Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Third Penis

It seems that I'm now back to one home gaming console and that would be my Playstation 3. I sold the 360 almost a year ago because X-box Live is more of an annoyance to me than the well-received service that most take it as. Most of the other titles that I'd even consider buying on it would also be those I'm more willing to play on even an underpowered PC. As Steam gets better, my interest in the likes of such a console significantly deteriorates.

Well, the same thing has essentially happened with the Wii (instead of Steam, it's picking from Nintendo's more lucrative handheld offerings) and I'm beginning to tighten up on what I spend my time with again---to an even greater extent. For the past two console cycles, the Sony + Nintendo combination has been enough to keep me content, but now Nintendo is grating my nerves again...I very rarely played my Wii and any time that I did was in the company of family. It was only fitting that I sell it to my sister and niece at a reasonable price (which I did less than a week ago). This way I still have access to it and can still play the few titles that have always trickled out of Nintendo and a few third parties here and there (e.g. Epic Yarn, Skyward Sword, Epic Mickey, etc.).

I took the money gathered from the Wii and purchased myself a DSi XL. Mostly this was for Pokemon Black (as I'm positive hundreds of hours will be poured into it easily), but I also know that I now have access to a vast library of DS games that I'm more likely to pick up and play than any Wii game. This is where the fun starts too, as I began noticing something that I was quick to write off a year ago as me just being a jerk. This would of course---be the 3DS. The concept has begun to fundamentally annoy me. To be fair and honest though, it's not the system itself (when is it ever?), but the way the gaming populous has begun crowding around it.

Everywhere it's been perceived and touted as the exciting new 'successor' to the DS, but when I see the software, the design, and just the fundamental crux of the system, I become agitated. It was an odd thing that triggered this reaction too because it began right around the time I began reading reviews for the XL. You can peruse them for yourself here, but the common denominator in them all are these:
  • They're all superficially positive, with a hidden layer of confoundment and negativity on who it's meant to be on sale for, some even saying that it's not a worthwhile upgrade---even if you only own a Lite.
  • They all advise waiting for the 3DS instead, forgoing this gimmick in hopes that the new one will please the insatiable and unwarranted need for a new frontier (which I'm assuming Nintendo sees in the whole 3D thing).
  • None of the impressions that I read even remotely addressed the fact that the XL even nurtures the fundamental gimmick of the entire system (i.e. the larger screens are much easier to engage most touch functions with).
Seeing the ironic negativity surrounding the XL combined with the blithe endorsement of the same system with upgrades just stirs up even more antagonism towards Nintendo (and I've not been happy with them in particular for a long time now). This was exacerbated at GDC when it was presented as the handheld to finally showcase that Nintendo can competently occupy an online space as well (when it can't even maintain some of its biggest franchises as is).

Nobody seems to notice (or they're in denial about) that even if the handheld does every single thing it's shown to do, it will still falter in light of the fact that it's a system geared for one specific country (Japan), has one 'on-the-box' draw that can't be accurately marketed or presented as a long-term interest-holder (the 3D effect), and most of the software shown for it is simply available elsewhere at least two times over (and often in better form). Whether it's Zelda, Metal Gear, or Netflix, the 3DS's biggest muscle right now is hollow and people are completely oblivious to its reality. It's almost reminiscent to an old episode of Spongebob Squarepants (why that popped into my head, I've no idea) where the titular character buys inflatable muscles and gets away with being seen as one of the strongest people in his area, until he's actually put on the spot to showcase his strength.

What's really hilarious here is that Nintendo and its inflatable arms will never be asked to 'test their strength', so they'll get away with the entire farce. You know how I know this? Because it happened with the DS and it happened with the Wii. These are two systems with two specific gimmicks that very few developers outside of Nintendo even used admirably, and even Nintendo could have (and still can) push the features much further if they desired it. They won't though because the audience doesn't demand it (outside the vocal minority of 'core gamers' that forever complain about the system[s]). The infamous slogan of  'it prints money!' is at its zenith here, as Nintendo's business has been changed by the way it's begun influencing everyone around it.

The more casual players, Nintendophiles, and the me-too designers (i.e. Kinect, Move) are pushing them along in their dominance. Nintendo has boldly gone forth in trying new things in the past six years and some of it they should definitely be commended for (e.g. getting 3D in gaming without stupid and superfluous accessories), but they've screwed gaming and its supporters in a lot of ways as well (some of them significantly), and people do not want to admit it, as it would demand they take some responsibility for the problems as well. By implying a certain degree of abandonment for the 'older' DS and even the Wii to some extent, Nintendo---and gamers have simply acknowledged its latest handheld as a 3rd Dick.

...and gamers apparently like it anal now.

And I honestly invite you in the comments or elsewhere to give me at least three valid reasons for purchasing a yet another souped-up DS for almost $100 more.