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Rapture posted a blog entry in Teal RalkAs E3 2012 closely approaches, Nintendo decided to take a half hour of its time to air a Nintendo Direct conference for all of its fans to learn more about Nintendo's upcoming home console, the Wii U. It seems like Nintendo is very confident that the console will be as innovative, if not more innovative, than its predecessor. Likewise, Nintendo hopes that the Wii U completely changes the social aspect of gaming, bring players together from all around the world, the house, the living room, or an inconspicuous geek-cave where stereotypical hipster gamers fail absolutely horribly at beating zombie games and have to web chat old people to figure out the zombie's weak point. Yep, you heard that correctly. First of all, it seems like the Wii U controller now has an official name, “Wii U GamePad.” The controller seems to indeed be of the same layout that was leaked out to the Internet a couple of weeks ago, with analog sticks replacing sliders and much more. The leaked images showed a mysterious white square toward the bottom left of the controller. This square is now confirmed to be a, “NFC Reader/Writer.” The functionality behind the square seems to be to read information off of special cards, possibly some sort of spiritual successor to the Game Boy Advance's E-Reader from back in the day. Gamers may be able to purchase special cards that can be read by the NFC Reader to unlock something special in-game or easily add Virtual Console points to your account. This is just speculation, mind you. Mr. Iwata, who hosted the Direct conference, went on a bit more about changes to the controller that were leaked not too long ago, namely the analog sticks and controller modification. The analog sticks were apparently substituting the original dual sliders because Nintendo felt that the sliders were better suited for a portable platform rather than a home console. Additionally, they made the back of the controller more form-fitting for the hands of the average person, making the controller more comfortable to hold. Compared to what we saw and experienced last year at E3 2011, these are welcome changes. The Wii U GamePad seems to be a rather nifty utility for one's room overall – the GamePad can be used as a remote for your TV, making using your television and then transitioning into playing your Wii U much smoother. The controller will also sport a stylus a la the Nintendo DS/3DS family, another welcome addition. It seems like Nintendo has tried to cover all the bases in terms of control. You'll be able to use your GamePad to do more than just play games, such as control your TV. Speaking of control, Nintendo confirmed that the Wii U will indeed support the tablet controller, plus the Wii remote and nunchuk, as well as Wii balance board. There was no mention of support for two Wii U GamePads per console (or, if there was, I didn't hear it), but a very big reveal that ended up happening upon the conference was the unveiling of the Wii U Pro controller, which looks like a weird lovechild of the Wii's Classic Controller and the Xbox 360 pad. The Pro controller takes after its tablet brother, with the analog sticks residing where usual dual analog controllers have their buttons and the buttons where usually sticks and directional pad would be. Put simply, let's imagine the face of the controller – the top left has an analog stick, the top right has an analog stick, the bottom left has a d-pad and the bottom right has the four face buttons. This may be a weird change for most gamers...actually, it definitely will be, as this format has never been seen on any kind of standard, dual analog controller. I'm personally surprised that Nintendo didn't take more notes from its remarkably awesome Gamecube controller, but at least we now have a rather standard mode of input for the Wii U instead of being forced to use the GamePad or Wii controllers. A bunch of other information was then reiterated, most of it known to us for about a year now – players can play Wii U games on the GamePad while someone uses the television for non-Wii U activity, the GamePad can support the graphics of the Wii U by itself, mirroring what would be on the television, etc. One interesting thing that did pop up was that the Zelda HD demo from E3 2011 reared its beautiful head once again. It seems like Nintendo has forgotten about the tech demo – will this HD version of The Legend of Zelda be more than just a tech demo? The aforementioned Wii U Pro controller, featuring an odd layout, as well as bumpers! Of course, any E3-related presentation wouldn't be an E3-related presentation without a cheesy commercial, so Nintendo decided to rot some brain cells in the masses by airing a rather odd, and barely funny, Wii U bit that showed more the social functionality of the controller and console. I don't feel like getting into the commercial itself, so instead I'll quickly run through what exactly was revealed in this commercial – the console will support video chat between players, similar to Skype web chatting; players can post on message-board looking interfaces using text messaging and not pre-made conversational messages; players can see what other players are playing and view and respond to messages posted by these players. This is all part of the “Miiverse,” a social hub/network that will connect gamers from all across the world based on location, language, and the games they are playing. Miis return once again, without a surprise, gathering around icons of games that players are in the middle of playing, so you can see exactly which of your friends are playing what game. Essentially it seems like a much more interactive friends list. The most important thing that was shown in this commercial was an activity feed on a mobile device, in which one of the actors viewed what their friends were playing and posting on Wii U's Miiverse on his mobile phone. Mr. Iwata confirmed that the Miiverse would originally be only for the Wii U, but in the future it will be available for the 3DS, PC and internet-connected mobile devices in the future. Finally, Nintendo products not on a Nintendo platform! This Miiverse will also connect gamers who are playing games that aren't meant for multiplayer interaction. So, if you're playing a game that's mostly a campaign-oriented game or doesn't have multiplayer functionality, you can still interact with other gamers playing the same game thanks to Miiverse. The video showed a player in the middle of New Super Mario Bros and seeing the messages of other gamers on the world map. The presentation wrapped up with a few more bits of functionality – the GamePad will indeed have an internet browser, and this browser can be rendered on both the GamePad and on your television. Players can also “throw” whatever is on their GamePad over to the television to show other people what they're doing using an upward swiping motion on the GamePad. Whoever is holding the GamePad can also use a curtain feature to temporarily block what is being streamed to the television for whatever reason they choose to do so. And then we said good-bye to Mr. Iwata and now await the beginning of E3 2012. Overall, Nintendo seemed to confirm a lot of what we already knew from last year's E3 expo, as well as from leaked information and images spread across the web. However, there was a lot that Nintendo casually brought to the table that are very important additions to the console – the multi-platform functionality of Miiverse, the Wii U Pro controller, the NFC Reader/Writer, the Miiverse itself, etc. And for those of you who were wondering, no, there was no information on any release date, pricing, launch line-up or game library for the Wii U, and the 3DS was only mentioned in passing. We'll have to wait a couple of days to hear more on those subjects.
Forum Nostalgia Yep, it has happened already. It's autumn – the leaves have changed color, and it's truly something else when fall is at its peak in New York. The breezes carry that unexplainable “fall” smell that brightens up my eyes. It's a comfortable atmosphere at a time when I'm sweating over midterm grades and English papers. However, all I really want to do is go back into my dorm room, boot up my laptop, and talk to hundreds of people I truly do not know, and personally do not care to know in the case of most of them, on an online forum about video games. Doesn't make a lot of sense, I suppose. That's because I'm forum nostalgic – every single year, just as fall is reaching its peak, something in me decides it wants to make me return to all the forums I used to frequent on a regular basis back when I was younger. Throughout the year, I never have this feeling; I spend my time on websites I travel to each and every day, and I don't really feel much of a connection to any of them. But once Halloween starts to become routinely mentioned by many, the switch is turned on. The forums that haven't been given a glance all year now have my full, unadulterated attention. But of course, this is routine, because though I find myself logging into these sites around this time of year, by the time Christmas rolls around I'll be neglecting all of those same sites once again until the very next fall. As much as I don't want this to be an origin story, you must understand that forums do mean a lot to me. They became the driving force of my huge love for video games that I still have today, and that can be said for many people just like me – being able to converse with people that have the same interests as you just by simply typing out a message and leaving it for anyone else to see. That's how I started out, just wanting to be a part of the masses that made the internet their second home. I started out on the Nintendo Nsider Forums, the now-deceased message boards that Nintendo moderated themselves. Housing thousands of members, staff, guests, and more, the site was always active with Nintendo discussions on franchises like Metroid, Mario, and all the rest, as well as multitudes of contests that could net you exclusive gifts, signatures and avatars, even full games that would arrive to your door in the mail. Needless to say, I was mesmerized. It felt like an adventure. I was an elementary school kid taking on the world with my somewhat-decent vocabulary and undeniable love for Nintendo games. I was probably a huge Nintendo fanboy at the time, though I would never admit it. I never owned a gaming system that didn't have the Nintendo logo on it until I purchased an Xbox 360 in 2007 just so I could play Halo 3. To this day, that 360 is the only non-Nintendo console I own. But then, something happened. And this happens to most forum-goers. I no longer was satisfied with just becoming part of the community, I wanted to be known. I wanted to be part of that particular forum community in a big way. I wanted to enjoy more than just being a member. And not only that, but I wanted to expand myself, too. So, when as I began to establish myself more on Nsider, I joined up on other forums, as well. One of the first was The Karters Klub, a terribly-named Mario Kart DS clan myself and another forum member established to become a dominate MKDS group in the Nsider realm. Like many other forums, TKK was one of those forums that only existed because of the huge entity that was Nsider. All of its members were Nsider members; all of its operations were based off of Nsider events and being a big name on that forum. However, though I had high expectations, it quickly fell off the map due to poor activity. Still, my adventure was slowly growing in size. During my reign in the TKK, I began to establish myself as a top reviewer on Nsider's Review Board, posting quality pieces on new DS and Wii games that garnered the attention of the higher-class reviewers that would constantly praise my writing style and opinions. I contribute a lot of my love of writing to this particular time in my life, as I churned out reviews by the week that would catch the eyes of even Nsider staff members. My self-proclaimed “dominance” of Nsider continued to grow as I posted my reviews and shared discussions on my favorite boards like the Metroid and Smash Bros boards, as well as participating in contests regarding the DS and Wii platforms. I won several “Review of the Week” and “Post of the Week” contests; my contributions to the FanFiction board were timeless; weekly Nsider chats were always a great time when I logged in and told some memorable jokes and took some jabs at fellow reviewers. Over the course of about two years, I became the member of many other forums, but Nsider was always my home. I can easily rattle off the names of those forums - the Triforce Legion, the Nsider Revival Group, Oasis, the list goes on. And when those forums would close down due to inactivity, mergers, and the like, I could just sign back into Nsider and everything would be back to normal. However, that routine would end in September of 2007. Just as I spent my first days traversing another ring-world in the boots of Master Chief, Nintendo unexpectedly gave the entire Nsider community a warning that in one week, the forums would be closed for good. All the memories I had shared, the people I had met, the accomplishments I had made, were locked in that site and now it was going away. When the day finally came, the weekend was a scramble for the community – within hours, a completely new site rose from the ashes under the name Nsider 2. The fan-made forum was meant to be a complete copy of the original Nsider suite, trying to keep the same feel of the original. And for most people, it did. Not for me, however. I could tell there was a difference. The site didn't have any “weight” anymore. Nothing I did mattered. I could post a new review on Nsider 2 , but it wouldn't matter as much than if I posted it on the original Nsider (now referred to as “oldsider” by most of the veterans today). I didn't have the drive to participate anymore. I signed up and regained my original Nsider rank and post count, but I quickly lost interest and by November of that same year, I was a ghost. I had lost the entire reason for going to Nsider in the first place. I didn't join to be a top reviewer or a top fanfic writer or even a premium member of the forum. I joined to talk about Nintendo games and have a good time. When I signed up, I was more concerned with talking about how Metroid Prime was the best game for the Gamecube and how Animal Crossing bored me (it still does, to this very day, mind you). But when I left, when it was all over, I felt changed. And it sucked. Something died in me, as much as that's weird to say, but it's the truth. I had bonded with people I never knew, and will never meet, honestly. They were a mix of people, some my age, some younger, some a lot older. I probably made friends with people that are into their thirties now, but nonetheless they were just user names to me. I had a blast during Camp Hyrule, one of the most glorious events on Nsider to take place. I became part of the Writer's Workshop, giving my critiques to people's reviews in hopes of establishing a better writing community. My contributions to Metroid discussions were always the light of my day. So that's why, as I sit here writing this, I have just logged in to Nsider 2 and have been posting around a bit. It's because I want those days to return but I know they can't. Since the demise of Nsider, my reviews have been few and far between, something that I've hated. I miss writing reviews, but it seems like if I write them, it won't matter as much than if I had them seen by the eyes of the Nsider community. Nsider meant a lot. But here I am, on Nsider 2, with my old username posting away just like I had back in the day. All I want to do is discuss new game releases and share my opinions on the games I enjoy every day. The fall breeze is flowing through my window now and I can feel all of what I want. What I fear, however, is that I'll lose this feeling. I'll stop signing into Nsider 2 because I just won't care anymore, and I don't want that. I want to review games again and post like I did beforehand and become a part of a big community like I used to be. Nsider 2, however, is very distinct. And by that, I mean it's distinctly not the original Nsider forums. The user names I see across the boards are not the same; the Reviews Board is even a shell of its former self. The Writer's Workshop is completely gone. The Review of the Week contest is inactive. And I'm sure the Post of the Week contests have been done with for a while now. Still, Nsider 2 is doing great. I appreciate what the staff does, to give a forum for all the Nintendo fans to talk amongst themselves and have a great time. All I want is to share that kind of feeling with them once more. Nsider connected to a lot of my childhood – I wasn't the most populate person in my school, though I had a lot of friends. I was the starting goaltender for my ice hockey travel team, people knew I was skilled. But still, after a long day at school, I felt at home on Nsider. I could also get on the desktop in my living room and spend hours just browsing the forums, looking to add my opinion to whatever discussion I saw fit. The reason why autumn puts me in this mood is probably because I have a similar nostalgic effect with Nsider as I do with the holiday season and spending time with my family. Nsider was like another family to me, in a way. We spent Christmas together, too. So now, here I am, a freshman in college, writing about online message boards. And soon enough I'll stop writing this and go about my day as if forums don't exist at all. But hopefully I'll sign back in on Nsider 2 tonight, just as I do on the other forums I naturally find myself on every day. As I was writing this, I ran into a good oldsider friend. He changed his user name, but I instantly recognized him when he mentioned who he was. I also found out that he attends Smash Bros tournaments just like I do and that we were at the same one a few weeks ago, him under his new user name and I under the one I have been using since 2009. Maybe this connection will keep me around a bit longer. Possibly I'll write a review and post it on the Reviews Board, in hopes of getting a reaction like I used to several years ago. Several years...that's how long it's been; it's pretty crazy. Fall, at it's peak, is amazing. Nature is at its finest and I appreciate every moment of it. But, it's times like these that make my love and joy for video games and the communities I am a part of immensely greater. I can't see myself leaving gaming ever in my life. I'll most likely die with a controller in hand. I see myself as part of the legacy that was Nsider, a person that grew up understanding the meaning of family and that, well, there's nothing wrong with getting home, logging in, and discussing the hardest game in the Metroid Prime series until your fingers ache. And that's how it should be. At least, that's how I see it. Hopefully I feel the same way in a few weeks.
Rapture posted a blog entry in Teal RalkWaiting in line could possibly be more entertaining than watching paint dry, but it's still not much of a hobby. And that's if you get to wait in line at all
This past week really took on a life of its own. I feel like it is just one of those trips that you truly can't predict what will happen next, not even at the huge, obviously scheduled event that is E3. It being my first E3, I didn't know what to expect, nor did I know how I'd handle such an epic adventure. I think I handled it well, but then again there were some mix-ups, some mistakes, things we will learn from next time around. But after all the games I played, people I met, friends I made, things I witness, do I regret making the trip out? Hell fucking no. Just being in California was truly amazing. Being Smash players, Will and myself took the opportunity to hang out with some of southern California's best Brawlers. Monday night, after settling in at the hotel, then taking SoCal's really awesome metro system, we hung out with the one and only Olimar main Rich Brown. A night later, Rich joined us for a small gathering at MikeHAZE's place, where SoCal's number 1 player Tyrant also made an appearance. Being able to play with the top players of the area was truly awesome, especially being of such a lower skill level than everyone who surrounded me. But then it was Day 1 of E3 and all that mattered was getting our hands on the best games at the expo. Hilariously, while we had plans to check out as much as possible to get our feet wet just in the first day, myself and Will, joined by Rich Brown who was representing AllisBrawl.com, found ourselves spending the entire day in the immense Nintendo booth in the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Inside the Nintendo booth The 3DS section in particular really caught our attention because of the outstanding amount of games on display for the system at the time. We finally got our hands on games we already knew about like Mario Kart 3DS and Ocarina of Time 3DS, but also being able to play the just-announced Luigi's Mansion 2 was truly spectacular. Granted, I didn't completely love every game in the area; Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D was one of the few I didn't particularly like because of how awkward and clunky the controls were. But overall the 3DS area was really strong thanks to titles like Super Mario 3DS, Star Fox 64 3DS, Kid Icarus: Uprising, and so much more. Probably the best part about not only the 3DS, but the entire Nintendo booth, was that there were so many stations and set-ups for the games that waiting was practically a non-issue. There were enough 3DS stations that either you got to play pretty much within seconds if you wanted to, or maybe you had to wait a few minutes for someone's demo to be over. The exception, save for the obvious Wii U areas, was The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which always had a line going for it. For that reason, I never bothered to try the game out, though Will and Rich Brown did as I played games like Kirby Wii. It was at the Kirby Wii station that I met a member of Insomniac, the developer behind Ratchet & Clank, who I had a lot of fun playing the game with. It's something else to realize that these developers are people just like you and me, even though they produce the games we live for. You'll be able to check out all of our Nintendo game impressions as we post them in the coming week. Day 2 gave us a chance to explore more of the convention center and boy had we been missing out by just being in the West Hall. Before we had to go back to the South Hall for a closed-door session with Bethesda, we checked out the sprawling booths of Activision, Sega, Ubisoft and Microsoft, getting our hands on games like Sonic Generations and Ninja Gaiden 3 before going back to the South Hall for the Bethesda demos. We got an exclusive sneak peek at The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim before an unplayable demo screening of Prey 2 and the chance to play an amazing Rage demo, and in my case I played Rage right next to the one and only Cliff Blezinski of Epic Games. All of these things were not open to anyone who just walked by on the show floor, you had to be invited. We were really glad to have been invited and get to experience what Bethesda had to offer. To check out all of our Day 2 game impressions, stay tuned. But then there was Day 3, where we had to fit in everything else we wanted to do into one 7 hour day. There was still so much for us to check out, especially because Day 1 was almost all Nintendo for us, so we immediately rushed around to try and get our hands on as many games as possible. After checking out games like Dark Souls and Duke Nukem Forever, we got a pre-alpha screening of Prototype 2. Even in pre-alpha, the game is looking pretty good, despite the obvious need for polish and all of that. Day 3 also surprised us quite a bit. Getting our hands on Rayman Origins gave us a game we felt was terribly underrated throughout the entire show. We cannot wait to give you our impressions on this unique platformer, but to be brief at this very moment, Rayman Origins is one of the most aesthetically pleasing, unique, funny, and difficult games I have played in a long time. At the Rayman Origins area at the Ubisoft booth Just as the final moments of E3 closed, we said good-bye to the Nintendo booth, the place we essentially lived in all of Day 1. We certainly did not want to leave, and it definitely sucked to get in the shuttle back to the hotel and have to go to the airport to leave the entire state not too long after the show ended. The entire experience came to a close so quickly that I'm still trying to take it all in a day after arriving back in New York. There's not much more I can say other than that the entire adventure was amazing and I cannot wait to go back next year if it's possible. Other than that, keep checking back for our individual game impressions on all the titles we got to play or see throughout the week. Trust me, it was almost other-worldly to actually have these games in our hands rather than just hearing about them in the news. You'll want to check back for these impressions. Go check out my E3 thread for updates here: E3 2011 Thread
Since the Wii 2 was rumored, then finally confirmed, everyone has been crazed not only about the system itself and what it entails, but also the games coming out for it. Would the fabled Pikmin 3 finally be released, showing itself on the oddly dubbed "Project Cafe" successor to the current Wii? Will Zelda: Skyward Sword be pushed back to become a launch title for Wii 2? And what about that weird controller with the tablet in the middle? How will the streaming work and can it run with the 3DS? So many questions, but for Smashers like me, we want just one thing answered: Is there a Super Smash Bros 4? At this point, it's safe to say that we have absolutely no idea. Unlike the confirmation of the appearance of Wii 2 at E3, many of the game rumors have not been confirmed. PureNintendo.com recently gave a huge list of specs and concepts for the Wii 2, as well as a ridiculous amount of games that apparently are going to appear in trailer or playable form this year at the huge game expo. On that list, marked with a "playable" stamp, is Super Smash Bros 4. We may be seeing this sometime this June. So, I mean, what can we think of this? And what will it be like? To address the former, essentially this rumor is claiming that the next Smash Bros will be playable this year at E3. As much as this would be awesome and amazing for everyone, we have to think both realistically and logically here. Brawl was announced in 2005, which was quickly paired at E3 with the first launch trailer that confirmed Metaknight, Pit, Wario, Zero Suit Samus and Konami's Solid Snake to be playable characters. Just thinking of that, by the way, makes me giddy. There's nothing like anticipating a new Smash game. Anyway, when it was announced, it wasn't playable, and wouldn't become playable for a while. Brawl didn't actually begin its development stage until 2005, several years after the release of Melee, and wasn't even released until 2008. So, being realistic here, we really can't expect a true playable demo of the game yet. If anything, Nintendo will probably keep the game's gameplay, save for any that shows up in a release trailer, quite under wraps. Smash is one of Nintendo's hugest franchises and the last thing it wants to do is show all of its cards too early. Plus, this is if the console even has any playable demos in the first place - as far as we know, the confirmation of playable demos of any game for the system has not been announced, and if/when it does, it's doubtful Smash will be part of the playable category. When the Wii was announced, Wii Sports was the big game that was played, and even then we didn't see all of what the Wii had to offer back then. Putting that aside, let's be optimistic and say that there will be a Smash 4. We all want it to happen, even though we really don't know who will be making it in the first place. Sakurai was essentially begged to make Brawl and now he's all up in the Kid Icarus franchise as of late. That's not to say Nintendo lacks any capable developer; I'm sure Retro Studios wouldn't mind adding the best Smash Bros ever created to their resume. So, with that said, assuming it is being made, what kind of game will it be? As in, well, what kind of Smash will it be? What kind of Smash should it be? A better Brawl or a better Melee? Which is...better? With the Smash community, it seems like the two most viable options have appeared: It will be a "true" sequel to Melee, or an upgraded Brawl. And, in my eyes, I'm actually leaning toward the latter. Everyone knows I'm a huge Melee fan. I love the hype, the community, the overall amazing quality of the game. I've spent countless hours playing it by myself and even more with friends. There was nothing like a good game of Melee late at night back in the day. However, do I really just want a Melee 2.0? Not necessarily. Brawl, in it of itself, is a solid title. Yeah, there's things wrong with it, but it actually introduced a lot of things I do enjoy. I love the roster, save for a few spots; I'm a big fan of the stages; the campaign actually wasn't that bad; all of the cool things to unlock were pretty, um, cool. There's a lot that could be better, but to be completely honest, just because a game isn't "Melee 2.0" doesn't mean SSB4 can't be a good mix of what Melee was, what Brawl is, and what a new Smash game could bring. That, my readers, is what is the truly best option. The great thing about what we have here is that there is so much we can take from previous games, as well as create with new additions. There's nothing wrong with change. I love Melee, but I don't want to buy a graphically-updated replica of it. I want a new Smash, one that brings the best of all the previous titles, as well as changes up things that makes it separate from all the other titles. Sure, I'll still buy it regardless of whatever it turns out to be, but this seems like the smartest thing to do, and I'm sure the developers behind it, if they are behind it, are completely aware of this. With that said, I really have confidence in the next Smash. I don't want Brawl 2.0, Melee 2.0, or even 64 2.0 (though that would probably be as ridiculous as MvC2 in terms of craziness); I just want Super Smash Bros 4. I want to keep the best of the old, and bring in the best of the new. That's the clearest goal I can see for anyone that decides or decided to take on the franchise for the new console. And please, I beg of you, whomever is developing this game, please make Ridley and King K. Rool playable!