Welcome to the revival of CHUD.com’s video game presence, Master
Control Program
. Since it’s an exciting [and expensive] time to be a video
game aficionado, what better time to bring back the column that almost was, a
look at all things console and handheld? That is what they call in the business
a rhetorical question.

Today’s Roundtable:
What are Wii in store for?

Nick Nunziata: I’ll tell you flat out that I think that if
any company treated its core customer like Nintendo does, there’d be no company
after a while. If Ford designed a car that ran on special gas and only released
that gas (no matter how efficient it was) at random and sparse intervals I have
a feeling people would sell that sucker and buy a Chevy. Same goes for Coke. If
they made really good soda when they set their mind to it but only got around
to it a few times a season, people’d lose the loyalty. Especially if they
released a new version of the soda and all it ultimately ended up being was the
same thing in a spiffier can.

Still, Nintendo shafted us repeatedly with the N64 and then with the
Gamecube. The Virtual Boy should have just been called The Accused: The Home
Game
. Aside from some solid first party software and good handheld stuff,
Nintendo completely coasts on its blindly devoted Japanese fans and the
Americans who seem to forget to put away childish things and ignore better
products from Sony and Microsoft.

I’m not some Nintendo hater. I’ve owned every one of their systems at
least once but the Wii is the last straw. If this little white oddity doesn’t
deliver the goods and respect its owners with a plentiful stream of first and
third party software it can go fuck itself with its proprietary nunchuck.

With
all that said, I’m more excited about this launch that Sony’s PS3. Finally it
appears someone realizes that gameplay and innovation mean a lot more in the
larger scheme than a high polygon count and a price tag that’d make Nelson
Rockefeller shit his Brooks Brothers.

Alex Riviello: Well that’s exactly the reason I’m looking forward to the Wii in the
first place- it promises new gameplay experiences. Normally I’d be afraid of
such a prospect, but because of one glorious little two-screened system I’m
anxious to see what they’ve got planned for us next.

See,
when the DS was first announced I was one of the (many) people who thought it
was a stupid idea. Two screens on a handheld? What was the purpose of that? I
had a handheld Donkey Kong Jr. that did the same friggin’ thing 2 decades ago.
The touch screen seemed like a ridiculous thing as well- I wanted a game
system, not a PDA.

I
think we all know how that turned out.

Nowadays,
I play my DS more than any other system- it’s simply had some of the most
original and innovative titles of the last couple of years. I’ve been holding
off on buying a 360 because for the most part the games are more of the same
from the last generation- this from a guy who’s got 12+ systems scattered
around my apartment- yes, even the aforementioned eye-wrecking Virtual Boy.

I’m
really excited for the Wii- way more than any of the next gen systems. Now, the
question is if Nintendo can churn out the games- and keep it going for the
entire lifetime of the system. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my
Gamecube is awful dusty these days.

Kurt
Miller:
The Dusty Cube is exactly
why I haven’t cut out a slice of my budget for one of these things. I’m all
about what Nintendo is going for here. I remember when game consoles were sold
as something the whole family could get together with and then watch dad kick
the dog after he lost in Asteroids. Capitalize on the simple and fun aspect of
games again. Great. I like to pretend I’m a busy guy who doesn’t have time for
games that don’t jump right out and dance on my face, so it appeals to the side
of me that doesn’t want to admit I already logged over 200 hours on Oblivion.

But
then I remember that Nintendo hated the Gamecube and everyone that had one.
Eternal Darkness, Metroid Prime and Resident Evil 4 kept me from murdering that
near-worthless console, but talk about throwing in the towel too early. As soon
as Sony and Microsoft turned up the heat, Nintendo retreated to the safety of
the handheld market where they knew nobody could touch them.

So
what’s going to happen once the honeymoon is over and the whole novelty wears
off? Is Nintendo going to inspire the same sense of creativity in developers
that made the DS the apparent success that it is, or are people just paying
$250 for a download service so they can finally freakin play some goddamn Ice
Climber
?

Robert
Cummings:
I simply can’t summon up
the raw, naked enthusiasm for the Wii that so many of my gaming brethren seem
to have. The new control scheme, which admittedly looks like it will be fun for
certain types of games, still seems kind of gimmicky and silly to me, and I
have serious doubts that we’ll all be playing games this way in the future. Nor
do I think that my grandmother is going to see it and suddenly exclaim
"Finally! A game controller I can use! Who’s up for some Smash Bros.
with Nana?"

I
may buy a Wii, and if so, it’ll probably be for the same reasons I often buy
old arcade games on Xbox Live Marketplace: to have some simple,
old-fashioned-fun gaming in between the "real" gaming I can
sink my teeth into. I was a pretty heavy pc gamer (no pun intended) long before
the NES ever graced our shores, and frankly, I’ve never really been a big fan
of the games Nintendo’s offered.

From
a hardware standpoint, the fact that the Wii does not support hi-def
resolutions and 5.1 sound are serious drawbacks for me. Certainly, I can still
play and love games that aren’t hi-def (
Guitar Hero and Okami on
the PS2 spring to mind), but I bought a nice big hi-def set for a reason, and
one of those reasons is console gaming.

Brian
Condry:
I, sadly, have neither raw, naked, NOR enthusiasm
for either new system. I’ll be getting a
Wii, but mostly because it’s far cheaper than a PS3 and I need my Zelda fix of
the decade. I think its wackyass control
can work out, see the DS, but that’s something only time will tell. We all know those first handful of titles
will be mostly bullshit, developers trying to deal with the Wii Wand, churning
out new games and ports with new “Flick your wrist to hurl magic! No more tedious button pushing!” But what system doesn’t start it’s life with
shovelware and ports?

I’m
giving the Wii more of a pass than the PS3 because of the Wiimote, the cheap
price, and maybe, just maybe, the chance to play Secret of Mana once
again. The PS3 is just too pricy, with a
bunch of features I don’t need. Unlike
Robert, I don’t have a badass TV and audio system. So 1080i, p, q, r, and s don’t, at the
moment, mean shit to me. I can run
component and I’m happy with that. Sure,
one day, when I can afford both a PS3 and HDTV, all that will look and sound
nice, but for now, taking it up the ass for being a Sony fan sure doesn’t sound
like fun.

It’s
all about the games, ultimately. If I
have to play the game with a cross on my back and Jesus telling me I’m not
doing right, I’ll play it if it’s a great fucking game. So, sure, when the PS3 gets those 5 games
that no other system has that rock mine and everyone’s face off, I’ll buy
it. But until then, I’m happy playing
with my 360 and, come Sunday, my Wii.

God,
I still can’t say that without snickering.
That’s what Nintendo was going for, right?

Jon Cassady: So I’m the only one who is
optimistic about Wii? Really? Really?!? Maybe it’s my recent wedding that has
me positive about life, but I haven’t been so excited for a launch in….well
ever.

However, while
I do admire Nintendo from separating itself from Sony and Microsoft, in a good
way, I do worry that I’m merely caught
in a hype machine. I mean we all realize that Wii are talking about an amped-up
Gamecube, right?

But I do have
cautious hope for Wii for a few reasons.

First is
DS. DS cockslaps PSP. Nintendo’s amp-ed
up GBA has been able to hold off a technologically superior product in PSP for
one major reason, it consistently delivers the goods. With its back against the
wall, I’m betting that Nintendo will finally utilize its ability to deliver
great games with its latest console.

The caveat is
that, as described above, Nintendo has always worked from a position of
dominance in the handheld market. A DS flop only meant a better GBA, no real
loss. On top of that, handheld gaming and console gaming are two separate
animals. The types of games that succeed for each device are different. It’s
misguided to use DS’s lineup as a sole indicator of success.

A second
reason is the enthusiasm of third party designers. I have read too many
articles from quasi-legitimate electronic media of third party designers’
enthusiasm for the Wii programming system. Why is this important? When people
list the great games for N64 what is consistent? Mario games and the two
Zeldas. While, Goldeneye, which got me through college, usually comes up, not
many other third party games are discussed. Why? Because designers got pissed
at the cart system. Even when Gamecube came out on a disk, it was a lazy mini-disk
that required third-parties to jump through flaming hoops of razor wire to put
a game on the cube. This time around the system is easier for third parties,
which provides Nintendo with some relief in putting out AAA titles and shows
that Nintendo is finally learning a thing or two about accommodating other
companies.

The downside
is that this is still fucking Nintendo.

The third
reason is that the system is meant to be, and seems to be, appealing to any and
all gamers. Check out the ads, everyone loves the system from kids, adults,
octogenarians (not so many blacks though). The original Nintendo generation now
has a house, just got married and is on his honeymoon in Disney (or maybe
that’s just me). In other words, Nintendo is making a grab at the next
generation of gamer with a system easy enough for a 5 year old to play. At the
same time, Wii, with the virtual console and quality first party titles,
appeals to those of us who can recall the will-they-won’t-they tension of
Optimus and Bumblebee.

The caveat is
that a system that widespread in its base won’t please everyone all the time.
It’ll be up to Nintendo to juggle its various demos, something it tends to not
care about after a few months.

While there
are open questions, I’m betting that Wii are in store for something special.
(Ok I stole that from the December Nintendo Power, but I do think Wii will
quiet the doubters).

Nick Nunziata: I’ll be honest. If Nintendo actually makes golf games and baseball
games and fighting games that really take advantage of the hardware I’ll be
satisfied. I bought a XaviX for fuck’s sake (and my own). Right now the stuff
I’ve seen just looks middling. A gimmick waiting for someone to really take
advantage of it.

I won’t be
party to the PSP bashing, though. That machine is a godsend. I like my DS but
there’s only so many cute and cuddly games I need in my life. My PSP gets more
use than my XBOX 360, though very little of it is the UMD media that Earth took
a shit on.

I’ll get a
Wii. It’s a commitment I made in my youth when I had a 5200 and a Colecovision.
I liked the former better. I’m also one of the folks who liked my Genesis more
than my SNES, though the 8-bit Nintendo mopped my beloved Master System (Alex
Kidd in Miracle World
, why were your sequels so dicked?). I’m a completist.
I’ll buy the system, but will it be the machine that showcases Nintendo
learning from many past mistakes.

I’m out. Let’s
do this next with the PS3.

Alex Riviello: No fears Jon, you’re not alone. I’m geeking out over every little
Wii video I can find, and even plan on picking up the games this week so I can
read the instruction manuels and weep for the future (because it’s just.. so…
beautiful!) I and plan on scouring the neighborhood early Sunday morning to
find one of the bastards- plus a little bit of that old time Zelda and Rayman
lovin’. I haven’t waited on a line to get a system since… well, since the
Gamecube. Don’t ask about that one.

As for the
PS3- I don’t plan on getting it for a few years. Sure, the games look great- but
my wallet is already going to be stretched pretty thin. Since I don’t own a 360
yet… well, sorry to say, Kaz, but Microsoft is going to get my money. I’ve
got too many friends on Live, and there’s going to be lots of cheap, great
games by the time I pick it up. Price is a huge factor for me.

Along with
that there just isn’t anything in the lineup or the immediate future of the PS3
that’s going to warrent a purchase for me- not any system selling games, not
that Blu-Ray support (you think I’ve got a HDTV on my budget? Please.), and not
the shitty attitude of the higherups at Sony. Sorry, but it does affect a
purchase when the producers are so smug as to think that people will buy the
goddamn thing even if there weren’t any games, and that the price is too cheap.

Fact is, the
price is ridiculous. We don’t need Blu-Ray support. Microsoft was smart in
making the HD-DVD drive optional, cause those of us who don’t care about the
new format (or are going to wait it out to see the victor) don’t have to worry
about dropping another 200 beans on it.

I’ve loved
both of my Playstations and have played them till they broke ( although of
course the lifetime of a Sony product is what, 8 months?) Like Nick I am a
completist also- so I will one day have it. But not before it drops a
considerable amount and already has a decent library behind it. There’s just
too many great games out there I’ve still got to play.


Kurt Miller: I don’t know how anyone looking to buy a new console this time of
year can even consider the PS3. It simply doesn’t exist. Sony will tell you
that they’re launching a console this month, but they just announced that
they’ve had to cut their first shipment to 37 consoles. Worldwide. So it
doesn’t matter if you or I wanted one or not. It’s a non-entity.

Of course I’m
exaggerating, but it’s a fact that there will be fewer PS3’s to go around this
year than there were 360’s last year. That means, if my calculations are
correct, even if you were in the physical presence of a PS3 you would not
actually be able to see it. Who needs that?

But let’s
pretend for a minute that Sony made good and had enough consoles to go around.
The PS3 is just getting started, and they’re not making a case for themselves
with games that look merely good. Until they start getting their system-selling
games on shelves, this machine is only good for bragging rights. I’m going to
have to give this one time to mature. Perhaps once there’s finally a stable of
games and some units on the shelf I’ll reconsider.

Robert
Cummings:
This will be short – the PS3 is a
complete non-starter for me. I already own several of the launch games,
as they’re out now for the 360. Resistance looks ok, but it’s
certainly no system-seller. Add the insane price tag and my (current) leaning
towards HD-DVD over Blu-Ray and it’s no contest. I’ll be picking up a Wii
before I ever even consider a PS3.

Also, let me
join Nick in adding my love for the PSP. Has it lived up to its potential? Hell
no. But it still kicks all kinds of ass, and there have been some fantastic
games released this year for it. And it lets me read CHUD while I’m on the
toilet. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of cross-platform functionality
Sony has in mind for the PSP and PS3. Still, I’m clearly in wait-and-see
mode…

Brian Condry: I played the demo PS3 at Best Buy the other. Yeah.
What’s the big damn deal again?
Sure, I felt the same way about the 360 when I first played those Wal
Mart demo units, but the PS3 impressed me even less, I think. But again, it’s the games that get me. And right now, the PS3 has exactly one game
on it that my 360 doesn’t, and while I hear Resistance is good, it’s not
$600 good. And Blu Ray can go to
hell. I’m not rebuying my movies. AGAIN.
I already bought Army of Darkness twice, dammit. Third time is not the charm.

Yeah, I’m
using the higher price point. I thought
the two different system prices, seemingly designed to befuddle customers and
piss off developers, was, for lack of a better word, retarded when
Microsoft pulled that stunt. And, of course,
Sony uses the same stunt to sell its system.
Thanks. You just made it even
harder for me to buy or recommend the system.
At least MS realized its mistake, albeit slowly, and started to phase
out the rape bundle. I’m sorry, I mean
core.

In a year or
so, when developers start to get the knack of the PS3, when MGS4 is out, when
God of War 3: God This is announced, and when I find a used PS3 at that local
pawn shop for $349.99, that’s when I’ll get one. But until then, I’ll be playing all those exact
same next gen games on my 360.

As for the PSP
v. DS debate, I’ll just say this. While
I think the PSP is a far better looking system with the ability to do far more
powerful things than a DS, I still haven’t seen any games that I really want. And UMD movies are zombie crotch rot. There are plenty of DS and old GBA games that
I’d rather play on the can than a MGS card game and an isometric Killzone. I do think the connectivity between the PSP
and PS3 could work out to be really awesome, but do I really want a $150 peripheral
for my $600 system?

Jon Cassady: Sony’s attitude about PS3 is comically
arrogant. "People will buy it because it’s out there," will be the
theme of Microsoft’s victory party two generations from now. Ok maybe not, but
the Sony is acting like Nintendo post SNES launch where it acted it was
infallible and told Sony and its disk machine to fuck itself.

I
also have completist tendencies so I will purchase PS3 at its real launch in
June 2007. However, but for completion’s sake (and for Final Fantasy 13, if MS and Nintendo haven’t convinced Square to
completely branch out by then) I don’t know of many reason’s to buy a PS3 off
the bat. So why am I not excited?

Sony
hasn’t learned from the shortcomings of PSP. First a media system acting as a
buttress to the system doesn’t work anymore. PSP’s major release at launch was
the UMDs that no one gave two shits about. Yeah, watching Spidey on the bus
stop was cool once but it was novelty at best. Now PS3 is backed up by a fuck
you DVD player that not only has caused delays, but is pricing the system
through the roof.

Second
after taking part in the PSP’s sodomy party, I’m weary of a system without
unique titles at launch. Here once again Sony is launching without an AAA first
party games. This makes Wii’s combo look that more enticing to begin.

Sony
in the next couple of years has to get
some first party titles out there and justify its price or its going to learn
Nintendo’s hard lesson.

As
a final point and something we have to remember, Sony is going to beat the piss
out of MS in Japan. The reason I bring this up is that there is a strong
possibility that with its flaws for the US market, Sony won’t take too much of
a hit and the only result of all of this
is that a greater schism between US and Japanese games forms.