Say what you will about Phil Fish, but I am super pissed at assholes like this AnnoyedGamer guy who go around like they're the kings of the world, criticizing others for the very things they are doing right there as they talk. Thanks to idiots like him, I'm not getting the sequel to a game I quite enjoyed, and I think that's more damaging to the games industry than any bitching and moaning about quotes for the press.
DrRandle's forum posts
I was suffering a terrible depression back in 08, 09. Him and the rest of the crew helped give me something to look forward too every week with the bombcast. It was quite literally the best part of every week. I just can't believe this.
If by "raising awareness" you mean telling all the people that are already aware of the problem that the problem exists, and then congratulating each other on a job well done, then yes. Yes, that's exactly what happened.
@jozzy: I wasn't talking in terms of -just- hardware. The load times for the OS aren't any worst than I've been experiencing on my 360 every time I want to try and switch applications. Past those first time loads, as I mentioned.
The hard drive space isn't an issue. You can buy whatever hard drive you want and attach that sucker. That's a much better alternative than paying 150 dollars for a 120 gb hard drive. (I'm sure the prices have come down, I haven't searched for one for a long while for the 360). I'm honestly happy with Nintendo's approach to hard drive and memory space, now they just need to get the account system to back it up. And I mentioned the account thing is still busted. And I don't know what games you're referring to, but AC3 runs better on my WiiU then it did on my 360. Granted they both pale in comparison to my PC, which will be where I still get most of my multi-platform games.
And of course the "Bias" and "colors" come flying out. I already explained myself in my post, I'm not doing it again.
Picked up a WiiU deluxe on launch. So far I've got NSMBWU, Scribblenauts Unlimited, the unfortunately named ZombiU, Batman Arkham City because why not I never played it, and Assassin's creed 3 to kind of benchmark the tech. So far I'm really impressed, but there are three things that get me the most:
1. The streaming services are all best on here. I love using the GamePad to navigate them, but the software could use some work. Also, no more XBOX Live fees to watch things I already subscribe to watch!
2. The Miiverse kind of came out of nowhere and has actually really impressed me. I love just checkin' out what's on there, including the swarm of ridiculously amazing sketches.
3. Day 1 digital downloads for almost every game. It was headline news whenever Sony was able to score a Day 1 digital, and Nintendo just blasted it all out of the gate. I would love to see that trend continue strong.
That's right. I went there.
The Wii U has been out for a week, and I've already started referring it to the Wii, having pretty much phased the original console out of my head. Fact of the matter is this: Nintendo has caught up to the whole "HD Console" after 6 years of leaning on the Wii for as long as it could. In a single week, library of games not withstanding, it has completely surpassed it's competition.
Granted, with 6 years of planning, every failure would weigh them down infinitely more. Every "negative" is much heavier reason not to get it in this current environment. Where the longevity of the system lasts as updates to the XBOX and PS3 arrive is big cloud in the sky. However, one look at the market for iOS and Android games and the way they're being moved to the big PC with Windows 8, and I think you'll see that the trend here is moving away from power-hungry machines, and more or unique experiences. And with history as my only source, Microsoft and Sony are more interested in an arms race with the same old thing. Where the Wii was, in all fairness, a gimped experiment hamstrung by an effort to move away from high-cost consoles, the Wii U is a perfection on the Wii's attempts at bringing the new. Historically, consoles are always about either evolution or revolution, but the Wii U manages to strike both.
In case Nintendo's incredibly vague marketing has you confused, yes, it's a new console, not just a new controller.
Evolution comes from the improvements made in the realm of things that are a staple of modern online connectivity. When the Wii came out, nobody hard heard of an iPhone store, and even Steam was only starting to pick up... well, you get the idea. Digital storefronts were pretty weird and clunky all around, so it was easy to settle with Nintendo's hat-in-the-ring. Also that Wii shop channel music could calm a charging rhino. With the Wii U we have a much smoother interface, but like the 3DS, there's still an issue of just wanting the ability to browse based on categories. It's easier to get what you want and go, and at the end of the day you either check it obsessively like me or you wait until somebody tells you to get the bestest new game, and then you just go find it with the search. On the downside, WiiWare and Virtual Console titles are still tucked under the "Wii Channel," which straight up boots an emulation of the Wii, and forces you to go into the Wii Shop Channel to find what you want. It's clunky as hell. Considering how easy throwing GameCube games in the Wii was, I'm surprised they went so weird this time around. Also, when the DSiWare evolved into the 3DS eShop between generations, everything in the DSiWare rolled into the new shop. That is not true of the Wii U eShop. Here's to hoping that with a unified account system being found in Wii U's Nintendo ID, we can move towards something cross-platform, akin to Sony's excellent dealings between the Vita/PSP and the PS3 with the Sony Network. It wasn't right to have to buy Super Mario Bros. on the 3DS when I have it on the Wii, and as time goes, it's less and less excusable to continue that kind of practice.
I also wanted to mention that the fact that you can buy almost every retail game that comes out on Wii U in both a digital format as well as the standard physical is amazing. It's finally time people started catching up to services like Steam, who even then usually has to wait for some releases to finish making a PC port after the console launch. I don't foresee myself buying anything more than I have to in physical formats. Now you might be one of those "I like everything on the shelf," type people, and that's cool, I get that. But that doesn't take away from the fact that Nintendo, who had a bare-bones online presence with the Wii and DS, has suddenly caught up and blown the other guys out of the water. Sony getting a Day 1 digital release was cause for headlines at IGN. Now it's an every day thing, thanks to Nintendo's push.
The Wii U has tons of other neat features like a browser that you can access while your game is paused. As somebody who is dumb and likes to Google the answers to Subject 16's puzzles in Assassin's Creed, or the day-to-day guide for unlocking your social links in Persona 4, I bloody love this. The 3DS has it, and I know from experience that it's useful. You can also access TVii here at some point, which promises the ability to meld all your streaming services and TiVo together, but that feature's not up and running just yet. I think, once it is, the Wii U will be the only console you want to experience streaming media on. That is, of course, unless you're already using it for that.
I'll readily admit that I stopped using XBOX's ridiculously degenerating interface. Combined with requiring me to pay to use my XBOX to stream Netflx and Hulu, despite them being free to stream on literally every other device in existence, there was just nothing left that system could offer me. Achievements don't mean anything when it's that much weaker and plays the same games as my PC and PS3. Admittedly, I never had a problem with the PS3's interface, but let me tell you, there's something about that GamePad that just works. You only need the pad, because it doubles as a universal remote, making the process of setting up your nightly Star Trek: TNG session that much easier. Technically, you don't even need to do that if you're interested in just watching Netflix on the GamePad. It seamlessly transfers from big screen to little screen, which is great for when you're sitting at your computer away from the TV. I suppose if you had kids it could be useful to keep them off the big TV. Or (and let's all be brutally fucking honest here, people) if you're on the toilet and you don't want to stop watching 30 Rock.
Let's talk social, because the Wii U just may have done it the best damned way possible. The XBOX has taken great strides for online play with your friends, and admittedly they still do it best. What the Wii U does do, however, is create a sense of community around it's games. When you boot the Wii U on, your GamePad hosts the Wii-like tile menu, while your screen is overrun with Mii's surrounding game icons. Each one of those Mii's is another person out there in the Nintendosphere, all of whom leave comments on each game's Miiverse page. Miiverse is kind of like Twitter, Facebook, a little bit of DeviantArt, and Reddit all rolled into one surprisingly cohesive package. Except here, the people are (generally) better, there's no advertisements, and nobody can ruin your day with downvotes!
This is what happens when you say you liked Mass Effect 3's ending on Reddit.
You can load up the Miiverse and search for a game you like, or a game you're interested in. On that board, you can view posts based on tags, or just run down the list to see what's up. There's conversations taking place, people can post screenshots directly from their games, and you can even leave drawings or hand-written messages. It's insane the amount of talent people have been showing off in the Miiverse. Tons of sketch art and scratch art for all your favorite games. You can follow anybody and see whenever they post something, so if you've picked up on a few awesome artists, you can catch every surprising masterpiece they post.
The Miiverse doesn't just stop at being it's own thing, though. It can be implemented into every and any game. In Nintendo Land, it's there to talk about what you thought of a game or post your high score. In New Super Mario Bros. Wii U, it will pop up during certain benchmarks to ask you to express yourself, sometimes in colorful ways. It's going to be a non-issue for some people, but I find it really enjoyable. And whatever moderation Nintendo has is doing an alright job. I've only seen one poorly drawn scrotum all week! Once the Miiverse hits mobile phones and PC, I honestly seeing it be the answer to Facebook for people who just like games, and as a way to keep up with what your friends are doing. The only other competition would be Steam's new community that's only been around for a couple of months. With a few more improvements, and a couple of firmware updates, there's no reason Miiverse couldn't continue to grow into something, well...
My only real beef with the Wii U itself is that they've seemed to take up Sony's plan of being slow as hell whenever you get a new game. Never mind the hour-long "Day 1" download, booting up a game that needs any updates installed is way more painful than it needs to be. We're talking upwards of 5 or 6 minutes. I'm hoping something down the line will help ease those installations because they are rough.
Something that's going to make the Wii U a tough sell to a lot of people is "I've already got a PS3 and/or Xbox, why do I need this?" I don't know what it will take to convince you to get one. What it comes down to is this: Nintendo consoles have always been seen as only profitable for Nintendo. The Wii U changes that. There's no reason not to port anything on the Wii U. There's no weird tiny discs, there's no technological ravine between it and the other consoles, and the digital front is heavy. You're already making games for XBOX and PS3, just throw in another port. On top of that, the Wii U is superior in both hardware and software to the XBOX. At this point it's PS3 and Wii U to get your bases covered. If you're one of those people who has just condemned themselves to a life of thinking "I don't like Nintendo or anything they do," well then there's really nothing that can be said to convince you otherwise. I can tell you why it's great, but you'll find an excuse not to believe me. And that's true of any console, not just Nintendo.
How I imagine anybody who uses the phrase "fanboy" to try to win an argument.
There are more ways to play games, better ways to stream videos, and awesome ways to connect with your friends and communities. There is a lot of potential here. With the new consoles from the other guys inevitably on the future, I'm curious to see what all happens in the next year or two. Even just looking at the horse power behind my computer and my XBox and PS3, I'm positive we're not going to see -that- drastic of a tech shift; the Wii U will not be another Wii. Plus, with more "normal" ways of gaming, it'll be easier to convince people to make games for the system. The Pro Controller bridges the gap between the Wii-Remotes craziness, and the fact that only one GamePad can connect to your system. I think the longevity is there, but it's really dependent on how Nintendo continues to evolve the platform. Also looking ahead, don't be surprised to see Sony try to integrate the Vita better, or to see Microsoft's push it's "Glass" down your throat just as much as it does Bing.
If I sound like I'm overenthusiastic about the Wii U, it's because I probably am. Maybe it's this new Bupropion I'm taking, but I really do like this system. I won't deny my love of Nintendo, but there are two things to understand about said love. 1: I give everything a fair shake and a fair chance. I really do. Ask me about the Vita, I'll tell you I absolutely love the thing. 2: There's a reason I love Nintendo the way that I do. They can be the most infuriatingly stubborn company, but when they want to do something, and really get it right, nobody can do it like they do. And while the technology might not be 100%, and a new console should probably happen sooner rather than later to stay 'caught up' with the competition, I think the Wii U really is a new way of playing, and for the better. It's versatile in a way that no other console is. It's 'new' without being something so drastic as just the Wii-motes. It is, at the risk of sounding hopelessly glassy-eyed, the future.
But hey that's just me. Do you have any questions about the Wii U I can maybe answer? Do you have your own thoughts on your console? I'll be talking software down the road here, I wanted to focus more on the 'Out of Box" experiences you'll be having for now. I've spread myself a bit thin on games... 6 on the Wii U alone, not to mention Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Persona 4: The Golden, Professor Layton: The Miracle Mask, Virtue's Last Hope, Crashmo and holy fucking hell I need to stop buying games. I also need a month or five off of work to catch up. Hopefully this all means I"ll have more to talk about, as more game-specific discussions (let's not call them "reviews," per se) will start coming down the pipe. I look forward to conversation!
Oh and look, I have a Twitter account! Aren't I novel?
Absolutely wonderful read, thank you. I've myself fallen in love with games that use these types of silent tutorials, certainly more than ones that constantly stop you to show you what you're supposed to be doing. It gives you a help manual, but nothing beats experience, and it rewards you for experiment within the gameplay parameters. I'm tired, so off the top of my head I can't think of another game that does that, but I know there are plenty out there. Obviously you have Mario which only gives you the option of run and jump, and an enemy with a big vulnerable-looking cranium.
I actually think the xbox interface is the most horrid of the three systems. I prefer the Wii and Playstations less intrusive use of space. I don't want to be advertised to. If I'm looking for something, I'll do my own research. It's much better than having to wade through a bunch of garbage I couldn't give a shit less about. The fact that it's so hard to even find anything about games on the Xbox interface shows how terrible it is.
Never mind the fact that I (used to) pay Microsoft to receive those ads, as well as their 'premium services' like Netflix. I've since moved on to Sony where I'm not lambasted with crap I don't care about, I can watch my Netflix without paying additional fees, and I can just have a more seamless experience.
The difference between critiques and reviews, how the games industry fails at both, and how New Super Mario Brothers 2 just might be the worst best game I've ever played.
A teacher once asked me what the difference between craft and art was, and at the time I had no reference to consider the answer. To me, they had always been the same. It's called Arts and Crafts, right? The answer was something that stuck with me, and it's where I find the difference between reviews and critiques. And Nintendo's recent return to 2D platforming, New Super Mario Bros. 2, teeters in this nebulous place that makes it hard to determine just how "good" the game is.
Crafts are something you do as a profession. It is your job to do them. You do them to make money. That's not to say you can't put your heart into a craft, or that your craft can't also be an art. But the idea is that it's something you hone, and something you can do to make an incredible product that others can then take and consume. To me, you review a crafted product. Now certainly, you can critique a craft to an extent, but even then you're doing it from a mechanical perspective. To me that's more of a learning experience than a proper review. To that extent, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a perfectly crafted game. There is not a single part of that game that was not meticulously looked over to ensure that everything was just right. Each level feels relatively unique, and overall the packaged game was presented in a vibrant way that was easy for anybody to pick up and enjoy.
Art is something you do for the sake of passing something along. Perhaps it's a message, a feeling, or an emotion, but it's something you do for yourself, and then maybe you share it with others to get that idea out there. In this regard, it's not that New Super Mario Bros. 2 is bad, but it's mostly devoid of anything special and personal. Sure, I still get a chuckle out of the pantomimed opening and closing videos, I still possess a lust for coins and 1-Ups, and I still just love the feeling of finding a hidden place in a level, but these are the result of their finely tuned craft. From an artistic side, and even a critical game design side, there's not much hear that screams "magic." I'm aware that not every Mario game has been in search of that magic, and certainly there's nothing wrong with simply making a finely tuned game; that's how the series started after all. But when you look back at Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Yoshi's Island, Mario 64, Mario Galaxy, and even Mario Sunshine, there was a clear attempt at passing curiosity in the well-crafted games. They had these unique mechanics designed to help you explore these hand-crafted worlds. Those games are the culmination of brilliant craftsmanship and artistic credibility melding together into unforgettable experiences that are regarded as the best in the industry for a reason. New Super Mario Bros. 2 doesn't have that feeling, and is perhaps the Mario game most devoid of any spark. So how do you convey this, and what's the best method of doing so? Do you review NSMB2 for it's brilliantly executed gameplay, or do you acknowledge that it's a great game and time-passer, but critique it for the lack anything that makes it special beyond that? I think you need to do both, and you need to do them separately.
The words critique and review are synonymous in most dictionaries and thesauruses, and on the surface level they basically mean the same thing. From a technical standpoint, however, a review is about the "what." What worked, what didn't, what is this game, what does it have, and what does it do. The purpose of a review is to tell people whether or not something is worth their time and money based on what it is. I have always been of the opinion that reviews should be less of an opinionated piece, and more of an objective examination of something. If I wanted a review of a product, I would go to Consumer Reports. They try out a product and tell you what's good, what's bad, and whether you should have one, and it's done from a very tested and mechanical standpoint.
A great example of how to do a review wrong can be seen on IGN's review of Double Dragon: Neon. In the very first paragraph the reviewer makes a bold, obviously personal claim that the era of beat-'em-up's is dead, and that Double Dragon: Neon is a failure out of the gate for adhering to that. That's not a review, it's not even a critique, it's an opinion piece. And a bad one at that. He's allowed to hate beat-'em-up's as much as I hate real time strategy games (because I suck at them), and you're totally cool to agree with the statement, but saying it like it's the truth is like saying Tomatoes are a dead fruit because you don't like them. They're dead to you, sure, but you are not everyone. This article does absolutely no service to the consumer that is trying to decide if this project is worth their time. The fact is, Double Dragon: Neon does exactly what it sets out to do by paying homage to the arcade games of old, and it does it damn well. That's what a review bi-line should look like for that game, because that really cannot be argued. Now, it can be argued how well it does it and whether it could have been done better or worst, but in the end it was made exactly the way it was meant to be made. The hardest thing to remember is that you disliking a game does not mean it is a bad game. It means you don't like it; nothing more and nothing less. Not realizing that fact is what makes this a bad review.
Conversely, a critique is about dissecting a game; they're about the How. How well are a games mechanics implemented and operating, and how does the critic feel they could be improved upon or avoided in future productions. How well does the developer pass along the desired emotions or feelings. (Remember: fun is a feeling!) Overall, it's about how the game did at it's mission statement, and how it can be improved. This type of writing is meant more for the developer, as well as other developers looking to improve their own games, than it is the general public. A critique isn't necessarily black and white as far as "well this could have been better with X," but it's based on reasoning and theory, not just mindless assumptions. This is an area that I feel like the industry lacks. There's not enough critiquing of the work of developers designed for developers. Instead, what happens is sites like IGN and Kotaku are trying to critique games to the people who buy them, which creates a mismatched environment. Reviewers put too much of themselves in a review, but they don't put enough thought into how things can be improved either. What you have lies between a critique and a review, and isn't terribly useful to the consumer or the developer. So if it's not for either of them, who is it for?
The reason I don't tend to read reviews in their current form on major sites is that they don't have any value to me as a consumer, or as a budding developer. Sure, a lot of reviews will tell me if a game is straight broken or not, but for example, I don't care what Jeff Gerstmann thought about Borderlands 2. I appreciate that he has an opinion, and admittedly I always love discussing thoughts on games. However, these are 1-directional monologues with no room for diatribe. Whether or not he's burnt out on the franchise shouldn't matter in a review. Maybe I am, too, or maybe I'm still hungry for more. So knowing that he's full of Borderlands doesn't help me decide whether or not to buy it. Now, saying that Borderlands 2 is "more of the same" is a valid review point, how that affects him is irrelevant because he's not the one purchasing the game. I am. And like anybody else reading that review, there's no reason the way he felt about a game should have any influence over the way I will feel over it. So what is the economical value of him including it in a review?
Let's go back to New Super Mario Bros. 2. This game is technically and mechanically flawless on every level. It works beautifully, it runs at a solid 60 frames per second, your objectives are clear and the gameplay is varied. There's nothing wrong with this game, from a strictly technical and gameplay perspective. However, if we want to work at the deeper side of the game, there are questions to be raised. How does the "collect a bajillion coins" mechanic really add to the experience? Making coin-lust the center focus on a Mario game is a great idea, and it's executed fairly well, but there's no end point to it. Also, you still have the life counter, which still grants 1-Ups based on collecting 100 coins at a time. In a game where you are literally getting showered with hundreds of coins per level, that life count makes even less sense than it ever has. Losing all of your lives hasn't been more punishing than it was back in the original Super Mario Bros., and yet the mechanic lumbers forward into the present without purpose. Overall, this is the type of thing where the game could improve upon, but doesn't subtract anything from the otherwise perfect experience either.
The conundrum here is how do you attach a number value to a game like this? I totally enjoyed my time with it, and it was an excellently crafted product, but I notice that it feels more hollow than previous installments. It doesn't have that spark. How do you decide whether or not this game is 'fun,' and with what confidence do you believe others will feel exactly the way you do? What is the numerical value of fun, and how much fun is too much? How high does the fun score have to be before your own fun is validated? How the fuck do you answer these questions and not sound like a totally crazy person?
These are questions that I think "games journalists" and "critics" need to stop trying to answer. The only person who can decide how fun a game is or how good a game is, is you. Results may very, but in the end, the quality of the title published shouldn't be viewed terribly differently from person to person f they're looking at it objectively. Until we get to that point, current "games reviews," are no different than reading somebody's forum post; they're just much more competently written. Usually.
What do you think, reader? Is there a difference between craft and art in video games? Do you think Reviews and Critiques are fine blended together in their current form on most sites? Do you have a better way of the whole system that even I haven't thought of? Please, feel free to discuss in the comments below.