Punch-Out!! is making its long awaited comeback for the Nintendo Wii. Arguably one of the hardest most challenging games of the 8-bit era looks to take the belt in 2009. Is the Nintendo Wii the right console for this game?
Hit the jump to find out...
Is Punch-Out!! going to appeal to the masses, the millions of soccer mom's and retirement homes that have helped propel Nintendo's newest console to unimaginable sales figures? Or will Punch-Out!! hit the mark with the Hardcore Wii audience, one which is probably only a small percentage of the possible Wii owners.
Disregard the Nintendo seal of quality, and pretend that Punch-Out!! could be released on Xbox 360. Blasphemy I know, but for the sake of arguement let's delve.. The 360 has been the home of the Hardcore community. Many AAA titles on 360 have targeted hardcore gamers, from FPS to RPG's the 360 is the hardcore gamers machine. Would a hardcore game reach more success on a machine highly populated by hardcore gamers (with a higher attach rate) or on a machine which is way more family friendly, casual, and gamers who love mini-game titles like Carnival Games?
Does the hardcore market of the Nintendo Wii exceed the hardcore market of the 360? It would be probably pretty tight.
But here is the kicker... Is Nintendo's blue ocean strategy helping or hindering hardcore games?
I believe that Nintendo's blue ocean strategy has been hindering hardcore games from finding an audience on the Nintendo. But the gem is, this hindering I'm talking about is actually making hardcore gamers desperate for some hardcore games!
Is this Nintendo's plan?? Make a machine that tries to cater to carnivores and vegetarians, but then only release a few steaks but a trillion salads.... starving the carnivores for some juicy steak.
Then when the carnivores are so frustratingly hungry, they release the GODFATHER of all steaks! I'm talking the big 76 from the Great Outdoors. The one steak that we only dream of eating.
Will all the carnivores grab this steak? And will this steak be so juicy that the vegetarians will want a taste?? And we all know... once you go Mac, you can't go back.
Do games that utilize the Wii Fit Balance Board place themseleves ahead of every other game on the market? Are we going to see a surge in the amount of games that use the Balance Board periphial as a means to seling the product? Or are games genuinely going to use the Balance Board to help make their audience fitter...
It's a line drawn in the sand.
When do we believe that a game is better suited with the Balance Board, and when do we believe that a game is only using the Balance Board as a tacked on sales pitch. What really defines a Wii Fit Balance Board Game???
Let me take a shot in the dark.
A game that utilizes the Wii Fit Balance Board must:
A) Exhibit some type of exercise motion within the confines of it's game design... not a game design decision that rests solely on the use of the Wii Fit Board.
bad example: Dr. Mario comes out and allows players to plug in their Wii Fit board. Instead of pressing a button to shift the alignment of a pill... they now can use their feet... This is a lame marketing pitch to use the Wii Fit as an extra form of interaction.
good example: Wii Ski. A great free form game that allows the user to play with the Wii Fit board in a casual way.
B) Provide depth for the hardcore user, and create an easy 1:1 ratio of movement for the casual user...
So far the games that have been announced to utilize the Wii Fit Board are casual experiences, drawing apon the market established with Wii Fit owners... but.
Where's the love for the Hardcore users, who buy Wii Fit so their GF's can lose a few pounds, and hoping that a Metroid, or Mario comes out that really takes the Balance Board to the next level....
You gotta believe that Nintendo, even though Wii Fit is marketed towards a new audience.. the board itself presents new and exciting opportunities for game developers to immerse that hardcore market... I really hope we don't see a flood of Wii Exercise style games on Wii ware.. and can actually dream of the day we play Paperboy Wii where the bike hardly moves unless we pedal our feet.....
even that seems like a tacked on use of the board...
So what really drives the need to use the board in a normal game type situation? Lets jockey around a few rules...
Rule 1) Game must function without the use of the Wii Fit Board. (Weird rule, but if you a developer is really going to build a game.. they need it to be played by an audience who isn't guaranteed to have a Wii Fit Board.
Rule 2) Playing SAID game with the Wii Fit Board is acknowledged, and rewarded appropriately. Playing Mario Kart with the Wii Wheel long enough, earns you the golden Steering Wheel... why not playing Tetris long enough with the Wii Fit board earn you the golden tetris block? If the user uses the Wii Fit board more than the other control schemes for a game they should be rewarded. If it's Wii Fit Points, a golden icon, etc... getting players out of their seats and standing on the Wii Fit board should be sought after.
Rule 3) Feedback on the success of exercise. I don't care what game I'm playing.. be it GTA or Soul Calibur with the Wii Fit board... I want to know how many calories I've burned in the play session. Having a unified output dialog for users to acknolwedge how hard they've worked.. would benefit the game in a great deal.
If I play cooking mama, and need to sitr the pot with shifting weight on the Wii Fit board.. .after I'm done... I want to know how many calories I've burned.. Just so my next trip to the beer store can be justified...
I don't think we should impose too many rules apon developers who incorporate the Wii Fit board into their games... I, and hopefully everyone who reads this post, can agree that we don't wanna see the Wii Fit Board used as a corney marketing pitch/ gimmick, to produce more sales...
So basically... how long untill we hear about Madden 2009 using the Wii Fit Board??
I know Skate It has already been anounced to feature the board... I actually hope this game can pull it off (the videos showing the Wii-mote controls, made it look awful). How sweet would it be to do a toe drag and heel drag to pull off tricks for Skate? Sweet. But I curse the day that Madden use the Wii Fit board to simulate the first step off the line...
What would Portal have been like if you could select what levels to play?
Chaos, most likely... and not to mention an incoherent story.
Linear progression in a puzzle game is a great way to ensure ramping difficulty, introduce new gameplay mechanics and test the user. But what if the user gets stuck on a level? You run the risk of player frustration, and breaking the flow state of the user. Not to mention if the user can't progress past said puzzle, they aren't able to experience more content.
Would Portal have worked out if it was non-linear? Most likely not, but what if it had been semi-non linear? Group puzzles together and allow the user to choose which puzzle they want to solve first, once all puzzles are solved a new group of puzzles is unlocked.
Basically, Guitar Hero formula.
Portal introduces new mechanics slowly through out the beginning levels, until it reaches a point where the user has all the available mechanics the game offers. Perhaps at this point, the linear progression could be broken up but it would still dismantle the story.
Non-linear progression in a puzzle game shouldn't be attempted unless:
* The user has all the tools available to solve puzzles. Full move set, complete equipment, etc.
* The puzzles aren't tied together by a story, or the story needs to support the player completing the puzzles in multiple orders.