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Next Gen Has Begun. And I Picked The Wii U.

When the launch stream for Xbone finally got started, I couldn't even make myself sit through it.

Every single month before launch, it's been bad news after bad news after bad news for my last favorite system.

- Forza 5 cars require ridiculous grind to get. Either that, or PAY for them with real money.
- Reports of consoles eating discs. Yes, eating them.
- Reports of downgrades in the graphics of Forza 5.
- Really bad scores for Dead Rising. And it's no longer a funny game.
- Same goes for Ryse Son of Rome.
- 720p for most Xbone games

The list of bad news goes on forever.

On the other corner, we have the PS4. Seemingly the belle of the ball (of NEOGAF, anyway---which is regarded by most as really pro-Sony), this one had no flaws, practically, and in terms of raw power, PS4 wins, hands down.

Where it does NOT win, at least right now, is with games. The only game I want to play on PS4 is Infamous: Second Son. I saw that game at E3 and it was easily the most spectacular game aside from Forza 5. But that one won't be out for months. Couple that with the reported defects on PS4s....the Sony console isn't really a good investment yet other than for bragging rights. Maybe in March. But then again, I would probably only have one game and would probably just sit through Killzone for the hell of it.

One game I do remember fondly from my E3 trip, was Super Mario 3D World.

***

I still remember walking up to the gigantic Nintendo booth at E3. An enormous 'Nintendo' logo greeted me, and their booth was the most colorful of the bunch. It was very spacious inside their gaming area. And I even got to have my pic taken with some Bayonetta model, haha!

[Maybe I'll post pics. Too lazy right now....will update this post soon]

I remember walking up to the Super Mario 3D World exhibit. One thing that struck me about the game was how CG-like the graphics were. Round objects were really, really round. Mario's head was perfect, no jaggies....literally 'Toy Story' graphics come to life, at a fast 60 FPS in 1080p. And the animation and art style really reflected the character of the world of Mario and friends. It's the type of game you'd think would be in the usual cinematics of games, but this was an actual game. I guess it helps that Mario's art style is very simplistic, with very few heavy duty textures to speak of.

But do we play games to stare at textures all day? Maybe the truth is, no game will really be real enough. It's either it's really dirty, or choppy, or everything approaches an 'uncanny valley' look. I think one reality I've come to accept now that I'm older is that game graphics will never be good enough. There will always be an imperfection here, an invisible wall there....there will always be limits, because human effort still has limits. You could have the biggest team work on the most fantastic game, and their game would probably come out in five years when nobody cares already.

So what holds up a good game? It has to be fun.

A game is essentially a time waster, a good way to spend your days with your friends or family. Or just a good way to relax yourself if you're playing all alone. Do we really spend our time playing games by counting frames? Or looking at textures?

Maybe Nintendo has the right idea after all.

***

I have to admit, there is a single caveat in my biases. I have a son. The other day I was playing GTAV and every time one of the characters curses, I would cringe a bit and be embarrassed. My two year old is right there, and God knows what damage this game is doing to his brain.

I actually don't think video game violence can really destroy a child's mind....but it does make you wonder how it affects their perception of the world.

So every time I'm playing something violent like GTA or Batman (hell even Batman is no longer wholesome lol), my wife can't help but bring my kid out of the room.

My wife is pregnant again with our third child, and I was thinking, am I seriously going to be able to decapitate more enemies in this environment? Maybe I have to consider playing less violent stuff so I can enjoy this hobby without getting worried about my kids.

***

So there we were at the store, staring at the Wii U Zelda bundle. We came, we saw....we purchased! That Wii U Zelda bundle plus Super Mario 3D World.

I'm sorry I couldn't be objective or listen to Michael Pachter or the rest of the internet proclaiming the doom of Nintendo in this next generation.

I just remember playing Super Mario 3D World at E3, and it was definitely one of the best, best, best games I ever played there. Thank God [and another person I can't mention....long story for another day] I had the opportunity to go to E3 2013. I think that one completely changed my view of the Wii U.

***

Did you know that the Nintendo Wii U just came out last year? LAST YEAR.

Come to think of it, maybe everyone's been really unfair to Nintendo. They had a full YEAR to make something great for their system.

Call of Duty games, at least the good ones, take 3 years to make. You only see them yearly because they have two teams making the games, alternating every cycle.

Nintendo had ONE year to make a good series of games to justify their system. ONE.

Ok, maybe they've been coding even before their console came out, but still...in the HD generation, making games is no longer a three month job. It's just to complex, heck just the artwork itself must require armies of artists and designers to draft, approve and collect. Imagine the programming.

Maybe the game press has just been too harsh on Nintendo. Partially because of that idea that, since their competition didn't have anything at the time, the assumption we all have is 'the other guys will probably make something better than Nintendo because they are coming out later'.

Take a look at Killzone Shadow Fall, then take a look at something old, like Gears of War 1 or Call Of Duty Modern Warfare.

Fundamentally, do those games look any different from each other? Is there anything in Killzone Shadow Fall that really, REALLY screams 'NEXT GEN!' at you? It's a shooter. Is there anything it does that you can't get for a 360/PS3 now?

It will look better, but not really that much better. I think i posted before that the Killzone E3 demo bored me when I watched it. I still stand by that assertion. There was just nothing very special about the game, other than it being very pretty. Once you get over the graphics, it's like any other shooter you already played.

***

So there, I've jumped into next-gen. Just not the jump I expected. But you can't just decide to buy one thing or another based on numbers or things like technical specs. I guess being a family man really changed me. Well, just a bit.

I still want to play Infamous Second Son. Maybe next year.

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