Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien

First off, I have to ask what is up with that name?  Or Wii U eShop names in general it would seem.  When I picked up Bit.Trip Runner 2, I also picked up a title on sale called “Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition.”  If one didn’t know better, they would think the eShop was compensating for a lack of girth.  The Wii U has only been out for a little while, but it the gap between releases that have looked like something I would want to play has been demoralizing.  And no, I wasn’t interested in The Cave.  Thank God for my lack of interest.  I didn’t buy it on Wii U and now I get it free this month on PlayStation Plus.  Life is sweet.  Probably would have been sweeter if I had held out for the PSN version of Bit.Trip 2 and gotten the 20% discount.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m stalling my announcement that I haven’t actually played any games in the Bit.Trip series.  Yea, yea, I know.  What can I say?  They’re billed as “rhythm games.”  Not exactly my favorite genre.  The whole Caribbean Beats thing seems to have skipped a generation.  Possibly two generations if my parents are any indication.  I’m honestly not sure if what they do is considered dancing or some new form of mixed martial arts where the object is to break your opponent’s foot.  As it turns out, you don’t really need have a song in your heart to enjoy Bit.Trip Runner 2.  Weird that they would market it that way.  You would think they wouldn’t want to turn off people who couldn’t possible give a shit less about rhythm games.

Don't worry, a little Lyclear will take care of that.

Don’t worry, a little Lyclear will take care of that.

The idea is you’re Commander Video, a dude running in a straight line, collecting gold bars and avoiding enemies.  All stages have a set musical beat, but I typically played Runner 2 muted and I still had a pretty good time with it.  Relying completely on visual cues, I was still able to play the fairly well.  It helps that the controls are responsive and the graphics are mostly clear.  There are some times that enemies seem to bleed into the background.  Playing on a big screen doesn’t help, either.  Having your television on is completely unnecessary.  It’s yet another Wii U game that tethers you to your living room for no fucking reason at all.  If only Nintendo had put out a cheaper, more portable gaming console with a similar button layout.  I know, keep dreaming the dream, Catherine.

Every single complaint I have about Bit.Trip is tied to how shitty the Wii U Game Pad is.  I know Nintendo fanboys are still trying to convince themselves that something good might come from this mess, but come on guys.  This console is an unmitigated piece of shit.  I’ll ignore how slow it is, or how menus have load times, or how fucking cumbersome the controller is.  Why is the button layout for Bit.Trip 2 so random?  B is the jump button.  That’s just weird.  And it gets annoying too.  Everyone always reaches for the jump button to navigate menus.  Of course, B is typically “exit menu.”  Bit.Trip runner chose not to be different here.  Thus, after beating a level, I would inevitably push the wrong button and exit out of the level select screen.  A quick survey of people who bought this confirms that EVERYONE did it at least a few times.  Perhaps this is some social experiment where the guys at Gaijin Games are trying to make the entire gaming populace act like morons.  Too late guys!  Microsoft already did that.  They called it Xbox Live.

Seriously though, the layout is just not comfortable early on.  You do get used to it, I suppose.  Of course, they say people who get their arms blown off get used to that eventually too.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to play chicken with a live grenade.  Ignoring all that bullshit, the levels are well designed and the difficulty seems pretty well paced.  Bit.Trip 2 gives you a lot of different moves to memorize and perform.  I figured it would be too much to juggle.  It’s not.  In fact, I was so successful at adapting that I would sometimes, rarely, finish a stage on my first try without dying.  Not a huge accomplishment for most, granted.  For me?  I felt world conqueringly amazing.

Then I would press the wrong button and exit the stage select screen.  Those moments never last.

I thought this was a screenshot of Adventure Island when I first saw it.  No joke.

I thought this was a screenshot of Adventure Island when I first saw it. No joke.

So yea, I recommend Bit.Trip Runner 2.  It’s fun, and it’s as good an excuse as any to prevent dust from collecting on your shiny new Nintendo console.  My biggest complaint about Bit.Trip is that Wii U is the wrong machine for it.  I never wanted to play more than thirty minutes of Bit.Trip at a time before walking away.  Not in a bad way.  I just noticed after extended play-sessions that the amount of fucking up I was doing would climb dramatically.  I finished it in short bursts and enjoyed the game much more thoroughly.  I even tried to replay some of the levels to get perfect scores.  Games like this are perfectly tailored for portable devices.  There’s really no reason why I should have been shackled to a fifteen-foot radius around my television set.  The 3DS is right fucking there, and Bit.Trip doesn’t seem so graphically intensive that it just had to be done on a state of the art console like the Wii U.  And no, I couldn’t type the end of that last sentence with a straight face.

Bit Trip logoIGC_ApprovedBit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien was developed by Gaijin Games

$14.99 is proud of Gaijin Games for resisting the urge to have a stage set to the tune of the theme from Chariots of Fire in the making of this review.

Bit.Trip Runner 2 is Chick Approved.  Stay tuned tomorrow for my review of the off-brand, generic XBLIG version, Voxel Runner.

Little Inferno

UPDATE: Little Inferno’s default price now seems to be $9.99.  For that reason, I’m bumping up my enthusiasm to recommend it to “moderately decent.”  I also bumped it 30 spots up the Leaderboard.  Yes, $5 does make a difference.

Looking for the solution to the four things you need to burn?  I posted them under the trailer below. 

Tis the season of gifts.  Or, if you want to be a killjoy, the season to burn toys in a fireplace.  That’s the idea behind Little Inferno, an independent game for the Wii U.  It’s by the guys behind World of Goo, which was probably the best digital-download game on the original Wii.  But World of Goo got by on being a quirky, addictive physics-puzzler.  Little Inferno, on the other hand, feels like the type of time-sink you would find on the iPhone market.  In fact, there are lots mechanical issues with Little Inferno that make me think it started life as a micro transaction-oriented mobile game, like Doodle God for arsonists.  Only such games typically cost $1 or less and make their money by nickle-and-diming you to speed up the gameplay.  Little Inferno charges you $15 upfront, and keeps the action nice-and-slow.

Good fun for the whole family.

There is a bit of a story here.  You’re a kid that lives in a snowy world.  You receive an Inferno Entertainment Center.  With it, you place toys in it and then burn them.  Once you burn a toy, it spits out more money than you paid for it.  You then hit a catalog to order more shit to burn.  While you’re doing this, you get a barrage of messages from a creepy neighbor girl who asks you to send her gifts.  There’s a few twists and turns along the way, one of which genuinely made me feel bad.  But the plot goes way too far.  Once you finish all the catalogs, an obnoxious ending unfolds over the course of the next twenty-plus minutes.  I’ve heard it described as “bold” or “social commentary” or the ever-dreaded “art!”  And of course, art here is meant to mean “criticism proof.”  As always, art is in the eye of the beholder, and while I held Little Inferno, my eyes started to get a bit droopy while I watched the ending.  It didn’t feel connected to the game.  I had someone tell me that Little Inferno actually gives you visual clues as to what is really going on, but the visual style kind of masks those clues unless you’re outright looking for them.  And besides, the gameplay is downright hypnotic, and after a while any and all interruptions were about as well received as a fart to the mouth would be.

The gameplay itself is really too simplistic for its own good.  Yet, it’s still oddly addictive.  Beating the game only requires you to purchase and burn each item in the catalog once.  Things are kept fresh by a having a list of 99 combos that you have to figure out on your own.  It sounds neater than it is.  Achieving a combo is done by buying each item, putting them in the fire together, and burning them together.  For example, you might see a combo listed as “Movie Night.”  To clear this, you have to buy an ear of corn (which of course turns into popcorn when you burn it) and a television set.  Unfortunately, this is about as deep as it gets.  Although some of the items have moving parts or unique sequences while they burn, you never have to create a Rube-Goldberg-style setup to get a combo.  Despite having a sophisticated physics engine, it’s not really put to use here.  It’s like one of those douchebags that buys a Lamborghini and then keeps it in his garage without ever driving it.

And getting those combos can be fucking agonizing because the game has needless item-refill times.  When you purchase an item, you have to wait for it to be “delivered” to you.  This can take quite a while.  You can erase the time by spending stamps, but they spawn infrequently and combos generally don’t spit out enough of them.  This is annoying, but what’s REALLY annoying is then the shop takes time to restock the item.  I’ll give you an example: Combo #73 requires you to burn one of those spring-loaded snakes in a canister with a thing of protein powder.  The powder requires you to wait two minutes for it to be delivered.  BUT, the very next combo requires the protein powder and a statue of a guy doing an Atlas pose.  This means you have to wait at least three minutes before attempting each combo.  This isn’t a phone game, assholes.  I think you meant it to be one, but these wait times are ridiculous.  Especially when you consider we’re playing on a game machine that’s battery life is shorter than the average Lord of the Rings movie.

Weird part is, this is exactly how my abuela Maritza died.

Weird part is, this is exactly how my abuela Maritza died.

To be clear, there’s something undeniably fun about Little Inferno.  I think.  I mean, with time sinks such as this, it’s tough to tell.  But the story is ruined by some boneheaded twists that take it from potentially a dark, macabre tale into a bullshit deep introspective journey of growing up.  I would love the game more if not for two things.  #1, it shouldn’t have been on the Wii U.  There’s no need for it to be on the Wii U.  The game can be played entirely on the Wii U gamepad, but this type of game lends itself more to “knock out a few minutes while waiting for the cashier to get a price check on a gallon of milk” sessions.  Not being tethered to a game console.  And, #2, it’s too fucking expensive.  $15 for this?  Yea, it’s on sale right now for $10, but that only lasts for a few more days.  And by the way, idiot that I am, I got this sucker on my first trip to the eShop and never actually played it until now, after Brian left for his vacation.  Stupid, stupid me, I paid the full price for it, and it’s not even close to worth it.  It’s not even worth the $10 sales price.  $5 seems like a good price.  $1 on iPhone and not a penny more.  Maybe that’s really the gag here: the biggest thing you burn with Little Inferno is your own money.

Little InfernoLittle Inferno was developed by Tomorrow Corporation

$14.99 said this was like Toy Story meets the Spanish Inquisition in the making of this review.

IGC_ApprovedSigh, can’t believe I’m saying this, but overpriced as heck Little Inferno is Chick Approved on the grounds that I had fun with it.  Only Xbox Live Indie Games get ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.  By the way, remove the “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but overpriced as heck” part if the price is $10.  And if they ever drop it to $5, you can remove the “Sigh” too. 

The four items you need to burn are the magnet, the firefly jar, the exterminator, and the sunglasses.  You’re welcome.

Wii Y?

Chick SpeaksThe Wii U.  I was not interested in it.  Then I was.  Then Target accidentally sold the one I had pre-ordered.   Then it came back in stock.  But one of my secretaries wanted one for her kid for Christmas, so I let her buy it instead, figuring that it would be impossible to find over the holidays.  I then went shopping and saw no less than five of the deluxe models at each store I went to.  The little impulse-buy voice in my head taunted me with chants of “come on Cathy, you know you want it.”  Even though I’m not sure I wanted it.  But that’s the funny thing about the impulse-buy voice.  It’s loud, annoying, and won’t shut up until you do what it tells you to.  It then goes away, only to be replaced by the buyer’s remorse voice, which will serve as my co-writer for this feature.

Unpacking a new console is always a treat.  Some websites generate tens of thousands of views doing just that.  For me, I like the smell, but a video of me sniffing my new console would be, well, weird.  But seriously, that “new console” smell.  It’s way different from new car smell.  It fades the moment you plug-in your first game.  Or, in the case of the Wii U, the moment you realize you’re about to wait two hours for a system update for features I don’t even want, like MiiVerse.  While I waited for this, something hit me about the Wii U Pad: it’s enormous.  “No shit, Sherlock” you’re thinking.  But really, the fucking thing is huge.  As in, I can’t believe this is a new electronic device made in the year 2012 huge.  Then again, this is Nintendo we’re talking about here.  When it comes to trends, they always seem at least ten years behind the times, at least in terms of actual technology.  They probably still picture the world as being full of rear-projection TVs and Humvees and Rosie O’Donnell talk shows.  Bigger is better, so let’s give people a portable television set that can be used as a second screen.

Dig those HD visuals.

Dig those HD visuals.

And that’s what the Wii U Pad feels like: a bulky portable TV straight out of 1999, essentially turning their newest console into a giant Nintendo DS.  The thing is, I always kind of pictured Nintendo consoles as being aimed at children.  Sure, most of their hardcore fans are actually thirty-year-olds who have the stunted brain development of a child, but from a marketing perspective, stuff like Nintendo Land seems made to appeal to the kiddie set.  Or, since my parents and their elderly friends (hi AJ!) had fun with it, the young at heart.  Well, hopefully those children can palm basketballs, because otherwise I’m not sure the Wii U Pad will ever feel truly comfortable.  Me?  I have teeny, tiny hands.  Assuming I never use the touch screen, I would still have a tough time adjusting to the Wii U Pad, the way it’s meant to be held.  Once you ask me to start using the touch screen, especially with the stylus, I simply couldn’t figure out a way to hold it without my hands cramping up.  I can’t imagine how children are going to ever enjoy this cumbersome thing.

But, the real problem with the Wii U pad is it just doesn’t add any play value.  The Nintendo DS and the 3DS work because the two screens are right next to each other.  The Wii U involves moving your eyes up and down a lot.  Or alternatively, not using the TV screen at all.  Take Scribblenauts.  Yea, I took a chance on it, despite the fact that the series has lived up to expectations about as well as Challenger did for NASA.  And actually, I still probably enjoyed it more than any other game in the series.  But the thing is, you never actually need to look at the TV when playing Scribblenauts Unlimited.  Everything can be done on the Wii U Pad.  So why make it a $60 console release when a $40 3DS release makes more sense?  The answer is because, um, schooba dooba schimander incoherent under-the-breath mumble.

I try not to be a doom-sayer when it comes to new console launches, and I always look for a silver lining.  I just don’t see one with the Wii U.  Granted, I didn’t really put the console through the type of wringer that I should have.  But that’s because all the games that are getting huge critical acclaim are just “special editions” of shit I just played this last year.  Mass Effect 3.  Arkham City.  Trine 2.  Critical marks for the Wii versions of these titles are great, but I already played them when they first came out, on account of them getting great critical marks back then on other machines.  And, let’s face it, I’ve already played the other “must have” titles that I did pick up.  Scribblenauts Unlimited does add some new ideas, but it’s still basically the same Scribblenauts that I own on my DS, or that I recently paid a whopping $1 for on my iPhone.

That just leaves New Super Mario Bros. U.  First off, I only played it single-player.  The reason being that nobody I know was actually interested in playing it.  What did I think?  Well, it’s easily better than New Super Mario Bros. or New Super Mario Bros. Wii, or New Super Mario Bros 2.  In fact, it’s the first game in the series that feels like a true continuation of the 80s and 90s Mario series, instead of a tribute to those games.  And that’s great, but shouldn’t that have been made, oh, twenty fucking years ago?  How come it took twenty years to get a proper 2D follow-up to Super Mario World?  Maybe they could have existed on the Game Boy Advance, but no, Nintendo decided to cheaply port existing games to the platform instead of attempting anything original.  So while I did have fun with Brand New Mario You, it feels more like playing a mid-90s game with remade 2005 visuals.  In 2012.

Like I said in my piece on the end of the Wii, I don’t buy Nintendo consoles to play third-party games.  I buy them for Nintendo properties.  That’s why I don’t give a shit if the Wii U is already being mocked for its lack of horsepower.  You don’t buy hybrids to win drag races, and you don’t buy Nintendo machines expecting the visuals to knock your socks off.  You buy them expecting the type of entertainment that only Nintendo seems to provide.  In that sense, I guess the Wii U is a winner by default.  I did have fun with Mario U and Nintendo Land, in the same way that I had fun with the original Wii right out of the box on launch day with Wii Sports and Twilight Princess.  But, and here’s  the difference between it and every other Nintendo launch: I don’t see why I needed a new console to have that fun.  With the exception of Nintendo Land, nothing I’ve played on my Wii U over the last couple weeks couldn’t have been done at least equally as fun on the 3DS.

Silly as this sounds, the Animal Crossing minigame in Nintendo Land was the honeypot for entertainment for me.

Silly as this sounds, the Animal Crossing minigame in Nintendo Land was the honeypot for entertainment for me.

I think that’s why I’m still a cynic when it comes to the Wii U.  With the exception of its potential for party games, I don’t see how this bulky ass controller is going to revolutionize gaming.  Maybe it’s not meant to.  Maybe this is just the latest in a long line of machines designed to showcase the best Nintendo’s first parties can come up with.  I guess launch isn’t the best time to talk about a system’s potential.  I would say that if you’re skeptical of the Wii U, nothing at launch will change your opinion about it.  If you’re a raving Nintendo fanboy, you probably stopped reading when I complained about the controller.

As always, the worst thing about any Nintendo launch is dealing with Nintendo fans.  Even Peter Pan would look at Nintendo fanboys and be like “damn, you guys really ought to grow up!”  Yea I know, Nintendo did more to raise you than your parents did.  You ate Nintendo cereal, carried a Nintendo lunch-box, read Nintendo comics, watched Nintendo cartoons, wore Nintendo pajamas, slept in Nintendo bed sheets, and if time allowed, played Nintendo games.  But this whole brand-loyalty thing is just absurd.  Nintendo wasn’t your best friend growing up.  It was a company that targeted you because it could make money off you.  Yea, I know people fall in love with specific brands, but Nintendo fans have kept this childhood obsession going.  As kids, they picked fights with the Genesis crowd.  As young adults, they tried to claim with a straight face that the GameCube was every bit as cool as the PlayStation 2.  And now, as adults, they say anyone who has even the slightest negative opinion of the Wii U is a hater.  STOP IT!  Mature people don’t do this!  Brand loyalty is one thing, but you don’t see Marlboro smokers hacking up phlegm on Camel enthusiasts.

The Sequel Blues

We have been penalized by the lack of new consoles on the market. I understand the manufacturers don’t want them too often because it’s expensive, but it’s important for the entire industry to have new consoles because it helps creativity.

-Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft

I’m rarely stunned by the stupidity of words that come from the heads of major game studios, so I have to give Mr. Guillemot credit.  That was a remarkably dumb statement.  One that I wholeheartedly reject.  It was a defensive statement, for something that doesn’t need defending.

Gamers can be an irrational breed of people.  When they’re at their worst, gamers can be reactionary, twitchy, slobbering crybabies.  Or we can shorten that and call it “fanboys.”  I get it with kids.  Santa Claus brings Johnny an Xbox 360 for Christmas, while Bobby gets a PlayStation 3.  They’ll end up doing what kids do, arguing that their machine is the best.  But the bad ones, they’re the assholes who drag this argument out into adulthood.  They’re also the ones who bitch about console manufacturers who push non-gaming content, DLC, and especially sequels.

Minecraft 360 has sold over three million copies. Not bad for a dead platform.

I don’t get the argument against sequels.  Of all the truly stupid shit that gamers get angry over, the resentment of sequels is the one that baffles me the most.  I think many people forget that gaming is a business that exists to be profitable.  That might sound condescending, but it’s true.  When you bitch at developer for being too sequel heavy, you’re essentially telling them to not take the path of least resistance towards profitability, placing their company’s future at a greater risk.

Here’s my question: why does this make you, the angry gamer, so damn mad?  How in the blue fuck does Call of Battlewar Modern Reach 17 possibly affect you?  Other than the fact that you’ll be $60 less wealthy once it’s out because you know you’ll buy it.  Yes you will.

If sequels aren’t your thing, don’t get them!  Their existence doesn’t stop the influx of other purchasing options.  Gaming has entered a second Golden Age of creativity.  The advent of independent gaming, plus the roll out of digital distribution on consoles has opened the door to new and original properties that would never be given a green-light seven years ago.  In 2012, the major digital platforms on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have seen two record-shattering games be released: Journey and Minecraft 360.  Whether these games appeal to you directly or not is irrelevant.  It’s what they represent that is important.  They’re new properties (in Minecraft’s case, new to consoles) that destroys the notion of sequels drowning the industry.  The gaming landscape is full of titles like that.  Rarely does a month go by where there isn’t at least one, maybe two games on those platforms that I just have to try because they look so different.

Are we really ready to let go of the PlayStation 3 when such innovative, never before attempted ideas such as this one are on the verge of fulfillment?

That’s why I think Yves Guillemot’s comment pissed me off so much.  Because it was a pass-the-buck move for something that didn’t require defending or an explanation.  Anybody whinny enough to complain about sequels will never be satisfied with anything because they’re miserable human beings just looking for stuff to moan about.  You can’t please them, and it’s not even worth trying.  Whether they admit it or not, they buy all the mass-marketed stuff anyway.  They just have to try to be “cool” and reject sequels.  That makes them sound non-conformist.  I walked into a Gamestop once (bad decision, I admit.  I think I might have been under the influence of seizure medication) and saw what looked to be a half-man, half-manatee complaining about Crackdown 2 being a soulless cash-in that didn’t really try to be different.  And he said all this with a straight face while wearing a Gears of War 2 tee-shirt.  This is the type of moron you can’t win with.

Why try to justify yourself to these people?  Especially with outright bullshit, as is the case with Mr. Guillemot.  Saying “no no no no, it’s not OUR fault that we’re making sequels.  It’s their fault!  Sony’s and Microsoft’s!  Blame them!  We need new hardware or we simply can’t be original!”  Right.  Because launch-window games are known for their high-risk creative endeavors.  Of course they’re not.  New consoles bring with them 12 to 18 months worth of last-generation gameplay rehashes dressed-up with shiny graphics.  The Wii might have been an exception to that, just because it had that wacky new controller thing, but I don’t think anyone would try to argue the machine sparked a revolution of creativity.  It takes about two years for developers, even first party ones, to get over the learning curve of developing for a new platform.  While that is going on, they stick with what they know.

So Mr. Guillemot is wrong.  New consoles don’t breed creativity.  They might make a game producer’s imagination run wild with possibilities, but that doesn’t necessarily transition to the final product.  That’s why the truly neat stuff doesn’t hit until a console has been around a while.  A new concept, like Katamari Damacy, couldn’t have launched with the PlayStation 2.  Developers stick with what they know works, which is why Touch My Katamari launched with the Vita.

Spec Ops: The Line is technically a sequel, but it’s not really, because the series was never this bad ass.

And that’s why I don’t want this generation of consoles to end just yet.  Look at what the last 18 months have given us.  L.A. Noire.  Journey.  Bastion.  From Dust.  Fez.  Walking Dead.  Catherine.  Dragon’s Dogma.  I just finished Spec Ops: The Line, a game that is a sequel in name only, and I was blown away by its gutsy narrative.  You wouldn’t see anything like that christen a new platform.  You just wouldn’t.  Yea, this console generation has had an unusually long lifespan, but with promising new IPs like Watch Dogs or The Last of Us still on the horizon, why are we already writing a eulogy?  So I reject Mr. Guillemot’s assertion that developers need new consoles to be creative.  An especially hypocritical stance from the guy in charge of the publishing house that is bringing us the next big new IP, Watch Dogs.  According to him, they shouldn’t have even bothered, and instead of focused on the Wii U, which is the new platform his employees need or they just can’t think.  And what is this new platform in essence?  A screen that you have to flail around like you’re trying to swat a fly with it.  What is he doing with that?  ZombiU.  That’s his idea of innovation: holding a screen in front of another screen.  It would be like Firestone deciding the next generation of tires should be square-shaped.  Besides, my faith in that game is nil.  Ubisoft does launch titles about as well as buffaloes do deep-sea diving.  I remember Red Steel.

Sequels are not the problem with gaming.  I’m not even sure there is a problem with gaming right now.  We live in an era that features multiple thriving platforms, and hundreds (if not thousands) of games of all shapes, sizes, and costs that are released annually.  With so many options available to consumers, I simply don’t understand how so many gamers can be singing the Sequel Blues.  If all you can see is sequels, you need to get your eyes examined, because I do believe you’re more near-sighted than Mr. Magoo.

Kairi on E3 2012: Nintendo Edition

Watch the conference at 9AM, start writing at 8PM.  Sounds fine, except I can’t remember a blasted thing that happened during the show.  Nintendo E3 events all have this problem.  Unless you’re a throbbing Nintendo fanboy, their press conferences all tend to bleed together.  It’s easy to understand why.  “Remember the year Nintendo talked about Mario?”  What Mario are you.. “Or that time that one year when Shigeru Miyamoto came out and pandered to us?”  Well actually that happens every.. “Or that time Reggie Fils-Aime looked like he couldn’t believe he’s 51 years old and trying to shill Let’s Dance?”  NO!  No I don’t remember that time!

Oh thank Christ we don’t have to go a whole fiscal quarter without a Mario game!

Of course, this is a hardware year, so we can call this the year they talked about Wii U.  Which could have been last year too I guess, but work with me here.  Nintendo fans in general seem a little disappointed this year, because Nintendo failed to say all the correct buzz words that cause a reaction in them.  They’re like dogs, conditioned to listen for only key terms.  “Mario!”  Woof!  “Pikmin!”  Woof!  “More Mario!”  WOOF WOOF! But then Nintendo left the poor pooches hanging by not saying other words, like “Smash Brothers” or “Zelda” or “Star Fox.”  Nintendo hounds are sad puppies tonight.  Yep, sorry, I have to cut to the picture.

The face of Nintendo fanboys following E3 2012.

Wii U is coming in 2012, which is ironic given that most Nintendo fanboys are doing the same in anticipation of it.  Most people are of two very different views on it.  They either think it’s brilliant, or that it’s a cumbersome looking piece of shit.  I lean for option two here.  I’m five-foot one-inch tall and I have tiny hands.  Nintendo wants people younger than me with even smaller hands to somehow not develop early-onset carpal tunnel using this.  I’m not saying kids are incapable of using it, but it’s very telling that many of the videos Nintendo showed involved grown adults handling the Wii U GamePad, not children.  Remind me, besides fanboys, what is Nintendo’s target audience again?  And no, it’s not the same as using an iPad.  I can use an iPad just fine, because it has no buttons to press, styluses to hold, or other screens to look at.

It’s weird because Nintendo is kind of famous for making comfortable controllers.  I know the Nintendo 64 bearclaw pad gets some flack, but at age 9 I felt it was just fine.  The Gamecube might have the most comfortable controller I’ve ever used in my life (never did like the Wave Bird as much), and I don’t hate the Wii Remote, even with a nunchuk attached.  It’s just bizarre to me that they could go from being the industry leaders in comfort to being the industry leaders in causing your hand to cramp up just by looking at picture of their next product.  I guess Nintendo wanted a piece of Playboy’s market share.

It doesn’t help that Nintendo showed me absolutely zero games that needed to have this, or more importantly, made me want to own a Wii U.  Yea, they showed a tech demo for a Luigi game that seemed like little more than an update to Pac-Man Vs., itself just a tech demo when you get down to it.  Otherwise, it was mostly used to look at a map.  Next year at E3, for you drinking game fans, just play one for Nintendo’s conference that uses the word “map.”  That’s it.  It’s probably not as potentially lethal to play as one where you take a drink every time someone says “Mario” but you’ll still be blitzed to the point that you won’t remember your own name.

Why do the baby Yoshis look drunk?

Ah yes, Mario.  We’re getting not one, but two games called “New Super Mario Bros.”  Hopefully this means they’ll retcon the previous games in the series to “Old New Super Mario Bros.”  The 3DS entry, called New Super Mario Bros. 2 (because Newer Super Mario Bros. sounded stupid I guess) brings back the leaf from Super Mario 3.  I’m sorry, but when you set out to make a game and call it “new”, maybe step one should be “include new shit in it!”  The Wii U version, called New Super Mario Bros. U (way to phone in the title, Nintendo) brings in Yoshis and the cape from Super Mario World, only this time it’s “new” because it looks like a flying squirrel suit.  It’s like asking your wife to dress up like a naughty nurse.  I don’t get why people do it, because at the end of the day you’re still getting sucked off by the same person.

I have a theory.  I think Nintendo games start off as a game of Mad Libs.  Picture it: a bunch of guys in Kyoto pass a joint around, sip some sake, and then try to name animals.  “Penguin!”  “Flying Squirrel!”  “Frog!”  “Bumble Bee!”  And this is where the power ups in Mario games come from.

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