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Sun 21st July, 2013

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AtlanteanMan commented on Tablets Stole The Wii U's Thunder, Laments Shi...:

You can lament that the market did this or that but it doesn't really matter if you failed to act upon what you COULD control. And by that I mean Nintendo never really TRIED to utilize the GamePad in ways that frankly made common sense.

Take turn-based Strategy, for example, specifically local hot seat multiplayer. So far it's been a genre restricted almost exclusively to PCs, and tablets can't offer the right experience unless everyone in the room has one and their own copy of the game (unlikely). It's not difficult at all (unless you're a Nintendo game developer, apparently) to envision a new Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, or third-party IP such as Shining Force or Daisenryaku with incredible hot seat multiplayer modes.

The Wii U has had some great games, but it has never felt its full potential has ever been realized. I fear that's how it's going to be remembered when all is sadi and done, and that's all on Nintendo who designed it around the GamePad in the first place.



AtlanteanMan commented on Editorial: Nintendo's Approach to amiibo is In...:

When Amiibos were first announced I admit I considered collecting them as I've always been a sucker for collecting miniatures. But time and financial constraints have forced me to not only pass on new lines of collectibles in recent years, but to have to sell off some of my existing ones. I'm not criticizing anyone who wants to collect Amiibo or anything else, but speaking from experience, at some point in life you'll probably come to see such things as stuff collecting dust on a shelf. When that occurs you'll probably decide to see what you can get for your collection on eBay, and if you're very fortunate you'll make about what you spent; it just depends on the scarcity and the demand. Bottom line: the things that you obsessed over just won't be that important to you anymore. That's just life and it happens.



AtlanteanMan commented on Editorial: The eShop's Pricing Dilemma is the ...:

The eShop has two key problems:

1) You never really own anything you buy digitally. There is no physical copy to hold onto or trade toward future purchases down the road, but also (and ESPECIALLY with Nintendo platforms) purchases are difficult if not impossible to carry forward to the next generation's console or even transfer between existing systems. Your purchase lasts for as long as your system and its storage medium does. Online-centric games are even worse in that servers can be practically empty the same week of release for a smaller developer, and once said servers are taken down, there goes that playability forever.

2) Other digital platforms (especially Steam) simply put the eShop to shame. Not just by selection but also pricing. Nintendo is notoriously rigid with their pricing structure and frankly the vast majority of their offerings, even the first-party ones, should be going for a third or less of what they're asking. Classic or not, we're talking two decade-plus old games that have been repackaged countless times already.

Lastly, as a writer myself I have experienced the realities of trying to sell books on Amazon and via self-publishers. Complete waste of time to self-publish physical copies; the experience I had made it impossible to sell let alone make money (Lulu got the first $25; how many books do you see going for half of that price?). As for Amazon, I felt like a guy operating a vegetable stand out of the back of his station wagon along the side of a busy highway; people just keep going and never notice you because you're buried under a mountain of bigger names. This in turn is another issue facing smaller developers on any platform, especially Nintendo's by the way.

I did however learn some valuable lessons about the absolute necessity of improving my craft; you can never stop improving because the competition is always tougher and the nature of the market is constantly changing. The only way for a smaller publisher to ever "hit the big time" is to work their butts off and make their games the absolute best they can be.



AtlanteanMan commented on Mobile Is Konami's Future, According To Presid...:

Sigh. I really miss the days when real videogame companies made real videogames for real gamers. Now it's become mostly mega-corporations with videogame divisions making copy-paste, over-hyped sequels to last year's sequels...and now increasingly aimed at people who think an app is an adequate substitute for a console/actual videogame.

I've loved this great hobby since the Atari 2600. Now most of what I fell in love with back then...the genre variety, the creativity, the sheer FUN...has become mostly just fond, bittersweet memories. I guess all good things must eventually come to an end.



AtlanteanMan commented on Nintendo's E3 Focus to Reportedly be on Wii U ...:

Smart move by Nintendo and exactly what their consumers needed to hear. An E3 where people got the sense that their 3DS and Wii U investments were being abandoned would NOT go over well, ESPECIALLY if a large segment of the presentation focused on mobile devices.

While I figure Nintendo will likely make scads of money by making apps for mobiles, I'm sure I'm not the only gamer who couldn't care less for the idea. I just hope that Nintendo doesn't divide their already stretched resources to accommodate mobile development because then we'd see even FEWER non-Mario or Zelda titles (love both of those franchises but hey, I love a lot of Sega franchises not named "Sonic" and Konami properties not named "Metal Gear", too).

Nintendo, there comes a time when your company's identity should come before shareholders who self-admittedly "don't get videogames". Please don't forget that or the lessons of companies who allowed people like that to wield too much power.



AtlanteanMan commented on Sega Won't Have A Booth At This Year's E3:

I wonder if Sega has ever considered experimenting with crowdfunding to gage serious interest in their old IPs? I strongly suspect that we'd see a lot of franchises developers currently dismiss as "niche" or "not 'mainstream enough'" make comebacks if they allowed gamers the opportunity to put money on the table. Just look at the overwhelmingly positive response to their putting Valkyria Chronicles on Steam.



AtlanteanMan commented on Sega Won't Have A Booth At This Year's E3:

"Instead, we will be collaborating with our various business partners for this year's E3 show."

Yes I realize the odds are practically nil of this ever happening, but what if that seemingly benign sentence turned into a MEGATON Nintendo Direct announcement during E3 of a merger/direct collaboration with Sega, Konami, Tecmo, Capcom, Square, SystemSoft Alpha, GameArts, Treasure, Namco/Bandai, and other major Japanese publishers to make and support the upcoming NX console?

I think the entire balance of the videogame industry would shift, just like that. If these companies returned to what they used to do best and teamed up as they did during the NES/SNES/Genesis days, not only would it very likely save Sega and Konami from seemingly imminent self-destruction, but it would be a literal renaissance for the old school games and genres that made so many of us fall in love with the hobby in the first place.

Oh, and can you just imagine that next Smash Bros. and Mario/Nintendo Kart if that happened?

Sadly, as long as Sega keeps going along their own path and the powers-that-be there don't change, their situation will NOT improve and neither will the hopes of ever seeing so many of their incredible IPs again.



AtlanteanMan commented on Talking Point: Is Konami About To Exit The Con...:

@ cdude,

While on the surface I'd love to see the situation you just mentioned (and kind of echoed in my earlier post), aside from the money involved there are other things to consider. Nintendo just made a commitment to mobile gaming which no doubt will divide their resources and manpower to at least some degree (they're definitely not going to just trust DeNA or anyone else to take their IPs out into the wild unsupervised). That means fewer resources and man-hours spent on designing and making games for their core console and portable systems, unless they enlarge. SIDE NOTE: This could mean that we'll be seeing even less deviation from the "core" IPs from Nintendo going forward, which would indeed be very, very bad both for gamers and for Nintendo themselves in the long term.

And even if they did either purchase or merge/partner with the likes of Sega, Konami, or other Japanese publishers (definitely doable; Nintendo is a large corporation with vast cash reserves still in place from the Wii) or simply buy key IPs from them, somebody has to make those addition to the Marios, the Zeldas, and all the other staple franchises already in place. The best case scenario to ensure those IPs would be handled properly would be to hire former employees of those other companies. But for now all of this is pretty much a pipe dream, at any rate.



AtlanteanMan commented on Talking Point: Is Konami About To Exit The Con...:

All we can do is vote with our wallets and spread the good word when we play a game we genuinely enjoy. I personally bought Code Name: STEAM. I haven't played it that much yet due to my backlog, but it's on the list.

I bought Valkyria Chronicles when it first came out on the PS3 and loved it so much that I showed it to three friends, each of whom bought their own copy. I did the same with little-known turn-based Strategy gem Daisenryaku VII: Modern Military Tactics Exceed for the PlayStation 2. The local 4-player multiplayer, real life countries and weaponry, and ability to create your own maps were incredible. I played it with about six or seven friends spanning countless play sessions and hundreds of hours...and every one of them bought their own copy.

Maybe we can't get every great game franchise we'd love to see again as often as we'd like to, if ever, but when we have an opportunity we only have ourselves to blame if we don't support such releases when they do come. And spreading the word, whether with friends or on internet forums, can gain support for future releases even if it's one person at a time.



AtlanteanMan commented on Talking Point: Is Konami About To Exit The Con...:

@ Quorton,

I'll add this observation: I agree with what you're saying and it's a sad and frustrating situation for longtime Nintendo fans, but the points you made can easily also be applied to both Sony and Microsoft's platforms. Xbox is and has always been about shooters and violent gametypes like Halo, Gears of War, and Call of Duty. Even their RPGs like Mass Effect have a heavy third-person shooter aesthetic. They know the demographic they're going after and they're frankly not engaging anyone else, which has worked so far but which I believe will be to the long-term detriment of their console interests.

As for Sony, their offerings are much better balanced but they too are mostly about "mature" tropes, from God of War to Killzone. They're a mega-corporation that happens to have a games division, so the vast majority of their offerings each year are second and third-party properties...and all too often the same companies and their exact same, annually regurgitated sequels get invited to the stage for their E3 presentations. Naughty Dog means another Uncharted game. Ubisoft means another Assassin's Creed. EA means Battlefield and Madden. Activision means Call of Duty. Plus another round of zombie apocalypse-style games. And so on; you can predict it almost as surely as death and taxes.

What I'm saying in a nutshell is that most gamers' buying habits are pretty much the same regardless of the platform; they're narrow and tend to buy the same "AAA" stuff over and over again. While the definition of "true hobbyists" could be debated, where I'm concerned having been one since the Atari 2600, their tastes and interests are much broader than what's typically on offer in any given year. A Nintendo rep even told me back around 2008 "There are fewer and fewer of you (old school gamers) every year" (that conversation, while remaining civil, wasn't a pleasant one).

So yes, we know we'll get our obligatory Mario, Zelda, Mario Kart, and Smash Bros. installments with each new Nintendo platform (and none of those are a bad thing, obviously). After that all we can do is pretty much hope the IPs or genres we're most interested in get that once-in-a-generation release, if we're lucky. They cater to the rest of us after they make certain they've secured profitability for their stockholders, sadly not before and maybe even not then. The situation is exactly the same with Microsoft and Sony, believe me.



AtlanteanMan commented on Talking Point: Is Konami About To Exit The Con...:

@ Quorthon,

I certainly won't disagree with your assessment; I've been lobbying for Nintendo to make a Wii U Advance Wars or Fire Emblem with local hot seat multiplayer (that Gamepad is TAILOR MADE for it). But as Furuko said, from their (or any company's) standpoint it's not about what sells necessarily as what will sell THE MOST. The money angle is where the all-too-common disconnect occurs between developers and gamers, sadly. Those of us who'd love a new turn-based Strategy title, for instance, are vastly outnumbered by those who'll pay for the next annual installment of Call of Duty, Mario, or any other "AAA" franchise. That's why we know those games are coming each and every year while we have to lobby (often unsuccessfully for years on end) to be thrown a single bone for great IPs and genres that aren't considered "mainstream" enough.



AtlanteanMan commented on Talking Point: Is Konami About To Exit The Con...:

It'd be nice to see Nintendo either buy Konami or purchase the rights to their games (as well as hire former Konami employees who are familiar with them and their lore). Contra, Castlevania, Suikoden, Gradius, Vandal Hearts, Metal Gear, and so many more...reminds me of another Japanese company who stopped making games for all but pretty much one of their classic franchises; rhymes with "Sega". Konami's biggest mistake was feeding an apparently ginormous ego by concentrating almost solely on Metal Gear for so long. It's a nice (if very...ahem...eccentric) series, but they have had such a huge staple of great IPs they just allowed to collect dust.

THIS is the real problem with the decline of the Japanese side of the gaming industry: too many companies narrowing their focus to "safe" Western market-friendly properties (or altering existing ones to appeal to the FPS-glutted marketplace; examples: the Resident Evil series' departure from true horror to run-and-gun and the Final Fantasy series' switch from turn-based menu to button-mashing combo mechanics) and going to the same well till it was bone-dry. Without diversity of genres and gameplay mechanics you end up with shallow eye candy that all looks, sounds, and plays pretty much the same.

And yes, Nintendo should buy up the rights to Sega's mountain of unused, tragically neglected properties as well while they're at it (if they won't do a full console-supporting partnership, which I've strongly suggested in the past; it makes every kind of sense for both companies). Then the Wii U (or any other Nintendo platform) would no longer need to worry about third-party support.



AtlanteanMan commented on SEGA and M2 Are Happy to Continue 3D Classics ...:

My money's on the table should Sega ever do a complete (all 3 Scenarios; the US only got Scenario 1, leaving English-speaking gamers with an eternal cliffhanger and slap in the face) port of Shining Force III from the Sega Saturn. The rotatable environments (some of which must be done so as to find all the hidden character and secrets), if spiffed up with high-res visuals, are tailor-made for the 3D line-up. And with a whopping total of over 190 hours (I've played rough all 3 Scenarios myself), 3 armies totaling nearly 50 characters, and some truly epic turn-based battles that easily put even the revered Genesis iterations to shame, plus an incredible storyline full of political intrigue, Shining Force III would show a new generation of gamers (not to mention all the Westerners who never got to enjoy the full story to begin with) why the Saturn is perhaps the most underrated console of all time.

And hey, why stop there? Dragon Force, Panzer Dragoon, Bug!, Daytona USA, Iron Storm, and many other Saturn greats are waiting to be redone if Sega will only do it. Again, the money's on the table, guys!



AtlanteanMan commented on Poll: Is It Time For a Fresh Alternative to th...:

There are long-running inherent issues with the Virtual Console that would probably best be rectified by phasing the entire thing into a new service; since that's essentially what Nintendo's doing with their rewards system, such a move would only make sense.

The VC's biggest problem where I'm concerned has been how purchases are tied to a single console. If your system breaks down or you upgrade, chances are very high that you lose everything on your old one...and that's just plain unacceptable. Even the data transfer process from the old to the new 3DS is unnecessarily long and tedious. Purchases could EASILY be tied to user accounts so they can easily be taken across multiple systems, and given that Sony and Microsoft have had this in place for years now, there's simply no excuse for it not to be the case on Nintendo's platforms.

Pricing is another huge problem on the VC. $5 for an NES game, $7 for a SNES or Genesis title, $10 for N64 games...these prices kill interest on sight. I loved these games back in the day and yes, they're enduring classics, but they're also over two decades (in some cases THREE) old. And for games that have been repackaged countless times in one form or another. Nintendo may not like the idea, but shaving these prices down to 20 percent of what they are currently would frankly be smart if they genuinely want to move such virtual products in the current marketplace.

Selection is another sore spot. There are a lot of great games on the VC, but the Wii U is still a LONG way from ever catching up to where the Wii was in terms of offerings (again, simply having some redundancy and the ability to transfer between systems would solve this issue rather than require each new system to start from scratch). Beyond Nintendo-based games and the obligatory Genesis ones there are LOTS of titles languishing from several classic platforms which the Wii U and 3DS could easily emulate: the Saturn, the Dreamcast, the Neo Geo, the TurboGrafx 16, Arcade, and more.

Another thing that'd certainly be welcome and greatly help to sell digital games for Nintendo's service would be cross-platform support between consoles and portables. If I buy Donkey Kong country on my Wii U, the ability to also play it on the go with my 3DS (or vice versa...including save states) would be a HUGE plus. It would greatly help to send a message to me as a consumer that Nintendo wasn't just trying to make me buy the same product over and over as many times as possible (and a newsflash; that ploy hasn't been working to begin with).

Nintendo is still making the best quality and value current-gen games around (in my humble opinion), and they're why the company continues to defy repeated predictions of their demise. But the single biggest and most justified complaint from consumers continues to be their lack of online functionality, including the antiquated and unnecessarily hamstrung Virtual Console. The service needs a complete overhaul, without question.



AtlanteanMan commented on Soapbox: Sonic, It's Time to Talk:

Hopefully Valkyria Chronicles' sales success on Steam (which wildly surpassed Sega's expectations) will help them realize there's a MOUNTAIN of long-requested properties that fans are clamoring for; give Sonic a rest if not put him out to pasture permanently.



AtlanteanMan commented on Hands On: Wii U GameCube Controller Adapter:

I used my Wavebirds on my original Wii not only for Smash Bros. Brawl but also titles like Mario Kart Wii and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn as well as GameCube titles. From a consumer standpoint it's inexcusable for this adapter to only work with a single game; Nintendo of all companies should know better. I won't bother with the adapter unless Nintendo broadens its compatibility and usefulness considerably.



AtlanteanMan commented on Mario Kart 8 Software Update and DLC Available...:

Been playing it and love the tracks; there's EASILY enough value here to justify the $7.99 purchase, and getting the two for $11.99 just makes that much more sense. But now that Nintendo has officially entered the era of DLC and updates for the main console titles, I have a few suggestions on tweaking Mario Kart 8's (and the series in general) gameplay. The customization options in the multiplayer mode are a great start, but the single player could use at least some of these:

1) Lose the Lightning. It serves no point except to make everyone smaller, cost them their items, and basically irritate them. Does it really benefit the user? Not that much.

2) The Super 8 is vastly overrated. I've come to realize that having those eight items swirling around your kart isn't nearly as beneficial as you'd think while in the middle of a chaotic race. To even get it you have to be back in the pack, and if that's the case you're more than likely going to lose half the items to attacking items from other karts before you get to use them; there simply has never been a time I've gotten the Super 8 where I was able to hold onto items for when I felt they'd be of real use, and all too often you see players mash buttons as fast as they can in vain hopes of some actual change in their position. And as for waiting for the item you wish to use to pass in front of your kart while all the twisting, turning, and dodging is happening onscreen, I've found that the Super 8 has actually caused me to run into walls or off the track and LOSE position. Seriously, if you have the skills to use this item effectively you'll probably never get to in the first place.

3) Reward instead of punish the front-runners. I understand that the rubber band AI and giving those further back better items sounds good in theory, but it can be one of Mario Kart's most frustrating aspects when you've basically run a perfect race and dominated only to be suddenly Red/Blue Shelled and drop three places sometimes literally within sight of the finish line. Currently first-place racers can count on getting Coins, a rare Mushroom or Green Shell, and an even rarer Horn. Upping the ratios of better items would greatly help.

4) In fact, why not change the ratios to give racers the most useful items the most often across the board? Red Shells and Stars at the top of the Most Desirable list, and the Lightning, Squid, and Super 8 entrenched at the bottom.

I know this post is already long so I'll stop here. Anyone else have any thoughts to add? Do you think the game mechanics are fine as is or what would you do to tweak them?



AtlanteanMan commented on Preview: The Irresistible Charm of Captain Toa...:

As the writer mentioned my chief concern initially was whether the lower price point meant Captain Toad would end up being beautiful but short on content. Thankfully the 70 or so levels announced seem to indicate otherwise.

So why the lower price for a game that's more than worthy to share space with the most anticipated "AAA" titles this holiday season? My personal guess is that Nintendo figured that building an entire retail title around a new character the general public wasn't familiar with was inherently risky, so they lowered the asking price to compensate. Which means that gamers could be getting a great deal on what will likely be one of this Christmas season's very best games.



AtlanteanMan commented on Turns Out The GameCube Controller Adapter Won'...:

A videogame company that's been in the business as long as Nintendo has no excuse for something like this.

I get that corporations are in business to make money, but where Sony and Microsoft used DLC and online to gouge consumers since the last generation, Nintendo has quietly used peripherals as a Trojan Horse since the Wii. Most Nintendo titles that use multiplayer are A) local-centric and B) are incidentally among their most popular franchises (Smash Bros., Mario Kart, etc.), and Nintendo counted on that combination to get Wii buyers to purchase scads of peripherals that added enormous cost to that "low-entry, $200" console. By the time a consumer had picked up, for example, 3 extra Wiimotes, an extra Nunchuk, and 4 Classic Controllers, they had spent another $220...all without putting a penny into an actual game. And Nintendo's profits shot through the roof...temporarily. But most people eventually catch on. It certainly hasn't helped the Wii U so far, because people remember.

No peripheral in history has ever done well that was made for only a single game, or even two or three; the cost/benefit ratio just isn't there for buyers. Nintendo is counting on fans' passion for Smash Bros. to sell them lots of GameCube Controller Adapters in the same way they made peripherals what quietly made the original Wii so profitable. And I'm sure they WILL sell a bunch...but for a company long known for giving its customers value for their investment, Nintendo is treating them with a large measure of disrespect here...and in the long term it will come back to hurt that image just as the Wii's sales model did. People remember.



AtlanteanMan commented on Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS Brings Circ...:

This was my chief concern about putting Smash Bros. or any fighting game on a portable system, especially one with hinges and sliders (as opposed to joysticks) like the 3DS (also the issue with keeping the screen at the right angle not to "blur out" when in the heat of battle, which the new model will address but which existing users may/may not want to invest in). Watching how intense a lot of people get into these types of games, you know going in that the interface will be taking some abuse. If this problem becomes too widespread it could backfire into a huge P.R. disaster for Nintendo and we may never see another Smash Bros. release on one of their portables ever again.

To be honest I was on the fence about picking up the 3DS version anyway; this news pretty much pushed me into "No thanks" territory. I'll stick to the Wii U version.



AtlanteanMan commented on Nintendo of America Unleashes Wii U Game Sizzl...:

More original and exclusive games than either of its two competitors, hands down. Far BETTER games released or announced so far than either Sony or Microsoft have managed to show. Better quality and a much wider range of gameplay mechanics than its kill count and violence-obsessed competition, hands down.

The "year's head start" excuse isn't holding up so well for Sony and Microsoft fanboys at this point; the Wii U is hands down the best and most versatile console of this generation, at least so far. They have a LONG way to go to catch up.



AtlanteanMan commented on Mario Kart 8 DLC Coming In November, Features ...:

This is GREAT news. Looking very much forward to seeing which courses are revealed. Retro courses from previous Mario Kart games? Themed tracks from other Nintendo franchises (like Hyrule's Castle/Death Mountain/Kokiri Forest, F-Zero's crazy outer space tracks, Metroid's subterranean environments, Advance Wars or Fire Emblem's battlefields, etc.). More third-party guest racers/tracks ala' Smash Bros. (Sonic, Mega Man, Solid Snake, etc.)?

LOTS of possibilities. And while some may argue such DLC would deviate too much from the Mario Kart formula, it's also been suggested for some time that the series could use more fresh ideas. And the Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing series has proven that such crazy-sounding concepts can be AWESOME if done right (seriously, pick those games up if you've never tried them; the Afterburner, Skies of Arcadia, Golden Axe, and Panzer Dragoon tracks in particular are standouts and make you REALLY wish Sega still had a console out there!).



AtlanteanMan commented on Somebody At Ubisoft Really Doesn't Like Mario ...:

Truth be told I agree with the statement; Mario Kart just doesn't feel like the place for licensed, "real world" vehicles. It's all about the money obviously, but cross-promotions like this can sour a good thing.

That said, I'm all for more real, Nintendo-themed tracks, characters, and vehicle customizations via DLC, if Nintendo will offer them.



AtlanteanMan commented on Latest Wii U System Update Allows Console To C...:

Okay, I get the idea of someone upgrading from an 8GB to a 32GB model. That said...

While it's nice that you can transfer data from one Wii U to another, my question is WHAT'S THE POINT HERE!!? Because if the original Wii U system is in fine running order, why would you want to wipe its memory to transfer everything to another Wii U? If this was referring to the ability to actually SHARE game saves and other data BETWEEN two active consoles, this would be actual news, and a lot more practical for consumers.

Another thing; transferring said data requires both consoles to be in working order. As I said, there'd be no point in doing this between two working consoles if the original is left a blank slate, but if, say, your original just "bricked" on you, then you're out of luck anyway (and presumably, there go your Virtual Console and eShop purchases...buh-bye). So basically this news DOESN'T CHANGE A THING.

Online and digital might be okay for perennial platforms like the PC (Steam accounts can easily transfer between PCs with all games, etc.), but it's been a nightmare for console hobbyists both from a "keep what you buy 'forever'" as well as from a sharing/transferring data standpoint. And all to keep control over the consumer and their purchase after the point of sale.

Sometimes I actually miss the days of cartridges and everything being on the physical disc you bought at the store. It wasn't perfect but that cartridge/disc could go anywhere with you and play on another person's system, as could your saves (either on the cartridge or a memory card).



AtlanteanMan commented on Nintendo Goes Download-Only With The 2014 Club...:

While the lack of ay physical rewards may be disappointing for some, there are several likely reasons for the switch that make sense when you think about it. First, having users choose from digital items already on their store is HUGELY more practical from a cost/benefit standpoint for Nintendo over, say, creating molds for and manufacturing physical miniatures, curios, or other items. Also, it's a subtle way for Nintendo to gage interest in particular genres or franchises for possible future releases, either digitally or at retail.

Of course this isn't the only thing Nintendo has changed recently in the interest of being cost-conscious; their recent switch during E3 from expensive stage presentations to all-digital events was another measure done to save money. Why? Perhaps its at least partially due to the Wii U's sales not meeting expectations early on, and they're attempting to recoup what they can for their investors; business decisions, in the end, are ALWAYS about money.

At any rate, I'm very glad they picked Earthbound as one of the offerings. I definitely plan to snap it up once the program opens.



AtlanteanMan commented on Wii Owners Are Upgrading To PlayStation 4, Cla...:

I have a Wii U and am loving it; I don't know what all the fuss is about concerning a supposed "lack" of great games to play on it. Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Captain Toad, Splatoon, and the incredible-looking upcoming Zelda dismiss those a person really MUST only care about playing in dystopian, gritty, violent games with "realistic" eye candy. Don't look now but the Wii U has more than its fair share of eye candy...and far more games that I would care to play so far this generation than their competition, hands down.

I haven't invested in a PS4 or an Xbox One yet, and while Sony's machine has a better chance of my adopting it in the future, nothing shown at E3 gave me sufficient reason to plunk down the money for either. I love Halo but I'm not buying an Xbox One for a single franchise. As for Sony, I love the looks of The Crew and No Man's Sky, but both of those and other upcoming big names like Dragon Age: Inquisition can also be found on the PC.

And speaking of the PC, Civilization: Beyond Earth and a lot of other awesome-looking Strategy titles (which sadly consoles rarely if ever bother with) are some of my most-anticipated games of 2014. Why invest that money into a console whose library is full of redundancy and annually regurgitated, increasingly shallow "AAA" franchises when you can put it into more of the games you really WANT to play?



AtlanteanMan commented on E3 2014: Intelligent Systems Will Reveal New A...:

I've said for a long time that the Wii U Gamepad is MADE FOR turn-based Strategy games. Each player can hold the Gamepad "hot seat-style" during their turn where only they can actually see what units they're moving or actions they're taking. Their opponents watching the main TV screen only see the results.

Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, Shining Force, Final Fantasy Tactics, Valkyria Chronicles (with multiplayer!), Daisenryaku...the list of potential franchises that could incorporate the Wii U gamepad for turn-based Strategy is a long one. And I've no doubt that any of these would be HUGE sellers and do wonders for the genre as a whole, which sadly has gotten almost no love on consoles over the years.



AtlanteanMan commented on Interview: Console Wars Author Blake J. Harris...:

Sony and Microsoft have both had some great games/franchises under their respective logos over the years, but there's simply no hiding the fact that they're both software/electronics mega-corporations that happen to have videogames divisions. Sega on the other hand, like Nintendo, was a videogame company at its very core, and that is why longtime hobbyists typically remember the NES/SNES/N64/Master System/Genesis/Saturn era as the true Golden Age of Gaming. Things were much simpler then, and game releases weren't dictated nearly so much by eye candy and projected profit margins as they were genuine creativity, originality, and just plain FUN.

Sadly the market wouldn't support four console manufacturers and Sega was pushed out; given a choice I would happily trade both Sony and Microsoft's exit to see a console-supporting Sega back in the mix, because they simply meant that much to the hobby. Many fickle gamers who jumped from Sega onto the PlayStation and Xbox bandwagons would likely also be happy to go back given the way things are now. Sega's sheer number of original, iconic franchises and properties far outweighs even Nintendo's, but since they went third party Sonic is about all we've seen from them with any regularity whatsoever (again, the downfalls of games being greenlighted based upon profit expectations only). Valkyria Chronicles reminded us of what could have been and once was during Sega's glory days, but its sequels were promptly relegated to the PSP void, and the second never even came here (Sega even denied localization publishers the rights to license it).

As remote as the possibility is, given their numerous prior collaborations I still hold out hope for a Nintendo/Sega console partnership at some point. Not only would such deal yield IMMEDIATE benefits for Nintendo and its oft-struggling console sales, but only then would the graphics-jaded younger generation be able to see what all the fuss was about back in the Golden Age of Videogames. Because that mountain of AAA, iconic properties (Phantasy Star, Shining Force, Shinobi, Golden Axe, Skies of Arcadia, Panzer Dragoon, Out Run, Streets of Rage, Valkyria Chronicles, Afterburner, Daytona USA, LandStalker, Virtua Fighter...and on and on..) would be again unleashed in current-gen glory (and can anyone just IMAGINE what such a collaboration would mean for, say, Smash Bros.!? Just do it and take my money NOW, guys. Seriously.).

Such a development would change EVERYTHING, the very balance of the industry itself. The biggest thing preventing that from happening, sadly, is Sega themselves, for whatever reason. They've simply never appeared to have faith in so many of their most beloved franchises, and that is a true tragedy for all of us.



AtlanteanMan commented on Month of Mario Kart: Clones And Alternatives t...:

Obviously the next step for Nintendo beyond Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros. regarding the Wii U is which franchise to offer to further extend multiplayer offerings. All the criticisms of it aside, the Wii U Gamepad is PERFECTLY designed for a potential multiplayer-equipped Advance Wars or Fire Emblem installment, and third parties like SystemSoft Alpha's Daisenryaku military strategy series would likewise enable players to use the Gamepad to make their moves where no one else can see what they're doing; just the results on the main TV screen.

The Wii U CAN have an incredible amount of life and lots of amazing games left in it, provided Nintendo and third parties cater to its strengths (which are more than the media typically gives it credit for).



AtlanteanMan commented on Mario Kart Month: Expanding the Universe of Ma...:

I think that if Nintendo handled it in a somewhat similar way to how Sega has done their Sonic and All-Stars Racing games (which are surprisingly great, by the way, with TONS of awesome tracks that evoke serious nostalgia), they could pull off a multi-franchise karting game; in fact it could be to karting what the Smash Bros. series has been to fighting games.

No, it wouldn't necessarily mean you'd see Ganondorf lobbing bananas; instead each character would have recognizable items unique to them and/or their world/game. Mario and friends would retain the tried and true item set, while for example Link might have his own version of the boomerang, his bomb flowers, and could fire magic projectiles using the Wand. Fox McCloud's kart could fire lasers, and Samus could drop rows of bombs to deter players behind her. Advance Wars' Andy could ride a tank and fire area-effect rounds. Each character would, just as in Smash Bros., have their own style.

But the worlds/tracks would be the real attraction. Just imagine a Zelda-themed track careening through the Kokiri forest or Death Mountain's volcano, all while environmental changes and background characters interacted with the racers during each lap (maybe even forcing changes to the track layouts themselves like in Sonic and All-Stars Racing: Transformed). Ridley could menace the karts as they fly through subterranean passages in a Metroid-themed level, while karts might whiz through a grand-scale battle in a Fire Emblem level.

These are just a few ideas...and what if Nintendo ever decided to do a kart collaboration with Sega to bring the two franchises and their respective concepts/characters/worlds together? Somehow I think that would sell more than a few Wii Us.



AtlanteanMan commented on Feature: A Week of Super Smash Bros. Wii U and...:

I strongly suspect the biggest character reveals for Smash Bros. Wii U have yet to be revealed (most likely during the week of E3), and at least some of them may well be licensed characters from other companies as Snake from the Metal Gear series was for Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii. What a coup it would be for Nintendo and the Wii U if say, they managed to get an iconic face like Master Chief. Never say never; Nintendo and Microsoft's US headquarters are located very close to each other and similar rumors...though so far only rumors...of such collaboration have surfaced before. Of course that would require a reciprocation of some sort on Nintendo's part, which would be at least equally beneficial for the Xbox One. Before you dismiss even the remotest possibility for this or any other such licensed character in Wii U Smash Bros., consider that the Wii U's sales struggles to date might force Nintendo to take unprecedented steps to pull gamers into the fold...even utilizing competitors' properties and/or allowing some of their own to appear on competing platforms in a limited fashion. And frankly the Xbox One is facing a very similar lack of consumer adoption; both companies might consider such a crazy-sounding move mutually beneficial.

Other (admittedly more likely since they're from fellow Japanese developers) characters that could be revealed:

Vyse and Aika from Skies of Arcadia

Ryu from Ninja Gaiden

Street Fighter, Virtua Fighter, and/or Tekken series characters

Welkin and Alicia from Valkyria Chronicles (the Eidelweiss would be a Super Move).

Rudo, Nei, and other characters from Phantasy Star

Master Higgins from the Adventure Island series

Marvel characters from Marvel Vs. Capcom

Bonk from the Bonk's Adventure series

That should be enough to get the ball rolling. Anybody want to add some suggestions to this "Wish List" of (however remote the possibilities) candidates?



AtlanteanMan commented on Feature: Let's Take A Look At The Crazy Suppor...:

I'd buy an F-Zero game on the Wii U (money's on the table!); considering how amazing F-Zero GX looked on the GameCube at such an insane framerate, I've no doubt whatsoever that Nintendo could make the franchise look stunning on the Wii U. Make it happen, Nintendo.



AtlanteanMan commented on Feature: Let's Take A Look At The Crazy Suppor...:

The ending cinema for those symbiotic aliens Gomar and Shioh in F-Zero GX (which I accessed via Action Replay cheat code; that game was INSANELY difficult) made my jaw drop. They do everything...and I do mean EVERYTHING together, and the cutscene ends with them going into a bathroom stall TOGETHER and shutting the door behind them. I was amazed that Nintendo let something that risqué get by the censors (admittedly, not that too many folks would have gotten to see it anyway, but still...). Some of the ending character cutscenes (especially Captain Falcon's) are hilarious, but that one had more of a creepy feel to it.



AtlanteanMan commented on Feature: All the Important Details From the Ma...:

Just watched the full Nintendo Direct and have to say Mario Kart 8 looks to be a HUGE system seller; the visuals are incredible (right down to the discernible lettering on the tires and the characters' eyes following each other), and I'm sure the gameplay will be equally as refined.

Mario Kart 8 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze are, in my personal opinion, the two most visually impressive videogames of this young console generation thus far. Yeah, Sony and Microsoft have some very impressive-looking sports and racing games, and of course all the gritty, high-res "kill the other guy"-type titles, but what makes Nintendo games different is that their games still carry old school, bright-colored aesthetics that look and FEEL like, well, a videogame...and that's a GOOD thing. Nintendo's games elicit JOY at seeing and playing them like no one else's do. And they do these "old school" types of games better than anyone, hands down, while maintaining consistently great quality and family friendliness (and boy, do they look great in high definition).

Makes me wonder where the EA guy who said "the Wii U is crap" is hiding (probably upset that his own company's games are made to look like crap by Mario Kart 8); it looks pretty doggone awesome to me.



AtlanteanMan commented on Job Cuts Hit Sega's London Office:

The decline of Sega is the greatest travesty in the history of the videogame industry, and so much of the responsibility lies at the feet of its leadership.

Apparently the rumblings of the disaster to come were felt during the Saturn era; the Saturn was a vastly under-appreciated console (just ask anyone who loves RPGs and Strategy in particular) but the higher-ups had at least two major disagreements with third parties and in-house development teams which did catastrophic long-term damage. The core members of Team Camelot (the makers of the awesome Shining Force series) left after a dispute, and localization developer Working Designs (who translated so many of Sega's and GameArts' greatest RPGs when Sega themselves wouldn't bother with doing so) eventually gave up after being treated like dirt (at one E3 they and their Saturn demo booth for LUNAR were relegated to an out-of-the-way space at the back of the show floor) and jumped ship over to the PlayStation. Those great PlayStation remakes of LUNAR and LUNAR 2 and ThunderForce V (a great Technosoft schmup series always associated with Sega consoles) all started on the Saturn...and Sony got the benefit of them here in the States. Even some of Saturn's greatest memories made or published by Sega in Japan, Dragon Force, Magic Knight RayEarth, and Iron Storm (the last of which was made by SystemSoft Alpha and published locally by Sega), had to be localized by Working Designs to get here.

That's only the tip of the iceberg. Sega only released 3,000 copies of the ambitious Panzer Dragoon Saga for the entire US market. They released Scenario 1 of the three-part Shining Force III, arguably the most epic SRPG ever made at 190 hours total...and then left the Western fans clamoring for the rest of the story empty-handed (thankfully the fan community at Shining Force Central undertook the mammoth task of translating the other two Scenarios upon themselves, and the project is finally nearing completion after more than 15 years).

We never saw another true story-based, offline Phantasy Star after the Genesis. Though an excellent remake of the legendary Dreamcast RPG Skies of Arcadia was released for GameCube, fan pleas for a sequel have never been answered. And the fantastic Valkyria Chronicles, an SRPG that oozes AAA quality from its cel-shaded visuals and incredible, emotion-inducing story to its innovative hybrid turn-based/real time Strategy third-person combat engine, was left virtually unmarketed outside of a few scattered ads and zero hype in the West; apparently Sega was too busy pushing the latest mediocre Sonic title at the time. Afterward Sega used Valkyria Chronicles' lackluster initial sales (although word-of-mouth had given VC a second like in the secondary market and a devoted fan base to boot) to relegate its two sequels to the, the PSP. And the latter one not only never came here; localization developers who asked Sega for permission to bring it were REFUSED. What!!? Is someone at Sega allergic to money...or common sense!?

When Sega first went third-party many of us (including myself) thought "At least now we'll be getting all those great Sega franchises on multiple platforms". Not so much, obviously; Sega's only been interested in punching out their money-making mascot Sonic ever since, with erratic and often mediocre results (this example should serve as warning to anyone who's saying Nintendo should go third-party). Sonic Generations and Sonic 4 Parts 1 and 2 were good (Sonic was always best in 2D), but the fact remains Sega has left a MOUNTAIN of some of the greatest IPs ever made sitting dormant.

The most telling and ironic example of what Sega themselves see and yet somehow don't connect the dots as to how that translates into MONEY is a spin-off Sonic franchise: Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing and its sequel, Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed. Sega pulled out all the stops in both of these racers to create tracks based upon the worlds of its other classic properties, from AfterBurner and Shinobi, Golden Axe and Super Monkey Ball to Skies of Arcadia and Panzer Dragoon. Each of those tracks (presented in full HD) and their accompanying music instantly evoke nostalgia...something Sega was counting on. But they also evoke a passionate longing to see the actual franchises again, brought to a current-gen platform and a new generation of gamers who are often clueless as to just how great offline gaming could be back in the day. And therein lies the cruel, cruel tease...Sega using nostalgia for those worlds as a carrot to sell a Sonic-based title, but still refusing to acknowledge their sales potential or make new installments for us to enjoy.

All of this is why I'd love to see a Nintendo/Sega merger or partnership for a console (however unlikely that may be). If Sega really had to pull their weight to support a console again, they'd stop "playing it safe" and begin making that same wide variety of fantastic IPs that once gave them such a great that's become tarnished through the handling of Sega's leadership over the years.



AtlanteanMan commented on Nicalis Boss Tyrone Rodriguez Thinks The Wii U...:

Nintendo's issues in courting or keeping productive third-party developers over the past few console generations have had nothing at all to do with its games (which remain consistently stellar) but rather with their insistence on hardware "innovations" that make game development (and porting from/to other platforms) a real headache for third-parties. Nintendo's in-house dev teams don't have to worry about such concerns, so they're far better equipped to create titles specifically tailored to the quirks of the system in question.

Indeed, the SNES was the last console where Nintendo had excellent third-party support, and the reason is obvious: their hardware approach went on the "road less traveled" from there on. With the N64 you still had cartridges (which had fallen out of favor and were more expensive to produce than disc-based media). With the GameCube "Connectivity" with the GameBoy Advance never caught on outside of first-party titles (and frankly never with gamers, period). With the Wii the motion controls were a HUGE barrier for both ports and dedicated third-party development due to the resources required to program for an entirely different interface. And with the WiiU there's that Gamepad, which no other system has anything similar to and which the vast majority of "AAA" titles (FPSes, third-person hack-n'-slashers, etc.) would never make use of.

The WiiU's Gamepad would be OUTSTANDING for genres like turn-based Strategy or other local multiplayer/hotseat gametypes where for any reason you wouldn't want other players to see what you're doing, but you could count these types of games practically on one hand the past TWO generations, let alone currently. And its cost makes having one for more than one player in the household/room absolutely impractical as well, so it requires an asymmetrical approach to game design that is tough to incorporate especially for multiplayer. Even for single-player gametypes there's a limit on the Gamepad's practical usefulness as a player's eyes can only focus on one screen or the other at once.

I like the WiiU and am sure that Nintendo will incorporate its Gamepad to some amazing effect with future first-party titles. But I agree with the dev's main point in the article; Nintendo's single biggest obstacle in keeping significant third-party support is all in the hardware design. Maybe it's time they just go with a traditional interface and leave the "innovation" and creativity to the game designers themselves. Great consoles are built to be easy for developers to do what they want to do: create without restraints. Requiring them to be designed around a hardware gimmick is a recipe for disaster, at least where third-party support is concerned.



AtlanteanMan commented on Pokémon Battle Trozei Is Match Three Puzzle A...:

I confess that I've never played a Pokémon title outside of the turn-based Strategy title Pokémon Conquest. What intrigues me about this one are its obvious similarities to Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This will very likely be a purchase for me at some point; the 3DS just keeps getting better!



AtlanteanMan commented on Matters of Import: Bahamut Lagoon Roars Onto T...:

Almost nothing that is or was a Japanese-only release will ever be translated for a localization, sadly, and in many cases even games that did come over here won't be on services like the VC or PSN. I'm sure the sheer cost and time/resources consumed by translations deter companies from the former.

The unfortunate truth when it comes to the huge disparity between the Japanese and Western VC and other consoles' digital libraries is that Japan is the home market both for Sony and Nintendo. Want that great old-school JRPG, SRPG, Schmup, or Strategy title? Good luck, because practically ALL of these types of games originate in Japan (however, if you love yourself some FPSes, you should be well-covered, and yes, that's bitter sarcasm).

It'd be awesome if some company could develop a sub-engine for consoles and PC that enables a player in any given region to play a game and view its text in their own language; the thing would probably make incredible money via licensing (assuming it's doable). But for now all we can do is watch our Japanese gamer friends' options continue to explode while we get a relative trickle of the classic titles we want, if at all.



AtlanteanMan commented on Talking Point: Is There A Future For The Wii U...:

I agree wholeheartedly with other posters here who say that Nintendo has failed to make proper use of the Gamepad since the WiiU's launch (the thing would be PERFECT for turn-based Strategy multiplayer like Advanced Wars or Fire Emblem). But the real problem is a vulnerability that many gamers including myself knew would be a serious problem when the thing was originally announced.

A lot of folks seem to have forgotten just how schizophrenic the WiiU was originally designed to be from a controller standpoint. The Gamepad wasn't even compatible with any original Wii titles; for those you had to keep your Wiimote controllers or buy new ones (plus all the Nunchuks and other peripheral attachments). New Super Mario Bros. U couldn't even use the WiiU Classic Pro Controller; the other human players had to use that awkward sideways-turned Wiimote configuration. Everything was designed to keep players dependent on the highest possible number of necessary controllers and attachments, which was how the Wii made so much extra money. Nintendo was counting on it working again, but it backfired big-time; the mess created by not having a simple, standardized interface has been problematic for third-party developers and simply too costly for the average consumer. The WiiU's controller approach was to Nintendo what "Always Online" was to Microsoft; unfortunately for Nintendo, the backlash has come AFTER the WiiU's launch and after they've committed to it.

The Gamepad is prohibitively expensive for families or anyone else who would desire local multiplayer where everyone enjoys the same interface. I watched my niece and nephew begin to fight over who got to use mine (though there were two extra WiiU Classic Controllers conveniently nearby) and promptly put my WiiU up and out of reach; it's well-made but by no means safe for dropping or subjecting to squabbling kids. And families, children, and local multiplayer have ALWAYS been core to Nintendo consoles' success (examples: the Mario Kart, Smash Bros., and Mario Party series, for starters).

I don't know what percentage of the WiiU's overall price the Gamepad accounts for, but frankly Nintendo would have been FAR better off to simply put that money in a more powerful console (while I love my WiiU and have absolutely NO problem with its abilities, it seems to be what every article and poster I read gripes about) and a traditional gamepad.

As for people's complaints regarding Nintendo's lack of online focus, I don't share them, and here's why. I'd much rather take a COMPLETE game I won't get gouged for via DLC "extra content" (that 20 years ago would have been included on the disc/cartridge; online is a Trojan Horse cash cow for developers) and enjoy it with friends and family than be subjected to the team-killing, profanity-spewing strangers. Whether you're referring to those or single-player gametypes that aren't an afterthought (as they tend to be nowadays), some gaming experiences WERE better before online came to dominate consoles.

I think Nintendo will be fine in the long run, but in the end, as always, it'll come down to the GAMES. Leave the gimmicks ("Innovation" not tied to the games or their design themselves) alone for a change.



AtlanteanMan commented on Iwata And Miyamoto Both Take Pay Cuts In Respo...:

You won't see too many CEOs or other higher-ups take responsibility for their companies' mistakes or failings here in the US, much less a pay cut. It's always the lower-level employees and the consumers themselves who typically end up being impacted. The people at the top always make sure maintaining the status quo of their own lifestyle and excess continues regardless. Just maybe America could take a lesson from folks like Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto; character still matters ESPECIALLY at "the top".



AtlanteanMan commented on Nintendo Was Dead To Us Very Quickly, States E...:

No, EA doesn't make games "for kids". They instead focus on easily copy-pasted rehashes and sequels every single year of the same shooters and tired sports franchises for adults who don't see beyond kill counts and eye candy cinematics. Of course, they're more than willing to turn a blind eye to any underage kids who might be PLAYING their Mature-rated games; the money in their coffers spends either way (and yes, this situation is the parents' fault, but I'm pointing out EA's and other devs' hypocrisy in particular here).

Here's a news flash though, EA: Nintendo doesn't make all that many games for kids, either, just family-friendly, profanity-free games devoid of the typical dystopian, ruined brown and gray-dominated environments that dominate practically every major developer's titles anymore. Sure, Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, and Kirby and their worlds are bright and cheerful on the surface...but tell me how many of them you've BEATEN, let alone FOUND EVERY STAR or hidden item? The recent Donkey Kong Country games are old-school, brutal platforming, and let me tell you (I actually did these myself), beating all the bonus worlds in Super Mario World or finding every one of the 128 Stars in Mario 64 definitely ISN'T something your typical child is going to accomplish. Ditto Zelda's Water Temples without some sort of hint guide or Metroid's tons of hidden secrets. The content may be "kid-friendly", but that's only on the surface. These games are often TOUGH even for most adult gamers.

Here's EA's REAL problem with Nintendo: the business model. THIS is what caused the back-turning; of that I have very little doubt. Nintendo doesn't see online as the cash cow that EA does and so they've yet to really focus on it with any of their consoles. EA would be more than happy to develop scads of titles for WiiU provided they just had a format where they could easily gouge gamers for every last cent via Online Passes and overpriced DLC like they can on Sony and Microsoft's systems. There's the "company line" and then there's consumers knowing/being told the uncompromising truth. The truth hurts, doesn't it, EA?



AtlanteanMan commented on Matters of Import: Shining Force Gaiden: Final...:

Only a few days ago I made a post at IGN (on the article about the "10 Greatest RPG Storylines") regarding Shining Force III for the Saturn. Here is a copy/paste of that post (with a tad of additional information):

Shining Force III is almost unknown to RPG fans here because A) it was released on the (woefully underrated) Sega Saturn and B) only one of three interconnected Scenarios (including Saves that transfer over to the next Scenario), all of which combined to make a giant cohesive storyline, made it here to the West. While the two Shining Force games for the Genesis are beloved for their unforgiving tactical gameplay and those (at the time revolutionary) battle cinematics, they were both light on story aside from each dialogue pretty much leading into the next battle. Shining Force III upped the ante with three-dimensional, rotatable maps (with which chests and even characters might be discovered; this would make it an AWESOME candidate for the 3DS) and an amazingly cerebral storyline full of political intrigue, diabolical manipulation, and even villains whose characters were given some degree of color.

As anyone who played the first two Shining Force titles on Genesis will recall, there were some very specific conditions to be met to acquire certain characters for your army; if you missed them there was no way to go back and get them; you'd simply have to replay the whole thing. SFIII took that concept and built upon it with its three-Scenario system; because the overall Save file transferred over, what you did in each of the first two Scenarios affected which characters you could find and recruit in the others. Kill a certain enemy instead of sparing his/her life in one Scenario and you couldn't recruit them (or another character) in a later Scenario. And what made the choices so difficult is that SFIII's total storyline can take upwards of 170-200 hours to properly play through and find everything/everyone...and there is NO WAY to recruit every possible character in a single playthrough! To experience the alternate possibilities and dialogue from the other characters you'd have to play through everything all over again and make different choices.

The maps on which you fight throughout the story of SFIII deserve a special mention as well; the flat, top-down environments of the Genesis titles are replaced by fully three-dimensional (and again, rotatable) battlefields and rooms where your armies can find themselves fighting on different levels (flying characters can actually fly across chasms) and in several instances on multiple, separate AREAS to achieve an objective.

And to make things even more interesting, each chapter (several in each Scenario) contains at least one optional dungeon/temple/tomb on the battle map where weapons and items that can't be obtained anywhere else are hidden. While the rest of your army continues the battle outside (and DON'T make the mistake of beating the last enemy before recovering everything inside or you lose it FOREVER; you only have a SINGLE opportunity to go into the temple even if you Egress back to the last Church where you saved), whichever character(s) you send in must A) open every chest they can (and some...even certain CHARACTERS...are hidden in these areas and you must end your turn on a specific square to find them similarly to Fire Emblem!) and B) prevent thieves (which always run into the site ahead of your character(s) from opening the chests themselves and absconding with your loot).

Scenario 1 put you in charge of Synbios and his Republican Army, whose country had split from the Empire years ealier. When at the beginning of the game the Emperor himself is kidnapped at a peace conference with the Republic in an Imperial city, Synbios and his crew must get out of hostile territory while trying to find the truth about what happened and clear their country's responsibility.

Scenario 2 places you in charge of Medion's army; he is the youngest (and illegitimate) son of the Emperor and the least favored among the three princes. His trek will involve encountering conspiracies and trying to protect a special child from the elite forces of his own Empire: the Rainbloods. And the sheer, diabolical manipulations of the Emperor (including Medion and even his own kidnappers!) and what he's willing to sacrifice for his own gain are absolutely astounding; the guy seriously deserves mention alongside the likes of Kefka and Sephiroth as an all-time great RPG villain (and to think he isn't even the MAIN bad guy). As with Scenario 1, Scenario 2 ends with a cliffhanger where Medion and Synbios are facing off at the bridge leading into the Republic capital, about to be forced to fight a duel neither of them wants but neither seemingly can avoid.

Scenario 3 continues with Julian, who's in essence the "core" hero of the story. He's a monster hunter who's on the trail of the demons who slaughtered his village and family when he was a boy (you actually encounter the young Julian as a young child in that same village in Shining the Holy Ark!). He joins both Synbios' and Medions' armies in Scenarios 1 and 2 and leaves them at certain points. Julian's force is by far the most diversified (and frankly the most powerful as well, by far): you'll have a Lion-Man, a Dragon-Man, a Fairy, a Witch, a Unicorn, a Goblin who rides the back of a giant Troll, and even a huge DRAGON join you along the way. And in the end all three armies of the Shining Force will converge to fight the "Ultimate Evil", Bulzome, in the frozen wastes far to the north. That battle alone (and an optional one near the end where you can level-up your weaker troops) can take upwards of 2 hours to finish. Yeah, EPIC.

All told, Shining Force III is 190 HOURS' worth of incredible and surprisingly cerebral storyline filled with political intrigue, betrayals, and difficult decisions that affect which characters you may recruit in later Scenarios (again, you can easily miss many of them completely). It's simply sad that more gamers haven't been able to experience it so far. Made by Team Camelot, it stands easily beside Valkyria Chronicles as two of the greatest SRPGs of all time. A 3DS version of SFIII would be a system-seller; a high-res WiiU version seriously might just save even that struggling console. It's THAT good.

One would think (and hope) that the recent success of Fire Emblem on the 3DS would encourage a return of the (proper, turn-based SRPG) Shining Force series here in the West. Unfortunately, the single biggest obstacle to that happening seems to be Sega themselves. Their falling out with Team Camelot was only one of many (in my humble opinion) gross mishandlings of their properties before and since. No offline, story-based Phantasy Star since the Genesis, the incredible, system-pushing Dragon Force for the Saturn had to be localized by Working Designs (as did Magic Knight RayEarth), and its sequel was never brought here. Panzer Dragoon Saga, a 4-disc epic Saturn RPG with some of the most unique battle mechanics and (despite the badly pixelated first-gen polygons) amazing sense of atmosphere that was one of the most ambitious to that point in videogame history, only saw 3,000 copies released in the entire US market. Skies of Arcadia for the Dreamcast, while having a slightly superior remake on GameCube, hasn't had a proper sequel since despite fans clamoring for one. And Valkyria Chronicles, my personal favorite game of this entire past console generation, was sadly one most fans had to learn about from word-of-mouth as Sega scarcely bothered to promote it (and its two sequels were relegated to the PSP; Sega has not only shown disinterest in bringing the third installment here; they've refused to allow any localization companies to do so, which is baffling).

It amazes me to no end how a company responsible for so many of the BEST memories I've ever had as a gaming enthusiast seems to have so little regard for such fantastic games (and apparently the teams who put in the effort to make them) or the gamers who cherish them and want to play MORE. Sega can't seem to ever see beyond their next Sonic title, sadly (and this should be a lesson to anyone who's wanting Nintendo to go third-party). They're a cautionary tale of just how far centering around profit as opposed to sheer creativity and originality can take even the greatest videogame company down from greatness.



AtlanteanMan commented on Book Focused on EarthBound's Development and L...:

The way some people and companies treat intellectual properties baffles me. On the one hand, here's a project about one of their most beloved (if niche) franchises that, let's be honest, Nintendo will probably NEVER do themselves. And yet they throw up a "cease and desist" against a guy for trying to write such a book. And this instance is FAR from alone; Sega won't publish another Valkyria Chronicles or apparently localize the third installment for PSP, but they're completely unwilling to allow any localization companies to do so despite many fans' ardent requests. This is also likely the case with so many of Sega's awesome properties that haven't been seen in years or decades; they're intent on just sitting on them and refusing anyone else to give their fans what they are clamoring for.

Yeah, Nintendo, Sega, and other such companies are well within their legal rights to do such things; these are their properties after all. But if frankly no money is being taken out of their coffers and they wouldn't bother with such projects themselves, doing so certainly casts them in a negative light. Sometimes I feel that gamers care far more about the games than the companies who make them; in the end, all corporations really care about is the money. And that has definitely created some serious conflicts of interests for the entire hobby over the years.



AtlanteanMan commented on Talking Point: Nintendo's Wii U Struggles Brin...:

It's still very early in the WiiU's life cycle to declare it a failure; keep in mind that the system is still less than two years old and if Nintendo had only WAITED until LAST Fall to release it alongside the PS4 and Xbox One, it's overall numbers to date would be similar (a lot of folks including myself waited for that real first wave of quality first-party titles to be released) but wouldn't look half as bad considering the length of time since the launch.

If I could describe how Nintendo's handled the WiiU with one word, I would use "uncommitted". From the WiiU's initial announcement it was clear that gamers weren't impressed with the system (though it's plenty powerful for the types of games Nintendo makes and would be fine for "AAA" mainstream games as well) or the name choice, which likely did cause confusion among consumers.

But Nintendo also gravely underestimated the retention rate of the "casual gamers" that the Wii won temporarily via the novelty of its motion controls. A red hot Christmas item for a couple of years, a cheap yard sale item the next for those who weren't genuine hobbyists. They made their sales forecasts for WiiU through rose-tinted glasses figuring at least some of those people would see the same novelty in a controller with a touch screen. It didn't happen.

And that touch screen gamepad, while it certainly would have its uses for turn-based Strategy and certain other genres, has been an albatross for the WiiU's success since Day One. The gamepad likely costs about as much (if not more) than the WiiU unit itself, meaning having one for each player in the living room for multiplayer games is completely impractical. And forget Nintendo's most valuable demographic...children...because I've seen them fight over who got to use my own WiiU's gamepad (and had to put it up to prevent it being broken); this undoubtedly was a deal-breaking concern for many parents and a disastrous design choice for Nintendo to have made.

But the lack of support thus far for the WiiU Virtual Console, the sporadic first-party support with no third-party support...looking at the "body language" I would say that Nintendo already intends to quietly and subtly distance themselves from the WiiU over the next 1-3 years; the "restructuring" Mr. Iwata mentioned likely means a lot more focus on their more profitable portable division. And if Nintendo does eventually release another console, you can bet they will be looking at something other than gimmickry or hardware novelty to sell and support it. It's ALWAYS gotta be about the GAMES.



AtlanteanMan commented on Talking Point: Nintendo's Wii U Struggles Brin...:

I have a friend who just recently returned from Japan (he was over there teaching English for a little over a year) whose comments on the videogame industry over there are telling. He said that consoles of ANY kind aren't that common in homes, at least the ones he'd seen; the typical Japanese home is TINY by American standards, so much so that a console's size literally is a significant determining factor in many folks' decision to buy (and hence the diminutive sizes of the GameCube, Wii, and WiiU). But the console industry over there didn't appear healthy at all, at least in his view.

What DID appear healthy was the portable realm. 3DSes, smartphones...EVERYONE seemed to be carrying them. Most Japanese have a lengthy school or work day and most socializing is done outside the home. While I don't think Nintendo would go third-party on smartphones, Iwata's comments that Nintendo is considering a different business model may indicate an increased emphasis on its portable division.

Hopefully this doesn't mean the end of Nintendo-made consoles. If it did, the entire industry and certainly the hobby would be gravely impacted.