June 8, 2011

Gamer Rant ‑E3 Edition — Rebuttal


Yes­ter­day, edi­tor Ace­of­Nades post­ed his week­ly Gamer­Rant and had quite an argu­ment brew­ing over Nintendo’s new­ly announced con­sole the WiiU. I thought it would be fun, with Ace­of­Nades per­mis­sion, to counter his argu­ment with this rebut­tal. It’s not so much prov­ing him wrong because at this point no one has a vast amount of details on the sys­tem and its odd con­troller, but see­ing the pos­i­tives of the con­troller and con­sole in my opin­ion.
The WiiU is still sur­round­ed with a shroud of mys­tery. What we were shown at E3 was the tech of the new con­troller and what will be the final hard­ware design albeit some tweaks. They showed the con­troller off first the same way they did with the Wii. If you are intro­duc­ing a new way to play games the hard­ware and soft­ware take a back seat to the con­troller. I would want to know how I am con­trol­ling this new piece of hard­ware before the specs. The Wii remote became the sym­bol for the Wii not the actu­al con­sole it’s self. The WiiU’s con­troller will become the sym­bol of that con­sole as well. Sony has had the same con­troller for over a decade albeit some tweaks, that is why there is such a focus on the hard­ware rather than the con­troller. Nin­ten­do is try­ing some­thing new, in terms of con­trollers, with every con­sole life­cy­cle. This time with the largest and most tech­no­log­i­cal advanced con­troller we have seen to date, so I agree with them to push the con­troller first, hard­ware and soft­ware sec­ond and let the press and con­sumers come to terms with what they will be using with the new hard­ware.
The new con­troller is an odd, yet large, addi­tion to Nintendo’s sta­ble of periph­er­als. I remem­ber back in 1996 see­ing the huge tri­dent of a con­troller for the Nin­ten­do 64. After using what resem­bled a small brick for sev­er­al years and think­ing this is going to cramp my hands and make every­thing unplayable; what were they think­ing? It turned out to be qui­et com­fort­able and ush­ered in a new era of con­trol with the ana­log stick. The Game­cube con­troller with its jel­ly bean like but­tons was the best con­troller of last gen. The Wiis nun chuck and remote com­bo showed us a new way to play while devel­op­ers ush­ered in the infa­mous “wag­gle”, but showed that sim­ple ges­tures were, at times, bet­ter than but­tons. The WiiU con­troller, I believe it will give us some­thing we nev­er thought we need­ed. With a beau­ti­ful 6.2” screen and the full array of but­tons we have come accus­tomed to hav­ing on our con­trollers, maybe Nin­ten­do is on to some­thing. The vibe I get from the con­troller is the GBA/GameCube con­nec­tiv­i­ty and how much fun it was to play Final Fan­ta­sy: Chrys­tal Chron­i­cles with friends and have your own lit­tle inven­to­ry screen where you didn’t have to break the action on the TV. The Leg­end of Zel­da: The Four Swords is anoth­er exam­ple of the con­nec­tiv­i­ty. The small­er screen was used for dun­geon crawl­ing for cer­tain play­ers and keep­ing your stats as well. This new con­troller seems like a per­fect fit for any game with an inven­to­ry sys­tem, like a Zel­da or RPG. Sports games also come to mind. I have always hat­ed play­ing Mad­den against some one in the same room and all you would have to do is look at the oth­er player’s plays and you have a 1:3 chance of pick­ing the play they chose. With WiiU, the play­book can be in your hands and no one but you will know the play. The Dream­cast had a sim­i­lar fea­ture with their VMU mem­o­ry cards but the mono­chrome screen was not ide­al in all light­ing con­di­tions. There is a just a bevy of ideas that this screen and con­troller can be used for and I think we haven’t even scratched the sur­face of what devel­op­ers have in store.
I think Nin­ten­do has learned a lot from their time with the Wii. The Wii remote devoured bat­ter­ies at an alarm­ing rate and the new con­troller looks to have a recharge­able bat­tery, pos­si­bly inte­grat­ed like the PS3 remotes. I could see bat­tery life rang­ing any­where from 5–8 hours of play on a sin­gle charge, which is bet­ter than the 3DS bat­tery pow­er­ing a full 3D screen. Heat won’t be an issue because I see you being able to either trans­fer Wii titles or titles that are less hard­ware tax­ing to the con­troller. If they find some way to have full retail games such as Bat­tle­field or a full on Zel­da to this device, I am sold! At that point they have the great­est con­troller ever devel­oped or some sort of pow­er­ful Voodoo. There is no doubt that the WiiU con­troller is huge. 6.2” screen plus two sticks and all the nor­mal face but­tons; it is larg­er than my girl­friends Nook Col­or. The N64 had a rather large con­troller; does any­one remem­ber the orig­i­nal Xbox con­troller named “duke”?  There have been large con­trollers in the past but not to the extent of this one. If the ergonom­ics are right and the weight is kept to a min­i­mum, then I see no prob­lems in long play ses­sions. The con­troller has to feel right as well as uti­liz­ing its func­tions.
The WiiU and it’s high­ly advanced, yet large, con­troller will not hit the Wiis orig­i­nal retail price of $249.99; there is just no fea­si­ble way. I can see this launch­ing as one of Nintendo’s prici­est sys­tems to date. There has been no talk of price point but from what I have seen and to have more horse­pow­er than the 360 and PS3, the $399.99 price range is what I would price it at. The extra con­trollers are going to have to be $100 or less. At the peak of their price points the Nun chuck and Remote com­bo was hit­ting the $70 ask­ing price, so $100 for a con­troller that smokes that com­bo is not unrea­son­able in my book. They will have a hell of a time mar­ket­ing this. I agree with Ace­of­Nades on this point. Nin­ten­do has done a ter­ri­ble job at mar­ket­ing the 3DS and sales have suf­fered as a result. The 3DS needs to be mar­ket­ed as the DS suc­ces­sor and they need to cut the DS cord if they want the 3DS to flour­ish (that and a line­up of games that go from “meh” to “what is this shit?”). The same goes for the WiiU, it needs to be seen as the replace­ment for the Wii and it needs to stay out of the 3DS’s light. Nin­ten­do has a great fam­i­ly of con­soles and hand­helds; it just needs to let the con­sumer know the dif­fer­ence and what the replace­ments are.
I will end with some­thing Ace­of­Nades men­tioned and some­thing I think is going through every ones minds; I don’t think this new con­troller is a gim­mick. The videogame indus­try is a very com­pet­i­tive mar­ket. You have com­pa­nies and devel­op­ment hous­es come and go and there are only a few major play­ers in the indus­try that are con­stants. Hard­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers are con­stants and there are only three of them so how do you dif­fer­en­ti­ate your­self from the com­pe­ti­tion when you all have sim­i­lar prod­ucts? The WiiU will be going toe to toe with the 360 and PS3 as well as their replace­ments. Nin­ten­do is final­ly mak­ing a HD con­sole and wants to open the minds and hearts of the core gamers they left behind in their quest for a wider audi­ence. Microsoft and Sony all jumped on to the motion con­trol band wag­on when the Wii took off and we have Kinect and PlaySta­tion Move as the result. Now Nin­ten­do is try­ing to through down with the big boys while going after Apple (and their mind­less min­ions), who they have always seen them­selves com­pet­ing with; now is the time to dif­fer­en­ti­ate. If you have the 360, PS3, and the WiiU all sit­ting side by side with no labels and sim­i­lar con­trollers, you have three almost iden­ti­cal sys­tems that the aver­age con­sumer will blind­ly pick one and nev­er look back. Microsoft touts its online struc­ture and the 360 being an online media machine, while hav­ing a hand full of exclu­sives. Sony touts a tech­no­log­i­cal supe­ri­or con­sole with the PS3, the Blu-Ray disc for­mat, and a hand­ful of exclu­sives. Nin­ten­do would have a con­sol with sim­i­lar hard­ware, a hand­ful of exclu­sives, and what? That is where the new con­troller fits in. It is unique to Nintendo’s con­sole. It is what sep­a­rates them from look­ing like every­one else. Nin­ten­do needs more than just Mario and they know it. They are try­ing to work dili­gent­ly with 3rd par­ty devel­op­ers and cre­ate some­thing unique, yet famil­iar, some­thing that “hard­core” gamers will put down their 360 pads and duel shocks and say “I like this, it is dif­fer­ent, yet some­thing I would have nev­er thought I need­ed”. I have faith in Nin­ten­do to bring us a qual­i­ty prod­uct and a com­plete game chang­er, because that is what they do best.

3 comments

  1. CharcoalCoyote - June 9, 2011 1:03 pm

    ^This. Very well put sir. I would like to point out, though, that Nin­ten­do has a hell of a lot more than a “hand­ful” of exclu­sives. Go play Smash Bros. and sin­gle out some fran­chis­es. Most of them will have at least 3 games (many of them will have far more) over the life span of the WiiU. That adds up to a crap­ton. The rea­son I’m hap­py for this new con­troller is that it pro­vides a new gam­ing expe­ri­ence, but not one that will anger the hard­core gamers. The major­i­ty of games on the Wii involved motion con­trols that were clunky and ran­dom, mak­ing pre­ci­sion and speed uncom­bin­able (you don’t believe me? Go play some Wii Sports Box­ing with a younger rel­a­tive. You’ll get pissed off and prob­a­bly break some­thing). Touch screens have evolved to a new lev­el of accu­ra­cy and pre­ci­sion (screw your iPhone/iPod Touch, go try one of these new­er Droids and tell me how you like it, I’ve used both and the dif­fer­ence is astound­ing.), and I’m inter­est­ed to see how this whole bonus screen will turn out.

    Reply
  2. ScrotusKilmystr - June 9, 2011 3:47 pm

    I will con­ceed that nin­ten­do is try­ing to stand out from the crowd but they also must make up lost foot­ing in the con­sole race being that they alien­at­ed the core gamer com­mu­ni­ty for the most part there are a few excep­tions but not many
    The WII was a good con­cept exe­cut­ed baddly if I want­ed to wag­gle some­thing when I was play­ing Tiger Woods Golf I’d go write my name in the snow (guys at least can) and the crap-ware that came out week­ly almost 5 to 1 vers­es the good sol­id titles was astound­ing.
    Now the new sys­tem I am appre­hen­sive because of the WII the WIIU has seri­ous ground to make up for sure!!
    I still think this con­troller is going to weigh 5lbs give or take!!!!

    Reply
  3. CharcoalCoyote - June 9, 2011 6:09 pm

    @Scrotus
    I think the oppo­site of the Wii. The Wii did fair­ly well for what it was, but it was a hor­ri­ble, hor­ri­ble idea. As long as the WiiU has min­i­mal motion con­trol (the “sit on your ass” fac­tor), it will do many times bet­ter than the Wii. The touch­screen con­trols can be used as much or as lit­tle as nec­es­sary for all sorts of dif­fer­ent games, and in many, many dif­fer­ent ways.

    Reply

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