Tag Archives: 3ds

April 2015 Nintendo Direct Shows Sustainability, If Little Else

I think it was during a past investor meeting that Nintendo head Satoru Iwata said the company’s plan for the rest of the Wii U’s life cycle was, overall, to keep current owners satisfied. This week’s Nintendo Direct for the most part seems to prove that’s the plan it’s going through with for its current hardware.

An April Nintendo Direct probably isn’t the place to look for attempts at system sellers or really anything to significantly change the landscape of the Wii U and 3DS, but looking at the whole situation with Nintendo right now, I’m not sure we’ll be getting anything of the sort until it unravels Codename NX next year. Everything I saw this week looked like a very strong push at keeping the current momentum going at a steady pace. Continue reading

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How Much Will Mobile Really Help Nintendo?

AS20150317004618_commL At the time of this writing I’ve had around 12 hours to digest the latest Nintendo megaton, which I was only awake for at the time of announcement because I couldn’t sleep last night. Overall, I think its mobile deal with DeNA foreshadows some potentially good and bad things for the future of Nintendo and its platforms. It’s way too early to tell which outweights the others.

However, I think we do need to look at this in terms of how it tackles what remain Nintendo’s biggest problems. Continue reading

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Nintendo Direct Did Not Make Me More Excited For 3DS

Before the latest Nintendo Direct I was contemplating if I was almost done with mainstream support of the 3DS. Now I know I very nearly am.

Now this is pretty much all a matter of personal preference on my part. There was a lot for people to enjoy for the system in this week’s Nintendo update. I’m just not one of those people. Probably not in 2015 anyway. My priority will likely switch completely to the Wii U. Continue reading

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How Much Longer Does The 3DS Have?

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Checking Club Nintendo’s front page today reminded me to look up the 3DS’s release calendar going into 2015 wondering if it felt light. 2014 was already a little light for the system and I’m wondering if this is going to be its last year of significance on the market.

We don’t know much, and we shouldn’t this early into the year — there’s a good chance we’ll get a Nintendo Direct this month, but what we do know is a lot less than we know about software lineups for other platforms. Then you’ve got the new model and rumblings of Nintendo’s next hardware cycle which could emerge over the next two or three years. Continue reading

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Nintendo Direct: IP Parading And IP Neglect

Nintendo’s November 2014 Direct told me one thing above all else: it’s trying to prop up the value its franchises as much as possible. All of them. I can understand why, I just wish it would translate into more full games for certain franchises. Continue reading

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Nintendo’s Digital Distribution Makes Surprising Leaps (…For Nintendo)

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For something like 10 years now Nintendo has been the butt of every conversation about video games and online infrastructure. I’ve sometimes been in defense of the ideas behind what the company is trying to do, and with recent efforts you have to admit they’re getting better, even if there’s one glaring issue left they need to resolve. Continue reading

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The Value Of Midnight Launches

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After stating how rarely I buy games at launch or at full price, it’s not hard to assume I even more seldom go to midnight launches anymore. Going to the one for Super Smash Bros. on 3DS has me reexamining the value of them. Some value can still be found, depending on why you go. Continue reading

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Monster Manor And The Potential of StreetPass

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Geek events like Otakon are bound to be nests of 3DS StreetPass. In places that don’t have Japan’s population density they are often the only chance to really get into Nintendo’s StreetPass minigames. I actually spent a significant portion of my time at Otakon playing Monster Manor. It’s a surprisingly deep and fun game for how little talk I’ve seen about it over the last year or so.

The game Find Mii that comes with the 3DS is a really basic Dragon Quest-esque thing where you do nothing more than turn-based battle after turn-based battle. It’s the kind of thing convention-goers can passively play while also enjoying the convention. Monster Manor though, if you haven’t tried it, is some kind of Resident Evil/Tetris/RPG mash-up that actually occupied my time and full attention, especially after I got stuck at one of the later bosses for a while. That forced me to really start taking the game seriously which in my experience unlocked its potential.

In the game you have to match together pieces you get from nearby 3DS owners on a map of each floor of a mansion to eventually unlock the stairs to the next floor. Rooms of 2×2 or more cubes of matching colors yield treasure. Larger cubes yield progressively better loot. Originally I just slammed together any piece I got looking for staircases but I eventually got stuck on a boss with only crap weapons at my disposal, which forced me to grind for more throughout previous floors. I had to scrutinize each piece I got, finding the most perfect place for it, making groups of colored pieces as large as possible to yield the best loot. It eventually reached  a point where I ended up throwing away half the pieces I got because I couldn’t use them the way I wanted. What I’m trying to say is, Monster Manor would probably make for a fun standalone game were it matched with some kind of puzzle mechanic to substitute for StreetPass.

It also makes me wonder why other full-retail 3DS games don’t do more with StreetPass. Part of the reason I bought Pokemon X recently was StreetPass at Otakon, but all you get from StreetPass in that game is an alternate currency. That’s basically what most 3DS games I’ve seen give you from StreetPass — an alternate source of items or in-game currency in one form or another. It’d be nice if they had some kind of cool minigame at least. Monster Manor even manages to have a minigame within itself. Super Mario 3D Land at least made me go through miniature challenges to get the items.

Even if StreetPass is still a woefully mismatched feature for basically any region outside Nintendo’s native Japan, it still has potential that a lot of third party developers don’t seem to be using extensively. I guess you’re always going to have third parties who don’t particularly care about certain OS-level features.

BULLETS:

  • If you look closely, you’ll notice the Xbox One’s upcoming media player update will add MKV playback to the console. I and many others have been waiting a long time for this. Hopefully Sony follows suit. Game consoles NOT supporting MKV was a main reason I hooked up a gaming PC to my TV.
  • Think about it: What are the greatest third-person shooters of all time?
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Why I Don’t Mind Pokemon X’s Low Difficulty

So Pokémon X gives you the Exp. Share after you beat the first gym, and now it shares experience points to not only one Pokémon, but your whole party. Oh, and in addition to the new Kalos region starter you selected at the beginning of the game, you get to pick one of the original Kanto starters not long after that first gym. So has Nintendo started to evaporate the difficulty of Pokémon like so many other developers have other franchises? The part that surprises me is, I don’t really mind it in this case.

I’ve definitely been part of the outcry against how much today’s games coddle players and prevent them from using their  brains to solve problems. Too many of today’s games drag you through tutorials that insult the intelligence of anyone who plays traditional video games, and too often I feel like I almost had the game beaten for me. However, I think there are particulars behind why this is aside from simply easy versus hard games.

Pokémon X so far really does feel easier than previous entries. Because of the adjusted Exp. Share my team is leveling up a lot faster. I’ve got two Pokémon coming up on level 20 and I’ve only finished one gym so far. And I’ve seen comments from people online saying X and Y are indeed a lot easier than past games in the series. The addition of the Kanto starters can only accelerate this affect.

Maybe I don’t mind so much because I never got into the most hardcore levels of Pokémon play. I never got into EV training or breeding, and most certainly never went near tournaments. For me it’s really just about the novelty of traveling through an RPG world and building a cool team. Maybe that makes me sort of like the Call of Duty audience when it comes to Pokémon, just basking in the core gameplay loop without thinking about the deeper level.

The reason I prefer ArmA to COD however has almost nothing to do with difficulty. I just like ArmA because it offers me orders of magnitude more freedom in a massive world to explore. Pokémon X’s decreased difficulty hasn’t really made the game more linear or less free at all.

In fact Pokémon X’s tutorial is probably the briskest in the series so far: within only a few minutes you’ve gotten your Pokémon and you’re ready to head to the first gym. You can now interact with the game’s online component pretty much anywhere, the process of trading is a lot quicker, and the menu interface is a lot smoother too. Basically, Pokémon X has just made it easier and quicker for you to do whatever it is you want to do. The game doesn’t force you into doing certain things any more than the older versions might have.

A good comparison I might make would be Fallout 3 or Skyrim. I see a lot of criticism of those two games, saying they’re too easy compared to their predecessors. In Fallout 3 it’s not difficult to evenly max out your stats and just blast through most enemies. Skyrim’s critics say its quests and world design are less challenging and meaningful than those of previous Elder Scrolls games. These are also two games where I don’t mind the low difficulty because that doesn’t cut down on their open-ended natures. I totally understand if old fans of those franchises prefer the more challenging earlier games but that’s not a huge priority for me. Dark Souls is one of my favorite games but not because it’s difficult. It’s one of my favorite games because of its atmosphere, how it asks you to think about your situation and surroundings, and how it accommodates many styles of play. What I want isn’t necessarily difficulty, but the latitude to solve a game’s problems on my own.

BULLETS:

 

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Pokémon on 3DS and Whether We Need A Console Version

This may as well be a Late to the Party post for Pokémon X, but just as I started the game I saw another discussion come up about the possibility of a mainline Pokémon game for a console. I think Pokémon X and Y have stepped a lot closer to what people asking for a main console game actually want.

I get that some people like the franchise but really want to play a Pokémon game that isn’t miniature sprites running around a tiny world with turn-based battles. They want a “more real” or “more immersive” visualization of what that world looks like, maybe even what the TV show looks like. In short they want a fully 3D Pokémon RPG. The funny thing is, the 3DS games kind of already have achieved a fully 3D Pokémon RPG, but they did it on a handheld.

Now I’m still at a very early part in Pokémon X, but Game Freak has, essentially, finally fully rendered a mainline game in the series in 3D. The games for the original DS basically stuck to the old 2D presentation but threw in some polygons where they fit. Pokémon X feels like an impressive next generation leap for the mainline games. Its graphics and presentation are on-par with Pokémon Battle Revolution for the Wii and superior to the N64 Pokémon Stadium games. If anyone’s disappointed with X and Y in the tech department it’s probably because the games still adhere to the original Game Boy formula. Each town is still a tiny collection of buildings with a population of like 10 people, you still have to run around in bushes to encounter Pokémon, and battles are still turn-based. It all really just looks like the Game Boy games rendered in polygons with more cinematic camera angles. X and Y are about as modern-looking as you can get while adhering to the formula.

The frustration of people who want a console Pokémon game is probably somehow tied into the frustrations of people who think Japanese RPGs haven’t advanced far enough technologically. Similarly to discussions about the Pokémon games, people ask why so many JRPGs still have turn-based or random battles when western RPGs largely got rid of them years ago. They ask why so many have small worlds with many locations relegated to menu screens, dialogue that’s mostly text, and oftentimes basic graphics. Basically, they’re asking why Japanese developers can’t make RPGs with full sandbox worlds like Skyrim, fully-voiced dialogue with interactive conversations like BioWare games, or deeply interactive environments like Deus Ex.

I think that goes back to what seems to be a western emphasis on pushing technology for increasingly fully-realized worlds versus the Japanese emphasis on creating technical play. And technical play is basically what Pokémon has become all about since it got popular. The game has pretty much become an eSport at this point, with a real competitive scene, so Game Freak can only change its rules so much.

I imagine if a western developer came up with the whole idea of Pokémon today on a console or on PC it would probably be set in some sprawling sandbox world where the creatures just appear to be fought and caught in real time. Instead of routes there would just be towns and the space between them. The game might even be an MMO in such a situation, but I’m really not going to get started on that subject.

I think if Game Freak or some other Nintendo-affiliated developer did a mainline Pokémon on the Wii U It would probably look like X and Y with better graphics, sticking to the codified formula for the game. At this point, the Pokémon games aren’t trying to offer a realization of the franchise’s world, but simply interpret it through a game that is now every bit as abstract as the Trading Card Game. Bringing that game to the Wii U would probably benefit the Wii U more than it would the game. This is connected to another problem with Nintendo I mentioned before: the 3DS is powerful enough to run almost all the kinds of games Nintendo likes to make.

And even within the abstraction of the Pokémon video games, X and Y still feature a lot of refinements over the previous generation of Pokémon games. Mainly, Game Freak seems to have made playing and trading with others online and offline a lot easier. When I found out you don’t even have to be at a Pokémon center to do those things anymore I was kind of floored. More than anything else playing X feels like opening up the newest edition of a board game.

Maybe what many people want from the franchise is indeed a fundamentally different game designed from the ground up for a console. Then however you have to deal with the philosophical divide between how Nintendo and a lot of Japanese developers operate and what many western fans may want. It’s the same reason some people ask why games like Street Fighter are still one-on-one side-scrolling games with health bars after two decades. You could theoretically ask a similar question of DOTA or the whole MOBA genre which grew out of a 12-year-old game.

BULLETS:

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