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Handheld | The Gamers Blog


Nin­tendo held their dig­i­tal press event this morn­ing and while there was a few sur­prises and some light shed on a few titles in devel­op­ment; it was lack­lus­ter over all. Don’t get me wrong I love Nin­tendo, but they had the same symp­toms that both Sony and Microsoft had, the 2015 delay bug. They are com­ing off a hot title for the Wii U, if the event showed more titles that are com­ing this year, they could have made a dif­fer­ence in the Wii U’s fate. Though we are get­ting some good look­ing titles this fall, but they are scarce and the lack of third party sup­port isn’t help­ing. But lets get to what they should because it is good, but it again needed to be sooner than later.


Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS — Two new char­ac­ters were announced, your Mii and Palutena (from Kid Icarus). The Mii’s will be able to take on three vari­eties; brawlers, sword fight­ers, and gun­ners. You can choose 4 spe­cial moves for your Mii from 12 dif­fer­ent choices. The 3DS ver­sion of the game has been delayed from sum­mer until Octo­ber 3rd, 2014. The Wii U ver­sion is on track for hol­i­day 2014 but I wouldn’t be sur­prised if it slipped to early next year.

Ami­ibo — A new line of NFC fig­ures com­ing for the Wii U. The first title to imple­ment this toys will be Super Smash Bros.

Yoshi’s Woolly World — The new Yoshi title that feels like a spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor to KIrby’s Epic Yarn. There will be 2 player co-op and guess when it comes out, 2015.

Cap­tain Toad’s Trea­sure Tracker — Cap­tain Toad’s great lev­els in Super Mario 3D World are get­ting their own title with Cap­tain Toad finally get­ting the spot­light. The game will be out this holiday.

The Leg­end of Zelda (Wii U) — The first video was revealed and the game is gor­geous. The game will also take an open world approach ver­sus the typ­i­cal for­mula. The visu­als are some­where between the orig­i­nal Wii U E3 demo and Sky­ward Sword. It will be out in 2015.

Bay­o­netta 2– Finally showed off game­play and looks amaz­ing! I was a big fan of the orig­i­nal and great news for those who never played the orig­i­nal; the orig­i­nal Bay­o­netta is being tossed into the box with Bay­o­netta 2. As another bonus, there are Nin­tendo themed cos­tumes in the orig­i­nal game. The Bay­o­netta pack­age will be released in Octo­ber 2014.

Poke­mon Omega Red and Alpha Sap­phire — The remakes are com­ing this year and they are look­ing great with the new visu­als in line with X and Y.

Hyrule War­riors — The smash up between Dynasty War­riors and The Leg­end of Zelda is com­ing to our shores! It will be out on Sep­tem­ber 26th, 2014.

Kirby and the Rain­bow Curse — A sequel to the DS cult hit Kirby Can­vas Curse and it is com­ing to the Wii U, next year. 2015

Xenoblade Chron­i­cles X — The Mono­lith soft’s long awaited game for­mally known as X, looks to be wrap­ping up devel­op­ment and will be out in 2015.

Mario Maker — A game in which you can build your own Mario courses. The lay­out is very sim­ple, like a new age Mario Paint. The game will be able to play the lev­els in both clas­sic Mario and “New” 2-D Mario form. The title will be out in 2015.

Spla­toon — A new IP and a game I am legit­i­mately excited for this title. It is a 8 player, 4 vs 4, ter­ri­tory based shooter. Yes, Nin­tendo is mak­ing a shooter; but like Nin­tendo fash­ion it is col­or­ful and looks like a mas­sive load of fun. The trailer is below and it looks fun. This was the height of the NIn­tendo Press event for me, though it won’t be out until 2015.


2014 was look­ing like a great year for games. We had big hit­ters such as Bat­man: Arkham Knight, The Witcher 3, Tom Clancy’s: The Divi­sion. The Order:1866, The Elder Scrolls Online (con­sole ver­sion), and many oth­ers. The lat­est title slip­ping in to 2015 is Bat­man: Arkham Knight. Thought this makes my fall release sched­ule a tad eas­ier on the wal­let, this was my most antic­i­pated title of the year. So now I have Des­tiny, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Dragon Age: Inqui­si­tion, Evolve, Smash Broth­ers Wii U, Lord of the Rings: Shadow of Mor­dor, and the recently announced Forza Hori­zon 2 to look for­ward too. Not a bad line up of games to get me though the cold win­ter, but the Dark Knight will sadly be missed. I agree that game cre­ators should take their time, more time could mean a bet­ter, more fin­ished prod­uct. Here is a list of every­thing that has been pushed back so far.


–Bat­man: Arkham Knight (PS4/One/PC) — 2015

- The Elder Scrolls Online (PS4/One) — atleast 6 months, could be Decem­ber, my money is on early next year.

- Tom Clancy’s: The Divi­sion (PS4/One/PC) — 2015

- The Witcher 3 (PS4/One/PC) — Feb­ru­ary 2015

- The Order:1866 (PS4) — 2015

- Steam Con­troller (PC) — 2015

- Mad Max (being devel­oped by Just Cause 2 devel­oper Avalanche Stu­dios) — 2015

- Half-Life 3 — 2054


Hope­fully with E3 a week away, we see some more con­crete titles com­ing this fall, and more rea­son to put money down on a new con­sole. Even if 2014 does end up on the weaker side, 2015 should be a smash­ing year for gam­ing. If any other delays are announced I will update the article.


Assassin’s Creed is one series I never tire of. Some may argue that the yearly titles are start­ing to set in fran­chise fatigue, and to a point, I agree. But unlike other yearly releases, they are given ample devel­op­ment time, they are always try­ing new ideas and mechan­ics (some that stick and oth­ers that only appear once), and the sheer amount of con­tent you get can be stag­ger­ing. To me, they are like tak­ing a walk through a his­tory book, but with fun action doo­dles in the mar­gins. I am cur­rently work­ing through Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, since I play these on the con­soles I waited till I was able to play the PlaySta­tion 4 ver­sion of the title to jump in. For a cross-generation title it is quite stun­ning. Black Flag has been a dream come true since I fin­ished Assassin’s Creed 3. One of the stand­out ele­ments from AC III was the naval bat­tles, which in Black Flag, take the fore­front. As a bonus we received one of the best pirate themed games of all time, some­thing Dis­ney (Pirates of the Caribbean) could never deliver. Jes­per Kyd has helmed most of the series as com­poser. Kyd com­posed the scores for Assassin’s Creed, II, Broth­er­hood, and shared duties on Rev­e­la­tions with Lorne Balfe. Balfe scored parts of rev­e­la­tions and Assassin’s Creed III. I have shared Balfe’s work on AC III on a pre­vi­ous Gam­ing in Stereo. Assassin’s Creed: Lib­er­a­tion, a spin off of AC III that landed on the PS Vita (later con­soles and PC) was scored By Winifred Phillips. Black Flag was scored by Brian Tyler, known for the excel­lent Far Cry 3 sound­track. Though some peo­ple, myself included, were a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed when Kyd didn’t return for Assassin’s Creed III, but I feel it was for the bet­ter. Kyd did a great job dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing the sound of AC and AC II, and I feel fresh com­posers did the same for the fol­low­ing titles. Today we are going to look at those dif­fer­ent sounds with some tracks from Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed II.


Jes­per Kyd — Ezio’s Fam­ily — Assassin’s Creed II

This track is sim­ply beau­ti­ful. With the piano, stings, and vocals it feels very fit­ting for renais­sance time period. Since the Assassin’s Creed series is a tale of two time peri­ods, one mod­ern and the other a his­tor­i­cal point in time, the track adds an elec­tric gui­tar ele­ment at the (2:44) mark. Eas­ily one of my favorite tunes from this series, enjoy!


Brian Tyler — Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Main Theme

Brian Tyler cap­tured the escapades of Edward Ken­way per­fectly with this theme. The drums and vio­lins give a sea shanty feel, breath­ing a sense of play­ful­ness in to the tune. The fran­tic drums at the (1:29) are the high­light, but like the game, this feels fun. You can feel in the music that Ken­way likes his “pri­va­teer” lifestyle, though the game does have its more seri­ous moments as well.


Bonus Track: Brian Tyler — On the Hori­zon

I am going to let the bonus track speak for itself. There are epic drum sec­tions later in the piece, so lis­ten for those. This does show a more seri­ous side to Black Flag, enjoy!


Nin­tendo had a rough fis­cal year to say the least. The com­pany reported today that they have ended their fis­cal year with a net loss of $230 mil­lion (23.22 bil­lion yen). Both the 3DS and Wii U had smaller fig­ures than the pre­vi­ous year as well, thought the 3DS per­formed bet­ter than its con­sole brethren. The 3DS sold 12.24 mil­lion units, sell­ing 13.95 mil­lion the year before. The Wii U on the other hand sold, 2.72 mil­lion sys­tems, that num­ber is world wide. The Wii U sold 3.45 mil­lion units the pre­vi­ous year. Wii U soft­ware did pro­duce a few mil­lion seller titles; typ­i­cally in the indus­try, for a AAA title, a mil­lion units units is the goal. That num­ber though, shrinks and increases depend­ing on a lot of fac­tors such as devel­op­ment cost, mar­ket­ing cost, if it is a world­wide release local­iza­tion takes money as well. GameSpot has the top sell­ing Wii U games to date and they include New Super Mario Bros. U, Nin­ten­doland, Super Mario 3D World, New Super Luigi U, Wii Party U, and The Leg­end of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, all of those titles have sold a mil­lion plus units.  The 3DS soft­ware had incred­i­ble num­bers with Poke­mon X and Y sell­ing a mon­strous 12.26 mil­lion copies. Other top sell­ing games include Ani­mal Cross­ing: New Leaf hit­ting 3.8 mil­lion units sold; 2 mil­lion unit sell­ers include Luigi’s Man­sion: Dark Moon, The Leg­end of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and Mario and Luigi Dream Team. The suc­cess of the 3DS does excite me for the future of hand­held gam­ing. The num­bers may slip a lit­tle but there is still life in it despite the mobile mar­ket.  The Wii U on the other had has a host of issues and there are ways of rec­ti­fy­ing the sit­u­a­tion with­out dump­ing the hard­ware in favor of some­thing new.

The Wii U is a unique case. It came off the “sell­ing like hot­cakes” Wii and fol­low up num­bers typ­i­cally falter,but not like this. The Wii U was never going to sell the same as Wii. I worked games retail dur­ing the life cycle of the Wii and judg­ing from the peo­ple I sold units to, they were happy with their sin­gu­lar pur­chase and would not be back for the next gen. Nin­tendo didn’t bank on the casual audi­ence and that was a pos­i­tive for the Wii U. When com­ing out of E3 2011, Nin­tendo wanted the “hard­core” gamers back that they had pos­si­bly pushed off with the Wii. One prob­lem with the con­sole is the name. The title “Wii” still seems to carry a stigma with gamers as some­thing casual, and for the casual Wii U was con­fus­ing. Was the Wii U a periph­eral that you bought for your Wii? Would the Wii U games work on the Wii? Why is it a new sys­tem, but most of the games still use the Wii Remote? The Wii U, like the 3DS ini­tially, needed to be branded some­thing dif­fer­ent. With Sony, you know the PlaySta­tion brand, but know that the larger num­ber on the end of the con­sole name is the newest con­sole. The Wii U needed to be named any­thing other than what it is, that was prob­lem num­ber one.

Num­ber two is with the con­troller set up. The gamepad has shown some bril­liance. The Leg­end of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD shows some mas­sive poten­tial, as well as titles like Zom­biU and The Won­der­ful 101. On the other hand, a lot of Nintendo’s own titles don’t take full advan­tage of the gamepad. Any of the Mario titles for exam­ple, only use the sec­ond screen as a way to play the title with­out the TV and it feels like a wasted oppor­tu­nity. Bring­ing the Wii remote back for any­thing out­side of back­ward com­pat­i­bil­ity was another mis­take. Motion gam­ing was a fad, much like rhythm games, they had their time in the sun and now are done. Even the power of Microsoft’s Kinect 2.0 for the Xbox One is try­ing to find rel­e­vancy out­side of being a micro­phone to shout com­mands at the con­sole. Nin­tendo brought out a 360 styled con­troller dubbed, the Wii U Pro Con­troller. The Pro Con­troller should have been the only other option out­side of the gamepad. One, maybe two con­trollers per con­sole life cycle; more than that you are just going to con­fuse consumers.

Prob­lem 3 comes with mul­ti­ple parts and it all focuses on soft­ware. Soft­ware pushes hard­ware, it is as sim­ple as that. Nin­tendo, since the N64 days, have a had a prob­lem with 3rd party devel­op­ers. Whether prob­lem being the hard­ware dif­fi­cult to develop for, no post kit sup­port, bad rela­tion­ships, or just not going after 3rd party devel­op­ers, they have a seri­ous prob­lem. Sony and Microsoft have good first party sup­port, but with out the sup­port of pub­lisher and devel­op­ers like EA, Activi­sion, Ubisoft, Sega, Cap­com, and the like; their boxes would have no trac­tion as well. Nin­tendo has some of the best, if not the best, first party games on the mar­ket, but as we see, with out those third party titles, your ship can sink rather fast. Dur­ing a PlaySta­tion 4 press event, the lead archi­tect, Mark Cerny, was telling a story about the PlaySta­tion 3 and how hard it was for devel­op­ers to makes games for it because the dev kits came with huge man­u­als, writ­ten in Japan­ese, and their tech sup­port was hor­rid. Nin­tendo needs to see that they fit into a global gam­ing mar­ket. They need to cater not only to Japan­ese devel­op­ers, but Euro­pean and North Amer­i­cans alike. Soft­ware droughts are com­mon in the indus­try. Typ­i­cally July through August is the lull the indus­try takes as it comes off spring releases and heads towards the fall and win­ter extrav­a­ganza. The drought for the Wii U, though has seemed longer than most. We had the launch titles, then a few titles in March, and then had to wait until August for Pik­min, Octo­ber for Zelda, and Decem­ber for Mario. There have been vir­tual con­soles releases and some down­load­able titles such as NES Remix and Toki Tori to fill gaps, but there is too much time in between releases for peo­ple to loose inter­est. The 3DS had ban­ner titles from start to fin­ish last year, Nin­tendo needs to treat the Wii U just the same. The final prob­lem to the soft­ware puz­zle is IP’s (intel­lec­tual prop­er­ties), though they have some of the most beloved IP’s in gam­ing, they need to bring fresh ones to the table. Nin­tendo is capa­ble of cre­at­ing fan­tas­tic games in design and art style, but fail to bring any­thing new to the table in terms of new prop­er­ties. Pik­min was incred­i­ble on the Game­Cube. F-Zero and Star­Fox showed what the SNES could do as well as show­ing Nin­tendo is more than Mario. Metroid and Zelda have grown into adult sta­ples that pro­vide deep game play, darker visu­als, and con­tent. Where has this cre­ativ­ity gone? The Won­der­ful 101, Eter­nal Dark­ness, Bay­o­netta 2, and XenoBlade Chron­i­cles are excel­lent exam­ples of 2nd party gam­ing that Nin­tendo has help flour­ished. Nin­tendo is in need of a renais­sance. It needs to keep mak­ing its core titles, bring back fran­chises that haven’t seen the light of day in over a decade (F-Zero, Star­Fox, and the like), work directly with some devel­op­ers to make strong 2nd party titles. The orig­i­nal PlaySta­tion, dur­ing its con­sole cycle, was the the new kid on the block, was less pow­er­ful than its com­pe­ti­tion, used a new phys­i­cal for­mat (to gam­ing any­ways), and flour­ished because of the soft­ware. Soft­ware is the key to mak­ing a con­sole suc­cess­ful no mat­ter the odds. Nin­tendo have two heavy hit­ters and fan favorites still to come that could put the Wii U back on track. The impres­sive Mario Kart 8 hits stores at then end of the month, and Super Smash Bros. is com­ing this win­ter. Nin­tendo needs to com­ple­ment these titles with some sur­prises at E3, and those titles need to be out this year.

I write this arti­cle as some­one that cares for Nin­tendo and wants to see their home con­sole busi­ness flour­ish. I have always been a fan of Nin­tendo, choos­ing to get Nin­tendo con­soles first over the com­pe­ti­tion, and sup­port­ing them when every­one else is spelling doom. I bought a Wii U and a 3DS at launch, and love them equally. I don’t think Satoru Iwata needs to resign; I don’t think they need to give up and become 3rd party devel­op­ers; and I don’t think mak­ing mobile titles is going to help in any way, shape, or form. They need to focus on soft­ware for the ail­ing con­sole first and fore­most. For the Wii U’s suc­ces­sor, they need to eval­u­ate their busi­ness plan, the devel­op­ment, and their rela­tion­ships with third party devel­op­ers. Nin­tendo isn’t going any­where. The 3DS is rak­ing in cash and the com­pany has enough cash reserve and equity that one fail­ure will not sink the gam­ing giant. They do need to pull in more tal­ent and exclu­sives. Shigeru Miyamoto is one of the best design­ers of all time, but is also 61 years-old. Buy­ing a stu­dio with fresh tal­ent such as Mono­lith soft, Plat­inum Games, or even a larger com­pany like Sega or Cap­com could be ben­e­fi­ciary. You would have that tal­ent under your ban­ner, plus their IP’s would be exclu­sives. The indus­try needs Nin­tendo, just like it needs Microsoft and Sony. The big three all have their strengths and their weak­nesses. They all bounce off each other and it dri­ves cre­ativ­ity, inno­va­tion, and com­pe­ti­tion. I can not fore­see a gam­ing indus­try with­out Nin­tendo, Nin­tendo just needs to either find a power-up for the Wii U, or grab a 1-up and start fresh; either way, the big N is here to stay.


As of March 31st, Jack Tren­ton, the Sony Com­puter Enter­tain­ment of Amer­ica CEO is step­ping down. This was a mutual deci­sion by Tret­ton and SCEA to not renew his con­tract after 19 years at SCEA. Jack Tret­ton has seen four PlaySta­tion con­soles launch with his time at Sony, and with this past E3, became the gamers CEO, clos­ing the Sony event to mas­sive applause. He has taken his fair share of crit­i­cism, espe­cially dur­ing the early life of the PlaySta­tion 3, but has always had this hum­ble appeal. I have always had a lik­ing for Jack and his inter­est in gam­ing and the PlaySta­tion brand. There are some CEO’s in this indus­try that come from the out­side and lack the qual­i­ties Jack has dis­played over the years. He will be missed in the indusry and we here, wish him the best of luck on any future endeav­ors. Cur­rent COO of SCEA, Shawn Lay­den will be mov­ing to the CEO vacancy. Lay­den is a 15 year vet­eran at PlaySta­tion. He will assume the roll on April 1st.


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