“Laurie, why break your silence now?”
“BECAUSE I BOUGHT A WII U and kind of regretted it for a minute or two but now I don’t.”
I’m starting a video game production master’s program (an expensive master’s program . . . ) at the end of August, so I’m feverishly playing through my backlog of “important” games from the past few years to make sure I have an robust vocabulary when it comes to talking about games in my upcoming classes.
Last week I saw an article with Kotaku and the powers that be at Nintendo at E3. The article was pleasant enough, but I was reading a “what are you gonna do when Nintendo fails” kind of vibe underneath all of the journalist’s questions (maybe that’s just me being defensive for what is essentially the embodiment of my childhood). In my indignation I started pricing out the different Wii U bundles available at the moment.
Buying a Wii U has been in the back of my mind since they debuted, and I always knew it was a matter of when not if. My most recent decision had been to hold off and if I were to make a big gaming purchase before school started, it would be a used PS3 to catch up on those exclusives that seemed to hold more critical weight than any Nintendo exclusive. And yet there I was on Thursday evening, standing around a Target electronics section, waiting for a minimum wage employee to unlock the cabinet for me so I could pick up the Mario Bros & Luigi games Wii U package.
Today I was reviewing my finances and realized that a $300 purchase was . . . not terrible but those $300 could’ve been applied elsewhere. And since I bought it, I have played it once, very unsuccessfully with my girlfriend. And it’s not just like I didn’t get around to playing this weekend, I actively chose to finish Tomb Raider (AMAZING GAME) on my PC, instead of sit down with Mario on my Wii U. Why did I just drop a good chunk of change on this console?
Because Nintendo. And at first I thought it was stupid to justify the purchase by that alone, but now I’m realizing that it’s like doing a solid for a friend. I would do just about anything for the friends I’ve known since my single digit years, and Miyamoto is that friend. I’m positive (as are most industry analysts with a level head) that Nintendo’s dark spell of sales will pass. Zelda will come out. Mario Kart 8 has come out and everyone loves it. The Wii U will continue and I’m positive in a few short years, Nintendo will come up with something else that no one has ever seen, like the Wii remote or the touchscreen gamepad.
And even if they don’t, does it really matter? These are the pioneers of gaming as we know it today. I’m not suggesting that everyone should go out and buy a Wii U but I do know that my brief remorse of supporting a company that fostered as passion that has become my life has faded to nonexistence. After thinking of that, it’s only natural that I throw Nintendo a bone and buy a cool system in exchange (that can control my TV like a remote! COOL!)
I started this draft awhile ago, and originally the title was “I will buy a Wii U for Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze.” I am the ultimate sucker for anything Donkey Kong Country related. Have you guys played Donkey Kong Country Returns? Dat game! So good! I don’t know what the critics ended up saying about it, but it had so much charm and the jammin-est tunes since the original Donkey Kong Country, I don’t know how people have survived without playing it. And yeah, I’m being hyperbolic, but Donkey Kong Coutnry Tropical Freeze looks so good and a beloved video game company is doing so poorly . . . I just want to help somehow.
I’ve always been a Nintendo kid. My pedigree includes the NES, SNES, N64, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, and the Wii. I’m a sucker for all Mario, Donkey Kong, and Zelda-themed games. I’m constantly on the fence about splurging and jumping into the portable Nintendo world again, just for a taste of some more Mario Kart, Zelda, and Super Mario Brothers. My frugality has won out so far, but with all of the headlines Nintendo has been making recently about a deeper and deeper plunge into the red . . . my heart breaks a little as I acknowledge my bank account is desperately incapable of helping even the amount of the price of a new console.
I used to think Nintendo was invincible. Even when the 360 and PS3 started eclipsing the Wii hardware, I thought “No way – Nintendo still has something novel here.” And even when the Playstation came out with the Move I thought “Too little too late, suckers.” When Microsoft came out with the Kinect, I thought, “Whoa. That’s pretty cool . . . but Nintendo will pick it back up shortly, they just need a few months.” Time passed, there were more and more reboots of the same IPs and still Nintendo stood in the shadowy plane of 720p behind it’s competition.
When they announced the Wii U, I thought there were some cool features (different functionality on the controller screen versus the main monitor, playing from the controller and being able to give up the TV on demand); unfortunately I knew deep down it would be up to developer buy-in to really launch Nintendo’s console over the moon. People were worried about release titles, but I sagely remembered that no consoles have good titles at launch, so who cared? Then, the hardware specs came out. All so disappointing. All so subpar. All so definitely not next-gen. Was Nintendo losing its touch?
Time has shown . . . that perhaps they have. I’m not saying I won’t still buy a Wii U at some point, but a Playstation 3 is definitely higher on my list, as are a lot of games. But where does that leave this title, and my favorite franchises? I don’t know, to be honest. It’s with a heavy heart and a hanging head that I doubtfully look at the Wii U price, and games available for it.
This is all very rambley and I know it. Grief is rambley. And of course this is all a little over-dramatic, a little tongue-in-cheek, but honestly at the end of it, I do feel anxious about Nintendo’s future, and how little they’re motivating me to help. I’m undecided if one classic title will be enough to make me pull out my wallet and jump to their aid.
I return in the midst of what I’m sure is e-rotten fruit being thrown at me and e-boos at being gone so long. When I’m sick, I view playing video games as expending energy, and when I’m sick, I expend zero energy. Also, the apocryphal gaming PC I’ve mentioned before is finally all en route to my apartment (in pieces) and because I’m so excited to do some real PC gaming for the first time ever, consoles and 14” laptop screens are just not holding any appeal for me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what this is going to mean for my Xbox. My Wii is just collecting dust at this point, which makes me sad, but someday . . . someday I’ll get back to it. Anyway, with Steam sales and Amazon sales, digital distribution is simply the cheapest route for gaming and most games today are on Xbox and the PC. So will my Xbox fall to the wayside as I dedicate my soul to PC gaming only?
My first reaction is no. During the steam sale I almost bought L.A. Noire for $5 (and I should have, really) but something tugging at the back of my mind said “No. Rockstar games are meant to be appreciated with a controller in your hand.” Which, of course I can plug a controller into my PC so . . . really, I should’ve bought it. Damn.
Anyway, there are still some mind blocks telling me that I want to do some things on console and some things on PC. I have heard from multiple sources that the Witcher series, although being recently ported to the Xbox, is far superior still on the PC. But, I’ve always loved lazily turning on my console on a weekend morning and playing some casual action game. I believe the developers of Super Meat Boy or maybe it was Fez, had something to say about that (something that agreed with me, that the feeling of playing on a console is just unbeatable) but as I’m writing this, I’m realizing how silly it sounds for me, personally.
I have my consoles and TV in my room. I’m using my TV as a monitor for my PC, and I can plug in my Xbox controller to play with it on my PC. My experiences are going to be . . . next to the same, on either system. The separation between PC gaming and console gaming will be almost gone, with any differences weighing down the benefits of console gaming. As someone who has only console gamed her entire life, this is a sad realization, not because I think console gaming is superior to PC gaming, but because it is familiar.
I never got into the debates about “which was better” because I think its apples to oranges. There is a clear winner in the graphics and speed department, but I think the nostalgia and cheaper alternative is a valuable side of the argument as well. We’ll see how much I keep using my Xbox, and given the exclusive nature of Wii titles, I’m sure I’ll come back to it to get a Mario or Zelda fix, but I wouldn’t be surprised if PC gaming took over my gaming life. The only things raising any doubt are awesome Xbox Live Arcade game exclusives. Other than that, I may be turning into a PC girl . . . Although I’ll probably never sell it because who knows when the next Red Dead Redemption is coming around, that will be another console-exclusive?
Do you guys PC and console game? Do you have strong feelings one way or the other? Leave a comment, let’s discuss.