Friday, September 14, 2012

Wii U: The Good, The Bad, and The Really Ugly

Yesterday the three major branches of Nintendo: America, Europe, and Japan, conducted different events for the true preview of the Wii U console. Now prior to this day, the execution of getting gamers hyped for the system proved futile and were just downright poor.

With my experience of hype, I really had zero for the console after E3 2012. Then, lo and behold, this event came and went and suddenly I am feeling the hype. A Nintendo launch always possesses some form of unexplainable sense of magic for fans, and I, too, am feeling it this time around. Not to say the console will come anywhere near the success of Nintendo's previous effort, the Wii. But then again, I think it's safe to say not a lot of consoles will reach that sales threshold anyway.

Regardless, I have sat through and watched the American media event, the European Nintendo Direct, and looked at the pretty pictures and statuesque Satoru Iwata during the Japanese Nintendo Direct and have dissected what I perceive to be the good, the bad, and the really ugly (and I did need to add the word "really" in there). What parts of the Wii U come off looking strong? What parts come off in a negative light? My answers are as follows:

The Good

- Intriguing launch window lineup

I don't believe the full list of North American games to be released on launch day has been unveiled, much to my surprise. If I am ignorant on this, please let me know. Regardless, I like to believe that I have an eclectic taste in games. I love platformers, arcade racers, fighting games, JRPGs, action-adventure games, easy games, hard games, rhythm games, survival-horror games, etc. The Wii U launch window (a term that can eat itself) is full of games spanning different genres and containing well known franchises alongside some new surprises.

It is no question why a lot of people are disgruntled towards Nintendo Land. It had a poor showing at E3 2012, with too much time devoted to it, and a fireworks display at the end that didn't work, making for some severe awkwardness. However, I am really warming up to the game. It takes 12 Nintendo franchises and places them within individual games. I don't really know if mini-games is appropriate for these activities, as there's much more meat than your typical mini-game. Regardless, after seeing Metroid Blast and Mario Chase, I adored the asymmetric gameplay, the use of the Wii U GamePad and Wii remotes, and just the overall charm. The inclusion of stamps a la Wii Sports [Resort] makes me happy, too. I'm sure it will take quite some time to collect them all. I don't really mind the lack of online. Perhaps trying to organize teamwork would be more difficult? I'm certainly not going to excuse it, though. In any situation, I have friends and family who'd play the games with me, and I'm sure it, like the Metroid game, would be a blast.

Then a duo of 2D platformers, my favorite genre, entered the fray and will be at launch: New Super Mario Bros. U and Rayman Legends. With the former, I already see a bevy of new ideas being implemented, such as Challenge Mode, Boost Mode, level design quirks, a twist on the Bowser kidnaps Peach plot point, and the ability to play as Miis. As an aside, I also like the art style, especially the backgrounds. Though, really, nothing compares to the awesomeness of Rayman Legends. The game is vibrant, colorful, and crisp. It's a living cartoon in HD. I like that you can play the game normally, but there are some exclusive levels that can only be played with the Wii U Gamepad. The rhythmically inclined levels certainly put a stupid smile on my face. It's going to be pure platforming bliss.

- Interesting third-party support

I really wasn't expecting much from third-parties for the Wii U. I talk on a consistent basis on the self-fulfilling prophecy and setting their games up to fail on the original Wii, and how that will continue with the Wii U. But what I got Thursday was much better than expected. We had already announced projects like Assassin's Creed III, Darksiders II, LEGO City Undercover (which looks hilarious, by the way), ZombiU (quite curious about this one), Aliens: Colonial Marines, Madden and FIFA (not my types of games), Rayman Legends, Scribblenauts Unlimited, and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Ninja Gaiden III: Razor's Edge, and Tekken Tag Tournament 2, for starters.

Now we have some new insight on games coming to the Wii U from third-parties. I'm talking about titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops II, 007 Legends, Skylanders Giants, Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (which Warren Spector had previously said wasn't coming to the Wii U, such a doll!), Warriors Orochi 3, and that is all only launch window stuff. Not bad as Nintendo is saying fifty games will be available by March 2013. We'll see if most of these are as half-hearted of attempts as I think they will be, but then again, I'm the eternal pessimist when it comes to Nintendo and third-parties.

- Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

Speaking of third-parties, remember my article a couple weeks ago about five reasons Capcom left a bad taste in my mouth? I'm sure you thought of many "clever" sex jokes as your answer, but one of the reasons was Capcom of the West's continued desire to lead Monster Hunter fans on about the future of the series and whether or not games would be localized. Well, I am ready to eat my crow. Now, THAT will leave a bad taste in my mouth! Ahem. In any case, Capcom has confirmed that the Wii U and 3DS versions of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will be coming to both the U.S. and Europe. The game is based off Monster Hunter 3G, a Japanese exclusive that added more content to the game, based off Monster Hunter Tri. While 3DS owners won't be able to play online on their portables, they can transfer their character to the Wii U and then hop online wirelessly with that version. I'm sorry for ever doubting you, Capcom. Now, where's my Mega Man? #insatiablegamer And yes, I just did a hashtag for comedic effect, whether forced funny or not.

- Nintendo TVii

What is Nintendo TVii? It is currently a US and Canada only feature for the Wii U that enables users to view content from a wide variety of services such as Netflix and Hulu. The cool feature here is being able to chat, comment, and converse with friends during your viewing excursions. Some call it a waste of space on a game console, but they need to understand that game consoles are quickly becoming multimedia machines for the family room. This is a necessity because game consoles that are exclusive to just gaming are going the way of the dodo. It's evolution, and it is a cool feature. I might not use it fully, but it is always nice to have. View the video for this service here:

The Bad

- Must buy Deluxe edition to get Black Wii U

There was a lot of buzz about whether or not the black Wii U would in fact be available to purchase at launch. We have learned on Thursday that there will be two Wii U SKUs. The first will be the Basic edition, coming in white for $300. The other edition is the Deluxe, coming in black for $350 with more storage and Nintendo Land as the pack-in game. (These numbers and information are only intended for North America.) So if a person is not interested in Nintendo Land or cannot afford the extra fifty bucks, they are stuck with the white Wii U. Not saying that is a bad thing, but after six years or so of owning a white Wii, I'd like a change of pace and a change of color. Then again, this might be smart for Nintendo because black might likely be the more popular color choice, getting people to buy the Deluxe edition for the extra fifty bucks just so they can get the Wii U in black. Oh, you are so crafty, Nintendo.

- Most retail games will be $59.99

Okay, okay. This was an inevitability, but I still don't have to like it. The reason I have so many handheld and Wii games in comparison to HD games is the incredible price differential. Now that the Wii U's retail games will generally be sixty bucks, that means that's a tougher sell for me. I won't be as easygoing in my purchasing habits. And I'm usually fortunate on what I buy. I see something that appeals to me, buy it, and I usually end up liking it. With my luck, now that titles are sixty, I'll use that same approach but get burned much more this generation.

And then there's the worry about both Nintendo and third-parties being irresponsible or out of touch with their game pricing. For instance, I am not going to buy Namco Bandai's Tank! Tank! Tank! in its current form for full retail price. The same goes for something that for now looks as limited as Game & Wario. I hope publishers put out their games at smart prices. Something as packed with content as Nintendo Land (laugh if you want, it's easy and understandable to not like it) should not be the same price as something with little in longevity. Also, I don't want to see what will be year-old ports like Batman: Arkham City - Armored Edition running full price, despite any new features.

- Limited online details

I really thought Thursday would have been a total blowout of Nintendo's online service for the Wii U. Are they not prepared to show it? Are they hesitant because they know that if they blow it again that they won't hear the end of it and be the laughingstock of the gaming community (though the gaming community is becoming more and more irrelevant, in all honesty) once more?

I wanted to know if the dreaded friend codes were eliminated totally, or if they were still present, how much of a nuisance they'd be. I wanted to know how easy friend invites would be (if they were there at all), making friends, finding friends, etc. There's just a plethora of unanswered questions that I stupidly thought would be answered by now.

And what of achievements? They aren't important to me, but I know plenty of people who live by them. When done right, they can really extend the length of a game exponentially. Being able to see what tasks your friends have accomplished seems to be an important deal. However, I believe Miiverse is Nintendo's own way of doing something similar to achievements. Like online details, we'll see soon enough prior to November 18th.

The Really Ugly

- The reaction to Bayonetta 2 being a Wii U exclusive

I constantly post on this very site and on Twitter that I cannot be more embarrassed by being a gamer, and it seems gamers never fail to prove me wrong somehow. Let's face it. Gaming culture in general sucks. It's full of man-babies, fanboys, and trolls that unfortunately, due to the advert of the Internet, now have a public space to send their opinions out to the masses and be heard. This very site is a fine example of that!

What I saw with the reaction Bayonetta 2 was despicable. It was yet another low point for gamers, who are increasingly becoming no longer a source of comedy but a source of unbridled embarrassment to their hobby and this industry. And why? Because Nintendo is publishing Bayonetta 2, thus making the game exclusive to the system.

I thought exclusives were a good thing. We heard so much about Nintendo lacking intriguing exclusives, and now that they have one (I never thought the original Bayonetta was a must-have or that great of a game, but whatever), the stance has been changed. Now Nintendo sucks for securing exclusives. They really can't win with these gamers, the group that I have grown to loathe and not want to be associated with.

And the argument that "now more people won't get to play Bayonetta 2, so screw you, Nintendo" is a hilariously awful one, too. Since when were these gamers worried about more people getting to play a third-party game? Remember Final Fantasy XIII? Yeah, the Sony camp certainly was happy that Xbox 360 gamers got to play the game when it was revealed it would be multiplatform. If you can't tell, that last statement was pure sarcasm.

People need to realize that Sega canceled Bayonetta 2. It is thanks to Nintendo coming in and offering to publish the game that people are even getting a sequel. Some people would rather the game be dead than it appearing exclusively for a Nintendo platform. If that is not some of the most pathetic ideology I have witnessed (hyperbole intended), I don't want to see how bad things can get.

I hear so much about "real gamers" and I shrug it off, but I am beginning to understand that mindset, though not in the context people usually use it in. "Real gamers" would not take such a stance and say that they'd rather see a game canceled than appear on a console they don't own. And when you start sending death threats to people and awful Twitter messages, you are human refuse, and you are the types of people that will continue to make this industry the joke that it is. No, what is disgusting isn't Bayonetta 2 being an exclusive to a Nintendo console. What is disgusting is the typical gamer I've seen these past two days, a zealot and a person of unbridled hatred through and through.

People should not get so angry over things like this. It was pathetic when Nintendo fans claimed Microsoft "stole" Rare from them. Tough. That's not even what happened. If you wanted Rare's new games, you went to where they were. That's how exclusives work and that's the point of them. And if you really only see Bayonetta 2 as the only game that is worth getting a Wii U for, then I am interested in knowing what types of games you play as I have already stated that the Wii U launch lineup is quite robust in genres and franchises. Perhaps it's really more of a hatred for a game company and console zealotry?

Regardless of the answer, the Wii U has a lot of good things going for it. It also has some parts that worry me. There are some that I did not have enough to write an entry on such as the limited online details and lack of achievements (I don't care about them, but other people live by them). What do you think about Thursday's Wii U day? Did you like what you saw? What did you like the most? What didn't you like so much? Did the Bayonetta incident annoy you at all? Let me know in the comments.

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