The 9th console generation hits in March

Nintendo has a strong start with the Switch as it stands now. While the event did show numerous titles, in the end it left yearning for more. Seems like Nintendo’s intending to keep  a hype train going until the launch hits.

Overall, I have to say that the presentation itself was rather professional. No outlandish theatrics or anything like that. No real bullshit dead air, just proper and interesting presentation. The clothing was a highlight in itself, showcasing that most of these people are professionals. There was class in this event that is absent from most. Well, outside some choices, like Nogami aiming for funnier style that was more worth a facepalm than anything else, and Aonuma really needs to stop wearing that terrible looking hoodie. Actually, remove Aonuma altogether.

Having Tatsumi Kimishima on the stage in the very beginning was what was needed. He might not be Iwata or Yamauchi, but the public does not yet know who he is. He took the stage in a very sure and confident manner. Mikishima had a proper stage presence, which was enhanced by the fact he had an interpreter. Having a Japanese businessman speaking in broken English is jarring, as you have to concentrate on the words rather than on the content. Shibata of course went in with broken English as an exception.

Shinya Takahashi is another new-ish name. As with Kimishima, the public got to know him better. While Miyamoto has been the face of the company alongside Iwata for some time now, it seems Nintendo has been progressively been pushing to give a face for their franchises. After all, Nintendo has been becoming a company of IPs in few ways.

The info about the Switch goes from pretty damn neat to weak. First of all, region freedom is a welcome change in how Nintendo handles their machines, and this tickles all the importers’ nuts just the right way.

Paid online is hit on the system, but then again a game that relies solely on online multiplayer will become obsolete in number of years solely because of that. Like it or not, a game still needs to have a solid offline mode stand the test of time. Hopefully the subscription for the online is less than what either of their competitors prices theirs at, and is more usable than before.

Switch’s battery life is no worse than 3DS, but at least I can throw in a battery bank. However, the main hardware showcase, the real piece of hardware that really matters when it comes to game consoles, is the controller design. While I personally love all the stuff they managed to pack into the Joycons (the name is still terrible) the fact is that they are over-engineered. The reason the Switch retails at $300 is probably partially because the controllers. I intending to do a longer piece about the controller design itself sometime later, so let’s leave the rest for later.

I admit that the size of the controllers seem to be on the smaller side.

The Pro Controller will retail at $70, which further reminds me how tired I am to pay stupidly high prices for controllers. The price point will hurt Switch’s sales, and with what looks like a Mushroom Kingdom-less 3D Mario, the Switch has few things going against it already.

I did expect to see more gameplay footage rather than promotional trailers, but I guess that was a foolhardy wish. 1-2-Switch is no WiiSports and won’t drive system sales. It probably works the best as a tech demo of sorts and a party game for some, but overall there will be no large interest in it. Arms won’t fare any better, but I hope it’ll have better controls than most of Wii’s boxing games. The logo’s also too industrial, something that would fit on a DeWalt drill. It needs to be punched up a bit. Splatoon has its fans, but a system seller it is not, and the sequel really doesn’t seem to change things around one bit.

Super Mario Odyssey is a surprise in that it reminds more Sonic Adventure than previous Mario titles. There is nothing special about 3D Mario, and moving to the “real world” instead of expanding on Mushroom Kingdom is a mistep. Now if they could put the same amount of effort and money into 2D Mario games, things would be great. 3D Mario hasn’t really driven high sales with Nintendo’s past consoles, and with the changes Odyssey has to the world, it’s doubtful this will drive sales either.

Xenoblade 2 looks nice and all, but I doubt it will be a huge hit either. Fire Emblem Musou will stay a niche title still. Only Japan cares about Dragon Quest, there are numerous reasons why Final Fantasy has always been more popular. Shin Megami Tensei‘s 25th anniversary title hopefully visits the roots of the franchise a bit more and hopefully gets a fully uncensored release in the West. Let’s be honest, RPGs is what Switch needs, which is why something like Skyrim will probably see at least decent sales. Project Octopath Traveller left people largely cold as it showed jack shit.

It was fun to see Suda-51, Sega’s and EA’s representatives come to the stage and mention they know the Switch exists and intend to develop for it. Props to EA’s interpreter. Europe loves FIFA, so this bit felt more fanservice towards soccer fans than anything else.

Despite the lineup we saw towards the end of the event, we didn’t get launch lineup, but we got confirmation for numerous titles, including a Street Fighter II (now confirmed as Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers) and a new Bomberman. Goddamit, a Bomberman title on launch? Sign me in. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild goes for the epic, and it still needs to convince me that it’s more than what the trailer show (i.e. less plot and more adventure content to play with lesser emphasize on puzzles.) However, between it and Super Mario Odyssey, it’s BotW that has the edge.

Thou the edge needs to be cleaned up, it’s rusty and needs polishing

3rd of March is when the 9th console game generation hits. It was a nice ending for the show, though more info came soon after.

For example, the Switch Online Service as a free trial period and seems to have the usual stuff you expect from modern online services: free games, exclusive deals and online multiplayer. However, the inclusion of device application for phones and tablets is stupid. Why would you need to use their dedicated application to call your friends to play an online game? You can just phone them. Online play for NES and SNES games can be good, if its implemented right and connection is up to it. Then again, not many retro game is worth online play, if we’re brutally honest. Co-op is fun and all, but without direction connection to the second player, it’s missing something essential from the mix.

News are pouring in all the time, but I’ll take the slow route with them. Little consideration and taking it easy instead of insta-blogging should do some good for the thought.

However, from what we already have here can make an educated guess that the Switch won’t probably be the same success story as the NES (sans Europe) or the Wii, but won’t be a bomb like the Wii U either. It’s going to do just fine, meandering on the more positive side of the story.

Monthly Three: Death of the casual industry

The title may be click bait-y, but it’s really the best title for this topic. This will kick off a loose Monthly Three for the time being, as it seemed most people deemed themed posts worthless. But first I’d like to note that I am talking about the casual game industry, not about the casual gamer.

What the term casual gamer entices in the end is muddy at best. Its meaning has changed significantly at the core to the point of it being mostly a throwaway marketing term to push certain kinds of products over the other, and largely to condemn consumers with certain tastes and habits.

The first console in the 2000’s to be named as casual to any extent was the DS due to it having low-end games in mass quantity. Low-end game does not mean a game that is bad, technically or in design, but a game that is extremely easy to get into and play. A low-end game is not necessarily lacking in content or anything that most people would associate with so-called casual games, as New Super Mario Bros. on the system would show. To go further back in time, many modern industry workers who played the NES would not consider Super Mario Bros. 3 in the same league as Wii Sports, but both titles are high-quality low-end games. In comparison, the DS had high-end games like Solatorobo and Umihara Kawase Shun Second Edition Kanzenban, which in comparison weren’t massive hits. Mostly because the aforementioned Umihara Kawase title was Japanese only, but you get the picture.

The Wii is often regarded as the pinnacle of a console, where quantity was over quality, thou history would disagree. There are consoles out there that may have smaller library of games, but in reality only one or two games are even decent. Virtual Boy being an example of this. The other end would the Game Boy and the DS itself. Nevertheless, the Wii was regarded as the most desirable console out of the three of its generation and sold higher number of consoles than its competitors. Not because of wagglan, like most suggest, but because the Wii disrupted the game industry.

The industry had abandoned low-end games almost completely before the DS and the Wii, producing mostly high-end games. These games were not of highest quality either, so for every few good title you got loads of titles with pretty design and technical aspects. The PS2 library is like this in large extent. The consumer base was not being expanded and companies continued to cater to the niche, red ocean consumers. Most people who bought a PlayStation seemingly moved to the PlayStation 2, with those who didn’t have faith in the Dreamcast and whatever Nintendo would be pushing out after the N64 were doing the same. Much like how most American comics only sell to comics comic nerds without any regards, and even in that there has been changes to cater a more niche audience.

The Wii however started much like other Nintendo’s successful consoles; low-end, but high-quality titles. This disrupted the industry, as there was very little production of low-end games going on at the time in comparison to the 1980’s or even the early-to-mid 1990’s. This goes hand in hand with the rising costs of game development, where higher-end game requires higher bucks to be finalised, but it will also lose big if it’s a bomb. Wii Sports is a perfect example of a low-end game hitting what the general consumers were looking for. Without a doubt it’s a game with a very simple surface that anyone can access, but the underlying layer of complexity, the physics, offered a challenge. There were multiple modes too. It’s execution left people to yearn more of content in similar philosophy, but after a booming start, not even Nintendo kept up with this. It’s much easier to realise your own dream of a game than take consumers’ voice into account.

However, making a good low-end game is hard. Not anyone can replicate Super Mario Bros.‘s quality, and even the Big N themselves shot themselves in the leg by giving their later 2D Mario titles less attention and resources during development, thou Miyamoto himself has admitted that 2D Marios take more work to make right. No wonder they released Mario Maker to take off that load from themselves.

The game industry doesn’t like being disrupted, especially when disruption ends up making a company huge amounts of money. Looking at the coverage the Wii was getting from both industry insiders and gaming press, the news are pretty raw. Outside the usual Nintendo’s finished we see every time they release a new console, the consumers were pretty much called idiots and considered almost like subhumans who couldn’t appreciate the marvels that HD gaming and cutting edge hardware could produce. This attitude is very apparent in the third-party games on the Wii across its years, as there is no passion in the titles. These people who bought the Wii, they weren’t the people who bought the PS2, these weren’t the people who played games. They were casual gamers.  Who has a passion to make games for people they consider as idiots, unworthy of appreciating true pieces of works?

The game industry created an industry just to cater the consumers they thought they were seeing with Wiimotes in their hands, but in reality no such area existed. This was apparent in the sales as well. When the third-party games turned out to be less than satisfactory, the Virtual Console titles became the main point of the console, outselling even Nintendo’s own new titles. Super Mario All-Starts 25th Anniversary Edition was a surprise to Nintendo, as people still wanted to play those games. Low-end and high-quality combination has always been highly desired combination when it comes to gaming, and largely is the silver bullet in plans to make a successful game. The rest comes with world and game design.

The death of the casual game industry essentially came to an end when the industry stopped making games for idiots. It wasn’t because of the hardware’s power, but the design and utility of it. It’s surprising how little people consider a console’s design anywhere else but in outer appearance and technical hardware, except when something negative had to be mentioned. The Wii could use traditional controllers, it had the Motion controls, which also served as a more traditional NES style controller, and it had the possibility for multiple other input methods (at least on the outer appearance.) However, all this largely fell apart, the potential of the Wii was kicked in the curb when Nintendo moved onwards to concentrate with their next console. If I were to say my view on the matter, the killing blow Nintendo dealt to the Wii was Wii Music, a title that nobody ever wanted and a title that showed that Nintendo too believed their consumers were idiots, unwilling to purchase their masterpieces… like Metroid Other M. Indeed, Metroid Other M is like anti-thesis to Wii Sports, filled with the intentions of making the best story-driven high-end Metroid that would wow the opposite audience of these idiots, ensuring that Nintendo and the Wii that they were the shit. What happened is common in cases like this, and the less said about it the better, except that it is a title that showcases how Nintendo once again left their larger audience, the audience that had made them a recognized name in the overall popular culture.

Nobody makes a bad game intentionally is something I hear people saying when it comes to terrible titles. However, not everybody aims to make the best title either, lacking either in passion or will to go all out on a game they themselves have little faith or value in. The casual game industry died when the industry largely stopped producing those games, to some extent. The Wii U is filled with middle-end games with no quality whatsoever, despite Nintendo making it the anti-Wii. The 3DS had such an awful start with ports and carry-over titles that it wasn’t desired until the library had grown and saw more low-end titles with less emphasize on the 3D. The less Nintendo listens to the industry, the more they find success. It just takes loads of work.

The argument that you need third-party products to succeed nowadays is partially correct. You need high-quality products on your system across the spectrum, not just from one end of the spectrum no matter who makes it. A game library is like a food circle, with high-end games being the meat and low-end games being the greens. Breads, rise, pasta etc being lower-mid end, milks, meat and fish being higher-mid end and high fat foods being the high-end foods. Roughly speaking, that is.

Ports of games people are already playing on a different systems does not allow it to rise above from the sea of grey, and seemingly ports are treated as the fries of a console library; they’re there to supplement the main burger. Third party burgers aren’t rare either, seeing both Microsoft and Sony have largely relied on third-party to make their systems big hits. Except for Halo in many ways.

Will Nintendo Switch have a casual game industry? Only if the developers start treating their consumers like retards again and unwilling to produce quality products for the system. They’ll feel that in their pockets then. Whatever the Switch ends up being is completely tied to its software library.

Handheld homebrew ahoy!

With the release of what game works as they key component for the initial beginnings of the 3DS homebrew, the game’s price skyrocketed like no other and almost every place sold out of it. Little bit of googling should reveal that game to you and then some. The game was pulled from the Japanese 3DS eShop within 24h, as it was the only digital version that could use the exploit.

Multiple consoles in the past have seen their own homebrew to some extent. There’s only few selected machines that did not see any sort of homebrew scene. Just checking all the apps the Wii’s scene has seen tells a pretty great story. The hackers and homebrew developers have taken practically all of the Wii’s functions under their controls to some extent. You even have an app to control the Wii’s disk drive’s light. Taking control over such trivial things is pretty awesome, which is pretty awesome.

By going with the WiiBrew’s list, there’s some homebrew Software developed. Some of them are more or less just slight remakes of past titles, like the mandatory Pong or Poker. The number of software is rather staggering, and there are some surprising ones as well like WiiPhysics, a software that is just a physics playground. It’s not as vast as e.g. Garry’s Mod, but does the job.

As with most modern console homebrew, there emulation. Emulators themselves are a bit gray area. For example, Nintendo’s stance on emulators is interesting in that their website does not really judge the emulators themselves. Their stance keeps referring to the ROMs and their validly illegal status and how emulators endorse illegal downloads. While they are in right, it is good to recognize how emulation enforces historical archival of digital goods, which in turns also allows people to have access to games that could not be released in their original forms nowadays or in the future. In this sort of situation, the emulation itself would have no impact on the possible future sales of the software. There’s also the fact that certain companies are not willing to put their older games on current consoles. Then you have consoles like the Sega Saturn, where the original source codes have been lost due to various issues. For example, Princess Crown on PSP ran on Saturn emulation and had all sorts of issues. The only way to get Princess Crown in proper form to modern systems would be to rebuild the game from scratch.

Still, licensed or not in any form, ROM downloads are judged as illegal, unless your local legislation begs to differ. Copyrighted stuff have their own legal standings, but then again you always have products that have no owner and become abandonware.

It’s also laughable to prosecute people for physically modding their consoles. From the consumer point of view, the owner of the system can do damn well anything with it in their own discretion, be it modding or using as line weight.

There are numerous loaders, system tools and utilities for the Wii homebrew to utilise, and sometimes they can be very useful albeit highly dangerous. All these are most likely candidates to see early development in 3DS Homebrew. I’ve read somewhere that the 3DS region is only one flag that determines whether or not the console has region locking, so one utility developed could me to turn the flag off, thus making the console region free. Don’t quote me on the function, but unlocking region is one of the things most homebrew users would like to see. Wii has AnyRegion Changer and GCBooter are there to circumvent regional lockouts in Wii’s system level and in GameCube discs.

Unlike GCBooter, AnyRegion Changer is a dangerous tool in the hands of those who don’t know what they’re doing. These effects range from changing the video output to one that your screen doesn’t support to bricking your Wii. Seeing how Nintendo seems to somewhat similar tech in the 3DS and Wii U, similar tools most likely will surface to reach similar effects.

Knowing homebrew, there will be multiple exploits in the future as these devs and hackers gain further understanding what makes the 3DS tick. It is somewhat uncertain how large scene 3DS will see, but we can be sure that certain apps will be developed at some point, somehow. Every and all console companies are afraid of piracy, and it must be said that homebrew does not equal piracy. However, the reality is that piracy will follow in suit. It most likely will be somebody else than the people who developed the exploit/s or initial homebrew. There are both positives and negatives on piracy. It is illegal, that’s no under dispute, but we also can’t ignore all the positives piracy can bring with it, historical archival being one of them.

As mentioned, Nintendo has already taken steps to prevent the use of the exploit. Nintendo has the power to turn some of these people away with few simple changes in how their console works. Region locking being one of them, and it is not all too uncommon to hear somebody who pirates games to tell region locking is the only reason he resorts to it. After all, there are numerous games even on the 3DS that never left the regions.

You may be asking whether or not I would be using this exploit if I would have the possibility. The answer is twofold; I don’t see value in it at this time, at this very moment, but the idea of using software from different region is a selling point for me. I don’t give a damn about piracy on 3DS, as the number of must-have software is quite low, but spread across regions. Of course, your taste most likely differs a lot from mine and thus your must-have titles could be found in your specific region.

Nintendo most likely will only tighten the security on their system, but no system is completely secure. There will be future exploits made, and the system will be cracked. The tighter the system is, the more certain individuals will enjoy cracking it open.

Music of the Month; The Invincible Iczer-2

Did I ever tell you that I really love brass instruments?

This time on Monthly Music; not much. In the following months I most likely will be a bit overworked, so the updates will most likely dwindle down a bit. Expect the pace to be cut in half at times. I hate to do this, but at the moment I’m involved in three different service design projects, one limited production design and one electric car design.  It might not sound like much, but I’m the kind of guy who likes to concentrate only on one thing at a time. Juggling between different tasks is not a problem, but you’ll see the lack of quality in there. It’s something I must get better at, I admit. It’s one step closer to being a proper professional, something we all should strife for.

But let’s get some issues out of the way.

The PS4 is a question mark. SONY’s attitude to think the machine as just a box is a good idea, but I’m not completely sold on the Internet connectivity and the Share idea. Hardcore people most likely won’t like it, so PS4 might become pretty good after all. We saw very little regarding games overall, so I’m waiting for more news. Nevertheless, I need to put up a proper overview of what we know at the moment. PS4 might be decent, but it’s not the best idea for SONY to do at the moment. The controller is an interesting idea, but overall I don’t see it as a good thing, as it prevents you from using the PS3 controller on the system. It’s also a problem that PS4 doesn’t support PS3 titles natively, which should be a standard nowadays on any platform.

The Wii U seems to be failing and I’ve seen news about publishers bailing out to some extent. It’s somewhat sad to see PSV outselling the Wii U. I hope Nintendo will be pulling the same thing they did with the DS, as in realizing that they need NES 3 and not N64 3. Hell, the PSV is the most selling console at the moment, which tells how badly everything else is selling.

However, I must admit that today I saw some bit of news that convinced me to buy a 3DS. A Japanese 3DS to be exact; Sayonara Umihara Kawase.

I really do find hoodies comfortable to wear. It's either that,or a black suit
I really do find hoodies comfortable to wear. It’s either that, or a black suit
These two are the scans floating around the Internet
These two are the scans floating around the Internet

Seems like Umihara is 20-years old in this instalment, and will be the last one in the series if the title is anything to go by. I really like the news that the original staff is working on the game, as the PSP port was an atrocious piece of garbage.  I want to buy it from somewhere just to crucify it.

Now the last game I eagerly expected was Metal Gear Rising, which I’m writing a review of at the moment, and it’s weird to think that I’ll be making a pre-order for the first time in a long, long time. Last time I pre-ordered anything was… well, Umihara Kawase Shun Second Edition Kanzenban for the DS. MGR was store-bought, I usually don’t order anything in advance. In restaurants I pay the meal before eating thou.

It’s a box that plays games, and if you’re making more boxes you’re not making games

Having a platform for your ideas is a great thing. Leaving those as an idea is stupidity as ideas serve nobody. Turning those ideas into actual products is the way to go, always. Nintendo seems to have a wish to make more platforms to work with.

This fetches a question why would Nintendo want this? Every time Nintendo pushes out a new platform the previous one is shaded and loses its first party support. The Wii lost Nintendo’s support when they started developing the 3DS, and the 3DS lost support when the WiiU was pushed forward. If Nintendo is to create a new platform or two, then WiiU will suffer from lack of support. Nintendo barely can divide its resources between its own projects and always aims for what satisfies their own interests. Even when games are outsourced they are kept as pet projects rather than proper projects to develop the best possible game. Metroid Other M is a good example of this.

“What we are saying is that we would like to integrate software development methods, operating systems, and built-in software and software assets for each platform so that we can use them across different machines,” Iwata explained to Q&A attendees. “This means that if we manage to integrate our platforms successfully, we may in fact be able to make more platforms.”

He elaborated: “At the moment, we only have our current handheld devices and home consoles because if we tried to make more platforms, our development resources would be spread too thinly. The more we can share software across different platforms, the more development resources will be left for something else.”

In essence, Nintendo really would like to make a bunch of consoles that would share the exact same software. Sounds like they would love to create some sort of analogy of desktop PCs and laptops. This is alarming, seeing that if Nintendo would allocate their resources on creating the boxes on which the games run on, then these are off from the resources from making the games. Rather than putting money on research about new tech for new consoles, they should focus the money on which makes the money; on the games.

This is pretty bad. Nintendo doesn’t think about the customers at all with this. It’s all about what they want to do, what is the easiest route for them, what serves their interests most. If they really want to develop machines this much, then they should remove themselves from making video games and just start working on technology for various businesses and other home utility use. It’s apparent that they have a sort of fetish towards new technology that they themselves have developed and do very little with it outside playing around on them and realize their own dreams, ideas and pet projects. You don’t make money with that kind of business model, and Nintendo’s starting to see the results of their misdeeds in this regard.

I want somebody at Nintendo to remove Iwata from his throne, either by force of with his willing. I really hope that Nintendo’s sales will keep plummeting, as it would mean that Iwata would have to keep his promise. Him stepping down would be the first action for a healthier corporation. The second would be to have someone like Yamauchi to take his place and understand what the hell is business and what a game console does, and would understand what customers expect from these boxes.

The only reason why I want Nintendo to go into the worst situation the company has ever been is because I care. If the threat of becoming bankrupt or developing games for other companies won’t change their mind, then good riddance. Customers do not pay for pet projects. We are not here to pay money for something that we do not want, but something that we seek for.

What WiiU and 3DS are is boxes that have nothing in them. They have potential, but inly only stupid people buy because something could have something. Wii’s potential was thrown in the trash because Nintendo didn’t deliver all the way in. It’s one of the best examples of ignoring customers, when everybody thought the best ways to create sword combat with the Wiimote and other functions that became widespread in the Internet and elsewhere, and everybody was talking how awesome different control methods are. Swords weren’t the only one, but FPS controls, strategy game controls etc. were all gone through and people expected these games eagerly.

We got nothing.
Nintendo didn’t care about what we wanted, but did whatever they wanted. Sure worked for Wii Music. 

If Nintendo will produce these new boxes to play with, it won’t change their work. It doesn’t matter if they have more universal environment for the games, because all the (possible) money they could save from unifying the environment will only go to realizing stuff like Skyward Sword, Other M and technology like 3DS’s 3D screen.

I want old Nintendo back. Back then they knew how to make good business.

Wii, the karaoke machine

I found myself wanting to play Wii this week. I haven’t managed to play any games properly for some time, and now I had this craving to play Wii games. There was some sort of an error some time ago with the Wii and all of my game saves were deleted. Nothing special was lost, but it does tick me off that I need to unlock everything in Brawl at some point. No, not that. I need to rebuild all the original stages again, as I’m going to import game saves from somewhere else to replace my old complete saves. Well, let’s just choose what we want to play…

…and then I remembered that my Wii is still packed for travel. My Wii is basically functioning as a karaoke machine nowadays elsewhere, so it’s far more practical to for me to keep it in its travel bag. Then again, I haven’t bought a new Wii game for some time and almost all of the games I have are already beaten in some form. Or rather were. Damn you, corrupted NAND.

Lady Psychologist still has my NSMBWii, now that I stop think to think about it…

I find it rather ironic that I have used my Wii to watch DVDs and listen to music for a period of time. I’ve never listened to any music on any other console or used any other console for movies. Now people do use their consoles for Netflix (where available) but I have separate machines for separate entertainment. I can’t play LaserDiscs on my XBOX. Now if they’d come up with a console (or PC) that would play LaserDiscs then I’d be A-OK with it. Hell, I’d probably do the first hardware pre-order in my life! Then again, I did built my PC for AV-entertainment combined with 5.1 Speaker system, so there’s very little point for me to actually even consider using consoles or anything else as a media player.

But the Wii. Using a separate software that’s been sold by Joysound, you access their servers and get karaoke songs streamed straight into your Wii via the magic of the Internet. Of course, you might need some modding magic going on before accomplishing this, but then you can start singing loads and loads of songs in the language of the far orient. The PS3 has the same service, you just need to download it and… it’s region locked completely. Now why the hell they’d region lock something like this? I’m assuming that using this service in this form really breaks few selected agreements and contracts with the a bunch of artists, at least if you’re out of the region the service is intended for.

Joysound Dive is really the definitive version, and I’m sad that I have no access to its services, and I’m not buying a Japanese PS3 for this

That actually again raises an interesting question; how hard would it be to actually out up a service like this? I’m presuming over my usual limits here, but I would assume that it should be completely possible to create a separate contract that would allow a karaoke service to use the songs’ modified versions across the globe for karaoke service? At the customer end it would seem like the optimal solution; the customer gets a karaoke service and both provider and the original song author get their share of the profits. Of course, the real world is messy and this kind of simple and effective service is rather difficult to realize due to the multilateral structure juggling between global agreements and song licensing. First you’d need a contract with SONY, then you’d need a separate contract for the songs used in service from whoever owns those songs, then you need to produce those songs’ karaoke version and obtain rights to those, unless your earlier contract dictates you to hold all rights to the karaoke versions. Then there’s the licensing issues if you’re to use video material from anything related to the song and so on… It’s a lot of hassle, but completely doable if anyone would ever wish to tackle it.

The thing is, while I do enjoy providing this kind of service to the people who mostly use the machine, I do feel somewhat uneasy whenever I boot it up even if I do need to pay for the ticket that actually allows to use the Joysound service. No, it’s not about modifying my Wii to this end, I modify my machines as I wish, but it’s rather this roundabout way of using a service via a disc that’s already region locked. I do understand the reasons behind region locking both machines and the media, and the same things mostly apply to this kind of services; they need to be kept in tight check and within limited region due to licensing and distribution. I do need to wonder how many laws I end up breaking in order to bring in a service that is otherwise unavailable in this particular region?

This just ends up bringing the penultimate question; why should Joysound, or any other company involved, care if I go into the grey region in order to give them money they would otherwise miss completely? A goodie two shoes I am not, but thenights when I’m playing Internet Scrabble does are making me think of questions like this. The last question really is, am I really doing anything wrong? This is the grey area at its best. It’s both a moral and legal question that we kind of know the answer for, and then again we don’t. It’s like with Youtube music; if you’re listening to songs that havebeen uploaded there, are you committing some sort of a crime?

I mean, it’s just a bunch of people paying for Japanese karaoke for Wii, the only way you can get close to the genuine experience. But sometimes this is not enough. While globalization has its ups and downs, standardizing various contracts for global services through the Interwebs is seriously one of the ups. There’s no reason in 2010’s to limit your digital service into one piece of continent or into one nation, unless there’s something that absolutely forces you to do so. Even for physical goods the mail system across the world has been developed to the point that if necessary, you can have a package from the other side of the world at your door steps within two days of the order.

Why the hell digital services are tied down so much again? Oh yeah, because of old contracts and views. Dammit, I’m sure somebody still wants the customers to have media players that would destroy your songs in order to enforce you to buy new ones. [Edit: There is stuff like that?] Yes, there were. The film studios wanted VCR’s to erase the VHS’ content so that you’d need to buy the film again after you’ve seen the film three times or so. Naturally, this went against a lot of things customers wanted, so it never came to be. Similar stuff popped up when CD and DVD appeared. With a strong enough laser they aimed to progressively destroy the data surface. I haven’t heard anything like this popping up with HD-DVD or BDs, but there were talks of digital erasers with mp3 files.

All Hail the Nintendo DS

All of us knows that the DS had a bad start. We all saw that when it went from being a portable N64 to a portable SNES, it became something exceptional; it became the King of consoles. Nintendo’s wish to tap the untapped marked, ie. the Blue Ocean market and reset the userbase served them well; both DS and Wii became a steamrolling monster. No console was spared. There was something for everybody, new and old alike.

It really boggles my mind that Nintendo decided to ignore what Wii and DS were and proceed with the Wii U and 3DS.

Let’s take a look at E3

I’ve been quite busy lately with all sorts of work from crafts to writing. I wasn’t on the E3 train like I’ve been in the past, and perhaps it was for the better. Let’s take a look at the Big Three and their presentations.

However, let’s take a look at the E3 2006. The Wii was unveiled, YouTube: Kaz Hirai and Giant Enemy Crab became an instant meme, and Microsoft had something that nobody remembers. Nintendo’s stocks took an uplift after Wii’s unveiling and it divided opinions. The Wii created interest that made forums and messaging boards burn with fire. 2006 was a great year for gaming, the like we haven’t seen since the NES was brought to the West.

So, can 2012 hold up against 2006? Let’s start with the Microsoft presentation.

It was an unsurprising event that MS began with a Halo showcase, and this is a strong beginning; showcasing live gameplay without interruptions is always a good thing. It looks nice and dandy, and I’d love to play this game… on a PC with keyboard and mouse combination. While I’m not too informed of Halo story, I do know enough to tell you that the introduction of Forerunners wasn’t the most interesting move. It was expected, but they did it. It’s nothing from me, I’ve never bought Halo before, and most likely I never will.

When the MS representative steps in, he begins with propaganda without anything to back up his statements. While I have not followed the last years sales, I have hard time to believe that the 360 would be outselling either the DS or the Wii. Indeed, after a quick check we can see that in 2011 the 360 had a four percent growth, while the Wii had an eleven percent decrease. Still, the 360 and PS3 were selling less than Wii in total.

The new Splinter Cell looks like a… like an uninteresting piece. Why has the camera shake like that? Is the Kinect support necessary? Co-Op sounds good, but the game looks clunky.

And then EA rep steps in with sports. Sports games are a driving force, especially in the West, but there’s nothing of interest here either. If you’ve played any of EA’s sports games during the last decade, you know the drill. The same lack of interest continues with the new Fable showcase.

A new MS rep steps on the stage while proclaiming that 2012/2013 will be the best year for the 360. Why? Because we’re getting sequels upon sequels released on the system with little variety? Shouldn’t every year be a great year for a console? Oh yeah, I forgot. The developers do not like creating good games all the time, just games they are interested in. Sorry, my bad.

Forza Horizon looks nice, but where’s the gameplay?

Then comes the hammer; the next representative start babbling about other entertainment on your console. It’s never good idea to give access to your rivals. This is a showcase what a dumbed down PC can do, not what a video game console can do. People buy your console to play games on them, and if you do not provide games, people will end up using these other services that are ultimately out of your pocket. The music showcase was horrible on many levels as well.

This begs a question; why is Microsoft concentrating putting all these functions on 360 rather than on Windows, the thing that makes money? They could have an insanely well balanced dual support between PC and 360, much like Nintendo has between it’s home console and handheld consoles.

The Nike part was boring, but technologically interesting.

At this point we’re 45 minutes in, and I have no feeling to continue onwards. The showcase has changed from console showcase to personal computer technology showcase. They’re also playing into the hip crowd with Game of Thrones and the like. Later on we see Resident Evil 6 and another Call of Duty and the like.

What Microsoft’s event lacked was interest. There were one or two moments in the beginning and in latter half that makes you ask Why can’t this be on PC? HD gaming is present, and because of that everything else is lacking. All the games showcased were dumbed down PC games which will sell to a certain crowd, but only Halo will keep selling any hardware. I have to ask if Halo would sell better if it was on PC rather than on 360. Every game here tries to aim for a movie like experience and affect how we play rather than what we play, the same problem that both Sony and Nintendo share.

Speaking of Sony, let’s check their event next.
Sony decided to go with trailer showcase with uninspiring music. This lasts solid four minutes, where I was already making tea and taking some crackers. Disinterest quickly sank in. Much Microsoft’s starting words, Sony’s representative begins talking about the true heroes of the industry; the gamers. This man knows how to talk and how to complement people as scripted. However, if the customers are so important to Sony, why are they still sinking in the Red Ocean and are unwilling to listen what their customers want?

When Heavy Rain developer stepped on the stage, I had shake my head. Interactive storytelling is does not equal gaming or vice versa. Storytelling may be part of video games, but storytelling has always been driving force in computer gaming. These people do not know what makes a good game. The most important thing they have to reveal is the voice actor. What they continue to show is not a game, but a CGI movie. This should be the point where people again realize that the PS3 is not a game console, but the same kind of dumbed down PC as the 360.

Then, PlayStation All-Star Battle Royale. I have to wonder what forums do these people browse if they haven’t had anything but positive feedback. Nobody addressed the elephant in the room, which is the fact that this game is almost 1:1 carbon copy of the Super Smash Bros. series. Even the HUD during gameplay is nearly identical. This is like grayer and grittier version of Smash Bros., but not any better. The Hydra’s barely do anything but hang in the background majority of the match.

Only 80% of all PS3s and and Vitas are connected to the PSN. I say only, as this is a problem for Sony. I believe even less Wiis are connected to Nintendo’s network, but the amount of trust Sony has put on their network is stupidly insane. However, I do not trust these numbers, as there was large amount of people who disconnected their PS3 from the network because of the security issues.

PSVita’s getting the same kind of treatment with video and music services as the 360 and PS3 has had for some time. Vita’s becoming more and more like a smartphone rather than a handheld console, which will be reflected in its lack of sales. We’ll come to this point after we’ve taken a look at Nintendo’s event.

Now this is funny; 45 minutes in and I’m feeling of skipping things again. We do know how Assassin’s Creed already works, and we do know how Farcry works. It’s good to see some actual gameplay on-stage, but their showcase is uninteresting. I do have to admit, that the idea of playing as a pirate woman was interesting, but the Assassin’s Creed setting put me off.

Sony’s Wonderbook was… a surprise. It’s a neat idea that I’d expect Nintendo to pull off, but this isn’t a game. As the representative himself says; interactive books. One could call them as visual novels, no? However, a lot of people has thought the same thing as I; if I were to read a book, I’d read a goddamn book rather than boot up my PS3 to “experience” it. Augmented Reality has far more better uses outside this kind of… toying.

PlayStation phones. Let ask you a question; do you play dedicately on your phone? hTC is a good manufacturer for sure, but why would Sony want to divide their attention from handheld gaming to smartphone gaming (which is just another form of PC gaming)? It looks like Sony’s spreading their resources rather thin.

It just might be me, but the God of War showcase was cartoony with over the top motions I’d expect to see in a WB cartoon. It also looks very much same to the Splinter Cell demo in MS’s event, except the setting was naturally different. From this I noticed that HD gaming, while it may look better, sharper and all that, but it also makes all games look dull, uninspired and lacks the same touches non-HD gaming has. It makes games look less interesting.
And oh, the fire special effects looked bad, even if this was just a beta of some HD game.

While the new God of War indeed was a nice showcase for those who enjoy QTEs and PC hack-n-slash, The Last of Us was that peaked my interest in the while event. The Last of Us looks freeroam and explorable game, but at the same time I’d love to believe that it keeps the lines tight. However, the human monsters, which just are damn zombies with different appearance, put me completely off. Objectively this the Last of Us might sell decently, but I have hard time to see this as a system seller; it’s still a PC game at heart.

Talking about system sellers, Nintendo started with a game that never moved any systems; Pikmin. There’s nothing interesting here, so let’s move along.

WiiU Gamepad, which I will continue calling Tablet controller, is a threat to the 3DS. It’s part of the unfocused gaming, which many people confuse with “casual” playing. I used my DS and GBA to play games while doing other things, like writing reports and watching TV. The Tablet controller can replace this as it shouldn’t be dependant on the TV in most cases. If I had a WiiU, I’d be using that to play Super Mario 6 while designing a new chair or the like. I would have no use for 3DS for this.

Another point that we have to think about the Tablet controller is that it is symmetrical in design. This should enforce the way controllers used to be, and I hope this will also be used in such way that the controls will utilize the D-pad before the stick. The more we analyse the Tablet controller, the more we can see good points in it. Naturally, the low battery life is a factor, but we also have to notice another point with WiiU and the controllers; you do not need to buy new controllers abundant if you already had four Wiimotes. You might need to buy one extra Tablet, but that’s that. It saves money from both the developers and customers’ pockets.

Now, if Nintendo has always heard fans voices to have a new Mario game in the launch of a new console, why didn’t Nintendo have a new Mario game with the GameBoy Advance, with the GameCube, with DS or Wii or with the 3DS? Because at then Nintendo was lead by artists, but now the business side of Nintendo is forcing them to make a good decision. The musics are still horrible thou.

Nintendo’s trying to gather a strong launch lineup for the WiiU, but at the moment its weak. If we take a look at SNES’ lineup, it was much stronger, but after Super Mario World it took Donkey Kong Country to make the console move again. At the moment WiiU is lacking games that will create momentum. We see ports and few exclusives that nobody gives a damn about, like Alien; Colonial Marine, which also is a PC game.

3DS’ upcoming Mario game is a Wario game. There’s nothing more to add to this. I said that this is the fastest and least budgeted Mario game from Nintendo to date, and this just proves it.

Nintendo Land. Honestly, I don’t know what to say about this. If it is a continuation of Nintendo’s WiiSports, then it’s a good piece of software. WiiSports was one of the moving forces on the Wii, but Nintendo never took advantages of ‘Sports, and Nintendo Land continues this mindset.

After these three videos, I’m still a refusing customer for Microsoft. They have nothing of interest for me, but in general their event was plagued of disinterest. Sony got me interested in one game, but then threw zombies at me. At least they got me to shake my head and wonder why the hell is this company still producing games. Well, looking at how their financial status is, this might not continue for long. Nintendo didn’t convince me either, but WiiU might not be that bad after all. It would make my Wii completely useless device, and I’d have to take my GC from the closet after all these years. They should include backwards comp with the GC and GC controllers as well.

Not one thing will be as successful during the following generation and years. This reason for this is the governing economics. In 2006 the financial structure of the world was much better and customers had more money to spend. In 2012 the economical situation is much more bleak and unnecessities like games will always take the worst hits. 600 dollar game consoles would not survive at any point any more, and this is why the rumoured 200 dollar price point for the WiiU would be good. This is also the first time Nintendo’s home console would be going against imaginary consoles; the future of Xbox and PlayStation, whenever they might come. However, if both MS and Sony would like to play their cards right, they could announce that they’d continue working on their current consoles rather than creating something new. This would a blow against Nintendo, as it would mean that both Wii and WiiU would have fought against the same rival consoles. Of course, the people at MS and Sony are idiots and want something new and expensive under their belts and further bankrupt the companies.

The companies here do now really get the current macro economics, but they are feeling them. If they would look at the current world situation they would be able to maximise their profits. This glance at their E3 shows that the companies still don’t get what the customers are here for even thou one of them has hit the point three times already. I don’t want to paint the walls with devils, but I’m truly starting to expect Third Video Game Crash.

Now excuse me, I’ll be watching something good after these headache inducing events; Hepburn’s Sabrina.

Video game reminder; Pandora’s Tower

Listen to that music. Imagine if 2D Mario games got similar level of quality treatment

With Pandora’s Tower Project Rainfall has been finished. Go shove a bone down the industry’s throat, and give this game a proper go. It will most likely be the last game you’ll buy for your Wii, so you might as well go with a bang.

Karaoke Joysound DX; buying Tickets from Japan

Karaoke Joysound Deluxe is a karaoke game for the Wii that has 70 songs directly on the disc. The games of the series has possibility to connect to the Internet in order to stream over 6 000 karaoke songs directly to your Wii. It’s meaningless to say that this makes Wii the best possible karaoke machine on the market.

However, the game is Japanese and thus it shows quite a lot of problems for us Eurofolks. Sure, circumveting region coding isn’t a problem for even the least of techs savvys out there. However, the other major thing here is a problem that needs to be solved; how to purchase the tickets in order to access the streaming service?

The answer lies within the Shopping Channel your Wii has. Using a tool known as AnyRegion Changer you can change the region code in your Wii Shopping Channel. However, before this you have to delete your account from the Wii’s memory in order to access the Japanese Shopping Channel. This is because Nintendo doesn’t like switching Wii points around regions, or people messing around like this…
After the Shopping Channel’s region has been changed to 1 ie. Japan, you can purchase Japanese Wii Points to buy Tickets that allow you to sing certain time via Joysound game.

Console Area Settings, Language settings etc. are irrelevant; the only thing that matters is what region your Wii Shoppin Channel is.

Check their official site for the songs. There’s PDF files whenever they update the servers with new songs, so you might want to check the out regularly. At the moment there is overt 65 000 songs in their selection, from very old classics to modern anime songs like Aimo. When we start comparing this to any other karaoke software out there, Karaoke Joysound comes at top simply because it has such high amount of songs. Those who enjoy karaoke at its best, and can’t go to Japan, will find this little piece of software extremely pleasing. Take few drinks, bunch of friends and get singing.

And for now, something completely different.