Tag Archives: Nintendo

The Cutting Edge of Video Games…

Purple Box of Wonder…in 2001.

Yep, after fearing it lost forever in the great house cleaning of aught-11, the redoubtable Mrs Rolling Eyeballs managed to unearth Nintendo’s happy purple Gamecube from it’s most recent resting place and reinstate it to our lovely CRT telly, where it belongs.  The lesson to be drawn from this?  Tidying is for suckers – don’t do it, kids.

That golden era of titles like “Burnout 2: Point of Impact”, “Metroid: Prime” and “Zoocube” is even now being relived, via the medium of extended controller cables and an in-the-mail memory card from those nice folks at a popular online retailer.

Given that our platform-owning overlords are now seemingly bent on making us pay and re-pay to enjoy titles from back in the day by removing backwards-compatibility from video games consoles, my next course of action is to head into town and pick up a PS2 to enjoy some of the earlier Sony titles I missed first time around (and so that Mrs Rolling Eyeballs can enjoy other iterations of her beloved, Criterion Games-developed “Burnout” franchise).

Retro? No, I just love the classics…

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Next Xbox, PS4 for Spring 2013 reveals?

Almost certainly not what the new Xbox will look like – but don’t you just love a cool case mod?

File this one under “I’ll believe it when I see it” – venerable UK games mag turned page-view hungry website, CVG, are reporting that we’ll see the new Xbox and Playstation consoles revealed in the Spring – with Apple style events planned for the Games Developers Conference in San Francisco at the end of March.

Which would be delightful, but for the fact that most people attending the conference are already working on titles for the new systems, so  the impact of a reveal at such an event would seem to be muted at best.   A behind-doors, strictly policed, NDA-heavy presentation I can see happening, but my money is still on Microsoft and Sony playing to a wider audience at E3 and crashing the internet twenty seconds after showing their latest hardware off.

Will Sony go nuts and have some kind of bonkers, crustacean-related shenanigans to show the power of PS4?  Will Microsoft show some games this time rather than media apps targeted solely towards their US heartland?  Will Nintendo show us some killer games that make the Wii U look worthwhile? Or will Gabe Newell sneak in with a “Half-Life 3“/Steambox announcement which sucks the oxygen out of the whole internets?

There’s nothing like an imminent new generation of hardware to make gaming more exciting…

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2012 in review – Games? We got games…

To some, an epic battle of beast versus noble knight. To me? Monday morning.

Gamers have lived in interesting times in 2012.  From Doritosgate  to a new console from Nintendo, from Kickstarter letting star developers of yore crowd-source funds for niche titles to the NRA blaming pop culture (and, inevitably, video games) for inspiring real-life violence, to studios like Sony Liverpool and even publishers like THQ either closing down permanently or entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to that “Mass Effect 3” ending, there’s been no shortage of stories on the daily games blogs to make you say “…hmm”.

Perhaps this weird sense of flux is partially attributable to the waning days of this gaming generation? With the debut of a hand-held  iterative system like the PS Vita and the aforementioned Wii U heralding the onset of a new generation of home systems, it’s probably not unusual to expect some consolidation in gaming – especially with the competition from smart phones being an ongoing agitant and conspiring to win yet more eyeballs and minds from the traditional gaming monoliths of Sony and Nintendo (next to whom, implausibly, Microsoft are the peppy young upstart of the sector).  If you’re not fast enough to keep up, and can’t get attention quickly, your game’s in the bargain bins two weeks after release and your studio will doubtless be downsizing headcount left, right and centre.  Who would want to be a games dev?  Not me, that’s for sure.

It would be easy to get downhearted, but there’s always reasons to get excited about this hobby – titles which engage so much that they persuade an otherwise sane gamer to invest 51 hours of his life (and counting) into a fantasy universe without really denting the main quest line – if you’ve read this blog at all this year, you’ll be in no surprise when I tell you that “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” was my favourite game of 2012.

It’s not one which has featured much in the year-end discussion – that honour goes to the likes of Tell Tale’s “The Walking Dead”, ThatGameCompany‘s art-em-up, “Journey”, steampunk stealth fest, “Dishonored” and the revived “Halo 4” – but it’s the game which pulled me back in, hour after hour, level after level to discover the secret provenance and reason for my seven foot blue elven ranged scout’s mysterious resurrection from death.

"Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning" is my game of 2012

“Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” is my game of 2012

Lots of action, deep lore (with a story by R.A. Salvatore), charming music, a neat inventory system and an indefinable x-factor which compels you to keep forging ahead even with the likes of “ME3”, “Halo 4” and every thing that XBLA/PSN/Steam could offer calling you away – that’s what my game of 2012 offered.  “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” is the overlooked gem of 2012 and the title which I hope somehow sees a renaissance worthy of it’s central plot line on the soon-to-be-unveiled next gen systems from Microsoft and Sony.

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Wii U? Why not?

 

Yep, that’s a console all right…

Whilst the telephonically-inclined are constantly refreshing their browser of choice on Wednesday in a desperate attempt to pre-order the new iPhone, those of us whose gadget yearnings extend beyond the kingdom that Steve Jobs built will be eagerly following Nintendo’s various websites, as the Japanese innovation factory announces a release date for their Wii U system.

Or the Wii 2.5′ to those more cynical observers underwhelmed by the console’s purported specs and games line-up.

Other half watching TV? Continue your game on this tablet controller.

Slightly rejigged versions of Batman: Arkham City, Mass Effect 3“, & “Ninja Gaiden 3are due alongside the next Assassin’s Creed“, “New Super Mario Bros U”, “Pikmin 3 and the mysterious motion-control fest , “Avengers: Battle for Earth” will vie for your attention this Holiday season amongst 3o or so launch window games.

It might be rubbish shovelware, or family-friendly genius, but who wouldn’t want an “Avengers” title on their system this year.

I’m always up for a new video games system – new hotness incoming! – but I’m not inclined to jump on board this particular hype train.

For one thing  – and this is key – the price of early adoption is frequently prohibitive.   It’s early enough in a console’s life cycle that production costs haven’t reduced and any business worth their stock exchange listing is going to want to give their new piece of sexy consumer electronics kit a price tag which reflects its newness, desirability and perceived cool status.  With games systems, unless you have a tattoo of Master Chief or proudly self-declare yourself as a devout Sony fan boy/girl, getting a console on the day that it hits the streets is going to leave you out of pocket, stuck with a bunch of rushed-to-market games and loudly cursing your consumer electronics overlords for  being suckered by the PR blitz once more.

I picked up my Xbox and PS3 a good few years into their life cycle – my briefly-owned Wii some time after that – and didn’t regret the financially-motivated decision to wait awhile until decent games made their debut, online services were sorted out and I had an idea what I was buying into.

The half-this-gen, half-next-gen nature of the Wii U makes me more likely to bide my time with it, if I ever pick up one at all.  As much as I love Mario and Samus, I’ve not seen anything yet from the demo footage so far shown of the system which tells me that this is anything other than a bridge between the Wii and what Nintendo come up with after seeing how the Xbox 720 and PS4 have shaken up gaming with their next disruptive iterative offerings.

Oddly enough, the Wii U really feels like a reaction rather than a singular design statement – and probably should have been with us earlier than it is – a system which can give Miyamoto-designed whimsy and blast-em-up military shooter action with a supportive suite of online services and the usual HD bells and whistles perhaps has a better chance than most at appealing to each sector of the lucrative family gaming market.

Establishing the message that your new system can handle the same fist-pumping, knuckle-dragging Bro Shooters as the other games consoles might drag in gamers for whom Nintendo is just greasy kid’s stuff but I’m not sure that they can get over the company’s image as the safe system for family gamers – and a lot of Ninty’s core audience would run a mile rather than play “Call of Duty” or “Battlefield”.

So, who is the Wii U for exactly?

 

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E3 2012 – the bad, the worse and the hopeful…

The annual E3 video games trade show is a positive haven of nerdy eye candy.

Picture of the LA Convention Centre, home of E3, via Official Playstation Magazine UK

The newest, highest profile titles get splashy debut presentations in big conferences from the likes of Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, with fanboys and fangirls arguing online about which massive corporation succeeded best in winning our hearts and wallets for the next year.

As with the last two or three years, Microsoft appear to have no real interest in appealing to games fans, preferring to set up their stall pursuing the mythical nuclear family audience which appear in their adverts – upscale, freshly scrubbed, tech-savvy and possessed of the kind of cavernous, open-plan living spaces which would best house the full Kinect, Xbox 360 and huge Plasma screen which Microsoft’s advertising always presents as standard.

Their conference had new iterations of Gears of War, “Forza”, “Fable” and “Halo”, none of which did anything for me.  With numbing predictability, a downloadable content exclusive for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2″ was announced and for the hordes of bro-gamers who care about that, I’m sure that counts as good news.

To be honest with you, I’m close to giving up on my Xbox 360 as the last couple of years has proven to me that games are as important to Microsoft as they are to Apple – when large chunks of their E3 conference is given over to streaming media services which nobody outside the US has access to, there’s little point in continuing to pay money to Microsoft for an Xbox Live service which solely exists to provide entertainment to middle-class Americans.  Nobody else matters to them.

It’s hardly as if Sony represent anything morally better, but their exclusive titles tend to wipe the floor with Microsoft’s increasingly bland, space-filling, ‘will this do?’ junk.

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“Juno 2: The Slashening”

This year, the Quantic Dream developed “Beyond: Two Souls, with its motion-captured Ellen Page character impressed and used the tech which Quantic recently presented their “Kara” demo with – we saw a quiet scene with subtle and nuanced digital characters in an interrogation appended with the kinds of action and explosive set pieces which might reassure the more trigger-happy gamers in the audience that they weren’t just going to be expected to listen to characters speak and, you know, be expected to follow a story.

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It’s one that I’m going to watch, as is Naughty Dog‘s “The Last of Us”, which brings their prowess earned over the course of the two and a half good games in the “Uncharted” series to bear on a new, sci-fi flavoured survival action title (you might remember this one as the game whose first trailer had a young female character uncannily similar to Ellen Page, whose presence in the aforementioned “Beyond” might have prompted the redesign evident in the E3 footage).

Think “Uncharted”, in an overgrown urban environment gone to wreck and ruin and full of messed-up brigands who want nothing more than to rearrange your grizzled features.  In its way – action platform gameplay with combat and truly visually arresting settings – Naughty Dog are doing nothing new, but the storyline and characters promise enough that I’ll certainly be playing this one on PS3.

Another visually stunning title is the new, gritty “Star Wars” title “1313”, which seems to filch some of Naughty Dog’s Nathan Drake platform acrobatics and copy and paste them into a tale set amongst bounty hunters, criminals and ne’er do wells on galactic administrative centre Coruscant.

Looks incredibly pretty in this high-end PC build, but I’ve been burnt enough by decades of crappy “Star Wars” titles to reserve any judgement on this until I get my hands on it – the visual fidelity on the footage shown at the link above makes me think that next-gen hardware will make the best of it.

I’m keen to see what Nintendo will show today – something, hopefully, which isn’t the same ‘bro-shooter’, utterly predictable, guns and thunder balls which Microsoft are seemingly content to push when they’re not selling tooth-rottingly sweet, licensed crap (with Kinect!) to uncritical tykes.

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Godfather of Mario can’t stop.

Not quitting. At all. Definitely not. No way. Ain't gonna happen.

Panic not, Ninty peeps.

Despite comments in a “Wired” magazine interview which seemed to indicate otherwise, Nintendo genius Shigeru Miyamoto isn’t retiring.  Which is good news for all of us and Nintendo’s stock price.

Working on smaller games, yes, quitting entirely – no.

(For those of you unfamiliar with Miyamoto’s work, he’s had some success in creating video games.  Ever played a Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Star Fox, F-Zero or Pikmin game?  Then you’ve experienced some of the indefinable uniqueness that Miyamoto brings to gaming).

The most interesting thing that the interview yielded to me was the ‘working on smaller games’ nugget – does this indicate that the forthcoming WiiU console is going to be offering downloadable, XBLA/PSN-like games?   If so, that’s got to be a good idea – not having to work on a five-year dev cycle to realise your games vision is only going to free up more time for a Miyamoto-like talent to push out quirky, bite-sized titles on a more regular basis.

And what fan of gaming wouldn’t want that?

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Your weekend gaming Quick Hits…

It’s the weekend and you don’t have time to read blogs – you want links to cool stuff and you want them now.  Who am I to argue?

The Gamecube's controller is my favourite console controller - fact!

Nintendo World Report celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Gamecube…

…Whilst Joystiq ponders the 10 greatest GameCube exclusives (Not an exclusive, but where, pray tell, is the love for ZooCube?)

The console is literally the size of a small child. Possibly.

It’s not all Ninty goodness, of course – Microsoft’s Xbox platform had its tenth birthday this week as and in a suite of anniversary features, US Official Xbox magazine laments the loss of the pioneering interactive gameshow, “1 vs 100”  – still the only 360 game I have all the achievements for.

Yahtzee's fair and balanced review of "Uncharted 3" awaits

Meanwhile, over The Escapist, lovely Yahtzee reviews “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Decision”.  It gets a bit rough…

Finally, PCMag.com has a list of things that you might want to try in “Skyrim”.

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