Last night I realized that I never finished Zelda: Wind Waker and I got to think of why that was. I really loved the game for a lot of reasons. But in the end I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it. I started to realize that the issue laid in the fact that I got frustrated with trying to figure out where things were.
I could be just speaking to the choir, as a lot of people seem to be saying similar things. But the Wii really needs less party games. I appreciate the party games, I really do. A few have been really top quality games such as Rayman Raving Rabbids, and I actually am quite fond of the latest Mario Party, and the many nintendo and now sega mascot games. But seriously guys. Stop it. I look on the list of games and they are all party. Some look great (Deca Games) and some don’t (most of them lol).
While in a discussion last year with one of my professors, Kurt Squire, we got into a minor discussion about how it doesn’t necessarily pay off to be the innovator in any particular way. The example he used was largely Apple. The Apple computers have ALWAYS been far more innovative than the competition. They were from the onset, and they still are ahead of Microsoft’s game in many fashions. Microsoft meanwhile imitates these ideas and somehow manages to make a larger profit on them than Apple was able to in the first place.
Read more “Innovation vs. Immitation”
Ok so due to this game having what may be the longest name in the history of games, I will be calling Final Fantasy Chrystal Chronicles: My Life As the King… Final Fantasy WiiWare (or FFWW). The original title so long in fact that if you tried to shorten it to acronym form it is still longer than 2 or 3 words. The naming of this game was completely ridiculous and someone needs to go to the Squinix developers and smack them upside the head.
Onto the game. The game is fairly simple in premisis. It is essentially a city building game taking place in the Final Fantasy world. So instead of building a modern city like you do in SimCity, you are building a castle city as in the mideival times which actually is quite a nice change of pace for the genre. There doesn’t actually seem to be many similar sims and I think it is a fresh perspective. On top of that, by making you the king (or mayor) in a more real way than say SimCity (where you are more god than mayor), it makes the game feel more involved I think. And I also like being down on the street level, actually exploring the town instead of up from above (don’t get me wrong, I love simcity but this is a great change to the genre).
In order to build your cities, you need to hire adventurers and send them out to get crystals in order to build more buildings. These new buildings enable you to hire new types of adventurers, upgrade their equipment and abilities, and thus allow them to go out and get more crystals from harder dungeons. And thus the loop continuously repeats itself.
In between all this, they intersperse some random storylines to keep your interest in the game. I am currently in day 60, have academies to all 4 adventurer types, and have one adventurer who is almost 20. I have also found, that though you may have high level characters running around, you still are still dependent on equipment fairly hard. That level 19 warrior, can’t tackle a level 10 boss because I only have level 15 weapons (which seems really odd, you think it’d be able to work well that way but no) and i need to go back to a level 2 dungeon to get more material to research higher level weapons. This is actually a fairly good way to keep using those old dungeons in the game and gives you more stuff to do as well.
I do enjoy the game quite a bit and I can get sucked into it really easily. I’ve always enjoyed city builders and like I’ve said multiple times earlier, this game really brings a fresh look at this genre. I really like what they’ve done with it and they have made it really fun to sit and play. Not only that they’ve made it really easy to just put it down whenever. You don’t have to save ever in the game, it saves at the end of the day automatically and it continues at the previous save point when you leave the game.
My negative to the game besides the name of it is the look of it. I don’t particularly enjoy that all the characters in the game look like 5 year olds. While I don’t mind having 5 year old characters, I don’t like that ALL of them are 5.It makes me kind of sad to think that all these children are running around without parents apparently and have to fight off monsters by themselves in order to survive.
The graphics are really great otherwise, and it is obvious that Square really concentrated on this aspect of the game. It looks like a complete game that could have been put in retail chains. And this kind of leads to another downfall, and that is the price. at $15 it is really expensive, and I fully believe that at least $5 is going straight to graphics. The game itself is really just a $10 game being sold at $15 because they put so much money into graphics, which is their choice I suppose. I think it is unfortunate because while I do believe this game will sell well, it would have sold better and would have undoubtably been a must have game on WiiWare. As it stands I think only city building gamers and Final Fantasy gamers will really partake in this game. Which I really think many others could get into it.
The downloadble content they have for the game is a nice extra too. I haven’t bought any but I could see a potential of putting some extra credits into some. In particular I think the dungeon pack (11 dungeons for $3) seems somewhat valuable. Many don’t seem worth the money (like 1 costume for $1 or a new race for $3). I could see the costumes being more worth it at maybe 5-10 new costumes at $1, but even that would be a stretch. The only benefit I could see putting in money towards the new races is that I do get bored looking at dozens of humans running around and it may be interesting to see another race every now and then. But again this is mostly cosmetic (each race is supposed to have bonuses for particular classes too but I can overall live without this). I think these things aren’t really worth the money right now.
Still, this is a pretty good game. Definitely a great start to the WiiWare service and really showcases the potential of this service in nearly every way (except online, but honestly I don’t think there is a way to add online content to this game).
The Wii has sparked a lot argument about the worthiness of the system due to the wealth of the casual games on the system. Many feel like there just isn’t staying power on the system due to the lack of core games. Because of this the system is largely dismissed as a system not for the core gamer.
Of course I personally feel I am more of a core gamer than other core gamers (as I’m sure all core gamers do) largely because I don’t limit myself to just FPS games (as many core gamers do). In fact, FPS tends to be the one genre I don’t even tough (largely because I’m not a huge fan of the first-person view which tends to give me motion sickness. The few shooters that tend to come out that aren’t first person I tend to enjoy. The few non-shooters that are first-person that come out I tend to not like (Elder Scrolls series tends to fall into this category really well, though a caveat to this is that older games like Might and Magics, I don’t mind as much, it is just when it goes live action). So I like a lot of casual games, and yes I like “kiddy” games, not because they are casual or kiddy but because they are good. I like Animal Crossing, I like Pokemon, I like Brain Age because they are all great games in and of themselves besides what they are.
I know plenty of gamers who won’t touch games like this because they are too cute or because they are so simple. But unfortunately for most gamers, these games tend to be the better games on the market (and not just from Nintendo either I must add). Casual games are largely more innovative and more enjoyable than most “core” games which more and more are looking really generic and really stale.
Another unfortunate fact for the core gamers is the very definition of what “core” actually means. The sad fact of the matter is that Nintendo is drawing in far more gamers than just the traditional core. And if you think that Microsoft and Sony aren’t desperate to try to catch a piece of that action, you are sadly mistaken (hence why both companies try to take the motion capturing, the mii idea, etc.) They see the dollar signs just as much as Nintendo does. And what is really happening is the definition of core is changing. What is currently called a “core” game is going to be a niche game in the future whether gamers like it or not. I remember when a lot of genres were core and are now niches (look at fighter games, flight sims, turn-based strategy, etc). I can’t help but laugh at people who are talking bout GTA 4, a classic game that is meant for the core…. yet even in its own launch can’t beat the sales of Wii Fit’s preorder… a game the core gamer despises for its casualness. Yet I’m not entirely sure what is new about GTA4 outside of prettier graphics, whereas there is nothing that is old about WiiFit.
I also find this odd desparity when considering some of the classic designers… Miyamoto himself has designed many of these classic games, Nintendogs for instance. And you really can’t get much more core than Miyamoto. If it weren’t for the original Donkey Kongs, Marios, Excitebikes, F-Zeros, Zeldas, and what not, gaming as we know it wouldn’t even exist. Then there is Will Wright, who between SimCity, SimEarth, and the Sims has yet to create a core game but is one of the most respected designers in the industry. Even Spore isn’t really a core game. After all it is cute, accessable to everyone, simple, and pointless… the very antithesis of what a core game tends to be these days.
Not that it even matters. The basic fact is, if you are a core gamer, you play games because they are good period. Not because they are “serious looking” not because they have super complicated controls that my mother couldn’t figure out if she spent hours studying a manual, not because they have in depth story lines. But because theya re good. Some of the best games in the history of the industry are not those games. And I think people need to just get over it and accept the industry for where it is going or get the hell out of it because you are getting left behind. And there is no room for artifacts in this industry. Both as a developer, and as a gamer.
Yesterday The Nintendo Channel finally hit the US. This channel has been in Japan for some time and many Americans have been clamoring for it, though I think it is funny that some are disappointed by it now. But let me remind others that it is what it is, basically it is an advertising opportunity. They could easily have called this channel The Advertisement Channel, which would be fairly accurate.
The channel is essentially a way for Nintendo to promote current and upcoming products. It includes commercials, tour videos, and interviews detailing many products from newer games like Mario Kart, Upcoming games like Wii Fit, and past games like Brain Age 2.
While these are the meat of the channel, there are a couple of other interesting features. First you can recommend games you’ve played for at least an hour. There are no comments allowed which is both nice and bad (it is nice to have in depth reviews, while sometimes it is a pain to look through them). But has a few questions including gender, age, rating, group/alone, hardcore/casual, etc. And then it takes this info and puts it into charts and recommendations based on your previous choices and other players with similar choices. I think this particular feature of the channel is the real value. It is a little useless right now as it is so new that any recommendations wouldn’t be quite accurate yet, but I can see this being as a great way to allow you to figure out which games are right for you. Especially when you start looking at old VC games.
The next best feature is the DS demo service. This allows you to download demos to your DS to play. This service has been available to retail for about a year and I’ve always kind of liked when I could find it there. I actually hope they eventually add demos to all the previous games they’ve done, but I have a feeling that they will leave it at about a choice of 6 current or important games and cycle the older ones out. Still I really like having the ability to not look like an idiot bringing my DS into target (as EB’s never worked or was always missing somehow).
There are a bunch of other minor features. There is a supposed list of all games, including those upcoming on the Wii, DS, WiiWare, and VC. However, many of the descriptions in it are lacking to say the least and the list as it is right now is fairly unhelpful. Some though are. For instance, Nintendo has for quite some time now offered videos on the various VC games on their website. Now you can go to the VC section in this list, and choose the video to watch within the channel. This makes the process much easier. Other nice touches include the purchase feature which take you straight to the VC or Wiiware game in Wii Shop Channel, or to an online store via the Internet Channel.
Overall, it is a welcome addition to help wade through the crap of video games especially on the VC… and I assume eventually the WiiWare channel. Sometimes those games in particular are quite difficult getting decent reviews on even online. (Many try to compare these games to current games, which they just aren’t and is unfair to the game. You got to take VC games for what they are, not what games are now….)
So without further adieu I present you the first of what may be many maps of my new world. I do note that this is a very early version of it and may and will change in a number of ways. For now it gives a fairly good idea of what I’m going for.