Dusted off the old Nintendo Wii today

As one of the few people who stood in line on launch day I can say that the Wii’s massive popularity was no surprise to me. I often look back on the console with mixed feelings. A little over a year ago I picked up two Wii’s at a flea market and haven’t done a whole lot with either of them since. Today as I was playing some Minecraft I was starting to remember how fondly I loved the good old GameCube. I was thinking to myself how much I wish I had the money to go out and buy a GameCube and pick up a copy of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life to go back in time and play a game I enjoyed tremendously over a decade ago.

Well turns out I had forgotten that I bought a copy of the game a while back and it suddenly hit me, I had a Wii, I had a GameCube controller and sure enough I pulled my copy of The Legend of Zelda Collector’s Disc off the shelf and inside the case was my little while GameCube memory card. I dusted off the Wii, hooked it up, configured the Wii remote, threw in my copy of Harvest Moon and what do you know my old save from all those years ago was still in tact. I loaded it up and picked up my farm life right where I left off, little baby Mark showing me his toy car while wife, Nami, was in the kitchen apparently mulling over “life on the farm.”

Harvest Moon isn’t even an exclusive to the GameCube, yet it remains one of my fondest games for it. I remember putting endless hours into this game when it was brand new. I haven’t put that many hours into a game since discovering Minecrat, which I mostly play as a Harvest Moon substitute anyways. I didn’t spend a lot of time before I booted the Wii memory manager up just to see what other game saves remained in tact. I must have cleaned house at some point as most of my favorite games were gone. Still there were plenty of saves ranging from Metroid Prime, dozens of retro collections, Smash Bros. Melee, even my Robotech Battle Cry save was still there.

It wasn’t quite the same as hooking up the quaint little purple lunch box I fell in love with over a decade and a half ago. However, there was still a little of that GameCube charm left in the dusty old Wii. I always tell people the GameCube wasn’t a failure, it was Nintendo’s BEST SELLING console of all time, when you factor in the motion controlled redesign that Nintendo slipped into people’s homes through the back door. While most people who picked up a Wii were probably getting it for Wii Sports, Wii Fit and any number of waggle-wand casual fluff, some, like myself, picked it up as a full on replacement for our beloved, underappreciated little ‘Cube that could.

I don’t currently have hardly any games for the GameCube. I do expect I will be picking up a few just for old times sake in the near future. As I look at my small game collection I see five GameCube discs on the shelf. That wouldn’t be quite so bad if I didn’t have twice as many Wii games. The real reason I haven’t bothered trying to get back into GameCube collecting is the same reason I got out of Sega Saturn collecting. The units didn’t sell well enough to reach mass market saturation. That makes the games harder to find in good condition, which makes them more expensive all the time. Still, there is a very strong possibility I might talk myself into seeking out a few choice titles here and there in the near future. I would be more than happy to trade away my dust old Wii for an actual true GameCube someday. After all, I have a Wii U which is basically a Wii with it’s backwards compatibility. In the meantime I think I am going to be spending more time digging into the handful of GameCube games I do have to see what new memories I can make as I try to reconnect with old memories.

I sometimes go back and forth between SNES and GameCube, trying to decide which is my favorite Nintendo console of all time. I don’t have anywhere close to the time, or money, to begin collecting Super NES games, so I might just have to settle for my second favorite for the time being and be okay with that. One of the reasons I do wish to own an original GameCube over just a Wii is the Game Boy Player. However, as those are also getting expensive I might pass on that for a while. Again, it’s not urgent that I acquire one since I have a Game Boy Advance and a Game Boy Color.

I miss the days when I had a GameCube with a collection of 60 or so games, a half dozen controllers and a good old Sony Trinitron CRT tube television set. For now I can get by with a Wii hooked up to my HDTV LCD TV playing GameCube games.

 

Why the Nintendo Switch doesn’t need ALL of the 3rd party games.

Hear me out those 2 fanboys that find a way to read this. Nintendo is NOT Sony, they do not make the same type of system and their games appeal to a different audience. If the Switch was just a true home console replacement for the Wii U I would make a case Nintendo needed to do better this time around attracting 3rd parties, but since that is not the reality I would like to lay out an argument for why they not only can succeed without that level of AAA support, they are better off without it.

First, the Switch is NOT a home console. Despite Nintendo touting it as a “hybrid” and some in the gaming press towing that line, let’s face it, the machine is weaker than the base Xbox and PS4 consoles which have already been replaced with more powerful iterations. The reality is, more and more reports of the big budget AAA games NOT coming to Switch due to the weak hardware is a reality gamers have to accept. However, Nintendo has traditionally done well attracting handheld and mobile ports or versions of games for their portable consoles, Rock Star who has not made a game for a Nintendo home console ever has made games for the DS family. Microsoft, who competes directly with Nintendo in the home console space, has allowed Rare, a subsidiary of theirs, to release games for the Nintendo handhelds. If Nintendo, and their partners, want to be successful on Switch they have to look at it from that perspective. Sure make a comparable home port running on last gen builds if you must, but the focus needs to be getting the maximum potential out of the handheld side and letting the console shine in that arena.

Second, the Wii sold gangbusters and it was not just weaker, it was pathetic how weak it was compared to it’s big brothers. Unlike Switch, Wii had more than just weak horse power, slow CPU, less RAM and puny GPU going against it, it ALSO had to deal with the issue of the Wii remote, which meant certain games either had to be reworked entirely for motion controls, games like fighting games didn’t work so they were axed after the first few attempts, and that meant some games either had to be compromised, or developers had to spend additional, limited, resources retooling their game to not only run on weaker hardware but to utilize wonky, non industry standard controls. In the end it was easier for them to develop exclusive games for the Wii from the ground up than to try butchering their square games to fit into the round hole Nintendo was selling. Another limitation of the Wii was the memory size. It had 512 MEGABYTES, at least the Switch has 32 Giga Bytes and is expandable up to 512 GB. Wii was only expandable up to 8GB and that was a hard limit. The base Xbox ORIGINAL came with that  much memory. So games that required DLC or patches, and such, had to be compromised, or skipped. I wouldn’t pay full price for a Wii game that was missing key features, and most gamers didn’t which is why 3rd party games that did that sold terrible and the ones that sold well were built from the ground up with Wii in mind, or were quick ports of PS2 games with motion controls reworked anyways because they were cheap to port games that were already fully developed.

Third, Nintendo 1st party games always sell best and 2nd party games sell behind there, 3rd party games that DO find success on the Nintendo platform do so by imitating what Nintendo is doing on the console. A game like Mortal Kombat X or Destiny won’t work on a Nintendo Switch, but a 3rd party game in the Mortal Kombat universe that is scaled down to run on the hardware and caters to the retro audience that eats up Nintendo consoles has a better chance of appealing to that audience. Think of it like this. Switch is NOT getting SF5, but it is getting a SFII game that is targeting the Nintendo audience.

Fourth, Nintendo fans = retro fans. Let’s face it, with their roots going all the way back to Atari, Nintendo has been a part of the gaming community and in the hearts and minds of gamers since the first successful home consoles. Sony has been in the game for 20 years, but Nintendo has an additional 15 years on them easily. That means there is a larger audience of classic and retro gamers who identify with Nintendo. Sony has always gone after the more modern, younger gamers and Xbox has always tried to make a PC for the living room, leaving Nintendo the last remnants of the early days of video games. This causes a lot of warm fuzzy feelings with Nintendo gamers that Sony doesn’t and Microsoft never will have. You could make a case that Microsoft was in the game just as long with their PC stuff, but PC gamers and retro console/retro arcade gamers don’t always intersect. That being said, Wii was a retro gamers wet dream and for that reason alone I keep that wonky butt of gaming jokes around. Even now, the majority of launch titles really play on that nostalgia. In fact, ARMS and Breath of the Wild are the only games that I own for the console that aren’t retro themed or inspired in some way.

Nintendo does need to get some of the big name franchises, the Call of Duty games, the sports titles, etc., but they don’t need the latest and more current console iteration, realistically that’s not going to happen anyways, but they can get by with ports that are catered to their audience and the gamers who see it as a second console will play it for the Nintendo games and the retro games with 3rd party ports catered to their tastes leaving them to buy the deeper, more complex and big budget experiences on their preferred Microsoft, Sony or PC of choice.

That being said, there are going to be those who buy the Switch as their primary console and they will want some 3rd party games too. However, the majority of them are likely to be the same pro-Nintendo audience that favors the “Nintendo” style of gaming so they probably aren’t Call of Duty or Destiny gamers to begin with.

Nintendo has learned a long time ago they can’t go toe to toe with the big boys. That is why the had to go the blue ocean route. They found their audience with Wii and DS because they learned what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately people, mostly short sighted folks that don’t follow the gaming industry, tend to see the failure of the Wii U as an isolated event and pick it apart. I could write an entire article on why that failed and Switch is doing well, but instead I will just say Nintendo knows how to reach their audience and by merging their home console and handheld audience into one market they have finally solved many of the problems they were having.

Nintendo isn’t going to abandon the 3DS/2DS family just yet, but people have to understand how long it takes to make a game and launch a new platform before they go throwing around claims like new games coming to that as proof Nintendo isn’t merging their platforms. The Switch is it going forward. Games that were 1-2 years out from release when Switch launched that were already in development for 3DS were going to continue no matter what. Nintendo wasn’t just banking on if Switch failed they were working on plan b, rather what likely is happening is games that were commissioned and started before Switch was even finalized were just too far along to move over to the Switch and Nintendo always supports their old handheld or console at least a year or two after they replace it. However with Wii U, they stopped cold turkey, just killed it with Breath of the Wild and washed their hands of it.

In a world where Nintendo has to divide their attention between making games for two platforms, a small developer like Nintendo falls into the drought situation more often than they can handle. Once the 3DS winds down and all you see are ports and games coming from the smaller, lesser studios and the interns, you will start to see a shift of full development migrating to Switch and the merging of the two markets into one will be complete. After that point you won’t see six or seven Switch games a year followed by six or seven 3DS games, you will start seeing 10-20 games for Switch and 3DS will just fade away. By then the 3rd party developers who figure out how to make games for the Nintendo audience will have done so.

This is mostly meant to reassure the Switch faithful and those on the fence that while it looks bad on the surface so many developers not bringing their big titles to the system, keep in mind it takes 2-3 years to make a new game and most of those games were in development years before the Switch was finalized. The ones that could run or be made to run on the hardware and that would appeal to the Nintendo audience, will find their way on the system. Those that can’t be done without compromising the games just won’t, and shouldn’t, be ported. I say this as someone who had, and LOVED, the Gamecube, bringing half-baked ports that cut features, severely limiting the appeal and remove key components of the game, are NOT going to sell anyways so it’s just a waste of time bringing them over. I would rather get a Nintendo-style port of a game catered to the hardware, than a watered down port that has to cut features. Some argue that is splitting hairs, after all if they have to cater it to the hardware isn’t that the same as watering it down? Not if done right.

Hand held versions of games, especially on Nintendo consoles, have typically been built from the ground up to utilize the platform’s unique features anyways, so handheld gamers have come to expect that a Call of Duty that does get released on their machine is going to be built to run on that hardware. Does that mean there is hope for WWII coming to Switch? No, Activision already said so. But there is a chance they will find a way to port next years game to the console, or create a specific game tailored for the Switch hardware and catered to that audience. In other words, it’s going to be DS/Wii all over again, but this time the hardware is closer and has fewer hurdles to over come. You won’t get a PS4 game on Switch but you CAN and likely will get last gen PS3 style ports that make use of the unique features of the Switch and, best of all, can be played on the go in full HD console style graphics. In other words a portable PS3 is NOT a bad console to be making games for.

I love my PS3 and while I do want my big budget AAA games, I will get those on my PS4 and be happy with that, sell me games made for the Switch that make use of it’s features or at least give me PS3 quality games I can take on the go and I will be happy. Also, unlike PS2-Wii ports, where the leap from PS2 to PS3 was very obvious, many gamers continue to say the leap from PS3 to PS4 was so minimal it’s barely noticable anyways, getting a ton of late PS3 ports and PS3 “remasters” isn’t going to be bad for Nintendo gamers that stuck to Wii and missed out on those games, even the tiny percentage that migrated to Wii U are still going to find a ton of games they missed out on. For example, I did stick with Wii clear into 2008. I went full PC only until about 2013 when I picked up both a PS3 and a Wii U and I had no trouble going back through the PS3 library and finding tons of great games that never made it to Wii, those gamers, also likely the ones gobbling up all the Switches at the moment, like myself, are probably going to be just as happy playing Skyrim in 2017 on Switch as their friends were who played it when it was new. Think of it as new to you games.

Nintendo gamers are fully accustomed to that mentality and unlike Wii U where development was hindered, Switch at least is easier to make games for, has features people want, is priced fair for what you get, and once game developers get into their groove, late 2018 and beyond the Switch is going to be a gaming behemoth. It’s going to have a short lifespan, sure, but it will be a great 5 years and then Switch 2.0 will be gearing up by then anyways. I know this ran a little long but there was a lot that had to be said.

I remain optimistic that Switch will

Looking back on the Nintendo Wii U: Nintendo’s last true Home console

So the topic I want to discuss today, is the Nintendo Wii U Nintendo’s last true home console? I’m sure I’ve dabbled on this in the past and I’m probably going to talk about it more in the future but this is just sort of a brief look back.

With the release of the Nintendo Switch people are saying that Nintendo future is bright and some people are saying their future is in doubt. But I don’t think Nintendo’s future has ever been in question to me. They’ve been in pretty good financial shape since they released the Nintendo DS and honestly Pokemon.

So if the Nintendo Switch is a true hybrid console then the question is does it count as at home console and that’s what I want to consider.

I’ve owned every Nintendo Home console since the NES so for me I have a lot invested in Nintendo’s success because they keep making products that I enjoy buying. However I have not owned every Nintendo handheld I’ve never owned a 3DS and I’ve never owned a Gameboy Advance SP or a GBA micro. I have owned Nintendo DS, Gameboy Advance, original Gameboy, Gameboy Pocket, and Gameboy Color, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the handheld’s my main problem is the screens are too small. I have bought most of them for a couple of games and mostly for road trips. I rarely just sit and game on a handheld.

So to me I don’t really think of the Nintendo Switch as a Home console I do have the doc but I never got it and I don’t hook it up to my TV I almost exclusively play in tablet mode with the joy cons attached. No it’s not that I haven’t tried it in console mode I have I played breath of the wild in console mode but most of the games that I have don’t really require being on the big screen and they don’t really gain anything from being on the big screen the tablet screen is good enough and I like to multitask so I usually will have my movies or TV shows playing on the TV while I’m gaming on the tablet this was the one feature I really enjoyed about the Wii U I could sit and play Nintendo games on the Wii U tablet while still watching a show.

A few years ago I was in a discussion board on a Nintendo fan site and we were talking about what Nintendo should do following up the Wii U and I had suggested that they should just make a tablet with buttons that has HDMI out that can connect to a TV for me personally I felt that a product like that would you not both of Nintendo’s core demographics their shrinking console market and they’re consistently loyal handheld Market. For me it seemed like such a no-brainer that I thought if they did anything other than that I was going to be disappointed and not be interested in buying the product considering how disappointed I was in there last two home consoles.

So for me I was very excited when I saw the Nintendo Switch reveal and learned it in fact was a tablet with buttons and HDMI connecting to a TV the best part is the controller’s word attachable that wasn’t something I had consider Nintendo doing as a tablet I kind of feel like maybe Nintendo could put a little more into some of the apps at least get a few multi media apps but I think Nintendo smart to stay focused on the gaming demographic if they were to take Apple head on or Google, they’d probably lose.

So let’s answer the question what to me makes a Home console. Well I’ve always maintained that in order to be a home game console it has to play video games on your TV that’s the core of it the Switch does not play video games on the TV not in its base mode it don’t you have to connect it to a separate piece of Hardware that connects that to your TV so to me that does not qualify the Switch is a true Home console to me it is a mobile device that connects to your TV not a true Home console.

So then to me that makes the Wii U Nintendo last true Home console assuming that the Switch moves forward as their new business model that looks like that’s going to be the plan. So I want to do some Reminiscing on the Nintendo Wii U as Nintendo’s last Home console. I’m going to briefly run down the things that I did not like about the Wii U first and then I’ll end on talking about the things that I did like. The very first thing I dislike about the Wii U was the name I hated the Wii I don’t make that a secret and I did not like the fact that the Wii U was the replacement of the way I wanted them to get away from the Wii brand the we name the motion controls in the little Mii Critters and they didn’t do that.

Some people can look past the name and I was able to do that as well but it was a hard sell. The second thing I didn’t like is how it force you to create a me I didn’t like the Mii’s on the Wii and I didn’t like having to use them and I don’t like being forced to I’ve never liked when any company video game website or anybody forces you to do something I like toys I like options if you give me the choice to do something I might choose to do so if you tell me I don’t have a choice then I don’t want to do it.

The interface was exactly the same as the Wii but there was a slight alteration and had to really annoying me verse and me Plaza and you couldn’t turn them off I didn’t like that either it was just a little reminder that you had a TV screen full of means running around chattering and that Mii gibberish language.

Looking back on it the only other thing I didn’t care for was how you had to load it into Wii mode in order to access the Wii stuff but now that I think about it, the one benefit to that is it allowed you to continue accessing the Wii virtual console and we download games which I did continue to do.

I don’t want to get to negative on it because I did buy the system and I did enjoy it I understand why other people didn’t but it was fun it had some fun games so let’s talk about the things I did like I loved the tablet in the off TV play being able to sit in my recliner and playing a game on the tablet while watching a Netflix show on the TV I enjoyed that.

I also liked the Pro Controller it was better than the classic controller on the Wii. I like the eShop it was easier to navigate the search function was a lot more useful it had a lot more games and it had a few non-game apps that Wii didn’t have as many of those.

I did like the web browser better on the Wii U and once they finally got profiles I liked using the Netflix app on the Wii U better than using it on the Wii which to be honest I never used it on the Wii but my sister did so I know what it was like and I didn’t care for it.

That’s enough about features a game console is only as good as its games so now I want to talk about the games. To a non Nintendo gamer the Wii U was a Barren Wasteland that’s a fact. Fortunately for me I am a Nintendo gamer and it had quite a few games that I really enjoyed.

The first game that I enjoyed the most with Super Mario 3D World I played this game a lot and I even showed it to people and recommended it to friends.

I also played Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Captain Toad, both New Super Luigi U and new Super Mario Brothers U, Smash Bros. U, Dr. Luigi, Pikmin 3, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, the Wonderful 101, Hyrule Warriors, The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker HD remake, The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess HD remake, Mario versus Donkey Kong game, Splatoon, and Super Mario Maker. I had a few eShop titles like Shovel Knight, Pier Solar, a few others I can’t remember them all. Overall I was mostly satisfied with the games that I had I like most people there were a lot of games I didn’t enjoy those were the games I never bought and there weren’t very many games to choose from so they weren’t a lot of options.

I know some people will disagree with this but I’ll remember the Wii U a little more family than the original Wii but not as finely as the Nintendo GameCube I think I’m going to put it on par with the Nintendo 64 which is the system I like just a little tiny bit more than the Wii.

I think the end of the day it was a good system it had some good games it just had some marketing issues it had a few technical flaws that Nintendo couldn’t overcome and the biggest problem was it was a full HD console it was Nintendo’s first full HD consult and they didn’t know how to develop HD games.

Looking forward I think Nintendo is going to have a better time getting games out for the Switch because they’re going to be in the middle there going to be a little bit better and 3DS games but not quite as good as PS4 games and I think that’s Nintendo’s comfort zone.

The way you did have an assortment of accessories just not a crazy number like the Wii, but I didn’t own enough of them to really comment on that. The Nintendo GameCube was the last time I tried to make a Nintendo console my only console so I had a Wii U but I also had a PS4 and a PS3 so I didn’t really feel like I was missing out on anything I do think if you are a Wii U only console gamer you probably didn’t have a very good generation.

I think maybe in time I’ll start to appreciate it more for what it was and maybe Overlook some of its claws and maybe discover some of the hidden gems although I don’t think there’s that many hidden gems to discover cuz there’s not that many games.

I don’t want to speculate on what could have been or should have been or how it could have been improved I’ll just say that I had fun with it I’ll keep it around and I’ll be able to go back to it from time to time and reminisce without too many negative thoughts. At the time my biggest gripe continued to me the system being overpriced for what you got

When I bought mine Nintendo was running a special if you bought the deluxe edition it came with 3 games and any digital game you bought in the eShop you got like extra bonus points so I got a lot of free games just by buying the system so it worked out for me but I still think it was overpriced.

The games that I don’t own that I still want to pick up I can’t think of any maybe Paper Mario Maybe Star Fox I don’t care for Animal Crossing I don’t care for the Wario games and I won’t buy any of the games and have the Wii name in them, or depend heavily on the Mii’s.

I do have Nintendo Land but that’s because it came with the system and I’ve just never played it and I’ve never saw fit to sell it.

The rest of the games unfortunately if they’re on Switch like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe I just bought for Switch I think I’ll get them on the Switch I’m not interested in going back to the Wii U at this point. I guess there’s a couple of Sonic games that I haven’t played and I think there’s a Rayman game on the Wii U but I’m not 100% I think some of those games are coming to Switch.

I guess that’s all I have to say on it I’m enjoying the Switch and I know all look finally back on the Wii U in time. I don’t think it had as much potential as some of Nintendo previous consoles I think it was held back tremendously by the hardware and it was also held back by some of the Wii stuff but it was a good system not their best certainly not their worst.

Retro vs. Modern gaming

The age old question, well maybe not age old but the question of the day is, what’s the better type of gamer the modern gamer or the retro gamer? For me personally I think they two both have merits, but as a primarily retro gamer I tend to lean towards retro as the better option. However there is a new way of thinking, the modern-retro gamer is also a thing now. Take into consideration the new, retro-styled games like Shovel Knight, or Retro City Rampage, to name two extremely popular titles. But that is not the type of retro gaming I am talking about so first let’s define retro, then lets define modern and compare the two to see which one offers the more robust gaming solution.

I have always identified four types of gaming platforms. The first is the arcade platform or the short, casual gaming  that dominated the 80’s and early 90’s. The second is the PC gamer, PC being short hand for computer which for me is all encompassing, the third type of gaming is the console game, the dedicated living room machine that offers a stripped down, bare-bones gaming experience or a completely streamlined all-in-one solution. The fourth type is the mobile gamer or the gamer on the go.

I define the divide between retro and modern differently for each of the four types of gaming. Arcade games are considered retro, to me at least, if they were created before the 3-D revolution. Retro arcade games range from the earliest video machines such as Pong or Space War, to the mid-90’s 2D fighting games. The divide is the Sega Model 2 hardware and the Midway Zues/Nintendo Ultra 64 hardware. Everything before those periods is retro and everything following is modern. Modern arcade gaming is mostly made up of dance and rhythm games, hunting games and simulations, mostly sports or horse racing, they aren’t really that many non-gambling games today that have any resemblance to the classic arcade quarter munchers of the yester-year we all long for.

PC gaming is a little more complex. For the most part, non-IBM PC or non-Windows based x86 gaming that ranges from the earliest microcomputers to the end of the Atari Falcon line and the Amiga brand are considered retro. For IBM-compatible or Windows PC, a.k.a “PC gaming” the divide is Windows 95. Everything before Windows 95, including DOS and all early Windows games are considered retro, including those from the PC CD-ROM era. Modern PC gaming basically starts with Windows 98 leaving Windows 95 as sort of a buffer between classic, or retro, and modern. I am talking strictly in game design and philosophy here, PC gaming became incredibly more complex with the start of Windows 95 and the introduction of Direct X, prior to that PC gaming was not at all unified nor easy to identify.

Handheld gaming is pretty much divided up into Game Boy and post-Game Boy. Meaning Everything from the Game Boy Advance (and variants) backwards is considered retro and everything from the Nintendo DS onwards (including mobile phones and PSP/Vita) is modern. Again this goes back to game design and philosophy. Prior to the GBA hand held games were basically seen as miniaturized versions or downgraded ports of existing games. With DS and PSP especially it was possible, and common, to have full blown console level dedicated games on the mobile platform that were basically comparable to the modern platform.

Console gaming the divide is much easier for the most part, but there are some overlaps. As with Windows 95, there is a clear-cut divide between classic game design philosophy and modern or even post-modern design philosophy, this is the Sony Playstation.

The Sony PS1 as it is sometimes called marks the buffer between retro or classic game design and the start of modern, cinematic story based gaming. PS1 is a transition console that includes a diverse library of classic and retro (modern at the time) games that played similar to the true retro games of the SNES, NES, ad Sega Genesis period, as well as the beginnings of the modern interactive movie games of today. The modern philosophy began mostly with Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Tony Hawks Pro Skater, Gran Turismo, Tomb Raider, and the infamous Grand Theft Auto, which all had their first bouts of success on the Sony Playstation. While FF7 was a benchmark for modern gaming, it was really based on the retro FF6 JRPG style but it deserves credit for bringing the RPG genre to the modern era. However, games like Castlevania Symphony of the Night, Crash Bandicoot, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Tetris Plus, Mega Man 8, and many, many more, play just like their 16-bit SNES counterparts leaving them as a bridge between the retro and modern gaming machines.

There is a little overlap however, Saturn is more modern than Retro and the Dreamcast is very modern while the N64 is more retro than modern. That is why I place the Playstation as the bridge between the classic, or retro and the modern with N64 and Saturn, it’s contemporary competition, as sort of buffers. For me those two machines are clearly retro but they have some of the beginnings of modern gaming seeping through. The N64 especially with its major push into 3-D gaming.

With the Playstation as the divider then, where does a modern gamer looking to get into retro gaming start? And for that matter where does a retro gamer looking to ease into modern gaming go?

I will tackle these both one at a time. For the modern gamer it depends on your point of entry. I will focus on each category, arcade, console, PC and mobile, and tackle them one by one.

The modern PC gamer is most likely going to do what all PC gamers have done since the beginning of time, work their way back to the beginning via their favorite franchises. A modern Doom gamer is going to go back and play classic Doom, a modern Elder Scrolls gamer should check out the original D&D games like Eye of the Beholder or the Warcraft games to get a good bit of history. The modern PC gamer has the benefit of Windows being essentially backwards compatible with pretty much all previous operating systems so it’s much easier for the PC gamer to go back in time and try out older games. Here is a road map I recommend for the modern, millennial and younger PC gamer.

As Windows 95 is the divide I recommend starting with some of the classic PC CD-ROM titles from the early DirectX era. A few to get started are MechWarrior 2, Descent, Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem 3-D, Unreal, Star Wars Dark Forces, Myst, Tomb Raider, Alone in the Dark, Diablo, Warcraft, StarCraft, Sim City 2000, and Baldur’s Gate. These are all semi-retro but modern enough games for a PC gamer to get their feet wet looking to sample some classic PC gaming but without going too old school.

Then work your way backwards. Some good games to try from the VGA and 386 period would be the original DOS Duke Nukem side-scroller, Jazz Jackrabbit, Sim City, Eye of the Beholder and Eye of the Beholder 2 Legend of Darkmoon,  any of the early Bard’s Tale, Ultima and Might and Magic games. Then going further back why not give Commodore 64 a shot, either via emulation or scouring ebay for an actual working machine, they are pretty cheap by modern standards.

Arcade gamer I will just say this, either pick up MAME for your PC or get onto Xbox Live Arcade or PSN and look for retro arcade compilations like Mortal Kombat Komplete Kollection, Tower of Mystara Collection, Metal Slug Anthology, Namco Museum, Midways Arcade Treasures, etc, basically pick up any of these classic arcade compilations to get you started. The PS2 is the BEST retro arcade gaming machine outside of MAME.

Mobile gamer. I won’t get too into this one. Basically if you are into modern mobile games like iOS and Android games or 3DS and PS Vita games my advice is just dig back through the catalogs. The Nintendo Game Boy Advance is a very good place to start along with the original DS, there are tons of retro gaming goodies to be found on those as well as the PSP, a portable gaming treasure trove. Personally I recommend a GBA because it gives access to the Game Boy classic and Game Boy color line up of games as well and then pick up a DS or 3DS and work backwards through the catalog as they are backwards compatible then get into PSP when you are ready to upgrade into the meater portable games that are based on console gaming of the past.

Now for the console gamer. The roadmap here is more complicated. If your a modern Playstation gamer and want to get into retro gaming the first place to start is the PS1 classics. Then depending on if you are more into Japanese games or Western (US/European) games will determine which consoles to back track through. If you are more into Japanese games, Castlevania, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, etc, pick up a Super NES and dig into the classic games on there such as Super Castlevania 4, Street Fighter 2, Super Mario RPG, Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy 3, Chrono Trigger, Mega Man X, and maybe some Contra 3. IF you are more into western gaming, then I recommend starting with a Sega Genesis and picking up some games like Chakhan the Forever Man, Vector Man, Earthworm Jim, Toejam and Earl, Streets of Rage, Eternal Champions, X-Men, Maximum Carnage, Boogerman, Fatal Rewind, Haunting starring Poulterguy, or even some Comix Zone. SNES has its fair share of western games too as does the Genesis its share of Japanese games, but the split is in favor of each as described above, for the most part.

If you want to wade into retro gaming without diving in head first, I recommend picking up a PS3 for the PSN games, PS2 for the arcade compilations and backwards compatibility with the PS1 library, the Nintendo Wii (or Wii U) for the Virtual Console, and a Nintendo DS and GBA for the plethora of retro gaming titles accessible via those platforms. Unless you are really into PC gaming or PC style games I don’t recommend the Xbox for retro gaming as its really more of a modern games machine and the handful of retro games you can get on an Xbox are ALSO on Playstation whereas there are DOZENS of retro games on Playstation and Nintendo that aren’t available on Xbox. Xbox is fine for modern gaming but its a wasteland for retro gaming unless you mod it in which case just load up the emulators on your PC and be done with it.

That is my Retro vs. Modern PC gaming guide.

Sonic Boom on Wii U

I hate to say this I really do but Sega is forcing me to reconsider buying a Nintendo Wii U. Here me out. When I was a kid I was deep into the whole Sega VS. Nintendo school yard war, in fact I took sides, I picked Sega hands down. It wasn’t that I hated Nintendo it’s just even then like now their consoles were always lacking in certain types of games everybody else was doing right. I loved Sonic from the start and as good as Mario is Nintendo has always been slow to the game, they usually release one or two main Mario games a console generation, Sega on the other hand knows how to keep them Sonic games coming. It also didn’t hurt that I was a HUGE Mortal Kombat fan and we all know the Genesis had the better MK port, for the time anyways. But after Playstation came on the scene things changed, Sony replaced Sega in the realm of hard hitting no holds barred anything goes gaming and Nintendo was left to their niche of family friendly and in some instances kiddie games. As I grew up so did my games, Mega Man was great as a kid but I upgraded to Quake and eventually got into Halo and God of War. I have always had a soft spot for Nintendo and Sega has always been good for me at least so I tend to keep an eye on the two from time to time. Nintendo knows they can’t make the games that can get me to buy their machine, not on their own anyways. So they tasked Sega to step it up and I gotta say I am starting to hate Nintendo for being so friendly to Sega lately.

Take a step back, I am a gamer that much is true. Usually I buy any and every game console I always see the merits in any gaming machine, well most I have yet to figure out how Microsoft sold any Xbox let alone millions but that is another topic for another day. What is important is I do not take sides, I got my Playstation and my N64 on the exact same day and I got three games for each, it was a good time to be a gamer as it is now. I picked up my Game Cube before I ever even considered getting a PS2 because Nintendo had secured some great games by Sega up front and those Dreamcast Sonic game were good on Dreamcast but were great on Game Cube, so yeah Sega sold me a Game Cube not Nintendo. Oh well the point is I did get one and I enjoyed some of Nintendos games and a whole bunch of other third party games too. But I hated the Wii let’s get that out up front it was nothing but a Game Cube repackaged with a waggle wand that I despised from day one. I bought one on launch day for one reason only, the Virtual Console was getting classic Nintendo and Sega games. Eventually Sega released all their classics on Steam and PSN so I was able to leave the utterly depressing Wii behind and I never looked back. Sure Sega put out some decent games but on an underpowered non-HD console forced to use a Waggle Wand, no thanks I can pass.

Here is the deal Wii U is NOT  a bad console, not in the slightest and this is where I struggle, I do want one, or at least I want to want one. But a gaming machine is only as good as its games, the reason why I am waiting on a PS4 for now. The Wii U has some games that interest me, just not as many as I would like to justify the price. Nintendo has Super Mario 3D World which yes let’s face it I WILL be buying at some point in time, they also have New Super Mario Bros. U which is good because it uses the game Pad and left waggle behind. Then there is the tie in New Luigi U which I am a sucker for a good Luigi game any day, and then there is what… Maybe Dr. Luigi and in a month there will be Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze that looks good but here is my stance, I HATED Wind Waker when it was new, I still hate Pikmin and The Wonderful 101 does look kinda sorta interesting it’s not a system seller for me and the 3rd party crap I already have better versions of on Ps3 anyways and some on my PC so no thanks I can do without a gimped version of Injustice and I have Mas Effect Trilogy so I don’t need the lame ass directors cut of a game I barely play as is. Some would point to Mario Kart and Bayonetta, Smash Bros, and (yuck) yarn yoshi, as potential games to get. I haven’t liked a Mari Kart since Super Circuit and even that was pushing it, Mario Kart was fun for a few hours back in like 1994 or so, it got old quick and I never looked back.

Bayonetta 2 does look interesting, and I did pick up the first on Ps3 so there is that I like the game its actually not bad, but its not a must have game that really needs a sequel. Then there is Smash Bros. as a gamer who is NOT a Nintendo fanboy I can say that as much as I loved Melee on the Game Cube it was basically a gimmick game and I played it only for the trophies, sure Brawl has online and more trophies but so what I got all my Smash Bros. fix in 2004 I don’t need another smash, let me download the Game Cube version and we will talk, until then not interested Smash is not a real fighting game and as a fan of fighting games it just does not do anything for me. Oh and as for that yarn shit, count me out. I AM really excited for Hyrule Warriors though and X has me curious so there you go, the games that are on Wii U that I might or should or could be interested in by Nintendo.

Skip ahead and lets look at third party, like I said nothing I can’t get superior versions elsewhere already except the Sega games, which is the point of this post and why Nintendo really does want my money. I love Sonic games, I know Sega does more than Sonic and I tried some of their other offerings, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Shinobi, Toe Jam and Earl, Shining Force, Phantasy Star those were all good to great games, but since the Saturn Sega has been on a downward spiral mostly hit and miss more miss than anything. As a gamer I do not pick sides I just like good games and Sonic games are still good for me, I know that they have issues but so do Mario games and people look past Mario’s flaws and put Sonic’s under a microscope for some idiotic reason. So there I am I have seen enough gameplay videos of Lost Levels to know it really has me interested and this new Sonic Boom game also looks to be something to look out for. Not saying these two games suddenly make owning a Wii U a must for me but Sonic is one of my top ten favorite game franchises despite all the hate he gets I still love his games, they do what they do right and who cares if some people don’t get it that means nothing to me obviously they are doing something right if they keep selling enough to keep making them so there is that to consider. Also the worst Sonic game is still better than Mario Sunshine (man I hate that game more than any other game ever made) and at least Sega is willing to try new things with Sonic but they keep the core intact where with Nintendo and Mario you literally never know what you are going to get, I couldn’t get into Galaxy either but again I hated the remote so there is that to consider.

So right now Nintendo has five games I am interested in and Sega has two, still not enough to justify the price but seven games is much better than zero games which is where PS4 sits at the moment. PS4 has games in the pipeline I am interested in and I know it will get Mortal Kombat 10, a new Virtua Fighter (Sega’s real reason for still living), and a new Soul Calibur, a new Street Fighter and hopefully a new Tekken, so unless Nintendo can somehow get decent or good ports or exclusives of those franchises I am still leaning towards getting a PS4 at some point, like I said my favorite games are fighting games, especially Mortal Kombat and no MK is a hard sell for me, just ask the stupid Wii that I traded in to buy a USB Hard drive and then got a PS3 with 3 great Mortal Kombat games and never looked back. So that is where I am, if somehow Nintendo can get Sega to throw them a bone from Virtua Fighter or hell even a new Streets of Rage or Eternal Champions, Fighting Vipers, or any other fighting game, then I will consider it but even the Game Cube had great fighting games, Dragon Ball Z Budokai series, Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance, Deception, and Midways Arcade Treasures with MK 2 and 3 arcade ports. It was enough for me, Wii had shit for fighting games and still used the remote anyways and Wii U so far as I know has one Tekken game that is just a port of an old game or something lame like that.

Still because of Sega and their two Sonic games I am at least giving Wii U a chance to redeem itself, who knows it might surprise me and pull of a miracle but for now, I am still leaning towards PS4 and I might get a Wii U when they are discounted down to $100 or so. Don’t get me wrong I know how the collector market works so I will snatch up the GAMES first and get the machine when I can justify the price.

The future of Gaming, with or without Nintendo

I am going to just cut to the chase and not waist any time on a big build up, Nintendo is in serious trouble. As a long time fan of theirs it really worries me the state they are in. Die-hard loyalists continue to talk about all that cash they have saved up like it some how means they will just be able to exist forever, the problem is their stocks took a nose dive and they lose nearly $2 billion dollars in value over night. Now it didn’t hurt their cash reserves at first but their bonds became worthless and with the company expecting to post a $250+ million dollar loss for the third year in a row, that tells me they will start burning through that cash stock pile faster than they would like, and Nintendo loyalists (I hate the term fanboy), well they continue to bring up Nintendo’s past successes as proof of future successes, without ever getting into how bad it is when you consider the brand new PS4 sold more units in a single day than the Wii U did in an entire year, and sales keep going up for Sony and down for Nintendo, that says it all, their machine is doomed. But worse yet the truth is there is not a single plan out there that can save Nintendo, at least not in the way gamers are expecting.

Plan A, stay the course and release another console in 2-3 years time.

Why this will NOT work. First, Nintendo can not suffer three more years of losses and with Wii U sales flogging and 3DS sales on the decline, they could start running out of cash long before they have a chance to launch a dead on arrive console. Look at Atari and Sega, both dominated their markets at one time and then failed to move forward. Atari lost all confidence with the failure of the 7800 which followed the failure of their 5200, then they released a third failure, the Lynx, by the time they got around to scraping together enough chips and bolts to get the Jaguar on the market, they were so far in debt it was doomed from the start. Sega went through the same thing, they did great with Genesis and Game Gear but they lost face with Sega CD, 32X, Pico, Ex-Eye, CDX, Saturn, and Nomad, all those consoles released in the span of three years! Sega was so deep in debt when they launched the game machine the entire world had been waiting for, the Dreamcast, they could barely keep it afloat for one year before throwing in the towel and selling off their studios piece by piece just to stay alive as a (struggling) third party publisher.

Now lets look at Nintendo, they actually lost money big on the Gamecube, what saved them then was the GBA was a runaway success and they used the Game Boy Player to try to boost sales of the dying Game Cube. Want to know how bad Game Cube was, after only two years on the market they ceased production, slashed the price from $199 to $99 over night and bundled it with a Legend of Zelda collection that compiled all the best Zelda games to that point on one disk and gave it away for free. Sales picked up and they managed to stick it out for another two and a half years, during which time they released the GBA-SP a power house that could easily eat any losses Game Cube caused. Problem is, Wii U is selling WORSE than the Game Cube was at the same point in time, and it costs twice as much too. Retailers are already discounting the machine and several are shipping them back to Nintendo. Nintendo will soon be in worse shape than they were in 2003 when the Game Cube nearly destroyed their empire. Why bring that up? Because as low as sales were Game Cube was still a beloved system, sure it got a lot of jokes about being a purple lunch box but it still had a great array of games, first and third party all across the spectrum. The Wii U is not going so hot on that front, it has less than half of the games that Game Cube had in the same time and worse yet, the best selling game on the console, Super Mario 3D World, is the worst selling Mario title to date, even worse than the Game Cubes Mario Sunshine, a game that was considered a flop. Mario games tend to sell in the millions, not a million or two but multiple millions, Super Mario Bros. 3 held the title of best selling game of all time at 30+ million (this was of course before the multiple re-releases) Maario 3D World has YET to break the million mark and it is been out over two months, a bad omen when you put it in with everything else. Not to mention that with somewhere between 4.5 and 5.2 million Wii U consoles barely making it into gamers homes, Mario 3D World is already handicapped due to the low install base, even if every single Wii U owner buys the game it will still not reach Mario Sunshine’s numbers, and remember Mario Sunshine was NOT a run away hit. Put it another way Knack for the PS4, a game with mixed reviews and a lot of hate for being a knock off Nintendo anyways, sold nearly twice as many units as Mario 3D World which was the highest rated game of the year. How can a mediocre game out sell a main stream Mario title?

Unlike Game Cube where Nintendo was coming off the high of the N64 and the rush of Pokemon Fever, Wii U is in a slump the company has never seen. Wii was NOT a success despite the fanboys flogging the 100 million units so, when every nursing home in the world has at least 2 you can bet your ass half of those units are not being played any more, and the reality is Nintendo stopped making games for Wii in big numbers and started shifting focus to 3Ds in 2010, Wii was a fluke that only made Nintendo a few million bucks of easy money but cost them their entire loyal fanbase and then some.

Wii sold a lot of hardware but did not sell much software. Nintendo makes their money on software and a small profit on hard ware. Wii U they are actually losing on the hard ware and they are not selling software to make up the difference. Also fans and loyalists continue to say the 3DS is doing well sales wise, yes but they ALSO sell it at a small loss to grow the userbase and they just wasted millions of R&R, marketing, and shipping on a failed 2DS, which is a weird device that plays 3DS games but no 3D, or any of the features that make owning a 3DS great other than just the games. They had to sell that at a loss too. Reality is unlike GBA-GC where they lost money on one but made up for it in software and hand held sales, they are just losing money right and left.

Cue the remarks about how bad Sony is doing as a whole. Why does that not matter to Nintendo? Because Sony is not losing money in every division and if worse comes to worse Sony can sell off a money losing division, like Columbia Pictures as example, or their cell phone division, and make a profit elsewhere, Sony has plenty of room to wiggle around and plenty to fall back on, besides Sony is selling their hardware in massive droves and that will give them profits the likes of which Nintendo only remembers having once made. But it gets worse, Nintendo has nothing to fall back on, they are a toy company nothing more. In the video game space, their second best selling toy line to date, they make a ton of great games that do in fact appeal to a very wide audience. But their hard ware has NOT had universal appeal since about 1996 when they released the weird N64 that also struggle for a while but came out rosy in the end. Their most profitable product line is their Pokemon stuff but even that can’t offset the failure of sticking with the Wii U long term.

Plan B- go mobile

This is also a bad idea, people think they should either release their back log of games onto mobile devices or just make a Nintendo tablet/phone and make that separate. Why this will fail is simple, Apple and Android are killing Microsoft, a company 10 times as large as Nintendo, why in the hell would they want to compete with powerful companies that could chew them up and spit them out? They have no experience in this and people are too deeply invested into the tablets they have to make room for another entry, one that will be inferior anyways and whose selling point is to play Nintendo games, something people are already NOT buying Wii U to do. Why would anyone buy a Nintendo tablet to play even more inferior games than they would on a system they aren’t buying good games for? IF Nintendo released a smart device they would be bankrupt within a year or two tops.

Plan C- Make a hybrid machine small portable universal but can connect to a TV also.

Why this will fail. Hello, the 3DS is equal powerwise to a Game cube, a machine released 13 years ago, the tablets on the market are already more powerful, the Wii U is already more powerful and the PS Vita is already more powerful, in order for Nintendo to make a machine that can be portable, and still capable of displaying 1080p graphics on a big screen TV and have a controller built in, wait a second they already did this it is called the Wii U and it still is not selling? Now the hyrbid sounds good on paper but it is essentialy the same thing the Wii U already is but even more underpowered and potentially more expensive, well truth is if people won’t shell out $200 for a handheld, and they certainly won’t buy another tablet they what market is there interested in a hyrbid machine? It would basically just have all the mobile games anyways so its nothing more than a 3DS with TV output, Sony already did that with PSP and PS Vita TV, nobody bough those things. Why buy an even more underpowered games machine than the Wii U already is? This is a losing battle that many saw coming when the Wii U was announced and reality is Nintendo can’t pull this off either because who wants to buy a machine that is half assed as a mobile games and half assed as TV games? It would be the worst of both worlds not the best of both worlds. They would have better luck just dumping all their money into making as many Wii U games as they could and hope for the best, something they will still fail it but I will get to that.

Plan D- Just go third party.

I would LOVE IT if they did this but here is why it will not work. Unlike SEGA who has a rich and diverse portfolio, Nintendo is essentially a one trick pony, their main games are Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Pokemon, Star Fox, and Pokemon. Now if these games are already NOT enough to pull gamers into Wii U why would a PS4 or Xbox One gamer even care if they had Mario on their system, if they really wanted to play Mario they would have bought a Wii U instead right? Sega has ninja games, RPG games, Strategy games, sports games, fighting games, Sonic games, adventure games, movie based games, Ecco the Dolphin games, and so many weird odd games that gamers like its impossible to list them all. Having grown up on Sega I can assure you they in fact make more games than Nintendo does and often they have better games than Nintendo does. However going third party has caused Sega to turn into a shell of its former self and their games are hit and miss. Nintendo would do worse as third party than Sega is doing. Sonic sells well on Nintendo platforms but it falters on the other two. If Nintendo stopped making consoles Sega would stop making Sonic games as Nintendo gamers tend to be the only ones buying Sonic games these days. Nintendo has NO first Person games or open world games in their arsenal and that is where the mainstream market is. At least Sega still makes some sports games, the last sports game Nintendo made that DIDN’T have Mario in it was just Wii Sports, a generic game that only worked on the Wii. Nintendo does not nor can they compete with the likes of EA, Rock Star, Konami, even Valve. Nintendo does games tend to sell to quirky Nintendo gamers who like weird stuff but mainstream gamers pass over that stuff, even Sony and Microsoft have their share of quirky Nintendo-esque games that don’t sell well. Also Nintendo would be forced to actually compete in a market where their gamers would be split just like Sega, their fanbase would be split and therefore their sales would be all over the place. They would have a better chance just selling their games off to different studios and closing their doors than going third party.

Where does that leave them to go? Honestly I have no idea, I think no matter which course of action they take they are basically only delaying the inevitable. I would rather they did go third party and be forced to big into their catalog and bring back some great old franchises and really have to compete in a cut throat market, than if they just went away altogether. I would rather Nintendo end up like Sega rather than like Coleco, Atari, or Amiga, mere memories that fade further into obscurity with each passing generation.

Will I buy a Wii U? I was tempted just to you know throw them a bone, but if it will only cost them more money a true fan would better serve them by abandoning all hope for the Wii U and put the pressure on them to go fully third party. Nintendo could make money with Sony would step up and offer them money to put Mario or Zelda on their machine and Microsoft would pay them to get Star Fox and Metroid on theirs and Pokemon will go to iPhones. Then at least they can keep their fans happy. Honestly I think they are just on the death march so for me I will just wait to see where they end up, a tablet would be a bad idea, a hyrbid would be a terrible idea and riding out the Wii U would just further damage their reputation so as of now their best bet is to just go third party and stop all this jerking people around. I Would they ever rise to the top again, no they are finished Nintendo will NEVER return to the glory days the “golden age” of the NES/SNES, period. PERIOD. At least what they could do is is salvage what is left of their reputation and realize that Mario is not enough to Sell consoles BUT put Mario on a console that sells well without him and you have a better chance of selling Mario games at the very least.

Nintendo is holding an emergency management meeting on January 30th, that is less than a week away, expect big changes coming soon as their President has stated they are looking at a new business structure and even though they say it is not going 3rd party, I am willing to bet they are only saying that to save face when reality is they need to keep it secret until all the signatures are on the dotted lines. Stay Cool.

New Gaming Generation is upon us

As an avid gamer it is always an exciting time when a new gaming console is about to launch. For many the question they have to ask is which console to get, an Xbox One, a PS4, or perhaps an Nintendo Wii U. Console gamers are an entirely different breed than PC gamers so I will skip the lecture on why I prefer one over the other and instead focus on what has me excited about this next generation, what has me worried about it, and discuss what I would like from this generation.

I will break them down one by one.

Xbox One.

I know most people are counting on Microsoft to repeat their previous success because frankly up till now Microsoft has been pretty consistent. The problem is Xbox One is not targeting the core gamer, it is instead going after an entirely different branch of the gaming segment, the sports fanatic. Microsoft has gone out of their way to talk about how Xbox One will be integrated with various Professional Sports services, their commercials and features they are touting are all focused on how sports will be the center focus of the machine. They will also rely heavily on TV services, in other words they want the Xbox One to be integrated with your Cable Box/DVR like no other device previously. There is a problem with this approach. The TV integration would make sense except for that fact that we already have Internet TV’s and just about every single DVD/Blu Ray player on the market as well as Roku, GoogleTV, Apple TV, Western Digital, etc, all these devices do the same thing, some more some less. Now sure the Xbox One will *ALSO* play video games but for some reason Microsoft is not really making that the central focus instead it is sort of a given, like an afterthought. Sure the machine will have games and post launch but if the market they are chasing is less gaming oriented and focused more on the TV integration and Sports services then they could have a problem, the core gamers might not follow suit and if that happens they could end up with a gaming system that doesn’t sell games but instead sells services. The very fact that Microsoft is relying heavily on cloud computing to offload some of the Xbox One’s features tells me that they are moving away from a dedicated gaming platform and more towards a multimedia machine that just happens to also play games.

In addition to all the above mentioned there is one really troubling problem with Xbox One, Kinect. Now the Xbox 360 Kinect was a travesty, some would say it was nothing but knee jerk reaction to Nintendo’s success with their Motion Controller. Others think it was just a matter of time. Either way Kinect was always optional and as such many people opted to avoid it. But the Xbox One will come with and require the technology in order to run the new machine. The new features of Kinect like it being able to tell when you get up and leave the room, being able to talk to the console and have it turn itself off and on is a but troubling to me. Some think it is a natural progression of technology but based on Siri and other voice activated computing services I think it is becoming clear that consumers regard these things as novelties that quickly wear off, or more often as an inconvenience. But the real problem is that forcing Kinect on gamers means that if you have no interest in the device and what it offers, that makes it harder to even consider buying the Xbox One.

Now what is there about Xbox One that would get me excited? For starters the whole idea of cloud gaming is exciting because it means that if, and a big if, Microsoft can invest in the right technology they can make it so the Xbox is just the streaming device and that all the heavy computing is done at a warehouse somewhere and this would force Microsoft to partner with Telecom companies to invest in expanding their broadband services and upgrading their lines, something that I believe would really benefit everyone. Also there is the idea that once cloud gaming takes off, that hardware costs will decrease dramatically and console gaming will become more enticing in the future.

There is no doubt that Microsoft takes their gaming division seriously but I am worried they have lost sight of who their core audience is and they might be making a mistake they can’t recover from. Nintendo went out of their way to reach an audience that is alien to their traditional core and now they are trying to get their core back they are in a bigger mess than ever. Microsoft could end up in far worse shape because Apple, Samsung, and Google are all chipping away at the division where Microsoft really makes their money and that could spell disaster for the entire company and all of their partners who are relying on them.

PS4

Of all the gaming consoles out there this is the easiest one to get excited about, Sony has the longest track record of being consistent, to date they have yet to release a console failed to reach their core audience. Playstation shattered all expectations and turned the entire gaming word upside down. Playstation 2 continued to break records and raised the bar. PS3 had a rocky start but in the end they were able to get their act together. Needless to say even though PS3 had a slow start in the hardware side, it has never been lacking in software. This is where Microsoft really has to worry, traditionally Xbox has been plagued by the very fact that a good majority of their must have titles were also available on PC’s and PC gamers continued to be troublesome to Microsoft. This was not the case for Sony, whose first and second party titles remain exclusive to their console, which can not be said for Xbox. True there are plenty of exclusives for Xbox but nowhere near the quality and quantity of Playstation. Brands like Ratchet and Clank, Grand Turismo, WipeOut, God of War, to name a few, have all had a strong place on Playstation consoles.

Unlike Microsoft, Sony has never been ambiguous about who their audience is, they are targeting gamers, people who live for gaming. Microsoft wants people who game, but not make gaming their life, Sony wants people who live to game and happen to also use their machines for other stuff. By making their machine a games console first and an entertainment machine second, Sony has always been able to show their core audience that they mean business. Also compare the amount of digital titles on Sony’s store to Microsofts and it becomes clear where the game developers want to put their titles. Playstation is hands down the most recognizable brand to core gamers and right now Sony is doing everything they can to show that PS4 will be faster, stronger, and better in every way than PS3 and they are doing it at an affordable price, which was the real reason PS3 was slow to take off. When it comes down to it gamers buy a games machine for the games, and right now both big consoles have their share of supports from the gaming industry, so that won’t be a major issue up front. However third party companies do need incentives to publish on a game console and I think Sony is looking to be the strongest contender for third party support whereas Microsoft looks like they could be in a position to fall behind.

What else can I say, Sony will continue to bring their back catalog of games from PS1, PS2, and now PS3 to their next gen console in digital form. The other difference between MS and Sony is that Sony has been in the game longer, in fact they go way back to the NES days. Sony has also been far better at attracting Japanese companies to their system and while Japanese companies have been struggling lately, they are regrouping and above all there are some really strong franchises coming from Japan that trump all other regions combined. Sega might not be as strong as they used to but they are buying up companies left and right, strengthening their catalog and giving them more options all the time. Capcom, Konomi, Taito, SNK, Square-Enix, these Japanese giants continue to prove their relevance and it is only a matter of time before they find their stride and return to the top. As for technology, the PS4 is basically doing the same stuff as Xbox One but without the Kinect. They will both offer similar features, the PS4 is slightly more powerful but that has never been a deciding factor for console gamers and isn’t likely to be now. What gets me most excited about PS4 is Sony has the desire to make their console the best it can be, they need it more than Microsoft. Sony is bleeding money and although they have begun to stabilize they are still in danger and PS4 is their golden goose, they are betting the entire farm on it being their return to glory and quite frankly they have the money to make it work. What that means is they need it more, so they will fight harder to attract the dedicated gamer and that bodes well for the gamers who will reap the benefits of a reinvigorated Sony willing to fight for their top spot.

Nintendo Wii U

Nintendo is in the worst position of all three, their console has already been on the market for a year, it has had an identity crisis trying to distance itself from the first Wii, and unlike Sony and MS, they no longer have a core audience to draw upon. See Nintendo has been in a slump over the last few years, they sort of drift along on nostalgia and a group of dedicated loyalists but as time has gone they have further alienated their core fans and have been shrinking their core user base for going on two decades now. They are in a unique position also because unlike MS and Sony who are corporate behemoths, Nintendo is still a relatively small company by global standards, they have three main divisions, their handheld division which as been under constant fire from Tablets, Smartphones, and other hand held devices, their Console division which has been in a troubled mess since the N64, they had a couple of good years with Wii but that was something on an anomaly as they were reaching an entirely different audience than their traditional gamer. Their third division which is their most profitable is their Pokemon division which is a little complicated but it is their only outside source of income unlike Sony and MS who have many.

The thing is, Nintendo has been around for so long that Nostalgia is their best asset. How many times do you see a commercial for the latest Mario game and instantly go back to your childhood and remember the first time you saved that princess from her tower? Unlike Microsoft who has been mainly the Halo machine, and Sony who has had a few strong franchises come and go, Nintendo has forgotten more franchises they the other two combined could ever hope to have. Nintendo has been the number one supporter of their game platforms since the earliest days and that is their biggest strength and their biggest weakness at the same time. Third party companies despise Nintendo because if they put their game on Nintendo’s machine it is not likely to sell with a Nintendo game sitting on the same shelf. For decades you would see third party games get discounted month after month while the same game that launched on the Nintendo machine, the Mario or Zelda, would sit there for years at full price, get discontinued and then immediatley become a best selling collectors item. Nintendo has always been in a great position in that people  but their machine to play THEIR games, not Capcom, not Midway, not Square, but Nintendo. Sony can’t say that people buy Playstation for the varied experiences, they buy Xbox for the online features and community, but if you combined all of the best selling games on MS and Sony you wouldn’t even have half of what Nintendo can sell. Let us not forget that their handheld division is still their main money maker and isn’t going away any time soon. So what is the deal with Wii U then? Well put it bluntly it has no games, or rather it has no compelling games that you either can’t get elsewhere or can’t live without. Right now the Wii U is getting better, with the new Sonic, Mario 3D World, and Donkey Kong Country coming out, but up till now they system has been plagued by a serious lack of games. Not to mention the consumer confusion over the name, not knowing if it is a new console or an accessory for the regular Wii.

What worries me most about Wii U is that it is underpowered compared to the other two and unlike Wii which had a brand new casual gamer market to draw on, Wii U is looking to recapture their core audience, problem their core audience was leaving them in droves even when they were making powerful consoles that could compete head to head with the big boys and they still lost ground. Now that making under powered machines is becoming a habit for them this has the hard core gamer worried because it means that even if sales do increase, third parties will still have to wrestle with putting their game on a machine that requires a tremendous amount of retooling to get it to work. PS4 and Xbox One are different in key areas but underneath it all they are basically the same, Wii U is entirely different, it has a weaker chip set, a smaller internal memory, considerably less RAM, and a controller that is as different as night and day. Sure it worked with Wii because motion controls were so intuitive and natural that anyone, including grandmas, could pick it up and play. With Wii U that is not the case, it utilizes a tablet style touch screen controller that is a cross between an iPad and a traditional game pad. Sure this means new and innovative gameplay features are possible, but it also means that game developers have to find interesting and innovative ways to make use of it, and gamers have to come to terms that a tablet is not the same as a remote. Not to worry as they still have remotes for the Wii U but that also complicates things, companies now have to decide to tailor their game to use the Gamepad, the traditional Pro controller, or the Remote, this is even more confusing than all those options the first Wii had. What is worse is devs might not be willing to make that investment on a console that doesn’t have the sales like the Wii did. And if it was a success so what, you just end up with and endless flow of party games, casual games, and other shovelware that would be better suited for the Android or iOS market.

What does excite me for Nintendo Wii U is what excited me for their past consoles, well prior to GameCube, and that is the new Super Mario game. Super Mario 3D World looks to be the most fun Mario game I have seen in years. I hated Sunshine, I wanted to like it, I tried to like it, but in the end it just wasn’t a Mario game to me. I never played Galaxy as by the time it came out I had already relegated my Wii to the party machine my parents played more than I did. If not for Virtual Console my Wii would have been collecting dust after the first couple of months. Now will Wii U I am no longer excited for Virtual Console because times have changed, and frankly I have purchase Super Mario Bros, original NES Zelda, and Donkey Kong classic from Nintendo more time than I care to admit, I am NOT going to shell out more money just to play those old games once again on another machine. What does that leave me with? Well Mario 3D World doesn’t look anything like Sunshine and whats even better is it looks like it is trying to reach the core gamer, which is who I am.

But are those three games enough to entice me to invest once again in a Nintendo console that I KNOW will lack certain third party titles I am pretty sure I will want to play? Games that I also know will NOT be coming to PC? Well the short answer is no, those three games are not enough. There are more games on the way but as of right now it is to be seen if those games will even make a difference or who knows they might end up getting canceled or pushed back to their next console, or even go multiplatform as Nintendo transitions into a third party like Atari and Sega did. Truth be told I am honestly worried for Nintendo and I would consider myself a fan, not a “fanboy” but a loyalist nonetheless. So for me I am realistically unsure if they can come back. I think Microsoft will either sell off their game division or they will morph into something core gamers run from, I think PS4 will sell strong numbers at first and then should start to level off as competition from tablets gets stronger, but Nintendo I am genuinely worried about, what could happen to them. Will I but a Wii U, PS4 or Xbox One?

If I had the money I would gladly pick up a PS4 in a heartbeat, I would get a Wii U once it has more than five games I want to play, right now it has three and that is not enough. I will never get an Xbox One period because some of the stuff MS is doing has me really worried. Plus I never owned an Xbox before, the first or the second so I have no desire to pick up the newest one. BUT I have owned every Playstation to date, and every Nintendo console to date so it is a safe bet that at some point in time I am going to get one, the other, or both, eventually. Right now I am leaning towards PS4 because it has features and a strong line up of games in the pipeline plus Sony is showing a strong hand at the moment. I might change my mind and get a Wii U if it has strong holiday sales that can lead to more games in the coming months because let me be honest I want to play that new Mario, I love Mario games in fact as a gamer I love Nintendo because they are the best at making video games, not so much interactive movies and sports simulations like their competitors. But Sony also has a knack for putting up a good fight and well Capcom makes some games I can’t do without that haven’t been strong on Nintendo consoles for years, same with Square and other Japanese games so for me, it usually is a two for, PS and Nintendo. The days of just getting the Nintendo machine and being happy are long gone.

In the end it doesn’t matter much to the rest of the world, each person will buy or not buy the machine of their choice for whatever their reasons are. As for me, I am in wait and see mode at this point but as a gamer I am tempted to get into the next gen at some point or another. Right now I will continue to enjoy the hell out of my PS3 which is nothing but awesome but eventually I will feel the need to get into the next gen and when that time comes I am going to have to make a tough call. Stay Cool.