15 Jun

Sometimes in the darkest shadows, the faintest glimmer of light can instill faith even in the most defeated person. Monday’s E3 presentations were some of the saddest displays of ineptitude I have been privileged to witness in my years of gaming. We were blighted by such wastes as respiratory games and laser tag. I was so enraged by this display that I did what any angry elder geek would do, I wrote a scathing review. But alas, behold Nintendo and Sony’s press conference! Once again I am giddy like a small child. Let’s look back at Tuesday’s events and see why they might be the life raft that floats the gaming industry.

Talk about irony! Nintendo has been the forerunner of shovelware and casual fodder for the past few years. Games like last year’s Wii Music have aided in what I believe is the degradation of gaming culture. But while Microsoft and other third parties are focusing on Kinect motion controls and sports titles, Nintendo is taking their old-school approach of re-imagine classic titles into new and intriguing gaming experiences.

Figure 1. Non-shovelware.

The Nintendo press conference started off with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Besides failing elegantly in the Wii Motion Plus “1:1 connectivity” department, the title actually unifies both Twilight Princess’ and Wind Waker’s visuals. This creates a beautiful homage to the classic lightheartedness that the Zelda games were once famous for. Next, after displaying another “Mario and friends have a picnic game,” the developer opened up a barrage of brilliant surprises. A remake of the classic FPS I mentioned in my previous E3 article, Goldeneye, was announced. Although this may be several years too late, it is comforting to know that somewhere in the giant cooperation someone is listening to the little people.

This announcement was followed by a list of revitalized classic favorites. Kirby: Epic Yarn introduces a Paper Mario twist into our long absent pink carnivore. The gameplay seems to be a clever new take on the old formula. Kirby now roams a quilted world making alterations to the environment to overcome obstacles and defeat knitted enemies. Similarly, and to my feminine cries of joy, Donkey Kong Country Returns was shown. I don’t know about you, but any person who hasn’t been disappointed that DK was dethroned as one of the greatest side-scrolling, platforming apes ever to wear a tie and turned into a bongo and minigame whore, trolling the streets for powdered bananas and terrorizing old ladies with his coconut gun is either ten-years-old or a reincarnation of Helen Keller. Don’t ask me to explain the reference because I’m not sure what it means either. I think I was aiming for the blind, dumb thing.

But yeah, DK looked awesome.

Nintendo finished incredibly strong with trailers for Metroid: Other M, Epic Micky (I think “EPIC” might be Nintendo’s new “SUPER”) and the 3DS. I have to say, I went from assuming the 3DS would be another Nintendo cash-in to actually being exited. The lineup is impressive and the technology seems sound. Could it be that the developer that single handedly tore down the institution of “hardcore gaming” has decided to honor its long time followers with nostalgic reimaginings of its winning titles? I’d say that if so, it’s about time.

Although not as strong as its predecessor, Sony managed to put up an impressive presentation as well. Some things didn’t ignite my interest like the new Playstation Plus service, an admittedly flawed online subscription that offers special access to demos and games to paying customers. After seeing the failure to understand what the digital download community wants with the PSPgo, I am hard-pressed to trust them with a monthly subscription for any kind of digital service. However, they redeemed themselves by announcing a new union with the expert digital download service STEAM. Speaking of Valve, Portal 2 was shown and OH MY GOD it looks awesome. I am one of the people who loved the first game but found the puzzles a little less than challenging. This new variation of the game seems to have upped the ante ten-fold by providing a better story, better play experience, and a unique coop play mode.

Figure 2. Scary clowns being scary.

Also seeing the light of day is the video game bigfoot Grand Turismo 5. Yes, it exists and, yes, it is beautiful. Still, it is nowhere near as beautiful as the new Twisted Metal. The glory days of car combat games is long gone but I, for one, still have incredibly fond memories of sitting in my parents den playing Twisted Metal 2 and blowing the clothes off of the Statue of Liberty. Ah, cultural blasphemy! Where have you been all this time? In this new incarnation to the series, we can expect an overhauled online experience and have been promised new cars to destroy.

What have we gotten today? Hope. Where many developers are riding the curve of tired ideas and discontent, the presentations of Nintendo and Sony reminded us of what we love about gaming. Classic icons given new life as well as new icons receiving a star treatment of expanded gameplay and story have kindled the tiniest flame in an abysmal darkness.  I have new faith in the coming year and the rest of this week’s events. So, nobody panic. We have sent the proverbial Bruce Willis to the asteroid and averted a catastrophe of EPIC proportions.

15 thoughts on “In the Darkness, Light (Part 2 of An Elderly Geeky Trevor Rant)”

  1. Well this day was super Epic, and Nintendo impressed. Sony was disappointing cause of all the money you will have to spend for Move, and the Subscription is criminal. The “free” stuff you get is only available to you if you are a subscriber, that is underhanded to me. Well I just can’t wait to see everything in detail in demos.

    1. Wait what?
      Move costs 49.99$ or 99.99$ with the PSEye and a game, how is that expensive?

      The free stuff you currently get you’ll still get without the subscription, only difference is that you won’t get early beta multiplayer tests and that has pretty much always cost you something (preorders). And the fact that the free content like downloadable games is only available while you’re a subscriber makes perfect sense, otherwise people would just sign up for a single month, download everything and stop the subscription.

      Everything Sony did in the way of pricing seemed pretty much like common sense to me.
      I haven’t been able to watch the conference yet because I just got my connection back which craped out at the start of the conference last night, so I can’t comment on it. But the game trailers I just watched looked pretty awesome. Nintendo or EA will probably win the show for me though.

      1. I’ll probably skip the Move, but that Magic game looked pretty damn cool. I think shooter also work well with point and shoot controls.

        Nintendo had a strong showing, and Sony did a lot of things right (not including the Infamous 2 trailer, which is leaving a terrible taste in my mouth… bring back Cole!).

        1. I am with you there Korne, I want Cole back, not this sissy boy with a higher voice. Cole went through some serious stuff, and if I were Cole, I wouldn’t end up like this new one.

      2. Mats, you forgot to add in the Navigation controller that costs $30 (unless it is in a pack in). The one thing I really hate about this generation of consoles is the price of a controller, bring back the days when it cost $30 for a first party controller. See, right now, Sony hasn’t given me a reason to buy Move with the small showing of titles and a lot of shovelware titles. There is a thing in Economics called Marginal value, and I don’t value Move that high, so it is expensive, so my opportunity cost is low on it (I had to say that).

        1. I didn’t forget it, I just didn’t include it because it’s not an essential addition and Sony hasn’t been clear on whether or not it will be included in the pack in.

          But even if it is, it sounds to me like you’re living in a dream world. Where things cost what you think they’re worth and not what the seller can get for it. In today’s market Move’s pricing seems perfectly acceptable, espesially when considering the fact that all electronic products are initially high in price and lower over time.

          If they priced the Move with minimal profit in mind they’d never be able to market it as “now only 29.99” ect.

          1. I am not living in a dream world, I just basically said I don’t value it that high cause it doesn’t have a lot of stuff that I am interested in. It took me a while to finally get a PS3 and that was thanks to exclusives, but the Move right now just doesn’t appeal to me. I have a Wii, and it seems like a lot of the Move stuff are just Wii Clones. Some are new, but the magic is lost.

          2. Korne, yeah I saw a video earlier somewhere else. That was good. I have seen people compare it to Harry Potter.

            The “magic” of that game is there, but the “captivating magic” of motion controls it just not there, it was there 4 years ago with the Wii.

  2. So it has been announced that you can use a dualshock 3 controller instead of the Navigator when using the Move. While this may be hard when you are standing, it could work when sitting while playing Socom or Killzone.

    The main thing that makes the Move look appealing is the 1 to 1 motion. Kinect also has it, but most demos shown have had quite a bit of delay between actions on screen.

    1. Korne, try this. Hold a Dual Shock 3 in your left hand and a Wiimote or a TV remote in your right hand. Now, how does it feel? To me it feels stupid. Now think about long term gaming, your left hand will get tired and feel heavy, and the chances of dropping your DS3 rise. I’d take a Navigation controller over a Dual Shock 3, but the price is just to much for what is a Nunchuck (I know the Navigation is wireless, but that small thing shouldn’t cost that much).

      1. I think it is fine as long as you keep the DS3 on your lap… but it isn’t quite ideal. I just don’t think I could ever commit $80 to a controller.

        1. Its $30 for the Navigation alone, plus $50 for the Standard controller, and the camera is $40, so add them all up stand alone an it is $120 plus tax. Now bundles bring down the cost, but controllers shouldn’t cost that much. I want to see the days when controllers cost $30 for First Party controllers, man those were the days. I only have one DS3 because of the price to get a second one. I think I might get a second one when I see it on sale for $40 or less.

          1. Same here… the camera is a great deal at $40 (its a pretty good piece of tech), but I won’t pay $50 for a controller that doesn’t come with a game. Maybe if they package it with Sorcery for $50 or $60, that might be ok.

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