Tuesday, 11 June 2013

E3 Post Presentation Thoughts

The big console makers have had their presentations, E3 is officially off and racing, and us gamers are left to gather our thoughts after receiving a mind-blowing amount of information over a 48 hour period. So... THOUGHTS! 

I've already posted on the Facebook page about my initial impressions from some of the events so far. My overall feeling is... underwhelmed. I was a bit shocked by this feeling, so I went back and read about the announcements and watched some videos of things that transpired over the last couple of days to try to figure out why this E3 just isn't getting my motor running like it has in previous years. There were some great looking games shown. Two new systems are hitting the market this fall. Why am I not jumping up and down like a 4 year old in Disney World? I think the answer is... the Internet. 

The online world, bloggers, news sites, social networks, even MiiVerse. They all contributed to my expectations being set a little too high I think. You can't really hide much these days. Nintendo, a company that used to be great at hiding things, have had to show pretty much every card they have leading up to E3, because they need reasons for people to buy a Wii U, and showing off upcoming games could be one of them. We knew of pretty much every game except Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. We hadn't seen footage up until now of Mario World or Smash Bros, but we knew they were coming. Mario 3D Land was one of the best mobile games I've ever played. I think I need hands on to convince me that a cat suit and shiny graphics are going to live up to, or surpass, the amazing console experience I got from Mario Galaxy. Mega Man in Smash Bros was a huge announcement that I didn't actually expect to see, but with Mega Man games hitting the Virtual Consolea every week, I kind of figured Nintendo and Capcom were up to something, and even had a chat with some people a couple of weeks ago about how likely his inclusion was.

Sony and Microsoft, as I've said many times before, are going to keep butting heads about the future of high powered gaming consoles. For me, it's become a little boring. Sure, the games all look amazing, but most of the games shown I had already heard about, read about, seen, etc. Many were current gen games with a coat of shiny polish. New COD, new Battlefield, new "Insert Sports Title here", usual batch of launch title racing games... Is that enough for me to jump on a new bandwagon right away? Do graphics really add anything new to the amazing experiences we've seen on 360 and PS3? Judging by how many technical issues both companies had in their presentations, maybe not. Especially in the case of Xbox One, if my Internet goes down or gets a little choppy, will my game run as smoothly with the cloud there to help? Will Xbox One gain as much traction this gen as it did in the last? I got an Xbox 360 because that's what my friends got. It was cheaper, and had Halo and Gears of War and Live was a great service. With so many restrictions, will people care, or will they move to Sony?

Clearly Sony has the upper hand now, after taking so many public shots at Microsoft, but Halo is a system-seller, and MS was smart to at least show a tease for that. I'll probably hold off on getting those new systems and see how things pan out. I picked up a second hand 360 last gen, and never got a PS3. We'll see how it works out this time.

All of this, the unsurprising games, the lack of enthusiasm for having to shell out $400-500 for a new system, have made this E3 one of the least impressive ones in recent memory for me. Don't get me wrong, I know I'm going to log somewhere around 8 million hours in the new Smash Bros, but I wish Nintendo had pulled a "one more thing" type deal and even just shown a logo for a new Metroid FPS with online multiplayer. I think I'd be excited about Halo if MS didn't piss me off with so many of their used game restrictions, high price, and useless "TV" features. Give me an Xbox One for $400 that doesn't include dumb features I'll never use, and we'll talk. 

Until then, I'll be impatiently awaiting Smash Bros and losing track of time in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. 

- Mark

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Pre-E3 Thoughts

With E3 less than a week away, I want to hear your predictions of what will happen.

Here's a few of mine:

Microsoft and Sony will continue their pissing contest about which console is more geared towards gamers. I've never been a huge Sony fan, but I think their PS4 unveiling was done MUCH better than Xbox One, which was basically just people saying "TV" and "Sports" a bunch of times. Guess what, I just cancelled my cable subscription because there's nothing on TV I can't download, and I don't watch sports. Also, as cool as Kinect seems, simply pressing a button on a remote is much easier than waving my arms like a Power Ranger on meth and screaming at my Xbox to change the channel. Combine that with not being able to play my old Xbox 360 games (my current 360 is making funny noises, I was banking on the new one for an upgrade) and the, in my opinion, non-revolutionary graphics updates, and I think I'll be skipping this next gen for a couple of years unless the price is incredible. That's really all I want from both of these companies. They'll show some shiny new games, talk about how powerful their systems are, fine, whatever, tell me how much it costs so I'll know how long I'll be eating nothing but KD and dog treats so I can afford one.

That brings me to my next bit. Wii U. Nintendo's little engine that so far couldn't. I'll be the first to say, I love my Wii U. I play it almost every day, LOVE that I can go back and play my Wii games (Mario Party 9 and Wii Sports Resort are still weekly regulars at my house) and have been upgrading my Virtual Console library as they come. I play Mega Man X and Super Mario World on the Game Pad pretty much any time the TV is occupied by anything else. I think this E3 could make or break the system though. I really think Nintendo has to come out swinging. Let MS and Sony duke it out over their powerhouses. Nintendo needs to remind people why they play games. Like I said, the graphics updates shown at the One unveiling were decent, but not enough to convince me to shell out for a new system. Wii U has some cool new experiences that people really need to be shown hands on. Nintendo screwed up big time with the Wii U release so far. I was confusing, the name sucks, and the lack of new games was a hard pill to swallow. I already owned half the games that came out on other systems. I'm not going to buy Lego Batman 2 again just so I can see a map on the gamepad. What Nintendo needs from this E3 is to come out with new games that aren't trailing other systems. They don't all have to be new IPs, just as long as they come out at the same time as the 360 and PS3 versions.

Nintendo also needs to show some of their heavy hitters. I think Nintendo can "win" this E3 easily. Here's how:

Reggie comes out on stage. "Welcome to E3. Here's Mario, Smash Bros, Mario Kart, a sneak peak at Zelda, as well as more info on the Wind Waker update. Here's some new stuff from Sega and our third party friends. Oh, and Retro is making a new Metroid game. Here's that too. Peace". Done! Almost... I think a price drop is needed too. There are rumors of the PS4 and One coming in at under $400. If that's true, Nintendo can't hope to compete. If they come in at $500, Nintendo is ok with a $150 price difference. At a $50 price difference, Nintendo is insane if they think people will chose them by comparison. Stop selling an 8 gig unit, release the  Deluxe in white, drop the price to $300 and call it a day. It worked wonders for the 3DS, a system I can't leave the house without, so offer some sort of free VC game deal to "Ambassadors" as you did with the 3DS if you need to, or don't, I'm still happy with my purchase. Either way, Nintendo already has its system in the wild. It has a distinct advantage over the "keeping too many secrets, just tell us the price and the date already" Sony and MS. It's going to be an interesting E3, no matter what.

Just don't bring us another Wii Music and I think we'll be fine.