Archive for April 2011

Wii Successor may kill Motion Control?

April 25, 2011

In a previous article, I stated that if Nintendo were to upgrade their motion control at all, they would probably end up with the equivalent of the Move. This, of course, made me happy. I love the Move and feel it’s the ideal motion controller (though it’s button layout needs work) and the concept of seeing more Move-esque games made me giddy!

However, we are now seeing a number of rumored controller “leaks” and what we see is decidedly not a Move.

What we see here is probably best described as the bastard child of a Gamecube controller and a Gameboy Advance. The concept is actually quite interesting. The touch screen could be used like the number pad of the Atari Jaguar or Intellivision, giving players as many buttons for secondary actions as they need. It could also be used like the VMUs on Dreamcast or the GBAs linked to the Gamecube, giving players a personal screen on which to show secret information. Such as ship location in a game of Battleship or your hand in a card game.

However, what we see here is not a motion controller. Oh sure it may have a tilt sensor inside but I hardly see anyone golfing or sword fighting with that controller! Really though this actually isn’t a bad idea. If we’re following “Wii 2” rumors then the system will be backwards compatible with Wii games and controllers. This means that if a developer wanted to have Wii-esque motion control on the “Wii 2” then they could just use the Wiimote and MotionPlus! So hey, the “Wii 2” supports both regular control and motion control, right? Well, sort of.

You see, the problem here is that what we would have is “Wii-esque” motion control. The exact same control we already have on the Wii. Unfortunately, the Wii’s motion control is very limited to the point where I have argued that it doesn’t even count as motion control! Even with the MotionPlus, the lack of position sensing greatly hampers the controller’s capabilities.

The only reason the Wii saw so much motion control support was because it was the default controller that everyone had and developers were under the impression that slapping motion control on to anything would make it appeal to casuals. However, with the “Wii 2”, this would no longer be the case. Not everyone would have a Wiimote so designing a game around it wouldn’t be a very good idea. Tacking motion control on to games designed for a standard controller has never worked either. Couple this with the fact that there’s nothing new that could be done with the Wiimote and it won’t be long before motion control is completely abandoned by “Wii 2” developers. If we’re lucky we might see continued support for the pointer functionality in first person shooters, but I wouldn’t bet on it and chances are it would be wonky and tacked on.

As for the other systems and their motion controllers? Well let’s face the facts here: the Kinect barely works and the Move is incredibly poorly advertised. The Wii 2 is currently slated for a 2012 release and by that point all the existing Move and Kinect games will be finished and I don’t expect many more to be made after that. Once the “Wii 2” hits, there’s a good chance motion control will be finished.

That is, of course, assuming these “leaked pictures” are real and that Nintendo doesn’t have something up their sleeve. However, I could easily see this happening. In the long run, it’s not such a bad thing though. Due to how poorly made most motion controllers were, motion control usually hurt games more than it helped. By the time a decent motion controller finally came out, people forgot how to use motion control. When we first got the Wiimote we actually swang it like a tennis racket or sword but when we realized that it didn’t matter, we quickly devolved into waggling it. Now the Move hits, a controller where swinging it like a sword or tennis racket actually does matter, and most folks continue to impotently waggle it and wonder why it isn’t working. I’m serious. Look up picture-in-picture footage of people playing Gladiator Duel on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean.

So, when all is said and done, we got only a small handful of actually good motion controlled games. Did we see all it had to offer? No, we didn’t. Games like Gladiator Duel could easily be expanded upon to make an amazing game. However at this point, it’s too late.

If what I see is true, then thanks Nintendo, for killing motion control. You popularized the concept with a controller that didn’t work. Made a mockery of it with said dysfunctional controls. Gave everyone the wrong idea about it with questionable marketing of the concept. Then, when everyone jumped on the bandwagon, you dumped it. You took a potentially revolutionary concept and turned it into a clever money trap for your competitors. Thanks, Nintendo.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play Gladiator Duel…and cry.

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Wii 2 and the Next Generation

April 24, 2011

Well by now you’ve already heard the rumors and leaks about the upcoming new Nintendo console. It’s kind of hard not to, especially considering bullshit Wii 2 rumors were being considered news at the time. Of course since Nintendo themselves have not yet announced the console, nothing can be confirmed or denied but it has gotten a lot of people talking.

Unfortunately, some people think this is Nintendo getting a drop on the “next generation” of consoles and wondering how long before we see the next XBox or PlayStation and it’s here that we hit a bit of a snag. Chances are, it’s still going to be a few years before we see Microsoft or Sony’s new console. They have stated repeatedly in the past that they wanted the 360 and PS3 to be ten year consoles. Will the “Wii 2” scare them into releasing a new system? Probably not. Let’s face facts here, from the perspective of processing power, the Wii was a last gen console. Rumors about the “Wii 2” claim it will be around the 360 in terms of power. Possibly a little more powerful, maybe a little less. The point is that the “Wii 2” is not a “next gen” console.

Now some people believe that the only reason we aren’t seeing a new XBox or PS3 yet is because of the recession. While this probably is a factor, it is most certainly not the only reason why we haven’t seen one. Let me ask you this question: what is a next gen console? Where do we go from here?

Despite what angry PC gamers will tell you, graphics really can’t get much better than what we have now. We are already borderline photo-realistic in our visuals. Yes we could add more power and things could look a bit better, but not enough to justify making a whole new console for it. More importantly, who the heck could take advantage of the increase in graphical capabilities? As it is few companies can take full advantage of the consoles we have and those that do are large companies with massive budgets and incredibly long development cycles for their games. We’re already at the point where if a game fails, it can destroy a company due to the sheer amount of time and money poured into it. I have a hard time believing we can really make games look much better without collapsing the industry.

Our graphics ALREADY look like THIS!

So what is the next upgrade if it isn’t graphics? Motion control? Well we already have that on PS3 and 360 with the recently released Move and Kinect. What about 3D visuals? Well few people actually own 3D TVs, there are still too many formats, and I think most people are going to wait until we can have glasses free 3D on a larger scale. More importantly, the PS3 and 360 are also already supporting 3D in some games.

So, where do we go from here? Well in a few more years we might actually see enough technological advancements to actually upgrade the visuals and add universal 3D support. But I still feel this is a few years off at the very least.

However, there are two things worth noting: First of all, the PS3 has been hacked. It’s been hacked hard. At this point it is now impossible to make a game un-pirateable and Sony’s servers have been compromised repeatedly. In all honesty, it would be in Sony’s best interest to release a PS4 as fast as possible. Unfortunately, everything I just said still holds true. They have nowhere to go from here. There’s actually a chance that they may bet it all on their new portable and slowly abandon the PS3. Unfortunately for them, I don’t see that working out.

On the other hand, the “Wii 2” is going to be about as powerful as the PS3 and 360, correct? If there is any decent upgrade to it’s motion controls, then it’s basically going to have the equivalent of a Move (with presumably a better button layout). There’s a good chance the “Wii 2” won’t be far from a PS3 with a Move and as such we may see some multi-platform Move support! But, again, speculation and wishful thinking on my part.

Am I excited to see what Nintendo has up their sleeve? Who isn’t! Would I like to see this sorry excuse for a console generation end? Yes, please. However, let’s be realistic with our expectations.

GameBabble Ep.19 – Space Shot

April 21, 2011

[blip.tv ?posts_id=5066200&dest=63762]

A budget SHMUP from the PS1 era gets it’s time in the spotlight.
Formats available: Windows Media (.wmv)

New Releases – April 2011

April 4, 2011

Had a good March? I hope you all like your shiny new 3DSes because we’re getting only ONE GAME for them this month and I don’t even care about it! Then again, there’s very little coming out this month. We won’t really be seeing many new releases again until next month, when we get the rest of the 3DS “launch window” titles. This month’s star title is obviously the new Mortal Kombat. Duke Nukem Trilogy (well known for having the Best Trailer Ever) and Patapon 3 are coming as well for those that care. As for me, well, let’s take a look:

 

Week 3

Fantastic Pets (Kinect)

At first glance, Fantastic Pets looks like nothing more than a Kinectimals clone. This makes sense though as Kinectimals is generally considered the second or third best game on Kinect. However, if you ever actually played Kinectimals, you would know that it wasn’t actually a virtual pet at all but rather just a (really annoying) mini-game collection with a pet interface. Fantastic Pets promises to be something closer to an actual virtual pet that allows us to play with fictional creatures and supposedly even make our own. With little else to play on the Kinect, I am somewhat intrigued.

 

Week 4

Mortal Kombat (360, PS3)

I was a little wary of the new Mortal Kombat at first. Midway is gone and the team has no doubt undergone a massive shake up. However, at the same time, I never felt the core MK crew knew anything about fighters and it was their programmers that worked all the magic. So really, any Mortal Kombat is a crap shoot. Luckily a demo hit the PS3 and I can safely confirm that the game is decent/good for a Mortal Kombat. Those expecting a “true 2.5D experience” will be disappointed though as, to be blunt, it plays like MK vs DCU minus the Z-axis. That’s hardly a bad thing though as MK vs DCU was actually a good game, just lacking in MK’s trademark blood and gore. Rest assured, the new MK definitely beings on the gore.

The Kore Gang (Wii)

Can’t get enough of the letter K? The Kore Gang is a platformer for Wii about a group of kids that are fighting back against creatures from the Earth’s core. What at first appears to be nothing more than a random Wii platformer though is, in actuality, a game that has been in development for 10 years! According to Wikipedia the game was originally conceived by an ex-Shiny employee who founded his own company to work on the game. It was scheduled for a 2003 release on the original XBox. However financial problems prevented it’s release, until SnapDragon Games bought the rights for it and finished it for the Wii. It already came out in Germany and has purportedly received favorable reviews, so this might be one to keep an eye on.