Handheld Addict

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Resident Evil Mercenaries online

I've been playing Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D more than any other 3DS game. It's scary how many hours I've logged on it. One of the things I like about the 3DS and Wii is how they track what games you play & how long. The only problem I find with their system is that if you pause a game & come back to it hours later, it counts all that time as "gameplay"... so it's not totally accurate, but my 3DS says I've logged over 70 hours on RE:M3D. I should be better at it...

I've also been playing online quite a bit. I'm usually on around 6:00pm-9:00pm Pacific time. Also in the mornings from 10:00am-11:00am (Pacific)

My handle is 1_blue_pxl. Find me if you want to do some co-op.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

The War of the Buttons

So, all this recent news about the 3DS Slide Pad accessory, and the PS Vita.... I think I'm starting to see where the second front/phase of the Handheld War is going.

2004: Sony jumps into the handheld gaming market, expectations are high & they deliver a pretty powerful machine in the PSP. Nintendo's DS is no slouch either, and through the DS Lite becomes the most successful gaming handheld.

So between 2004-2006/2007 or so, the main gaming handheld battle was between Sony & Nintendo. But in that time Apple jumps in with the iPod Touch, and in the last few years the Apple App & Android App market have exploded (mostly Apple)... Smartphone gaming is a significant share of handheld gaming-- and it's only growing bigger.

With the upcoming release of the 3DS Slidepad accessory, looking at it... how it's kind of "core audience" in that it looks built for gamers (duh).... I think Nintendo is saying, "we have physical controls". That's completely what the accessory is about isn't it?

And that's the key fundamental difference in gaming on a smartphone or iPod Touch, than gaming on a 3DS/PS Vita.

The same strategy was used by Sony when they announced the Xperia Play: they based a whole ad campaign, creepy as it was, on that what sets the Xperia Play apart from other phones is that it has physical game controls. (Of course Sony being Sony, they had to find a way to screw it up-- making the analogue touch pads, rather than actual nubs.)

It's a big contentious point that touchscreen controls can't substitute for actual analogue sticks & buttons.

This seems to be where the next phase of the handheld war is going. Do you want actual physical controls on a dedicated gaming device, or do you want a one-size-tries-to fit-all touchscreen controls on a more versatile, pocketable device which is not necessarily optimized for gaming?

Nintendo seems to have solidified that philosophy with the Wii U controller, how it harkens back to dual analogue controls & buttons yet still keeps the touchpad for fleixibility. But they either shipped the 3DS too early, or just didn't get the memo with that console, because it's really far too much like a DS than it should be in terms of buttons, controls, shape, etc. Way too conservative a step for a next-gen console.

So now they're trying to backtrack a bit & get a bit more "hardcore" with it?

The physical controls feature & deeper gameplay are the 2 biggest assets Nintendo/Sony have with their handhelds. The problem with the deeper gameplay argument is that the nature of handheld gaming itself kinda plays against the idea of games that need to be played for hours & hours to make progress. I personally *DO* play my handhelds for hours & hours but a lot of people argue that if they wanted to do that they'd just play a full-sized home game console, especially if it's between the same franchise of game (God of War PS3 vs PSP for example)

So that basically just leaves physical controls as the biggest draw for the 3DS/PS Vita. The key to all this is... now what are the software developers going to DO with those physical controls... if we get some amazing killer apps to come out for the 3DS/PS Vita-- games that people will buy the systems just to play-- the war will shift in their favour. They kind of need an Angry Birds sort of success. (Yes, Angry Birds is available on their handhelds, but it's way more ideal on the iOS/smartphone platform.)


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Playstation Vita Japan launch date announced

The Playstation Vita will be released in Japan on December 17, 2011. There will be 2 prepaid 3G plans available for it (in Japan of course) 980 yen ($13) for 20 hours, and 4,980 yen ($65) for 100 hours.

Also, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom will be a launch title.

Possibly big news regarding PSP UMD legacy support: according to Gamespot's Liveblog, they posted:

Says there will be as many as 600 PSP titles that will be available to play on the Vita.

The last point Kawano is going to talk about is PSP title support on the Vita.

He says the Vita has no UMD slot on the Vita but as long as users have the software for the UMD version...Sony is going to announce some official plans surrounding this in the near future.

Wow! some sort of transfer program to put UMD games onto our Vitas? That could be huge. Of course, we HAVE heard this kind of thing before, with the PSPgo debacle. Sony just plain lied about that. And even if there is some sort of UMD transfer deal... that might ONLY be in Japan. I dunno. This is one of those things that I'm going, "Yeah right, Sony. I'll believe it when I see it."

There are a few titles that piqued my interest: Ridge Racer, Wipeout... Katamari??? Oh yeah, NOW I'm paying attention. A few more like that and I'm fully onboard this hype train.

I'm starting to get excited about Vita.....


More pics of the 3DS Slide Pad Accessory

4gamer.net posted some new pics of the 3DS Slide Pad accessory. I have to say, the more I see of it, the better it looks. While I wouldn't say it's exactly stylish, it's not as bad as the first picture made it look.

I'm surprised after seeing these angle shots how curved & ergonomic it is. It's shaped like a console controller. Actually, it kind of reminds me of the accessories for the DS/PSP that tried to replicate the console controller feel-- like the PSP one I reviewed awhile back.

It also looks like it takes slight cues from the Wii U controller. But it's cool that it's curved & meant to fit in the hands at least a little, unlike the rectangular DS Lite design, which is more about looks than practicality.

And the shoulder buttons look robust! The bottom L + R buttons are big.

If anything, now that I've seen the controller from a couple angles, I'm less convinced that a 3DS redesign would come from it. This looks like an accessory-- not a direction that the actual handheld would take in design. I can't imagine Nintendo releasing a 3DS followup that would look like a console controller. Still, what do I know? Anything could happen, I guess...

I really hope that this accessory makes it out of Japan. For $19.99, and Resident Evil: Revelations, Monster Hunter 3G, Ace Combat: Cross Rumble supporting it (which I also hope makes it in the localized versions of the games)... and of course I'm hoping that a Star Wars Battlefront game gets announced someday, and other games support it too.... if these things come to pass, I'll honestly be first in line for this thing. I hope it comes in blue.

What's disturbing is that Nintendo didn't seem to even mention the accessory during their entire conference. Remember how Nintendo said that it was the enthusiastic positive initial response by gaming news journalists/bloggers when they revealed the 3DS which helped set the "premium" price for it? Maybe Nintendo pays more attention to the interwebz than we think.... so the huge negative backlash that initially came from that one picture of the accessory might have scared Nintendo. I hope it doesn't cause them to change course rashly--again....


Monday, September 12, 2011

3DS Slide Pad accessory added to Nintendo Japan site

Leave it to Nintendo3DSblog to spill the details on the 3DS 2nd analogue nub accessory.... they've posted the updated page for the Nintendo Japan 3DS accessories list, which now includes the slide pad expansion.

Here's what it says courtesy Google translate:

Nintendo 3DS special enhanced slide pads


Suggested retail price 1,500円(税込) 1,500 yen (tax included) Release Date 2011/12/10 December 10, 2011

When installed in the Nintendo 3DS, a wider range of playing styles slide pad and buttons have been added.

AAA alkaline batteries ※ (operation status) with 1.

※ extended slide pad alone will not work.
Slide the pad can be used only with compatible software extension

※. The corresponding software has an icon on the right in the package:

List of planned listing of supported software

December 10, 2011
Monster Hunter 3 (tri) G

2012 Early 2012

This winter

This winter
Namco Bandai


Dynasty Warriors VS
Tecmo Koei Games


KINGDOM HEARTS 3D [Dream Drop Distance]
Square Enix


Six major games slated to support the accessory, though only Monster Hunter Tri 3G has a solid release date.

And the slide pad expansion takes 1? AAA battery? It's going to cost 1500 yen, which is $19.32 Canadian dollars. So if that's any indication for a Canadian price, maybe $19.99? Not that there's even any indication at this point that it'll be released outside of Japan. I remember having to buy the Play-Yan Micro imported because there was no worldwide release for that.

Ace Combat is one of my fave game franchises. Having it on the initial 3DS games list when the handheld was first announced, that game alone pretty much cemented my decision to buy a 3DS.

And honestly, the one game I want the most on 3DS is a *NEW* Star Wars: Battlefront game.... like Renegade Squadron & Elite Squadron that were on PSP. That's kinda the reason I'm so hyped for a 2nd analogue nub, I'm secretly hoping for a new Star Wars Battlefront game that would be cross-released on 3DS & Playstation Vita. A PS Vita version would use both analogue sticks so the 3DS needs the 2nd nub.

But the new Ace Combat game, I would get the slide pad expansion for that alone, though I'd also use it for Monster Hunter 4 & Resident Evil Revelations...

Oddly enough, I don't know why I'd need a 2nd nub for Ace Combat, it controls just fine on the PSP with only 1 nub.

Also a bit ironic: The slide pad accessory is meant for Monster Hunter 3G. Pretty clear that this accessory makes using any 3DS extended battery add-ons impossible. And if there are ANY games that *NEED* a lot of battery power to play, it's the Monster Hunter series.


Nintendo pre-TGS conference

Some highlights of the Nintendo Conference Sept. 2011:

New Mario Tennis, Fire Emblem, TheaterthymFinal Fantasy, Dynasty Warriors-ish game, Kingdom Hearts 3D, Monster Hunter (Tri) 3G... but NO mention of the "boat" 2nd analogue nub add-on(?!)

Pink 3DS coming to Japan Oct. 20...

But the biggest announcement seems to be: Monster Hunter 4(!!) for 3DS!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nintendo 3DS announcement coming Sept 12

Nintendo will be holding a pre-TGS press conference focused on the 3DS. IGN will be streaming it starting 8:00PM (PST) on Sept. 12.

I'm really curious as to what will be announced. Top of my list I want more info on the "slide pad expansion" accessory. A lot more info. But I kinda doubt there will be much more than what's been leaked already except maybe more about Monster Hunter 3G. I kinda expect that the bulk of announcements will be for upcoming software.... though it would be wild if they used this press conference to announce a 3DS redesign. I'm sure a redesign is coming, but not likely this early. Still, with the sluggish sales & Nintendo making drastic moves lately, who knows....

Can't wait for 8:00PM Sept. 12.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Putting the Slide Pad Expansion into context

UPDATE: IGN posted these better pics of the slide pad accessory... it looks better than the original pic, which made the 2nd nub look smaller.

So... Nintendo has tersely confirmed that the Slide Pad Expansion i.e. 2nd analogue nub, is a real accessory coming to the 3DS. From the sounds of it, there is only 1 game scheduled so far that will use it: Monster Hunter 3G.

Nintendo has stumbled into the same controversy that dogged Sony's PSP for the life of that handheld. Will making a 2nd analogue nub split the console userbase between those who have it & those who don't? That's the reason Sony always gave to not put a 2nd nub on the PSP, they didn't want some games to only be playable with a 2nd nub making them unplayable to those who have older PSPs. By making the 3DS one an add-on, it's possible for all generations of 3DS's to play games that may require it. I suspect that Nintendo will revise the 3DS to incorporate the 2nd nub. Maybe that $80.00 price drop is starting to make more sense now, hey?

But... one of the main questions has to be, how many games are actually going to use this 2nd nub? I've already talked about the many add-on peripherals for the Wii. I own the Balance Board, Wii Motion Plus dongle (x2), Wii Zapper, Wii Wheel, & the Classic Controller (a third party one anyway)

And most if not all of them only have a few games that support them.

Closer to home, look at the peripherals released for the DS:

The most famous one might be the Guitar Hero button controller. But as far as I know, only the game it came packed with supports it.

It did have the unfortunate luck of coming out just as Nintendo released the DSi which eliminated the GBA slot it needs to plug in to. Activision must've been pissed about that.

Here's one I was sorta interested in, the paddle controller. It seems like it would be really cool to play Space Invaders Extreme with it.... but again, as far as I know, only 2 games support it (Arkanoid being the other)

Here's one that I actually own! This was such an oddball peripheral, when I saw it + the game on sale at Play-Asia a while ago, I bought it for a cheap price. It lets you slide the DS across a flat surface like a mouse to interact with the game. I actually haven't tried it yet.... it's all in Japanese, but when I have time....

So again, with all these peripherals for Nintendo consoles, all of them have one common factor: very few games support them. Perhaps the widest accepted one is Motion Plus which is now incorporated into all Wii remotes. But personally, I only have like maybe 2 games that need it.

Judging by this history, how will this "Slide Pad Expansion" be any different? Obviously, Monster Hunter 3G will support for sure. Right now it isn't even confirmed that game is coming to North America (I hope it does) but what else? If any third party developer wants to support the 2nd nub add-on, they'll also have to provide alternate controls for those 3DS owners who don't have/don't want/can't get the 2nd nub add-on. I bet even Monster Hunter 3G will have alternate controls to allow this.

Although this is the one peripheral I might say I want-- or feel that we as gamers have a need for-- the most, the track record for peripheral support isn't very good. It will be interesting to see if this one has more success than all the past ones.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

3DS to get a 2nd analogue nub???

Ok, Nintendo 3DS Blog first mentioned this a week or 2 ago, and now IGN actually mentioned it too... there's rumours that Nintendo are working on a 2nd analogue nub peripheral that will somehow attach to current 3DS systems, and that future 3DS's will have the nub built-in.

It sounds a bit crazy... but Nintendo can be crazy sometimes, can't they? My question is, how will a 2nd analogue nub attach to the 3DS? The 3DS doesn't have a data/USB port... so how would such an attachment communicate with the system? I've heard some talk that it could cover the XYAB (face) buttons.... the PSP has a few great shooters that use the face buttons for camera control: Resistance: Retribution, the Syphon Filter games & my faves, the Star Wars:Battlefront games. Closer to Nintendo, the DS game MechAssault: Phantom War also uses this control scheme.

But would we really need a nub to cover those buttons? I'm personally ok with just pressing the face buttons themselves.

Now that I think about it, a peripheral could possibly cover the touchscreen, and sort of jut out to the bottom right side for the analogue nub placement? It sounds nutty but.... I dunno. I can't see any other form of interface other than those 2 methods.

I photoshopped that image above a while ago, I was planning on doing a rant about the lack of a 2nd analogue nub on the 3DS. It was the single biggest mistake Sony made with the PSP, and Nintendo did it again with the 3DS. Sure it's a different company, but how could they miss all the hostility toward the PSP for not having a 2nd nub??

But now... while I do think that having a 2nd nub is better than not having it... it is not simply a matter of "if you build it, they will come". Third party game developers are incredibly lazy-- they do NOT want any deviation from the status quo. Any add-on peripheral, whether it's Motion Plus, the Wii Balance Board, or Wii Zapper/Wii Wheel... third parties do NOT want to develop for them because there's no guarantee that the majority of console owners will have these peripherals.

So while a 2nd nub would enhance some games, just because Nintendo decides to retro-fit one in to the 3DS, will that spur third party devs to create games that cater to it???

We'll see... if these rumours are true......

UPDATE: IGN has posted this pic of the peripheral:

Honestly, it kinda looks like an April Fool's joke. I still don't really get how it interfaces with the 3DS. Very odd.

It could possibly use an IR blaster????? There is an IR port on the 3DS....


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