Category Archives: Nintendo

The Nintendo Wii, a toy?

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Uhmmmm, it looks like at least two game developers agree with what I’ve thought about the Wii for some time now. Funny how that happens, huh?

[Via MTV Multiplayer]

Lets NOT all hail Nintendo

As a fan of Leigh Alexander I’d like to take the time to counter some of what (What’s our Mandate) she’s written about none other than Nintendo. I’ve written quite a few things before doubting Nintendo for nearly everything they’ve done with the Wii and I can’t say that my opinion has changed in the slightest. Firstly will be a look at the following:

All hail Nintendo, for bringing video games to morning mainstream television, for lining up the all-ages gamers outside of its stores, for bringing in the girls, the senior citizens, the rehabbing soldiers, the fitness junkies. Yes, yes, thanks to Nintendo for fostering a more friendly attitude toward gaming among the uninitiated, for opening minds with a clean, soothing and bright white Wii ray.

Now, Nintendo is indeed doing a great service for the entire gaming culture from the aspect of what is called the “mainstream”, but what is really happening here? Are consumers really interested in playing a videogame now when they previously had not or is it that they’re just running with the tide of what’s hot and just following suit with the unwashed masses who feel they need to stay with the “in” crowd? A debate about accessibility can easily be had now, but that’s another matter for some other time. As for the more friendly attitude Nintendo has brought toward gaming, lets think about that for a second. Who’s really bringing this friendly attitude? It most certainly isn’t Nintendo. The potential user of the Wii is bringing this attitude all on their own as they some how feel that the Wii is what I’ll bring up again, accessible. If you look at any of the marketing efforts Nintendo is putting forth it’s painfully obvious that what their doing is not getting people to care to want to play the Wii, but flail around in there living room in the guise of playing a videogame. Go ahead, look at anyone of those ads. They all rarely show anything about what’s ultimately the entire point of owning a machine dedicated to playing videogames, the game. And yes, that’s clearly not what these “new” gamers are looking for as they are highly likely to not know anything about what their so hot to purchase in the first place.

If games mean more to us than simple toys, it’s because we’ve found a personal, emotional connection point, and that’s no small deal. We hope that games will contain many of these touchstones, and I think a heartening percentage of them do. I think, though, the key to gaming becoming really meaningful and important to society at large is for them to develop touchstones that aren’t necessarily personal to us, but relevant to the world on a whole.

Simple toys. What a bastardisation of what gamers hold dearly. It’s a phrase that’s as played out as a 747 being just a mere plaything for aspiring pilots to sit in and pretend there actually doing something other than playing with a gigantic hot-wheel. Videogames mean more to us as much as movies mean allot to a movie goer as they walk out of a theater feeling that they know the characters that they’ve just been watching for a few odd hours. Gamers understand what the joy of gaming is all about as they have moved beyond the peripherals of gaming and actually engaged with the medium. The nay-sayers who never actually partake with the control interface needed for what we now know as a videogame have little integrity to stand on when you try to reduce your possible interest to just the most basic of needs with a videogame by just watching ( and very little if that). Of course, you’re not going to get it. Relevance to the world will only come when everyone breaks through that passive barrier we’ve all become so accustom to with every other medium.

I’m thinking about this as I watch on television the footage of the absolutely mind-blowing destruction in China in the wake of an unprecedented earthquake, devastation in Myanmar. I’m watching stories about a lifetime public servant’s terminal brain cancer, publicity photos of his family smiling through it all. I’m watching America re-evaluate its national identity after what’s arguably a misstep of a war, gamely accepting that the next leader might be a black man or a woman, something impossible perhaps even a decade ago. I’m watching an energy crisis, an environmental crisis.

Then I go to work and write about video games. Our industry burgeons and swells with money against the backdrop of larger social issues, and on forums everywhere, the majority of the vocal audience wants to know, “does it have multiplayer?” We want to know if the graphics suck or if there will be a sequel.

There is a crisis of conscience here.

Our industry has no crisis of conscience anymore than headlines of major news outlets running with the latest Britney or Angelina fan fodder. The problem here is that there isn’t a problem. Why? Because not everyone wants to live in the “real world” 100% of the time, which is why (fictional)books, music, (serial) television, and movies have before videogames been the escape away from the things “that really matter”. When your not playing a game your living in reports of disasters, the death’s of “real” people, foreclosures, heat waves, droughts, depression, ridiculous energy and fuel cost, everyday chores, and kids if you have them. You know, life stuff. Everyone is entitled to some form of escapism aren’t they? Writing about videogames is some form of escapism in and of itself. Whether your being paid for it or not shouldn’t remove the reality of the situation. Your being paid to write about videogames. The craziness of that shouldn’t be lost anymore than some writing about any other hobbyist/recreational industry.

And lastly:

I would like games, and the work of people like me who write about games, to be able to keep a foot in reality, a thread that runs through the stories of the real world into the stories of the game world. Sometimes. A Final Fantasy Tactics fan at Japanator’s blogs used his feelings about War of the Lions to parallel and organize his own opinion on the war. He’s not even a professional writer, and he’s trying; I respect that. Infamous tipster SurferGirl has said that she hoped to use the buzz around her industry-insider blog to encourage gamers to broaden their views and take an interest in activism. She’s since retired the mysterious blog; perhaps she felt she wasn’t finding success at that.

I’m not implying that all gamers should feel some sort of moral obligation that they wouldn’t otherwise. And god knows that not all games need to carry social weight – let’s let Pokemon be Pokemon, for example. But at the very least, we should be able to write and talk about games in a way that isn’t insular, that doesn’t exclude the crucial stories of the real world. I say “at least,” even though I know what I’m asking is no easy feat, demanding a lexicon that’ll take time and broad effort to evolve. But to me, that’s really the only way to help gaming become truly relevant and inclusive – Miis, waggle and Wii Fit can only go so far.

Now here’s ultimately the biggest issue facing games in the breath of society as a whole. For writers to truly take their writing beyond the customary “how’s the graphics” arena and infuse it with the wider scope of the real world, the real world needs to shed its taboo whoring ways and maybe it’ll be just that much easier for most writers to not feel the need to be insular when that very world makes it seem so easy to attack that of which it doesn’t understand. Sure, it’ll take time for that to mend itself, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that it shouldn’t be this way in the first place and as I may be afraid of, Nintendo may be doing just the opposite of what so many are currently concluding. Is “the videogame is nothing more than a toy” mentality being reinforced by Nintendo when so many previously none gamers only view the Wii as a novelty that they pull out here and there to show off to friends or to play only what came with it, Wii Sports? Its mighty hard to gain that relevance when your viewed as nothing more than a toy.


Super Mario Galaxy DS?

The title says it all, even it it is fake.

[Via Digg]

Marching Band the way it should be, all videogamed out

In this halftime show with the Cal U Marching Band, they perform a show entirely of videogame music, of which the obvious symbols corresponding to the music go with it. Much of it being Nintendo inspired, I wish we had done something like this when I was in Marching Band. There’s nothing else to say, but Hells Yes!

Mortal Kombat
The Legend of Zelda
Mario Bros. Theme
Mario Underground Theme
Super Mario World Theme
Mario Water Theme
Mario World 1-1 Theme

A Wii Fit Parody at its finest has done it again with this Wii Fit parody. Nothing beats having fun with a videogame, when you can just practice lifting your legs instead.

Mass Exodus of Nintendo Executives: Harrison, Kaplan, And Llewelyn Leaving

Senior Director of Public Relations Beth Llewelyn, Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Affairs Perrin Kaplan, and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications George Harrison will all be leaving Nintendo of America in the near future. The exact date of their departures is unknown.

Ut oh! Where’s Moses when you need him? Trouble in Nintendo PR land?

read more | digg story

Resident Evil 4 Wii-make Confirmed

It appears that the rumored mystery Resident Evil title in the works for the Nintendo Wii is indeed a Resident Evil 4 remake. It will have Wii-specific controls and include all the content from the PS2 version, including “Separate Ways”

I’d hate to say that the Wii was just a Gamecube with a different controller, but the Wii is just a Gamecube with a different controller. The Wii-mote does allow for gameplay that’s impossible with other forms of control, but at the end of the day your still playing a video game just as before. Whether you call it a Wii or a refurbished Gamecube, if it’s fun that’s all that matters. Great game design rules over all. To bad the Wii has very few games that distinguish itself from a mutated PlayStation 2.

read more | digg story

Older Americans Increasingly Using Video Games as Recreational Alternative

Anxious about the mental cost of aging, older people are turning to games that rely on quick thinking to stimulate brain activity. A step slower than in their youth, they are using digital recreations of bowling, tennis and golf.

Alright, first things first. I don’t believe this for a second. Yes, there maybe a less than 1% of the total who occasionally do this, but given past and current experience with non-gamers of any age this is hugely over stated. Every time I ask someone why they don’t play video games at all,the excuse is always “I don’t have time”. Of course, that is total and utter crap. It’s really fun to hear this time after time when everyone has some type of hobby that they make time for even when they legitimately don’t have time for it.

The story here is the issue of people bowing down to societal pressure that say’s you shouldn’t be playing a video game if you’ve breached a certain age bracket. Any real gamer would call that hogwash in a second, but older potential gamers have mainly fallen for the pier pressure of other non-gamers that will immediately chastise them for partaking in what way to many believe to only be for kids. Just as most eventually stop playing with dolls or action figures, video games have long been wrongly branded as just another toy for far to long.

Much like early film or contemporary music in it’s early days, gaming has is and continues to fall to the misbranding of the uninitiated just because of the simple fact that gaming “will root your brain”. As many times as some will chose to say such blasphemy, us gamers know that they have just been smoking there crack pipes for just a wee bit to long.

Ironically though, the vary mediums that have become socially acceptable by nearly everyone in modern society require the least amount of interactivity and thought up against almost ever other activity one can think up. Sitting in front of a screen being shown something like a wild animal being mesmerized by a hanging steak that they can’t have is what most consider the pinnacle of being entertained. Surely that’s what a lazy minded person would side with when they have no real interest in having a real stake in what they choose for entertainment. Commitment is the essential thing that separates gamers from everyone else. Gamers are willing to learn while they are being entertained at the same time. You can’t tell me that isn’t where the real evolution of entertainment is at.

The mere fact that so many have decided to banish video games into the wasteland of kid only activities clearly shows that the overwhelming majority just flat out only want to be told a story or passively shown it from one point of view that never changes after subsequent experiences. Frankly, it’s a shame that it has to be this way. While all gamers continue on the forward path that gaming has in store for itself, everyone else is going fall further behind the times when everything isn’t about having the same experience that everyone else has, but making your own entertainment with whats given to you and turning it into your own unique playtime.

Banishing video games into the world of misfit’s has it own issue in an of itself. People like that maniac down in Florida, Jack Thompson, not understanding the medium and casting only violent or sexually related video games into the fire all the while the real mother load seen in movies and television today far surpasses what any game has done so far, which in turn makes this extremely maddening. With a clearly marked rating on every package, how is it that anyone can get outraged wihen there kid plays something that was obviously not intended for them. Bad parenting and the lack of understanding are the real problem here. Coupling from this are the politicians jumping on board a train of idiocracy with the driver headed for a titanium laced brick wall.

Citing all of this and much more, it’s difficult to believe that anyone from a older generation even has a clue as to what video games are beyond the stereotypical kids only activity. Until we get to the point where a game doesn’t have to be shown to anyone and is seeked out because of plain normal interest by someone that’s not in the so-called know, I for one can’t begin to believe that older-gamers outside of someone like Old Grandma Hardcore, giving gaming any time of day. The Wii may be what Nintendo hopes changes all of this, but the stigma that the very meaning of video game has contracted is for the moment a disease that yet has a cure.

read more | digg story

NiGHTS coming to the Wii?

Is NiGHTS coming to the Wii? The magazine won’t run an exclusive story on this game until next month, but that picture on the right is extremely convincing. Even if it does turn out to be NiGHTS, will it be a true sequel to the original, complete with next-gen graphics and Wii remote controls? Or will it be a Virtual Console appearance of the original.

This would be fantastic if it did happen. A sequel is in order for sure, that is if it is indeed a true sequel. If I wanted to play the original again, I can just brake out my Sega Saturn and analog disc controller for that.

read more | digg story

Is the Wii overrated? Part 2

With the re-emergence of the video game industry 25 or so years ago with the success of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the gaming landscape mainly consisted of kids playing them. Given the fact that the people who give gaming a bad wrap to this very day still believe that gaming is an activity that is enjoyed and targeted to only kids, then comes the Wii.

Control schemes in games have gotten more and more complicated over time. Not because developers are trying to confuse kids, but because the very people who support the industry the most today are those then same kids, who back then got there first experience of what this amazing medium can offer that none other can. Then again, were not kids anymore. Those same gamers expect to have an experience that goes beyond solving rudimentary block puzzles or button-mashing our way to victory.

The Wii is all about fun, right. That’s what Nintendo will beat you over the head with, but how much fun is it when the game your playing is just plain bad. Case in point is Ubisoft’s Red Steel. Whether you liked the game or not, it’s still supposed to be fun just because of the Wii-mote. What’s that “Red Steel isn’t fun”. Like any other case, good game design is foremost important, Wii-mote or not.

Eliminating the Wii’s new/old fangled controller, what else does the Wii have to stand on. Nothing if you ask me. With a non-existent on-line multiplayer setup and dare I say it ” NO HD”, the other two choices offer HD and more or less a on-line solution free of friend ID codes longer than the Nile river. We are still very early in what is now current-gen where we already can clearly see the difference between the Wii,PS3, and Xbox 360.  Over time this will become even more pronounced.

Today we find ourselves with a machine that has a unique control scheme no matter how much Sony wants to try to copy Nintendo, but what about when that controller isn’t enough? Once the visual capabilities of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 begin to pull away even more Wii owners everywhere may find themselves wondering if the Wii-mote is enough to hold interest. Hopefully for Nintendo graphic’s really aren’t as important as everyone would like to say, because all they have to stand on for the moment is you waving your arms around enough to forget that what your playing is nothing more than mini games at the moment.