Skip to main content

Steel Diver: Sub Wars in Review


Nintendo’s new Steel Diver: Sub Wars, a freemium 3DS release, is one of the best and most unique games I’ve played in a while. In contrast to the original Steel Diver, which was a quiet, molasses-slow 2D vehicle shooter, the new game is a quiet, molasses-slow 3D vehicle shooter. There are a smattering of single-player, objective based missions with multiple difficulties and medals for performance but the four-on-four team multiplayer submarine battles are the main attraction. Don’t think this is another deathmatch. This game doesn’t care about how fast your twitch reflexes are and there’s not a thousand variations of a machine gun to put in your loadout and there are no killperks or whatever to choose from. What this game prioritizes are patience, suspense, nerve and sheer cunning.

The controls are fussy and sometimes even agonizing. Piloting the game’s well-rendered submarines gives you a sense of weight, mass and the physics of pushing a huge, steel vessel through water. You’re faster on the surface than in the water, but there’s more mobility- and less visibility- beneath. Check the map for the areas where there are ships. Ping the sonar. Use the periscope to look port and starboard. You actually hunt in this game. You can pull the throttle back for a full stop and you won’t be detected by enemy sonar so you can actually sit and watch that murky shape in the distance, judging how much of a lead you need to fire a slow-moving torpedo. Or you can get a lock and fire one of your limited homing torpedoes that will pursue the target- if they don’t switch on their masking device. Fans of 688 Attack Sub or Silent Service might be disappointed that the game skews more arcade than simulation, but the details are meaningful.

It’s all about getting into the right angle at the right deflection and timing your shots- ideally without the enemy ever even seeing you. In the game’s best moments, you’ll find yourself in tense situations where the cat and mouse roles flip-flop a few times before somebody is sunk. Your sub is damaged and your command screen is cracked, red lights flashing and klaxons sounding. Suddenly, you’re at an advantage and you fire. There’s a sense of relief when you get the message that your torpedo scored a hit. There are no headshots. These subs can take a beating. There are no respawns, but there are occasional repair kits that can keep you in the game if you can maneuver into them. Each match is three to five minutes long, which is correct for a handheld device. The big number on your sub is your current streak of won games, a cool touch.

I’ve had a lot of fun with the multiplayer- there is definitely a learning curve and at first it doesn’t seem like there’s much to it and it feels way too slow. That should weed out the Call of Duty crowd nicely. Once you get the hang of piloting something that does not move like a shark on rollerblades (in contrast to most modern first-person games), the strategic possibilities start to emerge. And when you’re in matches with other players that clearly know what they’re doing, you’ll find that there is a lot you can do with the limitations imposed on movement, shooting and visibility. Even team communication is under a compelling limitation- you can only contact your team with Morse code. I haven’t seen anyone bothering to tap out racial slurs or other abusive language.

The single player game is fun as well, although I’ve only played the two missions included in the freemium package. There are seven total, and each has three variations of increasing challenge so there’s really 21 total missions to run. One is a ring-run with some opposition that’s quite challenging since it’s focused on maneuver. The other is a simple “blow up the fleet” sortie where bombers will show up if you stay on the surface too long. Like many of Nintendo’s best titles, the focus is on replayability and challenge. You’ll want to go back to these missions to earn the top medals.

There are a ton of subs to unlock through these medals and levelling up in the multiplayer. There are paint patterns- all customizable in terms of color- and hidden crew members you can rescue. The crew add bonuses to your sub’s stats, and some of the higher level subs let you take on more sailors. The freemium hit is that many of the unlockables are not available unless you pay the very modest $9.99 entry fee. The multiplayer is totally free, as long as you’re OK with playing with just the first two subs. And you might just be.

I think it’s no small coincidence that Peppy O’Hare, the rabbit from Star Fox, shows up in the game to help promote the $9.99 freemium package. Because Steel Diver: Sub Wars in many ways feels like some long-lost game from the Nintendo 64 era. Or possibly even the late SNES era. There is that unmistakable sense of Nintendo charm, even though it’s nowhere near as highly polished as some of the company’s best output. Rather than polish, it has a sense of daring. It’s a very uncommon concept-a “contemplative shooter” as Iwata-san called in last week’s Nintendo Direct. Smart money would never bet on such a game to succeed as a retail, $40 retail release but it’s wisely free try and cheap to buy. I’d love to see more like this and I’ll happily support this fine release with ten bucks the next time I pick up the 3DS.

Five Lies the Internet Tells about the Wii U

ten things wii u shot 1

Everywhere you turn these days, there’s a news article or a comment about how the Wii U is a “disaster”, a “flop” or a “failure”. There are constant reminders everywhere from the teenager blog sites to the Wall Street Journal that Nintendo’s beleaguered console isn’t selling as well as Iwata-san and company had hoped. There’s no doubt that Nintendo’s overly optimstic sales projections were a tragic misjudgment of the market- a market which I don’t think the Wii really belongs to. The Wii U isn’t really a competitor to the Xbox One or PS4. It’s a Nintendo console made to play Nintendo games. The handful of AAA ports are almost incidental. Sure, the marketing for the console has ranged from terrible to confusing to non-existent- but that’s no reason for such a great gaming machine to fail. Or for self-styled “game journos” and actual journalists to lie about it.

With Nintendo slashing its sales projections- which were way too high to begin with- the Wii U seems to be primed to get steamrollered by ultra-high powered consoles produced by divisions of two of the biggest corporations on the planet, ironically with all of these promises of “next generation” gameplay as yet unrealized. Yet I will be the first to tell you that it is the best current offering out of the next generation consoles. The PS4 that I picked up on launch day has seen maybe about two hours of total play time between Resogun, FIFA 14, and Don’t Starve. I play something on the Wii U daily. I love the Wii U, and lots of game players I’ve talked to and gamed with love it as well.

So what the hell is going on? Is the dogpiling the result of the hardcore internet forumistas punishing the Wii U for being something other than a new machine on which to play the latest AAA military shooter? Is there resentment being expressed here that Nintendo had such a great success selling the original Wii to senior citizens and the maligned “casual” market? Or is there just a complete misunderstanding about Nintendo and the Wii U, a failure by the mainstream and gaming press to acknowledge that the console isn’t quite trying to run the same race as the next-gen thoroughbreds?

I’m hardly “gaming press” (please don’t count me in with that loathsome bunch), but I want to be at least one voice that deflates some of the lies circulating about this fantastic console. If I get just one person to go out and give this machine a chance instead of beliving the bullshit, I’ll consider this article a success.

Lie #1- “The Wii U is underpowered.”

If this were the case, then Wii U users would be encountering massive slowdown and other technical issues while playing Super Mario 3D World. There would be Digital Foundry reports demonstrating how Pikmin 3 runs poorly on the Wii U compared to the other consoles. Oh wait, you can’t play Pikmin 3 on the other consoles. It turns out that the Wii U is perfectly powered to play Wii U games. Both of the mentioned games look incredible- far better than anything I have yet to see on the Xbox One or PS4. And it’s not just a hardware thing- it’s a production design thing. Those games are made to look great on the Wii U, and nowhere else.

Sure- the Xbox One or PS4 might run Assassin’s Creed 4 with better arm hair rendering or whatever, but who cares. It’s the old adage that you buy a Nintendo console to play Nintendo games, and the whole “underpowered” argument falls apart when you acknowledge that the AAA garbage that’s available for the Wii U is almost a perfunctory glance toward the marketplace dominated by Sony and Microsoft. Sure, the Wii U may not be able to run GTAV or whatever game some snarky AAA developer says will never run on the platform- but who cares? You want to play those games, buy a console powered to play them. You want to play Nintendo games (and some great third party exclusives)? Buy a Wii U.

I promise you will not be lamenting the console’s lack of “power” when you’re playing The Wonderful 101.

Lie #2- “There are no good games for the Wii U.”

Bullshit. The best games I played in 2013 were all Wii U titles. Sure, it didn’t have corny Z-grade trash like Bioshock Infinite or the Last of Us practically breaking their backs to strain for artistic credibility. But it did have some truly outstanding VIDEO GAMES with very traditional VIDEO GAME values released throughout its first full year of availability. What’s more, almost every one of the Wii U’s top games are not available on another console and you will never get them on a Steam sale. You can’t play the amazing HD re-release of Wind Waker anywhere else. Lego City Undercover- the best Lego game to date- utilizes the gamepad in such a way that even if there were a port for other consoles, you’d be missing out on some of its most fun features. And of course, the top shelf Nintendo titles are only playable on Nintendo hardware. As it should be.

So what if every single big-budget EA or Activision game doesn’t come out on the Wii U? I don’t really care. I’ll take one Super Mario 3D World, a game I’ll be playing for years to come, over the latest Splinter Cell or whatever. I’d rather play through Wind Waker another time than a new Mass Effect game, and if I want that I have a PS4- just in case. A console with ten great, timeless, perennial games is much more valuable than one that has tons of annualized AAA shovelware piled on to it.

Folks berate Nintendo all the time for reissues and new titles that stick closely to winning formulas- but they’re missing the point that many of Nintendo’s design concepts are timeless and evergreen. Rather unlike last year’s Assassin’s Creed game, which will be duly forgotten before the next one comes in November. Even if you don’t buy any new games for the Wii U, there’s still a wealth of great Wii titles that you can play on it (backward compatibility and all) as well as plenty of Virtual Console titles. It’s amazing how dated multimillion dollar shooters from 2010 feel when you can play SNES games designed for a fraction of those budgets that still fresh and vital today. The best Nintendo titles have always carried forward this sense of timeless design, innovation and uniqueness.

Bayonetta 2, the new Donkey Kong Country Returns, Smash Bros., Mario Kart 9, the next game from the Xenoblade Chronicles team, that crazy Hyrule Dynasty Warriors thing- lots to look forward to, and all games not available elsewhere except on the Wii U.

Lie #3- The Gamepad is a gimmick.

I’ll admit, I thought so too. I also thought that it was going to be a problem because it, like motion control, was a non-standard control device and that means both special programming and the potential for poor implementation. I doubted its value beyond impressing consumers (which really hasn’t panned out). I wasn’t exactly looking forward to games with perfunctory touch screen controls or silly gameplay tricks to get you to look at it.

But it turns out that the Gamepad is awesome. It’s a great controller, for one- probably the best Nintendo has made to date. But it’s also a terrific second screen device that offers some really fun and interesting gameplay elements. Games that really put it to use like Zombi U, Lego City Undercover, and the very underrated Nintendoland pack-in (my four year old’s favorite game) show its potential for innovation. Other games like Wind Waker HD use it primarily as device to simplify interfaces and add conveniences previously unavailable with strictly on-TV play.

But you can also play many games on the Gamepad without the TV, which is absolutely awesome. I’ve played a large part of Super Mario 3D World on the small screen. It’s an in-house handheld, and it works flawlessly. I don’t call that a “gimmick”, I call that a major function and selling point for the console. You don’t even have to buy an additional $200 handheld to get this feature, as you do with the PS4.

Lie #4- “The Wii U’s online features are behind the times.”

We’ve all read the recent reports from the anonymous developer that claimed that Nintendo’s engineers didn’t really have an understanding of Xbox Live or PSN. That may be the case. But I’m having no trouble at all using the Wii U’s clean interface to look at new content, watch Netflix or connect with friends. And unlike the other consoles, I am more than happy to let complete strangers post things into my games or on my home screen because I have yet to see any kind of negativity, hatefulness, childishness, sexism, racism, homophobia or other toxic behavior. I see posts every day “This game is FUN!” or funny, completely non-offensive pictures drawn by players. The atmosphere is totally different.

Nintendo is not setting out to do the same things that Sony and Microsoft are, I’m not sure why the bashers seem to think that they are. Nintendo has always tried to do something different with their online services, from their much-maligned “friend codes” to the way their virtual shop is set up. I can’t for the life of me figure out what is so bad or wrong about Nintendo’s online features. They work great. They’re simple. They don’t bother me at all.

I’m not having any trouble finding online matches of any games, I’ve not had any kind of connection issues, and more or less the online experience has been completely seamless and far more PLEASANT than anything I’ve ever encountered in six years of being online with the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Do these people mean that Nintendo’s online offering is behind the times because there aren’t advertisements and silly video replay features? Because you can keep those. Thanks. I’ll stay in the dark ages.

Lie #5- “The Wii U is a failure.”

Is the Wii U a financial failure? Yes, it appears that it is because of the aforementioned overly optimistic sales projections and Nintendo’s leadership apparently failing to see how Nintendo needs to move very much in its own spheres of influence and stay away from Sony and Microsoft. I think Nintendo would do well to ignore those companies altogether and to just do their own thing- which is what they’ve done well since the NES days. But is it really a failure in a larger sense, beyond not connecting with the consumer?

I don’t think it is at all.

Nintendo designed a top notch VIDEO GAME CONSOLE focused squarely on providing users with a fun experience. It is not intended to replace the cable box. It does not purport to interject itself into your social life with Twitter and Facebook integration or whatever. It does not want to help you make Skype calls or give you access to exclusive ESPN content. It wants you to put in a disc and PLAY A GAME. It’s a toy, and it doesn’t suggest that it is anything other than that. It will not attempt to take over your living room- unless you are counting having a group of friends over to play a great on-the-couch multiplayer title like the new Mario.

It runs the latest Nintendo software as well as excellent third party titles. It also happens to run ports of some of the big AAA blockbuster games if you care to partake in those. But its focus is on classic video game qualities like charm and challenge, not on providing sub-Hollywood “experiences” full of glossy murder and big-balls machismo.

It offers some innovative new ways to play games with the Gamepad and it provides users with access to a broad range of games from throughout Nintendo’s history, connecting the new with the timeless.

For all of these design goals- if not the financial ones- the Wii U is a smash success. So quit lying about it, Internet.

A Very Grinchy Wii U Impression Post

I was in the shower yesterday, just a couple of hours before heading out to the Gamestop to pick up my Wii U preorder, when I thought to myself “why the hell am I buying that stupid thing?” Thus began a tumultuous, flippity-floppity bout of a priori buyer’s remorse as I reminded myself of how I really didn’t want to play yet another Mario game (but in HD!) or a host of ports with pseudo-tablet support bolted on. ZombiU, my other pick out of the launch lineup, was getting a critical drubbing- most notably from IGN, who just a couple of weeks ago posted a radioactively glowing preview calling the game the Wii U’s “killer app”. I guess the IGN editors’ idea of a “killer app” is one that rates a 6.3 or “Okay”. What’s more, I found myself thinking that if I were going to buy it, I wanted the deluxe set after all. Not the 8 gig poor man’s version that I opted for to save $50. Damn Borderlands 2 for coming out the day I went to preorder.

At any rate, I wound up dropping my wife off to get a mani/pedi (on my dime, of course) and hauling my two kids over to the shop. I picked up the console and Mario, cancelling the ZombiU preorder in favor of waiting for Gamefly. After hearing multiple reports of folks walking into stores and buying them right off the shelf, the Gamestop clerk’s ranting and raving about how there would be absolutely none of these available at retail by the end of the day seemed awfully hyperbolic.

Once the family were all in bed, I found myself in the living room with the Wii U in its box just sitting there. At once, there was that “OMG new game console” feeling that’s very rare. Especially when we’re talking about a console that is sort of the advance warning of the next generation of hardware. But I also found myself checking Ebay to see what the aftermarket prices were looking like. I’m not proud. I’d double my money on it in a heartbeat if it meant buying the kids a bigger Christmas gift and one of the coveted deluxe Wii U sets.

I wound up reading a couple of comic books (Morrison’s superlative Batman and Robin, in case you’re wondering) instead of just tearing into the box and plugging in all of the rubber and cooper spaghetti into my stupid TV that only has two HDMI jacks. I had a flashback to 2006, when I wound up rather ridiculously with three Wiis on launch day, but had to wait until Christmas to open mine. I half wanted to just wait on it. But I also half didn’t really care about breaking it out.

I gave in, and yes it was fun and cool to see the new hardware. The gamepad is cool and it actually feels great once you get used to it. At first, it kind of feels like holding a coffee table even after endless hours of pawing an iPad. I rolled my eyes at having to set up another sensor bar, right over the remnants of the sticky tape where the last one went. It powered on, I got a little excited, and then that update you might have heard about started spooling up.

After 20 minutes and another issue of Batman and Robin, I decided to just play some Black Ops 2 (review forthcoming, by the way). After an hour or so, the Wii U was finally ready to do its thing. My first impression? God damn, the menus are slow. Second impression? I really don’t want to be reminded of the Wii, even though I had some good times with it and played some great games on it. It’s too soon.

I half-heartedly made a Mii. It was hardly the joyful “OMG it looks like me!” experience it was the first time. I just didn’t really care. I knew which glasses to pick, typically scowling mouth, tousled hair without poking around. Of course, there wasn’t anyone else in the room to laugh with me about it like there was last time. Regardless, I just couldn’t care less about making a goofy character that looks like me at this stage. With that done, I did all the usual setup steps, fumbled around to find a way to recover my old WiiShop account and purchases to no avail, and finally- some three hours after hooking it up- played some damn Super Mario Bros.

You probably expect some kind of epiphanic revelation, that after playing Black Ops 2 I was tickled and delighted to see Mario and the gang in bright colors. You might expect me to rhapsodize about how moving from brutally killing xXxshawtymac420xXx and JUGGAL0JEWK1LLA to one of those Magical Games of Our Youth somehow reminded me of the whimsy and wonder of video games. Not so much. My heart did not grow two sizes and all that. Instead, I thought “huh, HD”. Wondered what the point was of having the exact same image displayed on the gamepad as was on the TV. Thought for a minute that maybe I’d just turn the TV off and play it as a handheld. Made it through a couple of courses and died a bunch. Turned it off about 20 minutes later thinking “yep, it’s a new Mario game”. Of course it’s good. Of course it’s cute. But at this point in the franchise’s history, so what?

So I went right back to take up a slot on the wonderful all-Nuketown 2025 playlist. Maybe Call of Duty hasn’t budged all that much of the Modern Warfare design document. But at least it hasn’t been virtually the same nostalgia-coasting game that Super Mario Bros. has been since Super Mario World. I’m not really sure what I expected, but that last Rayman game blows it out of the water.

I did turn the Wii U back on to check out its Netflix functions, and that resulted pretty much in a shrug as well. Yeah, it’s cool to fiddle around with the menus on the tablet, but again, it’s a big so what. I stopped off in the eShop, remembered that I just had the 8gb model, and turned it off again. Didn’t wan tto pay $20 for Trine 2 anyway.

Here’s the thing. This is a very cool, potentially great console despite my ho-hum, Grinchy attitude toward it. Even though I didn’t feel that “this is the future of gaming” feeling that I felt using a Wiimote the first time (look how that turned out), I can imagine all kinds of awesome applications and innovations that would take advantage of it. The question remains if developers are going to leverage the novelty to do something interesting with it. Or if it’s the new waggle. There’s a very big “if” involved in assessing the Wii U and in particular the gamepad.

I’ve got a rental Darksiders II on the way, which I’m looking forward to, and I’ll probably try Assassin’s Creed 3 on it. I can finally play Xenoblade Chronicles, which I’m picking up today. I don’t have- and don’t care about- Nintendoland. Most of the other launch games I’ve either played elsewhere or have zero interest in. The promise of Bayonetta 2, Platinum’s other title, and using that gamepad in Colonial Marines give me much to look forward to. Developers, it’s in your hands whether this console becomes a major player or another laughing stock like the Vita. Sure, there will definitely be good Nintendo games on it. But what else? The tools are definitely there. The other very big question involved with the Wii U if there’s money there to convince game makers to use them. After atrocities like the Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream Game and M&Ms Cart Racing, not to mention any cut-rate minigame compliation, it isn’t hard to worry about what’s on tap for this new, promising hardware.

This morning, I looked at the console as I was putting a movie on for my son. It couldn’t be. Was that what I think it was? No. No. It can’t be. It can’t be a speck of dust. Not yet.

Ten Things About the Wii U We Didn’t Know This Morning

Nintendo released a metric ton of Wii U details this morning, across every territory on the globe capable of receiving electronic transmissions, so we now have a whole bunch of Wii U information to digest. Some of these things genuinely surprised me, some not so much. What is not at all surprising to me is that I have no idea if I’d get Wii U at launch. I have long since learned that there are two things that I don’t rule out buying: Transformer alt figures and Nintendo consoles at launch. Too many times I have gone on at length about my unwillingness to buy either, only to be proven wrong by my craven need for material goods.

I’m feeling list-y today, so here, in no certain order, are ten things we know about the Wii U, and by extension, Nintendo, that we didn’t know this morning:

Number 1: Nintendo Likes North America Best

Ok, that’s hyperbole but, Nintendo is releasing the Wii U in North America first, and if that doesn’t mean that they like us best, I don’t know what does. The launch date is November 18th for North America, November 30 for Europe and December 8 in Japan. You can rest assured that the North American release date is picked for one thing, and one thing only: Black Friday. It will be interesting to see how supplies work out, given that the console launches five days before Black Friday. If you don’t preorder one at launch, will fighting off hordes of Walmart shoppers be your only recourse? I don’t know if the general public will latch on to this like they did the original Wii, but given the extended return timelines during the holidays, you can always bring it back in January if you pick one up in November and then change your mind.

Number 2: Nintendo Has Heard of HDMI

Not only will the Wii U support the highest of high resolutions, 1080p, but every Wii U will come with an HDMI cable in the box. In the box! Honestly, I wasn’t sure that Nintendo knew that they don’t make tube TVs any more, so this is a big surprise for me. The PS3 used to come with an HDMI cable and the 360 never had one in the box, at least not to my knowledge, so this makes the Wii U super, extra special. Hopefully this also means that unwary consumers won’t be talked into buying some bullshit, overpriced Monster cable, but I wouldn’t guarantee it.

Number 3: Nintendo Has No Idea What a Window Is

I don’t know about you, but in my house, windows are opened for hours at a time, maybe days depending on where the window is in the house and how the weather changes. In Nintendo parlance, a window, as in “launch window” is open for over three months. That’s not a window, that’s a hole. I’m sorry, but if you’re looking to replicate the Wii’s success, you’re going to have to deal with consumers that don’t know that a game can be made available at the end of February, three whole months after their new console came out, and still be considered a “launch” game. You tell people that they can buy Black Ops 2 on the Wii U at launch, it better be in the goddamned store at launch. Now, that’s not a great example because it will be out on November 30th, but you get the idea.

Number 4: Nintendo Thinks Two SKUs Are Better Than One

Personally, I think that$299 is too high for the Wii U. Yeah, it has “better” graphics than the Wii and it has the fancy gamepad thing, but consumers may not see that as adding enough to the system to justify it being a) more expensive than the Wii was when it launched, b) more expensive than an Xbox 360 with Kinect and c) more expensive than a PS3. Sure, those consoles are getting an upgrade soon, but Ma and Pa Kettle don’t know that. Add to the fact that in order to get a pack-in game, Nintendoland, you have to pay an extra $50 and you’re going to have consumers wonder why it doesn’t come with a game like the Wii did. I’ve seen Nintendoland and I don’t think it explains the point of the Wii U as well as the Wii did, but that’s just me. Sure you get more memory and various stands and cradles, which will appear to be “free” when factoring in the cost of Nintendoland, but I still don’t think that’s a great value proposition.

Number 5: Nintendo Really, Really Liked Bayonetta

Ok, this was the biggest surprise of them all, Bayonetta 2 coming to the Wii U as an exclusive and not only as an exclusive but a Nintendo published exclusive. Huh? I completely understand that Nintendo is looking to present the Wii U as a competitor for current gen consoles and next gen and having something like Bayonetta 2 certainly does that, but come on, Bayonetta? Not every game has to appeal to every person, but I can’t wait to see the Best Buy dude explain to Timmy that, under all of that hair, she’s totally naked.

Number 6: Nintendo Wants People Yapping At You While You Try and Watch The Mentalist

I don’t know why these new fangled electronic devices assume that I want people bending my ear while I watch TV but I can assure you, I do not. Hell, half of the stuff that I watch, I’m embarrassed to admit to mixed company. I don’t have enough disparate tastes in my house to have personalized TV choices for all of them. Here’s the TV, if you don’t like what’s on, go read a book. I certainly don’t want people knowing what I’m watching as I’m watching it and if you bother me while I’m watching Justified, I will hogtie you and Dickie Bennett your ass like you was born and raised in the Holler.

Number 7: Launch Lineups Are Constitutionally Obligated to Be Boring

I mean, come on, looking at this launch lineup, is there anything remotely exciting? A new Mario game, a new Wii Fit, Nintendoland, a bunch of EA games, some throwaway casual bullshit titles, another Rabbids game from Ubisoft and then a whole bunch of games that either will have been recently released for other consoles, or have been out for months. I know that Nintendo is banking on this lineup appealing to people who never moved on from the Wii U but I think there are few fewer of those people out there than Nintendo believes.

Number 8: Nintendo Has Realized that the Internet Isn’t Going Anywhere

Based on all of the social bells and whistles built into this thing, it’s clear that Nintendo is starting to come around to the joy that is the Internet. This is further evidenced by the fact that the more expensive bundle comes with some sort of points redemption thingy that rewards points for purchasing digital games, points that can then be redeemed to purchase more digital games. It’s not at all unlike the current Club Nintendo offerings, but being able to do it directly on the console will make it easier and hopefully expose more people to Nintendo’s downloadable offerings, of which there are many. No word on whether or not Nintendo will make playing games with real life people easier, but if they don’t, 3rd party developers will fill the void, as they have with the Wii, the DS and the 3DS.

Number 9: Nintendo Loves Breaking Bad

Well, Reggies does. Smart man, that Reggie is.

Number 10: Nintendo Is Making an Effort With Third Party Publishers

I ragged on the launch lineup, because I’m coming at this as someone who plays a lot of games and wants to see new things at launch, but honestly, this is one of the strongest third party launch lineups for a Nintendo console I’ve seen in recent memory. Darksiders II, CoD: Black Ops 2, Mass Effect 3, Bayonetta, Batman: Arkham City, 007 Legends, Epic Mickey 2, Trine 2, Monster Hunter 3 plus others we don’t know about yet. Nintendo is clearly trying to escape the stigma of being a 1st party console only and this is a good way to start. The fact that the games that have been released previously all come with content released as DLC helps too. Granted, I won’t play any of these games over again, but those nine people who haven’t played Mass Effect 3 yet are in for a treat!

As I said before, I’m still not sure what I’m going to do. I don’t know how much Wii U interest there is around here and as I’m no longer being paid to write anywhere, it’s not like I can treat this as a business decision. Nintendo will have to do a lot between now and launch to convince me to buy one on November 18th and not have it be a Christmas gift, but anything is possible. I have wavered in the past and will do so again, probably many, many times.

B3 at E3 2012- Day 1: Nintendo

It’s time to update NHS’ B3 at E3 2012 coverage, what with Nintendo’s stunning press conference now over and the NHS crew probably laid up in their hotel room, still reeling from a night of eating exotic, rich folks food like “six cheese pizza” at CPK and wine coolers by the pool with Snoop Dogg and Tom Chick. Frankly, I’m ashamed that my NHS colleagues have not flooded the internet with E3 coverage. We should have posts every five minutes about stuff like Halo stickers in the bathroom and whatnot. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD TODAY, and NHS has dropped the ball.

Thank goodness for the power and journalistic might of B3. Now, about that Nintendo press conference…

After being the laughing stock of the last several E3 shows, Nintendo came fully prepared this time, with guns blazing. And by fully prepared, I mean with a zombie game and by guns blazing I mean a zombie shooter. It’s called Zombu: Electric Boogaloo or something like that. They also came prepared by showing some of last year’s top games like Arkham Asylum and Mass Effect 3: Intergalatic Booty Call working on their new Wii U hardware. Everyone seemed pretty excited to play old games while holding an iPhone, using Nintendo’s new Smart Glass technology. Or to just play a Nintendo game using the new “Regular Controller”.

But to kick things off, they showed a still image of Shigeru Miyamoto’s face for ten minutes on the big screens while the Super Mario Bros. theme played. Everyone smiled and nodded affirmatively, remembering the halcyon days of youth. A bunch of midgets dressed like Mario characters rode on stage on minibikes. Then, the man himself took the stage and apologized humbly and deeply in a very Japanese way for Wii Music. Then he said “Pikmin 3” and a bunch of Nintendo nerds got excited, thinking it might be a sequel to cult Wii hit Little King’s Story.

Then, just like on Iron Chef, the new Wii U console rose from the stage amidst smoke and a light show. The speakers emitted the “you found a treasure” fanfare that’s been used in every Zelda game since 1985, and again everyone smiled and nodded affirmatively in the warm glow of nostalgia. The new console will come in 35 different colors including “black” and “white” and can support up to TWO controllers at once without overheating and blowing up. Its MSRP was not announced, but fair market value seems to be about a hundred bucks.

Bulldog-faced weirdo Reggie Fils-Aime took to the stage and announced- to everyone’s surprise- that the Wii U will play the Mario game tapes as well as minigame compliations. It seems that Nintendo is banking on everyone’s nostalgia for the “Spirit of ‘06” and the magic we all felt about the Wii launch before we played it. But the Wii U will also feature internet connectivity and stuff like Netflix, which I don’t think the Wii ever really had.

Bob Hoskins, who portrayed Mario in the Super Mario Bros. movie as well as hardened gangster Harry Shand in “The Long Good Friday” was presented and talked about Nintendoworld Land, a new theme park or something opening sometime soon outside of Wasau, Wisconsin. Seedy carnies- their toothless visages hidden by giant foam heads of beloved Nintendo characters- will wave and uncomfortably hug your children while you dine on mushrooms and raccoon tails. The park will include a shrine to Miyamoto-san made of marshmallows and pixie dust as well as a special “edutainment” exhibit that will explain to children and adult gamers alike the evils of so-called “next generation” game-playing hardware.

There was something called MiiVerse, but I think it was just an announcement that they’re going to force you to look at your ghastly MiiParade every time you turn the console on. I hope that somewhere my Miis of David Bowie, James Brown, Glenn Danzig, and Tom G. Warrior were saved.

Of course, Wii Fit U was a big hit among attendees, their bellies fat with lemon bars and foie gras eaten off of the nude bodies of strippers, provided by Electronic Arts. The new edition will feature exciting minigames like “walking” and “standing”. With the new Wii U controller, players will also be able to hold it while exercising. The 3DS was also represented. Everyone squinted and tried to move to see the giant 3D images displayed of Mario and Luigi laughing in a giant pile of money. Then Mario pops out of the screen and says “Wesa told you so! Peepala poopala!”

I have to say that in all I was really disappointed. This year, Nintendo did not bring any kind of novelty, “gotcha” joke things like the Wii Vitality sensor.

That’s pretty much all I could see from flipping through a couple of Web sites five minutes before I wrote this. But hey, ANY coverage is better than none, right?