Tag Archives: wii u

Some Numbers That Illustrate Nintendo Switch’s Massive Success

Jason Schreier reporting for Kotaku:

Nintendo today reported its earnings for the 2017 fiscal year, which means a whole bunch of interesting new sales numbers to look at. They’re all impressive, and they all show the massive appeal of Nintendo Switch.

Here are a few numbers that, taken together, make for some good perspective on just how successful Nintendo’s latest console has been throughout its first year on the market.

Wild numbers to the Switch’s set-top predecessor, the Wii U.

The Switch is more or less tracking the same sales pace as PS4. It took a little over one year for the PS4 to reach 18.5 worldwide hardware sell-through units — November 22, 2013 – January 4, 2015.

Microsoft has been mum on sales figures, but in 2016 slipped that the Xbox One had sold “around 18 to 19 million” units, two years after launch.

Update: Here’s a sales trajectory visual. Data source: Wikipedia.

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Switch Sales Top PS2 in First-Year, Wii U Lifetime in Japan

Allegra Frank, Polygon:

Nintendo Switch has had a huge December over in Japan, with nearly 900,000 systems sold by Dec. 24. Based on the most recent cumulative sales data from Famitsu, the country’s biggest gaming publication, Nintendo has now sold just under 3.3 million Switch consoles in its homeland — both edging out PlayStation 2’s first-year sales numbers and matching Wii U’s lifetime sales to date.

Astonishing.

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‘Mother’ Released on Wii U Virtual Console

Hours ago, Nintendo released the 1989 Japanese title Mother to the Wii U Virtual Console as Earthbound: Beginnings, localized in English for the first time ever. Until now, the only exposure to the Mother series English audiences have had was 1995’s North American release of the critically acclaimed Mother 2, released as Earthbound.

The Virtual Console was the biggest selling point for the Wii for me, and it continues to be for the Wii U. My latest Wii U purchases include Super Metroid, Donkey Kong 64, and Paper Mario. The release of Earthbound: Beginnings is certainly interesting and a direct message to the hardcore/loyalist/older audience.

Paired with Super Smash Bros. and accidental Amiibo announcements, as well as the reboot of the Nintendo World Championship, Nintendo seems to be drawing a lot of eyes as E3 nears. 

[EDIT: After browsing the Nintendo eShop, it appears Wii games are not considered Virtual Console titles. I’ve removed Metroid Prime Trilogy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 from my list of recent Virtual Console purchases. That doesn’t change the fact that my most recent purchases have been legacy titles. Thanks to @AlexandreSitbon for encouraging my research.]

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The Future of Mario Double-Down

I’ve been playing a lot more Mario Kart 8 lately and recently played through Moo Moo Meadows. My wife loves this course. It is simple and old, recently made beautiful. Maybe it’s the lighting, but I get a similar vibe from Moo Moo Meadows as I do Wild Woods. Call me crazy, but I’m doubling down on the direction of the next 3D Mario.

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Buttons

Over the past week or so, I’ve learned that you can play Splatoon with two controllers taped together. I’ve also learned that Batman: Arkham Knight is a sprawling complicated buffet of gaming genres.

While the latter may be less about controls, I’m going to bet a “complicated buffet of gaming genres” would be a whole lot less daunting if I didn’t have 17 input methods on my PS4 to use at a moment’s notice:

  • D-pad (up, down, left, right)
  • Left joystick
  • Right joystick
  • Circle
  • Square
  • Triangle
  • X
  • L1
  • L2
  • L3
  • R1
  • R2
  • R3
  • start
  • options
  • clickable touchpad
  • PS button

After you’re done digesting all of that, take a moment to get to know your Xbox One Wireless Controller.

As Ben Thompson pointed out:

Beyond casuals, this is a problem for returning and often busy players. The fear of returning to a video game after days, weeks, or months of not playing – hell, the fear of picking up any video game to begin with – may stem from the problems above. Tutorials are commonplace in video games. Half the time I forget what the tutorials taught me. But instead of digging through menus for a refresher, I return to button mashing and familiarity for the sake of progress.

I began playing video games with the following inputs:

  • D-pad
  • A
  • B
  • Select
  • Start

Today, most people start with less: A touchscreen. Even with an unabashed fondness for the admittedly hideous and complex Nintendo 64 controller, I’ve taken to iOS games that require simple gestures and brief touches but offer rich experiences.1 (See: Alto’s Adventure, The RoomMonument Valley)

Whether or not Journey can be considered a “game”, it is an award-winning experience that only utilized for 44% of the PS3’s buttons. While all buttons were used in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, it did something extremely interesting: Auto-jumping. When I first played the game, I thought it crazy that jumping was defined by the world, not the player. But I got used to it and eventually loved it. It made perfect sense. In a physical world of button fatigue, a virtual world helped establish what was critical to player timing and what was trivial based on surroundings.

I’ve been dipping in and out of Far Cry 4 lately. I haven’t come across a good instance where I should be the one to define when to grapple or it necessary to control the climb mechanism. (Granted I’ve only played for a few hours.) Grappling seems trivial. On the flip-side, Dragon Age: Inquisition controls my use of potions based on programming, default or player defined. Potion use is trivial. Your character needs to be healed, so the game heals you. The player need not press a button.

I certainly have a reverie for the days of 5 inputs. A colleague and I spent time handling an original Game Boy last week, remembering just how comfortable and satisfying the early handheld felt. (The feels and travel of it’s buttons are a thing of beauty.) The more I sit back and think about the backwards oddity of shutting out an extremely large swath of consumers while deterring those who are ripe to purchase but are fatigued and tired of re-learning, the more I picture grandma’s remotes.

——

1 UPDATE: Super Mario Run nailed it.

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‘200CC Is So Fast It’s Starting To Break Mario Kart 8 Courses’

Yannick LeJacq writing for Kotaku:

Normally, busting outside of the normal confines of a level in Mario Kart 8 requires a) some sort of glitch or bug to be present and exploitable, or b) a hack of the game like the ones two modders famously performed last year. Kart racer and Reddit user dizzyzane wasn’t using any special hacking tricks, though. He was just driving really, really fast thanks to Mario Kart 8’s game-changing new 200CC speed class.

Love this. Like that moment when a toddler goofs, turning a harmless accident into a humorous event. Makes you appreciate the calculations behind great level design and game balance. (Though, it appears breaking Music Park’s ceiling was already possible in 150CC, just not to this extent, as per kingdomharms’s Reddit reply.)

EDIT: Thinking on it, I’m a bit mixed about 200CC. On one hand, if 200CC is truly a new feature, the fact that more levels were not broken open with the increased speed is a testament to Nintendo as a quality game maker. That is, unless, 200CC was planned from the get go; to which  200CC would have been a business strategy for increased play time / player investment. If that is the case, I’m always miffed at the holding back of content. (See also: Mario Party 10 under Nintendo Direct Play-by-Play from 1/16/15)

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Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 2: Here We Go!

Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 2 was released on April 23, 2015. The addition of Animal Crossing’s Villager and Isabelle as well as Dry Bowser don’t do much for me. Likewise, new karts have never been something I glamour for, often selecting the standard kart for every race. (I dig classic!) However, the new Crossing and Bell cups include some of the most gorgeous video game visuals I have come across, Nintendo game or otherwise.

As I was racing through the new and original Wild Woods track, I was itching for Dry Bowser to hop out of his kart and explore. (I’ve experienced similar feelings racing through Shy Guy Falls, Dolphin Shoals, and Toad Harbor.) Likewise, the Animal Crossing track turns the traditionally isometric town into a truly inhabitable world.

A racing game feeling inhabitable speaks volumes.

A breathtaking “open-world” Legend of Zelda is a reality. Likewise, Nintendo has shown stellar execution of HD visuals in Mario Kart 8. This adds up to trigger a craving for the next iteration of 3D Mario games to be set in a seamless HD universe; freeing itself from stage selection and selective star quests and instead opting in for a connected Mushroom Kingdom.

This does not mean an “open-world” Mario game. I am no champion for open-world games. In fact, I often loathe them. I become distracted by side-quests and/or feel forced spend hours completing unnecessary tasks to progress the story or grow the game only to be forced to backtrack or fast-travel to previously completed areas. More and more I feel “open-world” means “lock-in”, encouraging players to invest obscene amounts of time in a single game to the point where they are afraid or ashamed to give it up.

I would love to see the next iteration of 3D Mario games open up into semi-open, adventure style platformers à la Jak and Daxter. No overworld. No stage select. No “painting portals”. Missions are discovered throughout the Mushroom Kingdom in lands akin to Thwomp Ruins, Cheep Cheep Beach, and Moo Moo Meadows, each gated by the traditional “star-requirement”.

I previously posted some thoughts on Iterative vs. Redesigned Experiences:

Super Mario 64 could have just as easily been another side-scroller, albeit with better visuals. The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time could have been another top-down adventure. Donkey Kong 64 could have gone a number of pre-existing directions. Sure the Metroid series skipped the Nintendo 64 generation but Metroid Prime could have been another 2D platformer. The fact of the matter is that these titles reinvented their respective franchises. The worlds and characters we loved were shown in a new light and perspective. Sure, they are great games but they reinvented the way we thought about the franchises. This is what makes them so special.

More than just a great racing game, I believe Mario Kart 8 provides a glimpse at the future of the Mushroom Kingdom. Like Super Mario 64 dropped the “3D game design” mic, a fully connected Mushroom Kingdom could bring the 3D adventure-platformer back into the limelight and showcase exactly how it should have been done 15+ years ago.

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Nintendo’s Trickle-Release of Retro Titles, Round 2

Sam Byford of The Verge on Nintendo’s trickle-release strategy for Virtual Console:

Here are some movies you can watch right now on Netflix without causing the value of film as a medium to implode: Raging BullFargoManhattanPulp FictionChinatownButch Cassidy and the Sundance KidAmélieTrainspottingApocalypse NowRocky. These are movies that a lot of people probably pay several dollars each for on iTunes (or, well, DVD) à la carte, yet their availability on Netflix doesn’t hurt their classic status. Nintendo has by far the most valuable back catalog and intellectual property in gaming; even if it only made its own titles available and ignored third parties completely, it’d have a vast library that a lot of people would be willing to pay monthly for.

Sure, some will pay the cost of a month of Netflix for Super Mario 64 this month. But what about next month? I can’t imagine Donkey Kong 64 or Paper Mario drawing similar revenue, but they’re exactly the kind of title people would dip into out of curiosity under a subscription model. In a world where EA is offering access to all but its newest current console games for just $30 a year, this doesn’t seem like the hardest of calls.

When Nintendo began trickling out retro titles for the Wii Virtual Console, I shared Byford’s strong aversion to the slow, methodical rollout of games that had been available on past consoles (and ROMs) for years. At the mention of Super Mario 64 coming to Wii U, and Wii titles before that, the aversion never surfaced.

That the comparison of video games to film is an “apples vs. oranges” debate. Consumption of classic movies takes markedly less time than consumption of classic video games. With little time to focus on a single game, let alone the plethora or titles released every week/month, it’s nice to put the brake on “the binge” with an unhurried drip. A subscription service would not only bombard players with a catalog as stress inducing as Netflix’s, it would also surely waste away subscribers dollars spent vs. content consumed.

Regarding price, for titles I love and want to re-experience, Donkey Kong 64 and Paper Mario being two of them, I am more than happy to shell out $9.99 ($2.00 if I’ve already purchased on Wii) to relive the experience. On the other hand, I see what Byford is getting at regarding titles I had never played. Many of these legacy DS games are going to be a hard sell for me, especially when pit up against some of my fondest memories.

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Club Nintendo Experiencing Heavy Traffic

Club Nintendo:

We’re experiencing heavy traffic at the moment, so accessing your account may take a little longer than usual and you may see display issues with your account when logged in. Please note that you’ll have until 6/30/15 to redeem your rewards. Thank you for your patience.

Yesterday, Club Nintendo announced a massive sale in conjunction with the discontinuation of the loyalty program, offering physical goods as well as Wii U, Wii, and 3DS downloadable titles at discounted redemption rates. I have since experienced issues a) accessing the page or b) signing in.

In May 2014, Club Nintendo experienced similar server strain due to heavy traffic generated by the Mario Kart 8 free game offer.

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Metroid Prime Trilogy for $10

Headed straight to Nintendo.com, signed in, purchased, and redeemed to remotely download on my Wii U at home. A seamless experience, assuming I have enough space on my Wii U.

I’ve only played through Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, but I enjoyed every bit of the experience. Gorgeous worlds, beautiful score, and a stellar if not the best use of the Wii Remote + Nunchuck.

As a reminder, current Wii Games on Wii U do not support the GamePad. Like Super Mario Galaxy 2 before it, The Metroid Prime Trilogy requires a Wii Remote + Nunchuck, neither of which ship with Wii U. This caveat is a problem.

[Via Polygon]

Update: Apparently, I didn’t have enough free space. I returned home and turned on my Wii U expecting to see a Metroid Prime Trilogy icon, but there was none to be found. Nor a confirmation or error message present. Confused, Iollowed the instructions here, deleted Super Smash Bros. (sacrilegious, I know), and completed the download.

If Wii U can receive remote instruction to download, it should be able to fire back status updates. It’s not that I would be able to do anything about it, but at the very least I would know what to expect when I arrived home. This is especially alarming for large games. Instead of side-stepping hours of download and install time while at away or sleeping, customers will be disappointed to find that the download never even started. While I’m all for patience in the name of entertainment, I am passionately opposed to misguiding expectations. Under promise and over deliver. Not the other way around.

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