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Ridiculously comprehensive overview of the Nintendo GameCube's lifespan
January 24, 2014 7:21 PM   Subscribe

A Dolphin's Tale: The Story of GameCube
The company discovered that many gamers became personally attached to their consoles. They would take their consoles over to a friend’s house to play, or they would move their console from one room to another. Nintendo decided to include a handle on the GameCube to give it portability and a more personal, friendly look.
posted by porn in the woods (35 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
So far, this looks great!
posted by JHarris at 7:59 PM on January 24


(The bits at the start, about Silicon Graphics, are depressing though. Stories about a board member, a grown man, reduced to tears from a dressing-down by another, and a third who shot himself in the head.)
posted by JHarris at 8:03 PM on January 24


The GameCube sold worse than its predecessor the N64, which sold worse than its predecessor the SNES, which sold worse than its predecessor the NES. That's such a long time to course correct on things like worsening third-party support, long droughts between first-party games, increasing irrelevance to the mature market, increasing irrelevance to the sports market, decreasing first-party sales (even as development costs went up). It's hard not to see the GameCube as the culmination of two decades of arrogance and sometimes cluelessness, especially in those management quotes (many of which I remember!).
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:32 PM on January 24 [6 favorites]


Well, the story of each of those systems is different --

The SNES had to follow a cultural phenomenon, it's not surprising it couldn't match that level.

The N64 lack of an optical drive doomed it. As the article notes, Nintendo was set to go in with Sony on what would become the Playstation, but pulled out fairly late. While the slow CD drive wrecks many games, I think, the tremendously lower price of production rightfully decided most developers.

The Gamecube is very much another Dreamcast, loaded with beloved games (Pikmin and Pikmin 2! Kirby Air Ride! The original Donkey Kong Jungle Beat!) but tragically overlooked due to the PS2 juggernaut.

Systems fail for many reasons. The N64 was arguably stronger hardware than the PS1, and the Gamecube was quite a nice machine for its time, but both succumbed more to market conditions and other such issues than console power. And Nintendo still made money on each.

I don't know how it'll go with the Wii-U though. Despite missteps, it's a lot easier to like Nintendo as a company than Sony or Microsoft. But there's not much buzz around their current console.
posted by JHarris at 10:51 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


GameCube, WaveBird, GBA Player and a GBA flash cart is my idea of a good time.
posted by porn in the woods at 10:59 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


That controller (except for the d-pad, of course, and except for playing SNES games on the Virtual Console with the ABXY buttons feeling unplayably wrong for those) is hands down my favorite. Just felt so right in the hands, and I especially loved the smooth analog pull of the shoulder triggers with that satisfying click at the end. Spider-Man 2 on the Gamecube controller with that game's ridiculously brilliant "offputting and complex until it clicks and then it flows like nothing else" webslinging controls was like controller heaven, I could swing around the city for hours just for the feel of it on the 'Cube and it never felt half as good on another controller.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:33 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I agree, the Gamecube's controller was the one that got it all right for non-motion-control uses. The only drawbacks I can think of are that the buttons aren't good for eight-directional shooting in emulated Robotron (and for that you have a C stick!) and it doesn't have an actual trackball on it (which no one else has either).
posted by JHarris at 11:38 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


For all of Nintendo's inexplicable business decisions, the one that still just boggles my mind the most is their insane approach to the Virtual Console, with its slower-than-molasses release schedule and ridiculous prices. Honestly, every first-party Nintendo game from the NES/Game Boy up to the N64 and GBA should be available launch day for like $2 tops. Talk about hiding your light under a bushel, that back catalog is such a killer asset and in its current state all it does is remind you that you have emulators that let you play the classic Nintendo games you want to play on almost every device except Nintendo's current flagship machines.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:08 AM on January 25 [9 favorites]


Additionally, even worse than the release pace and pricing of those releases is the fact that they have no unified account structure. You lose your console? You lose everything you bought and downloaded. This is absolutely inexcusable at this point and a massive incentive for me to not buy a damned thing through the Virtual Console.
posted by Stunt at 12:45 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Everyone on on my flight the other day was playing classic Nintendo games ...on their smart phones.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:50 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I really want the Wii U to be successful. When Nintendo gets something right, they knock it out of the park. I think Wii U has that potential...but it hasn't happened yet.

Mario 3D World was a pretty good step in that direction, though.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:53 AM on January 25


The Wii U is already in a death spiral. PS4, PC and XBO share development costs due to the very similar architecture, and the Wii U can't do that. The unique controller also means that you can't just do shovelware ports. That effort plus no buzz equals fairly rapid death.
posted by jaduncan at 2:41 AM on January 25




I really want the Wii U to be successful.

Same here. I absolutely loath the direction console gaming took post-Playstation, and I've always respected Nintendo for continuing to put out innovative, original, and fun products that aren't just souped-up hardware platforms for the latest military-style first person shooters and football games.

Screw the 'mature market'. There's no shame in playing Mario Kart.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:50 AM on January 25 [8 favorites]


The Wii U is so confusing because they, with such precision it looks almost deliberate, sabotaged themselves on every feature.

Confusing name: why not Wii 2? They'd already seen customers confusedly buying 3DS games for their original DSes but they went and did it again anyway! The average Wii-owning family has no idea there has been a successor console.

Underpowered CPU, so that porting from the 360 is an expensive hassle.

Focus on the console's size instead of its specs, citing research from Japanese firms that customers prefer smaller consoles. This despite the presence of a hugely important Western market and the proven Japanese success of machines like the PS2 and PS3, both of which could eat a Wii case twice over.

Competing gimmicks: whatever you think of the Wii Remote, at least it didn't contradict itself. The Wii U's gamepad allows you to interact with games using special touch functions; it also allows you to play your games with the TV off! Except that you can't design a game that uses the touch screen in an interesting way *and* works with off screen play.

Lack of games: Nintendo are pulling their usual stunt of launching a console with a bunch of fun things announced but nothing actually available to play. More than a year after launch and the Wii U's library is practically empty.

Eurogamer recently ran an article about the development of the Wii U, and it's an eye-opener.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:44 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


At my old job, I got to wander through the remains of Acclaim Entertainment at their bankruptcy auction. The auctioneers had just begun to arrive onsite to put up signs and mark the lots, so it wasn't 100% clear what was up for grabs and what wasn't.

A small room off the main corridor had two jackpots: an atx pc tower with a dolphin logo and four GameCube jacks on front and a GameCube disk mastering machine.

Before anyone could get their paddles ready, the auctioneer closed the room and said that the dev kits and proprietary equipment couldn't be bid on unless you had a letter from Nintendo saying that you had a developers license.

Bummer.
posted by dr_dank at 6:58 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I hope Nintendo doesn't try to drastically short the Wii-U's lifespan to take another crack at this generation and put the Wii-U behind them quickly. For one, that would just get everyone who bought the Wii-U furious with them, two, they can still pull it off and at least get back in the black if they really double down on getting good games out the door, because despite a the lack of games the good ones it has are VERY good (even third party, I've heard it said many times that Arkham City with the Wii-U game pad is THE way to play that game), and three, with what Steam and Oculus are doing right now, Nintendo is not going to be seen as having the most innovative gameplay in the near future, which is Nintendo's white whale - wait until their projects shake out and then look towards the next big thing.

I also hope the costs of building something like the Wii-U game pad go down enough by then that all four controllers get a display, because having that secret screen for each player opens up a lot of really fun backstabbing multiplayer game possibilities. Far and away my biggest disappointment with the Wii-U is that it only supports one of those game pads and even if it supported more, they'd be expensive enough that Nintendo might as well have built the short-range streaming functionality and another analog stick into the 3DS as well. Then at least people could bring their own handheld systems over to play multiplayer Wii-U games so the console owner isn't looking at hundreds of dollars for controllers for their friends.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:57 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I think Nintendo has lost their way lately. They were always the innovators, but their software hasn't kept pace. The 3DS' big seller last year was Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, which is Zelda for the SNES but with a slightly changed world map, some new dungeons, and one new mechanic that isn't that fun (to me). It disappointed me. Similarly Super Mario 3D World felt far more constricted and linear than the wonderful Super Mario 3D on the N64, or even the Galaxy games on the Wii.

I ended up buying a PS Vita because I'd heard rumours that there was some interesting stuff there. The PS Vita looks like a pretty straightforward game system with typical PlayStation controls and a nice LCD screen, but the games are pretty neat.

Little Big Planet is a great platformer, but its level editor is so powerful it has 67 tutorials to explain it, and you can create incredible levels and puzzles for other people to play via the magic of the Internet. It somehow mixes touch controls, inertial measurements, and traditional platforming together in a very pleasing way.

Gravity Rush is a game where you move and fight by changing the direction of gravity. That is so cool!

In February the uber-bizarre and uber-addictive rhythm game Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F will be sold in English (and other languages). It feels like they're taking a risk bringing this very Japanese game to the rest of the world.

There's even a port of Jet Set Radio. What a bizarre game to bring to "modern" gaming.

Also... these games are under 15 EUR. Perhaps that's why Sony's game division is losing money despite doing amazing work... but it's nice for consumers I guess.

I'm betting on Sony for this "generation", though I expect a Nintendo comeback in 3 to 5 years (if they don't get chomped up by someone else first).
posted by sixohsix at 12:53 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


The problem with Wii U, besides the name, is the largely superfluous tablet keeping the price high. The mirroring is cool but not worth the extra expense. It wasn't even used in any meaningful form in their A-list title Super Mario 3D World.

Kotaku: You blow a few times onto the screen (which you've done on the DS for years), you tap a few times (ditto), but for the most part - visuals aside - this is an experience you could have had on any number of prior Nintendo platforms. Including handhelds.
posted by porn in the woods at 1:03 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I'm still mid-way through this(fuck, this is THICK), but i really think at least from what i've read so far, it really downplays how much sony's insane pre-release marketing fucked everyone else over. They weren't just lying or exaggerating, but saying truly bonkers cult-like stuff. Does anyone else remember the quotes about how PS2 would let you connect to online virtual reality that would be like the matrix? and how the graphics were better than ILM effects in movies and stuff?

They managed to pull a seriously incredible move, in that they not only osbourne-effected sega out of existence, but completely ballstomped nintendo at the same time and tripped microsoft too.

Did a lot of nintendos hubris and endless ridiculous public statements pretty much just act as opening hatches to let in more water on a sinking ship? yea. But the ps2 marketing campaign was an absolute juggernaut and did way more damage than microsoft could even figure out how to do with 500mil. It was deft, while also being completely full of snake-oil and carney shell game BS.

It was also surprising how quickly the "kiddie system" and "weakest graphics" tropes caught on. The former was pretty much self fulfilling, and the latter was at least partially. The only game to truly use the gamecubes power was rogue leader, which even exceeded the xbox.(there was a fantastic writeup on this by some very smart devs on a gaming forum, in which they had actually figured out peak polys at a fixed frame rate on all systems, etc... and i can't find it). Most games just kinda farted along at pretty mediocre quality though, especially 3rd party stuff.

Sony is kind of crazy, so they went "lets come up with a bunch of BS marketing names for weird in-house technology and hype the shit out of it and claim it has all these capabilities it sorta does, but really doesn't. At the same time though, let's just make a simple system with a solid amount of power and not change anything we didn't fuck up before. Same controller, just takes plain DVDs. Oh, and it's a DVD player too since if we have the drive anyways, fuck it why not? we can market it as a media center!"

Microsoft seemed to have a really solid understanding too, in that they just went "Lets get the cheapest pc parts that can push decent graphics into a box and get that shit on the shelves NOW. It'll be easy and cheap to write games for since devs can get a head start just using PCs, cheap to mass produce since we're using a lot of off the shelf parts, and just generally quick and easy for us to do. Throw in a bit of industrial design and brand image, some marketing, and bam".

And then nintendo did uh... well, what this 400 page article covers. It's like two guys show up for a swimming competition, and then the third guy shows up in a mermaid suit. "But it's optimized with CAD for swimming, we worked with the guys who made the pool and lots of expert swimmers. Everybody will be using these mermaid suits soon!". And then the two dudes in swim trunks just blasted off.

Other than sonys marketing, and microsoft just taking the path of least resistance though... one of the main things i don't think this article totally hits is image. They cover that a bit, but more talk about it not playing DVDs or the perception that it wasn't a "media center" like the other systems(which is amusing, as the PS2 never was, and the xbox only was if you modded it and ran XBMC).

Nah. I mean stuff like the minidiscs. It's just needlessly contrary which is amusing as that's usually sonys shtick with memory stick duo, UMDs, proprietary everything, etc. The actual look of the machine, the colors, and the controller design contributed to this as well. If it had just looked more like the Wii, but maybe thicker(it was the late 90s/early 2000s after all) and taken normal DVDs, and the system and controllers had just come in white or black with the controllers being a bit less bubbly it would have shut a lot of the asshole whiners up. Because really, the gamecube getting crapped on right from the start was almost entirely a "Oh hey, did you hear..." thing a lot like that "disorganized labor" bit in the media on house of cards. A few people said it, then the media parroted it, and pretty soon everybody from 14 year olds to grown ass adults was going "lol kiddie system stupid design games only for babies" before any games had really even come out. Anyone who was online back then and visited any gaming or tech related sites remembers the relentless onslaught of "lol fisher price toy" shit.

It's like the nerdy looking kid getting shit because he dresses like a dork, even if he really isn't all that nerdy. It was a combination of appearances, first impressions, and the bully saying one really damning memorable and repeatable insult on the first day of school. Add that to the seemingly needless contrarianism, change for the sake of change crap and you're pretty hobbled out of the gate.

In the end though, the only people really fucking up nintendo are nintendo, and this article highlights why. They could have kicked ass from an underdog position, or pulled an apple of that era "we're behind, but we make solid money and have hardcore fans and don't care" thing right up into now. And hell, they are kicking ass with the DS series, but stand to lose that entire market to smartphones and tablets overnight.

But no, i lost my train of thought there. I'm friends with a bunch of serious gamers, and i know plenty of people who have actually worked at major studio and almost got a job at one myself through that. When everyone hangs around and just wants to drink some beers and play games? it's ALWAYS nintendo games. Brawl/Melee, some mario kart iteration, maybe even mario party. The old ones are solid, and the most current one is always excellent. Everyone buys them, everyone owns them.

They have a reason to be cocky, they make great software and they know it. With their core 1st party stuff they can essentially do no wrong, and even the weird games in any of their big series end up being completely awesome and fun as hell(wario ware, kirbys air ride, donkey konga, etc). The thing is, they're like a lot of good musicians, including some that i've actually personally met or known. They know they're good, and end up being cocky and myopic and completely ignore any criticism or advice as "you just don't know how them magic gets made, i'm not watering down my ideas".

I just hope they change course before they're completely obviated by future game consoles. Which are going to consist of... controllers, that you bluetooth to something else that runs the game. Consoles will not exist in 5 or 10 years. It's all going to run on your galaxy s12, iphone 14, ipad air^4 or whatever, and get airplay-like wireless streamed to your TV or just run right on the device. Microsoft and sony will just go "meh". There will be a playstation phone or tablet, and playstation compatible TVs. Microsoft will do the same shit with "xbox live" phones/tablets. Maybe there will even be a chromecast type $20 stick for non compatible TVs, but just sync with your phone to run the actual games. Everything will just be running dirt cheap mobile SOCs which will be as powerful as midrange gaming PCs. Meanwhile, nintendo will still be hawking the Wii X with something like a crazy haptic feedback+pressure sensitive multitouch tablet screen for $300.

It's just way too easy to imagine them flaming out sega style.

I also find it pretty funny how hard it is to find actual cites on most of those sony quotes. I clearly remember reading them in EGM, etc, and also post-mortems on the dreamcast online. But finding them in 2014 is pretty much a googlebomb. Oh well.

jason_steakums: That controller (except for the d-pad, of course, and except for playing SNES games on the Virtual Console with the ABXY buttons feeling unplayably wrong for those) is hands down my favorite. Just felt so right in the hands, and I especially loved the smooth analog pull of the shoulder triggers with that satisfying click at the end. Spider-Man 2 on the Gamecube controller with that game's ridiculously brilliant "offputting and complex until it clicks and then it flows like nothing else" webslinging controls was like controller heaven, I could swing around the city for hours just for the feel of it on the 'Cube and it never felt half as good on another controller.

Can't argue with that. I, and seemingly a lot of other people online, think it's actually the best controller ever made for any system. So much so, that the xbox 360 controller is blatantly a gigantic ripoff of it right down to the shitty dpad.

I'm actually pretty sad that you can't use it with the Wii U, and honestly think that's a gigantic fuckup on their part. The wii u pro controller is nice, and definitely nicer than the abomination that was the classic controller and incredibly stupid looking/feeling classic controller pro, but it's expensive and kind of a slap in the face to people who already have a bunch of gamecube controllers.

I mean, i kinda get why they did it, but it still sucks.

ArmyOfKittens: Underpowered CPU, so that porting from the 360 is an expensive hassle.

It's actually a good half again faster than the PS3, which is a bit faster than the 360... but yea, the main problem is that it's a completely different architecture that's still powerpc(like the 360), but different from anything else that's current. It ends up managing to be the odd duck out in so many ways that no one will bother with it... again.
posted by emptythought at 2:27 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]


Oh, and literally 20 minutes after i made that post i remembered this shit, relevant bit:
In addition to PlayStation platforms, most 2014 US models of Sony’s BRAVIA TV lineup will support PS Now. Eventually the service will expand beyond PlayStation platforms and Sony devices, allowing you to stream PlayStation games across a broad range of Internet-connected devices.
Cloud compute isn't the best way to do this, but onlive had it nearly nailed. The point though, is that the console is dead. And not two years from now, NOW. A cheap controller and the tv/phone/tablet you already have is going to be the only real thing going forward. Will there be a playstation 5 and an xbox 4? yea. But that shit is quickly going to become as out of favor as prebuilt desktop PCs for the home, in that everyone is just buying tablets and maybe laptops.

This is original iphone announcement levels of important here. This service/product is going to be the model that everyone copies and instantly takes over. Onlive was sort of a half-baked preview of what was to come, just like some clever with most of the right ideas and far better than the rest out there but failed smartphones before the iphone.

Give it maybe two generations of the phone and tablet SOCs and you're there. The ipad air, and other current "top of the line" stuff is already at about the level of launch day PS3 and 360 games, but it's running them at greater than 1080p resolution which neither of those systems could ever do. Look at these charts. Look at the year over year improvements for the past two years. And note that mobile SOCs are a generation behind on fabrication process, and therefor are kinda being held back on performance per watt. Everyone is about to start doing 20nm, which only intel has right now. That plus the overall improvements coming anyways are going to create another huge jump in performance. So next year you're a good throw ahead of the last gen consoles, the year after that ???. You see where i'm going with this.

The entire concept of a console is dead, and nintendo is more fucked than anyone else. All people care about is what ends up on the screen, not what puts it there. People are going to look at and the games(and potentially a TV, since more people than you would think simply watch TV on their tablet and a lot of 20somethings i know don't even have a TV in their house, just a laptop) Vs just buying a controller and the games... and a vanishing percent of people are going to buy a console.

Oh, here's another quote that is another reason nintendo is fucked in this new world
We want to offer you choice when it comes to how you want to access content on PS Now, so you will be able to rent by title for specific games you are interested in. We’ll also offer a subscription that will enable you to explore a range of titles.
The $35-50 game is dead. The idea of paying a netflix-like fee and just getting access to the games, or the itunes store idea of nothing costing more than $10 is going to completely ruin that within a couple years. The only way a $50 game will be able to exist is if it's either $20-ish to "rent" in the cloud, or it's part of a $9.99 a month or maybe a bit over $100/year service that just includes all the games except for some really AAA stuff.

I have no real suggestion of what nintendo should be doing here, i don't know. They're just the only ones who don't have an obvious path for a smooth transition in to still selling games. I like this blog post a lot, and definitely agree with the premise that the 3DS is comparatively terrible to a modern smartphone. The only thing it has going for it is glasses-free 3d. The screens are low resolution and not particularly nice, it's horribly underpowered, and the battery life isn't all that great. Resistive touchscreens and their cheesy rainbow-distortion inducing integrated films also look really old school in 2014. If nintendo is going to compete at all in selling hardware, they're going to have to get really cheap, like under $100 while simultaneously bringing something to the table phones and tablets can't... or go the opposite way and sell something very high quality that does the same. Otherwise, hey, i hope they make a really fucking kickass controller for my iphone.
posted by emptythought at 4:47 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


I think Nintendo could actually keep going if the games were there. The thing is, they don't seem to be. They seem to be reiterating Mario far, far too often lately. We haven't seen very much really compelling from them lately. Pikmin 3 is nice, and Wonderful 101 seems interesting, but that seems to basically be it.
posted by JHarris at 10:40 AM on January 26


i know i'm blowing this thread up, but i found the quote i was talking about from sony in the dolphin article!:
Even though Sega heavily promoted their online capabilities, Sony promised that PlayStation 2 would offer an online network similar to the film, “The Matrix”.

Ken Kutaragi, the creator of the PlayStation, tells Newsweek,”You can communicate to a new cybercity. This will be the ideal home server. Did you see the movie ‘The Matrix’? Same interface. Same concept. Starting from next year, you can jack into ‘The Matrix’!”
Such BS, lmao. That's right below the "broadband adapter" picture too, by the way.
posted by emptythought at 9:05 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Anyone remember the Emotion Engine? OY.
posted by JHarris at 11:33 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]




I actually like the gamepad, it's surprisingly liberating to be able to watch Netflix on the TV, then switch it to the pad if you want a snack. And many games support play on it entirely, without turning on the TV at all. But there just aren't that many games for it.
posted by JHarris at 3:53 PM on January 30


It's extraordinary that the gamepad costs so much to manufacture when--with its resistive touch interface, TN screen, and huge plastic surround--it feels so cheap.

The tragedy of it is that Nintendo, riding high on the Wii's success, threw gimmicks at both the Wii U and the 3DS without any clear gameplay ideas. They already abandoned 3D; I wouldn't be surprised to see a new SKU that comes without the pad.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:05 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


It always bugs me that the Wii U and gamepad get so much hate. If it actually had a 1080p capacitive+active digitizer screen or whatever people expect of it then the same people would all be complaining about how it cost too much. It's like the comment in the snow thread about how if they got all the plows in place and it didn't snow them media would harp on them for "waste", but if they didn't they'd get harped on for not responding.

The pad, as it is, was made to be relatively inexpensive for what it does. And it's honestly pretty cool. Nintendo regularly shows(as with the 3DS, which i harped on above i know) that you don't necessarily need top of the line specs to create a fun experience.

No, the number one issue with the Wii U is that there's no goddamn games. seriously, there's like 4. And as that article says, none use the pad. It's a cool concept, and you could do some awesome things with it that aren't even that hard to imagine... but no one does, including nintendo. It's like a hilariously more advanced version of the 3rd party "waggle" games on the wii.

It's just funny that it's gone like

Gamecube: Kiddy fisher price toy lol
Wii: Waggle underpowered hunk of crap
Wii U: IS A FAILURE

Like, that's all i ever see anymore from those kind of online gaming trolls and people in general. Not that it sucks, but that it was a total failure and they should just give up. It's kinda sad.

Really, the issue is that there's no software though. They should have launched the thing with like four good launch titles. Super mario 3d land should have come out day one. Smash bros should have too. Mario kart, zelda, super mario bros U, and maybe a new kirby game should have come out like six months later. They should have started working on this shit in 2011 or so and just been absolutely blasting the system with 1st party games. They also should have launched it with every nintendo game ready to go on virtual console. Even if they hadn't integrated the pad much, it would have been sad but more of a criticism of something otherwise fine if there had just been software for the damn thing.

It's been an entire year and a few months, they had a year headstart and they squandered it. I wouldn't say it's a failure, i mean it's only been a year. But it's frustrating. It's like watching a friend spend his entire first year of college getting high and playing WoW or something.
posted by emptythought at 11:12 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


emptythought: "It always bugs me that the Wii U and gamepad get so much hate. If it actually had a 1080p capacitive+active digitizer screen or whatever people expect of it then the same people would all be complaining about how it cost too much."

I certainly wouldn't want that; I do have realistic expectations, after all. But I do question the decision to make the obvious compromises they made to get the Wii U + gamepad in at an affordable price when they didn't seem to have any game ideas to back it up. Where's the gamepad's Wii Sports--the game that makes it seem like such an obvious and natural component of the game that it becomes impossible to imagine the console not having shipped with it? It doesn't exist.

The gamepad as it stands would be acceptable if there were really great games that utilised it to the full, because then it would be obvious why they had to make those compromises: the muse just had to be satisfied! Sales might or might not have followed, but it would have made sense.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:19 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


It does seem like they launched too early. They were probably worried about the Wii's declining fortunes and that pushed them towards releasing, when they could have waited, launched with more titles, and probably put in better hardware too.
posted by JHarris at 8:07 AM on January 31


I almost feel like maybe Nintendo should make the "console" nothing more than a box capable of streaming from a more powerful handheld system to the TV, and you can either connect other handhelds or cheap dumb controllers up to it for multiplayer games. Graphics would take a step back to upscaled handheld levels, but Nintendo's been hammering home the "graphics aren't everything" mantra for ages, and without having to worry about keeping prices low enough so people can buy into a console and handheld, they could raise prices a bit to put out a much more powerful *DS or whatever that doesn't look half bad blown up.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:15 PM on January 31


As i said above, if that's not every companies next console i'll be amazed. In 2018-19 even if gains slow down $20 in bulk mobile chips will have way more than enough power to play games that look amazing on everyones glasses free 3d 100 inch OLED tvs. Like, look at this. That looks better than Skyrim on the 360 or ps3, and is on par with mass effect 3 on the wii u.

A good thing worth noting is that it's running at 1280x720 on the Wii U, and infinity blade 3 is running at 2048x1536 on the ipad 4 i believe for that trailer. The ipad air massively exceeds the 4 in power. It's also worth noting that i've played that game, and it never has big drops in framerate, it runs solidly locked at i think 30fps. The wii U game(and it's 360 and ps3 versions) constantly fluctuate and drop wayyy low in busy scenes.

If a major company wanted to publish a cheap mini-console that used a mobile SOC, the power is there to make it happen. The nvidia shield has nearly identical performance to the ipad air, and anyone could just go buy nvidias SOC and build something with it including nintendo. It won't happen until a major company like nintendo, MS, or sony goes for it though.(or a huge dev shop like EA decides to launch a say, $99 console that all their titles ship on digital distribution through origin or something similar).

If someone was going to do the handheld+console thing, the cool thing to do would be to build both on the same hardware stack. The handheld version would have a weaker, lower power version of the same gpu+cpu running the game at say, 720p. You launch it on the TV, and it starts rendering on the cheap mini-console at 1080p with more effects turned on. That would still look kick ass on a handheld too, since the only mobile systems exceeding basic HD resolution are... phones. And almost no games take advantage of the power that's already there.

Similarly, To this day i don't understand why say, sega hasn't made a new version of something like this or why that concept wasn't pushed harder and was just allowed to die on the vine. They could have just gone "It plays every fucking sega game EVER, games start at 1.99!". You can already emulate the dreamcast games full speed on most modern android phones...
posted by emptythought at 3:48 PM on January 31


The thing is, there's a non-zero chance the days of the console, as we know it, are numbered. Not only is there the whole mobile sphere now, but the Steam Machine is coming, and that coupled with those legendary scales could well be just the table overturner that sphere has been waiting for since the days of the NES. Not certainly, far from it, but it sounds much like my dream console -- and hey, Valve doesn't mind if you run Windows on it. Imagine that, a console you can do what the hell you want with.
posted by JHarris at 6:15 PM on January 31


Similarly, To this day i don't understand why say, sega hasn't made a new version of something like this or why that concept wasn't pushed harder and was just allowed to die on the vine. They could have just gone "It plays every fucking sega game EVER, games start at 1.99!". You can already emulate the dreamcast games full speed on most modern android phones...

Nobody wants to sell a phone with more than like the power and volume buttons as moving parts these days, and it's a shame, because the Xperia Play really was a great little thing. The bluetooth controller + phone mount solution like the iControlPad doesn't really do much for me and the many and varied body shapes and button/port positions on phones make nicer snap-on controller designs a minefield (plus, they're always another thing you have to carry). Maybe the Steam controller's haptic feedback for locating virtual buttons by touch is the future of phones with usable controls, but then you still lose out on any analog control and also, the Steam controller way might not work nearly as well without those concentric ridges for extra thumb positioning information. Tricky business, but someone's going to get rich cracking the smartphone game control problem in an elegant way where you can feel buttons (or "buttons") and not obscure the play area with your thumbs.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:21 PM on January 31


(should have been "those legendary sales," sorry)
posted by JHarris at 8:57 PM on January 31


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