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Tag: wii

New Super Mario Bros. Wii: Save Concerns

I never finished either New Super Mario Bros. (DS) or Super Mario Galaxy (Wii). Both came with extreme excitement and anticipation on my end, but something about them just didn’t click with me. I may not be able to put my finger on it with Galaxy, but the DS game? I can tell you exactly what it was and why that caused me to never finish the game, despite starting it up twice:

The save system.

For those who don’t know, you cannot save whenever you want in New Super Mario Bros. You can save when you clear a castle (mid-stage or end-boss), just like you were able to in Super Mario World. If you want to save at any other point in the game, you had to spend special coins that you collected throughout regular gameplay; three of these coins were hidden away in each stage. Despite this actually being an expansion on the save system from World, this was a major deterrent to completion (and even overall enjoyment) for me. From my perspective, if I am playing a portable game, I do not necessarily know how long I have to play before I need to do something else. The whole point is that the game is portable and can conform to my busy schedule. If I have to schedule my saving around the game rather than myself, I should just be at home playing a console game. It did not even matter that I always had plenty of coins to spare, and was probably coming up on a castle, anyway… it was the principle of the matter, to me.

This is what concerns and intrigues me about New Super Mario Bros. Wii. If you take a look at the E3 trailer, you can clearly see Mario collecting what appears to be large coins, and a special slot on the left that fills up as you collect these three coins:

nsmbwii_coins

My question to myself is this: if it was so much of a problem on DS, will the (apparent, but not confirmed) same save system in the new console version provide the same frustration? Or, like the older versions, will the fact that it is on a console with (presumably) more time to dedicate to it end up with it not even mattering?

How about you all? Did the DS version’s save system drive you away, or did it not even matter? Any concerns or thoughts about the new one?

How About You? Playing Your Wii At All?

I am constantly hearing more and more reports on gaming podcasts from journalists and general enthusiasts alike saying that their Wii is doing nothing more than collecting dust. Meri and I both have moments of guilt, ourselves, where we verbally note that the Wii is basically just sitting there for the sake of sitting there and looking pretty.

Why aren’t we using it more? Is it the particular games we own that simply bore us? Is it Nintendo, themselves, driving us away with things like Wii Music? Why aren’t I going back to all those Virtual Console games I purchased?

Let me toss a couple ideas out there.

Something I’ve heard pop up a few times (and more recently Rym & Scott did a GeekNights episode about it) is that instead of playing new games, we just keep going back and playing the same old games from the past over and over again.

I am totally guilty of this (but is “guilty” the right word to use if I don’t feel bad about it…?). Despite owning tons of games (some even unopened) that I’ve never played, I will go back and play through the original Legend of Zelda on NES at least once every two years. There’s also never a bad time to decide to sit down and beat Super Mario Bros. 3 or even the original Kirby’s Dream Land, which for me is almost like a brainless activity at this point. Then there are all the times I’ll hook up the Saturn and play a few races in Sega Rally Championship or Daytona USA. Meri has played through Ocarina of Time at least once in recent memory, and while she’s just now finishing up the first Phoenix Wright, you’ll see Super Mario World sticking out of Slot 2 down there. Then there are “new old games” like (the obligatory mention of) Rock Band. It’s basically an expansion upon Guitar Hero (which is itself an expansion on previous rhythm games), which means we’re really playing the same game that we’ve been playing for years and years and years, only with new content every week. That brings in the whole idea of a single game being its own platform, but I won’t bother getting into that, again.

So I suppose the real question is: am I not playing the Wii, or am I just playing old games and thus inadvertently not playing the Wii?

For people my age and older (anyone post-college, I suppose), another big factor is disposable income and the sheer amount of games. Unlike when I was younger and onwards into college and could only afford one or two games at a time, now I can pretty much own anything I want whenever I want it (for example, buying Dragon Quest IV because it was $20 this week, despite the fact that I have a row of other RPGs to get through first). There’s no need to justify a purchase for myself by forcing an entire play-through and trying to convince myself that a game is pure art when it’s really nothing more than just another game. If I get bored with it or see something shiny elsewhere, I move on.

Pulling the Wii back in, let’s look at Super Smash Bros. Brawl versus the previous Super Smash Bros. Melee on the Gamecube. In the previous game, I not only unlocked every character, but made it a point to beat the game with every character in both single-player modes to get each version of their trophy. I would spend those coins to try and get more trophies, spin them around to look at them, read up on their history, etc. I’m not sure how much time I put into that game, but it was certainly a lot…! However, with Brawl, I only went so far as to unlock all of the characters and stages. I never actually finished Subspace Emissary (I think I got about 75% of the way through), and I didn’t put any time into creating any of my own stages (or collecting all of the parts to be able to do so). That’s not to say I never play the game ever again, though. There are instances where I’m craving some Nintendo fanboy catering, or have to laugh at how incomprehensibly bad the online-play integration was, and I pop it in for a few minutes. A get-together of friends is another great time, since I do have four Wavebirds… The point, though, is that despite dropping the $50 on the game, I simply don’t feel the burning desire or any real compelling reason to attach myself to that game solely as I would were I twenty years younger.

How about straight-up dropping games? Personally, I’ve dropped just as many games on the Wii (sorry, Super Mario Galaxy) as I have on other systems, so there’s nothing inherently there to jump on and pick apart.

So am I really just playing the same games over and over? Let’s take a look at what I’m playing just in the last week and see if there are any trends:

– Rock Band 2 (360): Mentioned above; basically just Guitar Hero evolved, so yes, the same game over and over.

– DragonBall Z: Infinite World (PS2): A mash-up of Budokai 3 (which I played through twice; US PS2 & JP PS2), Shin Budokai (which I own and dropped) and Burst Limit (which I own and dropped), so yes, the same game over and over.

DragonBall: Origins (DS): Whoa, a totally new game! Fancy that. I’m quasi playing it “for work“, though.

Final Fantasy VI (GBA): New to me! Classification is up in the air on this one, though, since it’s an evolution of games I’ve played before (III & IV) and a predecessor to ones I’ve also played (VII, VIII, X).

How about a game I only recently kicked the bad habit of? That’s right, Pokemon. Well, FireRed was an enhanced remake of a game I had played when it first came out (in my case, Yellow) and Pearl is really just another evolution of the same game (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it).

So what does that say about me? Am I just playing it safe? I will admit to starting to unfortunately feel that apprehension and insecurity when I start playing an entirely new game, something I never expected myself to feel with regards to any technology.

How does that relate to the Wii? Shouldn’t I be right at home since it’s basically a Gamecube and all my old games are there on Virtual Console? I’m totally ready to go with Shining Force II (again, another old game I’ve played through multiple times) but I really need to finish some of these other games I’m playing, first! Our Wii actually gets used like clockwork every time Andrew and Jeff are over, if only to mess around on the Everybody Votes Channel. I know, I know… it sounds ridiculous… but it’s an event in our household. We even have our own lingo to go along with it, talking about who’s the biggest “conformist” when their choices are closest to the general population, and so on and so forth.

I also wonder if it seems like I use the 360 more than I actually do because I use it as a media center for displaying programming up on the television. Combine that with the Rock Band constant state-of-being, and I suppose it would look like I’m attached to it.

What about you all? Does your Wii collect dust, or is it at the center of your gaming experience? Does any of that other nonsense I’ve spouted relate to you, or is it just the gibberish of yet another ranting lunatic on the intarwebz?

“Secret of Mana” on Virtual Console

Just because a new podcast episode came out yesterday, it doesn’t mean that I can’t keep writing blog entries! I’m still here for another couple days!

We heard about it hitting the Japanese Virtual Console last month, so we knew it was on its way. That doesn’t change the fact that a SquaresoftEnix game coming out at a budget price via digital distribution rather than a $40 Nintendo DS remake is a strange thing in today’s world.

Seiken Densetsu 2, or Secret of Mana, hit the North American Virtual Console yesterday. I know Jeff will be all over it once he clears out some blocks on his Wii (I’ve got five, he’s got zero!), and Andrew I’m not sure about (probably? but he’s got his SNES hooked up and owns the cartridge…).

If you’ll remember back to our first podcast episode, Andrew and Jeff totally loved the game (as well as Secret of Evermore), but I had actually never played it. I surprised them on the show by having played a good few hours into the game before talking about our mutual top ten games. Some of my complaints were the at-times clumsy hit detection on enemies, your companions getting stuck behind things, and… well, I don’t remember much about what I said. I did recognize the wonderful music and the ingenuity of the “ring system” for the menus.

So what about me? Should I be picking it up on Virtual Console? If I do, I’ll probably wait a few months while I work through my backlog of RPGs on the system (Super Mario RPG, Ys Book I & II, Shining Force II). Does it really deserve another chance, though? What do you all think?

Nintendo’s 2008-2009 Updates

Well, we’ve got a new Nintendo DS on the way (along with a few other things).

There has already been a bunch of discussion about the whole thingie-ma-bob, despite the press event only happening within the last 24 hours (as of this writing, Nintendo has yet to hold their US press event). However, there are a couple very specific things that I wanted to bring to everyone’s attention.

The first item of interest is the removal of Slot 2 (the GameBoy Advance slot) on the DSi. As you no doubt heard from episode two of our podcast, the issue of backwards compatibility is of both major interest and apathy among us (depending on the system, games, etc.). A huge point we brought up was that Activision’s Guitar Hero: On Tour, as well as the upcoming On Tour Decades on November 18th, rely(ies) on Slot 2 to house and interact with the guitar frets attachment. Needless to say, these games will (theoretically) be completely unusable with the DSi.  I suppose it’s a good thing for Activision that they already got their Guitar Hero: On Tour & DS bundle out the door earlier this year, because that thing is looking more and more irrelevant as information comes out of Nintendo today.

This is yet another example supporting my personal belief that Nintendo has been one step behind where they should be with regards to… well, everything… since the Gamecube. I know, blasphemy, especially considering all the profit they are raking in. Hold on.

Microsoft realized and made it clear back with the original Xbox that digital distribution was going to be huge for conoles (even if you missed all of the other signs out there), but Nintendo really had no foresight for this. The Wii’s internal space was limited to microscopic levels (more on this in a bit), and the DS had Slot 2 to play actual GBA games.

Of course, you have to consider Nintendo’s approach during the DS’s launch. To them, it was their “third pillar” (main console / GameBoy line / the new DS). For the time, it was a brilliant move; if the DS failed, well, that wasn’t meant to be a replacement for the GameBoy line (right… with it having the GBA slot, and all), so no big loss! Luckily for them, the DS has become a global phenomenon. That Slot 2 is where it gets tricky, though. Would the (original) DS have taken off without it? Keep in mind that nearly every late GBA game was coming with little pamphlets showing you how you would be able to play them on a DS in a whole new light, so to speak.

My point is that if Nintendo really wanted to crank up the digital distribution and sell us GB/GBC/GBA games directly for our new DS, they should have cut Slot 2 out of the DS Lite. The DS was already popular, but the DS Lite is what really… how do I put this… oh, just insert an “it prints money” joke here. Now we have that device in what appears to be every-other-person’s hands no matter where you look, and the GBA slot is right there with them. I’m pulling some Wikipedia-research on you right now, but the numbers look like ~80 million GBAs, and ~77 DSes (so far). That means that there’s already a huge crossover with DS owners that probably have a nice little GBA game library kicking around somewhere. I’ve mentioned this on the show plenty of times: why would I re-pay for a game on a new format when I have the original cartridge sitting right over there?

Of course, there are plenty of reasons (as seen by my constant purchases of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda games) with convenience and portability being the main ones. Nintendo is really going to have to prove to these millions upon millions of potential customers exactly why they need to re-pay for Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 (on top of already paying for the original SNES version on Virtual Console, on top of still having the cartridge sitting in their Super Nintendo). Price is going to be a key factor, and one that I do not feel they have been particularly persuasive with. We know the DSi digital distribution pricing scheme will be between about $2 and $10, but there is no further clarification on what will be sold and for what price level.

How does Pokémon play into this, by the way? A huge deal with Diamond & Pearl was the fact that you could put all of your Generation III games (FireRed / LeafGreen / Ruby / Sapphire / Emerald) into Slot 2 and do all sorts of neat things (transfer the critters via Pal Park, mostly). How about future games? How are we going to be expected to transfer from Generation IV to Generation V? Will we need two DS systems?

That also brings to mind what I call Nintendo’s “tethering” to the DS. If you play certain games (and especially if you go online with those games), you will notice that the games tell you that your system and game are being considered a single entity now, and will need to be used together exclusively. For the most part, this presents no problems other than ending up with a new friend code if you decide to upgrade from a DS to a DS Lite, for example. For games like Pokémon, though, it gets a little more difficult. I actually do not know the full extent of it, so perhaps you all can help me. What are the ramifications for taking a Generation IV game to a new system? If I start playing it on a DS Lite instead of my old DS, will My Pokémon Ranch recognize that it is still the same game? Will I be locked out of transferring back my little guys? It may not be the same system + game combo, but gosh darn it, it is still the same cartridge!

Finishing off my backwards compatibility ranting and raving is the whole idea of the “Wii de Asobu” (Play On/For Wii) series. Just like Capcom did with Resident Evil 4, but actually applying a brand to it, Nintendo is going to re-releasing a bunch of Gamecube games with enhanced Wii-specific controls. You don’t get to play a new Pikmin game, but you sure get to play the old one… with Wii controls! In all honesty, this actually sounds like it could be pretty interesting. Metroid Prime fans are probably salivating at the thought of re-playing the first two games with the Prime controls. Imagine going back and playing Wind Waker with the Wii’s Twilight Princess controls; while they may not have been as necessary or appropriate as the Metroid Prime control evolution, going back to non-Wiimote+Nunchuck for Zelda can be a little off-putting. This is pretty ingenious on Nintendo’s part, in that they (once again) get to charge you (once again) for playing the exact same game (once again) only slightly differently.

You will notice I am ignoring all the things like the internal cameras, further embellishing on the SD card slot, downloadable web browser, music playing, etc. These are all the expected next-steps for Nintendo, and I honestly just do not have a lot to say about any of them.

The last thing I did want to address is Nintendo’s admission that there is insignificant storage space available on the Wii, and that they will be utilizing the SD card slot to solve this problem in Spring 2009. I have spoken before about my experiences with having to clear out the fridge, so I will not bother going into it in-depth again. It would not surprise me if it was Nintendo’s arrogance that got them into this situation, though. They honestly believed that there would not be any storage problem, and they honestly believed that moving things to and from (rather than executing directly off of) an SD card was sufficient. That would be perfectly fine… if they weren’t also selling us Nintendo 64 games, Turbo-CD games, and WiiWare games. Especially with the latter, it was probably quite shocking for them to realize that the less-than-512 MB really isn’t enough to actively use the system for what they’re now intending it to be used for. The SD card slot is really the most simple solution, and I am thoroughly glad (and relieved) to see them utilize what is actually right there inside the system, rather than pushing more useless white plastic our way.

So what about you all? What are your thoughts on everything? It was certainly a lot to wake up to this morning, that’s for sure.

Cleaning out the fridge, I’m a geek and an otaku, blah blah blah…

So today, Ys I & II came out on the Virtual Console. I’ve always wanted to check out this series, and never bothered to do so (either through emulation, or actually picking up a damn TG-16 / PC Engine). I said to myself, “Self, when you get home from work, download that shiz!

If only it were that easy.

When I downloaded Sonic the Hedgehog and Star Parodier recently, I ran my “blocks” down to the wire. I couldn’t even download most NES games. How in the bloody Hell was I going to download a TG-16 CD game?!

Time to clean out the fridge.

It was a very painful process. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m of the mindset that I absolutely should be able to have access to each and every single damn Virtual Console and WiiWare game that I’ve downloaded at any given time and immediately when I want it. Am I spoiled? Sure. I have no problem admitting that. Is it too much to ask? I don’t think so. Not these days, anyway.

Yes, this is basically just me acting like a broken record. You’ve already read this elsewhere. You’ve already heard this elsewhere. I don’t care. This is my blog, dammit! I get a chance to complain, too!

I’ve actually had plenty of instances where I was about to spend money on Virtual Console games… but I didn’t. Why didn’t I spend the money? Why didn’t I give free money to Nintendo for games that I actually already own in cartridge form sitting right over there? Sitting in the damn original system right above the Wii on the next shelf up (I’m looking at you, Waverace 64)?

I didn’t have the blocks available.

If I’m going to spend money on digital versions of games that I already own working versions of, my stipulation is that I have access to it right away. None of this re-downloading nonsense. None of this transferring to-and-from an SD card nonsense.

I’m not sure why I actually buckled down, caved in, and said “I’ll be a good boy, Reggie!” this evening. Maybe it was the prospect of playing a game that I didn’t already own and had been interested in for years. Maybe it was because I didn’t really mind moving over games like Bonk’s Adventure and Toe Jam and Earl (sorry folks, they’re just not that good). I also had to move over some games that I really didn’t want to move over, though, like Super Castlevania IV.

So now I’m back to having ~20 blocks left. No chance in Hell of being able to get Samurai Showdown II any time soon. And yes, I’m aware that Samurai Showdown Anthology will be coming out state-side at some point this year. It doesn’t change the fact that I have total gaming ADD and would love to be able to just point on over to the best one in the series and play a few quick rounds without getting my lazy ass off the couch.

When a man can’t even spend his Virtual Space Money, all he can do is blog.

Wow! Thanks for the overwhelmingly positive response to the first episode of our podcast, everyone! That really makes me look even more forward to recording and releasing the second episode. Until then, look forward to some regular blog postings (kinda like this one), and maybe even a couple other special things here and there.

Speaking of podcasts, our addition to the iTunes Store was certainly quick. It should be searchable in the iTunes Store within a day or so, but until then, you can access us directly where you can do the one-click subscription. We have all sorts of subscription information over on our “Podcasts” page. Remember that you don’t need to have an iPod (or any portable music device) to check out our show. You can download the episodes and listen in anything like WinAmp or even Windows Media Player; they’re just straight-up MP3 files!

So today I finally became one of the fabeled “geeks and otaku”. That’s right, I ran out of storage space on my Wii. Thanks to some birthday VIrtual Space Money from a certain Mr. Deluxe, I decided to go on a mini-spending-spree in the Wii Shop Channel. Much to my dismay, I could not so much as download an SNES game without making room. The “Mario Kart Channel” was the first to go, followed by the “Internet Channel” (seriously, is anyone using either of those?). I wanted to delete the “Photo Channel”, but I have a sneaking suspision that I have to download the updated version from the store before I can see it for deletion in the memory management. Once space was made, in came some Devil’s Crush, Metroid, and Super Metroid… the middle-which of said games being the only one I’ve ever owned and/or played. I know, I’m terrible. Never played Super Metroid. I’ll get right on that. Eventually.

How many of you are running into this problem, though? Or is it not even a problem for you? I really want to check out Lost Winds, as well… but that’s not happening any time soon unless Nintendo has some sort of announcement around the corner. We’re all on pins-and-needles since Activision formally announced full downoadable content for the Wii version of Guitar Hero: World Tour, supposedly making use of the SD Card slot. For goodness sake, can I please toss some of these useless channels over there so I can spend my money with you? Seriously. I have Wii points to spend. They’re sitting right there. I’ll even spend more to add more points if you just let me keep everything I download all in once place. That’s the whole beauty and convenience of it.

I know, that’s a pretty broken-record tirade, so I’ll leave you with the following:

Mike Consoles - July 2008

Yep, the PlayStation 3 has joined the family. Had to get a component-input-switcher to have everything play nice and be hooked up at once. Big special thanks to an awesome buddy out in California. You rock, man. Was doing some Remote Play with DragonBall: Final Bout, and reminded myself how terrible it is :P.

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