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Derpalon Blog

Is the Wii U truly as underpowered as we are led to believe?

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Nintendo has seen no shortage of hatred from the mainstream gamer community in recent years, some of which is deserved, and most of which isn't. One such criticism that is frequently leveled against them is that their hardware is "underpowered". And relative to the other current generation systems, the Wii U certainly can't compete on their level. However, some critics have gone a step further and dismissively asserted that the Wii U is a relatively weak system even when compared to the last generation of consoles, which is a claim that I immediately found dubious. Looking over what we know about the Wii U's hardware, the specs certainly don't suggest that it should be underperforming when stacked against its last-gen counterparts. Take a brief look at a comparison between the systems for yourself.

A typical Nintendo troll.

As can be seen, the Wii U boasts a similar tri-core processor to the Xbox360, clocking in at 3.0 Ghz. However, the Xbox's processor clocks in at 3.2 Ghz, giving it a slight edge. This does at first glance seem to suggest that the Wii U is still lacking, but now let's analyze this a bit further. 0.2 Ghz is only a 6% difference, and any PC gamer worth their two cents will tell you that the processor is rarely the bottleneck for performance in a gaming system. Consider GameSpot's gaming PC on a console budget challenge as a reference. Even Peter Brown's build running on a low budget dual core Intel Pentium processor was still able to push stable 40+ framerates at 1080p with current-gen games. That's a weaker processor than what's currently in the Wii U, and yet his PC can compete on the level of a Playstation 4 and Xbox One.

And once we factor in the Wii U's memory which dwarfs the competition with a full 2 GB of RAM compared to the Xbox360's 512 MB and the PS3's 256 MB, the Wii U should theoretically be able to offer higher resolution textures and improved load times. The biggest determinant of gaming performance overall though lies in the graphics card, better known as the GPU. The Wii U utilizes a similar-performance AMD Radeon GPU compared to its other competitors here, but it's based on a much newer architecture from AMD, which should again give it a slight edge in performance.

That's all fine in theory of course, but the naysayers are quick to point out that in practice the numbers don't add up, and they have the benchmarks to show for it, citing disappointing results from multi-platform titles like Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty. I decided to investigate this for myself, and the first example I encountered was an Assassin's Creed IV framerate test. Check it out for yourself. Now here we see that it looks like the Wii U is underperforming with consistently lower framerates than the 360 and PS3 by a margin of 5-10 FPS, so that must settle it, right? We can sit here and crunch numbers all day long, but at the end of the day the actual results just don't add up. Or do they? See, it's not that simple.

I immediately suspected that something was still amiss here. Indeed, while it's true that plainly before my eyes the Wii U is still underperforming despite what should be a fully capable hardware set, there are still a lot of other factors to consider here before just jumping straight to the conclusion that the Nintendo hate wagon would like you to reach. For one, it is very possible that given the Wii U's new architecture, developers have not been fully acclimated to it yet and don't know how to best optimize for it. It could also very well be possible that they were just lazy and not given enough time to finish optimizing for the system. And finally, there is the possibility that the developers over-estimated the Wii U's hardware and made it shoulder more graphically intensive tasks than it can handle; more so than even the PS3 and Xbox360. To that last speculation, I found another comparison that might confirm this, which you can view here.

In this latest comparison, we see that the PS4 obviously has the best visuals, with sharper, more detailed textures, better lighting, and more special effects such as thicker rainfall and more reflections. The differences naturally start to become harder to notice when we limit ourselves strictly to the PS3/360/WiiU combo. However, we can quickly make one further elimination within the first pause at 20 seconds into the video. It is quite obvious that the PS3 screenshot has virtually no visible rainfall whatsoever, while the 360 and Wii U shots in contrast have at least some noticeable rainfall effects. Therefore at the very least, we now know that the Wii U is being expected to shoulder more graphical effects on its hardware than the PS3 is pushing, and had the developers scaled back to the same as the PS3's level, it could be argued that the Wii U would perform equally or slightly better than the PS3. But now it's a contest down to the Wii U versus the Xbox360; is there any noticeable difference between the graphical detail of the Wii U shots compared to the Xbox? I'll be honest here. I tried my hardest to look through every single pause point in the video for an obvious difference, but couldn't find any to the best of my ability. The only difference that can be noticeably observed is that the Wii U seems to have a very subtle edge with lighting, allowing the player to perhaps see slightly more detail in the textures, but it isn't anything that can really definitively say that the Wii U is being pushed harder. Thus, at best we can only conclusively gather here that the Wii U is being worked harder than the PS3, but not necessarily the Xbox360. That's still slightly problematic though, because the Wii U's specs suggest that it should be able to do at least a little more than even the Xbox360.

But we're not done yet. Now things get really interesting once I discovered Need for Speed: Most Wanted. In various articles discussing Need for Speed with developer Criterion's Alex Ward, he remarked that not only does the Wii U version of the game feature higher resolution textures based on the PC version of the game, but it also maintains more stable framerates than its PS3/Xbox360 counterparts, thanks to Criterion's decision not to do a straight port and instead take the time to properly optimize the game. That's quite a statement, but is it just empty hype? Well the framerate tests are in for this game too. Lo and behold, there's no doubt about it. It turns out when you actually take the time to do a proper conversion, the Wii U performs even better than the other last-gen consoles while outputting higher resolution textures to boot. Of course, some might remark that during this framerate test the Wii U version was missing shadow effects from the metal beams, and the texture difference can be a bit hard to verify because of the cramped spacing in the video and all the fast movement going on. To the first point, this is actually because the game features day-night cycles, so playing the same course at a different time of day will affect where the shadows are projecting, but they are in fact still there. To the second point, we have another video for closer inspection. Pause it at 3:20 to see the most obvious difference. The texturing on the spiral concrete structure is quite inarguably more blurry and has inferior lighting on the PS3 version compared to the Wii U. And would you look at that at 2:57? The shadows from the metal beams are indeed still present in the Wii U version.

Rosalina will drink your tears now, haters.

So there you have it. The Wii U does exactly what its hardware should be capable of doing when third party devs actually optimize for the system like they're supposed to. Now, it is true that regardless of this point, the Wii U's hardware is still significantly inferior to both the PS4 and Xbox One, so if that is the only point that Nintendo hecklers want to get across, they are technically correct. But don't try to bite off more than you can chew and claim that the Wii U is an inferior system even when stacked against the last generation, because it's just not true. The Wii U not only matches the last-gen, but surpasses it.

Anime Roundup #1: No Game No Life

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I've been really slacking with my blog lately, so I'm trying to find ways that I can keep myself motivated to continue maintaining it. One such way I've decided to do that is by introducing the first of what will hopefully become a regular segment on my blog: Anime Roundup. The premise is simply this: I talk about the anime I'm currently watching, give a brief description of my thoughts on it, and offer a tentative rating so people can get a feel for my impressions on it, as well as get a feel for whether they might be interested in it too. Let's begin now, shall we?

Never get a life. You two are far more interesting without one.

For my first Anime Roundup, I've got quite some heavy-hitters this anime season. Kicking this off, we have No Game No Life. The story follows the very enthusiastic nerd gamer Sora and his adorable younger sister Shiro, who together make up a truly unstoppable force in online gaming, having never lost a single match in any game they play. The impregnable duo plays under the handle "Blank", which is literally represented as a blank space on the screen in-game. Clever guys, really clever. How they might've managed to get past the "invalid character" splash screens in numerous account creation menus is beyond me, but in any case, they've made a rather well-known reputation for themselves in Internet circles, with many speculating on just how many people are actually controlling their characters, whether they cheat, or whether they're using some kind of hacks. Despite their lofty reputation and clear strategical brilliance though, for some reason it must've never occurred to Blank that they could win a million dollars rising through the ranked ladder of League of Legends with their talents, because instead they mostly opt to sit in their basement all night munching on junk food and living as bums. But before you start to think this is all a lead in to a cheap ripoff and cash-in on the Sword Art Online craze, suddenly Sora and Shiro are messaged by a mysterious person asking them strange questions about whether they feel like they belong in this world and how cool would it be to live in one that revolved entirely around gaming. They of course answer that they prefer the latter, and next thing you know, NGNL goes full-on anime, and by that I mean shit gets really bizarre.

Say goodbye to your Steam account, Blank.

Sora and Shiro are warped across dimensions into another world, or rather should we say several-thousand feet above another world, as they quickly find themselves plunging rapidly to their deaths. Miraculously however, the fall doesn't hurt them despite the nice crater they leave in the ground, and before you know it, you are introduced to the unbelievably vibrant new world of Disboard with some really impressively unique artwork to boot. In this world, war is forbidden and all disputes between its various races and inhabitants must be settled through challenging your opponent to a game. The art indeed deserves very high marks here, because I've never seen anything like it. The lineart is often drawn in red instead of black, which you would think looks really weird, but instead it works quite nicely in creating the effect that this is a truly alien world not like Earth. No Game No Life has some serious style. Seriously. The music deserves some mention too, as it's got a Phantasy Star Online-like ambience to it that fits very well with the setting.

Anyway, there is a lot to say about this anime because it is just brimming with so much vibrance and emotion. There is never a dull moment between the absolutely hilarious character interactions and insane scenarios that unfold from the games that Sora and Shiro find themselves engaged in. At no point is my jaw not hurting from all the laughing I'm doing, because NGNL never misses another opportunity to put a big dumb grin on your face from just how silly the characters are.

In many ways, NGNL takes on parallels to Code Geass, with Sora's charismatic inclination to give impassioned speeches and his uncanny strategic abilities very much mirroring that of Lelouch Lamperouge. And that aside, you can also never quite tell if he's just completely insane or a true genius. With this in mind, I really can't see anyone other than Johnny Yong Bosch voicing Sora for the English dub when it eventually comes along, as he is naturally the perfect match to bring Sora's brilliant madness to life. And while we're on the topic of voice actors, might I also recommend Emily Neves or Cristina Valenzuela as Shiro, Michelle Ruff as Stephanie Dola, and Wendee Lee as Jibril. You're welcome Sentai Filmworks; I just saved you the trouble on all the major casting. No payment necessary (but would be preferred... please hire me).

As much praise as I've been showering on this series, you might be thinking that I'm about to score this a perfect 5 out of 5, but nonetheless I do feel there are some significant caveats that are holding it back. As it currently stands, No Game No Life has only 12 episodes planned in the works, and having seen 8 episodes so far, I can tell that there is no way the story can be completely wrapped up in 4 more episodes without turning it into a train wreck. There is just too much lore that has still been left unexplored, and if a second season doesn't get announced, we will most likely be left with an incomplete ending. Given NGNL's huge popularity right now though, it is most likely that we can expect an announcement for season 2 eventually, but until then, its future is still uncertain. In addition, while it's true that there is never really a dull moment in this anime, at the end of the day there isn't a whole lot of depth or substance to it either, and it has a tendency to go off on tangents of fanservice, with an entire episode being devoted to humiliating, stripping, and putting dog ears on Stephanie Dola.

Holy waifus, batman!

And finally, the first episode was deceptive in that it gave the impression that we could expect to see a good deal of flashy action set pieces from this series too, with an opening scene that showed off some impressive combat in an online game world, but that was quickly replaced by much less impressive board games, card games, and even rock-paper-scissors matches in many cases. Nevertheless, No Game No Life is still highly entertaining, and while my score might seem a little like tough love on it right now, I think I will likely convince myself to give a final verdict of 4 out of 5 by the time it reaches its end.

Current Tentative Score: 3 out of 5 - Good

Wow, that turned out to be a lot more writing than I expected it to be, so I'm going to have to end my first Anime Roundup here. Hopefully I can tackle more than just one anime in my next roundup, but with NGNL being the biggest anime of the currently airing season so far, I guess it couldn't be helped.

If you liked listening to my opinions here, you can also read some full anime reviews I've written on my MAL profile page.

Samus Aran and Sexualization in Video Games

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Long time no see. As it turns out, yes, I am still alive; just been busy with other things. Anyway, it has come to my attention that Samus' apparent sexualization in the upcoming Smash Bros title is somewhat of a hot-button issue as of late, coupled with Hideo Kojima's recent comments on sexualization in his latest work with Metal Gear Solid V. As such, I thought I'd offer a somewhat brief commentary on the matter.

Screenshot of upcoming Nintendo eroge game. Rosalina DLC route TBA.

Some fans jumping to Samus' defense have argued that her look is necessary to gain credibility with more mainstream gamers, but if sexualizing Samus' character is Nintendo's idea of gaining street cred with the "mature" crowd then that's a pretty weak justification and I don't agree with that. Nintendo doesn't need to waste their time with people who think that boobs and blood are marks of maturity in gaming, nor for that matter should they waste their time with people who think games need to be "mature" to be fun in the first place. I took issue with Kojima's character sexualization in MGSV for similar reasons because his justifications were pretty shallow and dubious. I view games as an artistic medium and when devs resort to blatant pandering to a particular audience, or in Kojima's case, making a shallow decision that has nothing to do with actually enhancing or making the game experience better, that hurts the medium more than anything. If games are to be taken seriously as a legitimate artistic medium, you can't have the producer coming out and making statements like, "I made this character sexy because I just want to see girls cosplay as her." Really Kojima? That's pretty pathetic coming from someone who's been known for creating much deeper plots in video games.

That said, I'm not really opposed to the idea of sexualizing a character by itself. If it's actually relevant to making the game better somehow, all the more power to the dev. For example, if the character is supposed to have a seductive-type personality as part of the story, then it would make sense to make them extra sexualized for that reason. In MGS1, Kojima was actually pretty brilliant with his use of sexualization with Meryl, as he used her "feminine" way of walking as a clue for the player to detect her apart from the other soldier disguises at one point in the game.

Like I need to be told.

Hell, I'll even accept amping up the sexualization to a certain point if the only reason is simply because you think it will make the character look better. There's nothing wrong with trying to make your characters look attractive for no other reason than to make the game's visuals more attractive; provided that this doesn't conflict with the narrative (IE if you have a female lead running around in a bathing suit for no apparent reason when the characters aren't in an appropriate location for bathing, that's not going to pass by me, or likewise if you have a bunch of characters that are supposed to be coming from an impoverished background in the story yet they all look super attractive and well-groomed, that's definitely not cool).

With all that out of the way, what do I actually think of Samus' latest redesign? Not much really; because she really hasn't even changed that much since Zero Mission in 2004 when the Zero Suit was first introduced, which is why I find it strange that all these critics are suddenly showing up late to the party to complain. She's changed even less from Brawl to Wii U. I think her chest size may have grown a few millimeters at most, but we're still far from Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball here people. In fact in the 3DS version it doesn't look like her size has changed at all. It's not like there's a mini-game specifically designed for poking around Samus' breasts and watching them jiggle. As far as Nintendo's sexualization goes, they were pretty conservative here and they could have done a lot worse. My only real issue with the new design is that they added yellow stripes and wrist cuffs which just seem unnecessary and make the suit look a little aesthetically unbalanced. But overall, when I bought Metroid: Zero Mission during its month of release back in 2004, my immediate impression of the Zero Suit was that it is the most iconic design for Samus with her armor removed that I've seen thus far, and I'm pleased that they've pretty much kept that look for her since then, especially because there was no definitive look for her prior to this installment. It hasn't made her lose any of her badass appeal so far, and if anything, I take more issue with her narrative portrayal in Other M than whatever Nintendo has done with her visually, but that's a story for another time.

All in all, I just don't see anything of merit here to complain about. Move along.

Objective Game Reviews: Be careful what you wish for

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I'm not sure if this is a phenomenon that is exclusive to GameSpot, but in recent years the review site has received an alarming amount of vitriol for its scores on many highly anticipated games including Zelda: Skyward Sword, The Last of Us, DuckTales Remastered, and now most recently Grand Theft Auto V. While some of the criticism leveled against GameSpot might be legitimate, it is mostly drowned out by a sea of seething hatred and completely uncalled for remarks. It seems that many people are coming to GameSpot not to get informed before making purchasing decisions but rather just to confirm their own egos and pat themselves on the back for having such great taste. I would like to take this time to remind anyone expressing these views that GameSpot's role is not to pander to its audience and tell you what you want to hear; they are here to express their own opinions and inform you about games both technically and critically.

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Typical aftermath of a GameSpot review.

Putting aside the hatred and insults though, there is a recurring theme among many of the negative comments that GameSpot's reviews are being too "biased", or "not objective", as if implying that these are virtuous goals that reviews should be aiming toward in the first place. This kind of perspective shows a failure of understanding of how critical analysis of media is supposed to work, as the context in which these words are thrown around demonstrates that these people don't really know what these terms actually mean and how they should be applied. Video game reviews are fundamentally a subjective opinion-based medium, as critics are offering up their own opinion on the experiences they had. To remove opinion from a review is to remove the entire critique aspect of the review along with an accompanying score, as any score is ultimately a numerical representation of the critic's overall opinion, and thus cannot be objective. This would of course result in a very boring and uninteresting review, as Jim Sterling infamously demonstrated with his brilliant "objective" review of Final Fantasy XIII. However, it should be acknowledged that any good review generally supports and grounds its opinions in actual objective facts that it can reference about the game that it is evaluating. This is where the technical aspect of a review comes in. Obviously if someone just writes a review saying that a game's graphics suck, its gameplay is boring, and the plot is lame without bothering to offer any specific examples to reference in support of these points, such a review would equally be uninformative. By combining technical and critical analysis of a game, potential players can get a much greater sense of what the game might actually feel like to play. I want critics to touch on objective aspects of the game, but anything beyond pointing out technical specifics, the critic's personal biases and opinions should be entirely welcome.

Let's look at some small examples of how to combine the two aspects I've been talking about so you can see how much it helps when a review contains both objective and subjective elements.

Example 1: "The leveling system in Guild Wars 2 sucks."

This is bad because it's only expressing an opinion and doesn't tell you anything about how the leveling system works.

Example 2: "Guild Wars 2 uses a unique leveling system that scales your level down based on the zone you're travelling in."

While this might seem more informative than the previous example, this is still bad as well because it's too plain and descriptive without offering any critical insight on how this might affect the gameplay.

Example 3: "While Guild Wars 2 makes it easier to group with your friends through its unique level scaling system, this also results in a feeling of lacking character progression because your avatar's strength is always being reduced based on the zone you're travelling in."

This is a much more insightful example because it touches on specific technical aspects of the gameplay while extrapolating potential consequences and problems that follow from it. Even if you might personally disagree with the critic's conclusions, you're much more informed about what to expect from the gameplay of Guild Wars 2 than through the other two examples, and that's the most important thing, as a review's primary goal should be to inform.

Now that I've hopefully established the necessity of subjectivity in reviews, let's jump back to Carolyn's GTAV review for a moment. What's particularly annoying to me about criticisms of the review is that many players are basically admitting that her points about misogyny and sexism are right, but they should just be ignored anyway, citing that personal politics shouldn't factor into the score. But why not? As I've already pointed out, a large part of doing a review is expressing the critic's opinion, and since enjoyment can certainly be affected by political messages in the game, then it's fair game to offer commentary on them. Yes, there can be a wide range of opinions where controversial issues are concerned, but such can still be the case for any other aspect of a game as well. Some people enjoy level grinding for example; others may find it tedious. Either way, it is completely appropriate to talk about politics in a game that deals heavily in political commentary. In fact to ignore it altogether would almost be dishonest. I'm not saying anyone needs to agree with Carolyn's opinion, but this idea that she shouldn't even be allowed to express it out of some strange notion of professionalism is ridiculous. Being professional doesn't mean you need to tap dance around controversial issues; you just need to be respectful when expressing your point of view, which I believe Carolyn certainly was. Another argument I've heard is that it's GTA so misogyny should just be expected, as if to imply that if something has already established itself to be morally repugnant previously that it somehow no longer becomes a problem in subsequent iterations. I'm sorry but that's not how it works either. Garbage is still garbage and it doesn't suddenly turn into decoration just because it's been laying on the floor long enough without getting picked up.

GTAV ultimately got a 9/10, which last I checked is a superb score and an editor's choice. In other words, in spite of Carolyn's annoyances with its sexist undertones, she still thought it was an amazing game anyway. At the end of the day I don't see what there is to fuss about considering this. Even if you disagree with her view on that particular point, it did little to affect the overall score of the game, and if we're seriously going to start complaining because of a difference of 1 point, this is clearly no longer about trying to get informed about a game but instead seeking validations for one's own ego, because whether a game gets a 9/10 or 10/10, with that high of a score, it shouldn't stop you from enjoying the game regardless.

I've been saying for a while now that game reviews have become inflated, and anything that receives less than an 8/10 is regarded as a failure. For some well-established franchises, even a 9/10 is starting to become no longer enough. This madness has got to stop. The more we inflate game scores, the more we just devalue the scores anyway until they become meaningless. Ask yourself before you hand out that next 9/10 or perfect score; does this game really stand tall above all the rest as a game that will truly be memorable and revisited for years to come? I'm finding more and more games receiving very generous scores that I end up buying and being sorely disappointed by. These are games that are from genres I normally enjoy as well. As a result, it's becoming harder and harder for me to find critics that I trust.

I literally read from another commentator on Carolyn's GTAV review that if game reviews weren't objective then the scores wouldn't all be the same; as if implying that this would be a bad thing. Oh my god, really? You mean... people might actually have... A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION?!

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Someone call the Gamestapo Secret Police! Such dissent must be silenced at once! Unbelievable that this is a commonly shared opinion among seemingly many gamers. There is value to be had in varying opinion being that no one shares exactly the same tastes. If all reviews shared the same opinions then many people could not find critics that they can relate to and trust. As much hate as Tom McShea got from his review of Skyward Sword for example, I actually gained a great deal of respect for him since then. I like many others ignored his review initially, thoroughly convinced that he couldn't be right, but when I actually sat down to play the game myself, I had to honestly admit that the controls were as problematic as he had described. Not game-breaking, but enough of a nuisance that it took a high toll on my experience. The fact that Tom was willing to take a step back and not automatically assume that a Zelda game is entitled to a very high score just because of its established pedigree, and instead gave a score that accurately and directly correlated to his true experience with it, I became much more trusting of Tom's insights from then onward.

The bottom line I guess I'm trying to get at here is be careful what you wish for. If you want truly objective reviews, you're asking for a snorefest. An uninformative, bland and boring snorefest. I welcome opinions, and lots of them. Gamers need to stop using terms they don't understand or they might just get exactly what they want, much to their own detriment.

BattleForge: A glimpse into the future of gaming?

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EA has recently announced that they're essentially flipping the kill switch on their free-to-play real time strategy game BattleForge, terminating all server support for it by October 31st. As the game requires an Internet connection to play, this means in the absence of a server to host the online content, the game will be rendered totally unplayable in the coming months. Though I have never played the game myself, looking over some reviews of it, there were many players who were quite fond of the game and had much praise to say about it, even though the game has failed to reach the mainstream market penetration that it might have deserved. What's more from what I've read, it is technically possible to solo through the game by yourself without necessarily needing to interact with any other players; in fact some missions are exclusively single player by design, and in-game currency can be earned through playing the game and without necessarily needing to spend real world money.

battleforge.jpg

With these points in mind, this begs the question to all those always online digital future supporters a few months ago, who ardently supported Microsoft's DRM policies: What happened to all that good faith you had that these companies will provide an offline patch later? I've been told on several occasions that surely if it ever came to this, these benevolent corporations who think only for what's in the best interest of the gamer will simply provide a patch for offline play, and thus problem solved! Nothing to get worked up about, so see? What's the big deal? You're all just making a big scene about nothing. Well here we are; that theory has been put to the test now and it failed. Even though BattleForge theoretically has enough of a framework in place to offer an offline option, none will be given even in its final hours.

It's worth noting that BattleForge is far from the first video game ever to suffer this kind of digital fate, as there have been many free-to-play style web browser games that have come and gone over the years as well, but BattleForge is particularly unique in that it's a much more advanced and in-depth game produced from a well-established AAA publisher, which gives us a frightening glimpse into what we can truly expect from this grand "digital future" for hardcore gamers that always online proponents speak of so fondly. Some players have actually invested well over $100 into this game and now they will have nothing to show for it. BattleForge wasn't originally free-to-play either; it came in full retail boxed copies, which have now been effectively repurposed into paperweights too. Isn't always online great guys? I love it when my software discs come with an arbitrary ticking time bomb attached. In fact, I think I want all my games always online. That's the world we live in after all, isn't it? #ScrewYouAdamOrth

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Where's Batman when you need him?

In EA's statement, they remark that they find it unfortunate and never easy to shut down an old game like BattleForge. That was a nice sentiment, but wait a minute, BattleForge was released in March of 2009. The game is only four years old! This is considered an "old" game? Even World of Warcraft is still being supported after all these nine years and counting. Of course, one could argue that Warcraft is a significantly more popular game, and as long as a game maintains a healthy level of player activity, it will always be supported. Perhaps, but the lasting value of a game really shouldn't be left up to the whims of the majority. If a player feels like revisiting a game they paid for with their own money even many years into the future, there's no reason that option shouldn't still be left open to them, regardless of whether that game ever managed to achieve popular widepsread appeal or not. It's their game; they should decide when they feel like playing it or returning to it, especially when the game theoretically should have been capable of offering offline content in the first place.

BattleForge may not be one of the more iconic and well-known games to suffer this fate, but it raises a warning flag for what we can expect from bigger games to come as more AAA mainstream games are fundamentally integrated with online functionality. The clock is ticking for some of your favorite games, and someday many classics may be lost to future generations because of arbitrary restrictions created by an online service-based approach to gaming.

Smash Bros Wii U: Nintendo drops the ball again

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As I feared, the Wii U's slow adoption rate appears to be taking its toll on Nintendo, and it seems they're now rushing some of their big name games out the door in an effort to boost sales. Sakurai has announced that they're cutting the story mode from the upcoming Smash Bros game, citing that the cutscenes from Brawl were leaked to the Internet which ruined the element of surprise and sense of reward from that first-time playthrough. While this is their official statement, I think it's fairly obvious that we all know the real reason behind the omission, because the excuse given is pretty bad. Really, because the cutscenes were leaked to the Internet? Everything gets leaked to the Internet. Deal with it. I guess Hollywood should just pack its bags and find a new industry then, because obviously no one must be going to the movies anymore since it's all being leaked to the Internet, right? Oh wait.

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Not swimming in money at all.

To punish legitimate players like me who actually waited for the game to come out before viewing the cutscenes is just stupid, and even if I had seen them before, what good does it actually do to just cut the content entirely? It's not like viewing them online meant that I now had no incentive to play through the story mode, nor for that matter an incentive to play the game at all. If anything, I would have just been hyped more to see what kind of gameplay is in store for me between those cutscenes.

What this really comes down to is that now the new Smash Bros already feels like it's going to be a significant downgrade from the last game and my hype has dissipated for it. One of the biggest attractions for me with Brawl was that the series was now getting a proper fully-featured adventure mode as the Melee version had previously felt tacked-on and incomplete. The idea of being able to play through a large expansive world with all my favorite Nintendo characters was a very attractive concept to me, and I was looking forward to seeing how Nintendo was going to continue to expand upon it in this latest release, but now that interest has been evaporated. My biggest disappointment about this whole omission is that the series has historically always been adding and expanding upon its features with each new release; never taking away from them. The roster was always getting bigger, and the gameplay modes were always getting better. Sure there would sometimes be some small things here and there that wouldn't always carry over, but all of the bigger features of the franchise have always been taken and expanded upon in each iteration. Now for the first time this feels like it's not the case, and it's really killed my excitement for the game.

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Look what you made Samus do, Sakurai.

Perhaps I'm wrong though; maybe even though they're omitting a story mode, they intend to make up for it by expanding much more of the game's other features. I know they did mention that there's going to be character customization this time which has never been done before within the franchise, and it will not only affect appearance but performance as well, and that will be interesting to see, but so far that feature by itself is not nearly enough to make up for all the content we're going to be losing out on from having a story mode instead. I know a lot of fighting game enthusiasts don't really care for a story mode in their games, but for me personally, I've never been a big fan of the fighting genre outside of the Smash Bros games, and this is in part due to the feeling of there being a lack of content in most typical games of the genre. The single player modes often only feature the same content that you can access from versus mode; it just pits you against an AI and takes away your ability to customize the matches, which ends up leaving me feeling bored pretty quickly, and only able to play the games in short bursts. Features like Brawl's Subspace Emissary mode on the other hand add a lot more value to my purchase and allow me to absorb myself into the game for much longer periods of time.

I think it's fairly clear that the real reason behind Sakurai's decision is that they just want to rush out the Wii U's killer app, as it currently doesn't have one. Nonetheless, it's not doing right by their fanbase to be cutting corners like this. It's not our fault that they thought they could pass off another Mario Bros sidescroller as a must-have launch title for the system, and it's not going to make their situation any better by continuing to make lazy releases while the system is so desperately hurting for new adopters.

A few new characters and some shinier graphics aren't enough to cut it for me anymore, especially when most of the additions are so lackluster as it is. The WiiFit trainer? Animal Crossing villager? Seriously? Those can barely even be described as "characters". Where's Marina from Mischief Makers? Crono and Magus from Chrono Trigger? How about Krystal from Star Fox? I'm sure they could come up with a creative move set for her if she's equipped with the magic staff from Star Fox Adventures. There's still plenty of awesome characters that haven't been used yet in spite of Nintendo's lack of new iconic IPs as of late. Even as nice as it is to finally have Megaman, they're only using his older NES iteration instead of the more appropriate X variation which would have opened up options for them to bring Zero and Sigma into the cast of characters as well.

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My reaction to this character announcement.

The omission of the story mode harkens back to a longstanding issue with Nintendo in that while they're usually on the cutting edge of inventing crazy new gameplay mechanics, they have been very slow to catch up with the rest of the industry as far as narrative development goes. While western game studios have been creating deeper and richer stories, Nintendo ignores an opportunity to improve itself in this aspect almost every time. Mario is still stuck saving the princess, and Link is... still stuck saving the princess too. But the thing is, we know Nintendo is capable of doing better than that, as evidenced by examples like Metroid Fusion, which did an excellent job of providing quality gameplay coupled with a compelling story. And then you have examples like Super Mario RPG that--while it was produced by Square and not directly by Nintendo--it still shows that you can tell a more interesting story even with a character as absurd as the classic Italian plumber. There's no reason you can't have great gameplay while telling a good story too, and I'd really like to see Nintendo try to improve in this area.

As things currently stand, the latest addition to the Smash Bros series feels like it's only shaping up to be another Melee with an HD coat of paint and with not even as strong of a character roster to show for it. I don't know what Nintendo is thinking, but I hope they can get these bad decisions turned around very soon because now I doubt even the latest Smash Bros can entice me to pick up a Wii U at this point.

Fullmetal Alchemist: A victim of its own success

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So in addition to being a video game critic, I'm also an avid anime watcher who frequently rates as well as sometimes reviews anime too. I have a full list of every anime I've ever watched neatly organized and rated on a 10-point scale which you can view here. Ironically despite being more gamer than otaku, I keep a more comprehensive list of my anime due to having started tracking my progress much earlier into the start of my hobby. At any rate though, let's get down to business.

The reason I'm mentioning all this is because today I'd like to examine some common pitfalls I see in the critical examination of products from both mediums. To put in simpler terms, I often see critics be too forgiving of a game/anime's flaws or in other cases too harsh due to placing an overemphasis on more trivial aspects of the product's design. Dammit, that still sounded sorta complicated, but I think you get the idea.

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Not really.

As a first example, let's start with the anime television series known as Fullmetal Alchemist. If you're unfamiliar with the anime, here's a little history on its development process. Fullmetal Alchemist like many anime started off as a manga (Japanese comic book) series before being adapted into an anime. However, the first anime adaptation started airing before the manga was complete, so the animation studio ran into a typical problem that occurs in the industry; what do they do once they have caught up with the incomplete manga story? At this point they have several options. They could make up their own continuation and conclusion of the story based on their own interpretation of where they think the series should go, they could write in a "filler" side story to hold fans over until there is more manga content to work with, or they could just simply end it on a cliffhanger and wait it out while potentially losing fan interest due to a lack of new content. Each choice has its own set of risks and consequences. In the case of Fullmetal Alchemist, they chose to invent their own conclusion to the story not based on the author's vision in the manga.

Now fast forward a few years. Despite the risky move made by Studio Bones, in the end it paid off and the original 2003 series turned out to be a huge success. Fans were still craving more content though, but the story had already concluded. Thus, now seemed like the perfect opportunity to retell the story following the manga to its completion. And so, six years later, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was born. And once again, it was a huge critical success. But then something peculiar happened. Suddenly fans were becoming very dismissive of the original series; citing that merely because it doesn't follow the story of the manga it is therefore an inherently inferior product. Not only is it an inferior product, but some went so far as to say that it is a *bad* product and that you should just skip it entirely, so in a strange turn of events, Fullmetal Alchemist had become a victim of its own success. It was due to the popularity and success of the original series that we were even given the chance to have a big budget remake like Brotherhood in the first place, yet here it now was being left in the dust; overshadowed by its successor and shunned by many of its former fanbase.

So now we have encountered my first major annoyance, and in my view, a failure of critical analysis. Brotherhood now ranks as the number one highest rated anime of all-time on MAL, and all I can think every time I see that statistic is how much I find it to be a colossal misstep on the part of critics. To me, there's no question after having viewed both series that the original anime is better in just about every conceivable way. Much of what made the original series so compelling was its very maturely-handled themes, incredibly well-developed characters, and its surprisingly emotional delivery of the story that really feels genuine, all of which were characteristics mostly absent in this largely average and dare I say even soulless retelling. So why? I keep asking why is it that the original series is obviously so much more intelligent and on a completely different level than its successor, yet Brotherhood is soaking up all the attention in the limelight? The number one reason I am continually referred to is because Brotherhood follows the manga.

At face value, I can certainly understand why this point is worth some merit. Typically when artists take adaptations into their own hands that don't follow the original author's vision, they are very prone to creating plot holes and inconsistencies in the portrayals of characters. After all, there's usually no one who understands a character best than the person who created him, right? Usually.

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Yeah, about that ending I had... I should go.

And therein lies the problem. There seems to be an undue importance placed on original source material where it is completely unwarranted. There's really no inherent value in a particular piece of storytelling just because it's written by the original creator of the intellectual property as opposed to a third party source. A true critic should judge media on the quality of its presentation and strictly on its own merits independent of whether any prestigious names happen to be attached to it. After all, we have many examples of original authors making mistakes; even fairly large ones.

By now just about every gamer has heard about Mass Effect 3's inexplicable narrative flop during the last ten minutes of the game. Even though the writing up until that point had been mostly on par with the rest of the series, suddenly in the final stretch of the game's conclusion, huge breaches of logic were made consecutively one after another, creating plot holes almost as big as the explosion from the Citadel that followed them. Whether you played as paragon or renegade Shepard, his determination to defeat the Reapers was always constant, and Shepard would never suddenly agree to his arch enemies' ridiculous ultimatum after seeing them commit the largest scale genocide the galaxy has ever known. Yet here he was, astonishingly leaving the Reapers' abhorrent justifications for their actions unchallenged. In all of about two minutes I was easily able to construct a more satisfying and consistent conclusion in my head than what was presented to me by BioWare despite that they are the original authors of the story. I would have personally taken any fanfiction interpretation of the game's conclusion over what BioWare ultimately decided on. And there's many more examples of media better served by third party contributors. Peter Jackson's adaptations of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are vastly superior to the books even though he took many liberties particularly in his re-imagining of The Hobbit's story. I find Tolkien's writing style to be rather drab and boring, whereas Jackson was able to inject some much-needed emotion into the narrative. Remember when Star Wars was at its best during Empire Strikes Back? Yeah, that was when it wasn't being directed by George Lucas.

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Getting back to the topic at hand, the bottom line is that while it might seem like conventional wisdom that canon and original source material are always better, it really shouldn't be assumed, and I think Fullmetal Alchemist is a strong demonstration of that among several other examples I've now given. So, if it's not the fact that it follows the manga more closely, what else might be driving Brotherhood's popularity over its predecessor? The second most common defense I've heard is that its ending is much more fulfilling than the 2003 series. To a certain extent, I can see where this point is coming from. Admittedly, Brotherhood's ending is more cathartic in the sense that it ties up all of its loose ends and generally finishes on a high note. On the other hand though, its upbeat ending feels rather hollow; almost like an undeserved victory in some ways. Due to the rest of the anime's inability to depict the emotional struggles of its two main protagonists as superbly as the original series did, when they finally got the respite they had long sought after, it just didn't feel as genuine or powerful as its predecessor. While Fullmetal Alchemist's 2003 iteration may not have delivered the fairy tale ending many might have been hoping for, that was sort of the point of its story. As a darker take on the narrative, it effectively depicted the passage of Edward and Alphonse into their adulthood, demonstrating that they've learned to accept the consequences of their actions and the limitations of their existence as finite human beings; no longer naively attempting to rely on alchemy as a magical crutch to solve all their problems. It is precisely because of its ending being less idealistic that it turned out to be much more thought-provoking and therefore more satisfying for me.

This brings me to the second major fault I often find with critical analysis of media. So long as a franchise ends on a high note, critics will be all too quick to ignore many of its faults. Let's just assume for a moment that I agreed with the previous point that Brotherhood's ending is indeed superior to the 2003 series. OK, but that still says nothing about the quality of the other remaining 63 episodes, which for all we know could be total crap, and if you intend to do any kind of proper evaluation of the series as a whole, that still needs to be accounted for too. I think the best example of this overlooked mistake is exemplified in the anime series Clannad: After Story. Many fans of anime tout it as a brilliantly-moving romantic drama that will have you shedding manly tears and rethinking your entire life, and while I might agree with this, the problem is all that emotional revelation doesn't really happen until in the last third of the series. The other half of the anime is largely comprised of dull filler that I really struggled to get through and almost gave up on. After Story could have really benefited from being at least a full 12 episodes shorter, but because that ending was so emotionally powerful--so moving--I was really torn about my rating when it came time for me to evaluate it. In the end though I had to give it a 6/10 because I was forced to acknowledge that the series was severely flawed in spite of its expertly-delivered final act. Regardless, my efforts certainly haven't stopped Clannad: After Story from attaining the #4 top-rated anime of all-time on MAL with an average rating of 9.16/10. Sigh. Well, I did my best to try and warn you if you're sitting through the early episodes of this series wondering why in the world anyone cares about it. As a quick footnote, I'd also like to mention that the reverse mistake can also be made here in that people are all too quick to pan a product if the ending was bad even though it might have delivered in nearly every other respect. Mentioning Mass Effect 3 again, as much as I might be tempted to pan it for how much I loathed its ending, I can't deny that it succeeded at wrapping up lots of other story arcs and made some nice improvements to the combat system, so I would still call it a good game in spite of its flaws.

To bring this discussion back full-circle, I think it's important as a critic to be honest with yourself as much as possible and really consider a piece as a whole; not just the parts that stood out to you the most. No matter how much you may want to be forgiving of various flaws in a product because it delivered so well elsewhere, you still need to acknowledge its faults and vice versa. It's really unfortunate that Fullmetal Alchemist has now become such an underrated series because it truly is an amazing story that offers something for everyone even if you aren't normally a fan of anime. Sadly, it will probably continue to be ignored due to lazy critical analysis. Brotherhood may offer shinier production values, but it really is more flash and less substance.

DRM is not evolution of the industry

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Following Microsoft's decision to actually listen to its customers, I was somewhat astounded by the fact that there were people who were genuinely angry about the policy reversal. Apparently it's a bad thing to be able to own your own games and not be forced to arbitrarily connect to the Internet in order to play them. How does this make any sense, you might ask? Well, it really doesn't, but making sense has never been a bad opinion's forte now, has it?

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Case study #1: Kyle Wagner. This guy seems to be the one most cited by DRM apologists as having good reasons for why we should like corporations dictating absolute control over our games. Now, I could dissect each individual point of his arguments and show why they are almost all flawed in some way, but there's honestly just too much nonsense there to cover and it wouldn't even be worth it, so I'm only going to address some overarching points made by him and other DRM defenders.

First of all, this narrative that we are holding back the "evolution" of the industry by resisting DRM is just silliness. The implication is that we are being resistant to change simply because it is change and we're not really objecting for any rational reasons, which couldn't be further from the truth. I've got no problems with using the Internet to enhance my products. I use it all the time. I'm using it for this blog right now. My issue is not with the mere use of the Internet, but rather *how* it is being used. See, traditionally online functionality has been used to improve gameplay by offering new multiplayer capabilties that previously couldn't be achieved in games. But tell me, what tangible gameplay benefit is there in making me arbitrarily connect to the Internet to play a single player game? Answer: none. None whatsoever. All this does is restrict my use of the game with the needless addition of another requirement that must be met. Using the power of the Internet merely to restrict my products rather than expand their features is hardly evolution.

The other big argument I see often is the comparison to Steam. Like Microsoft, Steam's platform employs the use of DRM; requiring an online connection in order to activate your games before you can play, and therefore to criticize Microsoft while praising Steam for doing the same thing is somewhat hypocritical. To the first part of this point, I actually agree, though maybe not exactly in the way that apologists might be hoping for. Yes, I do think it is a bit of a double standard. In fact, I think far too many people let Steam off the hook when it should be scrutinized too. Just because Valve has done a lot of other things right doesn't make it OK to take away ownership of your games and change the terms of service whenever they feel like, and if you don't agree then you're locked out of your games that you already purchased. That to me is unfair and rather underhanded. Games that you might have purchased under previous agreements are now effectively held hostage to you if you want to be able to keep playing them, so you have to act merely on good faith that Valve won't ever screw you over, which sets a very bad precedent. So yes, the comparison here is fair, but that's precisely why you should *oppose* both platforms, not support them.

However, the other aspect of this argument is the assumption that, given time, Microsoft's service could easily become as robust and affordable as Steam's, and therefore it could be just as "awesome" with big sales full of cheap games. The problem is that this argument hinges on nothing but gigantic leaping assumptions, because I have yet to see any evidence presented that there is any actual link between Steam's DRM and cheaper games. Has Valve actually made any official statements claiming that it is directly as a result of their DRM that they are able to profit from hugely discounted sales? To the best of my knowledge, I could not find any sources stating such. In fact, if anything the reasons for Steam sales probably have more to do with the fact that Valve is still an entirely privately-owned company and has not gone public with its assets, so they don't need to answer to any shareholders and therefore have more flexibility to experiment with different business models. This theory is further bolstered by the fact that a while back EA senior vice president for global commerce David DeMartini criticized Valve's Steam sales, claiming that they were having a negative impact on the industry. Now what does this have to do with my point? Well, at the time of his statement, DeMartini was overseeing EA's own digital distribution and DRM client, Origin, which had accumulated a respectable 11 million users during that time; making it the second largest digital distribution client next to Steam. Now why would DeMartini be objecting to this business model if he himself should theoretically be able to offer the same deals with his platform? To me that says the issue has more to do with differing business philosophies rather than anything related to DRM, as here we have an exhibit A example of a company offering a DRM platform but still openly opposing Steam's sales model.

Even Kyle Wagner basically admits in his article that despite his assertions of DRM complaints being "so last decade", the problems people used to have with it still apply. It still forces a dependency on outside servers, and therefore it still amounts to a ticking time bomb/extended rental service for all your games. His only real counter to this is to just ignore the problems anyway because the benefits supposedly outweigh them. Well I'm sorry to say Kyle, but they don't. Most of your arguments hinge on good faith assumptions that we really have no reasons to believe. Moreover, there's nothing stopping Microsoft from still implementing all the features they originally wanted to have anyway. They could still have the 10-person share plan and games being linked to your Xbox Live account. All they'd have to do is just implement it only for their *digital* marketplace and then merely let players have the option to choose which method they would rather prefer. The fact that they decided to completely rescind the whole thing anyway simply tells me they were being petty and wanted to make us feel guilty on all the features we're now losing out on, so your blame should fall squarely on Microsoft if you're still honestly that hung up about it.

Steam and other platforms like it are not god's gift to gamers and I'm not some ignorant neanderthal that just hasn't yet been enlightened about their awesomeness. On the contrary, I've tried Steam and purchased from its sales before, and I've concluded that ultimately I don't agree with the policies of their platform even in spite of their affordable prices, so deal with it.

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I won't applaud Microsoft for doing what they should have obviously done in the first place, but I will continue to maintain that they made the right decision here in listening to their customers and removing DRM. It's not "evolution"; it's not the "future of gaming"; it's just corporate greed overstretching its limits, and it's time everyone recognizes that.

Why Nintendo should NOT step down from hardware

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I've read countless comments from gamers over the past several years calling for Nintendo to step down from the hardware business and just go the way of Sega making third party software. This sentiment strikes me as lacking in foresight and consideration of the consequences that this would entail; on top of just plain being a bad business decision in general.

First of all, it should be noted that the Wii won the last generation. Yes, I know this still comes as a shock to some, but in terms of raw console sales, the Wii outsold its other two competitors both in the US and worldwide, currently clocking in at a full 22 million units ahead of the Xbox360 with 99.84 million units sold. What's funny is that in spite of this, I was still seeing comments even before the rough launch of the WiiU calling for Nintendo to drop out of hardware, which makes absolutely no sense considering these statistics. Yeah, sure, let's just quit while we're massively ahead? There's a winning business strategy if I ever saw one.

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OK, so there is the consideration that despite the Wii's humongous sales, it could be argued that the system isn't as successful as it is made out to be because for many gamers the console has been collecting dust on their shelves after the initial excitement over the motion controls died down and there was a lack of titles to satisfy the hardcore audience. I get that, and from a consumer standpoint, the success of a console should probably be measured a little differently, but strictly from a business perspective, it's the sales that matter at the end of the day, and there's no question that from this viewpoint the Wii was the clear victor. On top of this, the Wii's hardware and price point allowed Nintendo to turn a profit merely from the sale of the console itself whereas Sony and Microsoft had to sell their consoles at a loss and recoup the damages through software. This generation was a massive victory for Nintendo in that regard, and so it would be completely silly for them to stop at the Wii.

But now we enter the WiiU. The console has certainly had a rocky launch and Nintendo has suffered some financial troubles with the loss of the casual market, third party support, and hardcore gamers as well, but even still, this is a far cry from being in the dire straits that Sega was facing when they launched the Dreamcast. Remember that Sega went through three failed consoles in a row before their ultimate decision to throw in the towel on hardware. When was the last time Nintendo had a failed console? An argument could *maybe* be made for the GameCube, but even despite finishing third place, it sold enough units to hold its own, and it was only a very short margin behind the original Xbox in sales. Other than that, the only real flop they had was the Virtual Boy as far back as 1995; a full 18 years ago, and we're long past that now. Furthermore, can the WiiU even be regarded as a failure yet when it's this early in the game? The Playstation 3 had a more difficult launch than this and was able to pull itself up by its bootstraps. In fact, the WiiU has sold 2.6 million units globally as of March 2013, which in a similar timeframe during the last console era, the PS3 only sold 2.4 million units and the Xbox360 had sold 2 million. Still, this doesn't change the fact that in the markets Nintendo really needs to hit right now, they're in quite a bit of trouble, but nonetheless the situation could be a lot worse than where it actually is.

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Now, that's just the business side of things, but there's another aspect to this we should consider too. While it's true that Nintendo's innovations don't always deliver and can sometimes come off as gimmicks, they are the only ones in the business that are actually trying to do something different. Without them, we wouldn't have seen our traditional thumbstick controllers in the first place, as the N64 was the first console to feature them. I applaud Nintendo for continually taking the risks that they do because no one else will. Sony and Microsoft in contrast tend to refine and iterate rather than innovate, and while there's nothing necessarily wrong with that, in the absence of anyone else taking the helm to try something different, all that spells is more stagnation and Call of Duty. It's slightly irritating that many of the same gamers who speak out against repetition and lack of innovation in the market are the same people who then turn around and instantly write innovations off as gimmicks. What were you honestly expecting anyway? You think one day we're going to be playing with our standard thumbstick controllers and then the next we're suddenly into full-on virtual reality? Sorry to say, but I got news for you: that's not how it works. Technology generally progresses in stepping stones, not giant leaps and bounds, and the Wii was just one small step toward that virtual reality future we all desire. At the very least, I find it refreshing that I can sit through a Nintendo presentation and get through minimally 5 or 6 trailers before I see the first gun or sword being swung around. I for one welcome Nintendo to continue to carry the torch for game genres that aren't really being explored in the western markets and offering more variety to the table.

I have my fair share of beefs with Nintendo as well. They really do need to step up their game with a more robust online network, stronger hardware, new IPs, and better third party support. I also don't like what they did with screwing over Let's Play Youtubers by stealing their revenue. Never for a second though do I think they should step out of the hardware business; not while Sony and Microsoft are behaving the way they are now, and not while Nintendo is holding such a strong standing in the market. We need the competition.

Our voices heard: Microsoft backpedals on DRM

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I just wanted to make a quick note before posting my main blog article for the day. Microsoft has just come out with a new statement announcing the discontinuing of their planned software policy to institute online DRM and mandatory check-ins with Microsoft's servers every 24 hours. Now I admit I've become a rather cynical gamer these days, but at least for this brief moment I'll take my victory. I'll take my victory and run with it.

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This proves that our voices can be heard. This combined with PS4 preorders selling out instantly while the Xbox One dragged its heels in the dirt effectively forced Microsoft into making this move before the boycotts even needed to begin. For once it seems justice has been served.

Still, I'm left feeling a little bit like it's a hollow victory. Because of Microsoft's gross mishandling of their next-gen console, Sony was allowed to divert our attention away from sneaking in PS+ subscriptions for online play. At the end of the day, we didn't gain anything. We only lost something while maintaining other features that we should have always had on our consoles to begin with. Nonetheless, it's a small loss in what otherwise could have been a much worse future for gaming.

At this point though, the bad blood is already there, and Don Mattrick can't simply take back the things he said just like that. The damage has been done and it's going to take more than giving back features we should already have as a gesture of good faith. Maybe now is the perfect time to start offering Xbox Live for free? That could be a great start.

Yeah right, I can keep dreaming.

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