Archive for the ‘R4 3DS’ Category

The Lost Levels (3DS eShop / NES): Super Mario Bros

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Lost levels = lost sanity

It’s a story so well known now that we’ll just summarise it for you: what is now known as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels was actually released in Japan as the sequel to enduring classic Super Mario Bros. Western gamers instead received the subconscious vegetable buffet that we more traditionally think of as Super Mario Bros. 2.

Various reasons have been given for the switch — brutal difficulty ranking high among them — but whatever the rationale, we’re glad that we’re able to play both sequels to the original classic, as they’re fantastic in their own ways.

The Lost Levels, of course, is best known for its controller-smashing challenge. Even with the restore points on the 3DS Virtual Console, you’ll be in for some serious difficulty.

While this game doesn’t innovate the franchise nearly as much as its Western cousin did, it does take some interesting liberties with the formula set down by its predecessor. For instance, Luigi has distinct jumping and running physics from Mario, a sort-of tradition that would reappear in several other games to come. For fans who knew the original game inside and out, this alteration was both a serious curve-ball and an impressive new way to experience the Mushroom Kingdom.

Speaking of the Mushroom Kingdom, The Lost Levels obviously takes place in an even more vicious region than the original game did. Here you’ll find all manner of traps to take you down in the most ingenious — and sometimes hilarious — ways. Everything from springs, to invisible coin blocks and even warp zones will conspire to work against you, and it’s unlikely that anyone other than the most expert players will find their life counter reaching double digits.

Visually there’s not much new here. Nearly everything has been carried over wholesale from the first game, though there are a few notable exceptions, such as the notorious poison mushroom. Otherwise sprites are identical to the originals, even if they behave in new and interesting ways, such as the increased lift you’ll get from a stomped enemy, and a surprising overworld appearance from an enemy you’ll only have previously encountered under water.

The Lost Levels are — this cannot be said enough — relentless. Expect to die, and expect to die often. In fact, the entire release feels like a ruthless ROM-hack more than it does a proper title. It’s another pack of levels designed explicitly to break your spirit and frustrate you endlessly, packed with pixel-perfect leaps, blind jumps, and sadistic castle mazes. But one thing’s worth noting: regardless of how difficult the game gets, you can never fault its physics.

Yes, much like the original, The Lost Levels controls brilliantly. The game is responsive and reacts immediately to every press of a button; it’s not its fault if you decided to leap into that pit, after all.

The music is also carried over from the first game, again making The Lost Levels feel like a bit of a retread. When measured against the significant changes introduced by the Western sequel, The Lost Levels feels like it lacks innovation. What it does do, however, is build upon the innovation of the first game, and re-employ enemies and gimmicks in extremely creative — and punishing — ways.

If you enjoyed the first Super Mario Bros. game (and really now, who didn’t?) then this is an expansion worth experiencing. Don’t expect to finish it, though; it’s not an experience many people will complete, but it’s one everybody will remember.

Conclusion

Anyone who feels that Mario’s 2D adventures have softened over the years owes it to themselves to experience Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. With a difficulty curve that’ll have you pulling your hair out by the second world, game-loving masochists are in for a genuine treat. Be warned, however: the challenge here is unquestionably excessive, and it’s not an experience for everybody. Those willing to invest the time — and who aren’t afraid of shouting a few cursewords — will find a clever and creative palette of charming frustrations here to greet them. And, frankly, we think it’s worth a little grey hair.

Nintendo Wii U Japan sales top 300,000 during launch weekend

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

While players in North America and Europe have been enjoying their Wii Us for a little while now, the newest Nintendo console only launched in Japan this past weekend. We’re now hearing the first numbers from the Wii U’s Japan launch, with statistics from Media-Create putting the Wii U’s launch weekend sales at 307,471. That certainly isn’t bad, with Nintendo selling 400,000 Wii Us during the console’s North American launch week.

Which games performed the best? By far it was New Super Mario Bros. U, which sold 160,140 copies. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate did well too, with 106,454 copies sold. Little surprise there, considering that Monster Hunter has proven to be an incredibly popular series in Japan (with some very passionate fans in other regions of the world). Nintendo Land, on the other hand, didn’t perform as well as those two, pulling in only 66,583 sales.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that Nintendo Land isn’t a pack-in game in Japan like it is in other regions, so there aren’t any bundle sale to boost the game’s numbers. So, it appears the Wii U and a few of its headlining games made a pretty strong showing during launch weekend, but that’s expected for most new hardware launches. Considering we’re right in the middle of the holiday shopping season, Nintendo can probably expect strong sales through the month of December, but whether or not those numbers stay up as we move away from the holidays is another matter entirely.

Nintendo 3d
Nintendo 3d

Once we’re into 2013, we’ll be able to better gauge if Nintendo has another Wii or another R4 Nintendo 3ds on its hands. If it continues selling strong, then there’s nothing to worry, but Nintendo is no stranger to botched launches – the 3DS was struggling in a big way until Nintendo cut its price a mere six months after release. Is a similar future in store for the Wii U? Only time will tell, but at the moment, things are looking pretty good.

Nintendo 3DS Ads Roll Out For Holidays

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Nintendo dish out some prospective propaganda as That Time Of Year™ continues to encroach on us all.

Nintendo 3DS American Ads Roll Out For The Holidays

Things are pretty big for Nintendo right now. There’s the Wii U launch to consider, still awaiting release in some regions of the world. There’s Nintendo’s own promise to ensure that the R4 i 3DS remains a top priority this festive season. There’s even praise coming from Sony, it seems, as Nintendo expands its scope.

But with the coming of the busiest month of shopping on the calendar comes a new range of Nintendo advertising, and the 3DS commercials from Nintendo Of America are out in force!

In the first, various gamer chaps compare New Super Mario Bros. 2 bragging rights. And snails. Obviously.

Despite being released many months ago, both games seem to be big hits for the Christmas period, or so Nintendo seems to hope. Are you looking forward to getting New Super Mario Bros. 2 andFreakyforms! Deluxeyourself? Or have you already played these?

The second commercial focuses on Nintendo of America’s ongoing efforts to characterise the R4 3ds as a trendy lifestyle accessory for the garrulous gal about town. This is possibly due to the ongoing inability planet Earth has to realise that female human beings can play videogames too, without them having to have pixies and chocolate sprinkles on them or something.

R4i 1.4.3 NINTENDO + 4 gb
R4i 1.4.3 NINTENDO + 4 gb

Still, she seems to be having a lovely time, so we can hardly blame her.

So there you have it! The advertising begins. Do these commercials do enough to portray the merits of the 3DS in an admittedly small timeslot? Can Nintendo rely on big name titles and niche new instalments of Style Savvy alone? Will the Wii U itself be making so much noise that our beloved little handheld that could gets forgotten?

As 2012 rushes to a close and harrowed gift-givers rush to the shops, it will fall to campaigns like these to ensure the 3DS’s message is put across. What’s your opinion on the marketing thus far?

New Leaf doubles Nintendo 3DS sales: Animal Crossing

Friday, November 16th, 2012
Nintendo news 3DS, thumbnail 1
T.S. Eliot might have called April the cruelest month, but for Sony it’s difficult to imagine a month crueler than November.

After last week’s sobering sales figures which saw sales of the PlayStation Vita slip to a record low, Sony’s latest handheld has slid even further down the hardware charts in Japan, selling only a modest 4,021 units between November 5 and November 11.

Based on the numbers posted by Media Create, this is a 17 per cent decrease from last week’s figure of 4,842 Vitas sold.

Sony’s PlayStation Portable also slipped a bit in sales, falling from 13,868 units sold to 12,076 – yet it still managed to outsell the Vita three to one.

Meanwhile, in Nintendoville…

Nintendo’s 3DS saw a substantial increase in sales this week, owing in no small part to the release of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Sales for the 3DS jumped 99 per cent, surging from 93,989 units sold last week to 187,077 units sold.

Unsurprisingly, Animal Crossing: New Leaf secured the top-selling software spot for the week while New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Bravely Default Flying Fairy remained the fifth and sixth best-selling games, respectively.

KonamiWorld Soccer Winning Eleven 2013 was the only PSP or PS Vita title to rank in the top ten for the week, coming in at the number eight position.

Full Review Dress To Play: Cute Witches

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Half witch, half craft

Older gamers might look at Dress to Play: Cute Witches! and see echoes of the Cotton series, or Magical Chase. Cute witches (lowercase) are certainly no strangers to shoot-’em-ups, and this game aims to combine a simplified (and bullet-free) version of that side-scrolling action with a dress-up element for character customization. In concept, dressing up a character and then seeing them star in a simple action game could be perfect for younger players. Unfortunately, while the action side of the equation is flawed but still enjoyable, the dress-up fun promised beforehand falls almost completely flat.

The customization in Dress to Play: Cute Witches! is, to put it mildly, lacking. The options on offer would seem paltry in almost any context, but for a game with “Dress to Play” in the title, they’re almost criminally limited. There are a total of 14 tops and 18 bottoms, and a handful of accessories; that includes colour swaps, so that a blue skirt and a pink skirt in the same style have to be unlocked separately. And yes, those totals are after unlocking everything in the game; as a novice broom-flyer, your pickings are even slimmer.

Worse is the fact that there’s very little variety in the items available, and sadly nothing about any of the outfits in this game is particularly “witchlike”. Sure, these pint-sized pythonesses have enough command of witchcraft to fly around on a broom, but they’re not certainly dressing to prove it. The most magical accessories available are cat ears in various colours, and most items of clothing stick steadfastly to the anime schoolgirl style.

Further stymying the fun of customization is the interface, which is slow to respond and presented poorly. You’ll have to scroll through items in each category one-by-one, re-tapping the left or right button each time; a list would’ve made the process much easier, and seems like a no-brainer with such a small number of outfits.

R4 3ds
R4 3ds€ 20,90

Once you’ve accessorized your sorceress, you can head out into the Adventure mode, and happily things pick up from there. The game plays like a junior version of a side-scrolling shooter, minus any shooting, and while it’s extremely simple, it’s actually pretty fun. You’ll fly endlessly to the right, avoiding enemies and trying to stay alive as long as possible. Your witch has a gas gauge (don’t ask) which depletes over time or when you hit an enemy, and is refilled by picking up stars. There’s a nice variety of enemy types, and each group has their own signature movement pattern, which is helpful for young players. Octopi float from the bottom up, goldfish swim slowly from the right, large Boo-like clouds just sit patiently in your way, and so on.

Hands make the rounds of a giant analogue clock on the bottom screen in fast forward, and the background’s progression from day to night and back to day again keeps pace with this timepiece. Each time the clock strikes midnight, you’ll see a different “Magic Hour” – a constellation announced with a charming gong – and receive a heart power-up to restore your gas gauge. These moments are great visual rewards for lasting through another day, and add a lot to the “just a little further” feel that keeps you going.

While it’s fun in spite of its faults, the execution does leave something to be desired. The controls are manageable if a bit floaty, and the collision detection is consistent but odd – your witch is a bit smaller than she seems for enemy-avoidance purposes. A larger problem is the framerate, which takes a dive with the 3D effect turned on, or when there’s much of anything flying by on the screen. It’s a shame, as quieter sections of sky give brief glimpses of a much faster-moving game, and the cloud-on-cloud layered backgrounds were definitely designed to be seen in 3D. Finally, while the randomly generated layout keeps things from feeling too familiar with each replay, it’s not a perfect system; stars are sometimes placed directly behind unmoving enemies, and that can be a real bummer when you’re minutes from midnight and need a quick pick-me-up.

Graphically, the game takes its cues from simple, Flash-based games, with puppet-esque animation of colourful 2D figures. The art style is cheery, and while much of it will come down to personal preference, the character design does lead to a hilariously poor implementation of “shoes”. There’s only one musical track to accompany the action, and it’s an appropriately airy affair with some non-verbal vocal work that fits the flying well, while the menu music is filled with nicely soothing music-box melodies.

Flaws aside, Dress to Play: Cute Witches! does have some nice touches, especially in its achievements system. There are 50 different achievements, and completing each one will unlock a new item to customize your character with. As previously stated, the items themselves aren’t much to get excited about, but at least there’s a fun way to earn them. The challenge set also strikes a good balance between accidental (play the adventure mode 5 times, accumulate 15 minutes of play, etc.) and skill-based (see 3 Magical Hours in one go, pass 300,000 points, etc.) goals, so less experienced players won’t be left out of the action and more accomplished witches still have something to strive for. There’s also a high scores table, and, as a welcome addition for southpaw sorceresses, the face buttons can be used for movement.

Conclusion

Dress to Play: Cute Witches! is a game that attempts to combine two different styles into one experience, but ends up feeling half baked. The combination of character customization and side-scrolling shooter ‘lite’ is a solid concept for younger players, and could make a great game with better execution. As it stands, there’s definitely still enjoyment to be found here, though it’s only in the latter half of that combination: the simple fun of the flying sequences could be enough to carry the game for some players, but the severely limited dress-up side of the experience will leave fashion-conscious enchantresses disappointed.

Nintendo Wii U eShop First Look

Friday, November 9th, 2012

First look at Wii U eShop

We have the first photo of the Wii U eShop, thanks to an update on the console’s Japanese website.

Take a look below:

The page mentions most of the features that are included on the 3DS eShop. You’ll be able to download games and demos, view videos such as commercials, and rate content you’ve played.

5 Best 3DSWare games on Nintendo eShop

Monday, October 29th, 2012
Nintendo 3dNintendo 3dWhile Sony is pushing forward with an aggressive digital download strategy with the PlayStation Vita at launch, Nintendo has been building up its library on the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS over the last year. On the eShop, 3DS owners can download Virtual Console and DSiWare games from previous iterations of portable Nintendo hardware. However, gamers can also find original titles built specifically for the R4 3ds in mind:

pushmo-level

1. Pushmo

Built by the same developer that worked on franchises like Advance Wars and WarioWare, this inventive three-dimensional puzzle game is easily one of the best 3DS titles on the Nintendo eShop. Using stereoscopic visuals, the player controls a little character named Mallo that pushes and pulls platforms out of a wall in order to climb to the top. The game does an excellent job of walking the player through the initial steps in the early levels and the challenge progressively increases throughout Pushmo’s stages.

While the story behind little Mallo is silly, classic Nintendo fun, the puzzles are the real showcase. Just as addictive as Picross on the original Nintendo DS, solving each puzzle is extremely satisfying and encourages the player to continue. There’s even a custom puzzle creator for the more inventive players and puzzles can be shared with other players via QR codes. It’s also an excellent deal at $6.99 for the amount of time you will spend working through all 250 puzzles. Pushmo requires 144 blocks of space (18 MB) on a 3DS memory card.

Sakura_Samurai2. Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword

Not to be confused with the lackluster Samurai Sword Destiny eShop title, Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword is an absolutely beautiful, action sword fighter with plenty of RPG elements tossed in to boot. Complete with a full narrative told in an animated slideshow, a young boy named Sakura Samurai is tasked with battling countless enemies in order to free Princess Cherry Blossom from a dark, powerful force. Spread out over thirty different locations within the game, Sakura Samurai faces off against ninjas, archers and other sword-wielding enemies.

The game is heavily reliant in timed movements in order to dodge incoming attacks and counter with a devastating blow of attacks. As the player progresses through each stage, Sakura Samurai can visit local villages to save the game, purchase upgrades or simply stock up on helpful items. After battling through all boss castles and completing the game for the first time, a harder mode of play is unlocked to encourage another play-through in addition to time-attack and survival modes. Great for fans of action games, Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword is priced at $6.99 and requires 457 blocks of memory (58 MB).

rolling-western3. Dillon’s Rolling Western

Released this week on the Nintendo eShop, Dillon’s Rolling Western is a hybrid of an action title and a Tower Defense game. The player is put in control of a Wild West ranger named Dillon that also happens to be an armadillo. During the day, Dillon rolls around the old west collecting resources for the local town. Back in the village, Dillon is tasked with building up the local livestock (Scrogs), increasing the defensive ability of the fortifications and mounting guns on the towers spread throughout the village. As the day shifts into night, the town is attacked by rock-like creatures called Grock in typical Tower Defense style. While the Grocks are being weakened by offensive weapons on towers, Dillon can also directly damage groups of enemies during attack instances.

Once the attack is completely repelled for the night, Dillon heads to the saloon to upgrade equipment, train on various attack moves and accept quests that will add more cash for village upgrades in the future. This cycle repeats over three full days and the player is awarded a star rating which unlocks more towns as stars are collected. Overall, it’s a fun twist on the Tower Defense genre, but players will need to focus on resource management just as much as the action. With approximately 15 to 20 hours of gameplay,Dillon’s Rolling Western is priced at $9.99 and requires 377 blocks of memory (48 MB).

mutant-mudds4. Mutant Mudds

Paying homage to the 8-bit days of the past, Mutant Mudds is a clever platformer that combines 2D gameplay with a 3D effect made for the R4i 3ds. The player takes control of a pipsqueak kid that’s faced with battling mutant mud monsters with a water cannon in order to save the planet. The 3D element within the game allows the player to leap from the background to the foreground and vica versa. The simplicity of the art style also makes the 3D feature easier on the eyes.

Game length is an issue for Mutant Mudds as the twenty main stages don’t require a significant amount of time to complete. However, diehard platformer fans will spend time searching for all 100 diamonds within each level in order to acquire weapon and jetpack upgrades. These upgrades help the player unlock 20 additional levels hidden within the game, a difficult feat without spending plenty of time carefully working through each level. Recommended for classic platformer fans, Mutant Mudds is priced at $8.99 and requires a scant 134 blocks of memory (17 MB).

mighty-switch-force5. Mighty Switch Force!

One of the largest downloads on the Nintendo eShop at 1617 blocks (214 MB), Mighty Switch Force is a combination of a puzzle game and an action platformer. Spread over sixteen stages, the player takes control of Officer Patricia Wagon during her mission to recapture the five Hooligan Sisters. The developer makes use of the 3DS capabilities by allowing the player to switch blocks between the background and the foreground of the level design. These visual layers often require a good sense of timing to successfully navigate portions of each stage.

The detailed art and advanced visual effects likely contribute to the large file size of the game compared to other eShop releases. While the 16 levels can be completed in just a few hours, the developer attempts to encourage players to replay the game in order to beat a specific time. It does requires a great amount of practice to complete each stage in the target completion time and can be frustrating for novice players. However, this title is the cheapest game on our list at $5.99; a fair price for the amount of gameplay within Mighty Switch Force.

Nintendo announces Holiday lineup for Nintendo 3DS

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Nintendo today released some new information during the latest Nintendo Direct session that highlights what they have in store for the Nintendo 3DS this Holiday season and beyond.  Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask  and Paper Mario: Sticker Star are coming soon, along with Scribblenauts Unlimited, Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion and others.

Read on for all the details too.

Nintendo of America showcased its holiday lineup for Nintendo R4 3ds and provided a sneak peek of content coming in 2013 in a Nintendo Direct that was posted this morning. Nintendo-published games include Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (Oct. 28) and Paper Mario: Sticker Star (Nov. 11). These join the just-released Crosswords Plus, Style Savvy: Trendsetters and Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone! to form the widest and deepest lineup in the platform’s history. Additionally, two new downloadable course packs are now available for the industry’s current top-selling portable game*, New Super Mario Bros. 2. The course packs are available for purchase from the in-game shop.

Nintendo’s third-party partners continue to bring their best franchises to the Nintendo 3DS experience. Notable titles coming this holiday season include Scribblenauts Unlimited from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Nov. 13), Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion from Disney Interactive (Nov. 18) and Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!! from D3Publisher (Nov. 20).

R4i 3ds PER NINTENDO 3ds + 8gb
R4i 3ds PER NINTENDO 3ds + 8gbonly € 29,90

Nearly all of the Nintendo-published games coming this holiday season will be available as both a packaged product at retail and as a digital download from the Nintendo eShop. These games will join four major Nintendo 3DS games that were previously only available as physical products that were added to the Nintendo eShop on Oct. 18: Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and Star Fox 64 3D.

In addition to games also available in stores, there is a massive lineup of games that are only available in the Nintendo eShop. That list will grow stronger starting today and through the holiday season with the addition of building-block puzzle game Crashmo (Nov. 22), the sequel to the acclaimed Pushmo game, and the 360-degree water-morphing action-puzzle game Fluidity: Spin Cycle (Dec. 27). Additional games include NightSky (available now) and Ikachan (later in 2012) from Nicalis, and a trilogy of games from Level 5, including LIBERATION MAIDEN (available now), as well as Aero Porter and Crimson Shroud coming later this year.

“The quality of portable game play on Nintendo 3DS is unparalleled; no other hand-held device can match it,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. “And that holds true whether games are purchased in packaged form, or via digital download.”

Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo 4 console bundle gets $50-off discount

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Halo 4 Limited Edition Xbox 360 also gets $50-off discount

Microsoft’s US ‘Holiday bundle’ sales extends to sexy Halo console

Fans of overpriced consoles covered in special paint will be pleased to know that the Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo 4 console bundle will be slightly less overpriced than first expected.

Halo 4 Screenshot The $400 bundle, which includes the custom designed 320GB console and two matching controllers, Halo 4 and a code for various downloadable treats for the game, will be included in Microsoft’s recently-announced US Holiday Bundle sale.This means a $50 reduction, for a neat price of $349.99 – a very tempting proposal. The console is available for pre-order now at the special price from participating US retailers (Best Buy, GameStop, Amazon, Target, Toys ‘R Us and Walmart).

R4 SD HC- 2 gb per DS Liteonly € 24,49

For officialdom, here’s a list of the other Holiday Bundles available in US for an unspecified “limited” time:

– 250GB Xbox 360 with Kinect and Dance Central 2, Kinect Sports, and Kinect Adventures and one month of Xbox LIVE Gold for $399.99 USD (ERP)

– 4GB Xbox 360 with Kinect and Kinect Disneyland Adventures and Kinect Adventures and one month of Xbox LIVE Gold for $299.99 USD (ERP)

– 250GB Xbox 360 with two games: Skyrim and Forza 4 Essentials Edition and one month of Xbox LIVE Gold for $299.99 USD (ERP).

Top Gaming’s innovations

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

“Everything is amazing right now–and nobody’s happy.”

It’s the year 2012–it’s the future! There’s a robot with a camcorder on Mars, and our phones get the internet! Cars drive themselves! Even video games have evolved almost beyond recognition–photorealistic graphics, downloadable content, online multiplayer, incredibly immersive experiences–and we who call ourselves “gamers” have more games to choose from than in any other time in history.

But in the words of comedian Louis C.K., “Everything is amazing right now–and nobody’s happy.” Everything we dreamed of when we were kids is now within arms reach, but it’s just not as cool as we expected.

3D gaming

What we expected: 3D has been around for a while in films, so at this point it would basically be perfect, right? Playing games in 3D would give players an unprecedented level of immersion, with things literally jumping out of our screens into our living rooms. 3D glasses would be cheap, comfortable and effective, and every game would support it–hell, maybe we wouldn’t even need glasses at all!

What we got: 3D is supposed to make things more immersive, but in reality it simply puts another barrier between you and your games. Watching plasma bolts fly directly at our faces in the Halo Anniversary edition should instill us with the fear of the Covenant, but instead it just sort of makes us feel nauseous. It’s mainly because instead of things coming out of the screen, 3D usually just makes them look like they’re sitting inside of them. That’s just not what we expected or wanted. And let’s be honest: You’re only going to use those expensive 3D glasses a handful of times before you forget to charge them, and then just stop wearing them altogether. The 3DS is another story–some swear by its glasses-free 3D, but others swear it makes their eyes bleed. Either way you look at it, it’s not perfect, even if games like Super Mario 3D Land and a few others showed that it might, eventually, reach the heights we hoped it would.

Motion controllers

What we expected: Motion controllers would make sports and action games feel more realistic than ever, transforming everyday controllers–in players’ imaginations, at least–into whatever fantastical objects can be displayed on-screen. This would apply to everything from swords and shields to tennis rackets and steering wheels, and the battlefield/court/track would come alive as players’ enthusiastic real-life actions translated directly into the actions of their avatars.

What we got: We were all pretty excited about the Wii–there’s no shame in admitting that–but what we first saw six years wound up to be a lot of smoke and mirrors, and even the upgraded MotionPlus and PlayStation Move controllers haven’t been enough to make up for it. Once everyone realized that you could play Wii Sports tennis by sitting on your butt and flicking your wrist, it was pretty much over for motion controls. And anyone who says they like playing Mario Kart Wii with that plastic wheel is a liar. It can work for swordplay–as in the case of Zelda: Skyward Sword–but those instances are unfortunately few and far between. Personally, we’re glad that Nintendo is going in a different direction with the Wii U.

Gesture controls

What we expected: What could be better than motion controllers? Easy! What if there were no controllers at all? If a complex array of cameras and sensors could detect the very movements of players’ bodies, transforming us into the controllers? Gesture-based or controller-free motion controls would free up players’ hands once and for all and allow them to interact directly with a game’s world–no barriers, no middle-man hardware, just you, a screen, and a million digital faces waiting to be punched.

What we got: Kinect. The first time Microsoft introduced Kinect to the world (at E3 2009, when it was still called Project Natal), it was with a video that showed 1:1 movement tracking, in-game characters speaking players’ names aloud, and a kid scanning in his actual skateboard to use in a game. Obviously, the device didn’t quite deliver on all that. The main mechanics in Kinect Adventures are jumping and ducking in place, and most games that have tried to do anything more complicated with Kinect have bombed (see: Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor). Kinect excels at tracking large, easily discerned movements—expressive dance moves in Dance Central, simple hand motions in the trippy Child of Eden, and even dribbling a basketball in NBA Baller Beats. Those games are certainly a blast; they’re just not what we were hoping for.

What we expected: Games would become like Youtube videos or Facebook photos: Log into your account, and you can access them from anywhere. Hard drive fried? R4 3DS stolen? No worries, just log back in and re-download all your games and saves. Progress would never again be lost, and the barriers of physical hardware–as well as physical borders between regions–would be eliminated. Plus, less physical packaging would mean lower game costs, and less harm to the environment.

What we got: Okay, so a lot of that has come true: The Xbox 360 uses cloud saves, most digital games can be transferred to new devices, downloadable titles are often discounted, and Sony is making some real strides with day one digital releases and bundling PS3 games with their Vita versions. But there’s an ugly side to this new digital age. Platforms like Steam and Xbox Live Arcade restrict game purchases to a single account and lock users into a content ecosystem that they’ll likely never escape. Meanwhile, some well-intentioned PC DRM is getting ridiculous, making it impossible to play a single-player game offline. Digital games can sure be convenient, but we’d have preferred not to be treated like criminals to pay for that convenience.

Online multiplayer

What we expected: Gamers would rejoice and join hands, singing songs of their glorious triumphs and coexisting peacefully as a connected global community of like-minded and friendly competitors. There would be no lag, no one would ever quit out of a match before it finished, and everyone would play fair.

What we got: Needless to say, the rise of mainstream online gaming hasn’t exactly gone over like that. It’s virtually impossible not to fall victim to a few hateful slurs or otherwise immature remarks every time we play online. Often online gaming brings out the ugliest side of many gamers, with the rest of us racing to mute as many obnoxious players as possible before a match starts. On the plus side, at least publishers are giving players the tools to build their own clans and teams within games, which can help with weeding out the jerks. And even Nintendo seems to finally be catching up to the online revolution–it appears they might finally be dumping Friend Codes on the Wii U.

Voice commands

What we expected: By now, games–like everything else in day-to-day life–would be controlled almost entirely by voice. “Lights: dim; door: close; Xbox: on!” Such would be the mantra of our everyday routines. Any in-game function that previously required entering a menu or taking thumbs off the joysticks would be accomplished by simple voice commands, and even the most complicated games would carry them out with elegance and accuracy.

What we got: We still can’t turn our systems on with voice controls. We understand why this is the case, but it’s still a bummer. When we wake from our cheeto-comas we don’t want to have to search around for the controller–the Xbox should turn on when we say so! And the games that do bother to include voice controls–Skyrim, Mass Effect 3–do it as a half-functional afterthought. When voice commands work, they’re great (don’t pretend you don’t love shouting “Fus Ro Dah!” when no one’s home), but when they don’t work it makes us feel like idiots shouting at a hunk of plastic. Surprisingly, it’s actually non-game apps like Netflix that have benefitted the most from Kinect’s voice recognition capability.

Virtual reality

What we expected: The plot of the forgotten .Hack games, essentially. The final barriers to full gaming immersion would have been removed, and gamers would be inserted directly into virtual worlds by way of sleek headsets or even more direct means–if not quite at the level of The Matrix (who wants a USB jack in the back of the head?), then at least through devices that tap directly into one’s senses.

What we got: Seventeen years ago, we got Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, one of the most awesome failures ever conceived. Now, there are vibrating chairs and unreleased Vitality Sensors with no realistic applications. Even the most ambitious arcade games haven’t made any real strides toward virtual reality. We expected better by now. The only thing that comes close is the Oculus Rift–the Kickstarter-funded, id-endorsed, head-encompassing display rig that looks like some kind of bulky mind-control contraption. And which, by all accounts, is awesome. Who knows? Maybe it really will happen one day.

Touch screens

What we expected: Physical interfaces would go the way of the Dodo when touch screen technology replaced keyboards and power buttons on everything from phones to fridges. Handheld games would reach new heights as portable systems from Nintendo, Sony, and even Apple eschewed the primitive A/B/L/R layout and gained–through the magic of touch screens–infinite arrays of digital buttons with unlimited potential, unprecedented customizability, and perfect accuracy.

What we got: Touch screens are how millions of people play games today, but the best examples of those controls are in titles with very simple controls. Sure, many iOS shooters play fine on an iPad, but on phones your thumbs can obscure two thirds of the screen. Nintendo proved that more complex touch-controlled DS games like Kirby: Canvas Curse and Picross 3D could be great, but have stepped back from those types of games on the 3DS. Only the larger, non-touch top screen is equipped for 3D, a clear sign the new handheld isn’t as focused on touch. It’s a shame, because touch controls have great potential, which we hope to see fulfilled on the Wii U.

Life improvement games

What we expected: In our digitally connected lives, everything would be a game. Games would teach us to cook, play the drums or do Kung-Fu; even dishwashing and homework would have point systems and leaderboards. Lacking in confidence? Try Oprah’s new therapy game. Addicted to drugs? Dr. Drew can get you clean with 12 challenging steps–across 12 engrossing levels.

What we got: Deepak Chopra’s Leela may be an interesting experiment, but let’s be honest: it’s not focusing anyone’s Chi. And while it might be fun to play, Dance Central doesn’t make players better dancers, and likewise for Guitar Hero, Cooking Mama, and Def Jam Rapstar. They’re fun, but that’s all they are. The exceptions to this may be the exercise games, and though evidence there is anecdotal, it’s not difficult to believe that constantly being mocked by your overweight Mii in Wii Fit is one hell of a motivator. Oh, and we did get pretty good at drums from all that Rock Band.

Self-aware games

What we expected: Game A.I. would be so advanced that computer-controlled enemies would be indistinguishable from human opponents. Games would anticipate players’ movements and actions, and NPCs would react with intelligence and forethought. They’d even talk back, and conversations between players and their games would evolve organically, allowing for ever-changing game worlds in which no two players’ experiences are alike.

What we got: A talking man-fish and a disillusioned balding man with a pet little boy. And we didn’t even really get that last one. Sure, there’s no denying Seaman was fun for what it was (though to this day we’re not really sure how to define that). But Peter Molyneux’s Milo demo wound up as so many others of the famed developer’s projects over the years: only a tease. The thing was never released, and so we’ll never know just how sentient that little kid really was. Now the best that can be hoped for is a Seaman remake on R4i 3ds. Fins crossed?

The future is now

Now that you realize you’re currently living in the future of gaming, how do you feel? Happy with what you’ve got, or wishing it was like you dreamed it would be? Answer in the poll below, and then feel free to explain yourself further in the comments.