Go Buy a Wii U

Having read some reviews of Bayonetta 2, I was moved to make a Public Service Announcement: Go buy a Wii U. Right now, it has the widest variety of games, and the highest reviewed games. There’s something for everyone. The Wii U won’t get the most. The Wii U will get the best. The game that prompted this article, Bayonetta 2, just received a 10 on GameSpot (they’ve only given out eight 10/10 scores in 18 years of business, including Bayonetta 2). IGN also awarded it a 9.5, and they don’t hand those out like T-shirts.

Let me just say that I don’t like GameSpot; I think they’re overly-harsh graders. Among their biggest slights, they gave Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze a 6/10 and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption an 8.5/10. After the latter review back in ’07, I simply had to stop taking them seriously, as Prime deserves a 9.5/10 and no less. Them giving DK a 6 merely validated this claim, as that game earned no less than an 8 in my opinion (and most others agree).

With that said, Bayonetta 2 only serves as another game in a long list of original content that the Wii U offers. Shooters? Grab Call of Duty: Ghosts or Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist. 2D Platforming? We’ve got plenty: Rayman Legends, the aforementioned Donkey Kong, Shovel Knight, and more. Oh, you meant 3D? Check out Super Mario 3D World. Racing? Need for Speed U and Mario Kart 8 will keep you occupied for weeks. Adventure? Pikmin 3 and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (one of my personal favorites). Action? Hyrule Warriors and the upcoming Bayonetta 2. Fighting? Injustice: Gods Among Us and of course the upcoming Smash Bros. We have it all.

The Wii U truly offers something for everyone, and if you’re a true video game fan, you’re really missing out by not owning one. I highly recommend it. If you don’t want a new one, you can usually find one for cheap on Craigslist (your win, trust me). Make it happen.

Quick and Dirty: Predictions

Today is a day than many of us have been looking forward to for a while—the new iPhone is going to be announced today. What will it look like? What will it be? Everyone’s waiting with baited breath to find out. Here are some off-the-cuff predictions on what I think we’ll see.

iPhone:

  • We’ll see two iPhone sizes: 4.7 and 5.5.
  • the iPhone 5C model will remain the same and drop in price
  • the 4S, as the last 30-pin device that Apple sells, will finally be gone.
  • The naming scheme will change. I don’t think we’ll keep seeing “#” and “#S” revisions; each size will get its own name, a la the iPad. I think we’ll see an iPhone C on the low end, the iPhone S [for standard], and maybe an iPhone P for Pro or something. Maybe not, but a new naming convention I think is in order.
  • They’ll have gorgeous sapphire screens that will blow Gorilla Glass out of the water (pun intended).
  • A8 chip is at least 1.5x faster than the A7, and will allow for some great iOS 8-only features
  • We’ll FINALLY get a 138 GB iPhone, but the new high-end model may start at 16 GB just so that they can still hit an entrance point of $199

iPad

  • It’s not the iPad’s event. We’ll see that next month, along with some new Macs

iPod

  • We may get some updates here, but they may not be mentioned in the keynote.
  • The iPod touch will have its processor bumped up. It’ll also FINALLY
  • The nano may get some hardware bump so that it can work with health kit.

Apple TV

  • I think we’ll see and Apple TV SDK released, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t either. Right now, it’s a nice curated experience, and some of Apple’s content deals may not allow them to have an SDK, as it would be easy to make apps that allow showing pirated content potentially easier (even if there are already 100 ways to do that without adding the Apple TV to the list).
  • A controller for the Apple TV? Haaa, just kidding. But maybe we’ll see Ninten Apple say “make a controller like this”.
  • The physical device will have about the same dimensions, but internally it’ll get the A7 at least.

“iWatch”

  • As much pomp and circumstance as is going into this event, it’s clear a new product is being announced, and the iWatch is that new product. I don’t think iWatch will be its name, but since everyone else is already sold on it, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did it just to make things easier. I think it’ll be more of a dial or band that will allow for various straps to put on. I also think it will be gorgeous and be low-power. I’m thinking of around a $150–$200 watch that runs on the M7 and tracks health data like steps, heartbeat, etc. and works with HealthKit.
  • Ive himself will come on stage and announce it.
  • Haha, just kidding. But he will be in an awesome video that shows after everyone craps their pants over it.
  • It won’t be out until February/March of next year (which is unfortunate, because I wanted it as a 21st Birthday present).

iOS 8

  • It launches next Friday, and it will be the best-reviewed version of iOS so far. It will finally allow for the type of interactions we’ve always wanted in iOS. I’m personally super pumped, as the TouchID authentications will be spectacular.
  • Siri will get some new languages, but I don’t know what else she could do at this point. It’ll be interesting to look at, because right now Cortana and Google Voice both have it on her.

The importance of this keynote cannot be understated. This is a “Stevenote”, “iPad Annoucement”, “iPhone 4 [minus spoilers]”—level presentation. Just as the iPhone 4 has really defined the look and feel of the last 4 iPhones, I think that what’s announced today will be the next pivot in the iPhone’s lifestyle. This keynote will also define Tim Cook’s era as CEO at Apple. It goes well, and he finally gets the monkey off of his back [not that there should be, but people are stupid]. However, if it fails [which it won’t], then it would be a disaster, only because it’s Apple and people think that Jesus himself sits on the Board of Directors.

They’ll also have one thing that will blow everyone’s minds. One feature in the new iPhones, one thing about the “iWatch”, I don’t know. But it’s going to say to everyone “We’re still Apple. We still run this shit show.” And most of all, I will surely be up in arms over what to spend all of my money on.

You guys have no idea how to use a Mac.

I was talking with one of my friends yesterday about how she uses her computer. She has a 13″ MacBook Pro (non-retina). I’ve realized a couple of times that she routinely keeps about 50 tabs open in Chrome, as well as a lot of apps open. Taking a closer look, I also realized that she hadn’t updated to OS X Mavericks (a free update). At this point, I realized that despite her academic brilliance, she’s not really an avid computer user; her routine is basically “flip it open, browse the web, type essays in Word, close the lid. Charge when needed. Realizing this, I asked her if she’s ever turned off her Mac. To my horror, she’s never turned it off after having the machine for over a year. Only when the battery has died has it taken a rest. On top of that, she also doesn’t back up her computer at all. Then it dawned on me: this is perfectly normal for a whole lot of you. This is not good, people. To rectify the issue, I’m going to be giving you all a few tips and keyboard shortcuts for your Mac, as well as why they’re useful. As not to inundate you with a huge list of things you won’t remember, I’ll try and break this up in to three parts (plus this one). I recommend looking back over these when school starts.

LESSON ZERO: Modifier Keys

For most of any of these tips to make sense, you’ll need to know what modifier keys are and how they work. All you do is hold them down while pressing another key (e.g. a number, letter, delete key, or one of the f# keys), and it allows you to complete an action more quickly than if you had moused around to figure out how to do it. You already know the easy ones: Command-X, C, and V for Cut, Copy, and Paste respectively. But there are far more than just those three.

The keys next on the bottom row on the keyboard on either side of the spacebar are your friends. Each of these keys also has an associated icon that represents them in the menu bar.  Here they are from left to right, along with their icons (and a few others):

  • shift (⇧): While not technically on the bottom row, it does serve as a modifier key.
  • ‘fn’ is “Function”. Not too often used, but it does do a couple of things that you’ll like.
  • control (⌃). Note this is not like the ctrl key on PCs.
  • option (⌥). Similar to the ‘alt’ key on PCs, it serves as an additional modifier key. It also allows you to type special characters when combined with a letter (or shift and a letter) such as ⌥0 = º (degree marker) or ⌥X = ≈ (roughly equal to). Give it a try—just press option and a letter.
  • command (⌘): If you’ll notice, Apple took the time to actually print this on the key, which means you have no excuse not to know it. This is the most common modifier, like ctrl on PCs.
  • escape (⎋): It’s good for a couple of things. Plus it has a cool icon.

Armed with that information, let’s see an example of them in practice:

 

SO MANY SHORTCUTS AAAAHH

SO MANY SHORTCUTS AAAAHH

This is the “View” menu in Safari. We can see the icons for Command, Option, Control, and Shift in this menu. If you follow those directions, then the corresponding action to the left will be executed. (Look in your menu bar and give it a try). To let you know that you’ve used a shortcut, the Menu Bar will flash the heading of the command you just executed. So if you press ⌘T right now, you’ll open a new tab in your web browser and see “File” flash quickly in the Menu Bar. See? Cool.

See, that wasn’t so hard. And it’s easy to practice—just do something harmless like Reload [or refresh] the page over and over again with ⌘R to get practice, or start printing things by just pressing ⌘P. It shaves off seconds and helps you to feel more productive. Below are the other topics I’ll discuss with you guys:

1. General Computer things you should be doing (Sneak Preview: Back up your Mac!)

2. Switching Apps Better

3. Special Characters, Cursor Movement, and other Miscellany

Hopefully through this process, I can help you guys (and your computers) to be a bit better at what you do.

What New Characters are left for Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS?

The most important part of any Smash Bros game is the roster. Stages are nice, items are fun, online modes are cool. But at the end of the day, we need to know who we’re going to play. Currently, there are 29 on the roster. On the site, there are 7 empty boxes in the list view (on smashbros.com, if you go to a character and scroll to the bottom you’ll see the boxes), so at the very least, there will be 7 characters announced between now and summer. My guesses, rationale for picking them, and reasons that other characters may not be making a return are listed below. It seems that Sakurai is making a conscious effort to eliminate clones, so that’s reflected in my predictions.

  • Captain Falcon: It’s freaking Captain Falcon. There is no Smash Bros. without the Falcon Punch. Also, he was in Nintendo Land, so Wii U audiences have some semblance of who he is despite the fact that it’s been 11 years since the last F-Zero game. (Sidebar: Make a new F-Zero game, Nintendo). Also: the Knee.
  • Ness: He’s one of the original 12, and he has a unique move set. There’s no need to leave him out. Plus, with Earthbound recently released on Virtual Console, many more in the States have had an opportunity to see him in his natural setting. I’d consider him a lock
  • Ganondorf or Ghirahim: `Dorf’s been in since Melee. However, he’s a Falcon Clone, so that’s a big knock against him. The only clone-like characters in the game now are Link and Toon Link, but the Legend of Zelda brand is popular enough to justify this. Ghirahim would be a much better choice. He’s the excellent villain of the hit Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on Wii, and the moves he uses in the game would translate very well to Smash. Choosing Ghirahim over ‘Dorf also reduces the clone count (though I will miss the Boot).
  • Jigglypuff: One of the original 12. Pink. Wears a hat (or a ribbon). Adorable. Also: Rest and Rollout, the most troll-tastic moves in the game. Besides, who wouldn’t want to face the infamous wall of ‘Puff?
  • Wario: One of the newcomers to Brawl, he has a unique move set so he wouldn’t be cut simply due to his status as a clone. Additionally, Ashley (of WarioWare, Inc.) is an assist trophy and there are other references to Wario Ware already in the game. With “Game and Wario” that was released just a few months ago, I can’t see them leaving him off.
  • Chrom or Lucina: These two are from the recent 3DS hit Fire Emblem: Awakening. Everyone who played the game fell in love (including me), and any way to increase the publicity of the game would be great for everyone involved. The series has had a rotating Fire Emblem spot since Melee [Roy] and again in Brawl [Ike], populated by the protagonist of the most recent Fire Emblem game, so one of these two should fit. Though Chrom is the protagonist of Awakening, I choose Lucina over Chrom for a couple of reasons: 1. to add more gender diversity to the cast—there are no females who aren’t princesses in either a dress or a skin-tight suit. (Yes, I know that Lucina is still a princess). 2) Chrom looks too similar to Marth as it is. 3. Smash has never had a female swordsman, which would lend itself to a slightly different-looking move set.
  • As for this slot, I really have no idea. Surprise us, Sakurai. With only 6 new characters out of a most-likely 36-person roster, I think that this slot goes to a new character, especially if Ganondorf is chosen over Ghirahim. I think seeing Anthony Higgs from Metroid: Other M would sufficiently throw everyone off, but I have no real hopes that he’ll be in the game. He could serve as a spiritual successor to Snake though. Will it go to Pac-Man? Possibly, but I don’t think he’s that cool. Palutena? That would be interesting, and inspire me to get Kid Icarus for the 3DS. Ridley? Too big, and we already have a flying dragon-like creature in the game and two characters who breathe fire. And no, crazy people: it won’t go to a 3rd party character or associate of Sonic or MegaMan. Don’t even try it.

Possibilites:

  • Meta Knight: Way overpowered in Brawl, he was a fan favorite (probably for the aforementioned reason). Kirby titles generally sell well, and many know him, especially given that Kirby had a TV-show in the mid-2000 that featured him—it’s how I was introduced to Kirby, King Dedede, and Dreamland. He’s a good pick to return, but I’d like to see a couple more newcomers.
  • ROB: Armed with a unique move set and origin, he’s a pretty interesting/fun-ish character. I would not be surprised either way.
  • Falco: Everyone knows Falco. Everyone loves Falco. As a Samus player, I hate Falco, but I cannot deny his popularity. Many Melee players would be betrayed if he was left out, but he was a really big clone of Fox, and I don’t know if his popularity can overcome his similarities to an already-confirmed character, especially since there hasn’t been a new Star Fox game since Star Fox Command on the DS in 2006 (though Star Fox 64 was re-released on the 3DS a couple of years ago).

Who misses the cut this time around?

  • Ice Climbers: A curious inclusion in Melee and a returnee in Brawl. From what I’ve seen in tournaments, only their broken/amazing grab combos are generally utilized at high levels of play. I don’t know any serous IC players, nor do I know anyone who’s played an Ice Climber game. Also, there’s only one, and it was for the NES. Yeah, no love lost for them, not to mention that Rosalina and Luma took their tag-team spot with more recognizable characters.
  • Mr. Game & Watch: Also a curious inclusion in Melee and a returnee in Brawl, I know only a couple of Game & Watch players. On top of his low popularity, the Game & Watch device from which the Mister originated preceded even the NES. Yeah, he can go too.
  • Ike: As the most recent inhabitant of the rotating Fire Emblem slot (initially held by our boy Roy), I see little need for him to return. He was a semi-unique fighter, but Lucina would be a much better choice.
  • Squirtle and Ivysaur: once bound to Charizard as the other two of three parts of the Pokémon Trainer, this game’s removal of rotating/midgame character transformations meant that two-thirds of the Pokémon Trainer needed to go. Sakurai made the right choice in leaving these two on the cutting room floor, as the game already has enough Pokémon in the game (especially when/if Jigglypuff returns)
  • Lucas: A little-known Ness clone. Few outside of Japan have even played Earthbound 2 (where Lucas originates), so outside of his mains, not too many would be disappointed if he didn’t make his return.
  • Wolf: A clone of a clone. I’m not even sure why he was in Brawl. I don’t expect his return. If he does return, it will be at the expense of Falco.
  • Snake: The biggest surprise of Brawl’s roster, Snake was a fan favorite. I just don’t think the rights are there to have him back. With Sheik’s Side-B move now a grenade toss in the spirit of Snake’s Neutral-B from Brawl, I think we can retire ol’ Snake to the hospice.

Definitely not coming back ever:

  • Mewtwo. Get over yourselves. Especially with Greninja joining the roster in addition to Lucario instead of replacing him, there’s no more room for Pokémon between the 4 playable ones [Pikachu and Charizard] and maybe Jigglypuff. On the 0% chance that he would return, you could kiss Jiggs goodbye.

Thoughts on the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS Nintendo Direct

Yesterday, Nintendo fans around the world were treated to a Nintendo Direct that detailed the hotly-anticipated fourth installment of the Smash Bros. series. Originally coming out on the Nintendo 64 as “Super Smash Bros.”, it pitted Nintendo All-Stars in a fight to see who could come out on top. Its sequel was the all-time classic “Super Smash Bros. Melee” on the GameCube, a fixture in my top-3 favorite games of all time. It is still played in tournaments all over the world and has recently undergone a renaissance. The third installment is “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” for the Wii, in which the director (Masahiro Sakurai) aimed to move away from the highly competitive and technical Melee to the slower Brawl (which included fun things like spontaneous tripping). For Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS (henceforth referred to as Smash4 together, and SmashU and Smash(3)DS separately), Sakurai has taken a middle ground between the technical, fast-paced Melee and the slow, floaty, ‘fun’ Brawl. I’ll tackle my thoughts on the direct in the order they appeared.

Release Date

As of right now, SmashDS releases this summer and SmashU releases this winter.

I don’t think that anyone was expecting a split release, but it makes sense for a number of reasons. First, and most importantly, it avoids cannibalism. Paying for both simultaneously is a larger financial strain than having 6 months post-SmashDS to save up (and anticipate) the Wii U version. With  SmashU coming out around Christmas, Nintendo will be able to increase their console count due to holiday sales and release a Christmas bundle. SmashU gives the Wii U a hit when it will face stiff competition from more-mature PS4 and Xbox One titles. Similarly, a summer release for SmashDS gives Nintendo a summer windfall, which will make investors happy.

3DS Technicality

60 frames per second, including when in full 3D. Excellent. Making Pokémon and Assist Trophies run at 30 fps was a good compromise to ensure that the framerate remains smooth—that’s the number one goal. I find it odd that Sakurai didn’t mention any frame data on the Wii U version, but given that there are still many months to go, he may not have found the right balance on that. The U should have no problems running at 60fps for all on-screen elements and backgrounds (unless literally every item in the game is going off at the same time). If there was a problems with this, I hope they make the same compromise they did with the 3DS.

Differences Between Versions

Same fighters, new stages—I definitely think that’s the best way to handle this, especially since the stages are platform specific. In terms of sharing options, hopefully you’ll be able to share control schemes/customizations between the two. It’s odd that there hasn’t been much 3DS–Wii U exchange yet.

Online Play

Let’s be clear—online play in Super Smash Bros. Brawl was absolute garbage. The new system that they’ve implemented is far better. No more Friend Code bullsh*t (still don’t understand how that arcane system works), as your Nintendo Network ID and associated Mii are now used (no more taunt parties!). Additionally, there are two play modes: “For Fun” and “For Glory”.  “For Glory” This, to me, is an indication that Sakurai has been listening to fans in addressing Brawl’s shortcomings and better appealing to hardcore players (like myself). “For Fun” involves every stage but Final Destination, and all items are turned on for maximum mayhem. In “For Glory”, Final Destination is chosen and no items are used. This is excellent for players like myself who never play with items (I haven’t in years). To eliminate fatigue, Sakurai & Co. have created Final Destination forms of most of the other stages in the game, so that we can enjoy their art and music as well. (I hope that these forms are available for local multiplayer as well; it’s probably the only way I’d play). It is a brilliant idea that really shows that the team thought about the needs of hardcore players while still making things fun for the younger ones who play with all items and on all manner of crazy stages.

There are a couple of drawbacks to “For Glory”, namely the limitation of Final Destination and Timed vs. Stock nature of the matches. What about the other neutral stage, Battlefield? There should be versions of this stage as well, as Battlefield is better than Final Destination for characters like Marth, Zero Suit Samus, King DeDeDe, and more while Final Destination serves as an advantage for characters like Sonic and Samus. If there were varying stage forms with a battlefield-like setup, I would be very pleased.

In tournaments, rounds are set to 4 stocks with an 8 minute time limit on the match. But it seems as though there will be some sort of time limit on “For Glory” matches without it being a stock round, and this poses a problem. When a character gets a kill, the killer gets +1 and the killed receives –1 for their scores. But to win, the killer only needs to have a number greater than the killed, not necessarily kill the other player a set amount of times. Take the following example: Player 1 and 2 have high damage, there are 30 seconds remaining in the match, the score is tied at 0. Player 1 kills 2 with 10 seconds left, making the score +1/–1 respectively. Player 2 still has time to return to the stage and get a kill for the tie. But what happens when Player 1 Self-destructs (worth –1)? The score becomes 0/–1, and now Player 2 has virtually no chance of getting a kill and taking the lead with the limited time remaining. This is why tournaments don’t use time matches, as stock matches encourage survival. Should “For Glory” use time matches instead of stock matches, the phenomenon I gave in the example will lead to “self destruct finishes”. It’s not fair, and hopefully they realize this over in Japan.

A note of miscellany: online voice chat was not mentioned, and with it being Nintendo, I don’t expect it.

Bonus: The Wii LAN adapter apparently works with the Wii U and can help with a great connection. I sense that a lot of these will be purchased soon; I know I’ll be grabbing one. Unfortunately, since it’s over USB, the max theoretical is 10/100 gbps. Ouch, but that may still be better than the Wii U’s Wi-Fi a/g/n.

Global Smash Power

Rather than a simple ranking system #1–#of players, the Smash team has implemented ‘Global Smash Power’. This is a ranking that simply states “you are better than x number of people”, making a larger number more covetable. It’s certainly more easy to rank people this way, as you can create a formula based on events completed/wins to determine definitively what players are better than others without having to crown a #1. It’s a very Nintendo way of doing things.

Items, Pokéballs, and Master Pokéballs. 

I don’t play with them, so they don’t mean too much to me. Glad to know the good ones are there though. I must say, I fist pumped when I saw Dark Samus as an assist trophy though.

Returning Fighters

Zero Suit Samus! Sweet, glad she’s back—even though Sakurai was playing games in the Direct, making it look like she wouldn’t be back for a second. Her jet boots seem to be inspired by the classic “Haloid” short by Monty Oum that came out way back in about 2007(!). The fact that Samus and Zero Suit exist as separate characters is fine with me, as one really couldn’t actively switch between the two characters in-game. (Yes, I know that it is possible to transform from Samus to Zero Suit in Brawl without a Smash Ball, but it was a one-off event.) I may actually want to play with Smash Balls with Samus now that I know I won’t be playing a completely different character after I use it.

Shiek and Zelda, split? It will certainly be a big change for Zelda/Shiek mains, but many Shiek players didn’t play the traditionally terrible Zelda anyway. They will benefit from having a new side and down special, however.

Charizard, I don’t really care about. Interesting that they took out Pokemon Trainer, but that works well for people that only liked ⅓ or ⅔ of the Pokémon Trainer. Alas, that also means that Squirtle and Ivysoar are most likely gone, but I’m sure most would have picked Charizard out of the three to carry the torch.

Yoshi: I really don’t care about him. At least he stands up correctly, as he’s been awkwardly hunched over in the past, just like Bowser. Hopefully they’ll smooth over Samus’ run animation too, but I wouldn’t hold my breath—I’d die before the game even made it to the eShop.

New Movesets: I’m glad that Sakurai went ahead and spelled out the move sets for the new characters (Mega Man, Villager, Wii Fit Trainer). That really takes a load off of the Internet trying to piece it together from videos. Not sure who I’ll like out of them yet.

New character Graninja: No idea who he is, but he looks interesting. I’ll give him a shot. He rounds out the quota for Pokemon, as the last Pokéslot should go to Jigglypuff.

Smash Run

Honestly, I really don’t have much to say about this, other than that it should be an awesome, fun diversion from the main game as well as a way to have more fun with other modes of the game.

Custom Movesets

Custom Movesets came out of nowhere, and I have no idea what to make of it. I’ll have to get some more information. It looks cool, especially since you can play with custom fighters online with your friends (only) in addition to local. I look forward to returning Samus’ missiles to their former glory if Sakurai hasn’t fixed them yet. I suspect that this mode limited to the Wii U, just as Smash Run is limited to the 3DS.

Overall Thoughts and Observations

The biggest thing that I’ve noticed is a reduction in the ‘randomness’ of certain attributes of the game (e.g. no more tripping, and King Dedede now throws Gordos exclusively rather than 8% of the time), and an acknowledgement that hardcore fans enjoy the game differently—but no less so. The “For Glory” mode is very much appreciated, and I look forward to playing online much more often (I’m sick of playing level 9 CPUs, and they don’t lend themselves to player development like playing against humans do). I really appreciate how the game now better appeals to hardcore and casual players, rather than just casual players. At the end of the day, it’ll be the hardcore players who will still be playing the game 10 years from now, just as we’re the ones with GameCubes and N64s still playing Melee and Smash64. By my estimate, Melee is the most popular form of Smash on campus, and I don’t expect that to change for another 3 or 4 years.

There are no GamePad-specific features for the game, so it’ll be all Pro Controller for me. It would reduce a big headache for me if they said “Alright, Pro Controller only” for the control scheme. Naturally and deservedly so, that would raise an uproar, but dealing with Classic Controller Pros, Wiimotes, Wiimote + Nunchuks, Pro Controllers, and GamePads is a massive headache. It’s also easier to explain to newbies when everyone has the same controller.

All in all, I’m very excited for the game (if you couldn’t tell by the massive blog post). I think it will be what Brawl should have been, and that it won’t cause the great divide in the Smash community that Brawl did and instead serve as a unifying game. I know I’ll be picking up both copies on release day, and that most free moments will be filled by playing the new Smash. Here’s to the future.

What the Wii U needs is a kick in the pants

Making the Wii U Relevant

I’m a big Nintendo fan. Always have been, always will be, and those of you who have read this blog regularly know. But with their latest console—the Wii U—they’ve blown a head start and have already been counted as out of the race by many technology pundits. The Nintendo 3DS started out is the same way, but with a price cut and release of some highly-anticipated games, it’s taken off. The main difference here, however, is that the 3DS never really had any competition (the Vita is a joke). The Wii U can go the way of the 3DS instead of the GameCube (great titles, but not very many customers to enjoy them)—but it’s up to Nintendo to make that decision. Nintendo needs to make some things happen at E3, and beyond.

What Nintendo needs to do for E3:

Bring out the first party heavy hitters—but not Mario
Let me get this out of the way first: no more Mario. We’ve sen a ton of him throughout 2011 and 2012, and Nintendo has plenty of other franchises it can pull from to excite fans and the media. Give us some more information—and release dates— for Yoshi’s Yarn, the next Smash, and the next Kirby. Best of all, throw us all for a loop: let’s see F-Zero.
Many current console owners would be appeased by some new demos to play; we’re impatient, and Nintendo owes us. We bought the console early, and have been let down by no major releases since launch. It’s now April. I think that Nintendo should let us download the first few minutes of Wind Waker HD and give us a glimpse of what Yoshi’s yarn can look like.

“Hardcore” fans need to be addressed, if only because we’re the loudest and can make or break a system’s popularity. We know that Nintendo scored on Bayonetta 2. But what’s it look like? What’s the story? What is the gameplay like, especially for those of us that haven’t played the first one? We’ve gotta see that in action. Nintendo has to deliver on this, and tell us when it will be available—hopefully Summer 2014. Metroid is Nintendo’s first-party hardcore experience, and we’ll all be happy to see a return to Prime shape in Samus’ house. Letting us fly her ship between planets, chase down the Galactic Federation or rival bounty hunter, and switch between first and third person modes I think will be the future for this franchise. I think. Samus should have a voice—Nintendo should have at least one character that isn’t an empty shell—but she need to be written and portrayed well. She doesn’t have to say much. Retro, I think, could handle this balance well.

2. We Need Retro
Arguably, the strongest thing Nintendo has up its sleeve is whatever Retro Studios is working on. Widely and deservedly acclaimed for the Metroid Prime series as well as the Donkey Kong Country Returns reboot, anything they touch is essentially gold. Rumors have their new project to be one of two franchises: Metroid or Star Fox. Though I’m a huge Metroid fan and greatly revere what the team has done in reviving that series, it’s Star Fox that needs the revival treatment. It’s been 8 years since the last installment—interestingly, the same length of time between Super Metroid and Retro-developed Metroid Prime. Also note that both franchises skipped a Nintendo home console. It’s time for Star Fox to get its due. I don’t know what angle Retro can approach the game from, but I know that everyone believes that they know what they’re doing.

3. Third Parties
We need to know that certain third party titles are coming to the platform. We know that Nintendo has never been strong in this regard, but it would certainly be nice to see. Let’s have Nintendo fighting for us in the background: where’s the Mass Effect Trilogy? Where’s Bayonetta 1? Even going back on some last-gen classics would do well with those of us who only one one console—Nintendo’s.

Nintendo is going to have a lot of competition at E3, and new hardware will be all of the buzz. Only top-notch software is going to allow Nintendo to steal the limelight, and boy do they need it.

Long term, the Wii U needs a number things to happen: drop the basic set or include Nintendo Land with it, introduce a serious marketing campaign, and partner up. The basic set is confusing, a poor value, and useless. Make the deluxe available in white or black. I personally wanted a white console, but didn’t want to get ripped off. Additionally, include Nintendo Land with all hardware sold. Nintendo Land helps players to ‘get it’. Nintendo needs as many people to ‘get it’ as possible. I’ve barely seen any ads for the Wii U. Make it clear that this is new, badass, and is a gaming machine. The precious few ads I’ve seen haven’t done that. This is where Nintendo needs to be willing to break the bank: no console sales, no revenue. It takes spending money to make money, and Nintendo has the dough. They just need to direct it in the right way. Lastly, as I’ve said in previous posts, Nintendo’s history is it’s greatest strength. Partner up to allow us to experience this history in new ways. The best example of this is Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Wii U Edition.

If all of this happens (and I hope to God it will), then no one will worry about Nintendo; they’ll be the talk of the town and the industry’s darling. But more than virtually every company (but Apple), Nintendo’s fate is in it7
s own hands.