Posts tagged ‘Nintendo’


In which I respond to aspersions cast by an internet necromancer

by wfgodbold

Nearly two years ago, I posted an overly long and verbose piece on why, despite my preference for region-free consoles and gaming, consumers don’t have the right to region-free games. This was mainly in response to Nintendo’s decision to region-lock the 3DS. Early this morning, through what I can only assume was the use of the necromantic arts, someone responded to that post. Because my response to that comment would have been far longer than a comment has any right to be, I chose to respond in a new post. Consider this a sequel to that original post.

In the two years since my original post, Nintendo launched the 3DS (region-locked), and then had to drop the price because it was too expensive and no one was buying it. I still have not bought one (the last Nintendo console I bought was the DS Lite–I haven’t bought a Wii and have no plans to buy a Wii U), though I have bought a PS3 and PS Vita in the meantime (both of which, you will notice, can at the very least play out-of-region physical games).

This, dear reader, is a little thing I like to call The Market.™

Sony has made choices with which I agree, and to support those choices, I am willing to pay for their consoles and games (and I have games for both systems from both the US and Japan).

Nintendo has continued to region-lock their consoles and games. The prices of those consoles and games have not dropped to the point where I would be willing to forego the ability to play games from all regions on one console, so I have not bought them (even though I would dearly love to play Tales of the Abyss with load times that aren’t measured in geologic time, and Project X Zone looks ridiculous enough to be awesome).

Sullivan, in his comment, says,

And Nintendo doesn’t owe you anything? You are a customer. Neither Nintendo nor their shareholders would make ANY money without the customers. They sure as hell owe you. And what you get for your money is that they patronize you and severely restrict your freedom. It is not okay. And telling people not to buy the system because of that is just stupid. It is not a solution. It was not the game developers’ choice to make games region locked.

In response, I would like to point out that Nintendo does not owe me anything.

I bought a DS Lite. Nintendo fulfilled its side of the bargain bye delivering what was promised–a region-free handheld gaming system. Since then, I have not been a Nintendo customer–I haven’t bought anything because I don’t want to pay them to restrict my gaming options. If you buy a 3DS/Wii/Wii U knowing that it’s region-locked, Nintendo still doesn’t owe you–you’re still getting exactly what you paid for.

I don’t owe support to game companies. Game companies don’t owe me good games, bad games, mediocre games, region-free games, or region-locked games. If a game company has a game I want to play, I buy it, and the relationship ends there.

Not buying the system because it’s region-locked is not only the solution, it’s the cheapest solution (it’s certainly cheaper than trying to get a big enough block of Nintendo stock to control the company’s decisions). If you’re not willing to give up the ability to play the games that come out despite the region-locking that Nintendo has foisted upon consumers, then you’ve made an economic decision that region-free gaming is not worth as much to you as it is to someone who chooses not to buy a Nintendo console because of the region-locking.

Nintendo is free to choose to region-lock their consoles and games. Sony is free to choose not to region-lock their consoles and games.

And the consumer is free to vote with his wallet and support whichever philosophy he agrees with, if he even cares. Sadly, I suspect most consumers don’t care about whether or not their consoles are region-locked.


Tabula rasa*

by wfgodbold

First, XCOM: Enemy Unknown news:

It hits Oct. 9, which was probably old news to you if you cared.

The PC “demo” is up on Steam. It’s actually the tutorial, and is on rails for the first mission and part of the second.

You do get to experience enough of the game for it to give off that X-COM vibe, though, and I’ll definitely cash in gift certificates and various reward points to get it at launch.

Firaxis gave Game Trailers a new gameplay video, this time of a downed UFO mission. Unlike the other videos they’ve shown, this one is not in an urban environment.

Monolith Soft released the opening movie to Project X-Zone, their Super Robot Wars-esque mashup of SEGA, Capcom, and Namco characters. I would be all over this game if (1) I had a 3DS, and (2) Nintendo hadn’t made the 3DS region free. The licensing problems a game like this would cause pretty much nixes any chance of its release in the US.

Falcom is porting Trails in the Sky to PS3. I’m sure it will look great (since the original game was on the PC and supported high monitor resolutions), but I don’t know how many people in Japan are going to be willing to pay again for a game they’ve already bought once or twice before (PC, PSP, and now PS3). The Square-Enix business model focused on rereleasing your good old games to fund your crap new games will only get you so far.

Ufotable’s animation for Tales of Xillia 2 is just as good as everything else I’ve seen them animate. This preview video also has portions of Ayumi Hamasaki’s theme for the game.

Using his own logic, I could have the UN Secretary General shut up for “[humiliating] my values and beliefs” (i.e., free speech). The answer to bad speech is more speech. The idea that people or groups do not have any agency and are forced to dance to the whim of the speaker is reprehensible.

In the same vein, Posner** is a big fan of the heckler’s veto.

*No, not that SF MMO Lord British tried to make. It’s close enough to “tab clearing” for government work.

**No, not that Posner (though it is his son).


To the makers of Super Tanooki Skin 2D (and all other otherwise pointless ideological games)

by wfgodbold

If you’re going to waste my time with a game promoting your viewpoint, at least try to make the game an actual, you know, game.

Not a lame one-button “platformer” on rails. PETA, you got ripped off by the programmers.

The anti-human group’s new cause du jour is apparently the tanuki, Japan’s raccoon dog. I guess they’re killed for their fur?

Anyway, their main beef is that Mario teaches kids it’s okay to wear fur because he runs around in a tanuki suit. Which is patently ridiculous; Mario’s “tanuki suit” consists of ears and a tail, and they let him fly.

That’s right, kids! Go out in the woods, kill a tanuki, skin it, wear the skin like a hat, and you too can gain its mystical flying powers!

Even setting that aside, who cares if kids learn from the Mario games that it’s okay to wear fur?

Guess what, PETA?


It’s not a crime.

It’s not even immoral.

Your attempts at attention grabbing and shaming are pathetic (well, I suppose the attention grabbing is working out okay for you).

Besides, why are you all hot and bothered over the tanuki suit? In that very same game, Mario runs around in a frog suit that lets him jump higher and swim faster.

Why do you think it’s okay for Mario to kill frogs and prance around in their skin?


I don’t grok Nintendo’s thought process…

by wfgodbold

As part of a way to sell more 3DS widgets, they’ve developed a steering wheel peripheral that fits on the outside of the 3DS so that you can more easily (I guess?) use the accelerometer to steer in-game.

The only problem with that plan is that the 3D effect of the screen only works if you hold the system in one position.

If you use this steering wheel doodad to play Mario Kart “3D”, you won’t actually be able to play it in 3D; you’ll have to fix the screen so that it’s displaying 2D. If you want to play in 3D, you have to hold the 3DS in the regular position without moving it to steer.

They had the same problem with Super Monkey Ball 3D; if you tilted the system to control the ball’s movement, you wouldn’t be able to see the eye-popping 3D you paid extra to get.

Well played, Nintendo. You’ve managed to come up with an entirely useless product that millions of people will nonetheless buy.

I only wish I’d thought of it first!


Sorry, Nintendo

by wfgodbold

But a redesign and an addon second joystick are not going to transform the 3DS into a successful handheld console.

The games are too expensive (even more than DS games, and far more than smartphone games), and the system was too expensive at launch (and there were no games then, either). $170 is more palatable, but a redesign is going to be more expensive, and no one will buy it, either.

Not after the fiasco that was the 3DS launch.


Nintendo falls from heaven…

by wfgodbold

Mainly because of extremely poor 3DS sales (though another large factor is the strong yen, especially relative to the dollar).

To try to move more units, they’re cutting the system’s price in Japan by ¥10,000 (to ¥15,000) and in the US by $80 (to $170). That’s closer to what I’m willing to pay, though I’d be far more amenable if it weren’t region locked.

The new lower price point should make it more competitive with Sony’s PS Vita when it launches this winter, since it will be priced at $250 (for the wifi model; 3G will run $299). In the meantime, though, Nintendo will have to hope that software sales make up for the loss they’re going to be eating with every 3DS sold. With a big enough increase in the user base, that should be possible.

And if you do buy a new, lower priced 3DS (starting August 12th), pay no attention to that burning sensation in your eyes. That’s entirely normal.


On playing video games in a foreign language

by wfgodbold

Some commenters on today’s Xenoblade letter-writing-campaign against Nintendo piece on Kotaku (wow, that’s a mouthful) suggest that the only way to be sure you’ll get to play the games you want is to import, and that people who are complaining should instead spend their time learning Japanese.

Other commenters point out that any Japanese you learn in a few months’ time isn’t going to let you fully understand the game, and so why bother? It’s better to lobby for the localization of the game, so that they don’t miss any of the plot!

I’m of two minds; on the one hand, I play games in Japanese all the time, and understand probably 80-90% of the text. On the other hand, I’ve spent a few years studying Japanese, including almost ten months in a homestay program in Japan. Not everyone has that kind of time to devote to learning a language just so that they can play video games that might or might not come out in English.

On the gripping hand, the argument that you have to be able to understand everything is flat out stupid; most of the actual important gameplay related instructions are going to be in normal Japanese, as are the various quests and such. If you can understand “Go to location X, kill monster Y, and bring me item Z,” then it doesn’t really matter what those MacGuffins are, just that you be able to recognize those names when they pop up again.

I first realized this several years back while playing through Xenosaga on the PS2 in Japanese; at first, I was struggling to pause and translate every bit of dialogue in the cutscenes. After a couple hours of this, though, it struck me: I was translating technobabble.

It wasn’t going to actually mean anything whether I glossed over it in Japanese or strung together a bunch of sciencey English words; it’s all made up as fancy window dressing. You run into the same effect in fantasy games; the magic sword of magic is just as magical if it’s powered by angels or faeries or song or whatever. The details are unimportant.

Aside from technobabble/magicbabble/mechababble, most of the dialogue in video games is going to be standard dialogue that you would go over in a language class; once you’ve learned the right verbs, following the plot becomes easy (unfortunately, my classes didn’t cover important vocab like fight, kill, attack, magic, and such; I had to pick it all up on my own).

While a basic understanding of the language is obviously necessary, you don’t have to be fluent to enjoy import gaming.

All you need is a console that can play import games (PS3, PSP, DS), and a willingness to take a bit longer on your playthrough than you might with a game in your native language.


Examination ~ Allegro 2001

by wfgodbold

In the not-so-distant future, crime has become so prevalent that the justice system has been overhauled; trials last only three days, and are decided by judges, not juries. If the defense screws up three times, the client is guilty. The world of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is not friendly to the accused, to say the least.

Phoenix is a defense attorney, and since the police are incompetent (hey, at least this comically dystopian future has something in common with the present!), it’s incumbent upon him to prove his clients’ innocence; not only does he have to ask the right questions during the trial, and object at the right times, but he has to spend his time out of court interviewing witnesses, investigating crime scenes, and finding out who the real killer is. Once that’s done, he has to finagle the trial so that they take the stand and implicate themselves, setting his client free. The prosecuting attorney, Miles Edgeworth, was a friend of Phoenix’s back in school, and is a true magnificent bastard.

The art style might put you off, but this really is a modern take on the adventure games that were so prevalent in the ’80s and early ’90s, before the genre completely imploded. It’s fun, the puzzles are generally solvable and not completely retarded (King’s Quest, I’m looking at you), and the puns are so bad they’re awesome.

It’s been popular enough in Japan for 3 games starring Phoenix, one spinoff starring a younger attorney named Apollo Justice (yes, really), and one spinoff starring Miles Edgeworth. Takashi Miike is currently working on the live-action film adaptation, which should be … interesting, given Miike’s body of work.


Oh, *that’s* why Nintendo has the final say on bringing Xenoblade to the US

by wfgodbold

I must have missed the fact that Monolith Soft is one of their subsidiaries (which makes the move to Kyoto understandable; that’s where Nintendo is headquartered). Apparently, Bamco sold the developer to Nintendo four years ago.

Anyway, I wish the American fans luck in their futile quest to convince Reggie and his band of recalcitrants that just because the game is being translated into English for a European release, they should also release it in the US.

Nintendo doesn’t care about hardcore gamers (let’s face it; it’s only the hardcore gamers that buy Wii RPGs). They make far more money selling the Wii to kids, parents, and retirees to care that a couple hundred thousand college students are throwing hissy fits about the lack of RPGs on Nintendo’s flagship console.

Especially since the fanboys will keep coming back to buy Nintendo’s next big thing.


Ice Valley ~ Phendrana Drifts Theme #1

by wfgodbold

Metroid Prime was the first game in the series to break from the 3rd person view and give the player first-person control of Samus Aran.

It does a pretty good job of pulling off the Metroidvania style of gameplay in a 3D world (instead of a sidescrolling 2D world), but IIRC it makes some changes to traditional FPS gameplay.

The main addition is the ability to lock-on to enemies; this gives the gameplay the run and gun feel of the 2D Metroid games, but also makes it less difficult than other FPS games (circle-strafing with lock-on targeting is a joke).

One of the cooler additions is the multiple visors; in the ice levels, Samus finds a thermal visor, letting her more easily see certain machines and enemies. Later in the game, she finds an x-ray visor, which lets her see through most solid objects and detect invisible enemies.

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