Wii-U and Bayonetta – One More Hero?

I am back! And by golly what a week I missed! A new iPhone, the announcement of an Obsidian RPG made by the creme of RPG talent and of course the official reveal of the Wii-U. Which was nice, when the anti-Nintendo crowd weren’t loudly jeering at very good news. Why would you even…

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I’ve said I am not a fanboy. I stand by it. I’ve all but given up trying to counter the anti-Nintendo crowd though. The ignorance that is rooted in that breed is so staggering it defies all known logic. Fighting it is impossible. It cannot learn. It doesn’t WANT to learn or know of another side. So why bother?

I guess it was inevitable that they’d attack the Wii-U launch details. And to be fair, there are very good reasons to attack the Wii-U launch. A launch-day lineup of seven games? Umm… ‘kay. The first three months looks very barren too. A couple gems but nothing you won’t have played before by and large. I do fear it will be a repeat performance of the 3DS release – not that Nintendo are the true masters of a bleak console release lineup, Sony have had that one covered for a while now, but still – nothing immediately that jumps up and demands you buy it on release day. Same old console launch details. Nothing seems to change on that front.

Especially considering the price was a little higher than everyone was expecting – £250 for the basic pack in white and £300 for the premium pack in black. Some argue this is £100 too much and I wouldn’t wholly disagree – but Nintendo did say the U-Pad, as I have affectionately dubbed it, is a bit special. By which I assume they mean costly. The Wii-U specs aren’t totally known but it does seem to be running off of tech that is about two or three years old. Not a bad place to go, considering the hardware in the PS3 and X-Box 360 is likely approaching a decade old at this point. It will be more powerful than the current consoles, by some considerable margin as well. Will it be able to stand up to the Durango and PS4? Well, that is yet to be seen. I wouldn’t expect Sony to go heavy tech though, I’m not entirely sure if that is in their best interests right now.

So there were very easy and clear criticisms to take at Nintendo. So what did the crowd complain about?

Well, primarily, the biggest moaning was over Bayonetta 2.

The story of Bayonetta 2 is tragic really. After nearly three million units sold, you’d think Platinum Games would be given carte blanche to make a sequel to arguably the tightest and finest action brawler to grace the world for years. But Sega, not entirely flush with cash, decided not to invest or take it on as a publisher. And not, does it seem, anyone else wanted to either. Bayonetta attracted a lot of criticism from the press about its graphic scenes of nudity and violence, a game fetishistic in its mannerisms. Full of blood, gore and the faint whiff of an anti-religious sentiment that drove some media outlets to criticise it, it appeared that the game that became a cult smash with gamers across the board would never see the light of day.

And then Nintendo came and picked up the rights to publish it from Sega.

Now, in any other realm of reality you’d think this was fantastic. A game saved from the brink of destruction by Nintendo. And it’s a great deal too. Platinum get to make the game and make money from it on a whole new system, but it’s another major core gamer title to slot in to their collection, alongside the not-long-ago-acquired Project Zero. A game that was so utterly a game for the sake of being a game, and one which one would assume would shatter this stupid notion that Nintendo don’t do gamer games or mature games. What possible reason could people have against Nintendo saving such a title from its doom?

As it turns out, a lot.

It’s not all anger at Nintendo – much of it accuses Platinum Games of selling out as well. Which would be funny if it weren’t so grounded in factual inaccuracy. All games are selling out. They need to make money, they need people to buy them. Platinum are making a game, then it gets shelved, no-one else wants it and along comes Nintendo saying they’ll give them a big pile of cash if they can publish it. I’m sorry, you’d have to be a complete moron to actually think this is anything but good news. If you don’t, then you are an idiot. I said it.

There was much criticism over its selection of games – some justifiably, some not. Over Nintendo and its lack of experience with online networking – perhaps justified, but surely you should wait to see it in action. It can’t be any worse than the last X-Box Live dashboard update, right? Some have even here in Europe criticised us in Europe getting the Wii-U before anywhere else in the world. I’m sorry, but that’s like complaining about gambling when you’re holding a winning lottery ticket. You won, shut up and enjoy it!

The thing I don’t like about the Wii-U unveiling was, simply, a lack of games that Nintendo fans really want. New Super Mario Bros. U isn’t really for them, nice as it looks. There needs to be something on the horizon, a new Metroid or Zelda, a Donkey Kong or an Eternal Darkness. Nintendo may feel it is good to let third parties get a foothold first, but Nintendo are vastly underselling themselves. Nintendo have a long tradition of being able to get bloody good things from their own hardware, and right now it feels a bit empty without their presence. Nintendo have some of the strongest franchises in the world – the absence of all of them is bound to cause some trauma, because we’re desperate to see Zelda in HD, Metroid in HD or even to go back to the creepy Lovecraftian world of Eternal Darkness. Heck, the lack of a Wii Sports HD pack is something to be concerned about – a game that effectively sold the Wii to tens of millions of people, and it hasn’t even been mentioned yet? That’s… quite scary, actually.

The Wii-U stuff does have lots to be concerned about. But focus on what needs to be fixed, rather than things you perhaps can’t change. Especially if those things happen to be very good for us all. If a game wouldn’t survive without Nintendo pumping money into it, would you rather it died or go to Nintendo? If you are a true gamer, then this is a no-brainer. And if you’re not, then you’ll know which answer you’ll pick.

I will wait and see how the Wii-U pans out. I do want it, and Zombi-U looks sensational. By far and away one of the most fascinating games of the year for me. Will it be the Wii-U’s killer app? This remains to be seen, but one thing I do know is that it better be pretty bloody special if the first six months are going to be as dry and barren as is being forecast. I hope it is, because it would be wonderful to be reminded why Zombies are so awesome again. The games industry hasn’t been kind to our undead friends in recent years.

But I’m not yet sold on Nintendoland. And as much as I love all the enhanced ports, they are still ports in my eyes. I need something else. I need something more. I need… well… Nintendo games.

That is something Nintendo needs to realise. It’s a gaming behemoth. If you’re going to do a Wii-U at £300, it needs way more firepower in terms of games than it currently boasts. Ideally, the next few weeks may address that. It may not.

But I know it’s not perfect. No launch is or ever will be. But focus on what is truly bad, rather than things which are actually quite good. Nintendo deserve contempt for some decisions and praise for some decisions. Make sure you get the balance right, because we really should be hoping for this to do pretty well…

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