Iwata: Bringing people online on Wii/NDS was a bitter learning experience

October 9, 2010

In a news-article on Siliconera, head of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, talked about the stronger focus on online-features regarding the upcoming Nintendo 3DS-handheld. He called it a bitter learning experience to get people online with Wii and Nintendo DS. It is still in the dark if 3DS will feature any (strongly) improved online-capabilities, since Iwata focuses talk on 3DS´s wlan-features, called SpotPass and Tag-Mode, that exist to use set up hotspots to connect to the internet. Something that might work for Japan, hardly for the USA, and definitely not for Europe.

However, people are criticizing Nintendo´s online approach as whole for a long time now. It has to be said that Nintendo most likely doesn´t have “crappy online” just for fun. Biggest evidence of that is the warning-screen that pops up every time you start your Wii or NDS. Not using any different technology in terms of “being dangerous”, it is only Nintendo that “has to” use these warnings. That, in combination with the emphasis on friends code, should make clear that Nintendo actually fully addresses to any kind of danger that could come from using their systems. It might be a hassle for adult gamers to be have no choice of being protected by these decisions, but it can´t be argued that it works. Anyone who has ever used Xbox Live and voice-chat knows what a more open system brings alongside.

The other reason is that Nintendo is Nintendo. Instead of giving gamers the obvious, they´re looking for something unique. There was an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto many years ago where he was asked about online-gaming (I think it was before the GameCube´s launch), and his answer was basically: If we cannot create new kinds of games by using the internet, we have no interest in that. We don´t want to simply put our existing games online without any innovations.” So, while online-multiplayer is vital to a lot of enthusiast gamers, it surely isn´t anything special or unique. I´ve wondered myself what new game-genres could be made, besides online-multiplayer and mmorpgs. Seems that Nintendo hasn´t come up with an answer, either, yet.

Rumors and rumored details about NDS- and Wii-successor

March 14, 2010

The stream of rumors regarding new Nintendo-hardware just doesn´t stop. And I´m the last person to complain about it. Whether of not it really happens any time soon, we hear more and more, unconfirmed, details about upcoming hardware. And then there´s some interesting stuff about hardware that´s definitely far from being launched, but nonetheless hype-inducing. So let´s talk about Nintendo DS Next and Wii Too.

First of all, some guy published details about the NDS-successor. At this point I´m not bothering to give a source, as nobody knows if that guy can be taken seriously, AND we heard most of the stuff several weeks ago from another insider source. It´s very likely to be true, but just don´t take it as facts at this point. So, according to that source, the DS Next will feature GameCube-level graphics. If will have two screens, though of higher resolution than the DS´s. Most interestingly though, the gap between the two screens is supposed to be almost gone, making it easier for games that use both screens as a single one. Also, the hardware features an accelerometer, like the iPhone, but better. So we can expect some sort of motion-controls. Lastly, according to that insider source from before, “the DS2 is the best handheld I´ve ever worked on“, so it appears to be developer-friendly. That´s it for the next Nintendo-handheld. Some people say that it makes no sense for Nintendo to release a new handheld, but I think about that like this: A DS2 could be introduced at a higher price, like 200$, while the DS1 is still being sold. That way, “hardcore” gamers get a new toy, while the broad masses don´t feel alienated. Like many other gamers, I expect that one to be unveiled at this year´s E³. And with “expect”, I actually mean “hope”.

Now, on to the more speculative part, and thus more fun to write about. The Wii Too, the Wii´s successor. According to Matt Cassamassina from IGN, he heard from some source that the Wii Too would be released in 2012. Seems awfully late, but who knows. Reginald “Reggie” Fils-Aime was asked about that in an interview and called it a complete rumor and speculation. Personally, I said that the Wii Too would be released in 2011, and I still believe that, looking at Nintendo´s software-situation. But there´s one comment coming from Reggie that puts everything into a new perspective. Being asked about if the Wii-successor would feature HD-resolution, after explaining how that´s missing the point, that Nintendo starts looking into new hardware when a software-developer has an idea that´s not possible on existing hardware, he said the following (I´ll paraphrase it): “Maybe we skip HD all together and go straight to the next thing, whatever that may be“.

Alright, for one, that´s Reggie. He certainly knows more than what a lot of gamers gave him credit for in the last months, but still, he´s “just” president of NoA. If there´s no hidden agenda behind those words, there´s not much reason to believe that he actually knows something. And secondly, it doesn´t even sound like anything serious, just personal speculation about Nintendo´s next home-system. Still, lusting after every tiny bit of detail, it remains a highly interesting comment. “Skipping HD and going straight to the next thing”. One wonders, what IS that “next thing”? You guys know how much I like that idea, ever since it was hyped beforehand the “Revolution´s” unveiling at Tokyo Game Show 2005, and I still firmly believe that it´d take videogaming to the next level: A 3D-visor. Putting you completely into a game´s world, even more immersing than first-person-games. Of course, that´s just one wishful interpretation. But we also have to remember Shigeru Miyamoto´s comment, where he said that he´d love to free games from the TV-screen, bringing them into the room. Again, that leaves room for a lot of wild speculation. Whatever it is, it both these comments show that there IS a wish for something greatly different than just a power-upgrade.  And if it really is something more crazy that the Wii Too is going to feature, then a 2012-launch might not be too far off, since it might be a very costly feature at this point.

It is an exciting time in the life of a Nintendo-fan, since there seems to be quite some turmoil in the hardware business. We´ll have to wait for E³, Reggie made that clear in his interview with IGN, but at least, Reggie found back to his former strength, when he told Kotaku: “I´d be embarrassed if we did what our competitors are doing at the moment“, regarding Sony´s Playstation Move-controller. Truer words have never been spoken.

Eiji Anouma about The Legend of Zelda Wii

November 18, 2009

And the next Zelda-related news already, though this one´s a bit more interesting. Producer Eiji Aonuma told the Official Nintendo Magazine a little bit about the upcoming Zelda-game for Nintendo´s Wii-system. Some excerpts from the interview:

When asked how different the new Zelda title will be when it arrives on Wii next year, Aonuma replied: “It is something we used to talk about with Mr Miyamoto, and he and I agree that if we are following the same structure again and again, we might not be able to give long time Zelda fans a fresh surprise.”

“So we have been trying something new in terms of the structure of the Wii version of the new Zelda game this time. I am really hopeful that people will be surprised with the changes we have implemented for this Wii version.”

“I hope that we can show you something at the E3 show next year and it is something we are hopeful will be surprising,” he added.

A Halleluja for Nintendo finally getting that the old Zelda-formula has gotten stale. Well, it remains to be seen what the means for Aonuma and Miyamoto. Aonuma´s sentence about “surprised with the changes” could maybe make the fans worry (let´s face it, we all fear about something like WiiZelda), but then I remembered Miyamoto saying (in another interview) that there wouldn´t be any drastic changes. So, i guess we´ll get surprises, but the Zelda-series will stay a 3D-adventure. What´s disappointing is that we´ll get to know more only at E³ 2010, which is away more than half a year. Without Nintendo´s Media Summit in October, that´s an awfully long wait.

Which brings to something else that´s related to Zelda Wii: The well-known artwork that Miyamoto revealed at this year´s E³…turned into cel-shading. Oh well, I´m really bad with Gimp, so I hope it gets the point across, anyway. Please make Zelda Wii a cel-shading game, Nintendo! It never was cel-shading that fans complained about anyway, it was The Wind Waker´s horrible style. So use the current home console-Zelda art and cel-shade-ize it. You can do it!