Is Nintendo DOOOMED?

January 23, 2014


Box Art Comparison

November 11, 2013

With the PlayStation 4 set to launch in a few days, I found my Sunday newspaper filled to the brim with adverts for the new console, showcasing the lineup of games for the console. But as I browsed through the ads, I couldn’t help but notice that the artwork on the boxes was missing something… but what?

Say, let’s look at this handy visual aid I whipped up. On the left you will find the launch lineup for the PS4, on the right, the current library for the Wii U. What are the PS4 boxes missing that the Wii U boxes have? Go ahead, take your time, I can wait.ps4vwiiu
That’s right! Color! Apparently, the PlayStation 4 is SO mature and SO hardcore, all of the color from the box art has been sucked away. Each box for the PS4 features a lone protagonist, glaring out at you, as all the color and life is sucked out of the background. Hell, even the SPORTS games follow suit; just add a military helmet and a rifle and you’ve got the cover for the next WWII shooter.

In contrast, the box art for the Wii U games are bursting with life and color, greeting you with open arms into their weird worlds and fighting for your attention on the store shelves. Why is Mario wearing a cat suit? What’s with this guy with a fist twice the size he is? And what crime has this red Pikmin committed that justifies locking him up inside a bottle? You need to buy this game to find out!

I didn’t make this up just to mock the PlayStation 4; this illustrates a problem with the game industry as a whole. As often as Nintendo is mocked for “playing it safe” with properties like Mario and Zelda, Nintendo’s got nothing on a majority of the rest of the developers and publishers in the industry. As much as devs and publishers brag about innovation, it seems the only “innovation” being pushed these days are A) slightly purdier graphics, B) games more and more dependent on online play and DLC, and C) games that are essentially the same shooters mimicking Hollywood blockbusters. Year after year, it’s all becoming homogeneous, each game looking and playing the same as the others, developers and publishers alike fearful of alienating the “dude-bro” gamers that they have become so dependent on. God forbid you change the gameplay or control style of what’s been established, even if it could lead to something that works even better for the games you enjoy.

This was BUILT for first person shooters, and the industry just took a big shit on it, not wanting to stray from the archaic dual analog establishment.

In closing, it’s not wise to judge a book by it’s cover… but it’s also not wise to make the cover of your book so drab and lifeless that no one even notices.

New Super Luigi U

November 5, 2013

Having recently picked up a Wii U (finally!), I indulged in a little spending spree, which consisted of Rayman Legends, Wonderful 101, New Super Mario Bros. U and Wind Waker HD. And the first game I decided to play (well, after Nintendo Land, of course) was… New Super Luigi U.
And why not? It IS the Year of Luigi after all.
Having not played the Mario flavor of this game (outside of the kiosk at Gamestop), it was an interesting experience to play the expansion pack before playing the actual game. Luigi’s jump is more skittish, yet farther reaching than Mario’s, and the level design reflects that. Once you clear the game, you can revert the jump physics back to Mario’s standard, which could actually make the game more challenging. The levels are short, but you are given a mere 100 seconds in each, which means less of a focus on exploration and more on just surviving to the end of the stage.

Not that there’s no exploration of course. There are still plenty of Star Coins tucked away in hidden places, and a dozen or so secret exits and levels to uncover. As for the challenge, I didn’t really find the game all that difficult…
Until I reached the last two worlds of the game, Peach’s Castle and Superstar Road. That’s when the controller tossing and swearing began, as poor Luigi met his end more times than I care to admit, and I found myself finally resorting to a P-Acorn late in the game, lest I embed my Wiimote in the wall. Superstar Road in particular proves just how much the staff of the game has a sadistic glee of making us suffer… just mention “Fire Bar Sprint” to anyone who has 100 percented this game and watch them break out into a cold sweat.

As an expansion pack to the original game, New Super Luigi U is worthy of carrying the name “Luigi”. Though the story and world map are the same, the new levels are packed with creative ideas and a high level of difficulty, as if someone at Nintendo heard the taunts that the New Super Mario Bros games were too easy and took the challenge to make the players sweat. Well, Mr. Nintendo Programmer, mission accomplished.

San-nick Lerst Werld

May 19, 2013

Probably the biggest announcement in the most recent Nintendo Direct was the news that the next big Sonic the Hedgehog platformer, currently named Sonic Lost World (Pretty sure that will probably end up changing to something else), would be exclusive to Nintendo consoles, namely the Wii U and 3DS, as would the next two entries in the franchise, which includes the new Mario & Sonic at the Olympics game and a heretofore unannounced title.

Great, I thought to myself, if Nintendo’s doing the publishing duties (at least in some territories, it’s not that clear at the moment), they’ll be breathing down Sega’s neck to make a good game.

Naturally, my second thought was, I wonder when the Internet is going to go all Bayonetta 2 on this news?

Thank the stars, I didn’t have to wait long, as the Sonic fans who thought Sonic 2006 was a gaming masterpiece soon took to their mom’s computers and spewed their bile upon the interwebs.

“Horrible news, Are there going out of the way to piss off class sonic fans? Exclusive rights is the worst move sega could have done, it’s on a sinking ship/console that is already doing pretty badly.”

“We the fans waited 2 years for the next canon game, we got it, turns out not everyone can play it, the majority can’t because nobody really has a wii u.”

“Sonic fans who are not interested in have WiiU will miss at least 3 games!.   We respect your decision but we want you to please give us in the future Sonic Games for all plataforms!”

Because, you know, there was absolutely NO PRECEDENCE for an exclusive Sonic title to appear on the Wii U.
None whatsoever.

Fortunately, there was sanity among the madness.

“So, all of you saying exclusive is bad for Nintendo… You piss ants would praise God if the titles were PS3/4 and 360/next exclusive wouldn’t you? Suck it up, grow up, and get a U and 3DS.”

“I will buy a Wii U for this. I don’t have any issue with Nintendo taking exclusivity. It is a good home for Sonic as he is favored by children first and foremost. Maybe they will stop trying to do serious things with him then such as human-like characters and love interests.”

“I was going to get a Wii U eventually, and I find it much more reasonable for SEGA to focus on a single party rather than port their games to every company and their mothers. Nintendo and Sonic need each other, IMO. Sonic will attract more attention to Nintendo, and both Nintendo and SEGA will benefit from this.”

I do find it amusing that the reason most ‘gamers’ state as the reason for not buying a Wii U is the lack of exclusives. But with each exclusive Nintendo unveils, these ‘fans’ complain that Nintendo has somehow ‘stolen’  games from their systems, games that they wouldn’t buy anyway since they’d be playing Army of WarGears 4: Space Zombie Edition or Morbidly Obese Football Coach Sim Roster Update 2013.

Crap I Found This Week (4/13/13)

April 14, 2013

It’s been a couple of weeks since I reported in, so let’s just right into it!
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First up, a couple of Gamestop finds, as I fill up a few holes in my Wii library. Standard price for Mario’s Tennis, $17.99 used, but Opoona was a pleasant find at $4.99. Heard good things about this slow paced action RPG, and for once, it was cheaper at Gamestop that it goes for online.
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Speaking of online, I ordered a copy of Code of Princess from Amazon after the price drop, totally expecting the standard edition, but to my surprise I got a copy of the premium pre-order version! Bonus! I also got some random Gameboy game off eBay, Adventures of Star Saver. It’s an old Taito platformer/shooter; hard as hell, but has some groovy music. At 99 cents, I actually paid more for shipping!
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A quick stop at a pawn show revealed a handful of label-less GBA carts at the bottom of a box of old Atari crap. The guy behind the counter was asking $2 for each, but since there was no telling what games they were, he *generously* offered to sell me all eight for $15 cash. A *whole* dollar off, thanks guy.
And unfortunately, they all turned out to be Disney or Nickelodeon licensed garbage, except for one, which turned out to be the excellent Astro Boy: Omega Factor. How this Treasure developed shooter ended up in the collection of a deranged kid to loved to mutilate his games is beyond me, but I’m glad I was able to save this copy from oblivion.

Now, off to the dirt mall!
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One of the first booths had bins filled with old Happy Meal toys, and I was surprised to see a FlingSmash plush sitting on top! I think it was some sort of Gamestop pre-order bonus, but seeing as how I’m probably one of the few people on earth who actually liked the game, I picked it up, along with the Boo toy, for 25 cents each.
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Another guy was selling these “Gameboy games” for $3 each. Niiiice.
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The SNES games were a lucky score, as I came upon the seller’s table just as he was setting them out, along with a big sign that said “Everything $1.00”.
The Genesis 3 was an interesting story… came upon one table loaded with gaming systems, including a Gamecube that looked like it had diet cola spilled on top of it. I saw the Genesis 3 and asked how much it was.
“Hold on,” the lady replied, “I gotta look it up on my phone.”
Oh geez, I thought, she’s looking it up on eBay. I simply hate it when people look up the price on eBay right in front of you. If I wanted to pay eBay prices, I’d freakin’ stay at home and buy it on eBay. I was just about to turn around and walk away when she walked back to me.
“I don’t see it on here… uh, five bucks?”
Sold. It’s a pretty damn good deal, though it’s just the bare unit. I don’t collect Genesis stuff, but I have a friend who does, so it’ll be going to him.
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Amid a stack of crappy Gamecube games, a couple of quality items for $2 each.
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And finally, a Goodwill find. Browsing through the DVDs, I found a couple of DS games marked at $5, Cooking Mama and Brain Age. I looked to see if the cartridge inside Cooking Mama had been stolen yet, and to my surprise it was still there. And upon opening up Brain Age…
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Yeah, I should start looking in DS cases more often.

Six Seconds

March 30, 2013

As I’m still six or so months away from saving up enough money to purchase a Wii U, I’m pleased to see that Nintendo is continuing to make improvements to the OS, which has fairly been called rather sluggish with 30 second load times to boot from the main menu to an actual game/app and vice versa. The latest update, due next month, reduces the load time down to a smooth six seconds, which sounds pretty damn quick to me…

Until you actually start reading the word vomit on webforums, who are quick to declare that six seconds is an ETERNITY! How can it still take six seconds? My iPhone can boot back to the main menu from a game in progress in MACRO-SECONDS! Sure, smartphones were built to allow you to jump back to the main menu quickly so you can, I dunno, ANSWER THE PHONE, while a video game console was built for actually playing video games, and you probably wouldn’t need to constantly jump between playing ZombiU and the main menu, BUT STILL!

Jeez, what kind of impatient, instant gratification losers find that SIX SECONDS is unacceptable? You idiots never would’ve survived the Sega CD era.

Crap I Found This Week

March 17, 2013

It’s almost Spring, and that means yard sale and flea market season are in full swing! It’s the perfect time to go out and finds some awesome games for cheap, as people clean out their garages and attics and sell the treasures they find. Let’s see what I found this week.

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At the flea market, I found a vendor selling Nintendo DS games for $4 each. I picked up Pokemon White, Pokemon Ranger 2 and Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

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More often than not, whenever I find Nintendo consoles in the wild, they’re missing the AV cables. Which is why when I found these two at my local ReStore for $1 each, I snapped them up. Also found a Gameboy Micro AC adapter, which tend to be hard to find as well.

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And finally, I don’t often find PS1 games in the CD bin at Goodwill, but when I do, it’s Mega Man Legends 2. A cool $5 purchase.

Wreck-It Ralph

March 2, 2013

I finally got around to watching Wreck-It Ralph at my local second-run theater this past weekend, and it’s not only just a great movie, it’s a great video game movie. After twenty years of crap movies based on video games, it turns out the key was to base the movie on a non-existent game. Who knew?

The movie looks and sounds incredible, from chiptune music to the amazing worlds built for games such as Hero’s Duty (Doodie! Ha!) and Sugar Rush, one with dark spires and threatening clouds, the other with hills made of powdered donuts and sun filled skies. Special detail is paid to even the minor background characters, who even in full CGI still sport limited frames of animation.

Of course, none of this would matter if the plot wasn’t any good, but fortunately the story is quick and smart. Despite the metric ton of game character cameos presented in the movie’s first fifteen minutes, they quickly fade away as the story revolves around Ralph, a video game bad guy who wants to become a hero, and Vanellope Von Schweetz, a glitch character Ralph comes across in Sugar Rush who wishes to win the big race. Naturally, shenanigans ensue, and while the plot is formulaic and predicable (well, mostly, there was one reveal at the end that honestly surprised me), it’s still well done and enjoyable. It’s very lighthearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously; even one character’s dramatic backstory is played for laughs, simply because of how hilariously over the top it is. A highly recommended watch, even if you’re not all that into video games.

Tales of a Coin Rush Convert

September 7, 2012

Only about two weeks after its release, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is certainly a polarizing title among Nintendo fans, with many people complaining that it’s a cheap cash-in, reusing assets from the Wii edition to create a rushed game, while others look past the familiar graphics and sound to find solid gameplay and level design. While the debate about the merits of the game will likely go on for some time (my opinion… I have yet to play a bad Mario game, and this isn’t one of them) one of the key new features touted for this release is the Coin Rush mode, which challenges you to dash through three randomly selected courses in a limited amount of time, grabbing as many coins as possible. One could look at it as a very shallow way to add gameplay to a game that’s already lacking in gametime. And in all honesty, when the game released, I could have cared less about Coin Rush, as long as I had a decent single-player game to enjoy. Coin Rush mode was the furthest thing from my mind when I picked up the game.

…So why can’t I stop playing it?

Like most things Nintendo, the concept is very easy to grasp, but difficult to master. The first couple of runs will likely only net you a few hundred coins, barely enough to even register on the looming counter ticking slowly up to the 1,000,000 goal. But you begin to learn new tricks and tactics, such as new Gold Mushrooms worth 50 coins appearing where 1up-Shrooms were placed in the regular game. Or snagging Star Coins now add more coins to your total. Or the fact that snagging the Gold Flower will double the values of these items, and gives you even more coins for bashing baddies. You will soon find yourself replaying the same courses over and over again in order to develop new strategies and find new ways to maximize your coin total.

But things get even more interesting in with Streetpass. It’s very much an extension of the “Time Trial” Streetpass tags in Super Mario 3D Land, in which you suddenly find yourself challenged by some stranger who has the AUDACITY to think he’s a better player than you. How dare this fool, this jerk, this ASSHOLE, come into my 3DS and challenge me! He must be destroyed! And the glee you feel when you beat his own record, as well as the rage when you discover he somehow doubled your own coin count, is its own incentive to keep playing. I know many people lament the lack of online leaderboards (which, in all possiblity, be added in a future update patch), but I find the Streetpass method to be much more personal. With online leaderboards, you go out looking for trouble. With Streetpass, it almost feels like an invasion you must ward off with feats of AWESOMENESS.

Nintendo has also mentioned they plan to sell Coin Rush course packs via the eShop in the future, with brand new courses to rush through, which is a wonderful idea to extend the life of the game. New Super Mario Bros. 2 may not be the most original Mario title in recent years, but Coin Rush is amazingly addictive and fun, challenging you to make that one perfect run, and then spread your legend through Streetpass.

Five Fave Non-Nintendo games

April 12, 2012

Let me get one thing clear. I LOVE Nintendo. In a purely plutonic way, mind you. Though they have made a mis-step or two along the way, the last twenty-five-plus years have been filled with awesomeness. But, I will admit, it’s not an exclusive relationship. I enjoy titles on other platforms; maybe not so much to actually purchase said platforms, but I’m not shy about trying out the latest 360 or PS3 game on a friend’s system if it looks interesting enough. So what is the point of this? I thought it’d be fun to list five of my favorite non-Nintendo system games, starting with

Virtua Cop 1 & 2
A friend of mine loaned me his Sega Saturn and a selection of games for a month. Despite such classics are Magical Knight Rayearth and NiGHTS, most of my time was sunk in Virtua Cop. It’s a short, mindless arcade shooter, but dammit, it’s FUN. It’s especially fun in co-op mode, which eventually degrades into seeing who can shoot the most civilians. I actually ended up buying a used Sega Saturn for the express purpose of playing Virtua Cop once in a while. The fact we never saw this ported to the Wii is a tragedy.

Parappa the Rapper
I’m actually pretty bad at this one, but it’s just so goofy and fun. It’s pretty obvious that this was the inspiration for rhythm games such as Rock Band and Rhythm Heaven. I actually find myself muttering “Kick, Punch, it’s all in the mind” from time to time… perhaps I should get that checked…

Bonk’s Revenge
From the same friend who loaned me his Saturn came a trip to Turbo-Grafx-16 land. I had read about Bonk’s Adventure in an issue of Gamepro, and it looked like a lot of fun. Bonk’s Revenge apparently took the same sense of fun, and made it totally insane. It has a very warped sense of humor, and the animation is top notch. The head-bonking mechanic was kind of clunky, but it also added to the charm. Years later, I wasted no time downloading it onto my Virtual Console.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Yes, back in the “Bit Wars” I was firmly on the side of Nintendo, but I still found myself interested in the Sega Genesis library. My local Service Merchandise store (God, I’m dating myself here) had a Genesis on display, and during the entire time the Genesis was available, it always had Sonic the Hedgehog 2 playing. I enjoyed the synthesiser soundtrack, and the graphics were nice and colorful, which made me a bit envious, at least until I got a Super NES later on. I always got stuck in the second act of Chemical Plant though, drowning in that gross pink water, or whatever it was. Still, a fun game, and arguably the best Sonic game ever.

Crazy Taxi

AYE YAI YAI YAI YAI!!!!!” Yeah, you remember that track from the Offspring blaring into your ears as soon as you sat down in the arcade cabinet. And admit it… you enjoyed the hell out of it. Crazy Taxi was an amazingly fun arcade game, and hilarous when you attempt to run over pedestrians and repeatedly crash into oncoming traffic. The Dreamcast port was equally fun, as that game clocked the most time on my friend’s system back in college.

There ya go, five of my fave non-Nintendo games. Don’t be a system hater! It’s fine to be loyal to one system if that’s what you want, but variety is the spice of life, and it doesn’t hurt to branch out once in a while.