Nintendo Ain’t Backing Down From Console Biz
In the face of some pretty dire losses as reported Friday during a company press conference, head honcho Satoru Iwata agrees its time for Nintendo to rethink their strategy. But that still doesn’t mean you’ll find Mario leaping onto smartphones.
The Wii U pegged as a central cause of financial disappointment, Nintendo has lowered their original projection of 9 million units sold all the way down to 2.8 million for the fiscal year ending in March. Industry analysts are already comparing the struggling Wii U to Sega’s doomed vessel the Dreamcast. The Dreamcast’s unfortunate — and, may history not forget, heartbreaking — failure dumped Sega out of the hardware business, forcing them to recoup their losses in software; subsequently publishing first-party IP’s like Sonic the Hedgehog onto former rivals’ machines.
Investors are seemingly pushing for a similarly drastic overhaul in Nintendo’s business, narrowing their eyes on the potential profit to be mined by releasing the company’s world renown properties on mobile and home devices not manufactured by the Japanese juggernaut.
Iwata, though illustrating his thoughts more eloquently, obviously believes that’s horseshit.
"The spread of smart devices does not spell the end of game consoles," said Nintendo’s president to The Wall Street Journal. “It’s not that simple. It doesn’t mean that we should put Mario on smartphones.” Dishing out titles such as Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, or Pokemon on other platforms would only disrupt Nintendo’s current success: the 3DS.
While the sales forecast for their handheld has also been lowered, the disparity is nowhere near as severe — down from 18 million units to 13.5. With the 3DS having dominated the hardware market worldwide in 2013 (even outpacing both the PS4 and Xbox One’s total sales in the month of December), it’s no wonder Nintendo doesn’t want to shut down its manufacturing shops.
While Iwata stands by the Wii U as a product, he subscribes to the notion that, at the end of the day, games will sell a console. And, once again, Nintendo relies on its flagship titles to do the convincing. For some, this strategy won’t cut it.
Stock analyst and notable talking head Michael “Pach-Attack” Pachter thinks it’s already too late for the Wii U, stating in February’s Game Informer, “I don’t think they recover. I think they screwed [the Wii U] up royally. They’re going to have to scrap it.”
Even suffering losses and a constantly shifting market, I wouldn’t soon expect Nintendo to drastically change how they rule the kingdom they’ve spent decades building. We’re not just talking about a financial player here — this is a development/publishing/manufacturing powerhouse that helped define modern gaming. Trends, tastes, and practices all change. Through it all, Nintendo has somehow remained constant.
That’s not to excuse the Wii U and the underwhelming decisions keeping it out of gamers’ living rooms (mine included). And that’s not to say I wouldn’t be tickled pink at the opportunity to play Zelda on my PlayStation 4. Christ, I would love that. It’s just, if that happened, I’d have to accept Hell has frozen solid and that the sky was moments away from crushing me. I don’t see it happening but, then again, if I were old enough to invest in Sega right before the Dreamcast launched… Let’s— Let’s just cut the article here, huh?
Fun fact about Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation — the game is playable from start to finish. With the core experience laid out, the developer is using the time between now and the game’s Q4 release date to polish, tweak, and refine the game.
I’m feeling pretty good about this one. It helps that it looks phenomenal. But I feel especially good that CA is approaching the material at a different angle and that, all around, even on Sega’s part, Isolation is being handled with the same meticulous care you’d show a newborn baby. Or a bomb capable of leaving a crater the size of Nebraska.
First Bits of Alien: Isolation Footage
Okay, so we’ve been here before. The months and weeks leading up to the turdening that was Aliens: Colonial Marines, I just about posted and gabbed over every shred of media trickled by that game’s superb marketing team (superb because they tricked me into thinking I wouldn’t regret buying that game).
So let us walk with trepidation. That being out of the way, good golly Miss Molly does Isolation look enticing. A sequel to Alien and not Aliens means Creative Assembly’s take tosses you into the shit nary a weapon. This demo shows young Ms. Ripley skulking through the dark — though our narrators try to kill the mood of the footage with their nonstop jawin’, the gorgeously realistic lighting salvages it — and gathering up supplies to push her way forward through an abandoned space station.
Did I say “abandoned”? The hissing, hulking xenomorph makes up for any loneliness you may encounter. Because it’s always there. Constantly looking for you. The brief few moments Ripley runs into the creature during the playthrough raised a sense of tension completely missing from the last umpteen Alien games. My heart skipped seeing that bastard just standing there, fucking scanning the room for Ripley.
We’ve been here before. The game isn’t in our hands and, so far, it’s just (likely prettied up) footage. But this footage is compelling. Is it really so bad to hope for Isolation's success instead of bracing for disaster?
Alien: Isolation Officially Revealed
I’ve been following every space scrap of news on this project for a while now — Alien and its film progeny, Jimmy Cameron’s opus in particular, being my favorite series in the history of the silver screen — but it’s refreshing to have the loading bay doors officially blown off of Alien: Isolation.
Though the game is set in the first-person, don’t expect Isolation to be yet another Hoo-rah-tastic corridor shooter as hollow as the sound of pulse rifle fire. Creative Assembly is seeking to create the Alien game no other developer has tried before: a methodically paced, suffocatingly atmospheric love letter to the bump-in-the-dark horror Ridley Scott famously put to film back in 1979.
Fifteen years after the Nostromo vanished from the star map, Amanda Ripley finds herself aboard the Sevastopol Station, the floating husk of a former trading port. The Company says she may find an answer to her mother’s disappearance there. What she does find is one ruthless, near unstoppable killing machine of an extraterrestrial that will stalk her, find her, and end her unpleasantly unless she uses her wits and what little supplies she can scrounge up to survive. Like mother, like daughter.
As much as I’d love for a team of perfect fans to crack Aliens' formula and deliver a riveting action game instead of a derivative train wreck, I'm glad we're not gagging on another space marine shooter. The films are, and always have been, firmly rooted in horror. It's time video games stopped treating xenomorphs as canon fodder, having you blast apart hordes of them. It's time to be afraid of them again.
Alien: Isolation, expected for late this year, is releasing for PC, PS3, 360, PS4, and Xbox One.
Here’s Your First Contact with Alien: Isolation
I think it’s safe to say this project has broken out of the rumor cage and is now free to prey on any one of us stupidly not named Ripley.
In Sega’s latest attempt to make anything but a frozen space turd out of the Alien IP, they’ve tasked Creative Assembly in restoring dignity to this series’ video game presence not seen since AvP2 for the PC. Feel free to brush up on Alien: Isolation right hereabouts, but I’ll give you the quick lowdown:
Ellen Ripley’s own brood, Amanda, is isolated (bah!) aboard a space station — that’s a bit misleading, though, because she has plenty of company, found in one vicious xenomorph terrorizing her at every vent and dark corridor.
Given the lack of pluralization in the title, the game’s vibe appropriately borrows from the original film’s claustrophobic brand of horror. More than that, these screens showcase slavish dedication to designs period specific (in canon) to Ridley Scott’s vision of the early 22nd Century. That motion tracker looks like it was ripped right out of Captain Dallas’ hands (if you got the reference immediately, we are lifelong friends now).
Oh, baby, I can feel a reveal coming on real soon. I crave a trailer next.
Sega’s Next Alien Game to Star Ripley’s Daughter?
We’ve been aware of an Alien project being kicked around Creative Assembly’s offices for a decent while now.
The Sega owned studio is most renown for its long-standing RTS franchise Total War, but they have, on occasion, stepped outside their genre comfort zone on certain titles. If Kotaku’s report checks out, they’re leaping way outside of that zone. Enter the very recently trademarked Alien: Isolation, a first-person horror title for both current and next-gen that’s massively informed by games the likes of Bioshock and Dishonored.
Creative Assembly’s take on the mythos draws inspiration from Ridley Scott’s original Alien, placing a greater emphasis on stealth over direct combat. In fact, one studio insider says, besides a multitude of “clones and soldiers” to tackle, the majority of the game has you tangling with a single xenomorph.
Isolation is said to isolate your ass aboard a space station and, interestingly, has you assume the role of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley — the heroine at the forefront of every Alien film that doesn’t include a Predator or a Fassbender. Before you call shenanigans, yes, Amanda is a canonical character; though she’s only briefly mentioned in a scene found in the extended version of Aliens (the company file didn’t list off run-in’s with galactic space monsters, however)… Okay, fine, I’ll nerd out all over you: That means Isolation is set in the fifty-seven years between the events of Alien and Aliens, with Ellen Ripley still drifting through space in cryo-sleep.
Apparently, Isolation was intended for a public unveiling at E3, but Sega wished to give the team an extension for quality assurance. As in, they want to be assured the quality of the game is nowhere as cavernously low as Aliens: Colonial Marines (aka The Most Disappointed I’ve Ever Been in My Adult Life).
Aliens is my favorite film of all time. Video games are my favorite hobby. Why the two can’t get along is anyone’s guess. I’m loving CA’s direction for the game. Sprinkle on all the atmosphere you want, but mowing down a hundred aliens doesn’t quite land near “horror.” Yet… Colonial Marines left acid burns on my expectations. I want to love you, Isolation. I do. For now, let’s just keep it all business.
This week’s most percolating gaming happenings that you may have missed. If you didn’t miss them, congratulations. You’re better than I am. But now that you’re gloating about it, you’re worse than I am. O, how quickly your vanity carried you to ruin, my former liege. Anyway, welcome back to the Roundup. Leave your shoes anywhere.
- Sony is bent on selling five million PS4’s by next March. I’m bringing you one unit closer to your goal, guys. You don’t have to thank me. But you do owe me.
- Fun fact: the PlayStation 4, a console owned and created by a Japanese company, is delaying its Japan launch because there aren’t enough Japanese games for it. A sign that Western developers have overtaken the gaming scene this generation? “Nah,” says Sony figurehead Shuhei Yoshida. Japan is a “portable-heavy” market is all. So you say.
- "The Steam universe is expanding in 2014." A tease of promises untold or a thinly veiled threat of world dominance? When it comes to Valve, cryptic sentences usually result in both. The Bellevue, WA geek kingdom, a company that has subtly but surely influenced industry sweeping trends, is teasing three announcements for next week, beginning Monday morning. What’s the deal? Gabe “The Man” Newell hinted “hardware opportunities” for bringing Linux to the living room will be revealed soon. Steam Box anyone?
- The RetroN 5 is upon us, old school fiends. Hyperkin, one of the foremost manufacturers of video game clone devices (we’re adults here; I mean “knock-offs), has dated their wondrous, cartridge eating console for December 10th, 2013. The RetroN 5, to those unfamiliar, is a plastic portal to the past that allows you to play NES, SNES, Famicon, Genesis, Mega Drive, Sega Master System (B.Y.O. Power Converter, though) and Game Boy carts all in one machine. Essentially it’s the universal remote off retro consoles. Classic kicks will cost you $99.
Aliens: Colonial Marines Tester Sheds Light on the Game’s Dark History
Hardly a week since its release the internet has been swept up by the behind-the-scenes controversy encircling Gearbox Software’s licensed abomination, Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Following the anonymous allegation that Gearbox outsourced the majority of the title to different studios, namely TimeGate Studios (Section 8, F.E.A.R. Files), a recently yanked Reddit AMA with a “confirmed” Sega employed tester has been brought to light. Obviously breaking their non-disclosure agreement in two, user “soetester” not only says Colonial Marines was handed over to TimeGate early on, but also claims Gearbox was using Sega’s Aliens financing to secretly fund both Borderlands installments.
More shocking, soetester says the title didn’t degrade from the promising E3 2012 demo that sent fans’ hopes skyward. In fact, the tester alleges Sega never got their hands on anything like that demo, that the gameplay shown wasn’t even running on Unreal 3 (like the final game), and lambasts the footage as “100% false advertising.”
While the AMA was removed — giving it an air of inadvertent legitimacy — you can still view a capture of the session here. Below are some highlights:
- The game wasn’t released under the pretense it was anything more than awful. By the time Gearbox turned its attention on it “the damage was done.”
- Sega only received it to test in the middle of last year. Unwilling to delay it further (and lose more money), the game released as you see it today.
- soetester posits Sega may take legal action against Gearbox.
- The Wii U version may very well be “the worst” of them all. Framerate issues, slow texture loading, and poorly conceived GamePad mini-games may keep the Wii U A:CM from seeing the light of day.
- Gearbox “did much more of the game than [TimeGate]” evidently. soetester admits TimeGate’s contribution left the game in a horrid state, though.
- Cutscenes better explaining some of the game’s shittier plot choices were cut; interactive parts of the game including a proper, playable introduction to the marines and the Sephora were folded into cutscenes.
- In response to how much the tester enjoyed the game: “I hate it.”
In more hopeful news, the Sega tester also claims they’ve seen a build of Creative Assembly’s Alien game which is intended for next-gen hardware. The tester says their game’s shaping up to be dark, atmospheric, and “slow paced (in a good way).” I think after this disaster, the gaming public would openly embrace more horror and less horrible.
If you need another stern warning against Colonial Marines, check out my review.
On paper Aliens: Colonial Marines sounded absolutely ace. A direct continuation to one of the most influential and timeless science fiction films of the last fifty years signed off as official canon by 20th Century Fox, developed by Gearbox Software, one of the most renown and rejoiced gaming studios of this generation.
Colonial Marines should have been great. Living and breathing Jimmy Cameron’s universe, a perspective on the future that countless, countless games, novels, and films still unabashedly rip off to this very day, should have made for an engrossing interactive experience that its imitators could hardly match because, instead of playing loose homage to the 1986 film, Colonial Marines had free reign to tap from the source.
I’ve been a huge fan of this franchise since early childhood; my immediate, almost unconscious response to “What’s your favorite movie?” is always “Aliens" without hesitation, and I’ve been excited about this game for a very long time. By the time this review posts, you’re likely to already have heard the sordid truth. It hurts me to say that Aliens: Colonial Marines doesn’t just miss the mark, it makes a vapor cloud the size of Nebraska fifteen miles away from it.
Aliens: Colonial Marines - New, Redeeming Trailer and Season Pass Info
Gearbox has once more let loose a new trailer for their canonized, video game sequel to 1986’s Aliens, and thank Weyland for that because the recent "Kick Ass" Trailer was so tremendously shitty, it had the distinction of being the only piece of marketing to actually jam a hazy cloud of doubt into my head about Colonial Marines.
This two-minute spot is a return to form, though, and gives us yet another atmospheric taste of the game’s competitive multiplayer, including insights into some of the abilities both camps — Xeno and Marine — are outfitted with. Running and gunning won’t be a prevailing strategy when the enemy can swarm you from just about every dark, dank crevice, so you know the drill; assholes and elbows, people!
Moving on, a recent Gamestop listing has shed some light on a mixed blessing of news: Colonial Marines will have a Season Pass accompanying its release, priced at $30. More content is always good on paper, but I don’t take kindly to the fact that getting the most out of my game also means having the most taken out of my wallet — $90 if you’re just nabbing a standard copy and the pass.
Much like Borderlands 2's setup, this Season Pass scores you four separate content packs planned for a spread out release between March and sometime in the Summer of 2013. No exact specifics were spilled regarding the content packs, but fans can expect both campaign and multiplayer add-on's including new maps, new modes, and items for character customization. With each DLC at $10 a pop, you'll save yourself a tenner by springing for the Season Pass.