Rack Focus: On Pizza Hut, Cavemen, and the Wii U

Okay, so I don’t know much about modern console gaming. I really don’t care about Call of Duty or Fallout 3 or Halo beyond the record-breaking sales reported in Variety. In fact, you can count me among those consumers stolen away by the iPhone, because I can have a bunch of sweet games — plus my email and my web browser and my music and my movies and my Savage Love App — in one device.

Consider that last sentence, and then consider I am the exact kind of consumer that Nintendo has railed against Apple for stealing. Then consider my disappointment over the spec announcements for the Wii U at this year’s E3 event, and consider once more that I’m the exact kind of consumer Nintendo doesn’t want alienate any further.

The Wii U sucks. There. I said it. I’m probably not the first, but there it is. And any cool game they can add or any social media platform they can devise won’t change it. The problem is the idea is so completely dated that it’s backwards. In a sense, the Wii U is the cousin-humping South of the gaming industry.

The Wii U is supposed to be Nintendo’s tablet, which was an announcement good enough to make me pay attention. I love Nintendo-style games because of their clever innovations while maintaining fantastic simplicity and vibrant color schemes — like the Pixar of the gaming industry. They make games that I want to play, but merely don’t have the time because I’m always on the go. All I’ve wanted is Mario Galaxy on a train, Zelda on a plane. A tablet that combines everything an iPad or Android tablet can do, but with joysticks and D-pads for awesome gaming I can play at home on my TV or while waiting at the doctor’s office, is the sort of wet dream that could bring me, the convenience-seeking consumer, back to the console fold.

But then there’s the bomb: The Wii U requires you to be attached to a console. This means that is isn”t a tablet at all, really. It’s just another console that requires me to sit at home.

But oh! You say is has a high definition screen? So does the iPad. You say it can run Hulu and Netflix? So does the iPad. In a sense, the Wii U does what an iPad already can do, but you can now take your favorite mushroom-stomping plumbers with you while taking a twosie (just in case of a clog).

This sort of news is equivalent to somebody shouting, “Hey, we have pizza!” Excited, you head over and they say, “Well, we gotta go to Pizza Hut to get it.” And even though you have to travel and even though it will be Pizza Hut, you are still excited to be eating pizza. But then on the way, everyone around you agrees that the buffet will be the best bet due to the number of people in the group, and you consider that the pizza will be stale from sitting under a hot lamp all afternoon. But it’s still f***ing pizza, right?

Then you arrive, and all they have is salad. Nobody actually wants salad at a Pizza Hut. Not even vegans want salad at a Pizza Hut.

That’s what the Wii U is like. Don’t give me the ability to move my gameplay from TV to tablet if I have to put one tablet down and pick up another, more superior tablet when I’m leaving the house. It’s 2012, and we’re frankly better than that.

But maybe the tech isn’t there yet. Maybe I, like so many other non-gamers, are just ill-informed as to what will actually be a revolution for gaming. Like cavemen cursing the rain because it makes us wet, not knowing that it’s actually pretty nifty when we give it a chance.

But then I think about Nintendo’s concern over the loss of customers to Apple, and then I start to wonder if they are really the cavemen here. Painting the walls with bubbly long-tongued dinosaurs and hot chicks in awesome armor, they think their adventures should be limited to the cave. Meanwhile, the rest of us have iPhones and iPads.

I’m sure Sony or Microsoft will figure out the brilliance behind a proper gaming tablet with a disc drive (to ensure that high quality image) that can be thrown up on a TV when the consumer gets home. But I’ll hardly care. I want Super Smash Bros. I want GoldenEye007. I want my Nintendo. And I want it while sitting in a park, surrounding by singing birds and f***ing cherubs playing harps.


4 thoughts on “Rack Focus: On Pizza Hut, Cavemen, and the Wii U

  1. I suppose Nintendo wants people who want Nintendo on the go to get a 3DS, but you’re absolutely right: Nintendo doesn’t have anything that can offer what the iPad and iPhone can offer (one versatile tool that plays games), they only have various specialized platforms for their games.

  2. I just came up with my own metaphor. It’s like Apple and Nintendo are singing “Anything You Can Do” and Nintendo chose Stephen Hawking to sing their part.

  3. The Wii U was never intended to be a gaming tablet, it was intended to be a controller with a touch screen function to it. As far as gaming tablet goes, those exist already and you have one and I have one.

    Before the smart phone, Nintendo owned the mobile gaming device and it had all sorts of great games to it; just remember those Pokemon days on the OG Game Boy. Now the mobile gaming market is now owned by smart phones and why not? The smart phones are small, slim, and have a beautiful display. Sure there is a lack of buttons or controls, but tell that to someone who has played Angry Birds, Draw Something, or Words with Friends. The 3DS launch sales tanked and the recently released PS Vita came out and no one seemed to noticed.

    Fun Fact #1: more people have played Angry Birds than any Mario game. True story.
    Fun Fact #2: Nintendo considered to but their games on the iTunes app store.

    And as Nick replied, why would Nintendo make a device that would compete with its own 3DS? By allowing the Wii U gamepad to play console games on the road would fight the primary purpose of the 3DS. The choice between the two would be which games for the device you prefer.

    Now back to smart phones, the primary function of a smart phone is mobile commutation and mobile phones will always be developed with that being the main idea. Look at the teased Google Glasses, how are you suppose to play Angry Birds on that? So maybe as smart phones become obsolete and the new technology of mobile commutation is among us, maybe mobile gaming devices will make a come back, but I don’t see it with tablets.

    The whole “I wish I had my tablet to play Zelda in the park” is a dream, not reality. You could do that right now if you wanted to. Get a 3DS and get Ocarina of Time. The reality of it is if you’re like me, when you have time to play a video game, you’re at home. I used to have a PSP and thought that would be great to play something away from home, but you just don’t play it when you’re out and about. So when I was home and wanted to play a game, the choice was play Zelda on a nice HD TV or play a puzzle game on a small screen PSP. I ended up trading in my PSP and getting an Xbox 360. Greatest decision of my life, spent the rest of the summer playing Halo 2 system link with friends (Halo 3 wasn’t out yet.)

    Much like the Wii, the Wii U is just something to bring a new invention into the gaming world with functionality that hasn’t been done before. However, the Wii was such a huge success because it was totally new and totally fun. Just the Wii console itself with Wii Sports was one of my most fun gaming moments. I wanted one, just for Wii sports & Smash Bros., but luckily everywhere was sold out or I would have made a huge mistake in getting a Wii.

    In my opinion, all the Wii was a Gamecube with a motion sensor, the console still had gamecube controller and memory card slots. Nintendo didn’t improve the hardware at all to keep costs low (At launch, Wii was $250 while the PS3 was $500, and the year old Xbox 360 was at $350.) The Wii can’t even play a DVD. The Wii succeed with the low launch price and the great new gaming functionality. In my opinion, the Wii U console itself has the same hardware as current generation consoles, it just has an expensive gaming tablet.

    Since the Wii didn’t have the hardware of a PS3 or Xbox 360, Nintendo lost a lot of core third party games. All Nintendo got from third parties were fitness games, dance games, and a pack of mini motion games. Nintendo last year came out big naming third party support, this year they showed they are getting third party games that came out last year, no third party games that are coming out this year or next year are headed to the Wii U.

    Bottom line with Nintendo’s 2012 E3 press conference, it failed (a first for Nintendo.) I wasn’t impressed with the Wii U last year because you can’t give into the hype of new tech until you actually see what it can do. The big reason why Nintendo failed its big event is because we wanted to know the exclusive games coming to Wii U, we wanted to the launch date, launch price, what games at launch, and what comes in the package for the Wii U console. Nintendo didn’t answer any of these questions with a device set to coming out this year.

    However, there were three exclusive games announced for Wii U, only one of them being truly impressive. ZombiU is a game you should check out because it truly shows what the Wii U is capable of doing while adding exciting survival horror action.

    As far as your answer to mobile gaming devices by Microsoft or Sony; Sony already came out with a brand new device, the PS Vita. But I really like what Microsoft announce they are doing as far as gaming on a tablet. Microsoft introduced an invention called “Xbox Smartglass,” which is basically an app you install on your tablet or smart phone and can access functionality between the Xbox 360 console and your mobile device. Yes, they announced this will be for iPhones and iPads. Their approach is “you already own the device, why should we make you buy something extra?” It also satisfies the saying “You can have you cake and eat it too” where Microsoft is not forcing gamers to buy a tablet to get this functionality, but if you want to add another feature, you can, much like the Kinect.

    Microsoft also announced that Xbox Smartglass will allow you to play Xbox Live Arcade games on the go. So whatever games you own on Xbox Live, you can play on the go. Great for me because I own Plants Vs Zombies on Xbox Live and rather not pay for it again for another device.

    As for the future of gaming, I was upset Bungie (creators of Halo) did not make it to E3 this year because they are working on a massive game. If the rumors are true, their next game will be a sci-fi MMO that will allow you to keep playing on your mobile device to continue to progress your character. Something similar to keep gamers to continually playing a game from any where I believe is something all games will follow and the future of video games.

    Now the things that truly impressed me at E3 this year;

    The Last of Us
    Assassin’s Creed 3
    Splinter Cell: Blacklist

    The graphics for Tomb Raider and Halo 4 were some of the best at the show.

    But the one thing you should see is “Watch Dogs,” I will say it is the first Grand Theft Auto killer I’ve seen. This is the game everyone is talking about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dTOnyp58NM

    I repeat, watch this demo trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dTOnyp58NM

    My other disappointment this E3 is 2k games; who failed to showed off any of their games which are some of the biggest games to be released. Those games are Bioshock: Infinite & Grand Theft Auto V.

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