So, E3, huh?
I have to take issue with the dashboard do-over, though. Added features are all well and good: the group chat is one thing that the current dash was jonesing for. But was the shameless Mii ripoff really necessary? Nintendo didn’t invent the idea of 3D avatars; there are a lot of other looks they could have gone with and kept the core concept. As it stands now, it just seems like classic Microsoft copycatting, the sort that is familiar to any long-time Mac user.
Now obviously the new look is meant to appeal to casual players. Surely there was a way to do this that wouldn’t actively piss off the console’s existing base of super-hardcore shooter maniacs. Can you see all these guys logging in to play Call of Duty IV wearing their adorable Miis? I need a medic stat, I have a Mii down with a sucking chest wound.
Besides that, the existing dashboard, while a little laggy since the last update, was a good bit of software, and it seems kind of insulting to it just to dump it for the cutesy makeover, complete with CoverFlow-esque reflections and all. And let’s say nothing of the pointlessness of an interface makeover, when we all know it’s the games and the peripherals that differentiate the hardcore from the casual (can we just call them softcore for a while?). Or maybe I’m crazy and crappy game show games and an adorable interface will really make grandpa cutesypants trade in his Wii for a seething, whirring 360. He’ll be playing Gears 2 in no time!
Nintendo is obviously chasing its dream, and I can’t really blame them. The DS is a dream platform, with crazy sales across all sorts of different demographics, and so many games that even the hardest of the core can’t complain that they’re being forgotten about. For every Petz release shoveled out by Ubi there’s a semi-insane, tough-as-nails Atlus release like that insect strategy game, or Etrian Odyssey. There is trouble in paradise, however, on the Wii side. The hardware and the first party casual games sell well, but not the third-party games. And the hardcore Nintendo fans feel more than a little betrayed. So you’re working on a Zelda game, eh? Awesome. Good for you, Nintendo. Get back to us on that.
Can we say Sony is still struggling when the PS3 is now outselling the 360? They are guaranteed second place in this generation, I’d say. It’s a little disappointing that they don’t have more good games coming this fall, and that Home still ain’t ready – but hey, shiny Blu-Ray. And the video rental stuff takes a feather out of Microsoft’s cap, I guess.
The PSP is the most angst-ridden current platform, and they did a reasonable job staving off ennui amongst owners with a few big game announcements – Patapon 2, LocoRoco 2, Super Stardust Portable, Resistance Retribution. Not that any are coming out soon, I don’t think.
What in the sam hell is going on with Bungie? They’ve been teasing a new presumably non-Halo game for ages, and now they say the publisher axed their announcement. Wow. Wonder if we’ll ever hear that story. (Possibly on Halo 9’s commentary track.) There’s also word from Microsoft that Bungie IS working on a new Halo game. There’s also the Peter Jackson Halo thing that’s being developed internally by Microsoft Game Studios. But no announcements for any of these things, huh? Weird.
PS Penny Arcade sums it up much more concisely than I ever could.
UPDATE: Another thought. The big thing that struck me this time around is just how hopelessly dependent all these guys are on sequels, franchises, existing IP, whatever you want to call it. You have your Gears 2, your God of War 3_, your new Animal Crossing and Pokemon game. I know the reasons, it’s just a bit sad. I found myself getting a bit excited by the mere concept of a GTA on the DS, and then I thought, “oh wait, I’m absolutely, totally sick of GTA, and Rockstar needs to do something absolutely, totally different for a while.” Then you have your category of games that are so-called original IP that are inspired by other successful franchises, to put it charitably: your Lips, your Wii Music. When you take away all those games, the ones left over are few and far between. And they are mostly for Sony: inFamous, FlOwer, the DC Universe thing, MAG, Little Big Planet, PixelJunk Eden.