On May 21 st, the Xbox One was announced, and with it came the severe policies that turned it into the laughing stock of a generation. When the policy reversals, shady business practice and questionable morality with corporate sponsorship arose, the laughing only became louder. And at the end of this odyssey, there was only one fact I could see; games are not ready to be art.
It’s not just Microsoft. While they may have been the proponents of a potential era of cynicism where games are just a service that we pay for and then discard with no afterthought, the competition is not bursting with artistic aspirations, either. Sony has offered me little respite, as the appearance of games I can truly consider to be art on the PlayStation 4 seems coincidental at best. The Wii U GamePad may be a fabulous machine for all I know, but when the biggest appeal of the platform lies in a Zelda remake and a Mario platformer, I see little reason to be euphoric – depicting Mona Lisa from various angles doesn’t make for new art.
Keep reading past the jump!
At this point, I'd hope it's become fairly apparent to just about everyone that indie games have started to matter a bit. Nintendo and Sony in particular have caught on and have been opening up the doors to their digital store services, Nintendo eShop and PlayStation Store, but—let's be honest—Sony's been seeing quite a bit more success in the indie realm than Nintendo has. One part of that is certainly that Sony's had the more successful platform of the two—PlayStation 3's last year and now PlayStation 4—over the last year or two, the rough time period during which both companies began to double their efforts with indies, making Sony the more attractive business partner.
However, there is another factor which I think goes overlooked when people question why Sony's roster of indie titles is so much more impressive than Nintendo's. See, Sony actually, personally funds a fair number of the best indie titles available on their consoles—I doubt Resogun and Rime would be PlayStation 4 exclusives if Sony weren't the ones paying for and publishing their creation—and that's something I think is worth considering for Nintendo.
Read why after the jump.
Creator Bill Borman is currently hard at work developing a game he's wanted to play for a long time now, Scraps, a vehicle combat game all about giving you, the player, creative license to make your own weaponized automobile. His goal? For Scraps to finally be a game in which the parts you contruct your car from "all have some real effect," in which creativity is king. And from experience with Scraps free vehicle editor demo, I can tell you that Borman's certainly not lying when he claims that what you put into your build truly decides how that build functions.
Scraps is currently in the last third of its Kickstarter campaign and nearing its goal of $23,000—sitting at about $18,000 right now. I've just had the opportunity to chat with Borman to get a sense of what his game's all about and what we can expect to see as development proceeds. Plus, he supplied me with a pretty amusing gif, so it might be worth clicking the jump just for that. Look inside for our full interview with Scraps creator Bill Borman!
I am sure many of you are well aware of the current negative internet trend concerning the Wii U. It's not exactly looking good, despite Super Mario 3D World being up for game of the year at VGX. Michael Pachter, whom many a Nintendo fan seem to despise due to thoughts like this, has said countless times that Nintendo should drop out of the hardware business. Of course, Michael Pachter doesn't think Nintendo will drop out, but he believes it would be best if they did. He is but one voice in the crowd, right?
Unfortunately that isn't the case. Kotaku gathered up a slew of quotes from around the industry that all agree Nintendo should stop making hardware. Worse than this is the voice of the people who actually play video games. Written a while ago, TechCrunch talked about how the death of Nintendo has actually been underexaggerated. Read the comment section. It's enough to make you feel ill. In fact, this seems to be a common trend in almost every topic involving Nintendo and the Wii U.
I'm not here to be a Nintendo apologist and sugar coat things. The Wii U is not doing well. The landscape certainly is changing and there is arguably more competition now than there has ever been in the 30 some odd years Nintendo has been at this. However, what seems to be a fervent desire for Nintendo to stop trying to stay in the hardware race seems to be misplaced to me. There should never be a time we actually want Nintendo to drop out of the race.
The Wii U's perception among gamers seems like a lost cause, but Nintendo firmly believes that it takes one killer app to turn it all around. This has generally been the case throughout history, but what would such a game actually have to look like? Especially one that would draw in the crowd Nintendo doesn't traditionally cater to? For the Wii, the real killer app was Wii Sports, much to the chagrin of Twilight Princess. To fair though, Twilight Princess provided that one-two punch that helped make the Wii appeal to all. You had Wii Sports draw in non-traditional gamers and Twilight Princess to bring a few million traditional gamers on board.
At this point, many feel it is impossible for one game to turn the fate around, but let's assume history rings true and it is still possible. What sort of game would move the console to not just Nintendo fans, but even for those that don't traditionally play Nintendo games?
Everyone’s heard it all before. “The Wii U is doooomed! Nintendo is the new SEGA! They’ve destroyed the video game industry forever!!1!” A lot of video game publications may be overdramatizing Nintendo’s situation when they make these ridiculous claims, but it's hard to deny that the Wii U has seen shockingly weak performance, putting Nintendo’s home console business in a bit of a bind.
Nintendo has plenty of money. Their portable console business is healthier than ever and their less-than-successful consoles are continually supported by Nintendo software and Nintendo fans. For these very reasons, I have faith that the Wii U will be fine—it does not need to be “saved.” However, its sales still do pale in comparison to Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and Nintendo has displayed far too many issues with public relations, advertising, branding, online infrastructure, and more to reshape that hierarchy. It’s simply too late for Wii U to become anything more than a pacifier while we wait for Nintendo’s next console. Thus, Nintendo’s goal should not be to make the “ultimate console” in any sense of the term, but rather to provide the best-selling pacifier they reasonably can.
To accomplish this, Nintendo must focus on a clear goal for the Wii U and make every decision with this goal carefully in mind. Nintendo must create the best consumer value and properly inform the public without expending misguided or excessive resources. In this light, there is plenty that Nintendo can do to ensure a faster turnaround, greater success, and longer-lasting significance for the Wii U, even *gasp* without third-party support.
Head past the jump to keep reading!
From Studio Fawn, Bloom: Memories is a top-down 2D adventure game with a beautiful art direction (screenshot above) and loads of interesting, choice-based mechanics, taking inspiration from, among other things, Zelda, Thief, and point-and-click adventures. One of the most interesting aspects about the game is the way it seeks to "move away from" the common gaming cliches of "violence and domination," including mechanics such as "the bridge" to support that idea. Bloom is currently in the latter half of its third Kickstarter attempt and has already garnered the majority of its $40,000 goal, sitting at approximately $34,000—at the time of writing.
We had the chance to discuss the game Studio Fawn artist Dani Landers, whose "attempt to create a graphic novel" served as the basis for Bloom. Within, Landers describes the game's "great forest" setting, the choice-influenced RPG-esque gameplay which strives to have players "look past numbers and optimization strategies and be more connected with the world / experience," and much more. Head post-jump to check it out.
Today marks the beginning of the end for The Girl and the Robot's Kickstarter campaign. With less than 40 hours on the clock, they've so far successfully managed to reach their base goal of $15,000 and pass their "new castle maze area" stretch goal at $20,000, but the question still remains of whether or not it will reach its important $25,000 stretch goal, which guarantees a Wii U version of the game, an iteration which will likely decide for some whether or not, in the practical sense, The Girl and the Robot even exists.
Following up on our recent Wii U and Nintendo-focused Q&A with the Flying Carpets Games member, we had a chat with The Girl and the Robot's designer Salim Larochelle covering an array of topics related to his studio's project: what the experience of playing The Girl and the Robot really is, what it's like to be an indie developer, what sorts of places we can expect to see throughout the game, what happens to the Wii U version if the campaign feels to meet the stretch goal, and more! Head past the jump to read it all!
When Nintendo first announced Super Mario 3D World, I thought to myself, “Great, a game just like the one on 3DS. This is just what the Wii U needs.” The sheer frustration I felt that Nintendo had seemingly slapped a few new players into 3D Land and tried to pass it off as an interesting new title for their desperate console had made me begin to wonder if Nintendo had lost their golden touch. I played the demo at E3, and it was exactly as I had expected—gimmicky, disjointed, and completely predictable.
Then they started to announce new features. They showed off creative levels and inventive power-ups. They revealed exciting music. Finally, it was all coming together. This was more than just an upscaled 3D Land; it was everything wonderful that Mario has ever been. Head past the jump to see why!
With this being the season Microsoft's and Sony's new console releases, Wii U and Nintendo have sort of slipped under many gamers' radars in terms of discussions on indie developing. But that doesn't mean they've slipped under the radars of the indie developers themselves. Indie studio Flying Carpets Games' debut title, The Girl and the Robot, is currently in the last couple days of its Kickstarter campaign, and it's just added a Wii U stretch goal at $25,000—$10,000 above its already-reached minimum goal of $15,000.
We had the chance to do a little Q&A with Flying Carpets designer Salim Larochelle to get an inside look at what it's actually like to work with Nintendo as an indie developer, and along the way he even answered a few specific questions about The Girl and the Robot's hopefully-impending Wii U version, like what ideas they have in terms of Wii U GamePad implementation. Head inside to check it out!