Friday, June 20, 2014

Change happens -OR- When lefty is not right.

Getting a new game console has seemed like an upheaval every time it's happened. For a long time, I was only concerned with Nintendo consoles, so it was simple enough to tell when it was time to get the newer console.  At a certain point, they stop making the games you want for the console you have, and the effort goes into making the games you want for the console you don't have yet. However, near the end of a console cycle, it's very easy to amass some of the titles you hadn't played for a quarter of the price you might have paid otherwise. In the Nintendo and Super Nintendo era, that usually meant pawn shops and yard sales, but in subsequent generations that also meant clearance bins and record stores and game stores. So, the end of each console cycle meant weighing your amassed collection against how much you wanted to play the new games.

Now if there's only one specific game series that you play, then it's usually child's play to make the determination, since you just play your old system until the game you want comes out for the new system. This is especially true for system exclusives like Nintendo's Mario, Zelda and Metroid series games, Sony's Gran Turismo games, or the Halo series on XBox. At the other far end of the spectrum, if you have more money and time than everyone else, it's also very easy since you can just get each console when it comes out and pick up whatever you find interesting at the time. If you fall somewhere in the middle (which most of us do) and play a variety of games but aren't in a position to get or even have time to play everything, then usually the decision to get a new console and which console to get is tied to the point at which you can afford a new console but you can no longer afford to be left behind on a particular game series. For example, I played a lot of Street Fighter on the Super Nintendo, but when the next generation of consoles came out Capcom made no effort to make them for the Nintendo 64 since it was a style of game not well-suited to the N64's controllers or hardware. So, the other systems got Street Fighter versions but not the N64, and I eventually got my hands on a Playstation so that I could continue on in that series. When Street Fighter continued on to the Dreamcast, however, I was not compelled to get a Dreamcast since there weren't enough of the other games that I was playing available for that system. The Playstation 2 had a lot to offer at that point, it played all my existing Playstation games, and it also doubled as a DVD player so I couldn't find a way for the Dreamcast to outweigh the PS2's benefits.

My Wii tanked completely at Christmas of last year, months after having done a laser module replacement myself. There were a lot of things my kids were still playing on it, even though I had started getting all of the new LEGO games for my Sony Playstation 3 instead of for Wii. I couldn't have regrouped fast enough to pick up a WiiU at that point, and we still had plenty of things to play on PS3. So, I started figuring out when I could get one.

My tipping point for the WiiU was Pikmin 3. The Pikmin series is fundamentally about managing a group of entities, the bipedal but flower-like Pikmin, to complete tasks on your behalf. Different Pikmin types are able to perform different types of tasks and some tasks can be performed by all of the Pikmin. These tasks include finding parts to repair your ship, collecting treasure, and collecting sustenance.

I really enjoyed Pikmin 1 and 2, and I still like to go back and play the challenge mode boards on Pikmin 1. As both Pikmin 1 and 2 were on the GameCube and largely overlooked by mainstream gaming since the words "Theft", "Duty" and "War" were not in the title, I was a little surprised that Pikmin 3 made it to the WiiU. As it turned out, Pikmin was relatively well-received among people who were already buying other Nintendo first-party titles. I suppose that Captain Olimar's inclusion in Super Smash Brothers Brawl allowed him to be introduced to a few more people, and Nintendo followed up with revised Wii versions of Pikmin 1 and 2 to take advantage of the Wii's control scheme.

On the WiiU, there's even an interesting control scheme that takes good advantage of the Game Pad controller and its touchscreen controls.

If you're right handed.

They worked out a control scheme that involves the two left triggers, the left analog stick, and the d-pad, used in conjunction with the stylus in the right hand. It has a lot of functionality, but no option to mirror the controls to the other side. If you still have your Wii controllers, which I did, you can use a Wiimote and a Nunchuck controller and control the game identically to the Wii Play Control versions of Pikmin 1 and Pikmin 2.

The map on the Game Pad works better if you don't need glasses at all, or if you need glasses for everything. I don't really need glasses to read with, but I need glasses for distance. It's not like I could just push my glasses down my nose and look down at the Game Pad. However, once I started using the Wiimote + Nunchuck controls, I put the Game Pad back in its cradle so I could look down at the map and have it be approximately the same distance away from me as the TV is.

I'm going to have a hard time explaining this to my ophthalmologist.

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