Tag Archives: wii u

Wii U is My Primary Console

Ben Kuchera, Polygon:

That reality is rather quickly washed away by the fact that the Wii U has built the best library of exclusives of the current consoles, and that’s another trend that won’t likely end anytime soon. It would be hard to turn the Wii U into your primary console — there are simply too many games that will never be on the platform — but it’s equally hard to ignore Nintendo’s latest piece of hardware. There are simply too many amazing games that won’t be available on any other console.

This situation replicates what happened in the last generation: The argument between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is ongoing and contentious, but you don’t really need both. If you want to make sure you hit as many software high points as possible, you need a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One and a Wii U. The same way you needed a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 and a Wii.

We’ve gotten to the point of the Wii U’s life cycle where it’s clear that owning the system, if you’re serious about playing the best games on the market, has become mandatory.

Since Mario Kart 8 was released, I have had no problem making the Wii U my primary console. And while I adore Mario Kart 8, I’d argue that the Wii U is worth it for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker alone. It is rich with content and polish, is gorgeous and challenging, and is one of the most innovative games I have ever played. The hits keep coming.

Aside from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, I’d argue against Kuchera and state that there haven’t been any PS4 or Xbox One titles that have made me want to shell out for one or the other. And, again, outside of Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis System, innovation and is something this new generation is severely lacking.

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‘I think Smash Bros. is how all video games look to grandparents.’

Polygon video producer Griffin McElroy showcasing the new features of Super Smash Bros. Wii U to Polygon managing editor Justin McElroy on Polygon’s Overview, time stamp 14:06:

JM: Griffin… do you ever look at Smash Bros., when you’re me, and think, “I bet this is how all video games look to my nani?”

GM: Ya, I think so. Ya, probably. Are you saying that because it’s just like really crazy and hectic and inscrutable? Or because it’s like, “Ahh! You gotta use the Pac-Man to eat the Marios!”

JM: Like both, I guess. I think Smash Bros. is how all video games look to grandparents.

GM: Probably. Maybe.

It’s not just grandparents:

I’ve put in a few hours and I’m still not sure I know what I’m doing.

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The Verge Reviews Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Andrew Webster, The Verge:

Whatever fate awaits the Wii U, Nintendo is doing just about everything it can to make sure the console has some amazing games. It may not have third-party support, but Nintendo’s own releases feel exciting in a way they haven’t for years. At a glance, Captain Toad seems like a throwaway game, a weird little spinoff starring a character no one really cares about. Yet it’s one of the best puzzle games of the year, and another one of a growing number of reasons to pick up a Wii U.

The Verge calls Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker “a hidden gem”; I called it “genius”. Needless to say, I cannot wait for December 5th.

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‘Wii U Was A Better Console For Third-Party Games’

Michael Thomsen, writing for Forbes:

Playing games that have extended the design patterns of the last generation on Wii U—Batman: Arkham Origins, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Mass Effect 3, FIFA, Splinter Cell: Blacklist—there is a palpable sense of an era having designed itself into a corner. The addition of a second screen integrated into the controller does indeed feel like gimmickry, but its gimmickry that reveals the thoughtlessly repeated design ideas of the games themselves more than the controller and its touchscreen. Gimmickry is the heart of play, the redirection of something toward a purpose that’s not immediately obvious to produce a sense of discovery and surprise. What’s often described as depth in play is only just a proliferation of branching gimmicks, each leading to a variety of roughly equivalent automations, the choice between which conveys a kind of intimate fragment of personhood to some other player familiar with the sleight-of-hand bylaws and what passes for alternatives to them.

Even when used as just a map screen, the Wii U’s controller points to a dimensional complexity in play that’s absent in the more computationally powerful PS4 and Xbox One. Playing half-hearted ports with minimal investment in the new play apparatus, there is a greater sense of possibility and strangeness than anything I’ve felt from higher screen resolution, more non-playable characters, or more elaborate physics simulations. But since most third-party developers have abandoned Nintendo’s small gesture toward a new kind of thinking about play, whatever advancement their machinery could have led to will remain a theoretical abstraction.

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‘The making of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker’

Danielle Riendeau of Polygon in an Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker producer and director Koichi Hayashida and Shinya Hiratake:

“We began with Super Mario 64,” Hayashida told Polygon via video conference. “While Super Mario 64 was quite an interesting game, we heard that roughly 20 percent of gamers found it too difficult,” he said, brandishing a copy of the Nintendo 64 game. “We kept that comment that the game was too challenging and made games like Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World with that in mind.”

But, in making 3D Land and 3D World, the team felt it was getting away from a fundamental design principle that made Mario 64 so special: the idea that the levels were a sort of “diorama” or a “garden in a box,” entire worlds contained in relatively compact structures. In creating the Captain Toad stages for Mario 3D World, the studio was able to go back to that idea, and keep the challenge level accessible.

That’s how the team created the handful of stages starring Captain Toad for Super Mario 3D World. They represented a different style of play from the traditional 3D platforming in the rest of the game — slower paced and more cerebral, they offered players something of a refresher between obstacle courses and cat-powered wackiness.

In addition to the variety of interesting cross-overs and spin-offs, it seems like Nintendo has been a bit more open as of late, offering more peaks behind the certain.

As for Captain Toad, I love that Super Mario 64 stands as its foundation. However, my favorite part of Super Mario 64 is the challenge. It is always great to take a swing at impossibly difficult missions year after year. There is almost a “young grasshopper” feel to it. I hope Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker’s accessible “challenge level” isn’t too far removed from Super Mario 64.

Either way, this interview solidifies my thought that Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is genius.

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Nintendo Sees $244M in Profit

Nintendo:

With respect to “Wii U,” Nintendo released “Mario Kart 8” globally in May, which has continued to show steady sales, as well as “Hyrule Warriors,” released in September in the overseas markets, which has gained popularity. The worldwide sales of the “Wii U” hardware and software were 1.12 million units and 9.4 million units respectively.

[…]

Since the May release of “Mario Kart 8,” the “Wii U” platform has been experiencing improved sales momentum.

Mario Kart 8 remains far and away my go-to Wii U game. I love it. My fianceé loves it. I frequently listen to the soundtrack at work. (Some choice words here.) When I can’t sleep, it’s enjoyed with a nightcap. Not to mention that it’s challenging. Five months after release, I’m still chipping away 100cc stars.

Yours truly, June 1, 2014:

Nintendo gambled for positive reviews two weeks before launch, is now chalking up at least $40 in games to every US and Canadian Mario Kart owning household, and prays that their Trojan horse will be the spark to move units. Since release, the game has received stunning accolades, Club Nintendo has been brought down by what can only be assumed as immense traffic for free games, and at least one Wii U newcomer is being tugged at by curiosity.

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Captain Toad is Genius

In June 2014, during Nintendo’s E3 Digital Event, a short, minute long trailer for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was tucked between two larger developer interviews for Yoshi’s Woolly World and the much talked about Legend of Zelda for Wii U. Not only was the trailer a bit hidden, it was never verbally acknowledged throughout the course of the 45-minute event. It was a curious trailer, but was the one that stuck with me long after E3. A splinter in my mind.

For those unfamiliar, the origin of Captain Toad is rooted in bonus stages strewn throughout the Super Mario 3D World world map. As players collect stars and progress through the game, Captain Toad stages are unlocked. More from the Super Mario 3D World Wikipedia entry:

Additional Green Stars can be earned in Captain Toad levels, where players control the slow Captain Toad as he navigates puzzle-like stages using the GamePad’s functionality, and Mystery Houses, where players must clear a series of challenges with short time limits.

Not only is Captain Toad slow, he does not have the ability to jump; a staple in the Mushroom Kingdom. The player is forced to keep their wits about them, outsmarting the level design by means of the camera, shifting their perspective over the tiny cube-shaped levels. This imposition of limits is integral to great game design. It makes for gameplay that almost feels foreign amongst the landscape of current shooters and platformers. Strategy becomes the emphasis.

In late August, in an interview with EDGE Magazine, Shigeru Miyamoto made comments about the state of “core” vs. “casual”. The interpretation from Rob Fahey at GamesIndustry.biz hit the nail on the head:

At the same time, though, Nintendo itself has a conception of “casual” and “core” that probably isn’t shared by the majority of sites reporting Miyamoto’s comments. Miyamoto talks not about themes but about enjoyment of challenge as the distinction between the two groups. To him, a supposedly “adult” game full of blood and ripe language could be utterly casual if it spoon-feeds players with dull, linear gameplay. Meanwhile, a brightly coloured Mushroom Kingdom epic could qualify as “core” if it challenges players in the right way. Consequently, Nintendo’s family-friendly IP and the broad appeal of its themes is entirely compatible with a focus on “core games”, to Miyamoto’s mind. What he’s talking about changing is something at the root of design, not the thematic wallpaper of the company’s games; he wants to challenge people, not to force Nintendo’s artists to remove all the primary colours from their Photoshop palettes.

I think this is exactly what we can expect from Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.

On top of great level design, the aesthetic design preserves the same gorgeous caliber we’ve seen in Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D World. The levels are lush and appear to be brimming with tiny details, animations, humor, and secrets. I will echo my Hail Mario piece and say that “Nintendo is unabashedly gunning for Disney-level aesthetics; a tactic to win over most demographics.”

To add, filling out a Toad with unique characteristics rather than the ambiguous, multi-colored placeholders they have traditionally been known as (see New Super Mario Bros. Wii) brings more definition to the Mushroom Kingdom. And with this new, unique character comes new, unique gameplay. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker shows that Nintendo is looking to explore the depths of the Mushroom Kingdom, and proves that there is more there than just simple platformers. We haven’t seen much of dynamic since the Luigi’s Mansion series; a stand-alone IP centered on a familiar character with unique gameplay and design.

When playing Super Mario 3D World, I race for every  Captain Toad level the instant they are unlocked. They are clever, challenging departures from the platforming world Mario inhabits. Something tells me I am not the only one of the few million Super Mario 3D World players to do so. For those unfamiliar with Captain Toad, they will be pleasantly surprised with the over 70 gorgeous, challenging, classic Nintendo designed levels to explore. For those few million that have already had a taste of Captain Toad, you can bet they are itching for more of the playful puzzle mini-game. And assuredly, with Nintendo’s move to DLC (Mario Kart 8) , there will be plenty more to come.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker debuts in Japan on November 13, 2014. Subsequent release dates as follows:

NA: December 5, 2014
EU: January 2, 2015
AUS: January 3, 2015

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Switch to Sony

Eric Johnson, Re/code:

According to data provided to Re/code, an April Nielsen study found that 31 percent of PS4 owners did not own Sony’s previous console, the PlayStation 3, but did own an Xbox 360 or Wii. Seventeen percent did not own any last-generation console.

The people surveyed were Americans, age 7 to 54, and were a subset of a total of 1,200 “active gamers” surveyed by Nielsen between February and April.

However, there’s one big caveat to the survey, which is that it asked only what consumers currently owned at the time of the survey, not what they had owned in the past. So, people who sold their PlayStation 3 in order to buy a PlayStation 4 would’ve been marked down as non-PS3 owners.

Assuming that most people didn’t do that, though, the numbers underscore why launching at a $100 lower price point than the rival Xbox One was so beneficial for Sony.

These numbers are much bigger than I would have thought. I knew the PS4 was out pacing both the Xbox One and (not surprisingly) the Wii U, but 17% adding consoles to their homes is astounding. Sure, they may have had PS2s, Xboxes, and Gamecubes, but 17% after the longest generation cycle, I assume it’s safe to say these are new console owners… if we are assuming of course.

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Dual GamePad play

Shigeru Miyamoto on dual GamePad play as quoted by IGN:

From a technical standpoint, I think if we decided to pursue that, technically we would be able to and we can perform system updates that would allow for that. It’s also very interesting from a gameplay perspective idea because there are a lot of possibilities with two GamePads. But, at the same time, taking that kind of approach would again be a drain on resources and require us to continue to utilize our development resources for that. So then it would become a question of where do we want to devote our resources: Is it to creating regular GamePad games, or creating games centered around two GamePads?

Nintendo’s E3 digital event proved they are only scratching the surface of single GamePad interactivity. While it would show the power and unique experience of the Wii U, they are right to focus resources on foundation over decor.

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Console sales jump 95% in May

Luke Karmali, IGN:

The NPD Group’s video game sales report for the month reveals that console sales jumped up a massive 95 percent year-on-year to $586 million, with console software sales also climbing 57 percent to $274 million.

Titles singled out for praise on the games front include Watch Dogs and Mario Kart 8, with the latter being largely responsible for Wii U sales jumping up 85 percent despite only being on sale for two days of the month. Despite this, the Wii U was edged out by Nintendo’s 3DS handheld, which took second place behind Sony’s PS4 in terms of the best-selling hardware of the month.

Software sells hardware. This is impressive for all systems considering the spike occurred before E3. I’m really looking forward to June’s figures. My money is on Wii U. Hail Mario.

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