Thoughts on the Wii

Its been quite a while since I posted on this blog. I’ve been busy with school and most of my posts go to http://www.thefloppyhat.com — but I do feel the need to rant about something from time to time. The rant that I’m about to embark on was spurred by this post and the comments appertaining thereto (I’m not entirely sure I used that word correctly, but it was kind of fun).

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love RMC over at GoNintendo. The guy is amazing, he’s loves gaming, and specifically loves Nintendo, and he runs a great site. My issue really isn’t even with the commenters per se. No, rather my issue is that somehow many Nintendo fans simply don’t understand why “core gamers” (whatever that phrase means) have issues with Nintendo. Let me try to explain.

Most of those who comment on GoNintendo, as far as I can tell, stuck with Nintendo through the (admittedly) sparse N64 and GameCube days. Now, the N64 was a great system. My brothers and I spent hours playing Goldeneye and Perfect Dark. Ocarina of Time is still, quite possibly, my favorite Zelda (though, to be fair, I haven’t played Twilight Princess yet). These fans had other systems as well, and they enjoyed those systems, but they stuck with Nintendo. They were loyal. Kudos to them. Their loyalty is now being rewarded. Nintendo’s star is on the rise. They have recently received a new Smash Bros. game that is awesome. Not too long ago new Mario and Zelda games that were equally great. Pikmin is supposedly in the works, as are many other games (Mario and Zelda teams working, etc, etc).

But, I think these fans have forgotten something important: people like me. I was never particularly loyal to Nintendo. Partially because my parents didn’t want me owning three consoles at a time, and partially because my favorite Genre has always been RPGs. The NES and SNES were great for RPGs. The N64 not so much, and although the GameCube had a few gems, it paled in comparison to the PS2…I’d probably say it pulled up about even, when speaking of RPGs with the original Xbox. So, what did I do during the decade before the Wii? It’s simple really, I went where the games that I wanted to play were, and that was on the PlayStation and PS2.

My story is not unique. So, what does this have to do with Nintendo currently? Those of us who jumped ship were treated to a plethora of AAA titles. FF7, FF8, FF9 released very quickly. No seven year wait for us. No sir. Add in to that various Tales games, as well as the Suikoden series, and several other great titles, and we were up to our ears in great games–and that was only in one genre! Once we start throwing in Action/Adventure games, and other genres we didn’t know what to do with ourselves.

Now, those of us who jumped ship have no returned to Nintendo. Most of us have other systems as well, but we also got a Wii. Maybe we were taken in by the motion stuff. Maybe we decided to bet on Nintendo being the leader, and so getting a ton of third party support. Maybe we just decided that Sony had gone crazy, and Microsoft was still the Evil Empire. Whatever the reason, we picked up the Wii. We are the ones who are saying to Nintendo…”uhh…it’s been two years, can we have another Zelda–please?” Many of us are just waiting for Arc Rise Fantasia, which looks like the first attempt at a full-blown RPG for the Wii. Yeah, Opoona had some neat ideas and Tales of Symphonia 2 was fun, but none of them were quite what we were looking for. I spent the first year just catching up on GameCube RPGs, so I didn’t have any complaints there. After that the Virtual Console interested me, and I had fun there. But now, where are my RPGs?

Yeah, I know that RPGs take time. I know its not Nintendo’s fault that third parties seemingly can’t manage to make a good game on the RPG (though, to be fair, there are some great ones…Zack and Wiki come to mind, and the Conduit looks like it’ll be fun, and I heard BoomBlox was awesome). But we were treated to multiple RPGs a year! A year! A three or four year wait between good games really isn’t acceptable to us. Maybe we’re wrong. Maybe we’re impatient. But three years is really our upper limit. A capable team can make a great game in three years. An awesome team, like the ones at Ninty, can make a phenomenal game in three years.

So, for you Nintendo fans out there who just can’t understand why some of us still aren’t happy with Nintendo, try to understand…we’re not used to the long wait. We got used to regular releases of great games within one genre. That’s not to say there weren’t famines from time to time, but they were only a year long. Now, over the course of the next year, there are some promising RPGs scheduled for release on the Wii, I admit that–but they aren’t here yet. For now, we sit a wait for games we want to play. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great games on the Wii. For some of us they’re not interesting, they don’t fall within our fairly limited genre preferences. For others, even those good games are too few and far between.

One final, only slightly related, thought. I’ve always found it interesting that the “winner” of each generation has been the console with the best/most RPGs. NES had some great ones, SNES had even more (though Sega did get a few gems), Playstation hands down, PS2 hands down…now who will it be? I think its still too early to tell, but I’d say its currently pretty close on the RPG front. Nintendo may be way ahead in consoles sold, and that does make for a difficult to surmount lead–my hope is that lead will cause third party publishers to start throwing money at the Wii.

It’s not that we hate Nintendo. We just want some of the games that we want on the system. That’s all.

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Tales of Symphonia Review

At the end of last summer I posted a review of Tales of the Abyss. Playing ToA caused me to become extremely interested in the Tales Series. The Anime FMV, the character development via skits, and the fun battle system all combine to make a unique RPG experience. Tales of the Abyss is easily in the top 5 RPGs I’ve ever played. I was listening to the soundtrack just today and was reminded about how incredible it was.

Tales of Symphonia doesn’t beat Tales of the Abyss in my book, but its still an excellent game. It was originally released on the Gamecube, and I picked up a used copy to play on my Wii. I’m extremely glad I did. Having never owned a Gamecube I could have easily missed out on this little gem. In many ways I feel like Tales of the Abyss was the natural evolution from this game. Everything was just a little better: the story, the character development, the battle system, etc. But Tales of Symphonia still comes out as a great game, even when compared to Abyss.

I spent around 40 hours playing through the game. There was a plot twist I didn’t see coming, which is always nice. The main problem with doing a review of Symphonia, after I’ve played Abyss, is that I feel like I’m just going around saying, “It was good…but Abyss was better.” If you’re a fan of the Tales series you’ve probably already played this game. If you’re fan of JRPGs I highly recommend Tales of Symphonia. If you’re a one of those new gamers the Wii is bringing in, why not try a “hardcore” game like Tales of Symphonia. It’s certainly fun, and worth the $20 to pick up a used copy. Besides, it’ll prepare you for Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, the direct sequel that is releasing exclusively for the Wii this November.

A bit of news

I’m taking this week off from thinking (aside from work related things), so don’t expect blog posts of any substance unless I get a sudden and unexpected urge to actually use the gray matter contained inside my cranium. Much like Eric I intend to read fiction (currently the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn cycle by Tad Williams), play games (specifically Tales of Symphonia, and if I finish it I’ll possibly start Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits), drink coffee (which isn’t really a departure from normal. I’m currently brewing a fine Harrar and will probably crack open some Kona by the end of the week), and conquer the world with Mandy in Civilization IV. I’ll perhaps emerge from this cocoon of hedonism in roughly a week when I begin preparing for my Intermediate Greek class in Summer I, and finish up my Semlink.

But that’s not the reason that I even began this post. In my meanderings this morning I found this article on CNN.com. Roland Martin often has some interesting things to say, in my opinion; I thought his take on the whole Rev. Wright thing was fascinating (that, and I’m a karma whore).

Wii Friend Code

I realized today that I have never given out my Wii Friend Code. So, since I know there are at least a few of my readers who now have Wiis, here ya go: 0286 5016 1201 9524

I’ll be expecting to receive yours as well. I’m always up for a game of Mario Strikers Charged.