I used to love getting a video game magazine in the mail, whether it be Nintendo Power, Expert Gamer, Electronic Gaming Monthly, or Game Informer. It was a once a month mind blow where I got pages of information, galleries of photos, and sweet, sweet reviews regarding my favorite pastime in every issue.
That was once a month. Once a year though, there was an event that was like getting a year’s worth of magazines at one time. They called it E3, and to any gamer who grew up in the 90’s, it was this mythical ceremony beyond comprehension.
However, it’s no exaggeration to say that over the last 10 years or so, the event has been slowly dying. What was a mark your calendar and anticipate sleepless nights in anticipation extravaganza, now resembles more of a begrudging necessity where companies do their best to budget as much flash as possible to blind people to the fact they are mostly seeing the exact titles that they’ve known would be there for months due to leaks, or worse retreads of previously released information to fill time.
The writing is on the wall for the event, and has been for some time. Instead of just bleeding the spectacle though, it is time for E3 to die.
Understand that E3, much like the gaming magazine, was only as big as it once was because video games were not. There was no video game channel, there was no segment on the news concerning them (with few exceptions), and there certainly was no internet in the way there is today. Having a singular large event like E3 that didn’t just acknowledge video games, but glorified them, was not only justified in a different time, it was required.
That of course isn’t the case anymore. Instead E3 is an unfortunate lingering relic of a different time that is being unnecessarily worshiped due to the misguided value placed in nostalgia, and is dragging down the potential growth of the entire industry. The larger companies don’t need it, yet they still feel obligated to put on a big spectacle, and completely drown out the noise that smaller companies could use the time for in the process. Meanwhile the growing numbers of embarrassing presentations have their ridicule magnified much larger than necessary by the inherit spectacle E3 still carries, and the rare previously unannounced great game that can emerge (say like “Watch Dogs”) then spends the next few weeks making rounds on every facet of the internet watering down the initial moment until it might as well have not existed at all.
It’s time for gaming companies to take the cue from Nintendo and 2K and move on. Whether that means companies hold their own shows, or provide more services like Nintendo Direct that allow them a forum for their own exclusive major announcements, it doesn’t matter so long as they are no longer dependent on a few days in Los Angeles to define the course of their next year.
It was as long ago as 2008 when representatives from EA, Ubisoft, and others, were quoted lamenting that E3 wasn’t the profitable gala spectacle it once was, and were contemplating ways to bring it back to prominence. The truth is that if the day ever did exist when that resurgence was still possible, it has now passed. If the gaming industry is still truly fiscally dependent on E3, then it has only itself to blame for not making use of the considerable resources available to forge a new path to greener pastures.
Nintendo has been criticized for living in the past, and being behind the times, but in this move they are truly ahead of the game. It’s hard to say goodbye to something that still manages to entertain, but there has never been a case where relying on the glory days was a benefit to anyone, and it certainly isn’t the case with E3.
Surprisingly though, it turns out that the Wii U isn’t Nintendo’s only console release this year. While rumored in small circles for months, they’ve recently, officially unveiled a redesigned, reduced size, and reduced price version of the Nintendo Wii in the Wii Mini.
Priced at a very handy $99, the Wii Mini isn’t exactly the Nintendo Wii you know and love, and that’s not just a comment on the incredibly attractive new design. While you do get an included Wii Remote Plus controller, this is otherwise a pretty bare bones model of the classic console as Nintendo has taken away the Wi-Fi capabilities (though it still may support online play through add-ons via the USB ports) as well as the backwards compatibility feature with the Gamecube (this includes removing the memory card slots and Gamecube controller ports), essentially reducing the system to its barest essentials.
Is this a good buy then? That’s difficult to say, as ideally this is for gamers on a budget, or those that prefer their 360 or PS3 and want the cheapest way to add the famed Nintendo system to their collection. However, considering how easy it is to find an actual Wii system at a reasonable price (in some cases with game bundles) it’s hard to support such a watered down version of a once proud console.
Originally, I wasn’t sure whether or not to report on the Ouya, mostly because I feel like I met my quota on farfetched console rumors with that Xbox 720 report leak. However, between the underwhelming Wii U unveiling at E3, and Microsoft and Sony remaining mum on their future plans, 720 leaks aside, it’s getting harder and harder to get properly hyped up for the next generation of consoles based on mere official information. So here I am, reporting on another console that may or may not exist.
Cynicism aside, the truth is that there are a lot of reasons to be excited about the Ouya. Because Ouya isn’t just a vaguely dirty-sounding word, but is instead a rumored new entrant into the console wars that has the backing of veterans like Ed Fries (Xbox) and CEO Julie Uhram (IGN).
Now, obviously, anybody trying to make a successful new console has to have an ace up their sleeve to separate themselves from the industry giants. The Ouya’s trump card, as first reported by The Verge, is its Android-powered core, which will supposedly help the console double as a development kit. Essentially, the Ouya is “hacker friendly” and allows for gamers that buy it to create their own titles. Even more appealing is the consoles alleged price tag, which is said to be set at $99, and will feature completely free games.
While there is apparently more information about the Ouya set to break in the coming days, what we have now is tantalizing enough. The idea of a major release system encouraging a lassez faire attitude towards its consumers concerning security policies and publishing rights is an interesting one, and brings consoles closer toward their seemingly inevitable assimilation with some of the finer points of PC gaming. In fact, there is a lot about the Ouya that reflects the recent evolutionary trends in gaming. It combines a little bit of mobile app gaming, the explosion of the indie development market, and is supposedly set to offer the whole package to you for a foundation-shattering price point.
It’s a console based around the concepts of freedom and independence, making the 4th of July the perfect day to consider its potential impact. Because honestly, whether or not the Ouya bucks the trend of previous cinderella entrants into the console market and actually makes it is, at this time, largely irrelevant. As the “Madden” franchise has shown, when there is a lack of real competition in a market, it’s hard for your product to not become stale. And if even half of the information about the Ouya turns out be accurate, it is at least an exciting idea that may hopefully force the major players to consider the benefits of its more appealing ideas.
Yes, yes it is. With as much that’s changed in the world of video games over the years, its somehow comforting to know that E3 is still around to exhibit the best of the industry in a big atmosphere way. Unfortunatley the age is starting to show on the old gal, and the show hasn’t been as captivating the last couple of years as it probably should have been. While this years was more of the same, there was still enough on exhibit to be worth talking about. It’s not quite done yet, but I’ve seen enough to start naming the best, worst, and most memorable of E3 2012.
Best Presentation – Sony
This is more of a choice made out of necessity than something I absolutely fell in love with. While there was very little mind blowing here, Sony managed to put together a tight presentation that was loaded with games that people actually came to see. While the storybook segment was a complete bomb, in the end Sony managed to show better than any other company that they have plenty of sure fire greatness ready for their fans. If only “The Last Guardian” had made a surprise appearance, this one might have been more memorable.
Worst Presentation – Microsoft
Poor Microsoft. Sure their market share an income is absurdly large, but they cannot seem to put together an E3 presentation that doesn’t make their fans feel awkward. While this years showing wasn’t as bad as last years Kinect centric, child actor filled disaster, it’s scarily close. Bad celebrity appearances, uninspiring game footage, and boring presentations more at home at lame board meetings than the world’s most extravagant trade show for your industry were the unfortunate highlights of this years Xbox showing.
Biggest Surefire Hit – “Assasins Creed 3″
“Assassins Creed” has been a money in the bank franchise since the series second installment. So far it looks like there is absolutely no reason to suspect any less out of the “Assassin’s Creed III”. What I love most about it is that Ubisoft has found a perfect way to make the franchise feel fresh again, by changing the time period and location to the rarely explored American Revolution, they also seem intent on really making everything that was great about the series perform at its absolute best. The jaw dropping E3 footage only confirms that this will most likely be the smoothest and most exciting “Assassin’s Creed” yet. Unlike the British troops in the game, this one isn’t likely to miss.
Biggest Surprise – “Watch Dogs”
Ubisoft strikes again. Garnering no real press prior to the event, the demo for Ubisoft’s “Watch Dogs” showcased something truly intriguing. You play as a man who has an incredible array of technological abilities that essentially give him super powers over the modern gadget obsessed world. The idea is cool enough, but the way that it seems to be implemented creates so much potential for amazing moments. The world of the game is also absolutely gorgeous, and begs you to re-watch the demo several times to gather all the little details. There is nothing like a fresh idea from an established developer, and Ubisoft seems to have exactly that.
After Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook noted that iPad sales now surpass PC unit sales for HP, Lenovo, Dell, and Acer; Mike Capps, president of game developer Epic boasted that Apple’s new tablet computer has “more memory and higher screen resolution than an XBox 360 or Playstation 3.”
Hardcore gaming snobs may scoff, but Apple’s competitors are taking notice. In late October 2010, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said Apple was a more dangerous competitor than Microsoft.
76% of Apple’s revenues now come from ‘post PC devices’ — iPads, iPhones, and iPods, Cook said Wednesday. And gaming is one of the most popular applications for these devices. Of the top 25 paid iPhone apps, at least 22 are games; among the top 25 paid iPad apps, at least 12 are games.
To be sure, most of the casual games that are so popular on the iPad and iPhone aren’t as sophisticated — or expensive — as the best games on home consoles or dedicated handheld gaming devices. But Apple’s massive volume — Apple has now sold more than 55 million iPads — means its products are getting plenty of attention from developers.
It probably isn’t affecting serious gamers, but for casual games the iPad and smartphones have revolutionized the business as more people get hooked on Angry Birds or play simple games like chess or casino games. Now as the iPad gets more powerful with better screens, we might see it have an impact on serious gaming as well.
Since their beginnings, when Donkey Kong became the sensational sleeper hit that everyone was talking about, Nintendo has created lovable characters and family friendly games. When it comes to memorable and timeless video game characters, few companies can offer up rivals to match the sweetness, longevity, and pure adoration that fans attribute to many of the longest surviving Nintendo characters.
With Nintendo having pulled in over 12 billion in sales associated with its lovable Italian plumber Mario alone, and the recent release of their new Nintendo DS, it’s safe to say that they’ve touched popular culture deeply. Whether you’re a hardcore gaming geek or even a borderline technophobe, you’re probably familiar with some of the following long-lasting characters. Let’s take a look at some of these famous cultural icons of the digital world, most of whom have undergone serious transformations along the way.
Nearly as popular as his arch-nemesis Mario, Bowser has filtered through the dark side of the Mario series in almost every incarnation of the game. He’s the character that’s easy to hate, but only in the most lovable of ways.
Most resembling a turtle gone bad, Bowser might be evil and greedy, and often out to kidnap Princess Peach, but he’s still creating soft spots in gamer’s hearts. He’s the villain the majority of people would prefer to have as a friend. That’s so much so that you might just see a Bowser replica stashed amongst someone’s Ninja Turtle collection!
Rescuing Princess Peach is as much a part of many people’s collective consciousness as is taking a shower each day. In fact, more than you’d imagine might well confess to having skipped a few showers along the way so that they could keep playing a marathon session to rescue her!
So famous is her damsel in distress routine that you’d swear there were hints of her character in virtually every Hollywood movie where a hapless maiden awaits the rescue of a suave suitor.
It can be easy to confuse people’s Halloween costumes sometimes, particularly when they try to dress up as Link, the main protagonist in Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda. That’s because his appearance is reminiscent of the much older legend, Robin Hood.
But with his sword and arrows, Link has managed to enthrall millions of players who wanted to delve into a rescue-the-fair-maiden themed game. Perhaps most memorable for his ‘regular-boy style,’ Link has long been a character that’s very easy to identify with. That might explain why he’s still seen on backpacks across age ranges at schools!
Whether it’s evil Orcs from the Lord of the Rings, or Ganon from The Legend of Zelda, evil has an ugly face! Don’t be surprised if the evil villain you encounter at your next Mardi Gras dress up party is Ganon, aiming to achieve dominion over all! While already strong and powerful, his character has always fallen victim to the rhetorical question, “What do all men with power want? More power.”
That’s Ganon to a T, whose lust for power is never satisfied while the game is turned on. So deep is his lust for complete dominion that you’d be forgiven for thinking he might have originally been based upon the real world Napoleon Bonaparte! However, with his dark armor, cape, and thick boots, you won’t be accidentally mistaking Ganon for the meticulously French styled Napoleon any time soon.
Synonymous with Nintendo itself, Mario is the name that replaced the original, very bland ‘Jumpman.’ In need of a quick hit to save the company from sure oblivion, Nintendo managed to put out the successful Jumpman in time to save the company. The lovable character that jumped about got his name from the then Nintendo landlord, who stopped by to collect the overdue rent as the game was being produced.
Few stories begin so toughly and end so well! Over 12 billion dollars in sales and licensing revenues later, it’s clear that Nintendo had a true hit with its mustachioed wonder. It’s hard not to think of Mario in daily life, when coverall wearing handymen arrive on the scene to repair anything from a leaky faucet to the potholes in the road!
About as famous worldwide as King Kong, Donkey Kong’s naming origin was less auspicious than King Kong’s arrival in New York City. Donkey Kong means ‘stupid gorilla,’ so it’s not quite a flattering name choice! But without the existence of this particular gorilla, Mario might never have had so many chances to prove his mettle, and thus win so many hearts.
Perhaps because he was a ‘stupid gorilla with a girl’ so similar to King Kong, Donkey Kong is memorable on par with the legendary Empire State building scene that contains the first ‘Kong.’ The damsel in distress routine was never done better than when there was a giant gorilla around!
If creating a large part of video game history is as important to the popular culture as the movies that Hollywood churns out, then one could be forgiven for ascribing Nintendo with nearly as much importance as Hollywood. Future generations will always have those initial, simple 1980’s characters to study in detail, just like old films. But, far more fun than simply watching the characters on a silver screen, the beauty of Nintendo’s efforts is that they created something that can be participated in. And that’s something that creates lasting memories!
Back in April, an Italian company called Siliconera announced “Wii Relax,” a product complete with web pages and press info. That info has since disappeared, and Nintendo has now officially trademarked the name, though it removes the space to form WiiRelax, in Europe.
As Destructoid reports, the trademark is good for PAL territories. I hate to say I think this will be a real game, but I do. The question remains, why? Is Nintendo trying to encourage the already pervasive drug culture that comes along with a lot of games. And how do you determine who wins? Will it always be the guy with the Volcano?
My curiosity pretty much stops with theory, though. I have absolutely zero interest in playing a game associated with the Vitality Sensor. Sure, motion control is fun, but even then it’s more of a mental exercise in timing, control, and trouncing the competition. I don’t need a video game to help me fall asleep.
Majora’s Mask still stands as my favorite Zelda game of all time. The world was immersive and addictive, to the point that I blew through the game almost without realizing it. That micro-world idea, where you play through the same three days on repeat, wasn’t the result of years of planning but instead a tight development schedule that only afforded the team a year.
“The ‘Three-Day System’, the idea of a compact world to be played over and over again, came down from Miyamoto-san and one other director, (Yoshiaki) Koizumi-san,” said one of Zelda’s top developers, Eiji Aonuma. “We added that to the mix, and then, finally, we saw the full substance of a The Legend of Zelda game we could make in one year.”
Satoru Iwata added, “Actually, I feel as though, back then, we were given a glimpse of the concept that ‘Deep, compact play is one form of the games of the future’. I think in that sense, as a product, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was a big turning point for Nintendo.”
I don’t know what it is about the month of December but it’s got developers thinking. Again, I love the idea. Few things can ruin a game for me quite like over-ambition.
Remember that neat little DS look alike app that appeared on the App Store not too long ago? Well it got pulled, and fairly quickly, and it turns out Nintendo is to blame.
The news came in the form of an email to CNet columnist Don Reisinger. According to Charlie Scibetta, a spokesman for Nintendo, the company felt it needed to protect its IP rights. “Nintendo respects the intellectual property rights of other companies, and in turn expects others to respect ours as well. Nintendo did seek the removal of this application as we vigorously protect against infringement of our intellectual property rights.”
Nintendo did more than just pull the app. They’ve also pulled a video from YouTube that displayed the app being used. Apparently they didn’t want anyone else getting any smart ideas.
This is about the most uninspiring bit of Nintendo news ever, but it’s definitely worth at least noting, and probably congratulating Iwata and company on their great success. In just over a week’s time Wii Sports Resort has sold over 500,000 copies in the US alone.
Those numbers are pretty impressive, whether you expected them or not. As several commenters have pointed out on various sites, this is a game that really goes after the casual player. I’d expect it to spread much like Mario Kart did. I, for one, really hated the Wii’s Mario Kart when I first played it. A few attempts later with a group of friends, though, and I was enjoying myself. It gave us something fun to do in between a late lunch and our evening festivities. I’d expect WSR to have the same, “not a bad way to spend an afternoon” appeal for a lot of people. It just might take some time for more of those folks to buy it.