Tag Archives: Wii

E3 2013 Conference Review

Because you can’t have an E3 conference review without Nintendo, I’m putting today’s Nintendo Direct up against Sony and Microsoft’s conferences. I don’t see it as a disadvantage since a load of games shorn (mostly) of awkward executive banter can only be a good thing.

Without further ado, in the order in which they were shown…


The Xbox One had the most to prove after the disastrous reveal and preemptive clarification of the awful DRM policies, and while this showing won’t make that shadow go away, Microsoft did allay some fears. Not all, but some. Presentationally, Microsoft needs someone with charisma, who you could imagine successfully selling a used car; J Allard and Peter Moore are sorely missed when you’re forced to watch the automatons up there now.

But apart from that, Microsoft’s comfortably topped the other two for games, which is the important thing at these shows. New games from Swery and the Panzer Dragoon chap bring credibility; Insomniac is a nice coup, albeit not up there with Bungie in my book; Quantum Break, which looks like a serious Ghost Trick, intrigues; and, of course, there’s a new Halo, which gets bonus points for referencing Journey; Battlefield 4 looks like matching its superb predecessor; Metal Gear Solid V looked amazing, albeit multiplatform. Those are just the ones that tickled me; there were plenty more.

It’s just sad that Microsoft had to end on a sour note by saddling the hardware with a £429 price tag. That’s £4 more than I balked at paying for a PS3 back in 2007 – and I won’t be paying it for an Xbox One either. So once it has the DRM patched out, a substantially smaller second model released, and gets a couple of price drops, I’m right on board.



Sony’s a weird one, as it was the conference that left me with the most positive impression, but one that doesn’t last when you really look at what was shown. Its success was down to the messaging, the flawless capitalisation on Microsoft’s missteps. Does the fact that it’s maintained the status quo by not setting out to control what we can do with our games really deserve to be the factor that ‘wins’ E3? I think it shows how low our expectations have become if it does.

(I must say, however, that I haven’t seen a crowd reaction in a press conference like the one to the announcement of no used game DRM. I hope Microsoft was watching.)

Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III are nice, but Square Enix has forfeited the presumption of quality. We need a couple of releases of PS1/PS2 Squaresoft calibre before I’ll be buying its games regardless of reviews. And as I said, Bungie is a coup and Destiny looks great.

But where was Naughty Dog? Where were all those other great first-party studios? Where was The Last Guardian? Where was anything for the Vita? See what I mean about some notable omissions? I felt like I saw more games at the PS4 reveal back in February, and I pretty much did see as many Vita games.

A solid showing, then, but mainly on the PR front. Thankfully for Sony, that message was good enough to secure my day one preorder.



In shunning the E3 dog and pony show – an approach that has served the company well at the Tokyo Game Show for years now – Nintendo may have set out to lower expections, and I can see why. Mario Kart, Mario, Pokémon, Smash Bros, Donkey Kong Country, The Wind Waker. Notice a pattern? As much as I love Nintendo’s characters, the line-up is depressingly conservative, lacking even the creativity of the GameCube days, where Nintendo published interesting takes on new or forgotten franchises rather than wearing out ideas within a couple of years of their debut.

Nintendo is seemingly a shadow of its former self. Wii U is a sales disaster, third-party support is non-existent, and unlike equivocal successes like the N64 where Nintendo could be counted on to provide classics to make the purchase worthwhile, that’s not happening here. I can see why Nintendo didn’t want to shine the spotlight on this line-up, because it’s worryingly thin.

I’m excited about Bayonetta 2, though, so that’s something.


E3 2012 Conference Review

If last year felt like games were running on fumes, desperate for a bit of fresh blood, it didn’t take much to predict what we were going to be seeing this year. Although I don’t think anyone anticipated it being this bad.

For reference, you can find my last few E3 conference reviews here.



It seems like the days of actually using these shows to announce things and get people excited about your platform are long gone, at least if you’re Microsoft. Where were the big, surprising reveals that get people talking, that get them excited for the coming year? There weren’t any. The handful of games that actually impressed were ones we’d seen before and were mostly venerable franchises being supplanted by their “cinematic action game” successors in which you hammer a button and cool stuff happens. Or, if you’re Black Ops II, you do the last game again with Human Revolution’s piss filter on it, which tells you that it’s the future.

But at least you can search Bing and browse Internet Explorer in Spanish now, so that’s something.

In fairness, Halo 4 looked nice, SmartGlass is a very good idea, and Matt Stone and Trey Parker had a good line. And I’m interested in LocoCycle based on that teaser, simply because it’s from Twisted Pixel. That’s it. Thank God they were smart enough to make SmartGlass cross-platform so that I don’t need a Windows Phone to use it, as otherwise it would have been dead on arrival and the sole highlight of the conference would have been two guys who didn’t really want to be there taking the piss out of it.

I’m writing this on Monday evening and crossing everything that Sony and Nintendo bring out the big guns to definitively show up that nonsense as the shite it was.

I didn’t hallucinate that they brought out Usher, did I?



(Full disclosure: I didn’t stay up until 4am to watch this and so my opinions are based on retroactively reading live blogs and watching videos.)

Like last year, I thought Microsoft had left the door open for Sony to steal the limelight, and once again, Sony resolutely failed to do so. Arguably even more so.

First of all, I suspect that Sony has given up on the Vita. Its sales have been poor and there’s been a negative buzz around it, but at the time of writing, with an hour-long Nintendo show dedicated to 3DS software coming up tomorrow, all that was given to the Vita in two hours of Sony setting out its stall for 2012/2013 was a brief mention of exclusive versions of Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed. We’ve been here before with the PSP and it didn’t work, and that was several years after release when the hype had dried up and nobody cared any more. To let the Vita get to this point is bad, but to do it within six months of launch is shocking, and if I’d dropped £230 or more on this thing I’d be fucking angry at this non-showing.

The PS3 fared better, but like the situation with the 360, it’s clear that the big guns are tied up on bigger and better things. God of War: Ascension? I don’t care. Like Gears of War: Judgment, it’s a B-team project based on a franchise that has run its course, and that demo could have been any of them. The best and worst thing about any David Cage game is that it’s a David Cage game, and I can’t stand Ellen Page so Beyond is immediately on the back foot for me. Wonderbook is interesting and ambitious but is doomed to be another failed initiative like Move. If I want to read a book I’ll, you know, read a book.

The Last of Us was the best of the show by far, showing Sony’s reliance on Naughty Dog to consistently pump out the kind of experiences that this generation promised. You’d think it would be working on it’s big PS4 title, having wrapped up Uncharted so nicely – and it probably is, in reality – but this shows that there’s at least one new big hitter left in this generation. Two if The Last Guardian ever makes it out, but every missed trade show makes me less convinced that it will.

The Microsoft and Sony conferences were closer than some would like to admit, with one undeniably impressive game each and not a whole lot else, and certainly no major announcements. Sony’s was better because we saw more new games, but it goes without saying that next year is a big one for both of them. Their current consoles look like they’ll be on life support by then.



The expectations on Nintendo’s shoulders were perhaps unfairly high given the failure of the first two conferences to show us anything worthwhile, but even with a new console to show off and such a low bar, Nintendo failed to jump it.

I’m frankly shocked at how bad it was. They actually got Ubisoft, which had knocked it out of the park yesterday with some brilliant-looking games, to give a demo of Batman: Arkham City. That game will be a year old by the time the Wii U launches, and it’s not like it was brimming with new features and content to get us coming back to it. Gimmicky touch controls that people have complained about for as long as iOS has been hosting games are now a fixture of Nintendo (Wii U), Microsoft (SmartGlass) and Sony (Vita) games. Enjoy.

Pikmin 3 was the highlight and then it was downhill from there. No Zelda or Metroid whatsoever. Two indistinguishable Mario games. Dance and fitness games. No price or firm release date for the Wii U, with the only notable announcement on that front being that it supports two controllers – a downgrade from pretty much every system since the N64. Oh, and it halves the frame rate if you run two of them. Have fun.

My Twitter feed was full of people hoping, praying for one ‘megaton’ before the end. An HD Zelda would have done it, at least giving us something to cling on to. Some were even talking about GTA V, notable for its absence at the other two conferences, making a surprise appearance. Nope. It was a collection of mini-games, wrapped around some social features like a Mii-filled PlayStation Home. It worked for the Wii when it was breaking sales records, so here, with no competition in the next-gen console market, is Nintendo sticking to what it now does best.

At least E3 2003 had Pac-Man VS.


Worst E3 ever? It’s up there. After all that build-up, the potential for a showing from certainly one, possibly three new consoles, the best showing of the whole thing was Ubisoft. Who saw that coming?

E3 2011 Conference Review

Every year, at about this time, the gaming world comes together to show us why it’s going to deserve our money this year, and as happens a couple of times a decade it seems like we’re in a generation running on fumes. Indeed, one of the big three has shown its hand already, and such a bold statement of intent will surely mean appearances for the next Xbox and PlayStation in the next 12 months.

And for reference, here are my reviews of 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. This year I’m adding the stipulation that I won’t factor in multiplatform showings, since as impressive as Modern Warfare 3 and BioShock Infinite looked, that has no bearing on the relative fortunes of the consoles on which they were demonstrated.

So, in chronological order…


Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Last year, I wasn’t happy with the first look at real-life Kinect stuff, but I gave it a pass because I was confident that Microsoft knows its market – the people who made the Xbox a success where other ventures had failed. Now, I’m not so sure. How many times during that conference was something that looked interesting unveiled, only for someone to come out and sacrifice their dignity by squatting, hopping, waving and – shudder – fist-bumping in front of thousands of people? Ryse (formerly Codename Kingdoms), which was last year positioned as something new from Crytek for the Xbox core audience has suddenly become an on-rails Kinect game. Fable? An on-rails Kinect game. Ditto Star Wars, Sesame Street… and I have to say I’m nervous after seeing the Master Chief floating through an exploding ship in a fashion not far removed from what a bunch of avatars were doing in Disneyland Adventures not long before.

I’m probably just being paranoid on that one. There’s no way that Microsoft would risk a valuable and popular franchise with that kind of nonsense, is there? Wait… what was that Fable game again?

Back in my territory, Gears 3 looks good, but it’s Gears 3. It’s not going to blow any minds after anyone who’s interested has already played the beta, if not the two previous games, and let’s not forget that this is the second E3 for a game that was originally going to have been long out by now. It’s not new.

So with Halo 4 only present in CG form and a remake of the first Halo hardly likely to win over anyone, I guess it falls to Forza 4, then. In fairness it did look gorgeous, with nary an embarrassing Kinect demo in sight, and after Gran Turismo dropped the ball there’s a big opportunity for Microsoft and Turn 10 to nab that ‘real driving simulator’ label. Not that it matters to me, though. As I’ve said many times in the past, I couldn’t care less about driving simulators and need my virtual driving heavily diluted with arcade action. Bring back Bizarre Creations and Project Gotham, I say.



Sony’s offering was better than Microsoft’s, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to sound excited. On the PS3 front, putting aside re-releases and Move games, I make it Uncharted 3, Ruin, Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time and Starhawk. The former and latter are looking excellent and I loved their respective predecessors, but we already knew about them. The others? Meh. I’m sure they’ll be perfectly good but I can take them or leave them.

Coupled with Microsoft’s damp squib, it seriously seems like this generation is running on fumes. Whenever the PS4 and next Xbox turn up, we don’t appear to be in danger of having another PS2, still receiving significant games after the release of its successor.

But of course, the big deal was the first E3 for what was formerly known as the NGP: PlayStation Vita. Strange name, but it makes a break from the PSP and it’s of secondary importance to what is an impressive piece of hardware. The graphics it’s pushing look superb, and the cloud functionality brings the niche connectivity features between the PS3 and PSP into a realm where they might actually get used, as long as its utility isn’t going to be predicated on buying two versions of the same game.

It’s said, however, that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, and that’s exactly what Sony is doing with the Vita. Even as someone who likes the PSP and still buys games for it, and with the 3DS not so far setting the world alight, it’s an extremely powerful handheld that’s hosting pocket versions of big-console games, and it didn’t work last time. Looking at Uncharted: Golden Abyss, we’ve even got the banner franchise being farmed out to a minor first-party studio. I’d like to be proven wrong, and I’d like to be able to play it for more than three hours without charging, but I’m not expecting either prediction to go my way.

Based purely on the fact that Sony’s conference wasn’t entirely focused on utter shite, it gets bumped up two grades. Then gets one taken away for not featuring The Last Guardian.



If big hopes were on Nintendo with the knowledge that it was to unveil new hardware, they were only enhanced by the other platform holders’ failure. And like many people, I came away disappointed here as well.

First, the other stuff, though. It generally takes a lot for Nintendo to get me excited because I’m a bit bored of another Mario Kart, another 2D Mario, and so on. And don’t get me started on bloody Smash Bros. I’m not yet burned out on Star Fox and I’ll always love Zelda – especially when I’m getting a free one for my under-utilised DSi – so I’ll give them those two.

To be honest, I’m still digesting the Wii U and wondering what to think. I’m generally positive, which may surprise some, even if some subsequent revelations have dampened its gloss somewhat, but we’re going on the press conference, and that was disappointing. I don’t know anyone who didn’t leave with questions, including whether or not it was even a standalone console. It was a failure of communication and, to be honest, the aforementioned disclosures have left me with questions over how much of the omitted information was deliberate. Time will have to tell because it’s certainly not coming this year, but it’ll be nice to have the option of playing Nintendo games alongside half-decent third-party offerings. Until the new Xbox also comes out in late 2012 and restores the console power status quo, of course.

Sadly, the announcement that I’m most looking forward to trading for my hard-earned currency is the Zelda symphony CD. That makes it extremely underwhelming, but that’s one more new announcement that I’m excited about than the other two, so Nintendo comes out on top by default.


This has to be the most disappointing E3 in years. The three conferences were average at absolute best and I struggle to think of one new announcement that interests me. Also, gone seems to be the pleasure in finding obscure new announcements hidden away in the nooks of the gaming news sites, because there aren’t any – maybe we’re finally seeing the impact of every studio that doesn’t make nothing but million-sellers closing down. Running on fumes doesn’t even begin to describe this generation from the looks of things.

E3 2010 Conference Review

It’s E3 again! That means broken promises, broken hearts, betrayal, disappointment, and that’s just when there’s a World Cup match on. For reference, check out my report cards for 2007, 2008 and 2009.

So without further ado, in chronological order…


To be honest, I got exactly what I expected from Microsoft. We all knew that there was going to be a huge focus on Natal Kinect and that was borne out. It’s undeniably technically impressive, but the lineup doesn’t interest me in the slightest so far. My antipathy towards the Wii is no real secret, and so it’s going to take something special, likely from an established developer known for great ‘normal’ games, but for the time being I’m happy to be an observer. I can see people who are in the intended audience being really impressed by it.

If we’re talking stuff outside hardcore games, ESPN was the most impressive thing. It’s almost certainly not coming here, but it’s potentially the definitive way to watch sports, and it’s included in an existing Xbox Live subscription. I’m a football fan, and having a library of classic matches as well as HD streaming live stuff with all those community features would be fantastic. Imagine getting a similar thing with the BBC iPlayer, for example.

As for the real games, there weren’t really any surprises for the most part, but what I saw impressed me. Gears 3 looked like Gears 3, and Halo: Reach really looked like a proper next-gen Halo game. Crytek is apparently making a God of War game as well, and MGS: Rising looked decent, albeit like it’s reviving something that should now be finished with. That interests me still, as even if it’s part of a genre that I don’t often get on with, those cutting mechanics look incredibly cool. Could be some real potential there.

Echoes of Sega’s E3 1995 Saturn announcement with the unveiling of the new machine, which perhaps isn’t the kind of memories to be dredging up, but you can’t deny the effectiveness of showing off the reduced size of your redesign by having it on stage inside the old one the whole time. It’s been much-needed on the technical side for a while, and I’ll certainly be tempted to upgrade at the next price drop. I’m liking the look of it, actually.

But the overall impression was underwhelming. Halo: Reach was the only game that really got me excited, and that’s… well, Halo. A Halo game that was announced over a year ago and that most of us have already played, in fact. I’m writing this section on Monday night before either of the other two conferences so I could be proven completely wrong here, but I expect Nintendo and Sony to blow away the paltry number of new announcements to appeal to gamers, and they’ll almost certainly be exclusives, which Call of Duty and Metal Gear Solid aren’t. There was a lot of flash there for really not that many new games for 2010 and 2011.

So a fairly unimpressive line-up of new games with some intriguing but unproven technology means that this conference scores a…

D Continue reading E3 2010 Conference Review

E3 2009 Conference Review

Hard to believe that it’s been the best part of a year since Final Fantasy XIII went multiplatform and Nintendo stunned the world by reaching new levels of mediocrity, but E3 has been restored to its former glory and with it came three conferences from the console manufacturers infused with announcements and yes, bitter tears. Same format as 2007 and 2008, in chronological order:

The first was Microsoft, which started us off with a strong showing. We knew some of what was going to be there, but there were no complete leaks like last year’s NXE unveiling, and most of what we knew was in name only. It’s fairly normal at this point to go into E3 without much knowledge of what we’ll be playing on our 360s at the end of the year, and we can now see a strong line-up taking shape: Halo 3: ODST, Left 4 Dead 2, Crackdown 2, Forza 3, and the re-emergence of a fantastic-looking Splinter Cell: Conviction, which has got me all hot and bothered for the series again. Modern Warfare 2’s footage wasn’t as mind-blowing as COD4’s from two years ago, but my preorder’s in.

The headlines will undoubtedly be grabbed by two unveilings, though. The first is Metal Gear Solid: Rising, which is a huge PR coup for Microsoft but isn’t a mainline Metal Gear and so isn’t quite the shock of last year’s FFXIII reveal; still, I like MGS4’s Raiden, so colour me interested. Secondly, we’ve got Project Natal, which I don’t expect to work nearly as well as the video suggested, but if it does it’s certainly an incredible technical achievement. Expect much talk about that over the coming months.

Plus Microsoft got the fucking Beatles to show up. God knows how much that cost…

Criticisms? As a closet fan of the Halo novels I’d like to have seen more than a teaser of Halo: Reach, but I understand that ODST is the one that they want you to care about for now. But mainly, where was Rare? The token Killer Instinct and Blast Corps rumours of course didn’t come true, but no new Perfect Dark? Not even another Viva Piñata? Hello?

But that aside, Microsoft did what it had to do with aplomb. The 360 has a great selection of games for this year and we now know that stuff like Alan Wake is finally coming in 2010, and MS is even showing signs of making a serious attempt at coming out from the bald space marine niche where it’s been happy to exist. This one gets a solid A.

Nintendo had simultaneously the most and the least to prove going into E3, sitting comfortably at the top of the sales charts but also leaving much of its traditional audience – or at least the ones who can’t convince themselves that Smash Bros is a good game – underwhelmed, exemplified by last year’s showing.

Super Mario Galaxy 2, Team Ninja’s Metroid, and Golden Sun DS. That pretty much summed up what we got that I’m interested in, and I really am gagging for a go on Metroid. It’s better than last year’s and the first two are undoubtedly AAA titles, although it still had a depressing emphasis on games that our demographic probably doesn’t care about. No great DSiWare content? No Virtual Console for DSi? Nothing entirely new for the hardcore audience? Instead, we get something to monitor your pulse and more Wii Fit.

I can’t in good conscience slate a conference that unveiled both a proper new Mario and Metroid, so I’m going to give this one a B-.

Sony‘s was a show of two halves for me. It started off with Uncharted 2, which looks spectacular, and if it’s nearly as good as the first game – there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be – it’ll be a certain purchase. MAG didn’t demonstrate particularly well because it’s a bit slow and complicated for this context, and I’m not convinced that the headset-free PSN is the best place for such a co-op game, but I love my multiplayer shooters and I’m intrigued.

It’s good to see renewed support for the PSP, even if I won’t be buying a PSP Go, and maybe this commitment from Sony coupled with reduced development costs will see a renaissance in the system. I hope so, because I’m a fan.

Final Fantasy XIV was a surprise, to say the least, but I’d love to hear the difference in cheers between when it was announced and when everyone saw the little ‘Online’ under the title. Not the megaton announcement that XIII was last year, and the slight disappointment was compounded by what came next. The tech demo for the Wii Remote waggle wand lost some of its impact coming after Microsoft’s controller-free controls and a further demonstration of Wii Motion Plus and just went on for far too long, particularly when there wasn’t actually a game to come with it. The same goes for ModNation Racers, which wasn’t even that impressive and seemed to last for an eternity – I wanted to kill myself when he promised to create a track “in less than five minutes”. I was reminded of the endless demonstration of Gran Turismo HD from the infamous E3 2005 showing.

It ended very strongly with Gran Turismo 5, which I don’t really care about as I’m not exactly a fan of realistic racers, and the holy duo of The Last Guardian and God of War III. It goes without saying that both of those are must-haves, and I’m just disappointed that it looks like we’ll have to wait until 2010 for both of them.

Much like the Microsoft one it showed a host of great games, and it only really suffered from the slack middle section. That doesn’t stop it getting an A as well, though.

Overall, then, a far better show than last year’s, and fans of all platforms will have come away with something worthwhile even if this year’s show has pretty much confirmed motion controls as the way of the future. And hey, no sales graphs either. Gaming needs to make a song and dance about itself like this once in a while, so let’s enjoy the rest of the show.

Until next year…

This is Why Nintendo Fans Don’t Get Nice Things

I had to shake my head when I saw that MadWorld didn’t even manage to chart in the latest NPDs, although it wasn’t exactly an unexpected event given the underperformance of No More Heroes, which seems aimed at a similar – apparently non-existent – demographic. Sad, but like I said, not unexpected. You can make your game as violent and funny as you like, but some are just too artsy for their own good.

What should be worrying for fans of more traditional games on Nintendo platforms, however, is how Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars appears to have flopped massively, selling 89,000 units against analysts’ predictions of anywhere from 200,000 to several million. If a game with a score of 94 on Metacritic and, oh yeah, a title containing the little-known words Grand Theft Auto can sell that badly, it doesn’t bode well for more mature titles on the platform. As much as I love my Ouendan and Phoenix Wright, I’m only human and would like to deal some heroin on my lunch break when that itch needs scratching.

Some blame piracy, and anecdotally I know of a lot of people who downloaded it, but R4 carts can’t be that prevalent. The fact is that Nintendo hasn’t been what it used to be for a lot of fans, myself included, since the disappointment of the GameCube, and I know many for whom the great library on the DS is the only thing keeping Nintendo from being written off as a lost cause. If that dries up completely you can see why Nintendo domination is a scary thought for some.

I’m not one of those who’s ready to cut Nintendo adrift, because I still see flashes of brilliance in games like Twilight Princess and Metroid Prime 3 to make me forgive Wii Music or Wii Play, but if decent adult games aren’t going to do anything on the Nintendo platforms I think it’s time to admit that, as some have suspected since the GameCube, Nintendo machines are for Nintendo games. The Wii is a great secondary console to play that odd gem that won’t show up anywhere else, but I think most hardcore gamers will agree when I say that the lion’s share of modern gaming will be done on the HD options.

And if you own Nintendo’s consoles and haven’t bought MadWorld or Chinatown Wars, congratulations. You’ve forfeited the right to complain when all Nintendo gives you at E3 is crushing disappointment.