Tag Archives: tablet

Nintendo Switch: Non-Gaming Software Isn’t Detrimental To Games

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When it came to light that the Nintendo Switch won’t have a web browser on day one I imagine some people probably started asking if it even really needs one. It’s an issue that neatly separates more hardcore gamers from general users.

I’ll go ahead and admit I’ve very seldom used the web browsers on my game consoles, but I have used them. I have a phone with a web browser and I have a full-blown Windows PC hooked up to my television, so I have very little use for web browsers in say, my PlayStation or my Nintendo machine. That said, I can’t agree with people who complain about too much non-gaming software on game consoles. Continue reading

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Is Nintendo Conceding To The Tablet Living Room Reality?

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When Eurogamer and other publications recently broke all those new details about Nintendo’s project NX, I said in a bullets section last week that I wouldn’t retread the same talking points I’d brought up in every post speculating about NX. The truth is these new, strongly-supported rumors, pretty much back up what I’d been thinking about the future direction of Nintendo hardware. If all this is true though and NX is a console-tablet hybrid, then it’s made me realize Nintendo has realized mobile devices are the future of the living room — they’ve done what game consoles were originally supposed to do. Continue reading

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Mobile Computers And In-Between Devices

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It’s been about a month since I moved to Apple’s phablet model, and I haven’t used my iPad once. I’m seriously starting to re-examine where each computing form factor fits.

Obviously everybody has different needs for these things and uses them in different ways. This is just my own slice of life with these devices as they change the way we get and use software. Continue reading

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On the Small Screen: 2012-2013

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Ever since the iPad mini was first announced this year people have speculated how viable a gaming device it might be compared to the full-size iPad or iPhone. I’ll admit that was one of the reasons I ended up getting one this Christmas, but my final opinion on it is kind of mixed as far as gaming goes.

First off, the fact that I decided to get one instead of a Wii U doesn’t really signify that I think it’s the better gaming device overall. I just needed it more right now because I upgraded from an iPad 1, which was struggling to run under iOS5 (it can’t upgrade to iOS6). I have a lot of other reasons to own one, but gaming is still a pretty appealing one.

Let me first say however that in general, the mini has renewed the feeling I had when I first got an iPad — of having most of the functionality of a laptop right in my hands. It’s the feeling of being able to boot up that functionality instantly and not having to sit it in my lap all the time. The mini takes this even further because I can walk around with the web, newspaper articles, and books, with real screen real estate, in one hand. That Kindle commercial showing all the benefits of that device’s smaller form factor (compared to a regular iPad) is exactly why I got a mini.

One of the peculiarities of iOS gaming is that it’s basically one software platform operating on at least two different hardware platforms. This is unique from pretty much all other platforms that run games save computer gaming. Same games work better on one form factor, such as the iPhone, and others better on another, such as the iPad.

Before I got a mini, I played most games on my iPhone. You’d think the screen real estate advantage would make the iPad better for most everything, but for me personally, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery is virtually the only iOS game I preferred to play on the iPad. Generally, I think three main genres work better on tablets than on smartphones: adventure games, strategy games, and turn-based RPGs — really any genre mostly dealing with clicking on stuff.

In my experience the worst games for the iPad have been basically any scrolling action game that requires you to touch all over the screen. Examples include Infinity Blade and various shmups. These are games where you have to simultaneously hold up the device, keep your hands near the edges of the screen for the main inputs, and tap all over the screen for other inputs. These work better the less screen real estate you have to deal with, so I prefer playing them on my iPhone. The iPad mini does a little bit better in this regard. I can play those games well enough on the mini, but likely not as well as on an iPhone.

What the mini really improves my experience with over the main iPad though is most other action games. Runners in particular like Punch Quest and Rayman Run work very well. For some reason I didn’t like the way the control layout in Super Crate Box worked out on the iPad but am much better at the game on the mini. For some reason I’ve also found myself playing EDGE and EDGE Extended more since getting a mini.

Honestly though what I really want to play on this thing are RPGs. Here I’d probably go into another rant on how many DS and PSP RPGs I wish had iOS versions. Right now I’m content with just Final Fantasy Tactics, but I’m definitely keeping an eye on Final Fantasy V. It’d be really nice to see, say, Dragon Quest get an iOS port. I’m pretty disappointed that two very good original iOS RPGs — Undercroft and The Quest, are iPhone-only. I also hope an iOS version of Legend of Grimrock really does come out one day.

Pound-for-pound though, my main handheld gaming device right now is still my 3DS, and that’s mostly due to the software library. I mostly keep my iPad at home, so if I’m going to play games on it, they’re probably gonna be games I wanna actually sit down with instead of just time-wasters. And that’s still the main problem with iOS overall if you ask me. It’s still lacking good, original examples of the genres I noted earlier were best for tablets, at least examples as good as say, Fire Emblem Awakening and Etrian Odyssey IV, which are coming to the 3DS in North America in March.

BULLETS:

  • I think this is my new jam right now: http://t.co/bdZxyQaE
  • The PC/Mac version of EDGE, which includes all the levels from both the iOS games, is $3 during the Steam holiday sale: http://t.co/FzzoOmdN
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Mobile Entertainment and the Living Room

When people talk about the biggest threats to Nintendo consoles these days, more often they talk about Apple and mobile gaming in general – which is now considered a threat to consoles in general. I don’t think I’ve devoted a whole post yet to why I disagree with that sentiment, at least not since these opinions have intensified.

I think infamous analyst Michael Pachter has said at least once (probably more than once) that the casual market Nintendo carved out isn’t buying consoles again. Of course you also have all the traditional news outlets assuming that mobile has cut into Nintendo’s financials. May 2012’s NDPs have also given a pretty pessimistic outlook on console gaming right now, with the Xbox 360 “on top” at a mere 160,000 units sold – down over 40 percent year-over-year. Most recently though you have David Jaffe declaring that mobile will indeed be the end of console gaming in the next decade.

My problem with this view is that I’m not convinced that mobile devices and tablets have conquered the living room. I’m not even convinced they’re the same market yet, but that could just be my experience.

I still haven’t seen people reconfigure their living room entertainment experience around phones and tablets. As far as I’ve seen, people who own game consoles still play them, and I still haven’t seen people directly pass up turning on the TV to turn on the iPad when in the living room.

The way I see it, people today still consume their living room entertainment in largely the same way they did 20 years ago: through a cable box, movie player, or game console attached to a TV. Over the last few years smartphones and tablets have completely changed mobile computing, but that same paradigm shift hasn’t arrived in the living room yet.

My brother, who seems to be ultimate early adopter in this regard, has started watching movies by attaching his iPod Touch to Apple’s HDMI connector, and I’ll admit the image quality is impressive for standard def. Just turning your mobile device into a set-top box makes sense – if they can just give you a way to control it by remote, which as of this typing I haven’t seen yet. There are some 3rd party workarounds but as far as I know nothing official from Apple.

The point is, I haven’t seen anything come in and really threaten to replace cable boxes and DVD/Blu-Ray players yet. There are things on the market that could eventually do this, but none of them have made it big yet.

You have smart TVs and nice set top boxes like the Roku, but none have caught on to become a standard in anywhere near the same capacity as what the iPhone became for phones. Even the Apple TV seems kind of obscure compared to its mobile cousins. An Apple TV with its own complete app store could be a big deal, and perhaps an iTV could be too, but I’m not sure yet.

How many people are really going to pay $1000+ just to get iOS in their living rooms? Much less do it periodically. There’s a chance that if Apple does release one, the games developed for it could cut into console game sales, but in a previous post I already compared software revenue between iOS and conventional gaming. I’m also not convinced mobile gaming is what’s cutting into console financials right now.

There are way too many other factors coming in. For Nintendo alone you’ve got the fact that the Wii hasn’t really had anymore big games in the last couple years along with the strong yen. Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit were big, but Angry Birds didn’t really steal their thunder – Nintendo just neglected to provide follow-ups.

For console sales in general you’ve got the fact that the current consoles are ancient by normal standards and may have reached saturation. I think we should at least wait until next gen consoles actually launch, then decline compared to their predecessors before we declare the whole market in danger. It’s also not like consoles can’t adapt.

I’ve said several times on this page already that Microsoft seems to be going in a media/app direction with the Xbox, trying to turn it into a general purpose set top box that does for your TV what your iPhone does for your pocket. Sony and even Nintendo are slowly moving in that direction, and Apple hasn’t made their move in that area yet.

In terms of actual games that appeal to the casual audience, nothing on iOS has replicated the family-oriented experience from games like Wii Sports or Just Dance. In a post-iOS world, games like Just Dance and Dance Central have even been able to gain mainstream traction. Nintendo has the former probably launching with the Wii U along with Wii Fit U and a new 2D Mario. If the audience that bought Wiis still recognizes the need for multiplayer gaming in the living room I have a feeling those games could sell a ton.

Now I could totally be wrong about this and it occurs that the mass market just doesn’t see video games as something you should enjoy on a TV screen. Maybe Apple finally does enter the living room space and changes it forever. I’m just trying to point out that right now, I don’t see a direct link between mobile gaming and console gaming.

BULLETS:

  • For some reason whenever I’ve got time to kill on the go, I’m more likely to read a book on my iPhone than play a game. The books I buy on iBooks and Kindle are much better at holding my attention than iOS games.
  • Thief II is $5 right now: http://t.co/opHLDCOE
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In Defense of the Wii U’s Controllers

While I don’t quite yet understand the social networking aspects of the Wii U that Nintendo showcased in their “direct” message on Sunday, I think people need to finally stop whining about the controller.

Not only am I disappointed at how much negativity I’ve seen thrown towards the Wii U touch screen, I think it’s one of the best things Nintendo could have done when it comes to innovation. Not to mention we’ve now got an alternative.

I think the Wii U’s controller corrects a possibly critical mistake Nintendo made with the Wii. Way back around 2005 I think an IGN article speculating about what the “Revolution” controller might be like suggested that in order to succeed it needed to be an addition to the current establishment, not a replacement of it. Trying to throw the book out might have been too bold a maneuver for the Wii remote, and it likely contributed to 3rd parties’ policies to ignore the platform. People have the same problem now with PlayStation Move and Kinect – they are largely incompatible with conventional console game design.

If you look back at the additions to the standard console controller layout that took hold, none of them took away from what had already been established – they were all additions that expanded possibilities. To that end, I think the tablet makes at least as much sense as two analog sticks or four shoulder buttons. Certainly no one is complaining about touch screens on handhelds anymore.

I just hope the whole platform doesn’t end up being doomed by a bunch of nitpicks. I think it actually sucks that Iwata had to take time to indicate that the Wii U’s sticks were now clickable. Was the absence of that feature really gonna ruin shooters on the platform? Little complexities like that is part of why the mass audience is so averse to game controllers.

The Wii U Controller Pro is basically an admission by Nintendo that “real gamers” basically just want to play all their games on an Xbox 360 controller. Even after that I’m already hearing nitpicks about the stick placement and even the fact that the triggers are digital.

As for the Pro’s layout itself, I can think of three good reasons for the right analog stick placement: 1) It matches the placement on the tablet controller. 2) It might actually be more ideal for shooters with the sticks and triggers closer together. 3) The bottom half actually resembles an SNES pad with the D pad and face buttons directly across from one another. But really though, the main point is that this is an Xbox 360 controller with a good D pad. I’m definitely not the only one who’s wanted that for a long time.

Look people, Nintendo is the company that basically created the modern console controller design. They popularized most of the innovations that became the status quo over the years. If anyone has the right to add to the design, it should be them.

BULLETS:

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