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SonicFire

Dark Souls II seems to lack something, maybe it's interconnectedness?

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The WiiU? Nintendo seems determined to make more dust-collectors


Like most dedicated gamers out there, I was waiting in anticipation for Nintendo's E3 press conference. Unfortunately, it was hard to come away from the press briefing feeling anything but confused. The new system, as we learned, is a bit baffling to explain. From what I, Giantbomb, and journalists everywhere can tell, Nintendo seems to be certain only of its controller design. Everything else - from how many controllers it will support, to graphical capability and supported titles - elicits a big "I dunno yet" from everyone at Nintendo. But as details come falling out, piece by piece, it appears that the WiiU will follow firmly in the steps of the original Wii. I do not mean to sound hyperbolic, but it looks to me as though Nintendo is transfixed on selling gimmicks, rather than a dedicated, competitive software platform. 
Will I need a Swiffer for you.. I mean, um, WiiU?
Will I need a Swiffer for you.. I mean, um, WiiU?


Let me back up a few steps, you know, before anyone takes my head off. I should probably explain that I've been a long-time fan of Nintendo. The SNES remains my all-time favorite system, I still love the N64, and I preferred the Gamecube over the PS2; hell, I even owned a Virtual Boy. Still, Nintendo did manage to lose me with the Wii. I bought the system when it was still flying off shelves, played the marquis titles (Smash Bros., Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, etc.) but then got rid of it when it began collecting dust, with no interesting titles in sight.
 
It's that last point I want to belabor: collecting dust. Nintendo has proven that it can produce decent first-party titles, even if they are retreads of the same 4 or 5 IPs. But the dearth of decent 3rd-party titles made the Wii a relic before its time. The majority of my friends own Wii consoles, and I can safely say that not one of those dozen or so systems have seen use in the last year. The GB editors have also remarked that there haven't been many compelling reasons to get that "blue slot" glowing. There are many reasons for this, but the most fundamental is that the Wii's design eschewed graphical and technical capability for its motion control ambitions. In other words, they emphasized the wiimote over modern graphical capability and control functionality. Now I cannot deny that motion controls have permeated gaming, and for better or worse, are here to stay for all three console giants. However, the fact remains that there is only so much that can be done with waggle controls. Third-party failures and developmental bombs (see for example: The Conduit  ) have shown that it's difficult to make any of these schemes compelling. One might argue that only the Wii Sports titles have made it more than a tack-on feature. Ultimately, it's the focus on "gimmick" that has made the console a wasteland for shovelware, and therefore a dust collector.   
 
In the wake of E3, we learned that WiiU is focusing its efforts on a "new technology" to revolutionize gaming. By beaming game-related information to a touch-screen controller, Nintendo hopes to open up new methods for playing console games. But the question remains, is this going to be compelling over the long-term, or is just another short-lived gimmick? Jeff, Alex, and the GB crew took their experiences with the controller as a positive, saying "hey, these WiiU tech demos seemed cool." But let's look back to last year, when they were saying much the same about the 3DS, with its AR games and nifty tech demos. In the end, these technologies were impressive... for about five minutes. Therein lies my concern - are the "shield pose" and "catch me" demos truly revolutionary experiences, or are they the new equivalent of "face-raiders" and Steel Diver's "parascope view?" In truth, we can't know until after the system has launched and established itself, but there is nothing to suggest a broader experience that will rock our collective worlds. If I was being very cynical (which I am wont to do), I would say that the WiiU looks like a home-console version of the DS: one in which your TV serves as the top screen, with the remote functioning as  the DS' touch screen. Given the new controller screen's lack of multi-touch or capacitive interfacing, the comparison is not entirely unfair. 
 
Still, what has me more alarmed are Miyamoto's recent statements that the WiiU will not strongly outperform the Xbox 360 or the PS3. In the immediate term, this will not be a problem. But as Microsoft and Sony ready their new technologies - for 2013 and beyond - a holiday 2012 release for the WiiU could mean that the console may not have long before it becomes "old tech" again, placing it the same category as the Wii is now. In truth, most of us assumed the WiiU wouldn't be the next evolution of graphical fidelity, but we also assumed that it would have a slight advantage, like the Dreamcast did back in 1999. I realize that Nintendo will still be able to offer HD first-party titles, and these may be fantastic, (even if they're more Mario and Zelda titles). However, are ports (especially late-arriving ports) of 3rd-party titles going to serve as incentives for hardcore gamers to buy for the WiiU? In all seriousness, are gamers - particularly those invested in trophies/achievements and XBL/PSN services - going to choose the Nintendo port, all things being equal? 
 
To be fair, this is all speculation on my end. Hell, all of this is speculation, as even Nintendo doesn't know what the WiiU is going to be able to do. But I think its worthwhile to ask whether a console built around another control gimmick (for lack of a better word) and a slight increase in graphical fidelity (over its predecessor) going to be the next big thing? Now I will not be surprised if this thing sells incredibly well, just as the Wii did. Nintendo products have an uncanny ability to sell to broad audiences and demo well on Morning talk shows. I have no way of knowing whether this will be a commercial windfall or financial wipeout. Frankly, I'd be delighted if it was the best thing to ever happen to gaming. But as the E3 buzz settles, I have to wonder, is Nintendo making another dust collector? If so, it's a great thing that Nintendo likes the color white.
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