Nintendo hype and failure to deliver

Posted on November 19th, 2006 in Vancouver,Video Games by andrija

I spent most of the day with friends driving around town, trying to buy a new Nintendo Wii console. We tried many places that we thought will be inaccessible and undesirable. Instead, we ran into big crowds and sellouts. Despite getting up at 7am,
or earlier in case of our driver.

Somehow, due to luck and courage, one of my friends did get his hands on one Wii console – in HMV, of all places. I’d never ever expect them to carry it, but they seemingly did. Only 3 units, but there must have been a few more as he got the 4th one that clerk was unsuccessfully trying to hide (!). He got rewarded for his courage with a Wii.

However, we had hell of a time trying to find any extra controllers for it. Imagine that, town is full of Sixaxis Sony controllers even though there are no PS3’s to be seen anywhere. But not a single Wii controller was to be found anywhere. We did manage to find one copy of Zelda in Toys Are Us (there was one more) but no accessories of any kind whatsoever – unless you count Wii points. Many places also had a scant selection of titles.

Now, I’ve had it with Nintendo. First there were plenty of hints dropped that it would cost around $200 US. Analysts were saying that, gaming gurus were too. Then they decided to make it $250, making lots of people somewhat unhappy, including me. There’s even article on this on Tom’s Hardware, where it was predicted it would cost Nintendo some brownie points. It sure made for some disappointment. Nintendo should have simply said “this is not true” as soon as rumours started to show, but they didn’t – and it was noted. But hey, we thought, Canadian price looked good considering the exchange rate, and it’s not really THAT expensive.

Second, when production of Wii started back in whenever that was (June? July?), people were pointing out that this means that Nintendo could launch early, perhaps late September or at least October. Announced release day was a disappointment, again, but it was noted that delaying launch means that they can assure ample supply of consoles on that day.

Then there were plenty of announcements, really plenty, where Nintendo said they will have tons of Wii’s for launch and everyone will be able to get them.

And as we know, Wii is not particularly technologically advanced, quite on the contrary. So making tons of them would not be out of the question.

And what happens? Launch comes, and the only way to get one is to line up the night before. Just like with PS3, despite huge difference in ease of manufacture and claimed launch quantities. There was someone we know who lined up at 3am at a Future Shop and still came up short. What gives, guys?

Plus, if there’s even an excuse to not have enough consoles, there is absolutely none not to have enough copies of software. Making a DVD is not only dirt cheap but can be done in a matter of days by millions, not to mention that the manufacture can be easily distributed to multiple locations to prevent bottlenecks.

And what is it with accessories not being available? Not even extra controllers, for a console that is called Wii – emphasizing a group experience. Oh, the irony.

I am seriously pissed off at Nintendo. By claiming to be able to deliver and failing to. By pretending to be the one company that goes beyond the hype, yet having only that to show on the launch day.

I know they couldn’t care less about my money. But even then, I will try my best to postpone the purchase as far away as I can, hopefully till spring. Being able to experience it hands-on this afternoon, it won’t be particularly hard. The only game I really want to play is Zelda, and that will be available on Gamecube soon. Even then it isn’t all that good anyhow, from what I’ve seen, and there’s plenty of comparable or better games on my shelf waiting to be played anyway. The rest of the games are really aimed at either kids or casual players – or should I say “half an hour at a time” players. This is the crowd they’re going after, and that’s cool. But until they have more Resident Evil or Metroid Prime, I can easily hold out. Now I know why they won’t release Zelda for Gamecube until December – fear that some people may realize that they don’t need Wii at all – for now.

No PS3? I will take that Xbox360, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!

Posted on November 17th, 2006 in Vancouver,Video Games by andrija

Well, well, well. One of the biggest months in history of gaming (well, in the last few years at least) – launch of two next generation consoles, PS3 and Wii. We all know it. As well as that buying a PS3 for retail price is next to impossible.

Of course, Microsoft is taking advantage of shortage (if you can call it shortage) – this morning I got up and there was a great deal on Future Shop website: buy Xbox360 for $450 ($50 off!) but get also Gears of War and Ridge Racer 6 with it for free!

And so I got it. Man, is this thing LOUD! It is borderline acceptable when not playing a game, but when in a game… there’s a reason most good games for this thing are FPS’s, with many lound bangs and explosions… it’s so that you can’t hear the bloody thing itself.

As I was setting it up I noticed it lacks a lot of polish (batteries get in the way – and what’s with using alkalines? no rechargeables?? DC-DC can work from 2.4V too, you know, Microsoft), a few counter-intuitive menu settings (“unrated videos are controlled separately” – yeah, except the setting is grayed out!), and an INCREDIBLY long user agreement for Live – I gave an honest attempt to read it all, and gave up after about 15 minutes – with probably 80% still left to read. You start the Gears of War, it claims it cannot save game because you’re not logged into a profile – what’s that, you MUST be online and have a live account to save a game in single-player (maybe not but that’s what is sais)?! Wow, did this thing ever get out of the door way too early… I wonder how PS3 compares – based on some info this week, not too good (compatibilty, no 1080i etc.).

Here’s hoping that Wii got it right. Hopefully they concentrated on USING the thing rather than cramming every feature under the sun in there (jack of all trades, master of none).