New Smash Bros. Games Won’t Feature Single Player Story Mode, Cutscenes

Smash Bros Wii U

Fans of Super Smash Bros. Brawl‘s highly entertaining Subspace Emissary single player mode are apparently to blame for the lack of a similar mode in the new Smash Bros. games coming to the Wii U and 3DS. According to game director Masahiro Sakurai, via the Escapist, too many people uploaded videos of Subspace Emissary’s elaborate cutscenes to YouTube.

“Unfortunately, the movie scenes we worked so hard to create were uploaded to the internet,” said Sakurai. “You can only truly wow a player the first time he sees a [cutscene]. I felt if players saw the cutscenes outside of the game, they would no longer serve as rewards for playing the game, so I’ve decided against having them.”

This takes us back to an era where cutscenes served only as rewards for successful play, and not narrative devices meant to help drive a story forward. Perhaps the attitude of treating cutscenes like… well, treats, is partially responsible for this decision. Or, it could be based on Nintendo’s decision to attempt to control rights and revenue for YouTube videos and live streams of their properties, most recently seen in a quickly overturned decision to ban Super Smash Bros. Melee live streaming from EVO2k13.

At least we’re still getting some kind of cutscene treatment, albeit in the form of promotional videos for new characters like Mega Man, Villager, and Wii Fit Trainer. These videos “potentially benefit by being spread around,” which I can personally attest to. The second a new Smash cutscene comes out, my social media feeds are generally abuzz with posts, re-blogs, and gifs of these infinitely re-watchable little vignettes. Maybe the game’s cutscenes would have helped serve to promote the game as well, but now, we’ll never know.

Nintendo Seizing Ad Revenue from YouTube Let’s Play Videos

Even in the year 2013, I’m still baffled by how content creators can make a living off of producing YouTube videos. And yet, several high-profile YouTubers are able to do just that by generating ad revenue of of their videos, even when those videos sometimes amount to simply playing someone else’s game and talking over it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as art based on art is still art. However, Nintendo has decided to reap the fruits of its labors by collecting ad revenue off of Let’s Play videos that feature Nintendo content.

Via Destructoid:

Over on GameFront, a Nintendo rep explains that as part of its push into social media, the company registered copyrighted content in the YouTube database. “For most fan videos this will not result in any changes,” the rep explains, “however, for those videos featuring Nintendo-owned content, such as images or audio of a certain length, adverts will now appear at the beginning, next to or at the end of the clips.

“We continually want our fans to enjoy sharing Nintendo content on YouTube, and that is why, unlike other entertainment companies, we have chosen not to block people using our intellectual property.” See? You can still produce anything you like! Nintendo will just keep the money you ought to be earning for itself. That is unbelievably ballsy.

As the Destructoid piece points out, often, the real draw of these Let’s Play videos is the personality of the content creator, not necessarily the source content. This is especially true of channels like Game Grumps, who attract a large following due to their ability to consistently be hilarious and provide insight into the games they play.

For Nintendo to piggyback onto these personalities to earn revenue is a difficult situation to judge. Should people be able to earn money off of Nintendo products without cutting them in? Are Let’s Play videos so far removed from the original works that they shouldn’t be considered related at all? Is Nintendo really being benevolent by not simply blocking the content, and instead leaving it up to generate ad revenue?

It’s hard to say for sure, but at least we’ve entered an era where online videos are serious business, so much so that the money earned off of them is worth fighting for. This is a day I never thought would ever come.

Nintendo Seeking Mobile Ports for WiiU

A report from The Japan Times, via GamesIndustry International, states that Nintendo is offering professional conversion software to mobile game developers in an effort to coax them into porting their titles onto the WiiU. This news comes after Nintendo reported half of its projected sales for the last fiscal year, far below expected figures.

From The Japan Times:

A lack of popular games to play on Nintendo consoles was one of the main reasons behind the company’s worse-than-expected console sales and group operating loss of ¥36.4 billion reported for the year ended in March. It was Nintendo’s second consecutive annual operating loss.

Will mobile titles revitalize the WiiU? Perhaps, but only slightly. Having a more robust library of downloadable games that utilize the touch screen in interesting ways wouldn’t be a bad idea. However, what the WiiU is really missing is a better selection of full-price games that take advantage of the hardware. Upscaled ports aren’t going to do the job. I personally don’t own a WiiU due to my Five Game Rule. Once a system has five games worth owning, I consider picking it up. To date, nothing released on the WiiU has interested me enough to warrant adopting one.

Mobile apps won’t change that, as I have a phone for those, and generally enjoy those kinds of experiences when I’m mobile. Sitting at home and playing Cut the Rope on a WiiU Gamepad doesn’t scream “killer app” to me, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that regard.

The Wii U is doing way worse than Nintendo predicted

Nintendo makes second consecutive annual loss as Wii U misses expectations | The Verge:

The Wii U has sold 3.45 million units worldwide to date, missing Nintendo’s goal of 4 million units for the financial year — itself a lowered expectation after the company initially predicted it would sell 5.5 million systems. Three months ago, Nintendo announced worldwide Wii U sales of 3.06 million.

I just started using my 3DS again after not touching it for nearly a year. While the games are more expensive and it sucks to have to carry a second device, having the dedicated buttons made playing a better experience than what I’ve gotten used to on my iPhone. I hope Nintendo isn’t forced to get out of the hardware business this generation.

Nintendo Announces Sequel to Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Though today’s installment of the monthly Nintendo Direct news feed showed us a lot of the usual Super Mario Bros. sequels we’ve grown accustomed to hearing about from these announcements, the folks at Nintendo saved the most exciting announcement for last. This Winter, a sequel to Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is coming to the Nintendo 3DS.

Though it takes place in the same world, this new Zelda game will feature new dungeons with varying levels of height in order to take advantage of the 3D capabilities of the system. A new mechanic that allows Link to turn into a painting of himself to travel along walls and access other parts of rooms was also shown, and even through the limited footage, the puzzle implications and deviousness of the level design is perfectly clear.

A sequel to one of the most beloved games of all time is a tricky proposition. How do you capture the magic of the original while providing a new experience for gamers who know the original by heart, and will pick it apart down to the most minute detail? It’s not a design task I would wish on anybody. Regardless of how it plays in the end, I’m just happy to have a new overhead-view Zelda game that doesn’t rely on touch-screen gimmicks to get gamers interested.

What the next generation of video games needs to succeed

playstation 4 controller

Clifford Unchained – 4th and Inches for Sony

My biggest thing about this “Next Next Gen” is that the biggest winner will be the one who has several things going for them:

  • The games. It’s all about the games.
  • The ecosystem. Apple knows that Itunes and the App store are a HUGE factor in their success.
  • The ability to remain adaptable in a fast moving world. Fast title updates from developers. The “Minecraft test.” If the hardware is great and the system sound then the biggest deciding factor will be how much each console creator allows the community to take over in an organic fashion. It sounds like the Sharing feature is a great step. The next one? Indie games, mods, user levels…you know, the things that the PC is so darned good at.

This is exactly how the next generation console war will be won. Consoles can no longer rely solely on their first and third party games to “win the war.” Robust game libraries are a must, of course, but they must be combined with robust media ecosystems and more PC-like interaction models. Sony is certainly attempting to do this with the PlayStation 4.

Take the Xbox 360, which has remained the best selling console on a month-to-month basis for well over a year now. The Xbox is more than just a game console. It is a brand associated with media, from music to movies to games. Games and the operating system are updated on a frequent basis, in a fashion not so dissimilar from the PC updates consumers have come to expect. As a result of this evolution of the Xbox, Microsoft stands on a much stronger foundation than its competitors moving into the next generation.