Monday, June 17, 2013

Ready or Not Here it Comes pt 1 of 3

   The next generation of consoles is here and I must say I’ve gone from feeling underwhelmed to being eager to get my hands on the new PS4, but the new Xbox One and Nintendo Wii-U are in for a rough ride for sure. The question of whether or not it makes sense to launch a new system in the midst of one of the worst economic downturns since the great depression is about to be answered, though so far Nintendo Wii-U has been a strong indicator that now may not be the best time. For the next few weeks I’ll be taking on each system and what I as a fan of all three want to see.

   Wii-U: Nintendo is not faring well in the console market at this time. While the 3DS is selling very well and has returned Nintendo to profitability recently the $350 32 gig Wii-U and it’s $300 8 gig counterpart are struggling having only sold some 4 million units world wide since launch and each consecutive month selling fewer and fewer units. Nintendo assumed that by keeping the Wii moniker that they could rely on the same audience that supported the Wii gravitating to the Wii-U, but there were some errors made. The power of the Wii-U has been criticized heavily by developers, though a fair assessment shows the system to be about as powerful as the Xbox 360. Hardware wise it would not have cost much to put out a system that is more powerful than the 360 and the PS3 even if just barely. Owning 2 Passive 3D TVs I was also hoping for more 3D content from Nintendo since they are on the leading edge on glasses free 3D experiences and it is awesome. I already have to wear glasses so putting on the light and comfortable LG or Sony Cinema 3D glasses over them bothers me but little. 3D changes how games are played. Suddenly that long jump you couldn’t make in Prince of Persia is no longer a temptation because you can see just how long the jump really is, you instinctively look for another way across. In first person shooters you can better gauge weather or not you’ll land that head shot, and there’s nothing quite like having bullets fly off the screen at you. Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS made excellent use of the technology, Super Mario 3D world on the Wii-U has made no mention of whether or not it will actually be 3D. In this way I am disappointed with the Wii-U, I was expecting more from it. Worse yet the system is actually pretty slow when initially loading game discs and booting and switching between the Wii U and it’s internal Wii Emulator which does not include GameCube playback. Nintendo did recently speed the system up with a firmwire update, but not enough. It still needs to be faster.

   Still Nintendo is not doomed, everyone though the 3DS was doomed but a price cut and a larger screen as well as some much needed software saved it and have propelled it forward to being the dominate handheld this generation, and frankly I love mine. I am buying games for it left and right and there is a lot of fun to be had. The same tactics could be applied to Wii-U. Nintendo needs to eliminate the 8 gig version and drop the price down to $250. Especially since PS4 will only be $399. At $350 the “ultimate” Wii-U package is not priced to sell when $50 more gets you the best of the next gen consoles one that is ready for 4K and the upcoming glasses free TVs Sony is said to be working on. Nintendo needs to aslo acknowledge that while 3D TVS did not become the next big thing there are 3DTV owners out there and I know enough about the tech to know this 1) Converting movies expensive 2) Video games? Just throw a second camera in Maya about an inch away from your camera and done. It’s easy and takes next to no effort.

   3DTVs have not taken off due to poor marketing and lack of consumer awareness of options. People I talk to are warming up to 3D again, Iron Man 3, Oz the great and Powerful and Life of Pi all worked to show what 3D can do and they’ve turned heads again, in fact 54% of Oz’s ticket sales were for the 3D version. So 3D isn’t going anywhere, but despite this turn around of 3D’s fortunes at the theatre many people think 3D TVs and 3D glasses for home theatres are super expensive. Neither is necessarily true. There are options, if you want Active Shutter 3D (the best 3D for super large screens) yes you’re looking at a pretty penny to be spent, but for small to mid-sized screens Passive 3D works just fine and is a fraction of the cost, plus you use the same RealD 3D glasses you use in the theatre, the LG has improved the formula by creating lenses that let more light through… But I digress.

   Nintendo Wii-U contradicts the 3DS. On one hand Nintendo is saying 3D is awesome, look what we can do and on the other it says meh… Nintendo would do well to show off Super Mario 3D world and even a new Zelda in Stereo 3D. Even better would be a new Metroid based on the Prime formula. Doing so could help boost their own sales by showing off a unique experience that can only be had on the Nintendo, as well as increase desire for 3D TVs. They could work with LG (Sony’s direct competitor on the 3D TV market) to advance passive and affordable 3D options. Heck I got my 55” LG for only $700.00. Is that really all that unaffordable? More and more of my friends are buying passive 3D Tvs once they become aware of them. The install base is growing, not rapidly, but it is growing. By synchronizing it’s messaging on 3D Nintendo could turn its own fortunes around as well as that of the #DTV manufacturers. It’s done some wicked cool stuff with 3DS, imagine those neat effects on your big screen.

   In the meanwhile Nintendo does have a short supply of games coming. The HD remake of The WindWaker is a nice stop gap measure, but I’d like to see more.

1)      A Gamecube emulator for Wii-U. Charge me $50, fine, I’ll pay it but enable me to play my GCN games on this new system so I don’t have to keep the old one please. Also please make the emulator upscale to HD.

2)      HD re-release of Eternal Darkness, Resident Evil 0, Resident Evil, Resident Evil 4 all upgraded to make use of the tablet.

3)      Others I’d like to see Geist, which came out so late in the GCN’s life it never got a fair shot in the market, Metal Gear Solid the Twin Snakes.

   All of the aforementions would make decent stop gaps, Geist because it was a very unique take of the FPS, but came out quietly and died quietly without anyone taking notice, some better marketing could have launched an entirely new and cool IP.

   Between homogenizing it’s messaging on the Wii-U and 3DS and re-releasing some of the lost GCN classics to HD Nintendo could save itself some pain. Over all with as badly botched as the Xbox One is I anticipate Nintendo will likely win over the role of secondary console, but it will only eek out a distant second to the PS4. Still I believe the steps I’ve recommended could at least close that gap some.

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