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by Ethos

Life at the Descent of the Waggle: Shattered Dreams

Friday, November 5th, 2010

"So like... how is this better than pressing a button?"

It often pays off to be a cynic.

Granted, when the Wii was first revealed to the world, I didn’t hate it. I didn’t go batshit ga-ga over it like a certain Ethos did, but I was intrigued. More than anything, though, I was about to blow my load in anticipation of Twilight Princess. That was the main reason I reserved my unit before release.

Twilight Princess was a great game, sure. But, that was no thanks to the Wii, and we all know that now. At the time, many of us were just all too enthralled with the fact that you could make Link swing his sword by flailing the Wii-mote. That was “immersion,” for some reason. Tear away the fad-glasses, and you can see that the tacked-on control scheme for Twilight Princess was, at best, a harmless substitute for what came before. At worst, it was unresponsive and unwieldy. More than anything it was just pointless. Substituting a flail for a press of the B button is *not* revolutionary. In any way.

The sad thing is that it all went downhill from there.

Not long after Twilight Princess, I bought Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, a game that, ironically, didn’t even use Wiimote controls. (I played with a GameCube controller the entire time).

After that…

Oh, I bought Metroid Prime 3. The game is one of the better examples of motion controls (because it showcases pointer controls rather than just waggle) but it pissed me off because it was too damn easy, and the atmosphere suffered. It felt dumbed down. And then I realized that Nintendo was doing just that: dumbing us down. Or trying to.

We were all hoping that Nintendo’s revolution was going to attract a whole new crowd of gamer, and convert them to our side. Essentially. The passer-by would gravitate to the Wii because of its accessible and interesting control scheme, and eventually learn what it was to be a gamer. That’s what we all wanted.

What we got instead was a crowd of bandwagon morons who bought the thing not because it was a gaming system, but because it was the goddamn Wii. And the Wii was the thing to have. It was the hot Christmas gift; it was the new household amenity to sit snugly atop your DVD player in the family room.

It wasn’t marketed as a videogame system. Nintendo had made a toy. A hot novelty toy. An exciting gimmick. They already had their target audience of suckers; the hardcore gaming world could go to hell.

In fact, I’m pretty sure they very pointedly told us to go to hell on more than one occassion. What else could they have been attempting to communicate with that 2008 E3 presser?

And the shovelware. The fucking shovelware. Every cheap shit studio in the world rushing to get their crap published with tacked-on waggle controls to take advantage of the fad. Every major publisher commissioning an obligatory, dumbed-down waggle-happy port of every big name release. Within months of the system’s release, this wasn’t the exception, but the rule when it came to the Wii’s software library. There were some scattered bright spots to be found, but most of these were in the form of first-party titles. And hell, even some of those were on the verge of shovelware. Wii Music, anyone?

And let’s not forget the utter insult that was Wii MotionPlus.

But, I digress. The point here isn’t to bash Nintendo and their Wii, necessarily. That’s been done enough. The point, here, is that Nintendo took what could have been an actual revolution, and whored the fucking shit out of it. Motion controls have proven that, when properly implemented, they can enhance a gaming experience. They don’t always have to define a gaming experience. Look at Kirby’s Epic Yarn. A game on the Wii that makes very limited use of the Wii’s motion sensing capabilities. But, when it does make use of said capabilities, it’s a sensible addition.

More developers need to learn this simple fact: just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you necessarily need to use it. Twilight Princess would have been a stronger game if it used motion controls only for the bow-and-arrow. Y’know, the only implementation that actually enhanced the experience.

Nintendo’s done a hell of a job sullying the name of motion controls, and that’s why it’s difficult not to cast a wary eye towards the PlayStation Move and the Xbox Kinect. I’ll take the opportunity here to admit that I’m fairly impressed with the Move’s lineup of current and upcoming titles. The Kinect notsomuch, as it were. But while it’s too early to judge the fates of either, both devices reek of cash-in. I’d have more respect if Sony and Microsoft had bided their time and released these new technologies alongside new systems.

I’ve done a lot of meandering in the last 800 words or so, but I suppose it can all be summed up a little like this: Motion Controls aren’t the enemy here, they’re the victim. Nintendo took the concept and, for lack of a new (or better) phrased, whored it out. What should have been a minor evolution in the games industry was blown out of proportion, mishandled, and sullied. The question now, is: can all the wrongs of the past four years be righted? Is there a future for motion controls in the core gaming experience? Or will it forever be associated with the with the wankerish “casual” crowd and their collection of shovelware?

Life at the Dawn of Waggle: The Embarrassing Optimism

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Ethos when he was young and (even more) naive.

It’s true, folks.

Before my current and upheld standing of objective arbitrator, before my respected status of critical game journalist, before the great wonder that you all know as Riddlethos, I was a drooling, slobbering Nintendo fanboy.

I am currently 3 years sober, but the building hype and release of the Nintendo Revolution turned Nintendo Wii unfortunately took place 4 years ago.

For you, dear readers, I am swallowing my pride – more than usual – and revealing some pretty embarrassing things I typed up on the internet before my Riddlethos days. Before my Lusipurr.com days. Hell, even before my RPGamer days.

Perhaps I was finally trying my hand with the Playstation, but that didn’t stop me from thinking that Nintendo could do no wrong. Back in those days, I only had an eleven inch Commodore 64 monitor to play games on, and so my Gamecube was plenty to keep me happy for the most part. I was fully caught up in Nintendo’s “Revolution” bullshit and was prepared to defend anything the company revealed.

In the first of my embarrassing quotes, let me direct you to this mild gem the day the name “Wii” was released.

Jokes = people asking about the origin = people finding out about the system = people realizing it’s an awesome system.

Note my willingness to call it an “awesome system” the day it was officially revealed? I know with all the current shovelware, it’s easy to forget the days before we had actually tried the Wii. I remember believing that the controller would be capable of operating perfectly in 3D space. I don’t know why I thought this was a good thing for gaming, but back then, this was a new prospect. It felt like technology was progressing and the sci-fi images of gaming helmets and full-body immersion was slowly coming to fruition. And plus, who was Nintendo to abandon the hardcore gamer?

Anyway, with nothing but fanboy imagination to go off of, hype built to an insane level. Just take this awful quote from an old online journal entry.

Give. Me. Wii. Now.
Now. Please.
Oh god.

Pretty much a picture of me back then.

There’s a bunch of other – less embarrassing – rambles interspersed within that blush-worthy mess, but it’s all boring stuff about how I don’t know where I should go to line up and how I hope Twilight Princess is good.

But it wasn’t just the hype that caused myself and others to think the Wii was the shit. Take this quote from after the launch.

All my friends love the system. They have a blast with Wii Sports.

Thinking back, this was true. People were excited about the Wii. It wasn’t just a mini-game machine in people’s minds. Not only that, but Wii Sports did an excellent job at tricking the user into thinking that the Wiimote was more accurate than it was.

In fact, most people (myself included) thought that Wii Sports would be a jumping point and that software would only get more accurate and involved after that. Little did we know that Wii Sports would sadly still be the best use of the controller all the way up to the release of Wii MotionPlus.

Unfortunately, this next quote proves that even blatant waggle had me sold at the beginning. This is probably the most embarrassing one because I didn’t have the defense of not having played the system before…

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Twilight Princess might still take a backseat to Ocarina…
THAT aside it is still the most ridiculously fun and incredible experience.

The Wiimote just adds to the brilliance and the MIDI soundtrack is actually giving more nostalgia than it is giving me annoyance at lack of orchestration.

So go, friend. Get a Wii and get it now. Reserve your unit. Love it forever. Realize the Revolution.
Remember, the Nintendo Wii IS the Nintendo Revolution.

You better thank me for this, readers. I know Riddles will never let me live it down. I was actually defending and praising the use of waggle for Link’s sword. Not only that, but I tried to come up with a reason why MIDI was better than orchestrated music.

I think we all forget how quickly the Wii has made us all bitter about motion gaming. Sure, I was an extreme example of a supporter, but the general mood was more optimistic back then. People were excited for involved and unique gaming experiences. Now that Nintendo has very quickly dumped on the waggle crap, the Move and Kinect launches garner nothing but disdain from the hardcore crowd.

I expect nothing else, but it’s interesting to look back and come to terms with the fact that the launch of mainstream motion controls in today’s gaming landscape wasn’t met with exactly the same negativity across the board. There was excitement about the possibilities of a new input device in the once exclusive gaming community we all held so dear.

But I’m beginning to talk about the sad present state of motion controls. The state that caused that same drooling fanboy above to not play his Wii for a year and groan with everybody else at Sony and Microsoft’s “me too” motion releases. And that is for our resident pessimist, Riddles, to handle. Look forward to that depressing mess soon.

Hey! Look! Listen!

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Is this the first post I’ve made this week? It IS. My goodness, what a little slacker I’ve been.

Meh, you can all go get stuffed. I’ve been BUSY, I tell you. I spent my entire Monday attempting to beat Arkham Asylum (didn’t happen, that game is either longer than reported, or I just have no concept of time) and today – well, yesterday – was packed full. Managed to see 9. Good, but not as awesome as I anticipated. Classic case of style over substance.

But, as the title implies, I’m here to do some HLL-ing. Let’s carry on, shall we?



Wii Price Cut Looking More Likely
Last time it was a Wal-Mart ad; this time it’s Toys R Us. And unlike last time, we have a new (rumored) MSRP: $199. (Big surprise.) Supposedly, this cut will go into effect the week of the 27th. About DAMN time. As we discussed in our most recent trainwreck of a News Roundup, the Wii has only ever been “cheap” when compared to the price points of the competition. I’d LOVE to know how many pennies it costs Nintendo to actually manufacture that piece of shit. (Kotaku).

For Some Ungodly Reason, Another Silent Hill Film is In the Works
Well, the title pretty much says it all. Reportedly writer Roger Avary and producer Samuel Hadida will return. I didn’t see the original Silent Hill and I don’t need to in order to determine that it was garbage of the highest (or lowest) order. Much like… oh… say… EVERY OTHER VIDEOGAME MOVIE EVER MADE. Seriously. Pointless as it may be, I will stand against this tide of videogame properties being raped turned into films until my dying breath. (Kotaku).

Bahaha, Star Ocean 4 is Coming to the PS3
Again, I just wish PS3FTW was here to offer his… unique views on the subject. But alas, he is unreachable, so I’ll do what I can on my own. Yet ANOTHER Xbox 360 exclusive lost, and yet another reason to stop deluding yourself by thinking that the 360 still has the best software library of this generation. Newsflash: it did, but now it doesn’t. And hasn’t for a while. Star Ocean: The Last Hope International will be released on the PS3 in Japan on February 4, 2010. It will feature some tweaks such as a reworked menu, and auto-targeting in battle. It will also feature both Japanese AND English voice tracks. (Hence the “international.”) No mention of a North American release, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if it made its way over here.

It's... a box.

It's... a box.

SpawnLabs Unveils the HD-720
If you followed the recent TechCrunch50 event in San Fransisco, you likely already know what I’m talking about. If you have no damn clue what TechCrunch50 is (like me) then you might not. The HD-720 is being described as the Slingbox for video games; it’s a small device that will allow you to remotely play your game consoles on your PC.

You’re probably wondering: why the hell would anyone want to do that? Well. Uh. For one thing, it’ll no longer be a hindrance when your Dad just has to watch the football game when you feel down for a session of Halo 3. Just flip on your Xbox, sit in front of your PC and remote-play away! The HD-720 requires a connection to a wireless network in order to function. Once connected to a wireless network, you can supposedly play your consoles anywhere in the world, as long as you have a PC and an internet connection.

And we all thought OnLive was the most ridiculous thing in the world.

Like OnLive, the HD-720 (now THERE’S a marketable name) is making promises it can’t keep. Unlike OnLive, this thing has almost zero to offer in terms of practical usefulness.

“Okay honey, we’ve got everything packed and ready! Time for our yearly trip to Destin’s sunny beaches!”
“Wait! I forgot to stick Soul Calibur 4 in my Xbox 360 and power the system on!”
“…why the hell would you do that?”
“So I can remotely play it on my PC while we’re at the beach. Duh.”

I think you can see my point, more or less. If you’re still a bit confused, take a look at this video. (Kotaku). It’ll answer any questions you have.

Well it’s very, VERY late. I’m rather tired. Goodnight for now, and be on the lookout for some special Romance Week content to begin rolling out tomorrow! (Or today, as it were.) Me and Ethan spent a good few hours tonight brainstorming it, so you’d better be excited. I know I am.