Remembering Satoru Iwata

Mario mourns Satoru Iwata

We were deeply saddened to hear the news that Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, passed away yesterday. It is only fitting that we remember him by sharing what we loved about his contributions to the gaming industry.

“In our minds, the Nintendo difference has always made up our foundations. The first is innovation. Our goal is always to do something different, something no one has thought of before. In truth, some of our inventions aren’t better than others, but we never stop trying to innovate. Mr. Yamauchi always tells me we should achieve something that brings fresh, surprise, and joy…I like that.”
-Iwata, E3 2001 (Before becoming President)

“Video games are meant to be just one thing. Fun. Fun for everyone!”
-Iwata

iwata-sanSatoru Iwata was responsible for more gaming memories, specifically in our younger years, than any other single individual or even group of individuals combined. Under his leadership, Nintendo released the GameCube, DS, Wii, 3DS, and Wii U. The DS was a huge and monumental release for Nintendo, cementing its place probably forever with enough cash reserves to make mistakes and pick itself back up again.

The first quote above foreshadows inevitable failure. No one is perfect, and when you strive to create something new and fresh all the time you will eventually land yourself with a flop, or in the case of Nintendo a struggling system or two. When systems in the past (and present) struggled for Nintendo, Iwata cut his own salary in half rather than see the company’s employees be let go. He took responsibility for “failure” and did not let executive decisions fall upon the shoulders of the company’s workforce.  Iwata didn’t bow to the pressures for Nintendo to join the ranks of free-to-play or to change its practices or abandon its principles to simply align with common times.

“I do not like to use the term ‘Free-to-play.’ I have come to realize that there is a degree of insincerity to consumers with this terminology, since so-called ‘Free-to-play’ should be referred to more accurately as ‘Free-to-start.'”
-Iwata, Time Magazine 2015

Iwata-san was the mind behind the regularly-released Nintendo Direct “live”-streaming events where Nintendo would regularly discuss what was happening and coming up in the near future. These Nintendo Direct mini-conferences replaced Nintendo’s larger conference showings at E3, proving that a major company or publisher needn’t bring a huge production value show to a stage in order to reach its fans.

Mr. Iwata was also largely responsible for Nintendo’s push toward first-party titles. In a sea of awful and truly lacking (in quality and number) third-party releases, Nintendo developed and innovated more on first-party titles than any of its competitors to ensure that not only their brands were kept alive but the players had something to enjoy.

We sincerely hope that the next President of Nintendo will hold true to Satoru Iwata’s principles and philosophies. They were not always a guaranteed success, but they meant fun, fresh, innovative ideas for a consumer-first company.

“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.”
-Iwata

The Winners of E3

Every year we like to talk about who won the best of show at E3. We mostly focus on the ‘big 3’ — Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Without needing to go into much detail, this year was one of the best overall in a decade. The players win. We have a lot of great games coming out, and some really need things to look forward to in the future.

Let’s talk about the big 3. The winner this year was clearly Microsoft. They brought the strongest overall “wow” factor. For the first time in more years than I can remember, the emphasis wasn’t on their gimmicks. Microsoft is back to focusing more on the console itself being a gaming device, and them as a company being about providing entertainment for gamers. So many years it was flipped upside down and the console was all about being entertainment. Their use of HoloLens as it pertains to Minecraft is nothing short of amazing. The coolest part was being able to see the other people in the world running around this virtual representation. There are some really neat possibilities.

Sony was pretty good. I think their problem will stem from a lack of exclusives. They certainly rocked a few worlds by announcing the FFVII remake, but overall it was just “Hey there’s this awesome game coming to the PS4! Please don’t realize it’s also on the Xbox and PC!” Either way, they didn’t fall flat on their faces which is their usual modus operandi.

Nintendo… oh Nintendo. You are my favorite of these companies. You keep it simple, clean, and to the point. Nintendo’s focus is on their games. Unfortunately, it was mostly on their games they already announced. Nintendo does what they call “Nintendo Direct” digital conferences throughout the year. This means they are constantly in a state of doing what they did at E3 this year, and that means it’s hard to stand up to the other big announcements — especially when you reveal a week ago that you won’t be talking about the big Zelda open-world game.  Still, lots of great games. Skylanders meets Nintendo Amiibos? Mhm, yes please.

Virtual Reality is a gimmick. It’s motion controls all over again. We have absolutely no reason to believe in any of the potential until someone says, “You know that potential? We actually made it. Here, try.” Until then, it’s nothing more than Milo.

Splatoon

Splatoon Review

 

Alright Inklings, it’s time for our Splatoon Review! Splatoon is Nintendo’s first true foray into an online multiplayer experience on their consoles, and definitely their first attempt at creating an online shooter. How’d they do?

Splatoon is set in a brand new world where everyone is a kid… or a squid… let’s just call them Inklings. Inklings have gathered in Inkopolis Plaza which acts as a staging area for shopping for gear, venturing forth into single-player missions or challenges, jumping into ranked or unranked battles, and interacting with other players’ Inklings via the Miiverse.

Maps and Overall Feel
Splatoon is an incredibly fast pace third person shooter. Each round/map is only three minutes long, and players have one goal: Cover as much of the map in ink as possible. The team with the most ground (note: ground only) covered in their color ink will win. While an incredibly simple approach, and favorable for the younger audience, there’s depth and strategy at play here that only some of the more advanced or skilled players will employ.

You can still “kill” or splatter your opponents by shooting them inking them up bad enough. When you die you spawn back at your starting point which takes anywhere between 10 and 15 seconds to happen. This is valuable time lost if you consider that any ink you lay down can be painted over by the enemy. The map turns into a constant tug-o-war. The key is to own the center of the map and not let the enemy sneak behind your lines. If you lose control of the map you are likely to lose. [Read more…]

WAR Returns and Nintendo Remains Awesome

Sorry for the slow updates! I’ve had a busy week with work projects, and I haven’t had much time to game or write. I need to catch up on a couple of things I missed.

return of reckoning
Well this is a thing, I guess. Someone decided to emulate Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. I’m all for these kinds of projects. I’ve played on many of them ranging from Star Wars Galaxies to Dark Age of Camelot, EverQuest, etc. I wish someone would make an EverQuest Online Adventures emu… yeah, get on that would you?  Anyway, WAR is back and alive. What they should honestly do is fix the stuff that sucked in WAR and try to tweak it until it’s fun.

Nintendo Doesn’t Want Whales

This is one of the many reasons why Nintendo remains one of my favorite companies. They’re not after the few people who spend lots of money in their game; they won’t analyze those whales and figure out how to get them to spend more. If they did that, Iwata says, “I don’t think we would be able to entertain hundreds of millions of consumers all around the world or to produce large and long-lasting achievements.” Mr. Iwata, I salute you sir. That’s a great way of saying that those who hunt whales are a flash in the pan. Nintendo focuses on making games fun and available to children and adults of all ages while staying true to their brand. Has it always been profitable? Not in the past couple of years, but that changed in their recent earnings report. Why can’t more companies emulate Nintendo?

Nintendo is also launching a new service in the near future all about bridging the gap across platforms. They want one single login for multiple devices that will link communities and create an ecosystem of tracking and rewarding players. Seems like it has potential. Oh, and they have this secret NX project coming soon… what could it be?

I’m excited for Splatoon to come out on May 29! Can’t wait to play with Graev and have another great game on my Wii U.

May’s Releases and Keen’s Backlog

I have high hopes for May being a great month of gaming. I have a rich backlog of games to go through, and several games are/might come out this month.

This Month’s Hyped Releases

EverQuest Ragefire Server

EverQuest Progression Server: Ragefire

Looks like the new EQ progression server coming soon® will be named Ragefire. The poll is still up but apparently Ragefire has such a lead that it’ll win no matter what. While I think Zordalicus Ragefire is an awesome dragon, I can’t help but think of Ragefire Chasm from WoW. Oh well! It’s still a cool name. I’m hoping this means that they are on track to give us a beta for Ragire Progression sometime near the end of this month. Chances might be good since Ragefire is already on the server list when you sub to EQ and log in.

My friends and I in the K&G Community will be playing. I’m going Bard for sure. Yep, my body is ready (for carpal tunnel).

Splatoon

Splatoon

Nintendo’s first real foray into multiplayer online shooters in the Wii U comes out May 29! I’m really looking forward to playing this one with Graev. We’ll team up and ink people to pieces. I’m hoping for some depth to the customization and advancing, but in the end if it’s just a great game with fun shooting mechanics I can still totally get behind that. I’ve been looking for this kind of game on a console.

My Backlog

AC-Unity

Assassin’s Creed Unity

The biggest game in my backlog is AC: Unity. Assassin’s Creed games are amazing. Black Flag was my game of the year in 2013, and AC Unity is the next in the series and I have to get through it before the next AC game comes out. I got this for Christmas and have just now have the time to really start playing. Already I’ve noticed that much of the emphasis on the ‘out of game’ experience is removed. The part where the ‘main character’ in ‘real life’ gets out of the animus (where the real story is being told) doesn’t happen. I’m on the side of people who love the convoluted AC story, but I get why Unity focuses much more on the ‘in-game’ gameplay where you control Arno.

Ridiculously cheap on Amazon right now: $19.99 on PS4 and Xbox One.

The rest of my backlog consists of…

  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
  • Dragon Age Inquisition
  • Shadows or Mordor
  • Lego City Undercover

Yep, lots of somewhat older games but ones I definitely want to try and get through before the summer. What’s in your backlog? What are you looking forward to playing in May?