Archive for the ‘Wii U News’ Category

The first Wii U game to support NFC: New Pokémon

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

New Pokémon Wii U game is the first to support NFC

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first Wii U game to utilise near field communication (NFC) tech will be a Pokémon game.

Wii U Screenshot

According to scans of Japanese magazine CoroCoro, Pokémon Rumble U will launch in Nintendo’s home country on April 24.It will allow players to purchase collectible Pokémon figures from stores and import virtual versions into the game using the Wii U GamePad‘s NFC reader.

The game will be priced at 1,800 yen (£12.60) and will release alongside seven Pokémon figures each priced at 200 yen (£1.40). Apparently you’ll be able to level up and record battle information on the toys themselves.

The game’s story sees players attempting to return lost Pokémon to a toy shop, while facing various bosses such as Chandelure.

Nintendo Wii Mario Kart Pack

Western release plans for Pokemon Rumble U have yet to be confirmed.

Nintendo design guru Shigeru Miyamoto said last week that Nintendo is currently prioritising the development of NFC-enabled Wii U games over those that support dual GamePads, and that the company hopes to show off its work in this area soon.

Amazon and YouTube Video apps go live on Nintendo Wii U units

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

The YouTube and Amazon Instant Video icons have been present on US Wii U consoles since its launch last weekend, but clicking them didn’t do much, until now.

Wii U Screenshot Both Amazon and YouTube have made their video apps live for Nintendo’s new console Stateside. Clicking on the icon now will prompt you to download the full app.Amazon Instant video offers 140,000 movies and TV episodes available to purchase or rent, while Amazon Prime customers can stream 30,000 TV episodes and movies at no additional cost.

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The YouTube app, meanwhile, looks rather like the original Wii one, but can now stream true HD content, and uses the GamePad screen to browse content and display video details while viewing, and the GamePad can be used as the primary viewing screen.

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.

Nintendo Wii vs Nintendo Wii U

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Nintendo Wii U vs Nintendo Wii  fight!

The first thing we noticed about Nintendo’s next console when we last got our hands on it was the length — the Wii U is Nintendo’s longest console yet. Sure, sure, there’s a tablet controller and HD graphics and yadda yadda yadda. That’s immaterial. What matters here, folks, is how the new hardware — the console itself — physically stacks up against the first Wii. As you’ll see in our gallery, length is the least of the Wii U‘s changes: in the Wii U, Nintendo added two more USB 2.0 ports up front and rounded out its hard right angles, for starters. Around back, the port layout of the Wii is nigh-on identical with that of the Wii U, albeit with the fan moved an inch (or so) to the right, making space for HDMI output. This is an HD console, after all. Wonderfully, unlike the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the Wii U includes an HDMI cable right out of the box. Not a huge deal, but it sure was a baffling move when Sony and Microsoft both skimped on such an important detail.

NINTENDO WII MARIO KART PACK
NINTENDO WII MARIO KART PACK

The only other change we spotted (outside of the power port being flipped from horizontal to vertical) is the lack of GameCube controller ports up top. Say sayonara to those old Wavebirds, as Nintendo’s moving on to its new tablet controller and its updated Pro Controller.

Disney released a playable demo of Epic Mickey 2 for X360

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Epic Mickey 2 demo available now on Xbox Live

Early hands-on demo exclusive to Gold subscribers, PSN demo due later today

Disney has released a playable demo of Epic Mickey 2 for Xbox 360 via Xbox Live, with a PSN demo due in today’s US PS Store update.

Epic Mickey 2 Screenshot The early taster is available now exclusively to Xbox Live Gold subscribers and will require 1.13GB of hard drive space.Without being too specific about the contents of the demo, the official blurb says it lets you “join Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in an epic battle to save the magical world of Wasteland”.

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Disney has confirmed an Epic Mickey 2 release date of November 23 in the UK. It will also be available as a Wii U lunch title on November 30.

Video Games News: Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Halloween Challenge

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Unnerving reports from the front indicate that the Collector reinforcements are more numerous than we feared. At this point, we do not know if our numbers are accurate or if psychological warfare is at work. We need to engage the enemy to assess their true strength.

Halloween Challenge – Complete the three Halloween challenges to earn the Halloween Challenge Banner.

Ghostbuster: Requires 5 extractions on Firebase Ghost or Firebase Ghost Hazard

Zombie Hunter: Requires 7500 points against husks/abominations.

Monster Killer: Requires 10000 points against brutes/scions/praetorians/banshees.

All challenges can be completed on any difficulty.

See also BioWare details Mass Effect 3 Wii U differences

Top 10 most underrated games this generation

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

There have been literally thousands of videogames released since Microsoft kick-started this generation of consoles back in 2005.

And all of the middling and major titles released over the past seven years have each been put through the same brutal acid-test of critic reviews, user scores and aggregated numbers.

Some videogames, however, have had a tougher time than others – falling out of favour for whatever reason despite showing promise. So below we are celebrating the unpolished gems of this world. The rough diamonds that, for whatever reason, haven’t had the big break they deserved.

A quick clarification before we begin: when people talk about ‘underrated games’, they tend to start rattling off games such as Bayonetta or Vanquish. Those games aren’t underrated. They sold like they were N-Gage exclusives, granted, but they’re not underrated. Pretty much everyone who has played them agrees they’re great.

The benchmark is simple. We are hand-picking the best games that scored less than a 75 per cent average on Metacritic. Each one is likely lurking in a pre-owned bin somewhere, and hopefully with our advice you’ll be more tempted to give them all a deserved home and some much-deserved TV time.


Prototype 2

Click to view larger image PS3, Xbox 360, PCMetacritc score: 74

Sample critique: “The action requires little real skill to control and although gaining new powers is a strong impetuous for continuing it’s all extremely shallow and inconsequential” – Metro GameCentral – 6/10

Why it’s secretly a bit good: It’s the epic open-world superhero game that the likes of Spidey and Superman have promised in the past, but never quite delivered.

‘Shallow and inconsequential’ is a pretty good summary of Prototype 2’s action, but since when did a GTA clone have to be a Franz flippin’ Kafka novel? While the New York Zero setting is a little contrived, gliding from skyscraper to skyscraper like a murderous sugar glider is a top laugh.


Ridge Racer 6

Click to view larger image Xbox 360Metacritic score: 74

Sample critique: “Mediocre at best. If you’re trying to find a simple racer to appease someone who is confused with such daunting tasks as, say, reciting the alphabet, then Ridge Racer 6 might be what you’re looking for” – Game Over Online – 6/10

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Why it’s secretly a bit good: Namco only have themselves to blame for Ridge Racer 6’s lacklustre reviews. Like a Mini on a frozen Winter morning, it takes an absolute age to get going.

Power through the sluggish opening quarter however and your reward is a pulsating twitch racer that challenges you to steer a car sideways through the eye of a needle at screen-blistering speeds. For an additional thrill, try reciting the alphabet while you do so.


Pandora’s Tower

Click to view larger image WiiMetacritic score: 74

Sample critique: “Pandora’s Tower doesn’t offer anything appealing or unique, and is not a Wii title that will find a home with many gamers” – Gameplanet – 5/10

Why it’s secretly a bit good: It’s no surprise that Pandora’s Tower got overlooked – a Nintendo console is always going to be a tough place for a Zelda clone to make a living.

But Pandora’s Tower carved a niche for itself by adding a speedrunning twist to the ponderous Zelda format. Pandora’s dungeons might not be as fiendishly inventive as Eiji Aonuma’s twining inventions, but the stress of a constantly ticking clock makes it easy to muff up even the simplest of puzzles.


Space Giraffe

Click to view larger image Xbox 360, PCMetacritic score: 68

Sample critique: “Maybe if the gameplay were more endearing to the casual gamer, or if the visuals didn’t make half of the people who play the game foam at the mouth…just maybe Space Giraffe would have been as cool as its designers had hoped” – IGN, 47%

Why it’s secretly a bit good: Famously eccentric designer Jeff Minter out-weirded even himself when he decided to take a pile of Tempest grids and overlay them with a disorientating light synthesiser effect. “It’s almost impossible to tell what’s going on” bemoaned reviews at the time. A perfectly valid criticism, but it’s worth noting that this was exactly Minter’s intention.

To survive Space Giraffe’s visual onslaught, you have to play it by ear – using the subtle audio cues to ‘feel’ your way around the grid. If it clicks, you’ve got yourself one of the most unique and nuanced shooters around. If it doesn’t, you’ve just got a garish mess. An iffy tutorial section didn’t help sway the floating voters.

At 400MP, it’s worth a punt to see which side of the divide you fall on.


Earth Defence Force 2017

Click to view larger image Xbox 360Metacritic score: 69

Sample critique: “Earth Defence Force 2017 is the action game equivalent of potato chips: no nutritional value, but tasty nonetheless” – Hardcore Gamer Magazine – 45%

Why it’s secretly quite good: EDF 2017 is ugly and jerky, true, but it’s absolute bucketloads of fun too. Someone once described it to us as ‘Robotron in 3D’, and that nails it on the head for us.

We mean, it throws you into a fully-destructible city, with a whopping great cannon and an infinite amount of giant ants/robots/spiders to test it out on. What’s not to like? The lack of online multiplayer maybe, but come on. Don’t be like that.

Excite Truck

Click to view larger image Nintendo WiiMetacritic score: 72

Sample critique: “It might show off how well racers on the Wii will work when developers finally do it properly (yes, Ubisoft, we’re looking at you) but even so, there’s just not enough here to warrant the premium price” – Games TM – 6/10

Why it’s secretly quite good: Excite Truck was a victim of inflated expectations. For the first few years of the Wii’s existence, people expected motion control to provide a wonderful new dimension to games; the kind of next level experience that Nintendo had always promised. Ultimately, the controller’s limitations meant that the revolution was not going to happen (though Nintendo, which had sold more than 95 million of the machines, would beg to differ).

The Wii’s best games are often the early ones that kept things simple. Games such as Excite Truck, which is one of those breed of racers where the trick is to correct your positioning in mid-air so you don’t lose momentum when you land.

We’re spoiled for choice with these at the moment (MotoHeroz, Trials et al), but Excite Truck is the best 3D example of the sub-genre, and its wild handling is a perfect match for the Wiimote’s jittery nature. Terrible name, mind.


Binary Domain

Click to view larger image PS3, PC, Xbox 360Metacritic score: 72

Sample Critique: “It’s the best kind of 7/10. The gunplay is raucous, but never revolutionary. The relationships make you laugh, if not cry. Binary Domain is unpolished in all the right places” – Official PlayStation Magazine – 7/10

Why it’s secretly quite good: There’s one thing Binary Domain gets very, very right, and it’s not the box art. It’s the mechs. Most specifically, the satisfying way they fall apart at the seams (rivets?) when you shoot at them.

Mechs must have a good union, because games rarely manage to get this simple thing right. It’s okay for us humans to bleed rivers, but mechs tend to be allowed to die quietly and with dignity. Binary Domain addresses this imbalance with glorious, metal-crunching fury. Death to our mechanical oppressors!


Deadly Premonition

PS3, Xbox 360Metacritic score: 68%

Sample critique: “Awful in nearly every way. The Twin Peaks meets Resident Evil with a dash of Grand Theft Auto formula sounds pretty great, but it was well beyond the capabilities of this development team. Terrible controls. Terrible pacing. Terrible sound effects. Terrible visuals.” – IGN – 20%

Why it’s secretly quite good: Deadly Premonition holds the Guinness World Record for “Most Critically Polarizing Survival Horror Game”, which in itself holds the record for “Most Peculiarly Specific World Record Category”. Little wonder really as it’s really quite bizarre.

Deadly Premonition is a game that defies easy classification. The closest we can come to describing it is as a budget Resident Evil with a penchant for mischief. Brutal acts of violence are accompanied by terrible one-liners. Outlandishly freakish scenes are juxtaposed by mundane segments where you trim your beard or swig coffee. It’s a surreal piece of interactive story-telling and you’ll either love it or hate it for that.


Alpha Protocol

Click to view larger image PS3, Xbox 360, PCMetacritic score: 72

Sample critique: “Alpha Protocol’s astounding intricacies are tarnished by bugs, clumsy gameplay mechanics, and rough production values” – Gamespot – 6/10

Why it’s secretly quite good: You have to dig deep to get the most from Alpha Protocol, but it’s worth the blood and tears.

Your digging will have to cut through a crust of ugly presentation and a mantle of shoddy AI. Then you’ve got to drill through the near-impenetrable outer core that is the main character’s crouching animation, which makes him look like he’s filled his pants.

Dig past all of that, and you get to sip from Alpha Protocol’s delicious gooey liquid centre; a stealth-action RPG which gives you a mind-boggling number of ways to develop your character’s skill set and approach each mission.


SSX Blur

Click to view larger image WiiMetacritic score: 74

Sample critique: “It all boils down to the controls. When you have the capability to utilize the innovative controls of the Wii, be sure to use them to the fullest extent” – Cheat Code Central – 52%

Why it’s secretly quite good: Does this sound familiar? It’s Excite Truck syndrome all over again. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see SSX Blur for what it actually is: a cracking little snowboarding game that works well within the Wiimote’s limited capabilities. Carving into the snow with the nunchuk feels great. We’ve even grown fond of the cartoon aesthetic. Time heals all wounds, right?

Hands On Nintendo Wii U

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Last weekend, the doors of Earl’s Court were opened to a horde of hungry gamers as it played host to Eurogamer Expo. We attended the event and while the R4 3ds presence appeared to be non-existent, Nintendo did bring out the big guns in the form of the portable’s big brother; the Wii U. Naturally, we headed in its direction immediately to get our mitts on the shiny new toy.

The obvious question is “how’s the gamepad?” Fortunately we can report that it’s a real nice bit of kit; while the released pictures make it look a bit flimsy, that thing is real sturdy. The gamepad somehow manages to be extremely comfortable to hold while also feeling like it could take a few knocks. Nintendo have earned a +1 to ergonomics. The screen is also great; it’s really bright and the colours look great, and it was putting out some surprisingly impressive visuals. There are big television sets that can’t put out a picture as good.

Speaking of television sets, the Wii U was putting some nice visuals up on there too: It’s definitely a step up from an XBox 360 or a PS3, but if you’re used to playing on mid-range or higher PCs then you probably won’t be too impressed. The fact that it’s putting out some pretty good visuals on two screens however shows just how powerful the Wii U is.

You probably don’t care about the technical stuff though; what you’re really interested in is the games. We managed to get out hands on the Luigi’s Ghost Mansion segment of NintendoLand, The Wonderful 101, and Pikmin 3.

Luigi’s Ghost Mansion

If Luigi’s Ghost Mansion is any indicator, NintendoLand is going to be a ton of fun. If you haven’t seen any coverage of it yet, here is the basic premise; there are five players, one of which is armed with the GamePad while the other four carry a Wii Remote each. The goal of the GamePad player is to navigate an invisible ghost through the mansion and take out the other players, all of whom are armed with torches to both fight off the ghost and revive their fallen comrades.

While it’s fun to play as part of the torch-bearing team, it’s way more exciting to creep around as the ghost hunting down the group. The game does a good job of making the ghost feel powerful with the advantage of invisibility, though you do become visible if you dash or are hit by a torch. Over on the other side, teamwork is definitely a big part of the game and coming together to outwit your foe is definitely something of a rush. Being the one to track down your foe may also illicit a somewhat smug grin from… some people…

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The Wonderful 101

The Wonderful 101 is a game based around forming a squad of superheroes who join together (often literally) to punch monsters in the face. The game was a little disappointing as the controls are definitely in need of some tuning; most of the time it didn’t really feel like the GamePad was having much effect on what the large swarm of heroes was doing. The combat in the game also seemed incredibly simple; you just hammer the attack button until you build up enough meter and then unleash your special attacks. It’s also really hard to tell which direction a swarm is facing, resulting in a few punches to the right veering wildly off to the left.

In one segment of the demo, the lead character walks into a building. That’s pretty standard, but the game veers off in two directions here; on the television set, you’re treated to an exterior view of the building where four numbers are displayed and can be altered. Meanwhile on the GamePad screen, the lead character was walking around inside and found a combination of four numbers! After matching the exterior set with the interior, the door was opened and the heroes were able to continue their journey. This was a surprisingly great use of the GamePad, one which will hopefully lead to some great gameplay moments.

Pikmin 3

Pikmin 3 was probably the most impressive Wii U game we were able to play. If you haven’t played a previous game, they are centred around an astronaut who commands are large group of the small vegetable people, the Pikmin. The demo was a pretty simple level in which the astronaut (who appeared to be someone other than Olimar) used his Pikmin to collect fruit and wildlife and send them back to the spaceship. A pretty familiar set up, but this time there is some new additions; The most important of which is the Wii Remote.

The Wii Remote has been used poorly a lot in games like this, but here it feels intuitive. Movement of the astronaut is obviously controlled via the analogue stick on the nunchuck while you aim with the actual remote, using it to throw or call Pikmin. Pointing at the large monsters that roam the level and then smashing them in the face with your friendly Pikmin is a ton of fun. There is also the addition of the Rock Pikmin, used for smashing walls and hitting harder enemies, but this third entry into the series is mostly just more of the same great gameplay from the rest of the series.

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.

The Next Frontier: Gaming Consoles

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Nintendo’s WiiU will be in stores for the holiday season, but what does the competition have up its sleeve? We take a look at how the gaming hardware landscape could change in the coming months.

Future PS4With the formal unveiling of the Wii U last week, the curtain is beginning to rise on the next generation of video game consoles.

Although game programmers continually eke out more and more improvements on long-running platforms through more efficient programming, innovative peripherals like the Kinect, and enhancements like downloadable content, it’s time to realize the truth: Today’s generation of consoles are a little stale. Unfortunately, that’s doubly true of the Nintendo Wii, whose low cost, fun motion controller, and family-friendly titles caused the Wii to fly off the shelves early in its life. But the Wii’s graphics always struggled to keep up with the Xbox family and the Sony PlayStation consoles.

For that matter, the Xbox 360 debuted in May 2005, and the PlayStation began shipping in Japan in November 2006. Over their long lifespans, both consoles helped introduce the concept of an online game network, tie-ins to mobile devices like the PlayStation Portable and Windows Phone, as well as their own motion controllers like the PlayStation Move and the Microsoft Kinect.

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In the meantime, however, the role of the traditional console is being attacked by all sides. The evolution of mobile hardware like the Apple iPhone Best Deal: $99.00 at Apple Store and the various Android devices and tablets has made gaming on the go essentially free or very low cost. Rovio’s “Angry Birds” franchise and other mobile game hits, plus social games by Zynga and other Facebook partners have spawned a new breed of casual gamer. And with the future promise of the Ouya, plus services like Gaikai and OnLive, the need for ultra-powerful gaming hardware is even more under threat.

Still, we know that the Big Three console companies are forging ahead with their next-gen products and we have some good clues as to what they’ll feature. Whether they’re just misleading rumors or actual facts will have to wait until the following systems and services launch, but let’s play the guessing game anyway.

Nintendo Wii U

Nintendo Wii U

This future console is easy to describe, because it will be the first major eighth-generation system to hit retail shelves. During a press conference last week, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime announced that the Wii U will begin shipping Nov. 18. Wii U comes in two flavors: a Basic Set, retailing for $299.99, and a Deluxe Set, which sports a few added amenities and a $349.99 price tag. Neither console will come with a remote, but the system is compatible with the Wii remotes users may already own. Nintendo says the Wii U will have a stable of 50 games by next March.

Ouya

Ouya

Designed by the award-winning Jawbone Jambox designer Yves Behar, the Android-powered Ouya gaming system is about the size of a Rubik’s cube. It features an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, 8GB of Flash memory, 1GB of RAM, Bluetooth connectivity, and an HDMI connection for the TV, with support for up to 1080p HD.

In the U.S., one console and one controller will cost $109, one console plus two controllers will be $139, and one console and four controllers will be $199. All orders include a $10 shipping charge. Ouya says its expected delivery date is April 2013.

Valve Steambox

Valve Steambox

Valve is reportedly readying a “big picture” mode of its service, instead of the actual “Steam Box” hardware that some blog sites have claimed that the company is planning. Accoording to marketing director Doug Lombardi, Valve is making its own hardware, but just for its own internal purposes. Well, for now, anyway.

Sony PlayStation 4

Sony PlayStation 4

It’s hard to say if the rumored “Orbis” console from Sony will end up looking like what this page predicts. Also rumored are the next-gen PlayStation’s use of either an AMD APU or a “POWER7 Cell Broadband Engine” for processing get-up-and-go. Support for 1080p is likely a given, as is an internal hard drive, BD support, and support for the Gaikai service that Sony picked up. Will the PS4 ship next year? Time will tell. This concept image of the PS4 was designed by Tai Chiel.

Microsoft's Next Xbox

Microsoft’s Next Xbox

Microsoft is stuffing its next-generation game console, known by the code name “Durango” and often referred to as the “Xbox 720,” with major hardware and software upgrades, and will release it ahead of the 2013 holiday season, according to a leaked document that turned up on document-sharing site Scribd. The price? $299.

The new Xbox 720 will reportedly be accompanied by “Fortaleza,” which appears to be an augmented reality project that features Wi-Fi-enabled “Fortaleza Glasses” that are being planned for an Xbox 720 tie-in in the 2014 timeframe.