Columns, Video Games

ROBOTIC GAMING MONTHLY – Nintendo (Minus) Power

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Artwork by CitrusKing46

Hello, and welcome to another edition of Robotic Gaming Monthly, Topless Robot’s monthly look at what the gaming world has to offer in the past few weeks…ugh…alright, I kind of still have a post-Christmas gaming hangover going on here…I mean, after months of writing this article regularly, doing a ton of gaming coverage, and having to review a lot of games, a month where not much actually happens in gaming and you can relax sort of hits you hard…like, to the point where I’m still collapsed on the bed, half-clutching a controller, and sleeping off last year’s E3. Nonetheless, we must move forward…and right into a quagmire of bad decisions, as you’ll see. So let’s take a look!

Well, only one month into 2015, and already we have a potential candidate for one of the year’s biggest blunders in gaming. Alas, it turned out to be one Nintendo made. Now, I don’t necessarily like to condemn Nintendo, but again, if we have to also condemn companies like EA and Ubisoft for dodgy business decisions, then we just can’t turn a blind eye to Nintendo when they screw up as well just because they make really good games. And trust me, there is no getting around a screw-up of this magnitude.

So, what was it? Was it the reveal of the controversial and criticized Nintendo Creator’s Program, in which people can pay Nintendo to make YouTube videos of their gameplay, which Nintendo has to review and then approve of first, and that they also own all the rights to said videos and can do with them as they please? Indeed, it’s been accused of being Nintendo wanting gamers to pay them to do their own advertising for Nintendo games, but no, that wasn’t the stupidest move. I mean, it seems like the biggest foul, but I admit it would be best to see how all of this actually works first and what kind of videos come from it. Nonetheless, it does show that Nintendo still has a loose grasp on modern gaming culture, to say the least…

No, Nintendo’s screw-up involves something smaller…an AC adapter.

Namely, the fact that Nintendo won’t be including any with the New 3DS.

Brick.jpg
Pictured: Your New 3DS after a few hours.

Yes, Nintendo has decided not to package the New 3DS without the ONE THING needed to actually keep it playable. I…I…Words fail me here. Seriously, who at Nintendo actually thought this was a good idea that people would actually accept? Nintendo’s official stance on this is that this was done to cut costs and keep the price of the handheld down (more the latter, in their words). Okay, I can understand wanting to keep prices low, but why in the hell did you think jettisoning an essential piece of hardware was the best way to go about this??

Oh, but Nintendo has their spin on this. See, to them, they’re not screwing you over, they’re giving you options.

“Rather than raise cost of New Nintendo 3DS XL by charging consumers for a component they may already own, we are giving them the option to only buy if they need an AC adapter.”

Okay, so their logic is that the majority of people purchasing the New 3DS is that most of them already own some incarnation of either the 3DS or DSi, and thus they don’t need a second adapter. Which would be fine…if it weren’t for the fact that most folks will trade in their old Nintendo handhelds toward a new one. Oh, what’s that, Mr. Gamestop employee? I need to trade in the adapter for my old handheld as well or you won’t accept it? Well crap, looks like we have to buy new adapters anyway if we want to trade our old stuff in. You’re forced to buy a new one unless you really plan on keeping your old 3DS around, and the only ones who would do that are hardcore Nintendo fans.

…And needless to say, said Nintendo fans are the only ones attempting to defend this farce. The occasional defense includes trying to point out that the whole thing is still cheaper (emphasis on “trying”), or pointing out that this method of packaging is better for the environment. But the main excuse that they seem to be throwing out is “So what? You can just buy an adapter for four bucks on Amazon.” Yes, you could. I mean, third-party adapters void the warranty and it’s ten bucks if you want an additional Nintendo adapter, but even with that, this is all about the principle of the thing. I mean, you wouldn’t put up with having to pay ten dollars for on-disc DLC, so why would you be cool with being forced to pay $10 just to play any more games for your new handheld, period??

God, I just cannot get over the idea that anyone would consider this a good business move. And the worst part is, as other folks online are predicting, this could set a precedent. I mean, if this boneheaded move still pays off, what if future consoles start omitting things like controllers? You know, by disguising it under the claim that they’re just giving us the option of how many controllers we want to buy or something? After all, if the New 3DS proves that we’ll put up with this crap, what’s to stop them and other companies from continuing to pull this off?

Nintendo…I don’t know what else to say. This is awful. Bullcrap. Denying us the most basic necessities just to save money. Fix this ASAP, give us back our power, and then maybe I’ll forgive you. Until then, go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done.

And with that, I have a pretty good idea for this month’s Burning Question: In your opinion, what was the biggest screw-up in the history of video games? And I don’t simply mean a game you thought was terrible. No, I’m talking about horrible business decisions, bad moves made by gaming companies, questionable actions, development stories filled with dumbassery, et cetera. For example, since I’m already picking on Nintendo, my personal choice is when they decided to censor their home version of Mortal Kombat.

Yes, the dorky version that toned down the fatalities to non-fatal. Aside from being such a catastrophic move that it allowed the Genesis to outsell them for a while based on sales of their MA-13 version alone, this was what basically cemented Nintendo’s image as being the wimpy, cutesy, family-friendly guys on the block, the Screech to Sega’s A.C. Slater. Sadly, that image has stuck with them over time, and here’s hoping they, and we, can move on from it soon. Oh, and congrats to Timely_Flower-Hermit for winning this month’s Mystery Prize by answering last month’s Burning Question! Timely, we shall contact you with details about your prize.

Alright, so let’s leave this powerless place and move on to some reviews!…Or whatever reviews we could scrape together, at least…


Well, to say things are a bit light in the reviews this month might be an understatement, if only because like the film industry, not a whole lot happens in January when it comes to video games. But I still have some stuff to work with, so I think I’ll just relax for one edition and just check out some quicker fare…

Grim Fandango Remastered

Um…I kind of already wrote an entire article/review for Grim Fandango Remastered here on TR.

Like, right here.

Seriously, just read that. Then immediately go out and buy the game if you haven’t already, because I will hate you if you don’t check one of the all-time greatest games ever. Go on. I’ll wait.

…See? That wasn’t hard! Moving on…

Satellina

I took on the job of reviewing Satellina because, as you might be able to deduce from the above trailer, it looks like it falls under the category of “Simple yet genius,” like the best mobile games. Indeed, it has a particularly simple concept: Drag your finger on the screen to clear all the particles as they move around in hypnotic patterns, starting with the green ones and moving on. Indeed, it was particularly fun, nice and challenging, set to a great synth-pop soundtrack and with a difficulty level that escalates near-perfectly. Yes, I do indeed think this might be a clever little…

…Wait, what? Those are all of the levels? The game’s over already? How long was that? Wait, here’s a sort of marathon mode here with every level in a row, let’s see how long it takes…FIFTEEN MINUTES?? Good god, no wonder it all felt shorter than the Frasier rerun I had on TV at the time…I mean, I know mobile games are designed to be played more during short breaks, but I didn’t think I’d come across one you could finish in such a short break…

Yes, while Satellina has a great concept, a cool soundtrack, sharp minimalistic graphics, and really fun gameplay, in the end all of that is undercut by how incredibly short the whole experience is. Even with the goal of having to clear levels in a certain time limit to advance, it’s still over in a flash. It probably doesn’t help that unlike more arcade-style games with simple concepts but more random elements, Satellina is ultimately built entirely around pattern recognition with a set flow for each level, so there’s not much replayability…once you’ve beaten it, you’ve seen all you need to see.

Yes, this is a particularly short review, but what did you expect from a particularly short game? Then again, it does only cost two dollars, so I guess what it all comes down to is whether or not you think twenty minutes or so of an incredibly short but still fun puzzler is truly worth your pocket change. Otherwise, keep moving.

Woah Dave!

Now you see, this is more like how you do a cheap, simple-yet-genius game with a lot of replayability. Got that, Satellina?

Recently ported to the PS Vita, Woah Dave! has a fairly simple setup: You play as Dave Lonuts, and your goal is to simply collect as many pennies as possible by picking up eggs and skulls and throwing them at enemies before they reach the lava below and evolve. There’s also the subtext that Dave is just potentially high off his ass and hallucinating everything, as displayed when you die and everything around you transforms into a normal city street for a second. Still, I could imagine worse fates while high than imagining that you’re trapped in an ’80s arcade game.

Of course, it kind of helps that Woah Dave! commits to getting the feel of a classic old-school arcade game down pat, to the point where the developers actually want to release the game on an NES cartridge if possible. Indeed, the goal is simply just to get the highest score possible by collecting as many pennies as you can. But of course, there’s a catch. See, the more higher-evolved enemies are more dangerous, and yield more pennies when defeated than they previously did. So do you just bash as many enemies as you can see, or purposely let some get down to the lava to evolve so you can get a chance at more coins, all while trying to avoid them? Do you purposely let a swarm of enemies happen to go for (slightly) big bucks? And keep in mind that, per early ’80s arcade standards, you die with one hit, and three lives later, you’re gone. Good luck.

There are a few other wrinkles as well: Your ammunition either explodes after a while (skulls) or hatches into new enemies (eggs), and if you’re holding on to any of it when it happens, poof. Not to mention that Dave picks up anything he can when he immediately comes into contact with it, so if you didn’t want to pick up that specific ammo at the moment – especially when it’s about to go off – you’re going to need to be careful. So it’s a game that rewards precision timing and movement, which is always a plus in my book. There’s also the element of randomness, as you never know whether a skull, egg, or Woah Block (with kills all on-screen enemies when thrown) will spawn, and combined with other bits like shrinking platforms, rising lava, and aliens that can alter the terrain, it ensures that you get a lot of mileage out of several games where no two are ever truly the same. And we haven’t even gotten into the higher difficulties you can unlock…

In what will be a shocker to no one, Woah Dave! takes it quite easy in the aesthetics department, focusing on colorful pixel graphics that are just unique enough to show off the animated characters and do their job perfectly, adding a lot of retro charm in the process. The music is also classic ’80s synth, and while the game’s theme is undeniably catchy, I do kind of wish there were a wee bit more variety in the background music beyond it. I mean, I know it’s emulating games with minimalistic themes as well, but it still could’ve used just a little more.

So to wrap things up, regardless of what platform you buy it for, Woah Dave! is an excellent little throwback to a simpler time of gaming that’s well worth the five-buck price tag it carries, given how much you’ll come back to it. Just don’t be surprised if you get a little mesmerized and hallucinate flying eyeballs as well.

Well, those are the reviews this month…like I said, incredibly light, but if you’ve seen how many damn games one could potentially review for February as I have, you’d probably want a break of sorts as well before s*** goes down and 2015’s gaming season starts to get into gear. But hopefully we’ll get into that next time. For now, let’s check out some trailers!


And welcome to this month’s most notable video game trailers! Honestly, the Kickstarter cup kind of runneth over this month, and I didn’t have room for such notables as Goetia, This Is the Police, and Strafe as well, among others (although we previously covered Strafe’s cutting-edge trailer this month anyway). Nonetheless, let’s see what we’ve got!

Volume

We’ve taken a look at Mike Bithell’s new stealth game Volume before, because any stealth game that promises a modern-day take on Robin Hood and ends up looking like…well, that kind of ends up being pretty notable indeed. And I mean that in a good way, by the way, because Volume really does look pretty damn stunning and unique. And now we get a look at the enemies in the game as well, kind of mixing traditional stealth fixtures and a chess motif…and is that a bit of Pac-Man at one point? A bizarre mix, but definitely an intriguing one, and I can’t wait to tackle these kinds of foes when the game comes out this year.

Moonman

Alright, so what we have here with Moonman is a procedurally-generated 2D adventure with crafting elements where you play as a perpetually-smiling moon creature…so think Terraria with Mac Tonight as the lead. Jokes aside, Moonman still looks like a particularly fun romp, one that involves a nice blend of fantasy and sci-fi and appears to be a complex yet enjoyable game…and one that just happens to contain a massive amount of jumping spiders, as seen on the game’s Kickstarter page. So donate if you like the look of things, and sorry for getting that jingle stuck in your head for the next month or so.

Five Nights at Freddy’s 3

You thought the terror was over.

You thought you were safe.

You thought the YouTube videos would end.

You thought the fan art, fan theories, and Rule 63 bits would die down.

You thought wrong.

Yep, Freddy’s back! And Five Nights at Freddy’s 3: The Dream Warriors is set to take place thirty years after the second game (which, if you know much about the series, isn’t saying much) with Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza now having been modeled into a full-on horror attraction, complete with what appears to be a brand-new animatronic ripped to bits. Yeah, good luck avoiding that guy for the next few months. Gotta admit I’m still curious to see where the story goes, though…

Starr Mazer

Okay, I have seen a lot of weird and unique hybrids of video game genres throughout the world of indie games. But even with everything I’ve seen, I was not prepared for Starr Mazer, which is…wait for it…a hybrid of ’90s-era point-and-click adventure games and 2D shoot-’em-ups.

No, seriously.

The shooty bits happens when you and main character Brick travel between areas on your space-faring adventure, and they’re even influenced by your choices and events throughout the rest of the game. So it is very ambitious and one-of-a-kind, I’ll give it that. In fact, it seems like a pretty sweet mix overall, so I’d recommend checking out their Kickstarter if you’d like to know more. Now to wait for someone to work on a dating sim/first-person survival horror game next…

Besiege

I’ll keep this one simple: Think Kerbal Space Program, except set in medieval times, and instead of rockets you’re building instruments of destruction designed to lay waste to castles and entire armies, and most of you didn’t read this far because you read “Kerbal Space Program” and immediately rushed over to Steam to buy the Early Access copy, didn’t you? Eh, can’t blame you. Here’s hoping the finished product looks equally promising.

Gunsport

Cyberpunk + Volleyball + Gunplay. If that equation alone fails to pique your interest, then there may be something seriously wrong with you.

Ronin

Okay, depending on your preferences, there are two ways you can view the turn-based action-platformer Ronin to get you excited…

If you are familiar with indie games: It’s a bit like Gunpoint meets Mark of the Ninja in more than a few areas.

If you are not familiar with indie games: It’s a bit like a Kill Bill video game in more than a few areas.

…Of course, combining all of the above makes for one sleek, stylish and quite impressive-looking game overall that looks like an enjoyably bloody blast, so unsurprisingly, I am already counting the days until this comes out and I get to perform more crazy-ass ninja moves.

Noct

So, spoilers, the incredibly gorgeous top-down monochrome horror game still looks gorgeous. Really, while Noct still looks awesome, I’m honestly just putting the new trailer here as an excuse to fawn over Devolver Digital for deciding to publish this game, along with the above Ronin. Devolver, I say without hyperbole that in my opinion, you are the greatest video game publisher out there right now. Why? Because regardless of quality, you just publish games with so much variety, ranging from philosophical first-person puzzlers to dating sims where you boink pigeons. What other company does that? And now you’re adding a sweet-looking unique horror game to the mix. Bravo, Devolver. Keep it up.

Woolfe – The Red Hood Diaries

Well, I don’t think anybody actually asked for a steampunk platformer re-telling of the story of Little Red Riding Hood where Red is out to kill the wolf in order to avenge her parents and fights off toy soldiers while doing so, but eh, I suppose it couldn’t hurt. At the very least, it looks to be a better retelling than of the story than what Catherine Hardwicke made.

That said, you lose points for starting things off with the protagonist saying “This is not a fairy tale.” Seriously?

Children of Morta

You know, I keep promising myself that I won’t be swayed by any more games on Kickstarter that use unbelievably lush and detailed pixel art as a selling point.

Then games like Children of Morta happen. Damn.

Yes, it looks like an incredibly promising roguelike game with a nice emphasis on story and family, but let’s face it, your jaw will just keep dropping over those graphics alone. So here’s the Kickstarter campaign, give them your money, wait for more visuals from them, and get used to living with your mouth open constantly.

The Order: 1886

Oooh, right, I forgot the token trailer for a triple-A game that keeps me from fully coming off as a pretentious indie snob. The Order: 1886 is getting a massive marketing push because it comes out this month, you say? There, that oughta do it!

And thus we reach the end of another edition of Robotic Gaming Monthly. Thanks for dropping by, feel free to leave any comments offering suggestions, questions, additional discussions on what we talked about, or messages about how much we suck, and remember, if you’re actually paying a company extra money just for the luxury of being able to turn your console on, you’re doing it wrong. See you next time!

Previous Editions of Robotic Gaming Monthly:
Robotic Gaming Monthly #8 – The Best-Looking Games of 2015
Robotic Gaming Monthly #7 – Press F to Decorate Tree
Robotic Gaming Monthly #6 – Harmonix, Hatred, and an ex-BioShock Bonanza
Robotic Gaming Monthly #5 – Destiny, Danganronpa, and Death at The Hands of Freddy

About Author

I'm Kyle LeClair, AKA "SlyDante." I'm a freelance writer for Topless Robot, I love video games, and when I stop being lazy, maybe I'll finish the rest of this profile.