It turns out that Europe isn’t the only place that’s going to be getting a new model of the Wii this year. Nintendo announced that North America will be getting a new Wii bundle just in time for the holidays. This new bundle will include the updated black Wii hardware, which does not include backwards compatibility for GameCube games, controllers, or memory cards. It will also include a black Wii Remote Plus, a copy of New Super Mario Bros Wii, and the soundtrack CD that was originally available with the release of Super Mario All-Stars.
This new system sits horizontally on your shelf and is not designed to be vertically oriented. The Wii logo has been modified slightly to accomidate that. I still don’t understand the reasoning for this new system so late in the life cycle of the Wii.
The new system will be available for purchase beginning on October 25th for $149.99.
The 25th Anniversary Edition Wii will be heading here complete with a copy of Wii Sports, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, the 25th Anniversary edition of Super Mario Bros., a red Wii Remote Plus and a red Nunchuk. It will be sold at retail for $199.99.
The red DSi XL will also be coming on that date bundled with a copy of Mario Kart DS. It will also come with pre-loaded copies of Brain Age™ Express: Arts & Letters, Brain Age Express: Math and Photo Clock and will retail for $179.99.
For those of you not needing a new system you can get your hands on the new Wii Remote Plus for $39.99. No longer will you need to keep track of your Wii Motion Plus dongle as it’s built right into the controller. Flingsmash, the new retail game that utilizes Motion Plus will hit stores on that date as well, bundled with a new controller.
Is it a sign you’ve played WAY too much New Super Mario Bros Wii when you try to shake the Wii Remote when you’re playing the original Super Mario Bros. to get Mario to jump just a little bit further? Yes while playing level 1-1 in Super Mario Bros. I realized I wasn’t going to hit the top of the flag so I shook the Wii Remote to try to get Mario to get up just a little bit to reach that top part of the flag pole.
Is that sad, or is it a sign of just how instinctive motion control has become to some people that when you’re playing older games with similar mechanics you try to use motion control even when you know it won’t do anything?
Video games have been around for a while now. They really hit their stride and came into their own following the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System in the 1980’s. Along with that, and the release of Super Mario Bros. came the popularity of the platformer. They started out as a simple affair. Move to the right stomp on some enemies and rescue the Princess. You didn’t need to know why you just did it. They were fun. Despite all the advances in technology, better graphics and more horsepower the platformer has evolved and endured. It’s grown from simple two-dimensional sprites where you could only move in one direction, to huge three dimensional worlds filled with all kinds of characters, weapons and anything else you could imagine. What’s been the driving force behind their popularity and why have they survived when other genres seem to have faded away? Well, I asked a few friends what they thought and we’re going to find out exactly what has been the key to this genre’s success.
If you’ve listened to any of our podcasts and read any of my articles it won’t take you long to realize that the platformer is my favorite style of game. There’s always been something simple, yet challenging and utterly familiar about them. They were the basis of many games on the NES, and most of my favorite titles, Super Mario Bros., Duck Tales, LostWinds, fall into that genre. They can be made as simple as running or jumping to get from point A to Point B, or they can be complex like games such as Metroid or Shadow Complex where you’re running all over a game’s world looking for every last little thing to give you an advantage.
I asked a couple “friends” in the gaming industry to give me their thoughts on what make platformers so universal and why they’ve had such longevity. You’ll be hearing my thoughts, but also those of Ole Teglebjaerg from Press Play and Julio Moruno from EnjoyUp. Our discussion started with what makes up the core elements of a good platformer and both agreed on one thing. Ole said, “The core elements of a good platformer are simple and effective controls. You want to be able to control in instinctively.” I don’t think I could agree more. You have to know that when you jump you’re going to go exactly where you want to go. Movement speeds have to be predictable and manageable. Nothing brings a game down like not knowing where you’re going to go when you jump off of a ledge, or if you’ll even jump at all. I’ve been playing through de Blob recently on Wii. It’s a good example of a decent game that could have been so much better if the controls worked solidly. It was an early example of trying to use a motion to replace a button and it fell short because it wasn’t easy enough to control the main character. Jumps didn’t feel right. As a result it’s been shown that the game is getting a sequel and the controls have been reworked. Chances are that de Blob: the Underground will be a much better game than its predecessor.
Player movement also goes hand in hand with the perspective of the game. When gaming burst onto the scene all movement was on a side to side or vertical plane. Two dimensions was all developers had to work with. Systems are getting more complex and we’ve moved into the world of 3D and that brings a whole other host of issues. Julio says that 2D has an advantage because, “everything is clear and precise. You can see better where to put your toes.” Ole said, “By restricting player movement you remove complexity in the players mind. It’s usually easier to navigate inside 2D. Of course the advantage of 3D is that the universe can be more elaborate and give players a sense of being ‘in the game”. There’s no greater example of this than Mario. He’s been around since the 80’s and he’s been successful in both dimensions. 2D Mario games really show you Nintendo’s focus on things outside of movement. They’re able to really open up creativity and complexity. The 3D games give you a bigger sense of a world and really immerse you in the experience of being in the Mushroom Kingdom. Both types of games are hugely popular and I bet if you ask every gamer they’ll enjoy them both, but they’ll have a preference. I prefer the 2D style games over the 3D because they can really focus on exploration and size in completely different ways than when you have to build expansive 3D environments.
Platformers, because they’ve been around so long and there are so many different examples have to find something that sets them apart from everyone else. More than anything it’s a genre that has to be completely creative, and unique. Both the designers I talked to have creative hooks in their games that set them apart. Julio worked on Chronos Twins DX for the DS and WiiWare. That game has you playing in two different time periods at the same time and you have to balance your attention between the two to complete a level. Ole, worked on the WiiWare title Max and the Magic Marker. That game was centered around a drawing mechanic that allowed you to create new ways to navigate through the levels, defeat enemies and overcome obstacles. Some games, like Mario innovate by bringing you new power ups and most recently made the platformer a group experience. Another unique title is LostWinds, a game that has the main character be a powerless child, relying on the help of a wind Spirit to reach inaccessible areas and defeat enemies for him. There are numerous other examples of unique gameplay ideas, like Bionic Commando’s bionic arm or Rachet & Clank’s huge arsenal of weapons. There are some ideas that developers like Ole would like to see. “I recently played Metroid Other M at a Nintendo thing. What I liked was the changing of view from 3rd person to 1st person depending on how the controller was held. I personally would like to do something with that.” Nintendo is no stranger to shifting perspectives either. One title, Super Paper Mario, released in 2008 used that idea on a similar scale to open up blocked paths or reveal hidden enemies and objects.
Platformers have been able to stand the test of time, more so than any other genre. It’s been essentially the same style of game, with a few variations for more than 25 years. Every platformer essentially boils down to one thing. Get from point A to Point B by jumping from one platform to another. You can accomplish this in a number of different ways. This style of game offers a basic element that can be built upon better than any other style of game out there. It has made the jump from side scrolling 2D adventures to huge planet hopping quests against larger than life enemies, and back again. People understand exactly what to expect from this style of game and they know what is expected of them. They were the stars of the show, relegated to handhelds with the advent of 3D and now they’re making their return. They’re available on every platform under the sun in any number of forms. Mario dominates Nintendo consoles; Ratchet is the star on the Playstation. Even the iPhone has games like Canabalt, which boils the platformer down even more to its most basic elements. No matter what happens, I believe if the gaming world ever came to an end the platformer would still be there holding on with every thing it’s got.
Remember back in November when everyone called Reggie crazy for saying that New Super Mario Bros. Wii would beat sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on at least one platform? If this list has anything to say about it you can call the man a genius. He knows the power of Mario. Just look at these sales numbers.
* CoD Modern Warfare 2 Xbox 360 – 5.83 million units sold (4.2m Nov, 1.63m Dec)
* New Super Mario Bros. Wii – 4.21 million units sold (1.39m Nov, 2.82m Dec)
* CoD Modern Warfare 2 PS3 – 2.99 million units sold (1.87m Nov, 1.12m Dec)
It has not only beaten the PS3 version of Modern Warfare 2 handily, but it’s well on it’s way to besting both platforms sales, not combined but it could be the best selling single platform seller. Next time Reggie makes a bold statement you might want to listen to him.
I would be willing to bet that when all is said and done that before the middle of this year that New Super Mario Bros. Wii will have sold better than both the PS3 and the 360 versions of Modern Warfare 2 combined. It just goes to show just how powerful that portly plumber really is.
Hey everyone. I just thought we’d have a little bit of fun to start the new year. This week Nintendo posted a video on the Nintendo Channel where two guys tried to speed run through World 1-2 of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I figured we could do something like that for the Nintendo Okie Community.
All you need to do is hit up the forums, sign up and enter the challenge. You just need to post a screenshot, or preferably a video showing your speed run through the level with the proper requirements. We’ll do something special for the winner, but we haven’t decided yet.
The contest will run for two weeks until Friday, January 23rd. I’ve posted my speed run through the level, but since I’m not eligible I can’t win. Let’s have some fun and start out the new year with a bang.
It’s our final list of 2010. Today we’re going to take a look at our favorite Wii games that hit store shelves this year. We’ve had a good run so far, but it’s come to an end. I think it’s a very fitting way to end 2009. Read the list. Let us know what you think.
Tony Says: MadWorld was the one game every in the “hardcore” pinned their hopes on for Wii. They said if it couldn’t sell then nothing could. While sales weren’t great for the title it was a very unique experience and one of the best on Wii this year. It had a super stylized, unique look with the stark contrast of the black and white splashed with red blood, a good soundtrack and some very interesting commentary. The brawler is still alive and MadWorld was one of the best ones of the year.
Matt Says: It was a shame that most peopled passed off the original Wii Sports as a tech demo and nothing more; but it looks like Nintendo rectified that issue by making it’s sequel, Wii Sports Resort, more robust in every way. You couldn’t accuse them of trying to shill the Motion Plus peripheral like a half-hearted Wii Play; not only are there more events like disc golf, sword fighting and canoeing, they show off their depth with multiple levels, a nice difficulty curve and ever-addictive achievements that have you coming back long after you’ve “mastered” the events. They just turned your Wii party’s awesomeness to 11.
Muramasa: The Demon Blade
Tony Says: There are two games that I said this year were head and shoulders above the rest in terms of visuals and they’re both unsurprisingly on this list. Muramasa would easily take my pick for the best looking game of the year. There’s no doubt it’s gorgeous. The amount of layers moving separately all blending to give you unparalleled depth of field made for a memorable experience from the moment you turned the game on. The hand drawn Japanese watercolor style art is a beautiful style for a video game. It might have had its flaws, like the length of the game, but there’s no doubt it is one of the best experiences you’ll find on Wii this year. The combat, while simple, provided a large amount of depth if you wanted to dive into it and the RPG elements and sword crafting immersed you in this world of feudal Japan.
Shelby Says: Back in 2002, Metroid Prime proved that Samus could exist in 3D. Two years later, Retro Studios added even more Metroid flavor to the 3D realm with Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Without a doubt, these are two of the greatest games that ever graced the GameCube. So when Nintendo announced their “New Play Control!” series would include Prime 1 and 2, gamers had reason to be excited. My inner bounty hunter daydreamed at how much fun it would be to revisit the Chozo Ruins and Torvus Bog with the fluid control scheme of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Not only did Retro Studios update the control schemes of Corruption’s older siblings but they also upgraded textures, added an award system, shortened load times and added 16:9 widescreen abilities making these games much more than a simple port. In Japan, the upgraded Prime 1 and 2 saw individual releases but in America we got the Metroid Prime: Trilogy collector’s edition. Nintendo went above and beyond how all other “New Play Control!” games were published and gave fans a metal game case, an art booklet and they threw in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for good measure! Regardless of how much of the Prime series you have played before, Nintendo and Retro have given Wii owners plenty of reasons to enjoy these three adventures of “The Huntress.” For a MSRP of $49.99, this is gaming’s best deal since The Orange Box and one of our top Wii games of 2009.
Tony Says: Every time a developer says something can’t be done on Wii we always get someone who says it can’t. While the Wii isn’t the ideal platforms for shooters (I still think that belongs to PC) EA did prove that you could put Extraction onto Nintendo’s console. It has most of the elements that made the original popular, strategic dismemberment, scares, and it looks great as well. 2009 may just be the year that people say shooters can work on Wii, whether they’re on rails or not.
Tony Says: Despite the curious case of missing capital letters, a boy and his blob is the other game that I would say is the best looking game on Wii this year. It’s dripping with cuteness in nearly every aspect. The relationship between the boy and the blob, while curious in its beginnings, is a heart warming tale of friendship and dare I say…love? The puzzles in the game have you bending your mind while simultaneously lobbing jelly beans for the blob and dispatching enemies with boulders. There are secrets littered throughout the world that give you access to even harder challenges and it’s just a game that shouldn’t be missed, whether you’re 5 or 50.
Matt Says: While the light gun genre has been beaten to death on the Wii, Sega decided to take the staid formula and beef it up. Putting your zombie blasting skills to the test and reaching the highest score are still at the forefront; replays don’t seem as trite thanks to some weapon leveling and a more diverse feeling arsenal than you usually get. Taking the cheese that made the series so memorable in the first place, there’s a nonsensical but highly entertaining story that takes it all with a film grain. Mature? Not really. Lewd, violent, obscene and gross? Absolutely. And that’s why it’s !@#$ing awesome.
Ed Says: What can be said about the new Super Mario Bros that has not already been said? While it is not quite pure old school 2D side scrolling action, it is certainly in the spirit of those older Mario games. This games feels like a Mario game, which is more than can be said for a lot of sequels and re- imaginings. The game plays well and is a lot of fun both singly and with others. Nintendo pretty much delivered exactly what they said they would. A multiplayer Mario experience.
Shelby Says: In 2008, Boom Blox was noted by critics and fans alike as one of the best games of 2008. Even though EA wasted no time in producing a sequel, Boom Blox Bash Party builds on the concepts of its prequel to make it one of our top Wii games of 2009. Despite the word party being in the title, this game does not suffer the same pitfalls as other “party games” do. Boom Blox Bash Party features new environments, shooting mechanics, shapes and special blox that keeps the game play from being identical from the original game, but similar enough it doesn’t “recreate the wheel.” The level builder gives Bash Party nearly limitless replay value as levels can not only be shared with friends but can also be downloaded from EA servers. Also, thunderous applause are in order for the developer, EA Los Angeles, by eliminating friend codes and making Bash Party read directly from your Wii Friends list. Boom Blox Bash Party is a game that you can play with anyone, thus truly capturing what the Wii is all.
Tony Says: I love Punch-Out!! and it doesn’t matter what form it comes in. This retro reimagining of the original game introduces a lot of new challenges and one new characters. You’ll find yourself in familiar territory early in the game, but after you become the champ, the tables turn and even Glass Joe has it out for you. The brilliant use of the Punch-Out!! theme in every world and the classic gameplay combine for a healthy dose of nostalgia for those of us old enough to remember the original and a nice introduction to the series for a younger generation.
So there you have it folks; our look back at the best games of 2009. It wasn’t easy compiling the list, but I think we’ve come up with the best games of the year. If you agree, or disagree with us. Let us know in the comments, or head over to the forums and talk to us there. We’ll be back tomorrow to ring in the new year with our predicitions and hopes for 2010.