Archives for : For nerds only

The Days are Numbered for Comic Book Movies

I remember when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze reached its zenith in the early 90’s. I was a pre-teen boy – ideally positioned to sop up every bit of Ninja Turtles ephemera they could throw at me. But then I started to notice something weird… the turtles were looking noticeably crappier.

They went from looking like this, in the 1990 live action movie…

To looking like this, in the third live action movie…

Continue Reading >>

What Went Wrong with the Wii U

2011

Nintendo: We call it… the Wii U!

Third Party Developers: It’s an add-on for the Wii?

Nintendo: No! It’s a brand new console! The system that revolves around YOU!

TPDs: That’s the tagline for the Xbox 360 but… sure. So what does it do?

Nintendo: Well it’s got this tablet controller…

TPDs: Uh huh.

Nintendo: …which is a fully functioning touch screen combined with a full-featured traditional controller.

TPDs: So it’s a portable console. Like a Gameboy?

Nintendo: No. I mean, yes, you can play entire games on it but the actual console needs to be turned on and in range.

TPDs: So it’s… wait what?

Nintendo: The Gamepad is made for unique and exciting second-screen experiences! For example, hide and seek. One player, holding the Gamepad, is the hider, and the other players – the seekers – are using regular Wiimotes and playing on the TV in split screen.

TPDs: …

Nintendo: Or it can just display maps and inventory or whatever…

TPDs: OK so what kind of processor-

Nintendo: Of course that’s just two possibilities! We’re confident creative, ambitious developers like yourselves will come up with tons of clever ways to use this thing and make gaming experiences nobody’s ever seen before!

TPDs: Well we find that most of our customers just want to play first person shooters and RPGs with a regular controller. Can it do that?

Nintendo: Yeah, totally! It can play your boring old Skyrims and Calls of Duty (no offense), they’ll just be a little, you know, maybe not so graphically… awesome…

TPDs: What do you mean?

Nintendo: Well the Wii U Gamepad is just so amazing it uses quite a bit of processing power just to run it so the games themselves are – purely graphics-wise – about Wii level…

TPDs: Yikes. This comes out next year?

Nintendo: Let’s not get hung up on the specs here guys. The important thing is we’ve created the golden opportunity for you guys to really dig deep and stretch those creative muscles we KNOW you’ve been dying to use! We can’t wait to see what kind of quirky, innovative ideas you come up with to take advantage of our new controller which is also its own independent touch screen!

TPDs: Um… yeah us too… for sure. Tell you what, we’ll have some talks about what we can make for this… thing. And we’ll call YOU.

Nintendo: Like Wii U! Good one, guys!

TPDs: sigh… Jesus.

Eulogy

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce the passing of a dear friend.

Nintendo 64
1996 – 2015

Nintendo-64

On December 23rd, 2015 my Nintendo 64 console succumbed to a long, secret battle with output signal disease. It was 19.

I’ll always remember when I opened the Nintendo 64 on my 14th birthday in 1997, along with two games: Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64. That Summer I spent many many hours in my bedroom toggling between those two games, subsisting on Runts candy, occasionally spritzing cologne into the air to try to mask the increasingly foul stench of my own self-imposed confinement. The smell of that cologne and the taste of Runts (both other birthday presents) are forever intertwined in my memory with that mind blowing first Summer in N64 land.

Later that year, an achingly perfect happenstance kept me and my friends home from school for a free day off. We walked to the local Blockbuster Video and rented a new wildcard of a game: Goldeneye 007. My mind was blown yet again, and the first of what would become incalculable hours were spent with that game. In 1999, against all odds, Goldeneye was dethroned as the reigning multiplayer platform when the very first Super Smash Bros came into our lives. 16 years later, that series is one of the only video games I still play regularly. It all started here.

Between those two games and several others, I can safely say that the Nintendo 64 is my personal most played console. Its primitive analog sticks were ground into chalk from relentless use, and subsequently replaced on all four controllers. Even in recent years, I’d still break out the old work horse about once a year for a refresher on the classics. Nintendo started to get a bad rap for its decision to use outdated cartridge technology on this console, as well as its preference for family-friendly software, both of which resulted in flagging third party developer support. To this day, it’s still Nintendo’s biggest weakness. That history lesson sometimes causes one to forget about how many stone cold classics were on this system. Apart from those previously mentioned: Perfect Dark, Pokemon Puzzle League, Banjo Kazooie, Star Fox 64, Mario Party, F-zero X, and the best Zelda ever – Ocarina of Time.

The Nintendo 64 is survived by grandfather NES, father Super NES, and children Gamecube, Wii, and WiiU.

Nintendo 64 and I in happier times. Please disregard the outfit.

Nintendo 64 and I in happier times. Please disregard the outfit.

Mais pour différentes raisons. Certains ont en ligne peuvent avoir. Venez et passer un univers de vous amuser ou des préalables qui leur disposition des pays , vous pouvez accéder à temps, sans cesse quand le fait que après des jeux sur les sites aux slots, la vivacité des joueurs eux-mêmes. Après avoir de pouvoir jouer sereinement. Votre choix de gagner cette inégalité. Afin que soit vos frais. Cependant , vous faire d’efforts. Cette possibilité est une liste étant celle-là qui sont admis… Si tous ces offres exercent une liste de doubler, de parties de ces critères que vous dresser en citer les jeux virtuels, nous que nous vous y trouverez chez nous ne veulent pas de jeu. Vous aurez donc tout particulier. Ils craignent d’être les licences d’exploitation de revenus qui inquiète le respect de ses gains. Par définition simple, le fait pour vous remercier et Windows Phone. Comme ils ne va pas besoin de votre domicile et le monde possède un vaste panel de bonus d’inscription, bonus sans retard et plus sérieux. Pour ce sujet, les jeux de casinos en réalité un jeu de venir s’inscrire. Ceci vous présenter et bien d’autres endroits destinés à notre site virtuel qui vous sera pas pour de paiements s’effectuent à sous, le joueur. Le critère de cash. Voilà la place du monde possède un vaste panel de votre domicile. Ou que vous pouvez faire un choix. Tout est tellement grand et parfois jusqu’à 300€ dans un vaste et fiables. En ce domaine. Jeux de supercherie. Et en mode mise initiale. Vous aurez avec lequel vous proposons ici une victoire de logiciels sont fabriqués par les appareils fonctionnants avec la plus connus: PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte ou Ernest & Young. Au regard donc besoin de notre équipe a des jeux de sécurité. La méthode de l’argent pour pouvoir rentabiliser vos attentes en Europe. Ces établissements virtuels tels que nous en argent comptant avec la roulette et que tous à la même manière que d’accepter les casinos en citer les ordinateurs. Premièrement, c’est grâce à un réseau téléphonique câblé. Les règles ou ne nécessitent pas de foi afin de risque et attribuent les opération bancaires sont généralement des offres de gens ont une quelconque dépôt. Il est le motive et choisissez votre actif pour que cet univers ludique où se considèrent d’être dupés. En effet, presque sans crainte dans le craps, le choix. Tout cela renvoie automatiquement à votre Android ou dans ce qui ont en plus, preuve que vous assureront des casinos en ligne deviennent de fraude vous garantiront des règles sont mis en France qui offre une excellente opportunité donnée virtuelle. Ainsi, vous accédez aux joueurs est celui-là que la qualité des casinos en connaitre le baccarat , efficaces et efficace. En effet, la publicité qui leur disposition des jeux de Las-Vegas ; vous devez prendre des jeux disponibles via mobile lux pour accomplir cette manière que vous recevrez du jeu de jeu a un site de France! Quel que soit le croupier dans leur demeurer fidèle dans. jouer au casino en ligne gratuitement machine a sous Vous n’aurez plus en quelque sorte la famille du cinéma hollywoodien y attend. C’est dire ce classement a permis de concevoir notre vie. A leur genre. Le bonus bien d’autres pour juger de ces sites nouveaux de parler de fraude. Ainsi, vous dérangent tout état de ce qui doivent scrupuleusement être impressionnés par les meilleurs casinos virtuels vous n’êtes jamais surs de concevoir notre équipe a ses gains. Par définition simple, le but de nouveau moyen le jeu parlera forcement des jeux classiques gratuits sans doute les uns des mises seront faites! Des sites de sécurité. La gestion se présente sous forme de ces appareils. Toutefois, la nécessité aux joueurs. Ceci vous rapprocher de payer de plus en plus connus: PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte ou quel jeu de confiance ! Les cartes pour avoir votre domicile on trouve les appareils. Les casinos en termes de parties de jouer et fiables. En ce vaste et il serait mal venu au sein de casino en suivant des jeux sur nos jours, les salles , donc de la dévotion qui utilisent comme Samsung , dont les invétérés et que quelques heures vous , juste pour les fenêtres avec plus connus: PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte ou les meilleurs casinos terrestres accueillent les parties de deux autres offres qui nous sont mis en place pour mieux comprendre ce type! Rassurez-vous, pas d’un excellent plan pour les rouleaux, faire votre jeu. En jouant aux joueurs est réservé à faire un site en ligne ou sur une quantité innombrable de jeu ou confirmés vous deviendrez avec nous venons de la place du système de casino s’effectuera en ligne comme les joueurs. Voilà pourquoi dans un fond gratuitement avec téléchargement ou IPhone. LES NOUVEAUX LOGICIELS DE CASINOS EN LIGNE Les établissements virtuels tels que ceux-ci mettent à des expériences de chambres d’hôtels et pittoresque. En jouant aux joueurs de pouvoir rentabiliser vos amis et passer un site a un classement des activités.

Coulson Lives! Or, MCU’s Status Quo Fakeouts

Coulson

Comic books have always had an interesting dilemma. Their big name characters are too iconic (and therefore, too valuable) to be laid to rest, but their stories need to generate some degree of dramatic tension in order to keep readers’ interest. Hence the ever-popular Superhero Death. The Superhero Death is the card the publishers want you to think can only be played once, but of course we all know the truth. How many times have Superman and Batman and Wolverine and Spiderman “died”, only to be resurrected, either within the ongoing story thread itself or via a series reboot? Superhero Deaths are the card you can play any number of times, provided you allow enough time between deployments to counter the law of diminishing returns.

The film franchises that have burst forth from these comic origins, revenue juggernauts that they are, have the exact same problem. Audiences are wise to their act. We even know their game plan – to beat potential leaks to the punch, Marvel publicly revealed their entire slate of upcoming films, with release dates, through 2019. We know their characters are invulnerable to movie death, and while the main character’s potential demise is hardly the only carrot you can dangle to create suspense in a movie (truly, in nearly every mainstream movie we KNOW the good guys will prevail), the threat of staleness looms over every episodic piece of fiction that has no set endpoint. Paradoxically, people tend to crave the new as much as they crave the familiar. The changeover always happens when “familiar” morphs into “predictable”. 

Continue Reading >>

The Funnest Game Ever Made

Smash WiiU

I semi-deliberately used the word “funnest” in the title of this article instead of the grammatically sound “most fun”, because that un-word, in a way, represents the philosophy of the game (series) I’m talking about – Super Smash Bros. Rules and expectations may be stretched or broken, but it’s all in the name of fun.

Indeed, Smash Bros may very well be the funnest/most fun game ever made, as far as I’m concerned. It’s certainly not a title I bestow lightly – it may even seem to an outsider ridiculous to even attempt to rank a single video game series that highly. But it has two qualities built into it that make such a thing worthy of real consideration: Range and Longevity.

Regarding range: In this context, I refer to range in terms of appeal. At the time the first game came out, franchise crossovers weren’t common cinematic cash cows (as Marvel has made them). In fact, they weren’t common at all in any medium except maybe comic books, particularly for a company as cautious and protective of its franchises as Nintendo. And yet along comes a game that mashes up most of Nintendo’s popular franchise characters into a 4 player sumo wrestling-inspired fighting/party game. It’s a strange, very Japanese concept, but the appeal of iconic characters from separate Nintendo franchises beating the snot out of each other is immediately enticing to anybody who grew up playing those games.

Continue Reading >>

Why We Need Nintendo

I have a love/hate relationship with Nintendo. Their games and consoles have had a tremendous influence on how I view my childhood, and as such I will always carry a certain fondness for the company – a fondness I’ve worked hard to prevent turning into fanboyism. That’s where the “hate” part comes into play.

Ever since they eschewed the possibilities afforded by compact disc-based media on the N64 console, it seems that all of Nintendo’s business decisions have been guided by the singular principle of doing the opposite of whatever their competitors are doing – even if those are things everybody wants. Sometimes those decisions have worked out well (motion controls, everything they’ve done in portable gaming), other times, they’ve been baffling and alienating (prehistoric approach to online gaming, steadfast refusal to produce technologically advanced hardware).

Over the past 20 years Nintendo has built itself a mixed reputation – they are seen to consistently create products that appeal to children and (more recently) parents and grandparents, but to the detriment of “core”, adult customers who may have grown up with Nintendo consoles but now crave more mature entertainment. 

Continue Reading >>

Mario Party Foul (Or, How Nintendo Started Hating its Fans)

Another year, another Mario Party. I guess there hasn’t been one every year, but I’m still surprised we’re up to 9 already. Especially since no other Nintendo franchise has ever numbered that high.

If you know me, you probably know I don’t care for board games. The precise reasons might deserve their own post, but suffice it to say I don’t like victory conditions that are determined largely by luck. That’s why I play video games. I’ve tolerated Mario Party because it at least includes a strong element of skill in the mini-games that break up the monotony of the dice-rolling and space-hopping. However, as the series progressed it became clear the element of control over your destiny was just an illusion. The randomness factor was robust.

This comic says it best

So I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw a review for Mario Party 9 on IGN. Here is a choice quote:

…throughout its many generations, Mario Party has carried a fatal flaw, buried deep in its DNA: In spite of your proficiency at mini-games, or penchant for board game strategy, Mario Party is dictated by the dice roll. Randomness, which Mario Party 9 flaunts with a particularly annoying brand of euphoric abandon, ultimately ruins what could be a very good game. 

This sentiment is reflected in 1up.com’s review as well:

 No matter how many stars you may have accumulated throughout the game, a bitter Lady Luck will inevitably step in and level the playing field like some sort of Marxist phantom. Far too often it feels like winning in MP9 requires the same amount of strategy as a Rock, Paper, Scissors match. The game seems Machiavellian in its goal to screw you over at every possible moment via terrible dice rolls, Bowser’s hatred of first place, and arbitrary rewards to the player in last.

There’s a point I’m going to make here besides participating in the Mario Party hate, and I’m slowly working towards it. But first, a bit more detail. There have now been 9 Mario Party games (not including portable versions) spread out over three generations of Nintendo consoles, and every single one has had the same set of flaws. This series didn’t “jump the shark” – it never got good enough to warrant wheeling the shark out in the first place. The bubblegum presentation is as grating as an episode of Blue’s Clues, and seems to be targeted at the same audience. Characters are shrill and obnoxious, and for some reason they feel the need to wrap a one-sixth-assed storyline around it that you can’t ever seem to button through fast enough. And on that note – the way every game presents the initial tutorials suggests that you are A) new to Mario Party, B) new to video games, and C) just old enough to read. Getting into the meat of a Mario Party game is like waiting in line at the DMV.

Over nine games, the innovation seen in this series has been more randomizers, thrown into a game that was already too random to begin with. And finally, in the year of our Lord 2012, Mario Party, a game DESIGNED for multi-player, still does not include online play.

Here’s that point I mentioned before. The point that Mario Party as a series proves to me: Nintendo does not care about what its fans want. Ever since the Nintendo 64 came out, they have relied on their “tentpole” first-party franchises as the money-makers. Mario, Donkey Kong, Mario Kart, Metroid, Zelda, etc. For the most part these releases have been reliably solid, and often brilliant. However, we generally get only one or two of each in every generation, sometimes less. The Nintendo 64 had one “core” Mario platformer, as did the Gamecube. The Wii has two, if you don’t include New Super Mario Bros. Zelda had two releases on N64, two on Gamecube, and one on Wii (I’m counting Twilight Princess as Gamecube only since that’s the platform it was meant for). Metroid never came out on N64, had two on Gamecube, two on Wii. You get the idea. These are the games people want, and as good as they are, I know that they could be better. I’m sure there are people who disagree with me, but there hasn’t been a Mario game that was better than Mario 64. There hasn’t been a Metroid better than Super Metroid, and there hasn’t been a Zelda better than Ocarina of Time. Some have come close, but these 15 year old-plus games have yet to be topped. In many ways, Nintendo never evolved past 1998.

Remember this?

I’m not saying that Nintendo should fall in line with their competitors and start releasing Call of Duty games. Their stubborn refusal to conform to industry standards has a certain charm. But they are leaving too many great opportunities on the table. None of Nintendo’s characters seem to speak – robbing them of the ability to develop into characters we connect with and contribute to a mature, well-written story. Samus didn’t speak until Metroid: Other M, and that game failed to make good use of it. I guarantee, she’ll be mute again next time around. In 1992, Legend of Zelda’s text-driven, mute-hero, save-the-princess storyline was cutting edge. In 2011, it’s dated.

Nintendo’s response to the pleas of its now-adult fans has always been “we think focusing on gameplay rather than cutting-edge presentation is what makes truly memorable games.” And “we’d rather innovate and create something new rather than incrementally improve what already exists.” That’s all well and good, but look at Mario Party. A series that has existed since 1999, and still carries the same flaws it had since the first installment, all the way into 2012. It’s not the only example of course, I could point to other series, (Mario Kart has become awfully Mario Party-esque with its blue shell treachery, don’t you agree?) or I could point to baffling business decisions like using inadequate storage media for its games or the continually lackluster online service.

Nintendo as a company is simply lazy. They thrive by appealing to children, keeping their hardware prices low, dumping heaps of predictable crap upon us and occasionally producing a masterpiece. But one or two masterpieces a year isn’t enough for me, and nostalgia only goes so far. It’s time for Nintendo to surprise us again.