Monday, June 20, 2011

Don't Even Think About It

This article is not for you.

Stop reading right now.

I mean it.  This article is meant for a relatively specific subset of society, and odds are you aren't part of it and consequently won't give a shit about anything you're about to read should you have decided not to heed my warnings. 

If you're still reading, then let me reiterate: go away.  You will not receive any intellectual or emotional enjoyment out of the content this article.  Just in case you're a little thick or high the following is a checklist of prerequisites for understanding/enjoying this article.  To proceed you must meet at least all of the following:

1) You have spent more than five consecutive hours shooting virtual, 8-bit ducks with a light gun.
2) Still regret not buying that Virtual Boy.
3) Have actually been involved in a real argument about which was better: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time or The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
4) To this day still spell cart with a "k" and a "m-a-r-i-o."
5) Still can't understand why anybody ever derived any pleasure from any Sonic the Hedgehog game. (Seriously, what pieces of shit.)
6) Spent more time blowing into a cartridge to get it to start working than actually playing a game.
7) Still hold to the firm belief that "blowing" is valid form of repair for electronic devices.
8) You know what a Tanooki Suit is without having to look it up on Wikipedia.
9) Have ever fantasized about having sex with Samus Aran, Princess Daisy, Princess Peach, or Zelda.
10) Know the difference between Princess Peach and Princess Daisy.
11) Have -at any time- considered getting -or actually gotten- the Nintendo logo or any Nintendo character tattooed on any part of your body.
12) Have attempted an ill-advised "space jump" off the roof of your house.
13) Have ever spent a night drinking and playing Super Mario World and remember it as being one of the "best nights of your life."
14) You have spent time debating -in all seriousness- whether Toad or King Koopa is a better driver.
15) You have owned more than three different versions of the Gameboy.
16) You have actually declined sex in favour of controlling a tiny, moustached, stereotypical Italian plumber and making him jump and smash bricks with his head.
17) You have contemplated whether or not "moustached Italian plumber" is actually a stereotype.
18) You love pussy.  (Just making sure you're still paying attention.  Cock is fine too.)
19) Unlike many naysayers you thought that "cube" was the perfect shape for a video game system.
20) Your lucky number is 64.
21) Spicing things up in the bedroom means convincing your significant other to wear a pointy green hat, a futuristic space helmet or a red hat and moustache.
22) You and your friends still keep a running count of how many games of Goldeneye you have won, those totals are all counted in (at least) the hundreds, and the document upon which this tally is kept is revered as a sacred document.
23) To this very day you still hold out some vague sense of hope that the third arm on the Nintendo 64 controller with the D-pad wasn't just for show.
24) Still feel cheated after you found out that Super Mario Bros. 2 was all just Mario's fucking fevered, hash-inspired dream.
25) Your favourite ensemble cast appeared in Super Smash Bros.
26) When playing with a friend you have purposely gotten Mario killed just so you could be the one to play the "boot level" in the fifth world of Super Mario Bros. 3.
27) Have been defeated by a character called "Bubbleman."  (You've got to be shitting me...)
28) Your idea of a romantic evening is a bottle of Pepsi, a frozen pizza, and watching some anime tentacle porn involving Princess Peach while your wife/girlfriend/hooker gives you a handjob and you make her/pay her to whisper "It'sa, me! Mario!" over and over again in your ear.
29) You have written at least one fan script for The Legend of Zelda movie.
30) For you the Power Glove is not only a superior way of playing games, it's also a great fashion statement.
31) You've jerked off at least once while wearing the Power Glove.
32) You have -at any point in your life- referred to your penis as "Megaman."  (Or, if you're a chick, have been forced to refer to your boyfriend's/husband's genitals in such a way.)
33) Know for a fact that when you need to kill zombies (or infected Spaniards) Leon S. Kennedy is the only man for the job.  (Yeah, fuck you Chris Redfield...)

That's right, I'm talking bout video games: more specifically Nintendo.  For those of you left reading this article then prepare to have your head explode with awesomeness.  Although, at this point, it probably already has.  Apparently Nintendo was having so much fun just printing money with the Wii, that they figured: hey, why the fuck not?  Let's make even more cash by coming out with a new system boldly called the Wii U.  I have no idea how the fuck Nintendo chooses its names anymore.  I miss the good old days I could understand the process like just putting the superlative "Super" in front of your name.  It doesn't matter though.  No matter what Nintendo does or says I will continue to buy their reasonably priced products, and typically before buying similar products from their competitors.  This is because (at least when it comes to video games) I am a brand name whore.

Arrested Development. (Seriously awesome show, though.  Totally check it out.)  Throwing money at the problem isn't going to help those people.  What's needed is socially responsible governments to step in, work together to set up a stable political and social infrastructure, bringing in trained volunteers (or paid specialists at a discount rate) to establish an education system that teaches, among other things, reading, writing, and effective birth control techniques, basic medical care, and sustainable farming techniques so they can take over their own means of production and stand on their own to feet in a global marketplace.  So in other words, they're completely fucked.

Money can't solve the problem of global food shortages, but it can solve the problem of a Nintendo system without HD resolution.  The Wii U is not due out until next year, but I'm already saving up my allowance.  But why, you may ask, is Nintendo apparently jumping the gun and developing a new console well ahead of when most experts (on random websites on the Internet) seem to feel that the life of the Formerly-Next-Gen-But-Now-Current-Gen systems like the Wii and the PS3 and the Xbox 360 would probably extend past the typical four or five year life cycle due to mostly to technological concerns and the  shifting worldwide economy (ie. it currently sucks balls).  Seeing as we're already in the fifth year for the PS3 and the Wii and the sixth year for ye olde Xbox 360, they would have been right had Nintendo not just announced their impending ass-raping of both Sony and Microsoft (gaming division).

Sony and Microsoft were banking on technological superiority, not just in processing power but also in ideology.  We're now at a point where extending the life of a video game console is a viable option because companies can offer software updates that add new features and new functionality without having to actually physically design and mass produce an entirely new system.  It's like what Sega tried to do with stuff like the Sega CD, except, you know, good.  The most recent example is Sony's update for the PS3 to allow it to play 3D BluRay and video games.  Video game systems are at the point now where -graphically speaking- stuff looks fucking great and the gaming community has dug themselves into a fairly comfortable rut.  Except the folks at Nintendo.

Early on -even before it's release- the Wii was blasted by critics for its inferior processing power compared to her heavyweight opponents the PS3 and Xbox 360.  It was a weird kind of circular mentality we'd gotten into, and one for which Nintendo was at least partially responsible.  Conventional wisdom churned out by The Great Marketing Machine was that the great new aspect of any new gaming console was its increase in processing power.  Even as a kid I remember earnestly discussing the merits of 16 bit as opposed to 8 bit gaming systems, even though at the time I only had a vague understanding of what that actually meant.  What it boiled down (for a kid anyway) was better graphics.  And really that was the big selling feature featured in marketing campaigns for video game consoles for years.  The major aspect of the Nintendo 64 that was on the minds of consumers was new 3D graphics.

Then came one of the first paradigm shifts in the usage of the video game console.  The PS2 and the Xbox not only boasted 3D graphics, but also the ability to play DVD's and CD's.  Holy shit.  All of the sudden video game systems were actually realizing Nintendo's original dream of becoming "entertainment systems."  One would have thought that this trend would come to dominate the video game industry, but it hasn't really.  And I suppose Nintendo is the exception that disproves the trend.  About the time the Then-Next-Gen systems the PS3 the 360 and the Wii were coming onto the market was also around the times the next round of the great Format Wars in which new digital video formats were competing for our eye-space.  The PS3 -produced by Sony- obviously had BluRay playback because Sony was behind the BluRay, and needed to pimp that shit because they couldn't afford another disastrous and humiliating loss like when their Beta cassette format lost out in the consumer market to VHS, despite its superior quality.  Yeah marketing.  Microsoft also embraced the Format Wars with its new Xbox 360... sort of.  What we got was the standard DVD compatibility and an HDDVD drive that you could buy separately at a fairly steep price (around $199 - the cost of a hooker and a Triforce tattoo in Vegas).  And of course the Wii had the ability to play back... nothing.

Looking at sheer processing power it would be pretty easy to see who the big swinging dick of the latest generation of consoles was.  On paper the PS3 seemed to have it all.  Or did it?  See that's the thing, having the biggest cock in the room is useless if you don't know how to advertise it.  Or how to package it at an affordable price.  This was the first area where it became apparent that despite it's inferior technical specs the Wii was a serious contender. Clocking in at about $250 at it's release the Wii was easily the most economically viable of the systems.  The Xbox 360 would set you back anywhere between $300 and $400 dollars (depending one whether or not you, oh I don't know, wanted to save your fucking games or anything).  And the PS3 topped them all with an opening bid of about $600.  Before tax.  Ouch.  For that same price you could get a tranny stripper to tie your dick in knots all night long and leave a gaping, bloody wound where your asshole used to be, if that's what you're into.  (Not that I'm trying to draw any comparisons or anything...)

Even early on in the War before the consoles were even released, it as obvious that this time was different.  Nintendo specifically was taking a whole new angle to how they were marketing their system.  Instead of merely "playing with power" Nintendo took a drastically different turn in their whole gaming ideology.  Instead of merely boosting graphics they were trying to influence the way we actually played games.  Their latest controller was completely unique from anything else on the market.  Not only did it come in two parts, it was motion sensitive.  We know this strange device now as the Wii Remote and Nunchuck.  This was technology that had never been successfully (at least to my knowledge) mass-produced for consumers before.  What it represented was innovation in the way we actually interacted with the virtual world on the screen instead of just innovation with the virtual world.  Whether you thought it was the stupidest thing since Bill Clinton's "it depends on what your definition of 'is' is" defence or whether you immediately blew your load upon hearing of this awesomeness, you had to give props to Nintendo for being innovative and thinking outside the box, or as Doc Brown would say, "come here teenage boy thinking three dimensionally."  Personally I thought it was pretty fucking cool, and I'm down with any controller that can legally be classified as a ninja weapon.  I always believed that the Wiimote actually made more sense for shooting games than traditional controllers.  It seemed more intuitive to me to actually physically point and shoot with my hand in the real world.  For some this is apparently not the case.  One of my best experiences so far was with the Wii port of Resident Evil 4.  When using the Wiimote my shooting accuracy went up by about ten to fifteen percent on average throughout the game.

So now we begin to see how Nintendo's last system came to dominate the consumer market.  It wasn't about gaming, it was about the idea of gaming.  It was conceptual.  You don't buy a video game console: you buy a concept.  An ideology.  What the Wii represented was A) A gaming system aimed at a more diverse economic audience with it's price point set much lower than it's competitors, B) Innovation in the way we physically experienced gaming, C) The (sometimes subtle) emphasis on quality over quantity, and D) The distinction between different types of gamers.

Before the last generation of consoles came out, I had never really thought about the type of gamer I was.  I was just a dude who liked video games.  I had always classified people as video game people and non-video game people.  Then all of the sudden all of these ads on TV and the Internet categorized people as either a "casual gamer" or a "hardcore" gamer.  I'm still not sure where or whether I fit in, or whether there's a whole spectrum.  I wouldn't really classify myself as "hardcore" because I typically play games on their "Normal" difficulty instead of their "Hard" difficulty, I don't always go back and play the same game five times in a row just to get all of the achievements (thank you Xbox ), I don't buy user guides so that I can complete every single mundane aspect of a game just for "bragging rights," and I don't play either WoW or Call of Duty, which seems to be a prerequisite for "hardcore" gamers the world over.  Nor would I classify myself as casual because I own all of the current systems (And also a backlog of about five or six previous systems.  Go Super Nintendo!), I have a pretty diverse interest in games (Except racing games and sports games, which I loathe, and CoD, which I can't get into), I have gone on gaming sessions lasting upwards of twenty-four hours (On SSX Tricky of all things.  You should have seen our fucking trick scores, though.), and have sacrificed personal relationships, personal well-being due to bladder related injuries, lack of nutrition and (severe) lack of sleep, and personal hygiene in order to "play more."  Admittedly with a family it's getting a lot harder to find the time to play games, but for all you hardcore gamers out there: don't worry, my love of video games is slowly chipping away at my relationship with my wife and kids too. 

But all of the sudden I had to choose a side.  The Wii was the first of this generation of consoles that I picked up, being a Nintendo whore and all, and for a long time that alone was enough to qualify me as a casual gamer.  While to me this seemed like a social stigma of the highest calibre, Nintendo actually embraced this ideology.  What I saw as an insult from overweight, acne-prone, anti-social freaks whose approval I somehow simultaneously craved and disdained, Nintendo saw as a great marketing tool.  When the gaming community said "casual" I heard "inferior" but the execs at Nintendo heard "accessible."  All of the sudden you had game play so intuitive (the hardcore gamer might call it "simple" or "childish", but I would retort by asking him to describe what a vagina feels like (you know, because he can't because he's too much of a loser trying to get a glimpse of partial nudity in games like God of War (you know the scene) than to actually get laid in real life)) that you could go from shooting Spanish zombies to bowling with granny in five seconds flat.

All of the sudden the gaming market opened up to whole new demographics.  The inmates residents in old folks home could pass their last remaining years away waiting for death with a few games of virtual bowling, golf, or tennis.  Fitness nuts or people who wanted to get into shape but were too embarrassed to go to a gym with other human beings could start using video games as motivation to exercise with cool shit like the Wii Fit.  Men, women, young, old: it was a gaming orgy and all were invited to partake in the carnal pleasure.  Nintendo -and to some extent Sony and Microsoft- even took it a step further. The Wii was billed as a great companion system to the PS3 and the Xbox 360.  Now it was like they weren't even in competition any more, even though they really were.  You buy the PS3 for the hardcore gamer in the family so little Timmy can play CoD and teabag his defeated opponents to the point where they quit the game entirely and so the family could watch BluRays, and you buy the Wii so Jimmy can save Hyrule (again!) and Mom and Dad can try to get rid of those love handles, and then vote on stupid questions and check the weather.  It was a totally bizarre sort of eye in the marketing hurricane.

Fast forward five years and where does that leave Nintendo?  In a potentially precarious position.  With the Wii consistently outselling the other two systems for so long they've now reached a point of potential market saturation, or what I like to call the Guitar Hero Effect.  They've sold so many Wii's for so long that anybody who wants one probably has one.  This is great for Nintendo on one hand because now they can focus on selling games which is really how the industry makes money after losing so much on the systems.  On the other hand -from Nintendo's standpoint- there are still other markets to be captured.  And I mean after being on top for so long, it's hard not to want to chase that high again.  After so many years of relative non-competition with the "hardcore" consoles, Nintendo is ramping up to make their foray back into the hardcore demographic with the Wii U.  And finally here it is in all of its glory:

Stick it in me, you know you want to...
 As many people have already no doubt observed it looks kind of like if a Wii and an Xbox (not the new slim, but the old curvaceous one) got together, went out for dinner and movie, broke out a bottle of wine, listened to some Radiohead, and then had wild, dirty, unprotected sex of which the Wii U was the unabortable lovechild.  Although I think the technical specs are still slightly lower than the PS3 and Xbox 360, it will be able to pump out 1080p graphics via an HDMI cable and have the processing power to compete graphically with the other two systems.  It will also (listen to this you bastards at Sony) be backwards compatible with the Wii, so if some hardcore gamer wanted to take a break from playing the latest Bioshock and check out everybody's favourite moustached plumber, he would now have the option to do so all on one system.

What the Wii U won't do, however, (at the point in time in which this article was written) is play back BluRay's, DVD's, or CD's, I'm sure much to many people's chagrin.  Again -although at first glance kind of disappointing- this is genius on the part of Nintendo who will be able to keep production costs down and offer a competitive price point with a new system competing with established consoles.  Their take is if you want to watch BluRays and such you'll probably already have at least one such player in your house already.  The diabolical genius of this is that it's basically letting Sony and Microsoft do all the expensive, heavy lifting for them, and they can zoom in and still release a competitive dedicated gaming system.  Plus, with the advent of services like Netflix, BluRay and DVD playback becomes less of an important selling feature for the casual movie watcher anyway.

But the real crazy shit is the Wii U controller.  Once again Nintendo is leading the way in innovating how we interact with our games and bringing something new to the table.  As previously rumoured the controller will indeed have a six inch cock touch screen as you can see below.

Not only will it have a touch screen but also a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, a camera and microphone, and apparently even the make-it-or-break-it rumble feature which we all know is the epitome of gaming technology.  First thought?  Yes, apparently they turned the Nintendo DS into a controller.  Which is fucking awesome.  Second thought?  It does not look nearly as ergonomically designed as the PS3 or Xbox 360 controller.  What it actually feels like is a whole other story, but judging from how long kids are able to play a DS, I'm not really too concerned.

Either way, I'm already chomping at the bit to get my dick hands all over one of these things, but alas due to the linear nature of time I will have to wait until sometime in the Spring/Summer of 2012 before I can not buy one due to limited quantities being sold out at six in the morning, the time when most of us are getting ready to go to our respective jobs.  But I will buy it, guaranteed.  And even if Sony or Microsoft were coming out with a new system next year (which is not fucking likely at this point) and they were even close to the same price, I would still buy the Wii U first.  It has almost nothing to do with functionality and almost everything to do with illogical emotional attachment.  When I buy a new system the first thing I think about isn't technical specs.  I think about coming downstairs on Christmas day and playing Super Mario Bros. for the first time.  I think about about opening up the box for my new Gamecube or Wii and getting hit with that new-console smell.  The excitement of holding the new controller in my hand.  I think about the hours sitting in a dark basement on an otherwise perfect summer day and playing hours of Super Mario Kart or Goldeneye and having to deal with the dreaded video game headache for the rest of the day.  I dig Sony and Microsoft, and I love their shit too, but unfortunately for them they have to deal with a whole generation who, like me, is nostalgically loyal to Nintendo. 

Long live Mario.



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