Geometry Wars: Galaxies
Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility
Mario Party 8
Mario Strikers Charged
Mario Super Sluggers
Metroid Prime 3
Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars
Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 1 & 2
NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams
No More Heroes
Pokemon Battle Revolution
Rayman Raving Rabbids
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip
Super Mario Galaxy
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
[b]Super Paper Mario[b]
Super Smash Brothers Brawl
Super Swing Golf Season 2
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes (Japan import only)
Trauma Center: New Blood
Trauma Center: Second Opinion
Victorious Boxers: Revolution
Wario Land: Shake It!
WarioWare: Smooth Moves
Worms: A Space Oddity
Zack & Wiki
Agatha Christie games
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
Bully: Scholarship Edition
Call of Duty 3
Call of Duty: World at War
Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 & 3
Godfather: Blackhand Edition
Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law
House of the Dead 2 & 3
The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Medal of Honor: Heroes 2
Medal of Honor: Vanguard
Mercury Meltdown Revolution
Metal Slug Anthology
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
Prince of Persia Rival Swords
Resident Evil: 4
Sam & Max: Season One
Splinter Cell games
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Decent Games Worthy To Buy Used or Rent:
Battle of the Bands
Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree
Bleach: Shattered Blade
Cooking Mama (and other Mama games)
Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon
My Fitness Coach
One Piece: Unlimited Adventure
Line Rider 2: Unbound
Samba de Amigo
Great WiiWare Titles:
Star Soldier R
Mega Man 9
FFCC: My Life As a King
World of Goo
Dr. Mario Online Rx
Defend Your Castle
Art Style: Orbient
Space Invaders Get Even
*****soon to come*****
Bubble Bobble Wii
Exclusive Future Titles To Look Out For in 2009 and Beyond:
(consider this whole list bolded and reccomended)
Boom Blox 2
Dragon Quest X
Fatal Frame IV
Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles x2 (Echoes of Time / The Crystal Bearers)
House of the Dead: Overkill
Kirby (2009 title)
Monster Hunter G (non exclusive)
Monster Hunter 3
Muramasa: The Demon Blade
New Play Control games (not exclusives.. Gamecube rereleases)
No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle
Ready 2 Rumble: Revolution (not exclusive)
Sadness (possible vaporware)
Sin & Punishment 2
Star Wars: Battlefront III (not exclusive)
Swords of Legendia
Tenchu 4: Shadow Assassins (not exclusive / PSP)
That's all I can come up with for now but don't forget all of the great Gamecube games as well as the large list of Virtual Console titles. Now dust off that great system you have in front of you and check out some of the excellent games I have listed.