This week an article from the website ExtremeTech titled Five PC Gaming Myths written by one Jason Cross circulated around the net. Cross attempted to ‘expose’ common myths people hold about PC gaming. I, personally, was not aware that PC gaming had afforded itself any kind of mythic status: it’s not like people speak of PC gaming in excited tones, and the news passes from friend to incredulous friend. “Did you hear that PC gaming is really expensive?” is hardly on the same level of “Did you hear about the sniper who shot a guy with an ice bullet? There was no evidence!”
But whatever, I’m sure there are some people out there who have been misinformed about PC gaming. In the forever-raging console-versus-PC war that goes on both in print and on message boards everywhere, there’s bound to be a fair bit of bad info being spread around. And while writing five pages to ‘expose’ these supposed myths isn’t exactly what I would call admirable, it certainly got some attention, so I guess it was a worthwhile venture.
There is a problem with the article, however, and it’s a rather big one: almost everything Cross writes across his five pages of debunking is wrong. By working to expose myths about PC gaming, ExtremeTech has inadvertantly resulted in even more myths getting spread. It’s a bit like deciding you’re going to dress up and fight crime, but then accidentally beating up senior citizens and robbing a liquor store. Your intentions are good but, seriously, how’d you manage to screw up that badly?
Let’s start from the beginning.
It’s been a little over four months since I declared that the Nintendo Wii will be the best selling console of the next five years. It was, at the time, still sort of an auspicious thing to say, because conventional wisdom was that it was too early to declare a winner. Six months in, people said, the console war had barely even begun.
It was a bullshit argument, of course.
That’s a pretty audacious title and it’s probably going to rile up a bunch of people. And not just your general fanboy types, either. For the most part, console gamers — or, at least, the type of console gamer who likes to go online and talk about video games — tend to agree that it’s too early to make any conclusion about which console (if any) is going to dominate the market. They point out that it’s only been six short months, and cling to the belief that a combination of price drops, better marketing and the release of certain key software titles (most of which, coincidentally, end in a numeral of some kind) will cause significant shake-ups to sales figures over the next year. Conventional wisdom is that everything is still up in the air.
It’s time to get down to earth, however, and face a fact that’s always been evident when it comes to video games: the launch-window decides everything. There is no such thing as a come-back, a turn-around or an underdog story; the console people buy at the beginning of a product cycle is the console people will continue to buy at the end of the product cycle.
And, for this generation, that product is Nintendo’s Wii.
When it comes to the next year of gaming, most people tend to focus on the ‘big’ sequel and franchise releases. As a result, we hear a whole hell of a lot about games like Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3, Super Smash Brothers Brawl and other much-anticipated titles.
And it’s not unwarranted — those games are destined to be great, and I’m eagerly clinging to the hope that they all make it out this year — but, still, beneath the gloss, sheen and hype of those flagship titles the Wii actually boasts a surprisingly deep library of upcoming games.
Below are six of the less-hyped games that I’m looking forward to. Coincidentally, all of them make innovative use of the Wii controller in ways that should, hopefully, finally put an end to cries of ‘gimmick waggle’ from e-critics.
Not all of these games are destined to be great, but they all show a certain promise that’s unique to Nintendo’s next-gen system.
A lot of people seem to hate Nintendo’s new Virtual Console for the Wii. Their complaints are numerous and storied and make a thunderous noise when tossed out across message boards and blogs across the net: the games are too expensive, the selection is lacking and, really, the lack of rumble in older games is apparently nothing short of tragic. While I would never argue that the Nintendo Wii’s virtual console is perfect, I do think there’s some big positives to Nintendo’s strategy with this particular element of the system that generally get overlooked in favour of easy criticism.
The biggest positive is that the staggered weekly release strategy has given gamers time to consider, learn about and purchase games that they might have otherwise simply bypassed on a big list of NES games. I’d make the argument that the release schedule, coupled with the price point of the games — which, frankly, isn’t that high unless you’re playing out of a third-world country — has actually had a net result of encouraging more games to actually be played.
Consider this: if you were to login to the Virtual Console and see a complete library of NES, SNES and N64 games, all available for 10 cents each, odds are that you are a) going to immediately download a whole bunch of games, b) probably download the ‘big name’ games first and foremost and c) only play those games for a few minutes before moving on into the next cheap purchase. On the other hand, if you’re presented by four games, each at a higher price point, you’re going to carefully consider your purchase and then, once downloaded, play the game to the point you feel like you got your money’s worth.
It’s because of this strategy that I have a lot of hope for a popularity resurgence of games from one of my all-time favourite game libraries. While the Nintendo 64 was ridiculously maligned throughout its life, it remained — largely due to its multiplayer capabilities and the inherent innovation in a lot of its titles — one of my favourite consoles. Nintendo is rather wisely treating the launch of each N64 game onto the Virtual Console as an event, with a press release and everything, so much so that it got me thinking about some “forgotten” N64 games that could (and should!) see renewed spotlight on the Virtual Console.