All About ERoBB
I'm not going to lie, after the Wii, Nintendo has to prove something to me. I know they don't care, they can package old hardware and mini games and the casual market will buy it tens of millions of times over, making me and the "hardcore" market utterly irrelevant. But in a fantasy land where my $400 actually matters, Nintendo has some making up to do.
This E3 did not give me anything to suggest they're interested in winning me back. A new goofy controller, misguided interests, and more mini games. Nintendo seems to think that video gaming is five adults sitting on a couch having a real life Mario party. And one of us gets to put down jumping platforms for the others! Doesn't that sound like fun? Well, not for me! I have friends, fear not. I'm not lonely. But I don't hand out Wiimotes at the door when my friends come over. Maybe I'm weird. Maybe everyone invites people over to play the latest Luigi's Mansion mini game. I play online, and occasionally with my brother or a friend. But I wouldn't buy a console based on it. I was just beginning to see myself using their tablet controller, and they seemed to make it out to be the secondary control option, with the old Wiimote and Nunchuck combo being the primary on most of their E3 demos.
The mini map and inventory use of the second screen seem perfect. But the gimmicky panoramic functions and the opportunity to play dungeon master for everyone else's fun doesn't seem very enticing to me. But whatever. A console is about games. With good games, I'd overlook any weird notions they have. So lemme see the games. I'm sure they're working on a new Mario, and not a sidescrolling New Super Mario Brothers, a real 3D Mario. Super Mario Galaxy 3, or whatever it's going to be. I'm sure there's a new Zelda in the works. Donkey Kong, Star Fox, Metroid. Even if it's just a teaser trailer for each, just show us something to entice us. Let us know that there are great games coming beyond the launch. Here we go, E3 2012. Oh what's that? No games? NintendoLand you say? Is that like a new Smash Brothers? What? It's an amusement park, but a game. Are you effing serious? Get out of my office. You're fired.
That was the single worst E3 showing I think I've ever seen. And that's saying something. Sony spent forty minutes telling me about a Harry Potter book you play/read with a Playstation Move. And you know what? I'd buy ten of them before I give two sh*ts about the Miiverse. This was supposed to be the Wii U's coming out party. I don't think it can be stressed enough that this console is being released in JUST A FEW MONTHS. The Durango has a better launch line up, and that console hasn't even been announced. We know everything we know from leaked court hearings.
The 3DS gets a new Paper Mario game and a full Luigi's Mansion game. Those would be AAA launch titles for the Wii U. Get your priorities straight Nintendo. A new next gen console launching is a bigger deal than a years old handheld. And while it's great the 3DS is getting those games, Pikmin 3 won't move units. Pikmin was a great but niche title. And sadly, Pikmin 3 looks just like Pikmin 2 which looked just like Pikmin 3. Newer graphics and a new species of Pikmin isn't innovation.
And I'm gonna need a real online mode. Not that weird code-based thing the Wii had. Or the limited handheld versions of online play. I'm talking full on. It'd be great if it was free, with a feature filled subscription based Pro version for those who want it. But anything is better than nothing. Thankfully, they talked about Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and a bunch of other app based features which suggests some of the online features of the other two consoles, but they followed that up with a few worrying comments. Such as "We are aggressively pursuing the realization of an online system where vulgarity and unpleasantness are not allowed." Their words, not mine. I love the idea of a fantasy land where I don't have to listen to homophobic, racist, moronic kids singing into their microphones everytime I play an online game, but the idea of moderators listening in or a strict no cursing policy does not sound like an improvement. Nintendo is a family company, but we are not all kids. So while you reserve the right to block games like The Binding of Isaac due to unsavory material, I'd reserve the right not to be censored by some old fuddy duddy who seems to live in a childlike state of Willy Wonka euphoria. Sorry Miyamoto, you're great and all, but not all of us live in that world. Your youthful wonder has been the heart and soul of Nintendo, but your company is years behind at this point. And sadly, nothing I've seen yet suggests that will change. Everything shown of the Wii U suggests it is not a next gen console. It is a this gen console, and that the Wii was a last gen console (which is a common criticism). And if the Wii U had launched in 2006, maybe it would have been great. But in two years when the Durango and Orbis launch, will Nintendo once again be a full generation behind? The old adage is "Gameplay, not graphics" or something like that. But the technology race has never been run as fast as it is today. And the Wii burned me. And I'm sure there are a lot of skeptics who have the same burn-scars as me, and are looking at the Wii U like an angry badger with a gold coin in it's mouth. I'm curious and I want to reach out and grab it, but I'm keeping my distance until I know it's safe. Or whatever. I was never good at metaphors.
But, I can probably go screw myself, and the Wii U will target dads and moms and grandparents, like the DS and Wii did, and they'll sell a hundred million units and they'll swim through a Scrooge McDuck-esque pool of cash. And I can go protest, and no one will hear me or care. But again, if we pretend my $400 means something, they can have it. They just have to show me something.
Whenever I hear someone say they create female characters in games because "If I have to stare at an ass for 40 hours, I might as well like it." And that always rings so creepily false to me. It makes me think of some Freudian roleplaying perversion. First of all, I don't sexualize my character. I'm not oggling my Dwarf's ass. I don't stare at it and think "Man, if only I could be staring at a sexy Elf ass instead of this sweaty Dwarf." If you're sexually attracted to your digital character, or you're trying to be by creating a sexy character, you've got bigger problems than finding a more revealing set of armor. This is especially true of male gamers who make it a rule that they create only female characters in their games. At that point it's not even character creation, but it becomes wish fulfillment. If you want to play as a girl, just do it and don't come up with creepy justifications of why.
I get character creation. I too put way too much effort in getting my avatar to look just right. I could never play as most custom built characters I see. Most people just seem to throw a bunch of settings together like purple skin, a mohawk, and a white mustache, then name him xXKill-MoreXx and they're good to go. I will never understand that. I tweak the sliders for nearly an hour before I'm satisfied. And I'll usually restart the game a few times. I've even started a game over ten hours in because I decided my character's nostrils were just a little too big. I've done that more than once actually.
First off though, my characters always have to be realistic. They have to look as detailed as the in game NPC's. My character has to look as though he belongs in this world on this adventure. I have to think up a backstory and give him an appropriate name. But instead of roleplaying women in some role reversal way, I always create slightly ugly warriors. A little overweight, balding, a big beard. I give them a humble off kilter name like Barton or Tonkin. My characters would never be the lead actor of a movie. My characters look more like what they call "character actors" which means "too ugly to be the star". They end up looking like Paul Giamatti or Phillip Seymour Hoffman. If I can make them fat, I do. If I can make them Dwarves, or as short as Dwarves, I do. I don't know why. I'm five foot six, and one hundred and thirty pounds. So when I make a fat Dwarf, it's not a representation of me. I'm not making a character to look like me. I don't know why I make them fat and ugly. I just do.
So clearly, I'm also an effing nerd. I'm a screenwriter, who lets his writing spill into his gaming in ways some would probably find weird. But even I put a line of decency between making an extremely detailed character, and making a hot chick with giant boobs because "If I'm going to stare at a character, she might as well look like a porn star." That is weird. Telling yourself it's more normal and heterosexual than playing as a dude is just a backwards logic used to make yourself feel better, because even you know it's weird.
By the end of Mass Effect 3, the story is so big in scale, it's almost unbelievable, even for a video game, that one man (or woman, hey FemShep) could possibly solve the problems at hand. In a reverse way by having such a small cast fighting such a big fight, it made me feel as though the universe was actually underpopulated. And that goes for most games that involve destinies or saving the world. Infamous and it's sequel have you traveling through what is essentially and empty city husk. Even the side missions feel empty. Rather than being given to you by side characters, they're faceless, nameless NPC's.
I think the problem with these games is that in striving to give you such a huge spectacle, they lose personal stories. Aside from the main character, usually a generic, brown haired, white, thirty year old with a gravelly voice, the worlds feel comparatively empty. Even ones as big as Skyrim's. I think these major games should focus on smaller stories. Interpersonal conflicts. The Dark Knight was a massive movie, in scope and success, and the climax of that movie involves the Joker, some dogs, and two boats. No doomsday device. No saving the world. No chosen hero following destiny.
Game of Thrones shows the perfect roadmap. The consequences in Game of Thrones, both the TV and book series, are no doubt massive as entire nations go to war, but the inciting incident is usually quite small. Two families quarreling. One guy had a son out of wedlock, someone breaks a vow, one person is executed. Small struggles involving select groups of people that ripple outward as the repercussions suck everyone in. But rather than having a main villain be a cackling stereotype who wants to destroy the world for no real reason, or an omnipotent dragon, or an alien race who wants to wipe out humanity just because, have the villain be a person. Just a guy with a goal. A three dimensional, non cliche, whose goal runs contrary to the hero, thus causing the conflict of the story.
There's no reason to default to world destruction. Not every villain has to be evil. The lives of every human don't need to hang in the balance. By going smaller in scope, you can tell a great emotional story. Max Payne isn't saving the world. And the villains aren't looking to destroy it. And at times, you wonder if Max is even doing the right thing. Shades of grey, you see. Those are good.
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