Robotic Gaming Monthly - PAX, Gamescom, and Sad Signs O' The Times

By Kyle LeClair in Video Games
Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 6:00 am

But moving on to more recent matters at PAX Prime, Nintendo announced a new 3DS model. Now, this isn't exactly new for Nintendo, or any console manufacturer for that matter, and Nintendo has already revamped the 3DS twice so far (or devamped, in the case of the 2DS). But the difference here is that not only does it include the addition of a second analog stick (among some other upgrades like a faster CPU speed and quicker download times), but that said analog stick would lead to games such as a port of the popular JRPG Xenoblade Chronicles being exclusive to this particular model of 3DS. Immediately, this sparked concerns that this might start a nasty trend of Nintendo releasing more and more exclusives for the New Nintendo 3DS (which yeah, seems to actually be its official name at the moment).

But you know, I guess I get it. There are just specific games that obviously work much better with a second analog stick. And it's not like you can just attach another analog stick to a 3DS, right?

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Ummm...

Oh wait, YES YOU TOTALLY CAN. Yeah, remember the Circle Pad Pro? The peripheral designed for situations just like this? Why not just pack it in with each copy of Xenoblade? And the Circle Pad Pro might have some rather obvious flaws, mind you, but this is your chance to get rid of those flaws & introduce an improved model that works and doesn't piss anyone off! Because if I had to choose between paying at least $50 to upgrade my 3DS XL or about $20 to get a required peripheral, it's no shocker as to which option I'd prefer.

But Nintendo has said this version of Xenoblade requires the extra processing power as well. Aside from the fact that I detect a faint aroma of B.S. coming from that statement (not helped by some commenters saying that the 3DS version still looks quite a bit underpowered compared to the original), why not have a new Circle Pad Pro double as a peripheral that adds the power needed to make up for these shortcomings, a la the Nintendo 64's Expansion Pak? And don't give me the excuse that this would make the game more expensive, because that's still more excusable than forcing fans to upgrade to a new model. Besides, Xenoblade Chronicles' main audience is basically hardcore Nintendo and hardcore JRPG fans, and if I've learned anything from them, they'll gladly chop off their nipples if it meant more Xenoblade...from what I've heard, it seems like they might even have their limits here when it comes to a full-on console upgrade.

Nintendo, the 3DS only still just came out in 2011, and not only have you pumped out a new model every year since then, but now you're just exploiting the tastes of your most die-hard fans. Jesus, I don't even think Apple is this evil when it comes to upgrading their products. I know the 3DS has been a massive success so far, but instead of concentrating on upgrades designed to sell only a certain amount of games, maybe you should step back, question whether or not those kinds of games even belong on the 3DS for now, and get back to work supporting that other console of yours that still needs a boost.

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Moving from one handheld to another, let's talk about Sony's Gamescom conference. Honestly, in contrast to E3, where I didn't think any of the Big Three actually "won" the show with their press conferences, I was all ready to hand Sony their trophy as the presentation went on. Wave after wave of incredible indie games and new IPs were served up to us on a nice hot platter (which we'll get into soon), and just as I was ready to serve up a dessert of a giant ice cream sundae in a gold cup as prize...they went and unveiled Tearaway Unfolded.

...For those of you who forgot, Tearaway was a platformer released for the PS Vita last year to much acclaim, being a game designed to utilize every one of the Vita's features and showcase what it can do, and because of that, it was wholly exclusive to the Vita and was a much-needed breath of fresh air that could potentially give a console as tragically ignored as the Wii U the jolt of life it needs.

And now, here's Sony going "Well, f*** that" and just rigging up a PS4 port of the game.

Indeed, this is what made me notice that Sony basically gave the Vita no support outside of this port throughout the entire conference, thus causing me to deny them their trophy and instead hand it off to some orphans. In fact, this is also why I didn't believe anybody else who said they "won" E3, because they completely shafted the Vita then as well. Sure, there were Vita games on the show floor at both shows, but Sony didn't bother to direct any anybody's attention to them in any real way. Hell, if anything, it's gotten worse: Their E3 presentation merely ignored the Vita, and now their Gamescom presentation actually stripped it of an exclusive title. By this point I'm expecting their next step is to somehow install an upgrade to every Vita that causes it to spit acid in the players' faces.

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And if that doesn't work, they'll attach razors to the bottom.

Basically, I'm still wondering exactly what the hell Sony's strategy with the Vita actually is...assuming they even have one. So far they seem to have put all of their eggs into the "Cross-Buy" basket, where purchasing the PS3 or PS4 copy gets you the Vita copy as well (or all three). It's trying to set up a way to play all of your favorite games whenever you want, but really, I look at the Vita and the sheer number of games it has available for PS3 and PS4 as well, and all I see is that that poor kid in a family that insists on hand-me-down clothes and having to share their toys with all their siblings, even if they very clearly have their own toys.

That's not how it works, Sony. A console like the Vita needs exclusive games in order to give it its own identity in order to attract customers, not just to act as a miniature version of a PS3 or PS4. "But hold on a second," I hear you chiming in with. "Didn't you just moments ago condemn Nintendo for putting an exclusive games on a new 3DS model? Isn't that hypocritical?" First of all, I admit my own views on exclusive titles may be hypocritical at times, since I can make equally valid cases as to why exclusivity among gaming platforms is both a good thing and a bad thing. But this really isn't one of those cases. Exclusive titles work best when they're promoting new IPs and ideas in order to, again, give their platform some identity and stand out, and/or showcasing a range of the features that said platform can pull off, highlighting the best parts of it, and yet again contributing to that identity.

And whereas Tearaway was designed to showcase everything the Vita can do, as previously mentioned, Xenoblade Chronicles is just a port of a four-year old Wii game that's getting the special treatment seemingly just because one of their characters is now in the new Smash Bros. game. There is no reason this game needs an entire console to be upgraded instead of, say, a Wii U port.

(Oh, and since I've now brought up Gamescom and exclusive console games, I guess I should mention the Rise of the Tomb Raider debacle. Except mentioning it is all I'll do, since while it can clearly be seen as one of the negative examples of exclusivity, it's basically just a repeat of the Bayonetta 2 debacle from a couple of years ago right down to the famous gaming action heroine, and since we all eventually got over that, we can safely ignore this drama.)

So yeah, Sony, I don't care how incredible your PS4 lineup is getting; it really means nothing if you're going to be cannibalizing another one of your consoles to support it. Start giving the Vita the proper promotion and treatment it deserves, and maybe then we'll declare you the current kings of the gaming industry. Maybe.


Well, I think I might have succeeded in depressing myself a bit with this amount of idiocy in the news. What say we actually focus on some games, then? Reviews up ahead!

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