Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A few thoughts on this morning's Nintendo Direct

As any long-suffering Nintendo fan knows, the company's "Nintendo Direct" broadcasts tend to be hit-or-miss affairs. Although some of them have produced bonafide megatons (like when Bayonetta 2 was announced), just as many others have been utter snoozefests.

Given that, I wasn't at all sure what to expect from this morning's trio of Wii U-focused Nintendo Directs (one for Europe, one for Japan and one for North America). I had a feeling at least a few bombs would be dropped thanks to the rather ho-hum launch of company's latest console, but would they be "we're working on a sequel to Wii Party" bombs or would they be "Bayonetta 2 will hit store shelves in May" bombs?

Interestingly enough, Nintendo is working on a sequel (of sorts) to Wii Party. That was about the least interesting of all of the announcements that were part of this Nintendo Direct, though, so I think it's safe to say that this particular broadcast was far more "hit" than "miss."

Specifically, here are what I considered to be the high points of this morning's address:

* The look inside Platinum Games' office, where the company's staffers seem to be hard at work on Bayonetta 2, was all sorts of awesome. Sure, we didn't get to see any actual gameplay footage, but we were given enough glimpses of in-the-works enemies and environments to know the final product probably is going to rock our respective worlds.

* OK, so it wasn't all that surprising to hear that new 3D Mario and Mario Kart games are being prepped for Wii U. To hear that both games will be shown in playable form at E3 2013, though, was pretty shocking--as was Satoru Iwata's utterance that we'll finally get to see some screens of the next Smash Bros. title at the same event.

* Considering it's been rumored for a while now, I doubt many people fainted or felt heart palpitations after Iwata revealed that the Wii U will receive a Yoshi-focused platformer in the near future. My own heart certainly starting racing, though, when I heard that it's being developed by the geniuses at Good-Feel and saw that it's going to look more than a bit like that group's Kirby's Epic Yarn.

* So, let me make sure I'm understanding this correctly: Atlus is working with Nintendo to produce a Wii U game that brings together the characters and settings of the Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem series? If so, uh, I'm not sure what to think, to tell you the truth. I mean, it certainly sounds interesting, and I'm sure the resulting game will be stellar, but I can't quite picture it yet, you know?

* What I can picture: making my way through Monolith Soft's next game--which looks a lot like their last one (that being Xenoblade Chronicles), actually, but about a million times better--with a humungous grin on my face. You know, because of the gorgeous visuals. And the huge environments. Oh, and the transforming mechas.

As for the low points of this morning's Nintendo Direct:

* Although it was nice to hear that Nintendo will soon bring the Virtual Console to the Wii U, I can't help but feel a little ... bored by the whole thing. Don't get me wrong, it's great that the Wii U versions will feature save states and offer off-TV play, and it's even greater that people who purchased certain NES and SNES games via the Wii Virtual Console will be able to re-buy their Wii U equivalents for just $1 or $1.50, but my excitement is being tempered by the fact that it seems Nintendo will once again release them in a dribble rather than a deluge.

* A good part of me doesn't want to mention the Wii Party-like game that's being made for the Wii U. Not because it looks bad, mind you; it's just not a game that lights up my radar, if you know what I mean. That said, I thought the mini-games that require two players to use the Wii U GamePad at the same time (while holding it between them) looked kind of fun.

* I'm well aware that most Nintendo fans likely gasped with excitement when it was announced that a high-definition version of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker would make its way onto the Wii U later this year. I wasn't one of them. Don't get me wrong: I love (what I've played of) Wind Waker. I'm not feeling the same kind of love, though, for the graphics (of the Wii U version) that were shown this morning. Why does it seem like they're no longer cel-shaded? I'll definitely have to see more of this before I decide to pick it up or not, but at the moment I'm leaning toward the latter.

* The worst news of this broadcast by far, in my opinion: Iwata admitted that no first-party Wii U titles will be released in January or February. So, no Game & Wario, Pikmin 3, Wii Fit U or The Wonderful 101 (above) for you--until at least March, that is.

Now that I've had my say, what did all of you think of this Nintendo Direct? Did it wow you? Did it put you to sleep? Did it cause some other sort of reaction? Let me know in the comments section below.


Sonji Goodman said...

I let out a fangirl squee when I saw Yoshi. It's YOSHI! How can you not smile when you see that lil' blob of adorableness run across the screen?

Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem: My head explodeded (extra 'ed' added for emphasis on how hardcore my head exploded). Of course, this happened when I was done squeeing. I kinda picture it being along the same vein as Project X Zone or Namco X Capcom in terms of gameplay...

Monolith Soft Xeno-game: The rest of my body collapsed leaving nothing but a stump as the rest of my body parts exploded off my body. BOOM. I can't wait to hear more about it!

While I'm happy that more people will have a chance to experience Wind Waker, I must agree with you Bryan; it doesn't quite look so cel-shaded, which was such a huge part of the original's charm, imo.

I've ranted enough, so I'll end it here. Meow :3

Zaphod65 said...

I'm excited for the new Wind Waker. It looks pretty and I'm curious to see what kind of tweaks they're making to the gameplay.

I don't have a Wii U yet, but I'm getting one soon for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and that Xenoblade game made me start drooling.

The Virtual Console announcement... blah. At least they're not going to charge us full price for the VC games we've bought for Wii. I'm hoping like crazy the tidbit about Game Boy Advance games is leading to an announcement that GBA is coming to the 3DS (other than the Ambassador titles we received).

Having said that... the idea of portable Super Metroid made me happy. Even if it's only portable to the next room in my apartment. lol

Lizzi said...

I'm so excited about Monolith's new game and the Zelda Wind Waker remake!

About the Shin Megami Tensei meets Fire Emblem thing: When characters of the Shin Megami Tensei games were shown I nearly had a heard attack (because of joy) because I thought Nintendo announces the EU release of Shin Megami Tensei IV.

But then the Fire Emblem characters showed up and I was just soooooooo disappointed...

To be honest, this disappointment was way worse then tha one about the Pikmin 3, Wonderful 101 and Game& Wario delay...

Just horrible :(

I was kinda happy to hear about the great Balloon Fight Virtual Console offer.

I never bought any Virtual Console games on the Wii and I guess I will start buying some of the classics on the Wii U.

As for Bayonetta 2: I told you before how much I disliked the first Bayonetta (mostly because of the Xbox 360 untypical bad graphics) game and I'm still skeptical but I guess I'll give the sequel a try.

Bryan I have to confess something:

I hated Kirby's Epic Yarn. I hated how it lookes and that Kirby can't swallow the enemies.
So I was not sooo happy to hear that the new Yoshi game will be an Epic Yarn rip off. said...

Ha ha! I love your reactions, Sonji :) I also squealed (albeit internally) during the Yoshi reveal. I *really* can't wait to see how awesome it looks when it's done.

I also can't wait to see more of Monolith Soft's game. I have to say that I'm completely shocked that it already seems so ... complete. And not only that but GORGEOUS. I'm sure Wii U haters will find something to complain about, but from my perspective it looks PERFECT right now :)

As for SMT X FE: that one is going to be interesting, isn't it? I wonder how far along it is?

Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts--as always! said...

Yeah, I'm curious as to what Iwata meant when he said they'll be tweaking the gameplay of Wind Waker.

Also, I fully support and understand drooling over the Monolith Soft game. I want it now! Honestly, just seeing it (and Yoshi) made me think, "Yep, the Wii U's going to be OK."

And if Nintendo or SE can bring Dragon Quest X to our shores? All the better.

Honestly, if DQX somehow is released here before November, I'll pick up a Wii U earlier than I imagined I would just for that.

As for GBA games coming to the Wii U Virtual Console: if that doesn't also mean GBA games will be coming to the 3DS eShop, I'll eat my hat. It had better mean that!

BTW, I really hope NIntendo has a 3DS-focused Nintendo Direct planned for the next month or so. I want to hear about Miiverse on the 3DS and some new games, too. said...

So, you're not at all interested in the SMT x Fire Emblem cross-over, Lizzi? I can understand being disappointed about the lack of news of a localization of SMT IV, but don't give up hope. It's still a ways from a release in Japan, so it's not unusual that it hasn't been announced for release anywhere else yet.

Anyway, I'm still curious about the SMT x FE cross-over. I think it could be pretty interesting if handled correctly.

I'm kind of surprised you never bought any VC games via your Wii! I bought ... well, too many to mention here. That's partially why I'm not so happy about or interested in the Wii U VC announcement, as I'm not all that interested in re-buying the games I've already bought (even at a reduced price). So, for me, I'll probably just buy games that I didn't buy for the Wii, if that makes sense.

I'm also kind of shocked to hear you say you hated Kirby's Epic Yarn! I guess I can understand being upset that ol' Kirby couldn't inhale enemies like he usually can, but other than that I found the game to be absolutely top-notch.

Oh, well, you know what they say: different strokes for different folks!

diaglyph said...

It's certainly interesting!

Wind Waker - I hope they "finish" the game as intended! It felt incomplete to me (and I'm sure I read somewhere Nintendo rushed it). I also hope they tweak the ocean search section (this part made me give up on the game back then). Hopefully it will be reasonably priced when it comes out.

Bayonetta - still too much of a teaser LOL Though I think its probably going to have a release date later in the year (unless the footage they showed was from last year). But still looking forward to this!! I also hope they manage to port the first one to Wii U ;) I enjoyed the first one :)

SMT x Fire Emblem - this was surprise!! A full console crossover game! And since Ninty is involved it means us euro gamers will get the game within a reasonable amount of time (unlike just Atlus games which always take forever to reach euro regions, since doesn't believe euro regions exist).

Monolithsoft "X" game - this teaser just screamed Xenoblade to me! hahahaha The world, the action bar, the mech, the music. And I love the graphics! So beautiful!! Can't wait to get more info on this one!!

I'm not sure what to think about the VC stuff - I have to see it for myself.

Wonderful 101 - the game certainly looks interesting. I hope a demo comes out.

Yoshi - I'm neutral. yeah it looks cute etc but I can't say either way.

Wii U Party - I dunno. Might be fun. said...

Yeah, Igor, it'll be interesting to see what happens with Wind Waker. I'm not all that interested in it at the moment, but that may change if it looks better upon release and if Nintendo makes some interesting changes to it.

I think it'll be a wasted opportunity if Sega/Platinum/Nintendo don't release the first Bayonetta for Wii U. Of course, we all know Sega's and Nintendo's track record when it comes to wasted opportunities :|

As for SMT x Fire Emblem: I'm not sure what to think about this either. How on earth are these games' settings, etc., going to work together?

It's funny how clearly 'X' seems to be a Xenoblade sequel or prequel, yet it isn't yet being sold as such. I guess we'll see eventually?

Regardless, I'm looking forward to it as much as I'm looking forward to just about any Wii U game these days.

Josef Axner said...

I have basically zero interest in any Zelda game after Link's Awakening, so it wouldn't sway me to a purchasing decision either way, but BOY do those Wind Waker screens look atrocious. The original Wind Waker is not only a great looking game, it is pretty much THE example of a game using a strong, unique - and extremely well-executed - art direction, in order to create gorgeous, completely timeless visuals. Wind Waker came out 10 years ago, and still looks better than pretty much anything that comes out today!

More importantly, the Gamecube's power was perfectly sufficient in realizing that art direction. What they are doing with the Wii U version is absolutely baffling to me - using the newfound hardware capabilities to inject graphical features bells and whistles like rimlighting, bloom, and whatever else nonsense - art direction be damned! They are effectively replacing the original version's more or less flawless execution of a great concept, with completely generic shader effects and lighting. Wind Waker HD will not only age less graciously than the original game, it already looks uglier. This is the Star Wars Special Editions in video game form.

If they were dead set on making it look different from the original, why does it look like awful generic plastic, and not like this?

It truly saddens me to see people eating it up. It's as if a higher rendering resolutions and the letters "HD" will make people completely blind and ignorant.

As for Yoshi, the yarn look for Yoshi himself is a little peculiar, but aside from that I would say the denim-patchwork look of Yoshi's Story is much more of an influence than Kirby. It is kind of a funny coincidence, though. I guess someone at Nintendo really likes sewing or making quilts or something.

The rest of it, I don't really have much of an opinion on. My Xbox 360 and PS3 both get plenty of workout so I really have no desire to blow a bunch of money on a new console, though of course it doesn't really help that I haven't been able to muster any enthusiasm for anything Nintendo's done in, I dunno, ten years or so? The Wonderful 101 still looks awesome, Bayonetta will likely be a fantastic action game (never played the first one on account of strongly disliking the visual design, not being a fan of DMC, and not owning an Xbox at the time - but I hear great things and have the utmost confidence in Platinum) - but those two games really aren't enough to get me excited about the Wii U to the point of considering buying one.

Incidentally I kind of felt similarly with the Wii - there were (eventually) interesting looking games for the system, and some day I'd like to pick one up to play that handful of games that I missed, and when I do I'm sure I could find a dozen or two games that I like, that justify getting the console. But with how busy I've been with other games in the meantime, I can't honestly say I feel that I've been missing out, and I guess that sort of bleeds over to my feelings about the WiiU. If I got one I could have fun with it, no problem, but I feel completely fine with not getting to have those experiences.

retr0gamer said...

I think I need a WiiU. said...

You and me both, retr0gamer. That said, I don't mind waiting until a few of these games are released, or at least get release dates. Basically, I'm pretty sure at this point that I won't be getting a Wii U until at least this fall. You? said...

Hey there, Josef!

Well, I can't say I disagree with you when it comes to Wind Waker HD. To me, the way to do this would be to render the original's graphics in widescreen HD and to add back in the dungeons, etc., that were cut the first time around.

What they're doing here, on the other hand, doesn't appeal to me at all.

Who knows, though, maybe in the end they'll do what I suggested above? Or maybe they'll give folks options when it comes to the art style (a la Katamari Forever)? I wouldn't bet on it, of course, but you never know...

I've heard other people suggest the new Yoshi game may be more inspired by Yoshi's Story than Epic Yarn, and that's true. If anything, I have a feeling this new Yoshi game is inspire by both Yoshi's Story and Epic Yarn.

Regardless, I hope what was shown in the static screenshots is more indicative of how the game looks than the Epic Yarn-esque video that was shown.

As for not having any interest in Nintendo or the Wii U or even the Wii: well, I can't really argue against that. We all like what we like, and given the cost of today's systems and games, most of us can't own everything that's out there.

Interestingly, the way you feel about Nintendo and the Wii U/Wii is pretty much how I feel about Sony and the PS4/PS3. I know I would enjoy owning a PS3, and I know I could find a good number of games for it if I owned one, but at the moment I'm enjoying my DS and 3DS and Wii (and other systems) so much that I can't really be bothered to buy one.

I may still do so later this year or early next (although not until Sony drops the price again), but that's hardly written in stone at this point given my desire for a Wii U.

As for the PS4 and next Xbox? Well, they're pretty much not even on my radar at the moment, especially since I'm guessing they'll cost at least $399 each. I may get one or both of them eventually, though, assuming they offer enough of the kinds of games that I want to play.

ryan said...

Bryan- I think your ho-hum reaction to the Wii U VC will change once you get a Wii U and start immersing yourself in Miiverse. The potential for art and discussion of classic games in the communities is incredibly exciting to me! Miiverse is, like StreetPass on the 3DS, the system's secret killer feature and I think it will definitely enhance retro titles in innumerable ways. I can't wait! said...

Hey there, Justin :) Yeah, I was kind of excited when they first announced Wind Waker HD, too. And then they showed the screens. Ugh. Like others have said, though, this clearly is still early, so maybe in the end they'll just go with cel-shading? At least that's what I'm hoping.

So glad to hear you're excited about the Yoshi game, too. Personally, I'd buy it in a heartbeat even if it completely aped Epic Yarn, but I have a feeling it won't in the end (at least not completely).

I can't believe you're feeling 'meh' about 'X'! Hell, I'd buy it for the graphics and soundtrack alone, but of course I'm also attracted to the gameplay (esp. the mech stuff).

diaglyph said...

SMT/FE: Atlus has confirmed its an RPG :) So at least we know it will stick to RPG conventions!!
I'm hoping in battle it'll use grid system to move around (like Fire Emblem) and when you attack it switches to battle mode and perhaps it will work like SMT battles (tho I hope turn based haha) said...

Well, that sounds lovely to me, Igor! Really can't wait until we see some actual screens of this one. I wonder how far along it is at this point?

miruki said...

I still don't get why they would make the sequel to an PS3 & 360 game a WiiU exclusive... so if you played the first on PS3 and really liked it... you're suddenly forced to spend around 300 Euro plus another 60 for the game just so you can play the continuation? I don't get why any developer would agree to such sucktastic publishing deals - I mean, sure, Ninty probably gave them a whole lot of money for that, but in the end, how is it smart to piss off your fanbase? (This reminds me of Skulls of the Shogun, which Microsoft got a very exclusive deal for, which is really, really annoying.. only gets released on 360, Windows mobile and Win8... right. Release a game for just ONE version of your OS. orz...)

I like the look of that mysterious X game that is clearly tied to the Xenoverse in some way and looks just like Xenoblade in HD and all.. but I'll probably wait another 5 years until I consider getting a Wii U.

Josef Axner said...

Oh, I'm definitely with you there. The 360 and PS3 don't really feel "old" at all as far as I'm concerned, if anything I feel like they're more in their prime than ever. So I have zero interest in buying a new, expensive piece of gaming hardware; especially if this generation of consoles have been any indication of where the industry is headed - evolving technical specs leading to exponentially more expensive development, in turn leading to dozens of development studios closing shop because they need to spend millions but can't get Activision/EA/Nintendo sales figures.

I'm also not excited for the next generation of consoles since I am fully expecting even more draconian DRM schemes, more DLC nonsense and less single-player/local multi focused games in general...

Modern gaming can be kind of depressing sometimes :( said...

I have to agree with Igor (diaglyph, below), miruki. The reason Bayonetta 2 is going to be exclusive to the Wii U is that Nintendo basically breathed life back into its development. It had been left for dead (i.e., it wasn't going to be published) by the time Nintendo decided it wanted the game. Also, at this point, Nintendo is going to publish the game worldwide. Given all of that, it seems pretty obvious why it's going to be a Wii U-only game.

I understand why people who enjoyed the 360 or PS3 versions of the game are upset by that, but there isn't much that can be done with it. They'll either have to buy a Wii U or not play the sequel.

BTW, as far as I'm aware, the first Bayonetta didn't exactly set the world on fire with its sales, so I think most of the anger about this game being Wii U-only is coming from folks who just don't want the Wii U to have such a game--or they want such a game to appear on PS3/4 or Xbox 360/720.

Finally, I have a feeling the first Bayonetta will be released for Wii U before Bayonetta 2 is released, so in a way Platinum and Nintendo will re-build the series on that platform.

miruki said...

If they'd do that, then I'd be a little more pleased. It's not the game exactly that's bothering me - but it's this trend of doing exclusives to secure more sales of a system or OS. I'm actually a lot more annoyed by the Skulls of the Shogun thing than I am about Bayonetta - I didn't really know the background story for that either, as it's not one of the games I'd play by myself (as I just suck too much for it ;D I've gotta admit, when I saw my bro play it I was drooling a little.. ;>) - just the whole thing seems so unfair to the fans and the fans are exactly who you'd want to keep as a developer / publisher, right? Exclusives are kinda like a double-edged sword to me - of course it's great from a marketing perspective to have a few exclusives for your system but on the other hand it's a lot better to have a much wider audience to sell the game to, right?

I don't blame Nintendo or Microsoft for making these deals, for them it's great. But as a developer I'd feel very bad about making such an exclusive deal, as it would keep a high percentage of gamers from playing my games. Especially if you suddenly jump to another system for a continuation - sure, it can't be helped in Bayonetta 2's case, I'd still feel ripped of if I were a fan of that series and would only own a 360 or PS3. ;_; said...

I understand how you feel, miruki, but in this case the game wouldn't be published at all--on any system--if Nintendo hadn't stepped in. And considering they did that, you can't really blame them for wanting to solely benefit from the game's sales, can you?

Regardless, I wouldn't worry about this kind of thing too much. Although I think it will happen here and there this next generation, I don't think it's going to happen too often, as it's going to be in a publisher's best interest to get each game onto every platform/system possible.

Now, certain games are always going to be Wii U-only or PS4-only, etc., but I'll bet many third-party games will be released for all systems.

That said, the Wii U's off to a pretty bad start in that regard, as many of the big third-party games aren't being released for it.

Oh, well, I say. Nintendo hasn't had great third-party support for ages, so why would it start now?

diaglyph said...

I'm a PC gamer, so yes, an upgrade of couple hundred $$ is required every couple of years (tho hardcore PC gamers would probably upgrade their PC as soon as new components come out!) haha :)

diaglyph said...

Nintendo needs these exclusives. I don't think Nintendo will win over the xbox/PS fans, but it could be enough to win over the gamers that are in the "middle".
It won't surprise me to see similar exclusives come to PS4 and the next xbox.