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Nintendo is struggling. No matter how much we all want to convince ourselves otherwise, given some of the cherished memories we have of this company's games through the years, it's simply the reality of the situation. The Wii U continues to struggle to push units on the market, though the recent release of Splatoon has provided the console with a much needed boost and arguably a killer app. The 3DS, while enjoying modest sales, seems to be well past its 2013 glory days. And amiibo, the toys-to-life campaign whose popularity is at a fever pitch, continues to be a platform whose demand does not match consumer supply, as many potential customers simply cannot find the figures they desperately want to buy at reasonable prices.
For months, my Game Informer pals and I have stressed the importance of new Nintendo IPs. For over a decade, Nintendo was the undisputed king of the console market, largely due to their innovative approach to game design, and wealth of iconic and beloved franchises and characters. You would think they would still manage to remain incredibly successful to this day, as their pure focus on game design rather than storytelling or aesthetics make their titles stand out from a large number of their competitors.Unfortunately, for years now, Nintendo has been but a husk of its former self. Gone were the days of re-imagining the Mario platformer, creating new and unique franchises, and fundamentally changing the way we played games as we know it. For a few years, Nintendo was hell-bent on continuously publishing rather derivative sequels to their existing franchises, rather than innovating them, or attempting to create new universes with diverse gameplay mechanics. In the years since the Wii U's launch, the system has seen a number of quality first party hits, but I'd argue the bulk of them played it safe and weren't exactly mind-blowing. For example, launch title New Super Mario Bros. U felt like a mere extension of its three predecessors. Super Mario 3D World, the console's signature and original 3D Mario platformer was remarkably similar to the 3DS hit Super Mario 3D Land. Retro Studios platformer Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze felt like a shorter version of Donkey Kong Country Returns. The list goes on, but the bottom line is that for me, I've always looked down upon the Wii U, since its big-name games were incredibly derivative and much like games I had played beforehand. I yearned for the days when Nintendo would knock my socks off once more with its creative ideas and clever worldbuilding.
Several weeks ago, I began one of my most ambitious blog projects on Game Informer Online, to celebrate one full year of being an active community member. This project was isolating just 30 main characters from the dozens of games I've played through the years that I liked more than any others. Protagonists would be chosen based on several criteria - they have to be the main character of the video they're in (and thus playable), and they would make the list based on factors such as their design, abilities, personalities, and my ability to relate to them. The first installment of this three part blog highlighted characters I liked based largely on their latent abilities, as they were fun to play and stood out as unique in a sea of cookie-cutter protagonists.
In recent years, the Pokemon franchise has come under fire by journalists, bloggers, and fans alike for becoming incredibly derivative, and re-using the same basic structure to make new games. To be fair, it's a very legitimate criticism. Every main series installment in the franchise from 1998's Red and Blue to last year's Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire borrow the "pick a starter Pokemon, start an adventure, beat eight gym leaders, challenge Elite Four, become the best!" mold, and the single player campaigns of each game, while all offering different spins on this formula, different worlds to explore, and different creatures to collect, all share a lot of glaring similarities.
Fable III had a neat Easter egg where you would enter a prison area inside a hideout. If you explore around for a bit, you'll see a Hobbe inside a cell worshiping a wooden crate with hearts on it and some cake to the side, a clear reference to Portal. Another one I liked was in Ms. Splosion Man. If you find a secret exit to one of the earlier levels, you'll gain access to Star Road, where Star, a character from Comic Jumper, spouts a bunch of nonsense. The best thing he says though is how Star Road is a complete ripoff (referencing Mario Kart) and then asks "Who made this game? Capcom?", a reference to how Capcom was accused of copying Splosion Man with their iOS game, MaXplosion.
It's long overdue, but the next edition of Community Discussion is finally here! Find out this edition's question, and how the community responded to it inside! When you're done reading, share your own response in the comments!
Every time we sit down and play a video game, we almost always assume the role of one particular character. That character is our link to the world the game takes place in - an alternate universe full of people to meet, places to see, and things to do. It is important the player have a strong bond with the leading protagonist of a game, be they silent or talkative, so that the immersion of a game be top notch. If the player cannot connect to the collection of pixels they are playing as, there's little fun to be derived from the game as a whole one could argue.
As yet another month draws to a close in 2015, many are finally venturing outside their houses for extended periods of time, basking in the warm embrace of Spring and enjoying the flower blooms. Unless you're living in New York. Where it's still snowing.
The old saying is true, "when the cat's away, the mice will play." GIO veterans tstitan and Rezident Hazard have divulged all manner of underground and under-appreciated video games, movies, and music late last year through their "Hipster Tuesday" series of blogs. Their well of ideas has since run dry, and the feature quietly faded from existence, with many not even realizing its absence. Such is the fate of all things hipster.
If you take a step back for a moment and think about it, "Let's Plays" are strange. Back in the 90's if you had asked someone whether they'd rather play a video game or watch someone else doing so...it'd be pretty obvious what their response would be. Yet as Youtube rose to dominance, a few wise fellows lent their quirky personalities and suave voices to pioneering "Let's Plays," edited videos of themsleves playing through popular games, oftentimes with humorous commentary. This new form of entertainment soon rose to dominance and today against all odds, thousands of these types of videos are uploaded and viewed a day.
As gamers, everyone of us has a particular video game that truly resonates with us. One we hold in high regard, that we have cherished memories of, and that we'd grant the coveted title "favorite game of all time." However, how often do we take a step back from these sacred cows, and ask ourselves why we like them so? Not very often. This is precisely why veteran community member tstitan met together for the most recent installment in the Fireside Chat series, articles where I leisurely chat with another GIO member over a specific title, series, or issue in the gaming community.
February is drawing to a close, and love is still in the air... Well, not really. Valentine's Day is well behind us, the roses have rotted, the chocolate has gone straight to our theighs, and corporate America is swimming in the cash they've amassed. I'll save the scathing social commentary for another time though, for today is special.
What does it mean to be human? What distinguishes us from other animals biologically similar to us? Through the years, countless fields have sought answers to this question, from literature, to philosophy, movies, and more recently - video games. In an age where video games become increasingly cinematic, they have delved deeper into the human spirit, depicting more three dimensional characters and exploring many different facets of human personality and thought. They've certainly come a long way from the Pong and Frogger days.
A brief look at philosophy can shed some light on why Majora's Mask has such strong undercurrents of strangeness and despair. Knowledge really is power!