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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Why I don't like the Xbox One

Can the Xbox One outsell the PS4 and Wii U? Does it pose a threat? Is it ultimately better than either? My biased mouth says "no" but my heart says "ugh, maybe".

A few hours ago, Microsoft had their admittedly underwhelming Xbox Reveal show, where they showed the console, controller, and tv functionalities of their new console (there may have been some Ghosts footage but cinematics don't constitute an evening of video game coverage). The first problem I found with the console WAS HOW HUGE IT WAS. That thing is the size of my VHS player, if not bigger. Not to mention the contrast of colours on the box is pretty ugly and negatively retro.
< Look at the size of that!
 The Xbox One is one of the biggest consoles of all time, and considering things are meant to be getting smaller, it makes it seem even worse. Think about how much space it will take up in your living room or bedroom. Hey kids, keep the console on your shelf? You're going to need some resizing to fit this thing in there. The reason it's so big is probably because Microsoft plan to sell an even smaller one next year, and then again for the next six years...

Also, Xbox One? I thought it was going to be Infinity, a much better name. Although it's easier to say "I'm going to play on my 360" than "I'm going to play on my Infinity", it sounds better than "I'm going to play on my One".
"Hey I was playing on my Xbox earlier" "Oh which?" "The one" "Wait, so the Xbox One, or the first Xbox?"
That and calling your console "the one" is a little silly sounding...

An excuse I've often heard for people not buying the Wii U is that it's too current generation. Well if current generation = backwards compatibility, then I don't think that's a bad thing! That's right, the Xbox One will not play Xbox 360 games. This is a bad move for Microsoft as most people still enjoy playing their 360 games. If the Wii U can, why can't the supposedly advanced Xbox One?

It seems Microsoft has a vendetta against age in games. In order to get even more profit, they're making every new Xbox One game be installed into the console. Got a preowned game with the last of your pocket money? Great! Just pay this preowned fee to us and then you can play it! Microsoft will make money from this, but they won't gain popularity...

I'll admit that the controller looks pretty acceptable. It hasn't changed negatively, the D-pad looks better, although the ABXY buttons look a bit weird. It may not have a screen, meaning no off-tv play, but it's fine.

Kinect looked useful, and although it will be mandatory, at least it will mostly be voice and not hand recognition...

For me, what sells a games console, is the games, which is why I've always got the Nintendo consoles, mostly for nostalgia and loyalty purposes. After watching the show, nothing persuaded me to buy the console. Ooh, Fifa and Call of Duty - impressive! Also, I don't like racing. If Xbox can get all the third-party support, then sure, I'll be convinced, but so far I'm not. I didn't care about all the tv stuff it could do, I cared about the games, and that wasn't covered.

So can the Xbox One win the console war this generation? We'll start with whether it can beat the Wii U. Probably. If it can beat the PS4, then it can totally beat the Wii U. As the Wii U is focusing more on "hardcore" gamers than family, that light seems to have been stolen by Sony, and Xbox One looks to do the same, and steal Nintendo's family market too, what with all it's tv stuff. However, if everyone gave the Wii U try, I'd reckon they'd like it...

I don't think Xbox One will win over the "gamer" gamers. The PS4 has better graphics than the Xbox One and so far, better exclusives (Nintendo has the best exclusives but that's a different story). After the show, most people seemed to align with the PS4. I've only seen negative news about the Xbox One after it's revealing today, and I think that will influence buyer's decisions.

Overall, I was totally underwhelmed by the announcement of the Xbox One today, and considering I'll buy the console that most of my friends play for online multiplayer (I'm keeping the Wii U but that's a solo venture), I hope they pick the Playstation 4.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Tank! Tank! Tank! Wii U Review

There were a variety of games released on the Wii U's launch day. Perhaps the most random and confusing was arcade tank shooter 'Tank! Tank! Tank!'. When I saw the trailers and news for this game, it was the name that got me interested in the game alone. Recieving the game for Christmas, I felt pretty indifferent in terms of excitement. I predicted the game would go down in price quite quickly, though it did look fun. Hey, at least I didn't have to pay for it.

Single player

Tank! Tank! Tank! features one single player mode, where you use your tank to either take down a swarm of enemies or one big boss, occasionally accompanied by some "minions" or the like. The robots you face are quite amusing, raging from robotic spiders or gorillas, to a giant cthulu that shoots lasers. The graphics are cartoonish, and don't feel like a step up from those of the Wii. However, the design of the enemies is interesting enough to look by. Gameplay itself is basic, there isn't much skill involved. Aiming occurs automatically, and it's moving about where any skill comes in. You'll constantly hear the screams of a male and female uttering corny lines that can provide a couple of laughs at first, but will annoy you after a while. There's a ton of unlockable Tanks(!) but not much in the way of upgrades, nor cool features on them. There's a large amount of missions, though they're really all the same and get repetitive. In a way, there's replay value, as you have to unlock coins in order to unlock some levels, and beating a level earns you a coin, so this doesn't help the repetivity.


Now multiplayer is where the game really shines. The Free for All mode will provide many laugh-filled frenzies, as it's so easy to destroy other tanks. Newcomers may be confused and overwhelmed at first, but once you get into it, you can have a good time, though this can get old and boring after a while. There's a team mode too, so those hoping to work together won't be denied here. One fun aspect of playing with friends is customising the look of your avatar. You can use the Gamepad to take a photo of yourself, and add a cartoon avatar to it. For example, you can have your face in a penguins body, or look like an army general. There's a lot of options, so the laughs can continue for a while. The best part of the whole game perhaps, is My Kong mode. One player will use the Gamepad to take control of a massive robot gorilla (complete with the face of the user, which when revealed is hilarious) who must try to survive and destroy the other players who use the Wii Remotes to try and take the Kong down. A session of this will take quite a few minutes, so you'll feel satisfied (and tired from laughing) when the victor is shown.

Game specifics

As said before, the graphics are pretty standard. There isn't much detail in them, as they're just cartoon, though they lack charm. Still, they don't look bad, per say. It's the look of monsters you face that keep you interested. At times, you may face some glitches, driving through the floor or buildings with no effect can occur, though this doesn't affect the game much. The controls work just fine, as the simplicity of the game doesn't require much controlling apart from moving the tank with either the D-Pad or analogue stick, and shooting with A or 2. Moving about with the D-Pad after a while can hurt your fingers so it's best to stick with the Gamepad. During play with the tv, the Gamepad shows the engines of the tank, which doesn't exactly use the controller's full potential. Some attacks might have been handy. Remote play is possible though, if you really like the game enough to play it anywhere in the house.


Though multiplayer might provide laughs for the first couple of plays, and the design of the robotic creatures are fun enough, the limited single player modes and repetitiveness of gameplay make the game boring within a week of play. Tank! Tank! Tank! is a game best played in short spurts over a long period of time, and worth getting out with your friends for half an hour at the most.


Sunday, 17 February 2013

How Nintendo can sell the Wii U, and why the Wii U isn't selling

In November I wrote an article debating whether or not the Wii U would do well in the United Kingdom and its chance of success. I didn't believe that the Wii U would be the "end of an era" and I was optimistic that it would sell. However, new worries have arisen. I expected that the Wii U, while not as capable of selling loads like the Wii, would still do well. I was wrong. Last month, Wii U sales took only 1.6% of the gaming market, and not a single Wii U game has even made it into the Top 30 charts for games sold. It sold 40,000 at first, but sales have declined rapidly since. It's very likely that all these sales were from Nintendo fans.

These are the reasons why the Wii U is failing:

1. Too high a price point.
The Basic pack is a rip off. £249 for 3GB of game data with no game included. The Premium pack, a much better deal, was still £309 for 32GB, Nintendo Land, and a Premium membership. 90% of the Wii U sales were the Premium pack. However, this is still too high, and many people have resorted to either waiting for a price drop (which Nintendo have foolishly said they won't do) or buying it preowned where Nintendo makes no money. One problem is that Nintendo makes a loss when they sell a Wii U but make a profit when a game is purchased too. When preowned consoles are being bought, Nintendo is making very little.

2. Lack of appeal.
One of the main reasons the Wii sold so well was because of the Wii remote and motion controls. It was easily for the family to join in and any casual gamer would feel much more comfortable playing games like Wii Sports than say, Dark Souls. The Wii U Gamepad is a much harder controller for your Grandmother to get into. Nintendo has attempted to win back the Xbox and PS3 gamer, but those gamers are either past "saving" or the Gamepad seems far too different to their controllers. This means the only people buying the Wii U are Nintendo fans. Nintendo has gone away from one of their biggest consumers. The majority of the UK video game market are Call of Duty and Fifa fans, and Nintendo have alienated themselves from that group. Whilst the Pro Controller shares the same design as an Xbox 360 controller, this isn't advertised, so the less knowledgable market is unaware of this and is instead only aware of the Gamepad. Nintendo sell their first party stuff easiest, and this is among their large fanbase. Nintendo's fanbase, however, is one of the only things keeping them alive. Third-party "hardcore" games that are often on Xbox 360 on the PS3 usually don't feature on Nintendo consoles, so someone buying a new console hoping to buy the next Dead Space, perhaps, won't find it. This moves onto my next point:

3. Nintendo is not advertising their 3rd party games.
Nintendo knows they make more profit off their first party games, but what they haven't grasped is the fact that other games are more socially popular. Watching an advert for New Super Mario Bros. U isn't as cool as it used to be, unfortunately. Luckily for Nintendo, they've got many more popular 3rd party games that would never have been seen on the Wii. For once, Nintendo has big names like Assassins Creed, Mass Effect, and even decent editions of Call of Duty and Fifa. However, Nintendo isn't letting people know they exist. With their casual market gone, Nintendo needs to get the hardcore market in, and showing off Nintendo Land just won't do it.

You wouldn't be a fool to think that Nintendo has some dark times ahead of them, but I still believe the Wii U has some potential, and this is how the Wii U can still be a success:

1. The next Xbox is to be Kinect mandatory, thus taking away the hardcore market from Microsoft.
While it's pretty likely that the Xbox fans will move to the Playstation 4, some may still go to the Wii U if the next Playstation controller is buttonless. If Nintendo is lucky, the sales will be coming to them.

2. Launch a system seller.
Nintendo Land doesn't have quite as much of the appeal that Wii Sports did. While Nintendo is getting some exclusives like Bayonetta and Rayman (Oh wait, betrayal!), it hasn't got much special right now. Their first party titles will still sell amongst the devoted, but Nintendo needs to get those who weren't previously interested. Perhaps bringing back some old first party franchises like F-Zero may appeal to the racing fans, but Nintendo needs to get some popular third party titles to make them more likely to sell, and if they're lucky, try and make them exclusive.
(Just a hint, Nintendo, Lego City: Undercover just isn't your killer app)

3. Get the families back in.
Nintendo fans may have hated their casual approach, but the smart ones would have known that it was keeping their beloved company in business. The upcoming Wii Party U NEEDS to be advertised, as well as the new Wii Fit U. Quite simply, Nintendo needs to appeal to the "casual" and "hardcore", not just their fanbase, who will buy their stuff no matter what.

There is still hope. The 3DS sold below expectations when it came out due to the fact there were hardly any good games to buy it. However, now due to games like Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and Resident Evil: Relevations, it's selling much better. As long as Nintendo plays their cards right, and Microsoft and Sony don't, they'll be back on track.