Much like with other modern technology, we’ve managed to squeeze more into smaller space. The laptops or pads we have nowadays are engineered to a point that barely anyone can open up their cases and fix them without further studying on the subject. Game consoles aren’t any different, though the PlayStation 4 is almost as big as the original Xbox. It wasn’t until we began to have consoles that began to show easily damaged sections in the mainline consoles. While the PlayStation could take some hefty damage (personal experience tells me it can survive a trip in a lake), the PlayStation 2 could be damaged by having enough weight at the wrong spot. This was the time when PCBs started to become thinner and more packed up with components downsizing with almost each year. You could lob a NES or SNES outside a window have it working with a cracked case, and the same really for the PlayStation as well. Personal experience, don’t ask. PlayStation 2 however was the first truly delicate piece of hardware that in the end begun to have issues with reading the discs. Sometimes from the very beginning.
Goddamn, this video came out sometime early 2000’s. Takes me back
Nintendo’s consoles usually have been durable, especially their handheld consoles. There has even been discussion how Iwata drove the DS’ tech team mad by demanding the console to be able to withstand multiple drops from a standard height.
However, the more we pack delicate technology in a smaller place, the more easy it is to break it. While most people fellate companies over the hardware, it’s uncommon to see anyone appreciate the design and intentions of the design. The PSP was applauded for its higher raw power over the DS, and while it was snazzy to have in your hands, it was a delicate piece of hardware that could break down very easily. The console wasn’t meant for everybody, and much like how SEGA used to sell Mega Drive for more mature gamers, SONY’s western branches clearly had the more adult audience in mind. The PSP really couldn’t take much damage, I’ve had to fix a few. The same applies to the Vita to some extent, thought the Vita seems to be able to take a beating or two more than its elder sibling.
The Switch has been out only for a while, but it’s already showcasing very erratic behaviour. Some have it going completely mad in sound department, some consoles refuse to launch games, connection issues with the controllers, and the screen’s been scratched by the dock itself. I saw the dock scratching issue the very moment the whole thing was revealed (it had no guiding rails to keep the screen clear), but having a plastic screen is a necessity. Why wouldn’t you want to have a glass screen? They’re so much better! The reason for this is safety and durability design. See, when you have a plastic screen, the console can dissipate a fall impact by wobbling around rather move the energy directly into rigid parts, destroying them. The very reason your phone’s screen shatters so easily is because it can’t bent, and the energy from the is released by shattering. It’s a design decision between durability and looks.
To sidetrack a bit, this really applies to Muv-Luv‘s BETA as well. The Destoyer-Class has a shield hardness of Mohs-15, but because that’s hardness topping that of a diamond, their shields should shatter when shot at. They don’t flex when hit due to their hardness. Mohs scale is for mineral hardness after all and should never be applied outside jewellery.
Newly borked devices is nothing new, either. The 360 had firmware issues since day one, and the infamous Red Ring of Death haunted machines every which way. Hell, the 360 may be a good example overall how to fuck your console from time to time, as some of my friends have told me their 360 crapped out because of an update. For better or worse, my 360 hasn’t crapped out yet.
No modern console is truly finished at launch. Firmware and software issues are relevant and will be patched out at a later date. This is largely due to modern technology. A Mega Drive never needed firmware patches, because it was less a computer than the modern machines. Whatever problems with the firmware Switch has now will be patched at a later date. However, the hardware and design problems are harder to fix, and if Nintendo is anything to go by, they may revise some of the designs in later production versions.
Though there really isn’t any good excuses to use paint coating that peels off with stickers. That’s just terrible. Who puts stickers on their consoles any more? You’d be surprised.
The first wave of adopters will always have to go through the same pains with modern technology. New smart phones and tablets suffer from firmware issues to the point of most common consumers willingly buying last year’s model in order to get a properly functioning device. The price has already dropped at that point too. Apple has been infamous with some of their smart devices’ firmware problems, and sometimes they were removing basic utilities from the hardware alone. Nobody really expected iPhone 7 not to have a headphone jack.
The question some have asked whether or not it’s worth buying a game console, or any modern smart device or computer component for the matter, if they require multiple updates months later down the line? We can’t see into the future, and it’s hard to say what device will go through a harsh update cycle. Essentially, you’ll need to look into history of a company and make a decision based on that. Just trusting that a company will update broken parts is strongly not recommended.
I guess releasing things partially unfinished and patching them up is an industry standard practice. Games get patched to hell and back, and while this isn’t much new for PC side of business, it’s one of those things that show how little of classic console business is in modern consoles. Not all games get patched though, even when they have console destroying bugs in them. NIS America’s track record with localised games that supposedly lock permanently and prevent you from finishing the game, break your console or generally have terrible translation would a perfect chance to use these patches to fix these issues. However, unlike with consoles and other devices, game developers can ignore these problems as the purchase has already been made and they probably are banking on hardcore fans.
Not that any product is final when it’s released. All products are good enough when released, but that good enough has seen a serious inflation with time.
This being a design blog that has gone to places and back, let’s go with something pure design and review the design of 3DS LL and N3DS Flanders XL. We will ignore their library and most of the tech. The emphasize is on how the systems are shaped. You’ll most likely be seeing a lot of mundane descriptions if you own the system and have played it to death, but do keep in mind that this is made for everybody and thus I see there is a need to go to some stupid level of detail in even in the mundane.
Nintendo 3DS LL
The 3DS LL base design doesn’t step too much away from the pre-established Nintendo DSi XL design with its relatively unassuming case. It has nicely low front profile device overall, but it’s width makes it very bulky as a handheld device. The device fits larger pockets just fine, yet it’s not something you can easily pocket. Cargo pants should have pockets large enough to carry a naked 3DS LL, but otherwise the device needs some sort of case or stashed inside a bag for transportation. The colour can make the system look classy, or like a toy. It’s up to each person to pick up their favourite colour.
Still, we can already see some peculiarities with the device. One is that the coloured plates tend to have a less than millimetre gap between them and the main device parts, and despite the halves have been locked in tight, these gaps tend to collect dirt. In addition, the bottom plate is relatively loose even if locked in place only in few parts, which in worst situation can be stuck to a sharp corner and break the plate. This isn’t something that can occur easily and most likely has to be by intention, but nevertheless something that should have been considered. The looseness of the bottom plate does not inhibit gameplay and is mostly unnoticeable. The bottom plate has the usual information about Li-ion batteries and such, but also two rubber tabs near the back of the console to prevent it from slipping on a given surface. However, the rubber used is more or less useless on most surfaces. The small legs at each corner allow the console to stand apart from a surface, but their size is so small that these legs will simply scratch out relatively fast and leave black plastic tabs.
Underneath the plate is the battery, and if there is a need to replace this battery, the plate can be removed with a small sized phillips head screwdriver.
The stylus is placed at the right side of the system. The indentation made before the stylus is a detail that is easy to miss during design phase and makes removal of the stylus. The stylus however feels somewhat loose in its spot, but due to its light weight it will keep itself in place just fine. Next to the stylus is a standard SD card slot behind a flap, nothing special and due to the flap it doesn’t stand out.
While most of the action buttons are hid when the 3DS LL is closed, both shoulder buttons are at a dangerous corners. There isn’t any better place for them to be placed in, and their construction is relatively sturdy. They are low in profile and the distance they go is millimetre or so. The whole button doesn’t move, as it has its hinge towards the centre of the console’s back. The buttons themselves have the traditional L and R carved into them alongside pictures of cameras. The click the buttons do are clear and give nice tactile feeling to them. However, them being at the corners and in this design, they are susceptible to damage if the system would be dropped.
The back holds locking places for other devices alongside IR sensor, game card slot and power adapter socket. The lock holes tend to wear down with use, but them residing at the back means they won’t be too visible to the user. The card slot is like any other game cartridge slot in action and is largely unchanged from previous incarnation. The card locking mechanism however will break down in time with use, a design point that wasn’t as relative with GameBoy line of products. The power socket however houses two plates that are completely open to the elements, and in environment where oxygenation is common these plates will lose their lustre very soon, and to some extent their function as well. These plates are used in the docking station to charge the battery. Sadly, just like with most products, the power socket is not standard build even if it shared among other Nintendo products. However, the socket is well enough designed so that the user can put the console on charger without checking which way it needs to be, a common thing with USB drives.
Volume controller is found at the left side of the system on the lower section. The volume control is a very loose slider, which during intense gameplay has a tendency to rock back and forth. To mirror the volume controller, the right side has Wireless switch. Because it is a switch, the user won’t accidentally turn their 3DS LL’s wireless functions on or off during gameplay. The upper half of this side has the 3D slider, but it’s main function comes into play when the system is open.
The front of the system houses places to put your strap in either side. Next to leftmost spot resides the phones jack, which may be too close to the edge to some users. Near the right corner are two LEDs to signify power and charging functions.
The top of the system is relatively empty compared to the other five sides. The right upper corner has an indication light for multiple functions, ranging from message arrival to overall battery state. The 3D camera near the front of them system has two cameras that look rather vulnerable, especially to scratches.
The system lid has four spots where it can reside; closed, first step, second step and third step. The system is more or less designed to be played at its second step, as otherwise the user’s arms and hands will be placed in an uncomfortable, far from an ergonomic position. This position is similar to older GameBoy variations, where the screen would be placed above the main action buttons.
At the third step, the lid turns over 180-degrees and can be easily snapped off from this position. The hinge overall is sturdy, but constant opening and closing will cause damage overtime where the lid will become highly loose, and in worst case scenario, break down. This has been rather common with the clamshell design and thus the materials need to be good enough to stand wear and tear for long periods.
The upper lid, when opened, houses the main screen. This screen is larger than the bottom one with a basic camera sitting atop of it and speakers on both sides. Near the upper corners of the screen there are two tabs that keep the upper screen from scratching itself against the lower half of the system, but early models had too small tabs for this, and this the upper screens got scratched. This model fault was later fixed by adding slightly larger tabs, but still stands as a model design error.
The aforementioned 3D Slider is just below the right speaker and designed so that it is used in an angle rather than directly from front or from the side. It’s little lock at OFF position is surprisingly sturdy and offers resistance, but when put on the slider moves freely. It should be noted that the 3D slider offers more resistance than the Volume slider, showing that there wasn’t much thought put into the Volume slider. The graphics used to signify the 3D’s strength is what you see in volume controls, and it can be debated whether or not this is good choice or not, but it does its job.
The lower half has all the main buttons. All buttons generally do not rise much from the console surface and they are on the same level as the raised middle surface the bottoms screen resides in. This frame also meets with the rubber tabs on the lid.
As per traditional Nintendo fashion, the action buttons are in a diamond formation in their familiar arrangement. When grasping the system, the action buttons fall rather naturally under your thumb and none of them are hard to reach. Their size and distance can be seen too small by the people with larger hands, and their clicking isn’t all that satisfying, but give tactile feeling enough to be called good. Their round and low profile offer a rather pleasant experience, albeit sometimes it feels that the button presses misses their timings.
On the left side we have the eponymous Slide-pad and the D-pad. The design of the 3DS LL emphasizes on the Slide-Pad and has placed it in the main spot your thumb falls into. The Slide-pad fits most thumbs just fine with its concave design and offers strange resistance between spongy and springy. While the pad is accurate in itself, repositioning one’s thumb during gameplay seems to be a common thing. It doesn’t help that the material used in the Slide-pad will become glossy and slippery with time.
The D-pad uses the slightly revised Nintendo standard we saw in e.g. the Wii Remote in that it is slightly concave. While the D-pad overall looks nice, it is not Nintendo’s best. The design underneath means it’s spongy and clicky at the same time, which is worsened by the fact the player needs to reposition their hand in order to access it.
Beneath the lower screen are the Select, Home and Start buttons in that order from the left. These buttons are the second spongiest in the system, but their integration to the overall shape where they sit in is more or less perfect. Perhaps the buttons could have used colour in the text to give them more appearance. Microphone is just to the right to the Start, as is the Power button. The power button is an unfortunate design, as it is surprisingly hard to properly press due to its spongy nature. There has been some reports that people have mistakenly pressed it instead of Start due to previous handheld designs.
System in hand
As described in the lid opening, the system is meant to be played rather open for maximum comfort, where most of the weight come straight along the arms rather to the hands themselves. However, as the system loses about 1/3 from its closed thickness, the lower half becomes too thing for its size and weight. The ergonomics also get a hit with the square design of the system that does not conform along the user’s palm. Even if the bottom has rounded edges, they do not help the bad grip the system requires to be used. It is recommended to get a separate third party grip or Slide-pad pro add-on to increase both ease of gameplay and ease of accuracy in said gameplay.
In addition to this, when you put pressure on the console by twisting it in your hands, it gives in and contorts slightly. This kind of construction allows the system frame to absorb more damage from a drop rather than outright shattering upon hitting the floor. However, this does make the system slightly less tight and can give it a somewhat toyetic feeling.
New Nintendo 3DS XL A.K.A Fat Flanders
In overall terms, the N3DS has similar weight, size and overall design to its older brethren and thus will be directly compared to it. A lot of points that apply to the standard 3DS LL apply to the N3DS XL. Changes to the design language include slightly sharper angle the corners have been rounded and overall righter design as opposed to the standard 3DS LL’s more wider appearance.
Changes to the system from bottoms up include change in the bottom plate. The system now uses Mini-SD cards and it is necessary to remove the bottom plate to access it. Hiding important access slots behind panels has always been bad design and it applies here as well. Thankfully, this is not as bad with N-gage, where the game card slot was hidden behind the battery. The plate now has more sealed gap, but the plate itself is slightly smaller than the bottom of the system itself, creating a sharp corner where the hands then rest. This corner will also collect dirt and dead skin.
The sides of the system has seen drastic changes. At the back we have two more shoulder buttons in form of ZL and ZR. They protrude slightly more than the L and R shoulder buttons, but otherwise offer similar clickyness. Their position however is poor, as accessing them require slight change in hand position or holding the system deeper down in the user’s palms.
Left and right have seen changes in that the Volume slider has been moved to the upper half and now boasts the same kind of slider as the 3D slider has. This prevents the user from changing the volume accidentally, plus now the slider actually feels good to use. The Wireless switch has been completely removed and the Wireless functions must be accessed via the system’s OS.
The front now boasts, from left to right, the game card slot, phone jack in the middle, stylus about halfway from the middle to the corner and the power button. The position of the game card slot is more or less up to taste, but the sudden change in the position is hard to figure out. One possible explanation is that it is now easier to remove and put the game card in without closing the lid. However, there could be numerous of explanations. Moving the headphone jack to the middle prevents from the user from hitting the plug itself. However, that now applies to the power button. It has been reported that some people tend to support the console with their pinkie fingers from the front, and the new Power button placement happens to be right in that support spot.
The stylus is largely unchanged in weight and function. However, one of its ends have been modified to curve alongside the system’s front and work as a key to pop the bottom plate off. If you look at the left and right sides of the system, you will see indentations that stylus is supposed to jam between and lever the bottom plate off.
The top of the system is largely unchanged.
Above the upper screen we find now revised rubber tabs and an additional eye-tracking camera. This eye-tracking camera allows the system to adjust the 3D according to where the user’s eyes are, but otherwise the 3D has exactly same functions as previously. The speaker holes have now been made larger, but now there are less of them. The five holes that now allow the sound to pass look cheaper in comparison. 3D slider is unchanged.
The buttons are mostly unchanged in function. There is now visual flavour to the action buttons in that they are coloured in according to the Super Nintendo colours. An additional control stick, the C-stick, as been added to the right side as well. This C-stick is not a traditional game controller stick, but rather similar to the red mouse sticks found in various laptops. It’s not supposed to move as much as the user is supposed to rock it back and forth. The material it’s made of doesn’t allow enough friction for a proper use. Even with washed and clean hands, a session of gaming will produce enough sweat and grease from the skin surface to make the C-stick slippery and thus infuriating to work on. In order to accommodate the C-Stick, the hinge now has a curved indentation to give more room to larger thumbs. The position of the C-stick is more or less fitting, requiring minimal change in hand position to access, but the design is lacking. Seeing how the designers essentially combined the Slide-pad Pro to the pre-existing design, this is more or less accommodated.
Start and Select has been moved to the previous spots under the action buttons from the bottom screen frame. These two small buttons do their thing well enough and boast large area enough not to puncture your finger. Home button has changed into lonely button under the bottoms screen, which sticks out from the otherwise sleek design. If it had retained its square design from the previous incarnation, it would have melded well into the overall looks of the console.
System in hand
Due to the mostly recycled design, the N3DS XL feels similar to the standard 3DS LL. However, due to the revised corners it does feel slightly more comfortable in hands, but still suffers from being flat, square and unergonomic. It is recommended to get a third party grip for more comfortable gameplay.
Ultimately, the 3DS LL/XL range suffers from taking too much cues from the DS and Game Boy Advance SP lines. They are mostly designed how to make the system fold in the best and have a flat appearance over user comfort. There is a proper way how to hold the systems in your hands, and yet even that changes with the users’ hand anatomy and size. The basics are the same across the board, but the handheld consoles’ designs don’t meet with those basics. One could argue that the 3DS’ design follows what has been popular in portable device designs for some time now.
Nintendo’s most ergonomic handheld console was the original GameBoy Advance. It would be good if Nintendo would look back at it and take some cues how to make a console that fits your hands and design it from that perspective, rather than from what’s popular. Of course, the danger in this is that the product may end up looking too much like a toy, but with proper visual flavours they should be able to achieve similar sturdy console look as with the aforementioned GBA. However, if you prefer having the more cubic design in your hands, you’ll most likely come to a different conclusion.
As such, if you’re intending to pick up one or the other, you might as well pick up the Flanders model. They’re both the same on the outside, but the inside is a bit different in favour of Flanders.
Funny thing, the PSP and Vita follow GBA’s ergonomic design more than Nintendo themselves.
Nintendo on PC platforms is nothing new. The prime example of the Big N games on PC is Super Mario Bros. Special on the NEC PC-8801, Sharp X1 and SPC-1500. Nintendo games on other console platforms is nothing new. You have Nintendo’s Popeye, Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. on various other platforms, perhaps most famously on Atari 2600. Unlike what Nintendo wants you to believe, their first home console wasn’t the Family Computer. From 1977 we hail to the Colour TV-game headed by none other than Gunpei Yokoi and produced by Hiroshi Imanishi, the man we can all thank for convincing Hiroshi Yamauchi to move Nintendo towards electronic game development. I recommend my readers to read more about Imanishi, as his role in Nintendo wasn’t just to be another guy, but someone who answered directly to none other than Yamauchi himself and had practically as much power in the company as the president himself.
I wanted to keep away from writing anything about DeNA’s and Nintendo’s cooperation, because there was very little to no information in the end. Some have already called Nintendo a doomed company within and outside the industry, but the same song has been sung for the last thirty years or so ever since the NES was released. First, it was the PCs that will kill Nintendo. Then it was SEGA’s Mega Drive that would kill Nintendo. Then it was SONY’s PlayStation that would kill Nintendo. Then it was Microsoft’s Xbox that would kill Nintendo. Then it was Apple’s iPhone and iPad that would kill Nintendo. You’d think that the games and general electronics industry (especially the hardcore part of the industries that want to incorporate information technology to every damn thing in your life) would already realise that the only thing that can kill Nintendo is Nintendo themselves. It’s not like Nintendo hasn’t managed to push away their customers for their own obsession and managed to screw up their consoles’ libraries and quality. Still, Nintendo has maintained its behemoth status and when Nintendo speaks, people listen. Listen, and everybody and their mothers comment on it, which is why I hesitated to write anything about it, but this is a one-two punch from Nintendo.
First of all, DeNA. I had not heard of this company before as I don’t play games on smartphones. Actually, the one I have has slightly bust touch screen in that there’s an area where it doesn’t recognize any touch. Otherwise the phone is on pristine condition, but it’s also aged horribly much like how fast developing PC machines usually do. DeNA is mainly functioning in Japan, but it seems there is a level of presence outside that as well, but I couldn’t tell how much. What DeNA does in itself is less important than what their joint operation with Nintendo will, or rather can offer; universal account system on PC platforms and Nintendo consoles.
While we can argue about the quality of smartphone games, or the app market games, or mobile games, or whatever you want to call them, the cold truth is that they fetch a large amount of money and people find them of quality high enough to put money into them. You may personally dislike this, but it’s not one or two people who decide what quality is. Iwata talks about maximising the Nintendo IP, and this is something Nintendo has been doing from time to time by expanding where they see possibilities. With arcade games becoming relevant, Nintendo moved into the arcades where people were spending money. With the advent more television and centralised in the living room, Nintendo moved into the relatively empty home console market and conquered the television screen. Movement of people has always been something common, and Nintendo became a portable device with the GameBoy. None of Nintendo’s devices have been cutting edge technology, and there never has been any reason to be. A console’s mission is to deliver the best possible system to play games based on current technology, not advance it. That’s for the computer market.
Maximising IP has also meant that Nintendo IP spread everywhere. You had Super Mario cartoons, you had Captain N; The Game Master, Nintendo Power, cereals, candy, bags, caps and so on. Nintendo went where there was room to make money and allow their IP to grow. You can tell that games became culturally irrelevant when there is nothing like this anymore. Mario Mania was a thing, and outside something like Pokémon, there has been practically no other product that created new content for the larger culture, only for the hardcore gamers.
We have screens everywhere nowadays. Some time ago I had a post how everybody has some level of screen in their pocket where they are able to watch movies, surf the web and even do actual work with. We have experienced a paradigm shift, where the screen has been decentralised from the living room. We are less dependent on the big screen in the living room, and this shift most likely will continue to evolve further to the point where television itself as a device has to change. There already have been signs of this in form of television having Internet connection to access various web based content providers like Youtube. SONY Bravia PX300/22 was a product that Nintendo could never produce as they don’t produce televisions, but the PX300/22 was out of date when it came out. One could argue that televisions are coming extinct as they are and another kind of screen will take their place. Both Xbone and PlayStation 4 are sort of living relics at the moment, as they were designed to take the centre of the living room as its multimedia centre in an era where decentralisation has become apparent.
It’s only natural to see Nintendo moving where the screen is. It’s in your pocket and it’s not the 3DS. While you might wonder why would Nintendo move their products to a competing platform, I wish to remind you that PC and consoles are not direct competitors. The platform is now changing with Nintendo. Instead of them using the physical reality as the platform, it seems that they are moving towards a new platform; the account system. We’re going beyond physical platforms here. Think it this way; PSN is the platform SONY works rather than PSVita or the PS4, XLBA is the platform Microsoft works on rather than PC or Xbone. This applies to Steam as well and this now then reflects how Steam is a digital console.
The platform is no longer a physical manifestation, but what we think as the account system.
Nintendo’s next game system, the NX, is this. The NX can either describe the account system itself, where X stands for cross. Nintendo Cross would make sense in this context, where the consumer is able to cross the physical limitations to the smart devices and to dedicated console. Nintendo pushed the decentralisation with Wii U’s gamepad, and I can see the NX actually being a combination of both home console and a handheld device with the account system. We won’t be getting any new info on the NX before next year, which is bullshit, but then again Nintendo’s conference was to show their new plans to the investors.
I guess the N3DS Flanders is some sort of example what’s going on. While I hate the idea of updating a console to play the same games slightly better, it make sense if you think the platform is the account rather than the console. Unlike with the most previous handheld iterations, the Flanders wasn’t just a redesign of the same technology, but a straight up hardware update. I may not like the idea of upgrading my consoles every few years similar to smart devices, but with DeNA this seems to be a possibility. After all, when you get a Nintendo game on your smart device, you are purchasing a Nintendo platform.
My guess based on all this is that the NX will be two things; first of all a more traditional console for Nintendo produce its games on as usual, and secondly (and more importantly) a cross machine account platform not bound to one machine alone. I’m most likely wrong, as Nintendo separates NX in a chart as “dedicated game system,” which more or less means it’s a console. Interestingly, both 3DS and Wii U are accounted into this circle, but I wouldn’t put too much emphasize on this as Nintendo previously has ignored their own ideas, namely when they said DS would not replace GameBoy and they would have a three pillar structure with GameBoy, DS and GameCube. Guess which pillar doesn’t stand anymore.
Is Nintendo doomed? Has Nintendo become a third party developer? No. The DeNA cooperation seems to imply strongly that DeNA will be the one making most smart device products for Nintendo next to giving the helping hand in creating the account system, and Nintendo will concentrate on the physical console NX. Th keyword here is that DeNA is helping Nintendo IP on smart devices and giving a helping hand in developing the account system, as told by a simple two-point image. It’s more likely that Nintendo VC games will be ported to the account system by DeNA, as Nintendo has basically abandoned the whole VC with all other companies.
However, we can already say that NX wants to drive 3D gaming further. According to an interview in Time magazine, Iwata hates the tem free-2-play and Miyamoto further showing his obsession with 3D. Almost every Nintendo home console, and later handhelds, have tried to push 3D to the masses somehow. Famicom had failed 3D System, Super NES pushed Mode 7 and polygon graphics in 3D, N64 was all about bringing everything into 3D, Virtual Boy was all about awful ‘virtual reality,’ the GameCube had a 3D peripheral that was luckily never put into production due to its cost, the DS initially pushed the same ideas as N64 before Nintendo wisely changed their way and the 3DS is nothing but 3D masturbation techwise. The Wii had less 3D obsession because it followed the same ideals as NES and SNES, but we can argue that the Wiimote was all about three dimensional controls. Wii U has decentralisation going for it. The NX will try to further the 3D further into the market, despite the market has already made their stance against it. Interestingly enough, Nintendo has produced one of the worst titles that use 3DS’ 3D effect.
Whether or not Nintendo designs the NX and the account system to work in tandem or whether or not they are the same thing is an open question to me. If the account system is a digital game console, we’re going to have to rethink how we approach home entertainment electronics overall. The platform becomes more relevant, separate from the machine it runs on.
There’s one thing that really needs to be answered in the end; how will the games be? Either NX and the account system are worth nothing if the games aren’t there to meet the customer wants.
Whether it be literature or electronic games, they are fiction. Realism is a genre for sure, and yet even in that it is make belief unless it is a documentary piece or similar. As such, any character we may meet within any entertainment media has very little to do with real life. Television, movies, radio and other industries with live people doing performances are of course another thing, but even then the characters these people act are simple fiction. Documentaries and such of course are exceptions.
Let’s cut the chase. Theme for some of the posts in near future is Video game characters are not real people.
When fictional characters are designed, majority of the time they have encompass some level of ideal physique in them. In comics most of our superhero characters are nearly perfect in physique and have almost flawless appearance. Those with rugged appearance on the other hand then to have skills and abilities far exceeding normal people. The same applies to game characters as well, where we have Shepard, Lara Croft and various others sharing the same idea myths of old had.
Some would argue that these ideal appearances give the wrong image of reality. That would apply, if the products would be about reality. If one would come up to me and tell that Duke Nukem is how an ideal man should be, I would laugh at his face. While they are indeed ideal archetypes, nothing actually says that this is how we should be. More often than not, it is almost impossible to be something that is unreal in physical terms when it comes to humans. Cosplay as much as you want, but you will never be a cute little girl wearing skimpy black outfit with gold rims.
Appearances have always been a thorn in certain groups’ eyes. While we are bombarded with people calling women being sexualised in comics because of their perfect physique, often the physique of men is completely pushed aside. Next to this, these characters are not women or men, they are merely presentations of ideas of characters. With fiction you have no reason to stick with reality unless that is your aim and goal. While Grant Morrison is a dividing personality, his quote on how children have the ability to see fiction as it really is hits the spot with this one; adults ask stupid questions. The children I have worked with don’t question how or why something is in cartoons or games they play because they know it’s just la-la land. However, they have always been extremely interested in how the real world functions, the hows and whys of sciences. These discussions are something I always look forwards when working with kids, because this shows how they make that clear cut separation between reality and fiction. Hell, once I drew a princess character as a birthday gift to a girl (she asked for one) and when she presented it to her mother, she commented how the character’s shapes were a bit too curved. The girl commented to this that it was just fairytale and in fairytales that’s OK.
It would be nice if we all could make that distinction as well.
Nevertheless, it must also be argued that certain degree character designs need to respect the overall accepted norms a society has. This of course translates regionally very differently as we have seen throughout the years. In addition to that, character designs more often than not represent the idea of a character or certain groups’ idea of a character, not the rest of the population. Archetypes are a thing of their own and most of the time characters are mostly transformations of these archetypes into the setting. Whether or not they are successful is dependant largely on how well they are realized by the producers and accepted by the consumers.
With the 3DS Langrisser we see certain archetypes represented for better or worse in a strong sub-cultural flavour. Langrisser has always been a series with a strong tone for fanservice, that can’t be denied. I’m not sure whether or not it is my own bias taking lead here, but I can’t shake the view that Urushihara’s character designs were less fanservice and more sexier. The two are of course dependant completely on opinion, so we’ll give a look at the updated 3DS Langrisser site.
One of the most revamped sections of the site is Characters, and now we actually have information and official English names for the characters. This is good, because now I can correct what I have been calling them otherwise, Ares being one of them. The two added characters are, without circling around it too much, two female characters that more or less look underdeveloped and underage. A loli archetype, to be straight about the issue.
First of the two new ones is Jessica, a character that has appeared in every mainline Langrisser game as the Priestess of Light. As an avatar of the Goddess Lushiris, Jessica has the power to reincarnate herself and thus her soul is old as hell. Her appearance across the games doesn’t change much, a thing that still applies to the 3DS Langrisser. Granted, now she looks like a small girl, but all the elements Jessica has carried before are there, including some elements from past Urushihara designs. While I personally may think this is more or less tasteless design for the bodybuild, within fiction it has its own merits to argue that it exists. On the other hand, there is no dress and there is no Jessica to wear a dress like this. There’s no reason to treat Jessica has a human being. It’s only a cartoon, after all.
Licorice is a new character on herself, being the sister of Ares rather than Elma. With the whole dark motif she has going on for her, we can wager this has something to do with her kidnapping. Then again her name is Licorice and licorice is often dark but tasty. However, we can argue the same points with her design as it was with Jessica’s design, but then again this isn’t porn or remotely anything similar.
Whether or not either Jessica’s or Licorice’s designs are of good taste or something else is up to you. One on hand it can be argued that both have good design that serve their purposes and represent the ideas well enough, but some would argue that these designs are inappropriate. I would try to choose the golden middle path, arguing that both characters do have good design, but could use some tweaking in order to meet certain global threshold of accepted matters. The last part of that argument is bullshit thou, as there never can be one.
Mankind is not one nation with shared ideals. We barely can share same ideals within the same country, not to mention with our neighbours and friends. Thus, it should be more applicable to say that designs like this are not made to attract everybody. The 3DS Langrisser from its visual standpoint is clearly making a stance to stand separate from the older series, both Langrisser and Langrisser Millennium. The developers are aiming the core gamer market with this game. In Japan this often crosses over with people who have the anime sub-culture as their largest hobby. The same can’t be said of the rest of the world, as anime has never been truly mainstream. There has been mainstream anime, but that’s another thing. Anime doesn’t sell in the West because of that, but also because the visual style largely puts some people off. The sub-culture doesn’t do much favours to positively promote itself either, and there recently there has been an idiotic movement that tried to give certain game a better image by a very limited group of people, but we’ll get back to that soon enough. Langrisser has always been anime, and with the 3DS Langrisser representing the modern accepted image of the characters that the sub-culture in that part of the world accepts, who are we to say anything to it?
Fictional designs, whatever they may be, can be attractive or off putting. They most likely will offend some people while others applaud them for whatever reason. That does not mean that we have any rights to say what should be allowed and would should not, unless laws are broken. If one doesn’t agree with the presented product, this person has all the rights to vote with his wallet. That is true power a customer has. However, they have no rights to say that this won’t do because of one’s own feelings or worldviews. As long as we live in the realms of legality, limiting someone’s freedom to express his ideas in any form is extremely stupid, borderline illegal in some cases. Often than not it’s better to shut up than complain and be on your way to do something more pleasant, a notion I should most likely put into action more often.
Have I ever told you how difficult it is to choose a song every month? Despite these being more or less rants without any solid theme or anything similar, the music I introduce tends to have some sort of relevance and isn’t just a random selection. Most of the time. Still, any and all songs are absolutely something I personally enjoy. I don’t know whether or not this selfish approach tells anything outside that I really don’t stick with one type of music too much.
I want to give a shoutout to a RadioDrome special, where Josh Hadley has a very interesting and quite in-depth interview with none other than Buzz Dixon. Dixon worked on multiple cartoon and comics throughout the years, the likes of Thundarr the Barbarian, Transformers, Jem and G.I. Joe, plus whole lot more I’m not even properly aware of. It’s an excellent piece to listen for numerous pop-culture trivias that pop-up, but also just to hear the passion Hadley and Dixon share, but also how the industry has been run. Other than that, I recommend giving both RadioDrome and Lost in the Static a try, as they’re both pretty damn swell radioshows to listen while going to work or otherwise. A fair warning is in place thou, as Hadley has very, very strong opinions on certain matters, to say the least.
I’ve started to work fully on certain projects, so I apologise beforehand if the quality of the blog has dropped recently or will have posts with lesser content. I need to prioritise other things first, as blogging isn’t my job. If it would be, you’d see one or two posts per day. Possibly more.
I’m not satisfied how the last month’s review on the Shiranui Second Phase 3 turned out. It will be revised further when I have enough free time to sit down properly and work with it, as I simply forgot certain important tidbits in my hurry and didn’t even write a proper closure. As it stands now, it’s not even a mediocre review in my eyes. I’d estimate that I’ll revise it sometimes by the end of the month or so, but knowing me that estimation is off by six months. It may be better for me to revise it little by little.
Despite my own busy schedule (aren’t I always?), I have plans to return on TSF posts. If you hate when I talk about fictional giant robots, sorry. I intend to use pre-existing graphs of some of the more popular TSFs and their real world fighter plane sources to point out how the plane elements have been introduced to the design. It’s sort of old thing, but it has been on my to-do list for… few years now. Better later than never, right? My aim really is to write somewhat comprehensive design comparison, which requires some time, so it’ll be done unit by unit, and we’ll start with the more popular or easier ones. I’ll most likely be completely selfish and start with Su-47 Berkut.
Speaking of Muv-Luv, a mobage was released based on the franchise recently. It being your run of the mill browser based game on your smartphone, it’s not very good. Nevertheless, I keep tapping the screen on my almost broken HTC while doing something else. Hell, I’m tapping the screen while writing all of this in order to advance in the Missions/Quests, so there’s most likely more typos and language errors than usual. Then again, I already got the Common Hayase card, so I’m sort of content.
Another post that was actually requested from me was to make a comparison between Kimi ga Nozomu Eien characters and their BETAverse counterparts. It’s something that I’d like to do, but as always time is of the essence. I really need to start writing these bit by bit rather than in one go, like I usually do.
From matters to other, we live an era where childhood heroes and icon are dying. This is something certain generations have to face, and at the same time we have to realize that we need to allow the younger ones to have their own things. Even Leonard Nimoy wanted Zachary Quinto his own room to embrace Spock as his role and character he could work with. We, the older generations, will always have the past stories and products. Those can’t be ever taken away. However, at the same time we need to allow the younger generation to have their own heroes and icons. As much as we may hate certain people producing entertainment or other products, what we love has been opposed by the older generations.
Personally I will not hold the 3DS Langrisser reboot in any negative light because it’s not any of the older games. It has been long time enough since the last proper Langrisser game, and the new generation that are introduced to the world of Langrisser do not have to know anything that has been. They can research that later on and experience the past games if they so choose, but it is not demand or expected of them. I would say that it would be good to know about the past of the franchise if you’re going to discuss about Langrisser as a whole with a fan of the series, but that’s sort of beside the point. The point is, we can’t be stuck on the past, and we as the older generations need to embrace new things as well, rather than stifle the change.
Dammit, I should’ve put some Jem songs up this month. Oh well, there’s always the next one, unless I go and die.
Well shit. Not only there’s gonna be a Langrisser game for 3DS, but there’s going to be an Assault Suit Leynos remake for the PS4. I guess this has been out for some time now, but hell if I’m following PS4 news. The original game was known as Target Earth in the West for the MegaDrive/Genesis, and the series is better known for its Super NES sequel Assault Suit Valken, or Cybernator. You know what Valken has in common with Langrisser outside the developers? The illustrator.
The one thing that bothers me with the Leynos gameplay is that it looks a bit too similar to the original, and Leynos’ gameplay isn’t the best. Most of it has to do with the stage designs, but in proper hands this remake should be able to get around such problems. Promising is that the developer of Gunhound, Dracue, has their hands on it. Well, it’s not the fame that counts, but the end result.
If you check all games’ title section, you can see that they’ve released pretty much every Masaya game out there for the Wii VC and PSN. The Japanese PC games ever are listed under Project Egg.
But what we want to do now is to turn our eyes on the Langrisser site.
Nothing special is there, a generic background music and basic info proudly stating the past games of Langrisser, including Millennium, and how the series has sold 100 million copies as a whole, a thing that is not really to celebrate. We could call this New Langrisser based on the splash info, and it is more than clear that they want to have faith in this game and resurrect Langrisser for the new generation and further its place as one of games everyone knows.
If you want to make Langrisser more mainstream, the fanscervice designs would need to be made into something more practical.
Nothing too different from the previous systems is revealed at this point. Generals’ range of influence over troops, turn based fights and drama events depending on situations. Character Class system seems to return and player is able to influence the final result of the characters’ classes, as per Langrisser standard. I guess it’s needless to separately say that each class has advantages and disadvantages.
All in all, sounds like a standard Langrisser game. I honestly expected a lot more. Sure, we get the same three factions Langrisser Schwarz played around with; Light, here translated as Brightness for whatever reason, Imperial and Darkness. What we’re going to get is a three-way battle with the Church of Lushiris, which has built an army to rebel against the Imperial forces.
Imperials are naturally have a powerful military and have conquered most of the continent with their flying fortress, the Ark, which is a relic from an ancient civilization. The Imperials seems to have set railways too and govern many nations with their artillery trains. Sounds a bit generic, and I can’t say Langrisser hasn’t dabbled with ancient super technology before, but this all sounds a bit steampunk.
The Darkness are outcasts, people who do not stand with the Light or the Empire. They are persecuted people carry their own special powers. Prince of Darkness Bözel leads their way.
Well, it seems we’re either going to get Langrisser, the sword itself, back at some point and Alhazard could be carried by Bözel.
The four heroes we’ve seen. Or will get. There’s nothing much we can actually say about them outside that Toku’s katana looks really out of place. Erim looks like your generic everyday chemist/alchemic, or some sort of warrior-priest-in-training. Let me guess; she’s Aris’ little sister, and he finds the holy sword Excalibur and goes against the Imperial forces. Rozaria joins Toku with some fanservice design, but whatever reason only Aris has a look of slight overdesign. I’m sorry, I keep comparing the designs to Urushihara, which should not be done. Anyways, both Toku and Rozaria follwo the true and tested fanaservice route of armours, but I’d wish they had something else than low-cut panties, thou I fully embrace the thigh highs. Technically not too shabby at all, and as this is a reboot for Langrisser these characters and designs need to be taken as their own.
And because this is a reboot it is also completely applicable to make comparisons to the original Langrisser.
Whenever we get a gameplay trailer out, we’ll get some more coherent and information on how the game will look in motion. Few still pictures amount of absolutely nothing, thou I do have to say that it looks somewhat loyal to the general view of classic Langrisser. I expected to see some sort of trailer today, but alas, they didn’t want to make my yearly day any more special.
Two generations ago region circumvention was enough. Very few games supported any sort of patching on the sixth generation of video game consoles. Nowadays the story is different with each platforms from this and previous generation supporting large scale updating and patching.
Simple region circumvention isn’t cutting it anymore as the online functionality comes into way. For Pokémon it’s easy to see; people without certain patches won’t be able to trade or fight online. Second one would be Monster Hunter, where multiplayer patches could be highly important.
Secondly, there’s the problem of the consumer inability to access the possible DLC. While I’m not a huge fan of DLC myself, I know that there are those who wish to purchase so-called complete game every bit of colour variations and alternative outfits.
As such, regionthree for the 3DS is one limited little thing.
regionthree has been hailed as the loader that defeated the 3DS’ region locking. This, of course, is not the case. Wii’s region locking was defeated and humiliated harshly with sofmods, 3DS’ locking still applies. Be it the paranoid attitude of the 3DS hacking and homebrew scene towards piracy, or the fact that GateWay holds extremely harsh monopoly over both scenes, the 3DS users don’t benefit all too much from this launcher.
There exists a handful of games that regionthree allows to shine at their fullest potential. These games are single player and have seen no updates or DLC. One could argue that certain games that have more or less useless DLC belong to this category too with games that have something one wouldn’t purchase anyway. For example, Super Robot Wars UX is a complete game on itself and DLC stages only offer what one could call puzzle stages. These stand alone stages don’t add anything to the main game, but could be a nice extra if they had a cheaper price.
In order to defeat the current region locking 3DS now has would mean similar set of tools that a softmodded Wii has. I would argue that SONY’s take on the whole region locking has been rather good in comparison. There are problems that need to be faced before one can access the other region stores, but patches and other similarities are completely universal, independent from the region the system is in when it comes to physical games.
regionthree also requires you to be online during start up due to it using GateWay’s site. While I don’t have any problems with this, this is extremely bad design. There is an Android application to circumvent this problem, but otherwise the whole deal is just pretty damn bad. Even for a flashcard product this is something unforgivable and I have no idea why anyone would spent their money on a product that could brick both the console and the flashcard.
It’s like intentionally being an ass to the customer.
regionthree also raised a good question; what games are actually worthwhile importing from other regions? As this only applies to physical games, all the digital content is thrown out the window without any remorse. A lot of games are still being localised and I doubt most 3DS’ users have enough language skills to play something like New Love+. Speaking of New Love+, I’m divided if I should just throw my social life away and get one.
There are numerous games I would like purchase from local stores, but seeing how limited the launcher ultimately is there’s no way in hell I’d purchase a game I know I wouldn’t be able to take full potential out of. Then again, now people can get that 3D Sega compilation on cartridge rather than purchase them all separately from the eShop.
Anyways, regionthree shows that there really isn’t anything worth importing across regions that is not extremely niche, localised or getting a localisation. At least this is better than with PSVita, which has barely any original games. I’m extremely surprised that there is no sequel for Gravity Rush on the system already. I remember it being one of the most advertised games for the system, but now there is no advertisement for the system. It’s PSVita’s failing miserably or something. The system had promise and looked interesting, but nobody was actually making any good games for it. I can’t even collect those minimum of seven original games for the system to warrant a purchase. The list consists exactly one PSVita original game and even that is the aforementioned Gravity Rush. The rest are ports, sequels or remakes.
In that sense the PSVita shows a prevailing problem in the industry at large. Not only same stuff is recycled into new boxers, but there’s no chances taken. Of course I can’t deny that there is a very damn good reason to keep repeating the same thing over and over again, but an industry needs to renew itself at times in order to keep itself fresh. I guess the jump to 3D is a good example, despite 3D Mario historically having lower sales than 2D ones.
Perhaps people just want more 2D than 3D.
Back to 3DS and its region locking. I doubt Nintendo can just free it. This is because they most likely have a certain legal grounds that prevents them from just flipping the flag from 1 to 0 and allow the region freedom. This wouldn’t be enough. As with regionthree, the player would be unable to access any of the functions that would require different region eShop. I highly doubt that Nintendo would be willing to change their eShop system to support any kind of region freedom. It is more or less integrated to how the console functions. It would take somewhat massive reconstruction how their online store model would work. There would be a need to implement similar system that Sony already has. It just ain’t happening, but I hope I’m wrong.
I could see Nintendo releasing the region coding so that the eShop in itself, the application on the console, would still be regionally locked, but any and all physical games could fetch update and patch datas. Games that rely purchasing DLC via eShop would be screwed, but that’s something that could be slightly gotten around by patching the DLC functionality directly into the games.
I really hope I didn’t ramble too much, I was slightly under influence of brewed drink. For that, music time!