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Games

Super Duper

Super Mario

 

This is at some store in the Westside Pavillion.

The Wii

I’d like to write, and probably will once the console comes out, a description of my feelings about the Wii. In some ways… its beautiful and elegant. In other ways, its clunky, misguided and frustrating.

Wii Launch Date Graphic

I read an article today. He sums up, very well, my current feelings of excitement and frustration. Perhaps I’ll take the time once the Wii comes out to sum up my feelings for myself. 😉 In the meantime, its a great read.

Civilization IV

This game is awesome. Civilization IV, the fourth of this name by Sid Meier, is better in every way from Civilization III. I didn’t pick up Civ III until almost a year after it came out. Even then it felt, as one review I read, complicated. Sure, you say, every Civilization game has to be complicated. However, when the complication gets in the way of having a good time playing the game, then its not fun complicated, its just complicated complicated.

 

The Hanging Garden

 

Civilization IV appears to be much more streamlined. The workers appear to be more intelligent (if you set the don’t tear up my prior improvements box) and and the AI fighting is a little better. Also of note in another review I read, Sid has said that the AI in Civ IV, for the first time in the game’s history, is not allowed to cheat. In previous Civ’s, the AI would, basically, see the whole map, all relevant resources, and would always know how many units you have in each city. Now, they only have access to the information you do (or they discover on their own). Its noticable at times, the AI attacking cities that they are certain to lose or cities that are not your weakest.

All in all, however, its a great game. I plan on playing it tomorrow for a few hours with friends after a much-needed sleep.

E3 2005 – New Game Consoles

The new consoles have been unveiled. There is much praise and adoration to go around. The Playstation 3 has its press-release just hours before the “official” and previously-announced press-release of the Xbox 360. First of all, this is an obvious ploy to help dampen the hooplah around the display of their chief competition which will be introduced first. Second, it is an attempt to fawn some of the attention off on its own product. Both products, incidentially, look great. They offer value over-and-above their current offerings and are welcome refinements of their prior incarnations. The Xbox crew, in particular, seems to have learned from its mistakes.

Soon thereafter, the new Nintendo offering, entitled Revolution, is also unveiled. To me, this seems to be a quickly-put-together and ill-advised press moment. Most websites have a single press release picture to use which is intriguing but empty of true “content.” This release appears to be a panic-release based upon the “surprise” release by Sony. Nintendo feels that to maintain a shot at market-share they have to release some information now. I feel that they would be better advised to have continued refining their product and working on defining their vision for the next Nintendo.

If you speak to my friends, who will listen, you will hear me rant about the GameCube’s poor performance. Its not that bad of a system, it just had terribly poor follow-through, a poor brand-image that was established quickly and has not been effectively corrected. I want to play on a Nintendo. I’ve got all these grand memories of hours spent playing something fun and addictive. I’ve also said for some time now that Nintendo has been trying to tell its customers what they want, rather than cater to what the market is telling them that they want. Case-in-point, the Nintendo DS versus the Playstation Portable. Did the market really tell Nintendo that they wanted two screens? Did the market really tell Nintendo that they the capability to “chat” with friends? Is it fun to have handwriting recognition on a game device? What about handwriting recognition is fun? On the other hand, did the market say, we want to take fun, more in-depth games along with us as we travel? Did it say, the current handheld games available are all linear side or top-scrolling games that begin to all look the same? I would hold the latter questions as true.

The DS, to my mind, is a fun little device for kids who are about ages 8-12 years old. This is a problem. It furthers the terrible (for large-scale sales) image of Nintendo as a “kids game company.” Thats a fine image to have when the game industry caters to children 8-12 years old. Unfortunately for Nintendo, the average age of gamers is constantly moving up. Unfortunately for Nintendo, the average age of gamers is currently roughly 29 years old. If you want to keep up in a console market, then you have to cater to people of this age or you are simply removing a large portion of your market from your group of potential sales.

The “announcement” this week by Nintendo of their new Revolution only proves that they have finally discovered this problem. Unfortunately, this effort is very likely too little, too late. For starters, Nintendo’s specialty of late, if one can say that there is one, has been innovation. There is certainly room for this in the industry. Fun comes in all shapes and sizes. I just feel that their innovation has been in directions that most gamers do not and will not want. The “new” Revolution does not even come close to living up to its name. So far as I can tell from the limited information available, it is a clone of a Playstation 2 with Internet connectivity and potentially the option to download software to play. How is this a Revolution? At the very least, its a sell-out of thier vision for games and game consoles.

Finally, if Nintendo wants to make any effort to compete, they have to do something they have been terribly poor at doing: keeping developers. I believe Nintendo is past the point of no-return on this front. This, I believe, is why the Revolution will fail. The new piece of console machinery has no relevant differentiator from the looming and powerful competition. Imitation by Nintendo in the game console market only serves to demonstrate the dire straits in which the company finds itself.

If Nintendo wants to make any effort at competing in this highly competitive market, it has to make the best of this and (potentially, depending on the release date of the Revolution) the next E3. The miserable showing of a lackluster imitation of the Playstation 2 console will not serve the company at all in wooing developers. Who cares if you have backwards compatibility if you have the most miserable support for a predecessor platform since the Atari Lynx? Nintendo needs to show something that will make its platform fly off the shelves so that more and more developers will jump on board. The name Nintendo and two platform-centric games (Mario and Zelda) will not bring the masses anymore. Nintendo, pay developers if you have to, but if you want to sell consoles, you’ve got to do better than that.