The Stupid Gamer

Video Games, Opinions, Thoughts, & Tomfoolery

The Stupid Gamer - Video Games, Opinions, Thoughts, & Tomfoolery

Best Buy, Nintendo team up for 3DS SpotPass

Good news for 3DS owners: Retail giant Best Buy and Nintendo of America are teaming up to bring you SpotPass downloads and features to your 3DS. The goodies start June 7th (the same day as Nintendo’s E3 conference) and one day after the June 6th system update which brings 3DS owners the long awaited eShop, as well as other things.

Personally, I’m really glad to see this. I was worried SpotPass would go the way of WiiConnect24 (i.e., no where). This is certainly good to hear! Let’s hope we see more of this kind of thing in the future.

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Press release:

Nintendo and Best Buy to Bring Custom Downloadable Content to Nintendo 3DS Owners

Nintendo 3DS Will Connect Automatically to Best Buy Wireless Hot Spots

REDMOND, Wash. & MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Nintendo and retail partner Best Buy are collaborating to give Nintendo 3DS™ owners customized, automatic wireless access at some 1,000 select Best Buy store locations nationwide beginning June 7. Once connected, the service will provide access to a variety of fun content via the system’s built-in Wi-Fi functionality, including the new SpotPass™ feature. The Best Buy service will also include exclusive offers as well as additional entertainment content such as gaming extras and movie trailers. Nintendo 3DS, which lets people see 3D visuals without the need for special glasses, launched March 27 at a suggested retail price of $249.99.

“Nintendo 3DS turns the page in portable gaming not just because of the stunning, glasses-free 3D visuals, but also in the way it keeps people connected to their friends, their games and their world,” said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime. “Best Buy provides a firsthand look at the platform with experts to help people understand everything it offers.”

“We want our customers to fully tap into the potential of their Nintendo 3DS device, so we’re pleased to offer free access to special Wi-Fi and SpotPass content in-store,” said Chris Homeister, senior vice president of entertainment for Best Buy. “As a retail partner for SpotPass, this is another way that we’re delivering best-in-class gaming experiences at our stores across the country.”

Remember that Nintendo 3DS features parental controls that let adults manage the content their children can access. For more information about this and other features, visit http://www.nintendo3ds.com.

What Nintendo needs to do with their next console

Speculation is wild regarding the next Nintendo console, which as confirmed to be an HD console. For some fans, simply having a Wii that’s capable of 1080 resolutions. For most, however, Nintendo is in need of some reparations in order to get the hardcore to embrace their next offering. I’ve done some digging around into the rumors, have touched base with some developers I know and some PR people and they seem to think Nintendo is sincere in their desire to regain popularity with hardcore gamers and it’s not just lip service to ensure a strong launch support. So what does Nintendo do to get back in the good graces of the hardcore audience?

Better Online Support

One of the most important areas in which Nintendo needs to improve is in their online offerings. The Wii is online-enabled, but it’s pretty horrible overall in regards to the experience you get with online play. Nintendo needs to make friends list management easier, communication a focal point in gameplay, and a better solution for downloading games, content, and updates/fixes. To accomplish this, Nintendo is going to have to back off of their nanny tendencies and trust in parental supervision a bit more. It’s unlike Nintendo to open up the gates to wider communication via their platforms, but the time is now if they want to seriously contend in the online realm.

And for the love of all that is good and holy, Nintendo, make the Virtual Console service better!

A Standard Control Scheme out of the Box

Using a Classic Controller or a GameCube controller is a decent way to play games in a more standard manner on the Wii, but since neither controller came with the console, the inclusion of standard control schemes in games was an option that was typically an afterthought for many developers. With rumors swirling of a screen embedded into the controller, it’s nice to hear just as many rumors saying that the controller has a dual analog setup. How’s this for crazy? Nintendo has NEVER had a console with a dual analog controller unless it was an optional accessory. It’s time to get on the dual analog train, Nintendo.

Standard Media

While just about everybody has more DVD players than TV sets these days, it can’t hurt for Nintendo to finally support a common disc format that allows the system to play media other than video games. A blu-ray player would be nice, but if they don’t opt for blu-ray, DVD has to be the choice, despite its limited storage capacity. Swapping discs from time to time is preferable to an oddball format that doesn’t allow for any other uses.

Actual 3rd Party Support!

Nintendo has always raked in huge profits thanks to their high selling 1st party games, but no console in history has ever won the console war on the strength of their 1st party library alone. It’s time that Nintendo opens its doors more widely to 3rd parties and provides them with better tools, licensing agreements, and does a better job promoting 3rd party offerings. Many times Microsoft or Sony will help 3rd parties advertise their games and it always helps push more units through the sales channel. Nintendo needs to do the same.

Bring Back Core Titles Development

Miis are everywhere these days, and when used properly they’re great. However, aside from a handful of Zelda and Metroid titles, Nintendo has been far too casual with their offerings to appease the hardcore crowd. Not since Perfect Dark has Nintendo had a strong FPS offering (no, Geist doesn’t count) come from one of their own studios. That’s far too long. Keep up with the Marios and Zeldas, but explore some deeper content as well. While 3rd parties could carry the majority of this burden, it’s the 1st parties that generally need to provide the exclusives.

Make the Gimmicks Count and Support Them

Nintendo loves to engage in quirky behavior with their hardware. Sometimes the quirks turn into significant contributions to the industry (trigger buttons, rumble, d-pad, etc.), and other times those quirks fizzle and are left in the past (bongos, GBA link, Wii Speak, etc.) to fill closet space. While I don’t want Nintendo to stop pushing out their quirky accessories, they need to do a better job at supporting them once they’re out. The Wii Balance Board had some potential that was definitely left untapped. It’s fine to experiment, but don’t leave the buyers out in the cold once they gamble on new concepts.

It’s a long list of things that Nintendo needs to do, but I think that’s pretty indicative of where they stand with the hardcore crowd. Nostalgia always propels Nintendo’s efforts with the older crowd, but that effect seems to be losing its potency as each year goes by. If Nintendo is truly serious about becoming a mainstay in the hardcore gaming circles again, they better come to the next generation with a new attitude and a broader vision. We’ll find out more at E3 2011 this June.

Report: Nintendo to unveil a new HD console at E3

Game Informer is reporting that several sources have confirmed that Nintendo will be announcing and unveiling a new HD console at E3 this year. In an article posted on their website, Game Informer pieces together some quotes from people who have seen the console and they also report that developers are already being brought into the loop. It sounds of Nintendo is going to make this one very developer friendly and is going to be finally joining the ranks of the HD gaming movement.

Nothing has been said in regards to whether or not the console will have motion controls, but one anonymous source did say, “Nintendo is doing this one right. [It’s] not a gimmick like the Wii.” While I hope that doesn’t spell doom for motion controls, I do hope that it means that a more standard control scheme will be optional for developers and gamers to use if they wish to do so.

Check out the full story at Game Informer: http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2011/04/14/new-nintendo-console-at-e3.aspx

Update: More sources are reporting, and now it looks as if there will be an announcement this month. Also, IGN is saying that the new console will indeed be backwards compatible with Wii software. Some sources are saying it surpasses the 360 and Ps3 in power, others are saying it’s just shy of the Xbox 360. We’ll wait for official specs to call that one.

Best Zelda fan art ever?

In honor of The Legend of Zelda’s 25th anniversary, an artist in Japan posted this image that he created himself. The picture is amazing (click the image to enlarge), and I wouldn’t be surprised if this artist had a future in doing concept art in the gaming industry somewhere. Check it out, it’s quite good.

The Legend of Zelda Fan Art (click to enlarge)

NES game collecting after day 1

So yesterday I posted about how I was going to try to collect all the North American NES games. Well, things kind of got out of hand from there. A few hours later I went from a decent stash to owning 1/3 of the releases. Some of the games I picked up are unofficial releases, so I’m debating whether or not I want to keep them or to sell them to fun the purchase of official releases. I’ll make that decision later, but for now here’s a pic of the day 1 haul, which came in at just under 250 games.

It’s becoming more and more apparent that I might have issues.

Also, anybody interested in donating to my noble cause should feel free to contact me. I’m also interested in purchasing. Email me at jar155 [at] gmail.com.

A SHMUP brush up

With the release of Sin & Punishment: Star Successor for the Wii and Deathsmiles (impressions for both coming soon) for the Xbox 360, I figured I’d give a brief overview of the shoot ‘em up (shmup) genre and point out some of my favorites. The genre itself is about as old as gaming, and it’s one that has managed to survive despite their very distinct and niche attributes. I think the genre survives because it really boils down gaming into its most basic elements: shoot, dodge, advance, repeat to perfection.

As a subgenre of the shooter genre, the shoot ‘em up name applies to many types of experiences. There are fixed shooters, scrolling shooters, multi-directional shooters, on-rails shooters, manic shooters, run and gun, and a few oddball types. Let’s take a look at each one and point out some notable games.

Fixed Shooters

Fixed shooters are one  of the earliest variations on the shmup genre. Games like Space Invaders, Galaxian, or Galaga have the player at a fixed point on the Y-axis at the bottom of the screen and the player must move along the X-axis to attack enemies that move across both axes. The screen doesn’t scroll, but there might be multiple levels where variations of enemy types or objects on the screen appear. There aren’t a lot of these shooters being released today, but they do still make appearances from time to time, such as Space Invaders Extreme.

Some fixed shooters allow the player to move along the X-axis or even on both axes, but the screen doesn’t scroll nor does the player shoot in more than one direction (always shoots up or across the screen). Games like Yars’ Revenge allow for both Y and X axis movement, but the player is only able to shoot horizontally.

A Few Notable Fixed Shooter Franchises: Space Invaders, Galaxian, Galaga, Pleaids, Phoenix, Centipede, Demon Attack, Pooyan, Atlantis

Scrolling Shooters

Scrolling shooters are the type of shoot ‘em ups that are most familiar to the average gamer. They come in a few variations, including vertical, horizontal, and isometric. The scrolling shooter is nearly 3o years old, and Defender is credited with ushering in this style back in 1981. In this type of shooter, the screen will scroll either automatically (forced) or by advancing forward or backward through the level. Some of the biggest franchises in the shmup genre fall within this type of shooter. Many shooter fans consider the scrolling shooters to be the most “pure” style of shooters.

This and multi-directional shooters are the most popular forms of the genre left a live today. There is some overlap between the styles, but for the most part they’re easily differentiated.

A Few Notable Scrolling Shooter Franchises: Defender, Gradius, R-Type, 1942, Blazing Star, Mars Matrix, Legendary Wings, Scramble, DoDonPachi, Star Soldier, Espgaluda, Ikaruga, Radiant Silvergun, Guwange, Gunbird 2, Spy Hunter, and many, many, many more.

Multi-Directional Shooters

Multi-directional shooters are still quite popular today, and they are actually the oldest sub-genre in the shoot ‘em up family and as old as video games themselves. Spacewar! kicked off the genre back in 1962. It featured two ships that flew around a fixed screen and attempted to shoot at each other. This style is called multi-directional because you can travel and shoot in any direction rather than on fixed angles. Games like Asteroids and Smash TV really propelled the multi-directional shooter genre forward and they were a massive hit in arcades. This style of shooter really took off again recently with the re-emergence of twin stick and touch screen controls. Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 have several games available that fit into this sub-genre.

A Few Notable Multi-Directional Shooter Franchises: Asteroids, Computer Space, Smash TV, Geometry Wars, Bangai-O, Berzerk, Super Stardust, Star Control, Time Pilot, Sinistar, Robotron: 2084

On-Rails Shooters

On-rail shooters are similar to scrolling shooters, but the player movement is limited to a pre-defined path through the environment, and in many cases so is the camera viewing angle. Many on-rails shooters give the illusion of a larger world, but the player is guided down a fairly specific tunnel. Space Harrier and After Burner are a couple of on-rails shooters that really gave the genre its start. Enemies in this style of shooter tend to be larger, take more damage to defeat, and will often remain on screen for longer amounts of time.

A Few Notable On-Rails Shooter Franchises: Space Harrier, After Burner, Panzer Dragoon, Star Fox, Rez, Sin & Punishment, and several Star Wars titles.

Manic Shooters

Manic shooters, or bullet hell shooters, really are just scrolling shooters, but they have a distinct look and feel to them that many people classify them differently. Above I mentioned several manic shooters in the notable scrolling shooter list, as I tend to prefer to conflate the types under one umbrella. But in all fairness, manic shooters do offer a different experience. The biggest difference between a manic shooter and a more traditional scrolling shooter is the sheer number of projectiles that are thrown at the player. Rather than reasonable levels of enemies coming at you, manic shooters flood the screen with both enemies and bullets. The player’s ship (or character) usually has a fairly small hit box, allowing the player to dodge and weave through the non-stop onslaught of bullets. Memorizing attack patterns is essential to surviving bullet hell games.

This style of shmup is definitely the most challenging, and as a result, it’s also the most niche. Gamers that prefer this style of shooter thrive on the constant edge of your seat gameplay and the extreme concentration it takes to survive. Many of these games will offer alternate endings, bonus levels, or other hidden gems for completing the game under certain circumstances, such as no deaths or not using any special weapons. Cave is the current king and by most accounts the pioneer of manic shooter developers; but many will argue that Treasure has a better touch for the genre.

A Few Notable Manic Shooter Franchises: Ikaruga, DonPachi, Radiant Silvergun, Ikaruga, Guwange, Mars Matrix, Strikers 1945, Castle of Shikigami, Espgaluda, Touhou

Run and Gun Shooters

Run and Gun shooters can also fit within some of the other categories, depending on their execution, but the one characteristic that sets these apart from the rest is that they’re typically games where the player controls a character or vehicle that is on the ground. These shooters can incorporate on-rails gameplay, vertical or horizontal scrolling, multi-directional controls, and even elements of bullet hell gameplay. The run and gun style of shooter is also one that’s been around for a long time. The games may have small bits of platforming mixed in with the shooting, but it’s the shooting that is the main focus in these games, by far. Arcades and home consoles in the 8-bit and 16-bit era saw practically endless releases of run and gun shooters. Today there are still releases in this style of shooter, but they’re nowhere near as common as they used to be.

A Few Notable Run and Gun Shooter Franchises: Contra, Gunstar Heroes, Metal Slug, PN.03, Alien Soldier, Rush’n Attack, Gun.Smoke

Oddball Shooters – The rest of the genre

There are so many sub-genres within the shooter genre that it would take many pages of text to cover them all, so I’ll just lump what’s left under “oddball shooters”. It’s not that these are particularly weird, it’s just that they’re not as prominent as the other types. In addition to the types mentioned above, you also have Tube Shooters, such as Tempest. Tube shooters are rarely seen, but they offer some nice action. Cute ‘em Up shooters are even more niche, and are typically a style of manic shooters; with the main difference being in the style and aesthetic. Cute ‘em Ups are generally extremely colorful, incorporate a heavy amount of cutesy art and sound, and will often times be full of innuendo. It’s rare to see a game of this nature come to the West, but they’re widely available on PC for imports for those interested. There are even more types than these, but they’re quite niche or outright experimental.

Shoot ‘em ups are not nearly as prominent as they were back in the ’80s and ’90s, but they’re still all part of a relevant genre in gaming. It’s not very likely that a shmup is going to be topping the NPD charts or sweeping the game of the year awards any time soon, but many of the games that do owe their existence to many of the roots laid down by the shoot ‘em up genre. Early first person perspective games like Atari’s Star Wars were the first logical step that eventually lead to games such as Wolfenstein 3D, a pioneer in first person shooters. Games like Robotron: 2084 were inspiration for not only modern day twin stick shooters, but also other frantic experiences such as Dead Rising.

If you’re interested in getting your feet we with shoot ‘em ups, it’s usually best to start with the old classics and work your way up to the more current offerings. Games like 1942, R-Type, Gradius, Robotron:2084, and Contra are all amazing games to see how likely you are to enjoy the genre.

Club Nintendo Gold and Platinum member awards announced

If you’ve been saving your registration codes and entering them in at Club Nintendo, today you found out what this year’s prizes were. Last year there were a few to choose from, including a Mario hat and Doc Lewis’ Punch-Out!! downloadable game for the Wii. This year the two prizes are cool for collectors, and you can also use your points to purchase items. I ended up getting the platinum award, and I used my points to grab a Game and Watch Collection for the DS. Here are the awards.

Platinum

Gold

It looks like my desk is about to get just a bit nerdier.

Nintendo announces Japanese Wii lineup

Nintendo’s Japanese Media Summit conference has just concluded, and I must say it was one hell of a ride. In addition to a flurry of announcements regarding the Wii and the new DSi, they also released a list of the Wii’s line up for the remainder of 2008 and a preliminary lineup for 2009 in Japan. The titles in BOLD and marked as NEW are games announced at the conference. (List stolen from Neo-GAF)

2008

  • Wii Music (Nintendo) 10/16
  • Animal Crossing: City Folk (Nintendo) 11/20
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi (Kadokawa Shoten) 11/27
  • Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes (Capcom) 12/11
  • 428 (Sega) 12/4
  • Samba de Amigo (Sega) 12/11
  • Let’s Tap (Sega) Dec. 2008
  • Cooking Mama 2 (Taito) 12/4
  • Rygar: Muscle Impact (Tecmo) Dec. 2008
  • Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (Activision) 10/16
  • Karaoke Joysound Wii (Hudson) 12/18
  • Sky Crawlers (Bandai-Namco) 10/16
  • Happy Dance Collection (Bandai-Namco) 10/23
  • Family Ski: World Ski & Snowboard (Bandai-Namco) 11/13
  • Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (Bandai-Namco) 12/4
  • Taiko Drum Master Wii (Bandai-Namco) 12/11
  • Tenchu 4 (From Software) 10/23
  • Harvest Moon: Exciting Animal March (Marvelous) 10/30
  • Rune Factory Frontier (Marvelous) 11/27
  • Shape Boxing (Rocket Co.) 10/30

2009

  • Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo) Spring
  • Start w/ 100 Conversations! English Conversation (Nintendo) 2009   NEW
  • Punch-Out!! (Nintendo) 2009   NEW
  • Trace Memory: R, Gateway of Memory (Nintendo) 2009   NEW
  • Kensax (Nintendo) 2009   NEW
  • Cosmic Walker (Nintendo) 2009   NEW
  • Spawn Smasher (Nintendo) 2009   NEW
  • Dynamic [illegible] (Nintendo) 2009   NEW
  • Takt of Magic (Nintendo) 2009
  • Sin & Punishment 2 (Nintendo) 2009   NEW
  • Forever Blue 2: Beautiful Ocean (Nintendo) 2009   NEW
  • Everyone’s the Star on the NHK Red-and-White Quiz Battle (Nintendo) 2009
  • Line Attack Heroes (Nintendo) 2009
  • Castlevania: Judgment (Konami) Winter 2008-2009
  • Dead Rising: Zombies’ Sacrifice (Capcom) Winter 2008-2009
  • FFCC: Echoes of Time (Square-Enix) 1/29   NEW
  • Sonic and the Black Knight (Sega) Spring
  • Fragile (Bandai-Namco) Winter 2008-2009
  • Arc Rise Fantasia (Marvelous) Winter 2008-2009
  • Oboro Muramasa (Marvelous) Spring   NEW

Nintendo is doing ok

This doesn’t mean much, and it doesn’t tell us really anything new, but dang it, you’re going to keep reading because you can’t get enough of what I have to say. Yesterday I was visiting Amazon.com, a little web site you might have heard of, and I took a look at their top selling products in the video game section. I remember when fanboys used to draw on this to show just how awesome system A was or just how crappy system B must be based on what appeared on the list. Now, we all know Nintendo is doing quite well. At this point each NPD is like McDonald’s telling us how many hamburgers they’ve sold.

Anyway, this is what I saw on the top 10 list:

  1. Mario Kart Wii with Wii Wheel by Nintendo
  2. Wii Fit by Nintendo
  3. Wii Play with Wii Remote by Nintendo
  4. Rock Band Special Edition by MTV Games (Wii version)
  5. Official Nintendo Wii Wheel by Nintendo
  6. Wii by Nintendo
  7. Wii Remote Controller by Nintendo
  8. Super Smash Bros. Brawl by Nintendo
  9. Wii Nunchuk Controller by Nintendo
  10. Wireless Kama by Nyko (wireless Wii nunchuck)

Now that’s pretty insane. I would have expected a strong Nintendo presence at any given time, but I would never have guessed a complete Nintendo wash. I think it’s safe to say that all the analysts that called the Wii a fad were wrong. I know I’m going out on a limb there, but hey, I’m kind of crazy like that. I like Risk. The key is to getting Austrailia wrapped up early for the bonus troops per turn. Screw Greenland though, everybody hates Greenland.