Mortal Kombat X, Xbox Tablet, and a new Smart Watch?

There are a lot of topics to get to this week and instead of giving each one their own post I wanted to do a quick rundown on the more prominent stories I have been following.

Mortal Kombat X

They recently announced Jason Voorhees will be a playable character in the new Mortal Kombat game coming to next-gen home video game consoles. The announcement was sort of a surprise but very welcome as they already introduced Freddy Kruger in the previous entry of the series. There is no current word if Freddy will even be featured in this current game so hopes of a Freddy vs. Jason rematch will have to be put on hold until there is a confirmation. Even still watching Jason “face off” against Scorpion will be more than enough for now.

Super Mario 64 Wii U Virtual Console

Wii U is apparently a sinking ship, the big release of the month of April is a re-release of a 20 year old console game that launched their also troubled Nintendo 64 console. Don’t get me wrong I love Super Mario 64 and considering I already own it on Wii the price to upgrade was a reasonable $2, I still find it somewhat disturbing that this would be their flagship release for the week. I was almost excited for AVGN Adventures finally releasing on Wii U, but they took so long porting it over I already downloaded, and completed, the Steam version on my PC.

Splatoon

While on the subject of Wii U might as well talk briefly about Splatoon, the squad based paintball-inspired shooter game launching soon. Some have complained the game will not feature voice chat but honestly the game looks like it will be super fun with out the annoying chatter so I say fine by me. Count me in as a day one purchase.

Nintendo NX

Very little is known yet there is already much speculation on the announcement of a “new platform” coming sometime in the next year or two. The official announcement was NX would be a new game platform that would sport a brand new method of play apparently keeping with the DS, Wii and Wii U motife of reinventing the wheel every generation. Little is known so for now I will reserve judgment, the Wii U was a disappointment at first but it managed to win me over so there is a chance NX will be something I follow closely.

PS4 dominance

It is official according to the latest sales numbers PS4 is not only “winning” the word-wide console war for next-gen gamers, It is also a success in Japan, the county where console gaming has long since been declared to be dead. I can’t say I am surprised, I picked up my PS4 right after it hit it’s 1 year birthday and so far it has not been a disappointment.

Where is the Xbox Tablet?

While I am not a major fan of the Xbox game console, I am curious why Microsoft hasn’t attempted to make a gaming tablet sporting the Xbox brand. I understand they are supposedly integrating Xbox as a feature set into Windows 10, somehow, I just think they need to follow Apple and spin off the Xbox brand as it’s own operating system for gaming tablets. Sort of like how Apple has Mac for their PC’s and iOS for their “smart devices” Microsoft should keep Windows for their PC’s, and use Xbox for everything else. While they are at it, they could make an Xbox Watch.

Confessions of a video game collector

I decided to get back into video game collecting. Well not so much the collecting as just getting back into buying and playing some classic video games. Recently I have been in a little bit of a weird place in my life, trying to get back on track after being kicked out of school, evicted from my apartment and that spur of the moment flee to California which ended up a big mess. A few years ago I basically decided to give up on doing what was right and I drifted into the shady world of internet piracy.

What started me down that path was buying a Nintendo Wii and getting addicted to downloading classic games via their Virtual Console service. I had amassed quit a collection of classic gaming machines over the years as well as a ton of movies on DVD and more books than I could ever read. At some point I discovered I could replace everything with digital copies, sounds simple enough except I was broke, no money to buy digital anymore, I was out of work and facing a low point in my life. So I turned to piracy as is often the case. I traded in my game consoles to pawn shops and I bought my self a series of USB external hard drives for my PC and proceed to download, everything.

I started out small and innocent enough, only classic games I either previously owned or purchased via Virtual Console, a few hundred MP3s from limewire to fill up my newly acquired 80GB iPod classic, and a couple of movies I ripped from DVD that I put onto my iPod video to try it out. That was the trigger that set me off, I needed more movies and soon enough ripping DVD’s became too time consuming it was just easier to torrent the stuff, once you go through the process of setting up a torrent client, setting up a secure network, and then waiting for an invite to get into the good sites, you pretty much have to go all in in order to make it worth the effort.

I didn’t stop at movies, pretty soon I had TERABYTES of movies, TV episodes, cartoons, anime, pretty much anything I had ever seen I had downloaded, including a ton of commercials and movie trailers just for the hell of it. Oh and every video game ROM I could find, every ISO, every PC game I could get my hands on, pretty soon my digital collection far surpassed my wildest dreams of content, and as always it was never enough so I branched into comic books, e-books, magazines, pretty soon if it was available to download via torrent it was on one of my hard drives.

As a pretty decent and generally honest person I told myself it was ok because if I had a VCR I would be recording all this stuff anyways, and to make it look semi-legit and to ease my own conscience I even did just that, I purchased a video capture card (DVR) for my PC so I could record movies and TV shows straight to me PC, that is actually something that you CAN do legally but I used that as a front for the other, shadier stuff not that I took it seriously.

Soon that wasn’t enough and I was DVR’s *and* downloading everything I could. It was like a drug the more I had the more I needed. It didn’t even bother me until I saw a movie at a store on DVD and offered to buy it for someone and they said why buy it when you can just download it anyways.

It got me to thinking what I had become. Since I got into school and was studying mass media I really started to feel guilty because I realized who it actually hurts when people pirate stuff and then I started to pay attention to all the video game companies closing their doors and consolidating and they always cited piracy as a big cause. Because I was only downloading out dated games I never even made the connection until once again me and a friend found ourselves downloading Xbox 360 games and current gen PC games without even giving it a second thought.

A couple of years ago it finally got to me and I wiped my digital collections, deleted everything, well except for the classic video games I somehow convinced myself that buying a used copy from a store is no different than having a digital copy on my PC because the publisher is still not getting the sale.

However I noticed more and more companies were releasing their old games on PSN, Xbox Live Arcade, Nintendo e-Shop, and even Steam. I did a quick search through each virtual store and realized not only are the prices very reasonable, but the selection was also top notch in most cases. Sure there are those few obscure games that nobody bought new that you can’t get, but for the most part the stuff I was playing the most anyways is still readily available, which defeated my DMCA clause I hide behind for so long, the readily available in the marketplace clause that I soon discovered no longer held any weight.

As a result I did some seriously long and hard thinking and decided to make a change, I got rid of everything, if I didn’t purchase it from a legit source I deleted it out right. I still have some CD’s and since iTunes does allow you to rip those my iPhone still has enough music, paired with Pandora I am pretty much set and don’t even miss those MP3s at all.

I had acquired quite a few Blu Ray discs over the last few years and many came with iTunes copies so I still have most of those too, as well as a few I picked up with iTunes gift cards. I soon realized that it might cost a little more to do things legit but you gain two major benefits, first there is the quality as pirate goods are always inferior, second the affect it has on your soul knowing you are in the clear and have nothing to worry about. Even though it is something most people do without thinking, I realized piracy is not just bad for the industry, it is bad for society and that is why I shifted my focus.

Where does that leave me now? A much older and hopefully wiser video game collector. I don’t need to buy ten copies of the same game just because it was released on several consoles, and I don’t need to own every gaming machine ever made just because. Before I was collecting for the sake of collecting, sure I played the games too but not even a measurable fraction of the ones I had on hand. Now I am more collected and have a real purpose. I will begin obviously with what is available to me currently. I have Steam and my Laptop can surely handle most games from about 2011 backwards so I can pick up a few retro games here and there, I started with a Sega Genesis Classics collection.

I also have a PS2 I can dust off and pick up some classic compilations for for pretty cheap, and my PS3 has a 500GB hard drive connected to PSN that is just ripe with classic PS1 and Arcade games to snatch. I even noticed recently I was about to buy Mortal Kombat Trilogy and held off because I thought can’t I just get it on mame? The temptation to go back to pirate will be there for a while but as I have done with DVD’s and Blu Rays, I have found a way to silence that voice.

With movies and TV shows Netflix has provided me with an alternative and with video games Steam is holding me over just nicely. Eventually I will have to break down and get a few classic consoles, as many compilations and retro games are released on current systems there are still far too many classic NES, SNES, and Genesis games currently stuck on old dusty carts waiting to be plugged into a game console and replayed by a retro gamer who was there when they were new.

I began my journey of returning to legitimacy by picking up a Game Boy Color, and two classic games Tetris and  a two in one cart featuring Centipede and Millipede. The used game store has a pretty big selection of classic games I can sift through and the internet always has whatever I can’t find locally. I don’t intend to go back into a hoarder mode where I buy it just to have, I mostly just want to get back a few games that I know I will revisit often, and keep a clear conscience in the process. Stay Cool.

Which one to get, PS4, Steam Machine, or Wii U?

I was reading a digital verses physical argument on a popular gaming website that I frequent the other day. Since I am taking some business classes at school I thought I would write up a whole perspective on what I think was not best for the consumer but best for business because what is best for business usually ends up benefiting the consumer down the road anyways. I won’t get into that argument instead I wanted to use that as a lead up into something else entirely, but somewhat related.

Recently Nintendo announced they are shutting down the WiFi Connect, the online service that is required to play Nintendo DS and Wii games on the internet. It got me to thinking how often this must happen. Now I am all for having digital copies of my media, I prefer to have everything in one place on one device it’s convenient. What I don’t like is the Cloud, or streaming or digital stores. I don’t buy many movies on iTunes or any of the other services but I do rip my own DVD’s to my hard drive and have them available at the click of a mouse instead of having to shuffle all those discs around. I like having a big collection of DVD cases on the shelf too but there comes a time when its just simpler to put it all on a hard drive and be done with it.

The most current gaming console I own in a Playstation 3. Part of that is because Nintendo lost my interest when they came out at E3 and made a big fuss about Wii Fit and forgot that there were real gamers out there buying their machine too. I won’t dig up all the reasons I ended up hating the stupid Wii and getting out of console gaming for nearly five years as a result. Instead I will present my reasons for wanting to get a new gaming system and what each one I am interested in has to offer.

I am not going to do the whole bullet point list instead I am just going to tackle this head on. Let me be frank, I am a gamer not a fanboy. I got a Playstation and an N64 on the exact same day and I have been gaming on my PC since the Atari 1200 days. I got a Sega Genesis for my 12th birthday after going through a long period of being an NES kid. That is not to say I don’t have my biases or preferences just that I am not a cheerleader for a company and their product, if it is a good product I buy it if not I move onto something else. So far the PS3 has been a pretty good machine and it inspired me to go back and buy a used PS2 and revisit some games I missed being a GameCube gamer back in the day.

As always I am not in the position to buy every gaming machine around so I have to decide which one to get first and which one to wait to hit the clearance bin. As much as I grew to despite the Wii it did have a good start and some worth while hits sprinkled around all the crap. Due to that and my long history of Nintendo gaming I always have to put their newest console on my want list even if it falls off sooner or latter.

As of right now the Wii U is appealing to me because it does have a few good games, Super Mario 3D World looks amazing, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze has me replaying all the old DK games, New Super Mario Bros U and New Super Luigi U both look like fun games I could play and unlike most Nintendo fans I haven’t cared for Legend of Zelda in years but Hyrule Warriors has me seriously interested in the franchise again, imaging a Zelda game that keeps the fun parts (the world, the combat, the characters) and removes the boring stuff (the cut scenes you can’t skip, the endless side quests, the running in circles back tracking to every last place just to find that one small detail you missed), and there are two pretty good looking Sonic the Hedgehog games one that is out and one that will be here next year.

The problem is that’s pretty much it, besides a few decent Wii games I might pick up for the backwards compatibility, there is nothing else to get excited about on Wii U. I am not interested in another Mario Kart, I liked the SNES one and played a couple others here and there but I was never big fan anyways. I hate Mario sports games (or sports games in general) and so those are not interesting to me. I liked Smash Bros. Melee but the stuff I liked about it has not been carried over to the newer ones so there is no reason to get excited about that. Not to mention I prefer *real* fighting games which despite what the Nintendo faithful claim Smash is *not* a real fighting game.

Everything else on Wii U can be found elsewhere or isn’t worth paying what they are asking for. Right now Wii U needs to come down at least $100 bucks before I will consider it and still needs a few more games. I have no interest in Bayonetta 2 as I never liked the first one that much. What does that leave me X? No thanks not interested when I could play the vastly superior Lost Planet games already.

What about getting a PS4? Well I am still interested in this machine even though the launch hype has died down some. What makes me interested in the PS4 is simple, despite their difficulties getting PS3 off the ground they still managed to end up having the best games around three console generations in a row. My interest in PS4 isn’t so much what is out now as it is the potential. I know that eventually there will be a new Castlevania game, a new Mortal Kombat, a new Street Fighter, a new Final Fantasy, a new… the list goes on and on of new games that I expect will make their way onto PS4, games that I thoroughly enjoyed on PS3.

I also am still somewhat interested in some of the games that have been announced, despite being fewer of them than on Wii U, the few there are at least have me more interested than just reliving the past, again. One thing Sony does best is pushing the envelope and giving gamers *new* experiences mixed with sequels of the games we grew up with. Nintendo is a one trick pony, its all Nostalgia all day long with them. BUT if you actually compare side by side, Playstation has more vintage and classic games than Nintendo. I am not trying to bash Nintendo but go back to NES and all the best franchises not made by Nintendo turn up in new iterations on Sony machines not Nintendo machines.

In fact on pure nostalgia Sony beats Nintendo every time, Mario and Donkey Kong is about all Nintendo has for classic franchises still going, Zelda is floating around but that series is such a mess I can’t even pretend to get excited for a new Zelda game anymore. Just a quick browse on the Sony PS4 website I already see plenty of games to really get excited about, not to mention I am still dying to get my hands on Watch Dogs and let’s be honest even if I get a Wii U I won’t be playing that game on that console. While I do like the media features of Playstation to me those are just extras not even a deciding factor for me. Still Sony sold more consoles in three months than Nintendo did in a little over a year, to me that says which one is going to get the support and as a gamer I go where the games are and Wii U is seriously lacking in games right now.

Then there is the Steam Machine. Now here is where I am really torn. I want to get a new dedicated gaming console that much is sure, and I am in desperate need to upgrade my severely outdated gaming PC. A Steam Machine kind of sorta kill two birds with one stone. It is both a super powerful gaming PC and a dedicated gaming console. I already have Steam on my PC which I enjoy very much.

The library of games is second to none. Now I do still have a PS3 which I will keep getting games for and eventually PS Now once it launches, if it turns out worth getting anyways. Some would say get a gaming console and a PC or just get all of them but as money is an issue I can’t do that. I DO need to get a new PC anyways so that money is not coming out of my gaming fund but if I get a Steam Machine and it satisfies my console needs that is just more money for games and less spent on getting two new machines. Also it has the same advantages as gaming PC’s already enjoy, minus one minor detail but that’s not important to my decision.

Before I wrap this up let me say Xbox is not now nor has it ever been an option for me. I don’t play online competitive games and I don’t care for Halo one bit and the best games on Xbox are also on PC, at least with PS4 there are console exclusives with Xbox its pretty much all on PC anyways with a few rare exceptions that aren’t usually compelling enough to me to justify the machine.

Since I game on the PC anyways my consoles are usually for the games I can’t get on PC which usually forces me to get Nintendo and PS both. After the mess that was Wii I am reluctant to ever buy a new Nintendo machine ever again. So far I have never been burned with Sony so there is one more reason to remain excited for the latest and greatest gaming machine from Sony.

In the end I will likely get a Wii U down the road used and pick up a PS4 either this year for my birthday or for Christmas if not sooner. I am still in the market for a new portable gaming device as well but that is an entirely different article.

This is not an evaluation of the gaming market and this is not a what you should buy, this is just my personal views on which gaming device I am considering. I wish I could just buy them all but at a consumer on a limited budget I have to try to be practical. Also as a gamer I can’t just sit back and keep replaying old NES games on my emulators either. Stay Cool.

The end of the PC? Steam OS and Tablets destroying Windows.

The short answer is no, the ‘pc’ will be around forever. The longer answer is and the more appropriate question is really, is this the end of Windows PC dominance? There is a prevalent view in the media that the “PC” is being replaced with the Tablet PC. Except PC is just a term that means Personal Computer, to me a Tablet *is* a PC so I don’t even get the whole discussion of the death of the PC. It is like when they stopped making CRT Tube television sets, was that the “end of TV?” of course not. Still I do think the real topic people are trying to get at is they think the Desktop computer is dying or specifically the Windows PC is what they are saying is dying?

As avid Windows user I really dread the day when Windows is no more. People hate change which is so true, and think that alone explains why Windows 8 is having a hard time taking off to previous Windows levels. And there is some truth to that I think, there are other reasons some of which I will try to tackle today in this examination of the industry. I also want to take a look at the future of computers and maybe redefining some terms people are misusing. The simple reason why I do not want Windows to go away is because as someone who has been using it for nearly two decades now, I have no desire to abandon all the software I am comfortable with and use regularly to try to find equivalent software on a new OS.

I have a Desktop loaded up with Ubuntu Linux and while I personally do enjoy the OS and I like some of the features, I have run into several instances where software I use regularly just doesn’t exist on Linux and I can’t find software that does what I do that is equal. Sure if I spent more time on it I might find more and more useful stuff but the reality is as of right now I use Sony products more than anything, Vegas, DVD Architect, and Acid which are just not available on other systems besides Windows. I always here why don’t I dual boot, well my response is why the hell *WOULD* I? Why would I ever load up Linux over Windows when I can do everything I want in Windows and only certain things in Linux? Is it because I prefer the overly complicated method of installing software? I can understand why computer nerds and geeks like Linux but as a user who just wants things to work with as little hassle as possible, it is not for me.

I don’t spend anymore time explaining why I don’t want Windows to go away I just want to talk about why I think it might be in trouble. First the rise of Tablets, some cite this as a reason why Windows PC’s are doomed. I disagree, here is why. Computers have always existed as a tool for businesses primarily and serious computer users are not giving up their desktops for tablets. Tablets to most advanced users are just toys, and for them they have their merits but not as serious computers.

The interface is one reason, some software is just not designed to be used without a proper keyboard and sure tablets have keyboards as optional attachments the thing is they are already expensive who wants to spend an extra fifty bucks or more to get a keyboard their desktop/laptop comes with included in the package? Also if your desktop keyboard dies well they are all basically the exact same as since the 1980’s, all that has changed is the plug and even those are usually still available and if not they do make a converter that is easy to find, I happen to have four myself just for such an occasion. Also they are cheap nothing like replacing a broken blue tooth keyboard like on a tablet.

The other issue is the types of users, back in the 80’s and 90’s computers were used by a smaller segment of the population, they didn’t reach mainstream levels until the turn of the century and that was when they became multimedia devices with internet access. Today there is so much to do online it makes sense to have a computer or web enabled device to go online and do all the things people do.

Well fifteen years ago you wanted to get online and do Facebook (or Yahoo which was what we had back then) well you had no choice but to own a computer. People discovered that they use parts of the computer and those are the parts they can get on a tablet which is why those customers were only temporary PC users anyways. These user bought a computer at a time when if they wanted to get on Facebook, Netflix, Youtube, Wikipedia, etc, they had no choice.

Now if you only need the internet and media aspect you can get all that on your smartphone or your tablet or your gaming device. So those users were naturally going to leave the PC market first chance they got, as they were nearly forced to get a desktop just to do the few things they wanted. Also a tablet is a lot harder to screw up than a desktop because there is little the actual user can do mostly you install apps and browse the web, not much else to do, on a desktop you have memory management, virtual memory, networking, security, formatting, Defragmenting, and the list goes on, it is so easy to break a desktop most people were overwhelmed and I can understand why those users do not want or need a dedicated desktop or even a laptop anymore.

So that segment of the market is fading away, but the desktop industry will just go back to pre-boom levels it won’t fade away entirely right? Not so fast, there is another side of the equation, Steam OS. Steam is a dedicated gaming service provided by a company called Valve, which is the most popular gaming service in the world right now. Gaming has always been a segment of the desktop market that has driven more growth than even the business side, gamers or PC gamers, like to customize their hardware,

they like to have top of the line video cards for spectacular visual effects, they like high quality monitors for ultra high resolution images, they like to have ergonomic, gaming keyboards and mice, they like to spend money on their machines and that money is what drives the desktop market, business users are cheap they buy a machine and upgrade it once they have no choice and will not replace it until it will cost more to fix it than to replace it, which even then they will be reluctant because they don’t like the extra cost of moving their software and files over as well as learning a new OS which takes time to learn, then to train employees to use, they like things to stay the same which is why businesses are going to stick with Windows for as long as Windows exists period. But what about those gamers? PC gamers are not tempted by the glitter of consoles but there is a segment of PC gamers were game on PC not because they don’t like consoles but because the games are exclusive to PC and are better suited for PC controls. Steam OS and the Steam Machine is potentially set to shake that up.

Here is how Steam Machine works, you buy a pre-built gaming computer that is in a living room ready set top box that looks just like a traditional game console, it will have the same features and options to customize and upgrade a PC will have but it will be designed with gaming in mind, why this will attract a certain segment of the PC gaming market is because there are those who are all about performance and Desktop PC’s are bloated with all the other features that Windows requires to run, which is why gamers would love to switch to Linux but the games selection is a limiting factor. Steam Machines will fix two of those issues, first they will be optimized for gaming which means less overhead and more performance out of the box, something that gaming console gamers already enjoy.

They can still upgrade their hardware as needed but their OS is tailored to be optimized for gaming, where Windows is optimized for multitasking which is good for business but bad for gaming. The second issue it fixes is the games selection, Steam already has the largest library of video games on PC that gamers can get their hands on. It will basically give them a chance to have a closer experience to a console but keeping the benefits of a PC. Obviously these machines will not appeal to everyone but there is a segment, potentially large, that wants a gaming PC without the hassle of PC gaming. I am one of those gamers who loves PC gaming but I hate gaming on a PC, so I am one segment of that market for sure as Steam DOES have games I want, but nobody likes to play games on a Laptop and my desktop has always been used by me for gaming, which is why I tried Linux in the first place.

This will have a side effect on Windows PC gaming, as Steam is it’s own Operating system on these machines it will not be over the top of Windows, on a PC you install Steam on top of Windows and again take a performance hit doing so. This has much appeal to a person such as myself. Also gamers who buy Windows for gaming are a large segment of the Windows PC market, if Steam Machines take off even in modest numbers those are just fewer Windows Users, especially if these users do their media stuff on their Smart devices anyways, like I intend to do. My ideal set up will be PS3/PS4 for console gaming and media usage, and Steam Machine for those PC games I want to play but finally cut out all the hassle that makes PC gaming, at least for me and others like me, a major deterrent. As the Windows market shrinks due to that will it be enough to kill them off? I also think the answer is no.

Before Windows 95 desktop PC’s were not the dominant gaming computer platform, the two big ones were DOS and Commodore/Amiga. Commodore was at one time the largest selling computer brand in the world and they were mostly used for gaming more than anything else. Dedicated gaming machines are not new, and non-Microsoft gaming computers are also not new. The market has grown but the tastes have not changed much. I think what will happen is Windows will be reduced back to 90’s levels and Steam will rise up to replace the gap Amiga left in the industry when they went out of business. Sure they sort of tried to make a come back in recent years but their new systems are all playing on nostalgia and are not to be taken too seriously.

There is one other thing that could take Windows down and that is Xbox, specifically all the money it is losing Microsoft and if it continues doing so that alone could take the entire business down. I think if Microsoft can get things together and focus on the business segment and let the casual users go they can restructure and rebound. I don’t think Windows will ever be taken down my external forces, it’s just too strong of a brand and with good reason, but internal forces at Microsoft and their lack of focus is what is really damaging the Windows brand more than anything else. I think in the near term Microsoft is going to make some major changes, especially if Steam Machines do take off.

Of course those could just be another footnote in gaming history much like the failed 3DO which was a similar attempt at the same type of thing over 20 years ago. I think the market is more fragmented now than ever, even more so than the 80’s when we had Atari, Apple, IBM, and Commodore all as major players. Now we have Microsoft and Apple thats pretty much it, Google has made strides but their Chrome OS is a joke and Android is still only for Tablets and Smartphone so until/unless they ever get a full desktop/laptop version of Android they will not be a major player in that market. However Windows could always continue gaining marketshare in the smart devices area and turn things around that way. My view is that the industry is facing some challenges adapting to these new devices consumers have and this increasingly segmented market.

I can see Steam Machines taking off simply because as the guy who buys desktops quit often for gaming I am considering one and I now others who are interested as well. I think Steam Machines will take the gaming segment and Tablets and game consoles, smart TVs, etc, will continue to shrink the causal market that will just leave the business market and the tinkerers who generally gravitate towards Linux anyways. I do agree that Microsoft and Windows are facing some challenging times ahead, I try to look at all possible outcomes but as a business student I also know where the market is going and I try to adjust accordingly. Stay Cool.

The underdog who should not be forgotten: Defending Atari

Some people just like to root for the underdog, in sports, life, and in movies especially. I think there is something for watching someone you never expected to even make it win the championship. There are too many examples to get into right now but I think most people can agree it is common enough occurrence that most people are just used to it. There is a flip side to that, there is an equal if not greater desire to watch the weakling get bullied into tears. We have all been there, either been bullied or become the bully. In fact some of us have been on both sides of the stick and it’s never fun. That is one reason why I tend to stick up for those who do not deserve to be kicked while they are down. Sure there are some scumbags we just want to see crawling in their own filth, but then once they get down there we kind of start to feel sorry for them.

That is how I think the internet fandom works, no matter what the side who loses gets the undeserved hate and then everyone just assumes it is okay to pick on them. Like Transformers against the Gobots, nobody ever talks about how the Gobots actually were better toys, no they don’t even talk about the apparent flaws that make the original Transformers cartoon nearly unwatchable to anyone who wasn’t a kid in the 80’s whereas the Gobots cartoon had the same timeless Hanna-Barbara charm kids of all ages and generations keep coming back to. Some people on the internet hold this regard that if a product, property, or company ceased to exist they must have not been worth anything or that if they lost market share they obviously did something wrong, never mind that in a free market even the best ideas sometimes lose out to the lowest common denominator. In the late 1990’s I lived through a time when everybody went from thinking SEGA was the coolest thing ever to happen to video games to re-writing history into this warped reality where they *always* sucked and just somehow got lucky. These same people are currently undergoing a shift from praising the once mighty Nintendo to writing them off as always having been behind the times or having always relied on their franchises despite all those franchises having to start somewhere. Still it bothers me to see so many people needlessly attack anyone especially those who do not deserve it.

Out of all the companies that gets the most hate that I feel is not just undeserved it totally and completely warped by some major flawed logic and re-writing of history to fit the current misconception, and that company is Atari. Why do people especially young people just write Atari off as something from the past that never mattered? Well I am here to point out where they are wrong and set the record straight, no you can not say that if not for Nintendo there wouldn’t even be a Sony Playstation or an Xbox, screw that if there hadn’t been an Atari first there wouldn’t have even been a Nintendo (at that time they were in the brothel business and just starting to branch out into toys.)

So here are some key points fanboys on the internet always seem to forget whenever the name Atari gets brought up.

Fact number one, Atari INVENTED video games. Shut up yes they did. Nerds will gladly point out some anecdote about some scientist somewhere in a lab or garage or whatever who somehow managed to get a simulation to work on an old radar scope something or other, I did my fact checking and guess what, WHO FRIGGIN CARES it was NOT a commercial product, it was an experiment in a garage that somebody wrote about AFTER the fact as some revisionist history. Atari has the patent on video games, or “interactive TV games” they lost the patent to TIME but they DID invent video games so deal with it.

There is also a myth that the Magnavox Odyssey was the first true video game or this tech demo called “Tennis for Two” or some bull shit like that, Again those were tech demos done by researchers in a LAB. Pong hit arcades the same year as the Odyssey but here is the catch nobody out side of techies and internet nerds EVER knew what the Odyssey was, if you were alive back then you knew PONG PERIOD. Maybe years latter you heard of the Odyssey 2 most people mistakenly remember that as the first one but it was actually years latter. Anyways PONG was a hit in arcades and began the arcade revolution, Magnavox and their tech demo never even made it to major retailers before being lost to time. I am an avid collector of video game and TV technology, I used to own a Beta Max, Laser Disc player, and a CED player (look that one up if you don’t know) among many other obscure TV related tech. I have NEVER seen an Odyssey in the wild, you see them online in auction sites and in museums but nobody ever bought the damn thing so they might as well not even exist. Does that mean Atari deserves all the credit? YES in my book they do. Sure they maybe borrowed ideas from others at the time but here is the reality, so what, their idea took off and launched an entire revolution, those other ideas where just nerds dinking around in a lab for the hell of it. Atari did the smart thing and found a way to turn it into a business which is why you and I even care about video games in the first place, they were successful products in the marketplace that we as consumers purchased for our enjoyment.

Activision, THE number one video game company in the world, you know the guys who make a little game I am sure you all heard of “Call of Duty”, they started *AS* Atari, that is right the company that you know and love USED to be Atari games. Well sort of but there is a story behind it. Atari was like all tech businesses at the time, and mostly today too, they paid their programmers for work produced and then put them on a new project. Some programmers thought they were rock stars and should be paid and given credit like recording artists and a dispute over royalties led them to LEAVE Atari and launch Activision, a 3rd party publisher that existed to program and sell games for Atari’s home console the 2600 VCS. Why did they name their company Activision? Because it comes before Atari in the phone book, that was the way their founder tells it anyways.

Atari also created a side business called Pizza Time Theater, it was this pizza restaurant that also housed the latest and greatest video arcade games for kids to play while they waited for their food. Their mascot was a cartoon rat named Chuck E Cheese and oh by the way they still exist today but they now use that rat as more than a mascot he is their namesake too.

Atari created the first wireless controllers for a video game console way back in the early 80’s for their 2600 game system. I could go on and talk about how programmers from Atari created some of the most successful games of all time but instead I will share one tidbit about Nintendo and leave it at that. Nintendo wanted to get into the budding video game business so they sold some of their games across the ocean to American companies to release on their machines. Their most popular games were Donkey Kong, Mario Bros. and Popeye. They ported these to nearly every home console and computer at the time making them a third party company (so when Nintendo fans say Nintendo will NEVER go third party correct them and say they might not go BACK to being 3rd party instead) anyways Nintendo wanted to get into the hardware business because their arcade games were not selling well, those three listed above were it the rest were all flops nobody remembers, even Nintendo leaves them off their company history page.

Oh so getting back to Atari, Nintendo didn’t know how to make a video game console so they stole Atari’s design and rebranded it the Famicom, imported it back into the US as the NES and the rest is history. They made minor changes to the RAM and added a co-processor for graphics but the internal CPU was the same one found in Atari’s machine from 1976, NES came out a DECADE latter. Okay so that is not enough to defend Atari as this great company but here is one for you, even though they STOPPED making video game consoles in 1997 they made MORE consoles from the 70’s to 90’s than Nintendo has to date. They also made computers and arcade machines for nearly 20 years, Nintendo barely made arcade games for five years before getting CRUSHED in the Arcade arena by Atari and Sega, two companies who remained kings of the Arcade till the very end. (or the decline anyways)

Atari also took their game consoles online TWO DECADES before Nintendo did. Of course everybody had been doing online a whole decade before Nintendo anyways so that isn’t saying much. Also keep this in mind, even though Nintendo supposedly revived the video game industry after this mythical crash that gets blown out of proportion by internet sites looking to sensationalize a downturn in the economy, anyways the point is despite Nintendo somehow saving or reviving the video game industry people tend to forget Atari survived the crash, they kept making products during and throughout the entire period, Nintendo just came in and took all the credit for basically just taking advantage to a clean market with most competition bankrupt.

I think Nintendo has done some great things for the video game industry and so has Sega, Sony, and well even Apple, but don’t forget that it all started with Atari. Oh by the way Steve Wokzniak the guy who co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs, he was a programmer at Atari before Apple, and he made one of the most memorable Atari 2600 games ever. Anyways not only that but the guy who programmed Mortal Kombat got his start at Atari as did the guy who programmed some of the more popular Sega Genesis games. In fact Atari and Sega are similar in many ways but one of them that is unfair is they both failed to stay in the hardware business. My view is first so what, they made great games who cares where you play them, second actually it is false to say neither still make consoles, although they mostly make flashback consoles based on their old tech, that is more than Nintendo does for their long time fans so lets not forget about that. If you want to play some Atari classics like Asteroids or Missile Command or Centipede, go ahead an Atari Flash Back can be had for a reasonable price at nearly any store. You want to revisit old Nintendo NES games, first shell out the money for their LATEST console as that is the only way to play their old games, they won’t even sell them on Steam, or mobile devices.

Atari was a great company that had some poor management and made some bad decisions (that face it NOBODY could have predicted would be wrong) and well they ended up becoming a relic of the past. Do I think they are the greatest game company ever, no and I greatly exaggerate some of their accomplishments to prove a point not to be taken literally so don’t even bother with comments debunking facts because I don’t care this was an opinion piece the facts don’t mean shit to me. The reality is facts are stupid the truth is Atari made the video game industry and their great games are still available for all to enjoy, Nintendo hordes their old games like some sunken pirate treasure chest or something. Do I hate Nintendo, no but I hate when people shit all over Atari, turn around and praise Nintendo for things they had nothing to do with, and then act like Atari never mattered in the fist place. They have become a relic of the past which is fine they are just a company that failed to stay relevant but at least they DID actually matter and for more than a decade.

I could twist more “facts” if you want but the truth is Atari is great and deserves to be remembered for their accomplishments, and nobody cares about those nerds in their garage tinkering with their doodads, the REAL story is Atari created Pong and that launched the video game revolution that is still evolving to this day. Long live ATARI. Now I am off to play me some good old Asteroids on 2600. Stay Cool.

Sonic Boom on Wii U

I hate to say this I really do but Sega is forcing me to reconsider buying a Nintendo Wii U. Here me out. When I was a kid I was deep into the whole Sega VS. Nintendo school yard war, in fact I took sides, I picked Sega hands down. It wasn’t that I hated Nintendo it’s just even then like now their consoles were always lacking in certain types of games everybody else was doing right. I loved Sonic from the start and as good as Mario is Nintendo has always been slow to the game, they usually release one or two main Mario games a console generation, Sega on the other hand knows how to keep them Sonic games coming. It also didn’t hurt that I was a HUGE Mortal Kombat fan and we all know the Genesis had the better MK port, for the time anyways. But after Playstation came on the scene things changed, Sony replaced Sega in the realm of hard hitting no holds barred anything goes gaming and Nintendo was left to their niche of family friendly and in some instances kiddie games. As I grew up so did my games, Mega Man was great as a kid but I upgraded to Quake and eventually got into Halo and God of War. I have always had a soft spot for Nintendo and Sega has always been good for me at least so I tend to keep an eye on the two from time to time. Nintendo knows they can’t make the games that can get me to buy their machine, not on their own anyways. So they tasked Sega to step it up and I gotta say I am starting to hate Nintendo for being so friendly to Sega lately.

Take a step back, I am a gamer that much is true. Usually I buy any and every game console I always see the merits in any gaming machine, well most I have yet to figure out how Microsoft sold any Xbox let alone millions but that is another topic for another day. What is important is I do not take sides, I got my Playstation and my N64 on the exact same day and I got three games for each, it was a good time to be a gamer as it is now. I picked up my Game Cube before I ever even considered getting a PS2 because Nintendo had secured some great games by Sega up front and those Dreamcast Sonic game were good on Dreamcast but were great on Game Cube, so yeah Sega sold me a Game Cube not Nintendo. Oh well the point is I did get one and I enjoyed some of Nintendos games and a whole bunch of other third party games too. But I hated the Wii let’s get that out up front it was nothing but a Game Cube repackaged with a waggle wand that I despised from day one. I bought one on launch day for one reason only, the Virtual Console was getting classic Nintendo and Sega games. Eventually Sega released all their classics on Steam and PSN so I was able to leave the utterly depressing Wii behind and I never looked back. Sure Sega put out some decent games but on an underpowered non-HD console forced to use a Waggle Wand, no thanks I can pass.

Here is the deal Wii U is NOT  a bad console, not in the slightest and this is where I struggle, I do want one, or at least I want to want one. But a gaming machine is only as good as its games, the reason why I am waiting on a PS4 for now. The Wii U has some games that interest me, just not as many as I would like to justify the price. Nintendo has Super Mario 3D World which yes let’s face it I WILL be buying at some point in time, they also have New Super Mario Bros. U which is good because it uses the game Pad and left waggle behind. Then there is the tie in New Luigi U which I am a sucker for a good Luigi game any day, and then there is what… Maybe Dr. Luigi and in a month there will be Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze that looks good but here is my stance, I HATED Wind Waker when it was new, I still hate Pikmin and The Wonderful 101 does look kinda sorta interesting it’s not a system seller for me and the 3rd party crap I already have better versions of on Ps3 anyways and some on my PC so no thanks I can do without a gimped version of Injustice and I have Mas Effect Trilogy so I don’t need the lame ass directors cut of a game I barely play as is. Some would point to Mario Kart and Bayonetta, Smash Bros, and (yuck) yarn yoshi, as potential games to get. I haven’t liked a Mari Kart since Super Circuit and even that was pushing it, Mario Kart was fun for a few hours back in like 1994 or so, it got old quick and I never looked back.

Bayonetta 2 does look interesting, and I did pick up the first on Ps3 so there is that I like the game its actually not bad, but its not a must have game that really needs a sequel. Then there is Smash Bros. as a gamer who is NOT a Nintendo fanboy I can say that as much as I loved Melee on the Game Cube it was basically a gimmick game and I played it only for the trophies, sure Brawl has online and more trophies but so what I got all my Smash Bros. fix in 2004 I don’t need another smash, let me download the Game Cube version and we will talk, until then not interested Smash is not a real fighting game and as a fan of fighting games it just does not do anything for me. Oh and as for that yarn shit, count me out. I AM really excited for Hyrule Warriors though and X has me curious so there you go, the games that are on Wii U that I might or should or could be interested in by Nintendo.

Skip ahead and lets look at third party, like I said nothing I can’t get superior versions elsewhere already except the Sega games, which is the point of this post and why Nintendo really does want my money. I love Sonic games, I know Sega does more than Sonic and I tried some of their other offerings, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Shinobi, Toe Jam and Earl, Shining Force, Phantasy Star those were all good to great games, but since the Saturn Sega has been on a downward spiral mostly hit and miss more miss than anything. As a gamer I do not pick sides I just like good games and Sonic games are still good for me, I know that they have issues but so do Mario games and people look past Mario’s flaws and put Sonic’s under a microscope for some idiotic reason. So there I am I have seen enough gameplay videos of Lost Levels to know it really has me interested and this new Sonic Boom game also looks to be something to look out for. Not saying these two games suddenly make owning a Wii U a must for me but Sonic is one of my top ten favorite game franchises despite all the hate he gets I still love his games, they do what they do right and who cares if some people don’t get it that means nothing to me obviously they are doing something right if they keep selling enough to keep making them so there is that to consider. Also the worst Sonic game is still better than Mario Sunshine (man I hate that game more than any other game ever made) and at least Sega is willing to try new things with Sonic but they keep the core intact where with Nintendo and Mario you literally never know what you are going to get, I couldn’t get into Galaxy either but again I hated the remote so there is that to consider.

So right now Nintendo has five games I am interested in and Sega has two, still not enough to justify the price but seven games is much better than zero games which is where PS4 sits at the moment. PS4 has games in the pipeline I am interested in and I know it will get Mortal Kombat 10, a new Virtua Fighter (Sega’s real reason for still living), and a new Soul Calibur, a new Street Fighter and hopefully a new Tekken, so unless Nintendo can somehow get decent or good ports or exclusives of those franchises I am still leaning towards getting a PS4 at some point, like I said my favorite games are fighting games, especially Mortal Kombat and no MK is a hard sell for me, just ask the stupid Wii that I traded in to buy a USB Hard drive and then got a PS3 with 3 great Mortal Kombat games and never looked back. So that is where I am, if somehow Nintendo can get Sega to throw them a bone from Virtua Fighter or hell even a new Streets of Rage or Eternal Champions, Fighting Vipers, or any other fighting game, then I will consider it but even the Game Cube had great fighting games, Dragon Ball Z Budokai series, Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance, Deception, and Midways Arcade Treasures with MK 2 and 3 arcade ports. It was enough for me, Wii had shit for fighting games and still used the remote anyways and Wii U so far as I know has one Tekken game that is just a port of an old game or something lame like that.

Still because of Sega and their two Sonic games I am at least giving Wii U a chance to redeem itself, who knows it might surprise me and pull of a miracle but for now, I am still leaning towards PS4 and I might get a Wii U when they are discounted down to $100 or so. Don’t get me wrong I know how the collector market works so I will snatch up the GAMES first and get the machine when I can justify the price.

The future of Gaming, with or without Nintendo

I am going to just cut to the chase and not waist any time on a big build up, Nintendo is in serious trouble. As a long time fan of theirs it really worries me the state they are in. Die-hard loyalists continue to talk about all that cash they have saved up like it some how means they will just be able to exist forever, the problem is their stocks took a nose dive and they lose nearly $2 billion dollars in value over night. Now it didn’t hurt their cash reserves at first but their bonds became worthless and with the company expecting to post a $250+ million dollar loss for the third year in a row, that tells me they will start burning through that cash stock pile faster than they would like, and Nintendo loyalists (I hate the term fanboy), well they continue to bring up Nintendo’s past successes as proof of future successes, without ever getting into how bad it is when you consider the brand new PS4 sold more units in a single day than the Wii U did in an entire year, and sales keep going up for Sony and down for Nintendo, that says it all, their machine is doomed. But worse yet the truth is there is not a single plan out there that can save Nintendo, at least not in the way gamers are expecting.

Plan A, stay the course and release another console in 2-3 years time.

Why this will NOT work. First, Nintendo can not suffer three more years of losses and with Wii U sales flogging and 3DS sales on the decline, they could start running out of cash long before they have a chance to launch a dead on arrive console. Look at Atari and Sega, both dominated their markets at one time and then failed to move forward. Atari lost all confidence with the failure of the 7800 which followed the failure of their 5200, then they released a third failure, the Lynx, by the time they got around to scraping together enough chips and bolts to get the Jaguar on the market, they were so far in debt it was doomed from the start. Sega went through the same thing, they did great with Genesis and Game Gear but they lost face with Sega CD, 32X, Pico, Ex-Eye, CDX, Saturn, and Nomad, all those consoles released in the span of three years! Sega was so deep in debt when they launched the game machine the entire world had been waiting for, the Dreamcast, they could barely keep it afloat for one year before throwing in the towel and selling off their studios piece by piece just to stay alive as a (struggling) third party publisher.

Now lets look at Nintendo, they actually lost money big on the Gamecube, what saved them then was the GBA was a runaway success and they used the Game Boy Player to try to boost sales of the dying Game Cube. Want to know how bad Game Cube was, after only two years on the market they ceased production, slashed the price from $199 to $99 over night and bundled it with a Legend of Zelda collection that compiled all the best Zelda games to that point on one disk and gave it away for free. Sales picked up and they managed to stick it out for another two and a half years, during which time they released the GBA-SP a power house that could easily eat any losses Game Cube caused. Problem is, Wii U is selling WORSE than the Game Cube was at the same point in time, and it costs twice as much too. Retailers are already discounting the machine and several are shipping them back to Nintendo. Nintendo will soon be in worse shape than they were in 2003 when the Game Cube nearly destroyed their empire. Why bring that up? Because as low as sales were Game Cube was still a beloved system, sure it got a lot of jokes about being a purple lunch box but it still had a great array of games, first and third party all across the spectrum. The Wii U is not going so hot on that front, it has less than half of the games that Game Cube had in the same time and worse yet, the best selling game on the console, Super Mario 3D World, is the worst selling Mario title to date, even worse than the Game Cubes Mario Sunshine, a game that was considered a flop. Mario games tend to sell in the millions, not a million or two but multiple millions, Super Mario Bros. 3 held the title of best selling game of all time at 30+ million (this was of course before the multiple re-releases) Maario 3D World has YET to break the million mark and it is been out over two months, a bad omen when you put it in with everything else. Not to mention that with somewhere between 4.5 and 5.2 million Wii U consoles barely making it into gamers homes, Mario 3D World is already handicapped due to the low install base, even if every single Wii U owner buys the game it will still not reach Mario Sunshine’s numbers, and remember Mario Sunshine was NOT a run away hit. Put it another way Knack for the PS4, a game with mixed reviews and a lot of hate for being a knock off Nintendo anyways, sold nearly twice as many units as Mario 3D World which was the highest rated game of the year. How can a mediocre game out sell a main stream Mario title?

Unlike Game Cube where Nintendo was coming off the high of the N64 and the rush of Pokemon Fever, Wii U is in a slump the company has never seen. Wii was NOT a success despite the fanboys flogging the 100 million units so, when every nursing home in the world has at least 2 you can bet your ass half of those units are not being played any more, and the reality is Nintendo stopped making games for Wii in big numbers and started shifting focus to 3Ds in 2010, Wii was a fluke that only made Nintendo a few million bucks of easy money but cost them their entire loyal fanbase and then some.

Wii sold a lot of hardware but did not sell much software. Nintendo makes their money on software and a small profit on hard ware. Wii U they are actually losing on the hard ware and they are not selling software to make up the difference. Also fans and loyalists continue to say the 3DS is doing well sales wise, yes but they ALSO sell it at a small loss to grow the userbase and they just wasted millions of R&R, marketing, and shipping on a failed 2DS, which is a weird device that plays 3DS games but no 3D, or any of the features that make owning a 3DS great other than just the games. They had to sell that at a loss too. Reality is unlike GBA-GC where they lost money on one but made up for it in software and hand held sales, they are just losing money right and left.

Cue the remarks about how bad Sony is doing as a whole. Why does that not matter to Nintendo? Because Sony is not losing money in every division and if worse comes to worse Sony can sell off a money losing division, like Columbia Pictures as example, or their cell phone division, and make a profit elsewhere, Sony has plenty of room to wiggle around and plenty to fall back on, besides Sony is selling their hardware in massive droves and that will give them profits the likes of which Nintendo only remembers having once made. But it gets worse, Nintendo has nothing to fall back on, they are a toy company nothing more. In the video game space, their second best selling toy line to date, they make a ton of great games that do in fact appeal to a very wide audience. But their hard ware has NOT had universal appeal since about 1996 when they released the weird N64 that also struggle for a while but came out rosy in the end. Their most profitable product line is their Pokemon stuff but even that can’t offset the failure of sticking with the Wii U long term.

Plan B- go mobile

This is also a bad idea, people think they should either release their back log of games onto mobile devices or just make a Nintendo tablet/phone and make that separate. Why this will fail is simple, Apple and Android are killing Microsoft, a company 10 times as large as Nintendo, why in the hell would they want to compete with powerful companies that could chew them up and spit them out? They have no experience in this and people are too deeply invested into the tablets they have to make room for another entry, one that will be inferior anyways and whose selling point is to play Nintendo games, something people are already NOT buying Wii U to do. Why would anyone buy a Nintendo tablet to play even more inferior games than they would on a system they aren’t buying good games for? IF Nintendo released a smart device they would be bankrupt within a year or two tops.

Plan C- Make a hybrid machine small portable universal but can connect to a TV also.

Why this will fail. Hello, the 3DS is equal powerwise to a Game cube, a machine released 13 years ago, the tablets on the market are already more powerful, the Wii U is already more powerful and the PS Vita is already more powerful, in order for Nintendo to make a machine that can be portable, and still capable of displaying 1080p graphics on a big screen TV and have a controller built in, wait a second they already did this it is called the Wii U and it still is not selling? Now the hyrbid sounds good on paper but it is essentialy the same thing the Wii U already is but even more underpowered and potentially more expensive, well truth is if people won’t shell out $200 for a handheld, and they certainly won’t buy another tablet they what market is there interested in a hyrbid machine? It would basically just have all the mobile games anyways so its nothing more than a 3DS with TV output, Sony already did that with PSP and PS Vita TV, nobody bough those things. Why buy an even more underpowered games machine than the Wii U already is? This is a losing battle that many saw coming when the Wii U was announced and reality is Nintendo can’t pull this off either because who wants to buy a machine that is half assed as a mobile games and half assed as TV games? It would be the worst of both worlds not the best of both worlds. They would have better luck just dumping all their money into making as many Wii U games as they could and hope for the best, something they will still fail it but I will get to that.

Plan D- Just go third party.

I would LOVE IT if they did this but here is why it will not work. Unlike SEGA who has a rich and diverse portfolio, Nintendo is essentially a one trick pony, their main games are Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Pokemon, Star Fox, and Pokemon. Now if these games are already NOT enough to pull gamers into Wii U why would a PS4 or Xbox One gamer even care if they had Mario on their system, if they really wanted to play Mario they would have bought a Wii U instead right? Sega has ninja games, RPG games, Strategy games, sports games, fighting games, Sonic games, adventure games, movie based games, Ecco the Dolphin games, and so many weird odd games that gamers like its impossible to list them all. Having grown up on Sega I can assure you they in fact make more games than Nintendo does and often they have better games than Nintendo does. However going third party has caused Sega to turn into a shell of its former self and their games are hit and miss. Nintendo would do worse as third party than Sega is doing. Sonic sells well on Nintendo platforms but it falters on the other two. If Nintendo stopped making consoles Sega would stop making Sonic games as Nintendo gamers tend to be the only ones buying Sonic games these days. Nintendo has NO first Person games or open world games in their arsenal and that is where the mainstream market is. At least Sega still makes some sports games, the last sports game Nintendo made that DIDN’T have Mario in it was just Wii Sports, a generic game that only worked on the Wii. Nintendo does not nor can they compete with the likes of EA, Rock Star, Konami, even Valve. Nintendo does games tend to sell to quirky Nintendo gamers who like weird stuff but mainstream gamers pass over that stuff, even Sony and Microsoft have their share of quirky Nintendo-esque games that don’t sell well. Also Nintendo would be forced to actually compete in a market where their gamers would be split just like Sega, their fanbase would be split and therefore their sales would be all over the place. They would have a better chance just selling their games off to different studios and closing their doors than going third party.

Where does that leave them to go? Honestly I have no idea, I think no matter which course of action they take they are basically only delaying the inevitable. I would rather they did go third party and be forced to big into their catalog and bring back some great old franchises and really have to compete in a cut throat market, than if they just went away altogether. I would rather Nintendo end up like Sega rather than like Coleco, Atari, or Amiga, mere memories that fade further into obscurity with each passing generation.

Will I buy a Wii U? I was tempted just to you know throw them a bone, but if it will only cost them more money a true fan would better serve them by abandoning all hope for the Wii U and put the pressure on them to go fully third party. Nintendo could make money with Sony would step up and offer them money to put Mario or Zelda on their machine and Microsoft would pay them to get Star Fox and Metroid on theirs and Pokemon will go to iPhones. Then at least they can keep their fans happy. Honestly I think they are just on the death march so for me I will just wait to see where they end up, a tablet would be a bad idea, a hyrbid would be a terrible idea and riding out the Wii U would just further damage their reputation so as of now their best bet is to just go third party and stop all this jerking people around. I Would they ever rise to the top again, no they are finished Nintendo will NEVER return to the glory days the “golden age” of the NES/SNES, period. PERIOD. At least what they could do is is salvage what is left of their reputation and realize that Mario is not enough to Sell consoles BUT put Mario on a console that sells well without him and you have a better chance of selling Mario games at the very least.

Nintendo is holding an emergency management meeting on January 30th, that is less than a week away, expect big changes coming soon as their President has stated they are looking at a new business structure and even though they say it is not going 3rd party, I am willing to bet they are only saying that to save face when reality is they need to keep it secret until all the signatures are on the dotted lines. Stay Cool.

New Gaming Generation is upon us

As an avid gamer it is always an exciting time when a new gaming console is about to launch. For many the question they have to ask is which console to get, an Xbox One, a PS4, or perhaps an Nintendo Wii U. Console gamers are an entirely different breed than PC gamers so I will skip the lecture on why I prefer one over the other and instead focus on what has me excited about this next generation, what has me worried about it, and discuss what I would like from this generation.

I will break them down one by one.

Xbox One.

I know most people are counting on Microsoft to repeat their previous success because frankly up till now Microsoft has been pretty consistent. The problem is Xbox One is not targeting the core gamer, it is instead going after an entirely different branch of the gaming segment, the sports fanatic. Microsoft has gone out of their way to talk about how Xbox One will be integrated with various Professional Sports services, their commercials and features they are touting are all focused on how sports will be the center focus of the machine. They will also rely heavily on TV services, in other words they want the Xbox One to be integrated with your Cable Box/DVR like no other device previously. There is a problem with this approach. The TV integration would make sense except for that fact that we already have Internet TV’s and just about every single DVD/Blu Ray player on the market as well as Roku, GoogleTV, Apple TV, Western Digital, etc, all these devices do the same thing, some more some less. Now sure the Xbox One will *ALSO* play video games but for some reason Microsoft is not really making that the central focus instead it is sort of a given, like an afterthought. Sure the machine will have games and post launch but if the market they are chasing is less gaming oriented and focused more on the TV integration and Sports services then they could have a problem, the core gamers might not follow suit and if that happens they could end up with a gaming system that doesn’t sell games but instead sells services. The very fact that Microsoft is relying heavily on cloud computing to offload some of the Xbox One’s features tells me that they are moving away from a dedicated gaming platform and more towards a multimedia machine that just happens to also play games.

In addition to all the above mentioned there is one really troubling problem with Xbox One, Kinect. Now the Xbox 360 Kinect was a travesty, some would say it was nothing but knee jerk reaction to Nintendo’s success with their Motion Controller. Others think it was just a matter of time. Either way Kinect was always optional and as such many people opted to avoid it. But the Xbox One will come with and require the technology in order to run the new machine. The new features of Kinect like it being able to tell when you get up and leave the room, being able to talk to the console and have it turn itself off and on is a but troubling to me. Some think it is a natural progression of technology but based on Siri and other voice activated computing services I think it is becoming clear that consumers regard these things as novelties that quickly wear off, or more often as an inconvenience. But the real problem is that forcing Kinect on gamers means that if you have no interest in the device and what it offers, that makes it harder to even consider buying the Xbox One.

Now what is there about Xbox One that would get me excited? For starters the whole idea of cloud gaming is exciting because it means that if, and a big if, Microsoft can invest in the right technology they can make it so the Xbox is just the streaming device and that all the heavy computing is done at a warehouse somewhere and this would force Microsoft to partner with Telecom companies to invest in expanding their broadband services and upgrading their lines, something that I believe would really benefit everyone. Also there is the idea that once cloud gaming takes off, that hardware costs will decrease dramatically and console gaming will become more enticing in the future.

There is no doubt that Microsoft takes their gaming division seriously but I am worried they have lost sight of who their core audience is and they might be making a mistake they can’t recover from. Nintendo went out of their way to reach an audience that is alien to their traditional core and now they are trying to get their core back they are in a bigger mess than ever. Microsoft could end up in far worse shape because Apple, Samsung, and Google are all chipping away at the division where Microsoft really makes their money and that could spell disaster for the entire company and all of their partners who are relying on them.

PS4

Of all the gaming consoles out there this is the easiest one to get excited about, Sony has the longest track record of being consistent, to date they have yet to release a console failed to reach their core audience. Playstation shattered all expectations and turned the entire gaming word upside down. Playstation 2 continued to break records and raised the bar. PS3 had a rocky start but in the end they were able to get their act together. Needless to say even though PS3 had a slow start in the hardware side, it has never been lacking in software. This is where Microsoft really has to worry, traditionally Xbox has been plagued by the very fact that a good majority of their must have titles were also available on PC’s and PC gamers continued to be troublesome to Microsoft. This was not the case for Sony, whose first and second party titles remain exclusive to their console, which can not be said for Xbox. True there are plenty of exclusives for Xbox but nowhere near the quality and quantity of Playstation. Brands like Ratchet and Clank, Grand Turismo, WipeOut, God of War, to name a few, have all had a strong place on Playstation consoles.

Unlike Microsoft, Sony has never been ambiguous about who their audience is, they are targeting gamers, people who live for gaming. Microsoft wants people who game, but not make gaming their life, Sony wants people who live to game and happen to also use their machines for other stuff. By making their machine a games console first and an entertainment machine second, Sony has always been able to show their core audience that they mean business. Also compare the amount of digital titles on Sony’s store to Microsofts and it becomes clear where the game developers want to put their titles. Playstation is hands down the most recognizable brand to core gamers and right now Sony is doing everything they can to show that PS4 will be faster, stronger, and better in every way than PS3 and they are doing it at an affordable price, which was the real reason PS3 was slow to take off. When it comes down to it gamers buy a games machine for the games, and right now both big consoles have their share of supports from the gaming industry, so that won’t be a major issue up front. However third party companies do need incentives to publish on a game console and I think Sony is looking to be the strongest contender for third party support whereas Microsoft looks like they could be in a position to fall behind.

What else can I say, Sony will continue to bring their back catalog of games from PS1, PS2, and now PS3 to their next gen console in digital form. The other difference between MS and Sony is that Sony has been in the game longer, in fact they go way back to the NES days. Sony has also been far better at attracting Japanese companies to their system and while Japanese companies have been struggling lately, they are regrouping and above all there are some really strong franchises coming from Japan that trump all other regions combined. Sega might not be as strong as they used to but they are buying up companies left and right, strengthening their catalog and giving them more options all the time. Capcom, Konomi, Taito, SNK, Square-Enix, these Japanese giants continue to prove their relevance and it is only a matter of time before they find their stride and return to the top. As for technology, the PS4 is basically doing the same stuff as Xbox One but without the Kinect. They will both offer similar features, the PS4 is slightly more powerful but that has never been a deciding factor for console gamers and isn’t likely to be now. What gets me most excited about PS4 is Sony has the desire to make their console the best it can be, they need it more than Microsoft. Sony is bleeding money and although they have begun to stabilize they are still in danger and PS4 is their golden goose, they are betting the entire farm on it being their return to glory and quite frankly they have the money to make it work. What that means is they need it more, so they will fight harder to attract the dedicated gamer and that bodes well for the gamers who will reap the benefits of a reinvigorated Sony willing to fight for their top spot.

Nintendo Wii U

Nintendo is in the worst position of all three, their console has already been on the market for a year, it has had an identity crisis trying to distance itself from the first Wii, and unlike Sony and MS, they no longer have a core audience to draw upon. See Nintendo has been in a slump over the last few years, they sort of drift along on nostalgia and a group of dedicated loyalists but as time has gone they have further alienated their core fans and have been shrinking their core user base for going on two decades now. They are in a unique position also because unlike MS and Sony who are corporate behemoths, Nintendo is still a relatively small company by global standards, they have three main divisions, their handheld division which as been under constant fire from Tablets, Smartphones, and other hand held devices, their Console division which has been in a troubled mess since the N64, they had a couple of good years with Wii but that was something on an anomaly as they were reaching an entirely different audience than their traditional gamer. Their third division which is their most profitable is their Pokemon division which is a little complicated but it is their only outside source of income unlike Sony and MS who have many.

The thing is, Nintendo has been around for so long that Nostalgia is their best asset. How many times do you see a commercial for the latest Mario game and instantly go back to your childhood and remember the first time you saved that princess from her tower? Unlike Microsoft who has been mainly the Halo machine, and Sony who has had a few strong franchises come and go, Nintendo has forgotten more franchises they the other two combined could ever hope to have. Nintendo has been the number one supporter of their game platforms since the earliest days and that is their biggest strength and their biggest weakness at the same time. Third party companies despise Nintendo because if they put their game on Nintendo’s machine it is not likely to sell with a Nintendo game sitting on the same shelf. For decades you would see third party games get discounted month after month while the same game that launched on the Nintendo machine, the Mario or Zelda, would sit there for years at full price, get discontinued and then immediatley become a best selling collectors item. Nintendo has always been in a great position in that people  but their machine to play THEIR games, not Capcom, not Midway, not Square, but Nintendo. Sony can’t say that people buy Playstation for the varied experiences, they buy Xbox for the online features and community, but if you combined all of the best selling games on MS and Sony you wouldn’t even have half of what Nintendo can sell. Let us not forget that their handheld division is still their main money maker and isn’t going away any time soon. So what is the deal with Wii U then? Well put it bluntly it has no games, or rather it has no compelling games that you either can’t get elsewhere or can’t live without. Right now the Wii U is getting better, with the new Sonic, Mario 3D World, and Donkey Kong Country coming out, but up till now they system has been plagued by a serious lack of games. Not to mention the consumer confusion over the name, not knowing if it is a new console or an accessory for the regular Wii.

What worries me most about Wii U is that it is underpowered compared to the other two and unlike Wii which had a brand new casual gamer market to draw on, Wii U is looking to recapture their core audience, problem their core audience was leaving them in droves even when they were making powerful consoles that could compete head to head with the big boys and they still lost ground. Now that making under powered machines is becoming a habit for them this has the hard core gamer worried because it means that even if sales do increase, third parties will still have to wrestle with putting their game on a machine that requires a tremendous amount of retooling to get it to work. PS4 and Xbox One are different in key areas but underneath it all they are basically the same, Wii U is entirely different, it has a weaker chip set, a smaller internal memory, considerably less RAM, and a controller that is as different as night and day. Sure it worked with Wii because motion controls were so intuitive and natural that anyone, including grandmas, could pick it up and play. With Wii U that is not the case, it utilizes a tablet style touch screen controller that is a cross between an iPad and a traditional game pad. Sure this means new and innovative gameplay features are possible, but it also means that game developers have to find interesting and innovative ways to make use of it, and gamers have to come to terms that a tablet is not the same as a remote. Not to worry as they still have remotes for the Wii U but that also complicates things, companies now have to decide to tailor their game to use the Gamepad, the traditional Pro controller, or the Remote, this is even more confusing than all those options the first Wii had. What is worse is devs might not be willing to make that investment on a console that doesn’t have the sales like the Wii did. And if it was a success so what, you just end up with and endless flow of party games, casual games, and other shovelware that would be better suited for the Android or iOS market.

What does excite me for Nintendo Wii U is what excited me for their past consoles, well prior to GameCube, and that is the new Super Mario game. Super Mario 3D World looks to be the most fun Mario game I have seen in years. I hated Sunshine, I wanted to like it, I tried to like it, but in the end it just wasn’t a Mario game to me. I never played Galaxy as by the time it came out I had already relegated my Wii to the party machine my parents played more than I did. If not for Virtual Console my Wii would have been collecting dust after the first couple of months. Now will Wii U I am no longer excited for Virtual Console because times have changed, and frankly I have purchase Super Mario Bros, original NES Zelda, and Donkey Kong classic from Nintendo more time than I care to admit, I am NOT going to shell out more money just to play those old games once again on another machine. What does that leave me with? Well Mario 3D World doesn’t look anything like Sunshine and whats even better is it looks like it is trying to reach the core gamer, which is who I am.

But are those three games enough to entice me to invest once again in a Nintendo console that I KNOW will lack certain third party titles I am pretty sure I will want to play? Games that I also know will NOT be coming to PC? Well the short answer is no, those three games are not enough. There are more games on the way but as of right now it is to be seen if those games will even make a difference or who knows they might end up getting canceled or pushed back to their next console, or even go multiplatform as Nintendo transitions into a third party like Atari and Sega did. Truth be told I am honestly worried for Nintendo and I would consider myself a fan, not a “fanboy” but a loyalist nonetheless. So for me I am realistically unsure if they can come back. I think Microsoft will either sell off their game division or they will morph into something core gamers run from, I think PS4 will sell strong numbers at first and then should start to level off as competition from tablets gets stronger, but Nintendo I am genuinely worried about, what could happen to them. Will I but a Wii U, PS4 or Xbox One?

If I had the money I would gladly pick up a PS4 in a heartbeat, I would get a Wii U once it has more than five games I want to play, right now it has three and that is not enough. I will never get an Xbox One period because some of the stuff MS is doing has me really worried. Plus I never owned an Xbox before, the first or the second so I have no desire to pick up the newest one. BUT I have owned every Playstation to date, and every Nintendo console to date so it is a safe bet that at some point in time I am going to get one, the other, or both, eventually. Right now I am leaning towards PS4 because it has features and a strong line up of games in the pipeline plus Sony is showing a strong hand at the moment. I might change my mind and get a Wii U if it has strong holiday sales that can lead to more games in the coming months because let me be honest I want to play that new Mario, I love Mario games in fact as a gamer I love Nintendo because they are the best at making video games, not so much interactive movies and sports simulations like their competitors. But Sony also has a knack for putting up a good fight and well Capcom makes some games I can’t do without that haven’t been strong on Nintendo consoles for years, same with Square and other Japanese games so for me, it usually is a two for, PS and Nintendo. The days of just getting the Nintendo machine and being happy are long gone.

In the end it doesn’t matter much to the rest of the world, each person will buy or not buy the machine of their choice for whatever their reasons are. As for me, I am in wait and see mode at this point but as a gamer I am tempted to get into the next gen at some point or another. Right now I will continue to enjoy the hell out of my PS3 which is nothing but awesome but eventually I will feel the need to get into the next gen and when that time comes I am going to have to make a tough call. Stay Cool.