Wii

Wii U – A Farewell

This month marks the closure of the official Wii U Facebook page. While the low-selling Nintendo home console was officially discontinued in the beginning of 2017, games are still being produced with 16 games released in 2018 and two more on the horizon by the end of 2019, at least in the North America region. In fact, over 760 Wii U games have been released to date worldwide.

So what went wrong with the Wii U? Being that it came out in 2012, there’s certainly a lot of articles that attempt to explain why the Wii U was not the hit success the Wii before it was or why the Nintendo Switch has already done better from a sales perspective. First, I do want to sum-up what people mean by the Wii U being a failure, a black sheep, or not a success. Normally, video game console success is measured by number of units sold in addition to how long the console or an iteration of it, is on the market.

We know that the Wii U sold just over 13.5 million consoles worldwide. This makes the Wii U Nintendo’s lowest selling home console, not counting the NES Classic, SNES Classic, and VirtualBOY. That’s right, the GameCube not only outsold the Wii U but actually sold over 21 million units by comparison. The Nintendo Switch has already passed the GameCube’s sales numbers (sold from 2001-2007) in less than two years on the market, with around 23 million Switch units sold.

Successful consoles like the PlayStation 2 (2000-2013) and Wii (2006-2017) have both sold over 100 million units with the PS2 selling over 150 million if you include every version released over that console’s incredible production run. The Wii U had two versions, both at launch, the white 8GB model and the Deluxe 32GB model in black. The Wii would have several versions over the years, just like the PS2. They’d release in different sizes, colors, and with different features from their original counterparts.

Image result for Wii U

Alright, so it didn’t sell well. But why didn’t people buy the Wii U after the Wii’s success? Was it the game library? Boasting over 760 games might not sound impressive when the Nintendo Switch already has over 1,200 games in 1/3 the time but the Wii U’s game library actually isn’t as small as you think. The Nintendo 64 (1996-2002), which outsold the original Xbox (2001-2009) by over 37%, had a library about half the size of the Wii U at just 388 games but sold almost 33 million units.

It must have been the launch window then. Nothing to play at launch? That’s a fair criticism. I don’t shy away from saying I’m a Nintendo fanboy, because I most certainly am. If you ever listened to my time on the Gamer Heroes podcast’s first 60 episodes, you’d get that pretty quick. But to be clear, I own a lot of Nintendo consoles leaving out the VirtualBOY and a few of the GameBoy and DS iterations. I camped out for the Wii in 2006… for 39.5 hours. But when the Wii U came along, I didn’t camp out. I didn’t pre-order. I didn’t even go to the store to pick one up. This was due to the games available at launch, for me. There wasn’t much to choose from that I cared about, personally, at least not on a Nintendo console.

Sure, New Super Mario Bros. U was there but Super Mario 3D World wouldn’t release for just over a year. There wasn’t even a Zelda game at launch. The Wind Waker HD wouldn’t come out for 11 months and it wasn’t even a new game! It was a remaster of the 2002 GameCube game. The only actually new Zelda game released on the Wii U was Breath of the Wild which was also released on the brand new Switch console. Mario Kart 8 took until May of 2014, about 18 months after release of the Wii U and 6 years since the previous Wii incarnation. Super Smash Bros. was two full years after the console came out. It never got a Metroid game. No Castlevania. And Splatoon, the game that so many people love now, didn’t release until May 2015, about 30 months AFTER the console launched.Wii U

I eventually bought a Wii U in the summer of 2013, about 9 or so months after it came out. I played New Super Mario Bros and ZombiU, along with Nintendo Land. But I mainly played my Wii which was now living as a legit, official emulator inside my Wii U thanks to their transfer process. So, I upgraded because I could use a single console and play the newer games. Of course I ended up with some great games like Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, ZombiU, and the surprisingly fun Luigi U. All-in-all, I only have 9 physical Wii U games at this point. I had a few others like Pokken Tournament, but traded them in long ago for something else. The only Nintendo console I own fewer games for is the GameCube and that’s because I didn’t actually own one until last year, aside from the built-in Wii functionality that led to a couple games like Super Smash Bros. Melee. So when it’s all said and done, the Wii U might have had a larger library than the N64 but I have countless more games for the older console that one could argue hasn’t even aged as well.

People were confused too. I still have to explain to people that the Wii and Wii U were completely different things. No, the Wii U is not a Wii with a tablet. No, the Wii U isn’t just the tablet as an add-on to the Wii. The Wii U was Nintendo’s next generation console, a mid-gen console to many in the industry due to its more Nintendo-esque limited hardware. So here’s a little explanation. The Wii U was the next step in Wii development. It had better hardware, a larger form factor, no GameCube controller or memory card support, no mini-disc support, and its primary controller was a handheld tablet with physical buttons.

Image result for Wii U

Okay, so you know what it is but was it a good thing? Well, the tablet was a neat concept. Some games leveraged it really well, like ZombiU. In that game, a zombie game, you watch the TV for what you, as a character, can see and then the tablet acted as your inventory, map, details, etc. Other games, like New Super Mario Bros., just mirrored the TV screen, which did mean you could play on the tablet while someone else used the TV for another console or something. Some games like Nintendo Land allowed one player to use the tablet to perform a task like hiding, while the other players saw everything else on the TV and tried to find the hiding player. Some took advantage of the motion controls like StarFox Zero, with the tablet being inside the cockpit and the TV being a third-person view. The final group didn’t use the tablet screen at all, like Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Wii U. It was blank, basically.

At the end of the day, the Wii U was essentially a Nintendo Switch prototype. It had the tablet; you could play away from the TV. But it still required a full console box and the range of the tablet was only a few feet and certainly not through walls… I tried. Even though the Wii U was no powerhouse, it did have some cool features. It kept the Wii alive along with the Virtual Console we all miss on the Switch. It was compatible with essentially all of the Wii controllers, accessories, and such, save a few. It kept the GameCube controller alive with its USB adapter for Smash Bros., which we will see again this December. And it ended up with a substantial library of games, some of which I wish more people had tried out.

To that end, as the Facebook pages for the Wii U close on the day I’m writing this, I’d like to just say goodbye to the Wii U. For a Nintendo fanboy, the Wii U is a prime example of Nintendo’s guts, quirkiness, and style. For a general consumer, the Wii U was an odd, confusing, and seemingly unnecessary upgrade to the Wii.

If you owned a Wii U, I’d love to hear your stories. What were your favorite games? What about features? I’d love to hear about all of it because I do love the Wii U, as strange as that might be.

R.I.P.
Wii U
2012-2017
13.5 million sold

If you enjoyed this article, please consider following me on Twitter @TheStarTrekDude!

You can also find me and my thoughts on the Screen Heroes and Redshirts & Runabouts podcasts right here on the Heroes Podcast Network.

Game on!

Wii U – A Farewell

GH45: 2018 Predictions & 2017 Grade

We kick of 2018 with a look back at our 2017 Predictions. We’ll go over our guesses for 2017 and see what we got right and what we clearly got wrong. Then it’s on to some news for the week followed up by our brand new 2018 video game industry predictions! We’d love to hear your predictions too! Hit us up @HeroesPodcasts on Twitter or Facebook to let us know your video game 2018 predictions.

01:30 – 2017 Prediction Grading

21:45 – News: Vive Pro, Mutant Football League, Mario Kart Wii, Super Meat Boy

40:50 – 2018 Predictions

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A Heroes Podcast Network Production

Hosts
Jon Czerwinski
Derreck Mayer

Executive Producer & Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Flying Killer Robots

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GH45: 2018 Predictions & 2017 Grade

GH03: What is Retro Gaming?

What is Retro Gaming? This week we ask the question and then try to answer it. We first kick things off with some news surrounding the new  DC fighting game Injustice 2 before discussing the latest Nintendo Switch and Zelda: Breath of the Wild news. We talk a bit about what games we are currently playing. Hit up @HeroesPodcasts on Twitter with the tag #currentlyplaying to let us know what you’re up to!

After a lively discussion there we dive into the concept of retro gaming. What makes a game retro? What makes a console retro? How does this impact pc gaming? Handheld? We discuss all of these aspects breaking down graphics, game play, technology, release date, and more. Check out the list below for some hot points to jump to.

1:40 – Injustice 2

12:20 – Nintendo Switch news

19:25 – Zelda: Breath of the Wild

26:55 – Currently Playing

37:00 – Retro Gaming

1:10:00 – Closing and possible contest!

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Gamer Heroes Podcast Credits

Hosts
Jon Czerwinski
David Doherty
Derreck Mayer

Executive Producer
Derreck Mayer

Editor
Derreck Mayer

Music
Michael Wallace (Flying Killer Robots)

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GH03: What is Retro Gaming?

Nintendo Reveals Switch (NX)

(updated 10/20/2016 4:20PM EST)

Nintendo reveals the Switch and hybrid console coming in March 2017.

Press release:

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 20, 2016 – In an introductory video released today (http://www.nintendo.com/switch), Nintendo provided the first glimpse of its new home gaming system and revealed that it is called Nintendo Switch. In addition to providing single and multiplayer thrills at home, the Nintendo Switch system also enables gamers to play the same title wherever, whenever and with whomever they choose. The mobility of a handheld is now added to the power of a home gaming system to enable unprecedented new video game play styles.

At home, Nintendo Switch rests in the Nintendo Switch Dock that connects the system to the TV and lets you play with family and friends in the comfort of your living room. By simply lifting Nintendo Switch from the dock, the system will instantly transition to portable mode, and the same great gaming experience that was being enjoyed at home now travels with you. The portability of Nintendo Switch is enhanced by its bright high-definition display. It brings the full home gaming system experience with you to the park, on an airplane, in a car, or to a friend’s apartment.

Nintendo Switch Hardware

Gaming springs into action by removing detachable Joy-Con controllers from either side of Nintendo Switch. One player can use a Joy-Con controller in each hand; two players can each take one; or multiple Joy-Con can be employed by numerous people for a variety of gameplay options. They can easily click back into place or be slipped into a Joy-Con Grip accessory, mirroring a more traditional controller. Or, if preferred, the gamer can select an optional Nintendo Switch Pro Controller to use instead of the Joy-Con controllers. Furthermore, it is possible for numerous people to bring their Nintendo Switch systems together to enjoy local multiplayer face-to-face competition.

Nintendo Switch Logo
“Nintendo Switch allows gamers the freedom to play however they like,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, President and COO, Nintendo of America. “It gives game developers new abilities to bring their creative visions to life by opening up the concept of gaming without boundaries.”Developers can design their games supporting a variety of play styles, which gives gamers the freedom to choose an experience that best suits them. Some of the publishers, developers and middleware partners announcing support for Nintendo Switch are as follows:
  • 505 Games
  • Activision Publishing, Inc.
  • ARC SYSTEM WORKS Co., Ltd.
  • ATLUS CO., LTD.
  • Audiokinetic Inc.
  • Autodesk, Inc.
  • BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.
  • Bethesda
  • CAPCOM CO., LTD.
  • Codemasters®
  • CRI Middleware Co., Ltd.
  • DeNA Co., Ltd.
  • Electronic Arts
  • Epic Games Inc.
  • Firelight Technologies
  • FromSoftware, Inc.
  • Frozenbyte
  • GameTrust
  • GRASSHOPPER MANUFACTURE INC.
  • Gungho Online Entertainment, Inc.
  • HAMSTER Corporation
  • Havok
  • INTI CREATES CO., LTD.
  • KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD.
  • Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.
  • LEVEL-5 Inc.
  • Marvelous Inc.
  • Maximum Games, LLC
  • Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
  • Parity Bit Inc.
  • PlatinumGames Inc.
  • RAD Game Tools, Inc.
  • RecoChoku Co., Ltd.
  • SEGA Games Co., Ltd.
  • Silicon Studio Corporation
  • Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd.
  • SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD.
  • Starbreeze Studios
  • Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.
  • Telltale Games
  • THQ Nordic
  • Tokyo RPG Factory Co., Ltd.
  • TT Games
  • UBISOFT
  • Ubitus Inc.
  • Unity Technologies, Inc.
  • Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
  • Web Technology Corp

Today’s video incorporated short glimpses of representative gameplay to demonstrate the liberating nature of the Nintendo Switch home gaming system. Full game demonstrations, the list of launch window titles, as well as launch date, price, product configuration and related specifics, will be shown and announced prior to the March launch.

Nintendo Switch Partners

You can already sign up for Amazon notifications in the US. To do so, click here!

So what do you think of the new console? Is it a must buy? Comment below!

Watch the release video here!

Some interesting things to note from the video:

  1. We never saw anyone touch the tablet screen, so did they remove touch screen functionality?
  2. We did see any dual screen play (something different on the TV and the tablet) for the same game
  3. These two feature changes would essentially eliminate DS and Wii U game compatibility

We got some additional clarification from IGN about the home console. In short, the Switch will indeed support Amiibo. Additionally, the docking station is not part of the console and instead acts as a power station and output to TV. The hardware of the Switch itself is inside the tablet device. Also, the two Joy-Con controllers that attach to the side of the tablet are included with the Switch console.

Finally, when asked about touch screen support, Nintendo did not directly answer, saying more information would be coming. That is an interesting answer given the touch screen history of the Wii U and DS consoles paired with the lack of showcasing such functionality in the reveal video.

Nintendo Reveals Switch (NX)

HTC Vive Review

I recently had the chance to try the HTC Vive, the next generation virtual reality peripheral.  I spent about 4 hours taking things for a test spin, poking, prodding, and testing the hardware capabilities. Going into this I had questions about the Vive and this new VR wave in general. Is it a gimmick? Is it truly as immersive as they say? Most importantly, is it worth the money? Well I’d say sorta. Here’s what I think of it so far.

Brief History of VR

I don’t know, I’ve always been drawn to new takes or concepts and I’m always on the look out for new ways to interact with technology, but ever since VR was first touted in the 90s with films like Lawn Mower Man, I was always let down. Gimmicky devices like the failed Nintendo Virtual Boy had left me jaded as to the possibility of having anything like the Holodeck anytime soon.

Wii Comparison
That being said the Vive bares some similarities with Nintendo’s Wii. Both are creative and innovative ways of interacting with a games. They also are both great at bring otherwise non-gamers in to gaming. Interestingly, because of the unique interface, it poses both a puzzle and an opportunity to make games.

The Wii brought motion controls to the fore front and virtually every other gaming system incorporated a wiggle, wag, or a wave into there list of user controls. More Importantly, although the Wii was slightly gimmicky it opened up everyone’s eyes to a new way to play. The Vive is at a very similar crossroads. I believe it is the first VR device that is actually up to the task.

Wii

Level of Immersion 
All of the hardware allows an unprecedented level of immersion.  Every movement and location is tracked flawlessly in real time 1-for-1, enough to fool your instincts up to the nearest millimeter. The 3D vision from the headset coupled with precise motion controls tricks your mind into thinking you are actually in the game. Proof of this to me was treating the virtual world as if it where real.

In one game, although I knew support beams and furniture wasn’t actually there, I had to fight the urge to place the real life controllers on them. I often found myself bobbing and weaving around obstacles that weren’t actually there. Not to mention the actual game mechanics. When the in-game baddies charged in to attack I flinched and backed away, much like a child would when first experiencing video games. I was having as much fun as that small kid playing games for the first time.

Games covered
I played three games and for the most part they reminded me of the Wii Sports and Wii Play games. Sure, incredibly fun to play in their own right but they were fairly simple in both look and function. They are often meant to demonstrate a concept or idea that would otherwise not even be possible on other platforms. And much like the Wii, they were meant to give both game developers and game players ideas of what the Vive can do for gaming. Let’s take a look at those three games next.

Space Pirates: takes inspiration from Tron Legacy. It’s a basic shooter with a techno feel and neon look. You hold lasers in both hands and shoot down drones in a kind of futuristic trap shoot, except the clay targets are shooting back. You fire in powerful slow moving shots or in much weaker rapid fire. To help you out you can draw a shield barrier that can protect you from one angle as your enemy tries to circle around and hit you in the flank. When this fails you can actually dodge and move out of the way in a “bullet time” style when time slows down.

Space Pirate GIF 1

On the whole Space Pirates was a fun challenge as it gets progressively more difficult. Groups of drones hold formation in front of you to draw your attention while others flank you. After learning this trick I’d draw my shield between me and the formation and take out the flankers when they popped up over the horizon. Both your pistols and movements are tracked flawlessly 1-for-1. It felt much more like playing a sport than actually playing a game. Exactly the kind of immersion I’ve been graving.

Space Pirate GIF 2

The Lab:  not so much a game as it is a platform for VR ideas. Many of the features of The Lab are only marginally interactive. The robot repair sequence or solar system model have you more as a passive observer. My favorite by far was the bow and arrow simulation. Holding the bow in one hand and pulling the arrow back felt incredibly realistic. It took some getting used to but it was very satisfying when I got the hang of it. But the amateur astronomer in me was giddy walking around the solar system, chucking planets that I grabbed along the way. This was obviously a great educational or professional tool. Imagine looking at a chemical molecule and walking around inspecting it. The Lab was all done in the Portal video game feel with GLADOS making appearance. As you might imagine it was incredible funny.

The Lab

Zombie Training Simulator: as an avid shooter fan I really wanted to try this one. Sure the zombies coming at you where only cardboard but everything else was realistic, especially the firearms. Besides, I wanted a more realistic shooter than Space Pirates. I was curious at just how easily you could look down real iron sights in the game. At first, my reflexes brought the gun on target, much as it would with something like what a Colt 1911. The in-game guns would shoot like I was pointing my finger at the target, very realistic. At greater ranges the Glock’s U shaped irons sights weren’t that useful but other guns like the MP5 and M4 allowed from the shoulder firing, much as you would in real life. It all felt realistic and accurate. Having to manually aim like this would make “run and gun” tactics in modern day shooters like Call of Duty obsolete, rewarding skill and reflexes, not foolhardiness.

Zombie Training Simulator

Final Thoughts
The HTC Vive is an incredible experience that everyone can enjoy. Sure the price tag is steep ($800, about 1 months rent) but it’s a first step in a completely new frontier of gaming that other game makers are sure to follow. And it’s true that there aren’t many 3rd party developers or in-depth games just yet. But  I imagine as time goes on prices will drop and more and more people will adopt. Developers will follow and we will be living in a new era of gaming. The Vive is more than just some gimmick but for what it’s promising and the price, I’d wait a little longer. Trust me, if I had the money to spend, I’d buy a Vive. I’m ready for VR.
Pros:

  • Immersive beyond compare
  • Clever use of motion controls simpliefies gameplay, no need of multiple buttons
  • A new way to play, making even mundane gaming chores fun
  • Cheap games

Cons:

  • Price tag reminds me of the Sega Saturn’s initially high price
  • The headset isn’t terribly comfortable and sometimes you don’t want to move around a front room just to play a simple game
  • Due to the 3D drain on the system and motion sensing there isn’t much computer resources left for pretty games
  • Not much 3rd party support just yet

Have you had a chance to try any of the new VR platforms? Comment below with your thoughts!

HTC Vive Review

Bowser Party: Mario Party 10 Review

The tenth installment of the virtual board game Mario Party 10,  released in March of this year, has been the brunt on several jokes throughout the gaming world and endless negative critiques on their new approach. As far as hatred goes, I do not find myself among these ranks since I find myself playing it often when my wife and I have friends over, but I still can’t shake the feeling that Mario Party will never be the great game it used to be ever again.

There are multiple reasons why this game simply doesn’t meet the mark.  Primarily it has to do with its gameplay structure. It pretty much mirrors Mario Party 9‘s changes. Minigames of course are a huge part of it, but almost every other element has been completely rethought and changed. Truthfully, it was almost as if everything my childhood loved about Mario Party would forever be forgotten on today’s generation.  For those unaware, the gameplay has shifted to individually moving characters on a game board. Each blue space landed on grants the roller three coins, red spaces, their opposite, take away three coins. Blue spaces have been replaced with being granted a special dice block.  These dice consist of slow dice, 1-3 dice, 4-6 dice, multiple dice…etc.  Red spaces simply are non-existent expect for in Amiibo play.  More on that later.

So you may be asking, so do I still get coins from minigames? Ha! Nope! So are there coins at all??? Well, uh…..no. Mario Party without coins?? Yep.  Instead, your character collects stars. These are essentially replaceable with coins from the previous Mario Party games. You win them from minigames, and the board awards you with them if you land on the right spaces and choose the best route. Essentially, you’re still competing for stars, but the stakes are much lower.

Mario Party 10 KartThe actual board work has completely changed as well.  All of the players ride in a cart of sorts together.  Characters take turns being the leader, or director of the cart, and are responsible for everything that happens when they are in command.  For example, if they pass through a gate rewarding 10 stars, then they go to the captain.  This is a pretty cool idea on paper. However, it simply falls short in practice.  The problem is that it completely destroys the competitive nature of Mario Party and simply doesn’t even compare with its forefathers.

What about the other modes of play, and the minigames?  I’ll start with the easiest to talk about, the minigames are very standard Mario Party minigames, and they really are a lot of fun.  It really does feel like the older games when you’re playing them. However, the problem is that they have no stake in the single player at all really.  In the older games, you had to gain coins to buy stars to win, which you really only got from minigames.  The games in the new installment only award those pesky stars, and they’re fairly generous to the point where the competition falls through the cracks.

Mario Party 10 Amiibo BoardIn the honesty of full disclosure, I’d like to come clean and say that I am too cheap to buy all the pesky Amiibo. So I haven’t actually played this one, but I’ve done my research.  Amiibo Play allows you to enjoy a similar style of gameplay that is nostalgic of the old ways.  Blue spaces award three coins, red the opposite, and stars cost twenty coins. Even the way you navigate the board is similar.  However, the board is small, like really, really small, and it’s completely linear with no freedom of direction.  Once again, the development of competition fails.

Mario Party 10 Bowser ModeLast, but not least, the part everyone has been waiting for.  What about Bowser mode? A brilliant idea really.  Have the fifth player control the Wii U Gamepad and play as Bowser.  I agree, it was a brilliant idea. However, this is one of the most broken games types I have ever played in my life of playing video games…which has been my life…all of it. Of the five times that I have played the Bower mode, team Mario has one once and from some of the articles I’ve read, looks like we got lucky.  Here’s the premise: team Mario all have to roll their dice blocks and hope to get far away from Bowser, who, when his turn arrives, rolls four dice to catch up.  Unless Baby Bowser gives him another die….which he does….a lot…then Bowser rolls five, or six dice to catch up which he almost always does.  In fact, if he doesn’t catch Team Mario, Baby Bowser will let him roll again! Yeah, this game type is so broken, it isn’t even funny.  I keep waiting for a Nintendo patch, but it hasn’t happened yet and probably never will.

All in all, I can see what Nintendo was trying to do and I can really respect them for trying to mix things up.  They have some great minds over there coming up with great ideas. Unfortunately, the execution was poor. I haven’t given up on the franchise and wouldn’t mind seeing some more work on it.  Mario Party 11 could be the break through. Seriously, it has potential. It just needs a lot of work.

Have you played Mario Party 10? Do you agree or disagree? Comment below! We’d love to hear what you think.

Bowser Party: Mario Party 10 Review

Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata Dies

I am going to keep this brief. Nintendo has announced that their CEO and employee since the 1980’s, Satoru Iwata has died at the age of 55. He had health issues recently but many, myself included, hoped he had recovered.

I am a Nintendo fan boy. Always have been. I love what they do and what their style stands for. Iwata saw the company through some amazingly good and bad times, everything from the GameBoy, DS, and GameCube through the Wii, 3DS, and Wii U. He also brought us the Nintendo Direct videos, which I used to write about in my old weekly column “Nintendo World”.

Whether you are a fan boy like me or not, Nintendo helped shape the video game revolution and Iwata was there. The industry will surely miss him as will the fans of Nintendo’s legendary franchises.

Rest in peace, Satoru.

Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata Dies