You take games too seriously.

2008 & Heartbreaks

Only Kanye knows my pain.

Only Kanye knows my pain.

Occasionally the peeps at UGO hand me a soapbox and let me run my mouth.

I had a good time putting this feature together, and thought you folks might enjoy it.

The Top 20 Videogame Heartbreaks of 2008

20. Nintendo’s Holiday Releases

The Cold Hard Facts: While Nintendo dominated the videogame market with 2 million Wii’s sold this November, their software left much to be desired. Generally, the folks behind Mario have launched their flagship titles like Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario Galaxy between Turkey Day and Christmas, but this year hardcore fans were left in the gutter like junkies without a fix. Wii Music and the copy/paste edition of Animal Crossing, what’s a Nintendo fan got to do to get some substance around here?

The Healing Process: Next year’s schedule is packed with Nintendo goodness. We know Punch-Out! and Sin and Punishment 2 will drop in 2009, and we can expect Kid Icarus to get the announcement it deserved six months ago. Until then, Ubisoft Montreal has thrown us a life preserver in the form of Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip. And if you’re the rare Wii owner that hasn’t invested in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, now’s as good a time as any.

You can check it out here. You may now return to your regular scheduled Hardcasual posts.


Filed under: Commentary, self-promotion, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Buy Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

Be one with the board.

Be one with the board.

Over Turkey Vacation I reviewed Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip for UGO.com. The review focuses on the controls, specifically the immersion provided by the Balance Board, but here’s the gist.

Buy it.

There’s been lots of talk about reviews and innovation and navel gazing and so on this week thanks to two titles that set out to add politics (Far Cry 2) and art (Mirror’s Edge) to videogames. They’re both solid games with grand aspirations, and both started an epic conversation. Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip has no such goals, but does that make it less of a game? Instead of a topical locale or a genre bending design, Road Trip offers one of the most enjoyable gaming session’s available this season thanks to refined controls, a clear and entertaining narrative and addictive pick up and play multiplayer. It’s a perfect piece of winter fluff.

I shouldn’t be surprised, as Ubisoft Montreal developed it—the same folks behind this week’s major release, the Prince of Persia reboot. Both games feature beautiful, colorful artwork and striking architecture. Neither are afraid to show their cards inspiration wise, rather they openly borrow piecemeal from previous games , graft the beast together, and polish away the edges. Rather than float away from their original goal to craft a well-made game in an effort to over innovate, these two games nail themselves down with what makes their genres enjoyable–the basic.

Many blogs have discussed the importance of praising innovation, though what about casual games that perfect an an older genre? Old hats need love too, right?

No doubt Road Trip will sell like Pumpkin Spice Lattes this holiday, but will hardcore gamers eager to rotate between the major mature blockbuster titles give this more casual E-rated release  a chance or will Shaun White be left out in the snow. The good news: other reviewers seem to agree that Road Trip’s pretty swell.


Filed under: Commentary, Reviews, , , , , , , , ,

Has the Wii-mote lost control?

I believe my Nintendo Wii came with an invisible contract. Up front, I agreed to spend an exorbitant amount of money on two controllers (three, if you include the classic), and, in return, Nintendo would never require I buy another peripheral. The Wii-mote provides plenty of innovation, making silly things like light-guns, racing wheels, and the Sega Activator obsolete. Sadly, two major upcoming Wii releases, WiiFit and Mario Kart Wii, took this contract, rubbed it in dirt, and thrre it to the dogs

This spring, Nintendo will package two new controller SKUs with popular games. Mario Kart Wii will arrive with an aesthetically pleasing, but ultimately useless plastic driver’s wheel. If you’re into $150 balance boards, WiiFit’s your perfect game, but you better run to your Gamestop and pre-order—don’t underestimate Nintendo’s inability to keep products on the shelf.

Last year, Nintendo tested the stagnant peripheral waters with the Wii Zapper, a plastic attachment that latches onto a Wii-mote and transforms it into a gun, and you into a moron. Nintendo sells it as a novelty item. Fine by me, as long as the Zapper isn’t necessary to enjoy any games. Mario Kart Wii‘s Wii Wheel peripheral a different beast. Recently, Kotaku confirmed the classic and GameCube control schemes for Mario Kart Wii are crippled, a move that handicaps traditional and hardcore players, while subtly benefiting those with the Wii Wheel accessory. While one Wii Wheel comes with the game, more are $20 a pop. Across the Pacific, the WiiFit has taken mandatory peripherals a step further, winning over a handful of Japanese publisher–one of their releases, WiiSki, is the first game to require the WiiFit balance board.

Unlike Sony and Microsoft who have other motivations (i.e. digital media delivery), Nintendo has pursued a profit from the get-go, and these peripherals show no signs of Nintendo letting up. But, with that in mind, is it possible for the Wii peripheral market to super-saturate? Just as the Sega Genesis’ 32X and Sega CD created a detrimental hierarchy of players, could the same happen with pricey peripherals like the WiiFit?

It’s silly to rant about Nintendo’s innovation, and no one’s forcing my hand to pick up every piece of Nintendo gear, but it disappoints me that the device than can do it all, the Wii-mote, needs a lot of help from friends.


Filed under: Industry, Reviews, , , , , ,

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