Satoru Iwata (1959-2015) by Chris Scullion

A great read from an ex-Nintendo Power journalist on the tragic passing of Nintendo’s President, Satoru Iwata

Satoru Iwata (1959-2015).


Hypercritical: Nintendo in Crisis

Great reading on the whole Nintendo crisis issue just about every gaming journalist (or in some cases, ‘journalists’) loves to write about.

This is one of the few articles though that provides a more intelligent critique of the situation and understands what Nintendo’s primary competitive advantage actually is.

In a nutshell, the unique combination of hardware and software that has driven it’s business since the NES.

Everyone calling for Nintendo to become a 3rd party developer fundamentally misunderstands that point.

Hypercritical: Nintendo in Crisis. 2/9/2013

Wii U – How much for the whole setup in the UK?

Wii U Sign

Wii U Sign (Photo credit: GamerGrrlz)

After the Nintendo Direct announcements on 13 September 2012, I postulated the total outlay someone in the UK might need to spend if they wanted a complete Wii U setup and they didn’t have a single Wii peripheral on hand – New Wii U – Estimated total cost for first time buyers who want the top package. That article was based off the announced prices in US and Japan – so since actual prices will differ thanks to taxes and import duties, here’s an updated article based on what’s already been announced through Amazon UK and other UK retailers.

I thought it would be fun to speculate on the total cost of the entire WiiU experience if you want everything with a cherry on top and presumably have a treasure trove lying somewhere to derive funds from for it.

Note: I chose Amazon as the main place to get Wii accessories pricing from so in some instances, you can get them cheaper elsewhere, for example, if the Wii Sports Resort MotionPlus Bundle was going for £35 or less…

4 x Nintendo Wii U Remote Plus – Black = £35 x 4 = £140

4 x Nintendo Wii U Nunchuk – Black = £15 x 4 = £60

1 x Wii Fit Plus and Balance Board Bundle – Black = £70

1 x Nintendo Wii U 32GB ZombiU Premium Pack – Black = £329

4 x Nintendo Wii U Pro Controller – Black = £38 x 4 = £152

Wii U GamePad – Not available for sale separately until 2013.

What does the Wii U Premium SKU get you?
A lovely black Wii U (the Basic SKU only gets you the white version), 32GB memory, HDMI cable, console stand, GamePad charging dock, GamePad stand, and a two year Nintendo Network Premium subscription until 2014.

What’s the damage?
Total cost for the whole shebang is a mouth watering, wallet busting, partner cringing, bank account screaming £751 (Which is a whole lot cheaper than my previous estimates based on Japan’s prices – £1,232).

How does this compare with say, getting a PS3?
Well, Let’s see now…

1 x Sony PlayStation 3 320GB Slim Console = £208

3 x Official Sony DualShock 3 Controller = £36 x 4 = £108

1 x PlayStation Move Starter Pack with PlayStation Eye Camera and Move Controller (PS3) = £35

3 x PlayStation Move Motion Controllers = £28 x 3 = £84

1 x HDMI cable from Poundland = £1

That should get you up and running (without a game though) at a cost of £436. Which is actually fairly attractive, so it does depend on what games you enjoy playing. Nintendo’s Wii U console is pretty much the only way to go if you want Metroid, Zelda, Mario, Kirby, or Bayonetta 2.

New Wii U – Estimated total cost for first time buyers who want the top package

Wii U Sign

Wii U Sign (Photo credit: GamerGrrlz)

I thought it would be fun to speculate on the total cost of the entire WiiU experience if you want everything with a cherry on top and presumably have a treasure trove lying somewhere to derive funds from for it.

Note: These costings are based on Japanese launch price details. Actual (and final) UK prices will only get announced at 3pm UK time today. Also, I chose Amazon as the main place to get Wii accessories pricing from so in some instances, you can get them cheaper elsewhere, for example, if the Wii Sports Resort MotionPlus Bundle was going for £35 or less…

4 x Wii RemotePlus Black = £35 x 4 = £140

4 x Wii Nunchuck = £13 x 4 = £52

1 x Wii BalanceBoard & Wii Fit Plus bundle = £70

2 X WiiU GamePad = +- £125 x 2 = £250

1 x WiiU Premium SKU = +- £300

4 x WiiU Pro Pad = £105 x 4 = £420

What does the Wii U Premium SKU get you?

A lovely black Wii U (the Basic SKU only gets you the white version), 32GB memory, HDMI cable, console stand, GamePad charging dock, GamePad stand, and a two year Nintendo Network Premium subscription until 2014.

What’s the damage?

Total cost for the whole shebang is a mouth watering, wallet busting, partner cringing, bank account screaming £1,232. Now to wait on actual UK pricing.

Ten games I think would be perfect on the Wii U

The official Wii U logo Español: Logo oficial ...
With any impending release of a new console there’s naturally going to be speculation about what games can and should appear on it. Remember when the Wii was originally announced and how you immediately thought to yourselves, “Lightsabres!” Yeah, we’re still hoping for a Star Wars game with 1:1 lightsabre zwanging action though, judging by GameRadar’s article on 5 reasons a Wii lightsabre game would suck, we might not like the end results.

Here are my picks for ten games and forgotten franchises that would be just peachy on the Wii U.

10. MechCommander series

Remember that MechCommander intro sequence when a path was plotted with a stylus of sorts and a Raven was guided away from a MadCat deathtrap? If you don’t there’s a handy trailer above that’s accessible with just a simple click of your mouse (or a tap of your finger depending on how you’re viewing this article). Yeah, that would be pretty sweet on the WiiU. Granted – it’s a really old game now but it’s been crying out for a revival for several years now – especially after the entire MechCommander series was released as freeware in 2006.

9. Sim City series

Imagine this classic city building sim series with the new community features that the Wii U offers. And then imagine the precision you’d have with the stylus when playing this on the Wii U. Then put two and two together and realise that SimCity on the Wii U would be a marriage made in Nintendo silicon heaven.

8. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Transformers: War for Cybertron was already the best Transformer game ever made (it didn’t have much competition though apart from the well-crafted Transformers Armada) and having the sequel on the Wii U would make a lot of sense. The Wii U GamePad will allow you a much greater level of immersion in the game world and could even be integrated into the gameplay like how it was done in Batman Arkham City: Armoured Edition. It may be unusual for Batman to have a controller strapped to his arm but it’s oh-so-natural for a Transformer to have it integrated with it’s circuitry.

7. Deus Ex series

See the argument made for Transformers: Fall of Cybertron above. The same applies naturally for Adam Dent and his world of augmentations. Imagine a variation of the Wii U GamePad integrated into his arm with nanotechnology. Having such thumb-easy access to augmentations would make going through the game that much more intuitive and immersive.

Also, Wii U’s community features can make this game truly shine – imagine going through a section and seeing a message pop-up saying teasers like, “try sneaking past this section to get awesome stuff” or “look up. There’s more than one way out of here”. You can even explain this in-game as a nanotechnology feature. Eidos, please make this happen.

6. Injustic – Gods Among Us

I’ve played Street Fighter IV 3DS and Bleach: Blade of Fate DS so there’s no doubt in my mind that playing fighting games with the aid of a touchscreen is joy incarnate. Edit: While writing this I found out that Injustice is also slated for release on the Wii U – clearly I’m on the same lines with the developers.

5. Bioshock Infinite

This is a long-shot considering the close relationship Irrational Games has with Sony. Already, the PS3 version looks like the definitive one to own as it’s the only version with support for 3D. It’ll certainly give you another reason to enjoy that spanking new 3D TV you’ve got in your living room.

When I imagined Bioshock Infinite for the Wii U, I was thinking along the same lines at my ideas for Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron as well as Injustice: Gods Among Us. I’d love being able to arrange my plasmids on the Wii U GamePad and having them at my fingertips. The additional screen would also be perfect for the hacking mini-game (a clone of Pipe Mania, a classic arcade game) introduced in the first BioShock.

4. Wing Commander IV

This suggestion might seem a little out there since it’s a well-known fact that the best way to experience this game is with a flightstick like the Thrustmaster T Flight Stick. It’s just not the same playing with a mouse/keyboard combo or a regular gamepad. Where this might differ on the Wii U is the potential ability to replicate the HUD on the Wii U GamePad and just keep the priority information on your TV screen.

That’ll release valuable screen real-estate for stuff all we gamers enjoy, more of the actual game.

3. Minecraft

The Minecraft phenomenon has helped to transform the indie gaming scene since it’s launch in 2010. Tens of thousands of gamers have revelled in their new-found outlet for their creativity and promptly worked to create lavish and immensely creative maps. Check out the following video:

Here’s another title where the Wii U’s community features can really shine – map recommendations, in-game hints, tool sharing, the sky’s the limit.

2. R.U.S.E

Just watch that trailer and tell me you don’t want to be able to do something similar with another mate on the Wii U GamePad?

1. Starcraft series

The best home for RTS games have always been on the PC. No question about it. All other RTS releases on consoles have made concessions to the control scheme to make it somewhat playable.

What the Wii U now offers is the potential for proper RTS gaming on a console. The DS already has a couple of examples for how this can work, most notably with Final Fantasy Revenant Wings and Robocalypse, so it would be a special day indeed if Blizzard were to release a Starcraft 2 on the Wii U.

Add your own idea into the mix

Have a game in mind you think would also be perfect on the Wii U? Sound out in the comments area below. The more outlandish the idea, the better. Think big. Think bizzare. Think maybe Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle or Football Manager 2012.

About the Wii U controller’s supposedly old-tech resistive screen

Image representing Nintendo as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

When Nintendo announced the Wii U at E3 2011, some tech sites and loads of people commented about the Wii U’s use of a resistive touchscreen (as evidenced by use of the stylus in the demonstration videos). Much of the tone of the conversations centred around the belief that resistive touch screens were last-gen tech and had no place in this modern world. No doubt, this belief might be due to resistive screen smartphones’ general lack of popularity- after all, why use a stylus that you can use when your finger can do the job? It’s part of the charm and fun of Angry Birds in the first place.

Of the various gaming and tech sites that reported on the issue, Engadget came out with a decidedly un-objective post about the Wii U’s use of “archaic” resistive touchscreen technology – Engagdet (13/06/11): Nintendo 3DS has resistive touchscreen for backwards compatibility, what’s the Wii U’s excuse?

The two technologies serve different purposes (read an excellent article on the subject from one of my favourite magazine’s – PC Pro: Capacitive or resistive: what’s the best type of touchscreen?)

E3 2011 impressions – A Nintendo fan’s viewpoint

Microsoft fails to Kinect with the core gamers

Having seen the announcements made during Microsoft’s and Sony’s 2011 E3 press conferences, I felt the time was ripe for Nintendo to blow them away with a megaton bomb announcement. After all, Microsoft seemed keen to repeat Nintendo’s own 2008 E3 mistake by focusing most of their press conference on kid-friendly titles for the Kinect as well as Kinectivised (I’m coining that phrase) Xbox360 games like Mass Effect 3.  The elite were left out to feed on the first entry in a new Halo trilogy (yawn – and it didn’t attract that much excitement from Xbox fanboys either…), Minecraft a Kinectivised Fable 3, a Kincetivised Gears of War, a Kinectivised Star Wars (complete with voice activated lightsaber action – “Light saber on!”), a Kinectivised… well you get the picture.

Gamesradar actually wrote a very well thought article on  – Why Microsoft’s press conference showed that it may have much bigger problems than Kinect. Do yourself a favour an read it (as soon as you finish mine of course…).

This vid sums up the Kinect madness that surrounded Microsoft at E3:

Sony brings new Life to E3

Sony’s presser was far more interesting – focusing on the launch of the PlayStation Vita (the official name of the NGP) at a very very attractive price point of USD$249. The USD$249 Nintendo 3DS has some real competition now aside from their lack of genuinely interesting and playable titles that are available now. Perhaps crucially, the PlayStation Vita is said to be region free, something every gamer in the world wants in their handheld console. Based on the similar price points, there’s every chance that Nintendo’s previous pricing and differentiation strategy wouldn’t work in this current environment but that’s a story for another post.

Aside from the well-covered launch of the PS Vita (which some are already dubbing PSV Eindhoven or the PSV), Sony flogged the 3D horse some more with the announcement of a USD499 3D bundle that would include a copy of Resistance 3, a HDMI cable, a pair of 3D glasses, and a PlayStation branded 24″ TV. The TV itself is quite attractive with tech that “allows two separate pairs of 3D eyewear to see two completely different pictures on the same screen, allowing local co-op minus the splitscreen”.

Also of great interest was Ruin, a hack n’ slash action RPG with a nifty innovation that allows you to play it on the PlayStation Vita while you travel and continue on your PS3 when you’re at home. One particular Sony announcement managed to draw groans from the crowd – the 3G version of the Vita was exclusive to AT&T (in the US anyway). We’ll have to wait and see whether the reportedly poor iPhone experience on AT&T will lead to buyers staying away from this particular SKU.

The PlayStation Vita – oooohhh, shiny….

PlayStation Vita

Nintendo blows (minds)

The Nintendo presser played a 25th Legend of Zelda video complete with orchestral backing to the great delight of the Zelda fans in the crowd. They really know how to push the right nostalgia buttons…

Shigeru Miyamoto finally confirmed Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword for a 2011 holiday season release complete with a special gold wii remote pack-in and threw a nice hunk of meat for 3DS owning Zelda fans by also announcing a free download of Zelda Four Swords.

I’m slightly curious about Ocarina of Time 3DS, mostly because I’ve not played it yet and every games magazine I’ve ever seen has constantly raved about it. The 3DS showreel of upcoming titles definitely fuelled my appetite for the 3DS – Mario Kart 3DS (with customisable karts as well as gliders and underwater terrain!), Luigi’s Mansion 2 (which strangely got a lot of applause since the first game for the GameCube was panned), Starfox 64 3DS, Super Mario Bros 3DS (looked sweet), and finally, what I think will be the star game – Kid Icarus Uprising. Kid Icarus looks like it’ll be an amazing action-packed experience.

Nintendo 3DS 1st party games sizzle reel

Nintendo 3DS 3rd party games sizzle reel

And on to….
Wii U

Nintendo’s latest console – The Wii U. I honestly thought Nintendo would have gone with a good old simple name like ‘Nintendo’ but looking at the name again, it makes sense. Keeping the name continuity means that the average parent still recognises it and as much as gamers may bash names, I don’t think a single console (or tech product for that matter) in history has failed because it had a stupid name (see the iPad for a prime example).

This is the first Nintendo console since the SNES that has come out with such great 3rd party support. Looking at the list of planned games, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online, Darksiders II, Batman Arkham City, Dirt, Aliens Colonial Marines, Metro Last Light, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Assassin’s Creed, a new Madden, and for the first time ever on a Nintendo home console, Tekken, the future looks bright for Nintendo. Apart for the aberration of a 10% drop in stock since the announcement of the console, I expect business to pick up once more solid titles are announced and more info is released for the Wii U – which likely won’t happen until the Tokyo Game Show in September.

The tech demo for the Wii U had me sold as soon as they showed the shuriken clip. The level of interactivity with the surrounding environment with zero lag between the controller and the screen was mind blowing. With the new controller, the Wii U can offer a truly 360 degree view of the gaming world you’re in. Also, the new controller flies against the current trend towards peripherals. With one fell swoop, this controller eliminates the need for more gizmos to fill our room spaces because it has a gyroscope, a microphone, an accelerometer, dual analog controls, two shoulder buttons and two triggers, a front-facing camera, and a gigantic 6.2″ resistive touchscreen. It’s quite likely that the design will be tweaked further prior to it’s official launch, but much of what you see now is what you’ll get in 2012. IGN is already kickstarting a campaign to get Nintendo to use analog sticks and analog triggers in their controller.

I’m liking this new look Nintendo that has come back to embrace the core gamer once again after seemingly leaving us for games that toddlers and their grandparents could play. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the fact that Nintendo expanded the gaming market to such an extent that my mother could partner me at Wii Sports tennis and beat my friends, but I don’t feel that I had enough gaming choices for my Wii. My PC was left to fill the void with Quake 4, Mass Effect, and Trine – none of which would ever come to the Wii in it’s current form.

I’ll close with this trailer for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online – a great example of how Wii U can enhance shooters.

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