Archive for the ‘Opinion Piece’ Category

Dear Mr. Iwata, Please fix this Nintendo of America problem…

September 6, 2013

Coffee Beans
There are some people in the video game industry that like to place all the blame for Nintendo’s current financial and Wii U situation on Mr. Iwata, the current CEO of Nintendo Company and now CEO of Nintendo of America as well. Some of those people deny that employees and management in other regions for Nintendo, like at Nintendo of America for example, might actually be part of Nintendo’s overall problem as well though.

There is currently one Nintendo problem though, directly related to Nintendo of America’s region, that I don’t think Mr. Iwata made and might not even be aware that the problem exists. At least, I don’t think he would have made this decision, based on one of his own more recent comments. It is a problem that Mr. Iwata now as CEO of Nintendo of America can hopefully address and get fixed though, for consumers and Nintendo investors.

What problem do I think Mr. Iwata as CEO of Nintendo of America should fix? Brew yourself some coffee, and keep reading to see!

The Brew
Dear Mr. Iwata,

When Nintendo launched the Wii U this past holiday season, it was first available in the United States. I was the first person to pre-order the Wii U at my local GameStop the day they opened up pre-orders on the system, and I have enjoyed my Wii U system and the games I have played on it so far.

What I don’t understand though is why Nintendo of America has made the decision to not have the Wii U console available for consumers to buy DIRECTLY at its MSRP from Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer.

If more and more U.S. consumers are doing holiday shopping online and shopping online in general, I think that Nintendo of America would have wanted the Wii U to be available DIRECTLY from the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon.com, during its first holiday season. Unfortunately though, it appears that an employee at Nintendo of America kept that from happening.

Amazon’s website for the United Kingdom sold the Wii U consoles DIRECTLY at launch, and still does. Amazon’s website for Japan sold the Wii U consoles DIRECTLY to consumers at launch, and still does. Amazon’s website for France sold Wii U consoles DIRECTLY to consumers at launch, and still does. Even Amazon’s website for Canada sold Wii U consoles DIRECTLY to consumers at launch, and still does.

A picture says a thousand words? Sometimes, this one is an example
of the current Wii U Amazon. situation though.

Amazon.com was the only major online retailer in the United States of America to not offer pre-orders or online purchasing of the Nintendo Wii U system this last holiday season. Still as of today (09/06/2013), Amazon in the United States does not DIRECTLY carry and sell the Nintendo Wii U to consumers at its MSRP. The Wii U system is only available from third-party vendors on Amazon in the U.S.A.

Even the new The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Deluxe Wii U Console Set is not available for pre-order or being sold directly from Amazon.com in the U.S., but Amazon in Canada is now taking pre-orders on it.

Nintendo of America has now missed out on almost a complete year of Wii U sales and advertising on Amazon.com. Giving up basically an entire year+ of sales on the world’s largest online retailer in Nintendo’s most important home console region, before the other consoles have even launched this holiday season, doesn’t make common sense to me, much less business sense to me.

It isn’t just the Nintendo Wii U Amazon.com doesn’t carry and sell directly though, as the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo Wii systems have not been carried and sold at their MSRPs directly by Amazon.com in the U.S.A. for almost the last 2 years. I doubt right now that even the new Nintendo 2DS will be carried and sold by Amazon.com when it releases next month. This also extends beyond just Nintendo’s consoles though, as Amazon.com does not even directly carry and sell the Nintendo eShop and/or Nintendo DSi/Wii Shop cards to consumers. What does this mean?

Sony has their PlayStation Network Cards and Microsoft has their Xbox LIVE  digital cards being sold on Amazon.com, and those digital cards from Sony and Microsoft have remained in the “Top 100” section of the “Best Sellers in Video Games” for more than a year now in most cases, helping both companies to sell digital content from their online stores. Nintendo hasn’t been doing that, for AT LEAST the last 2 years. Nintendo has apparently given up selling Wii U/3DS and Wii and DSi eShop cards to consumers on Amazon.com, and has therefore given up many digital sales that would translate from those cards being sold online.

Digital cards from Microsoft and Sony sold directly by Amazon.com ,
but not Nintendo eShop cards. Why?

Instead of grandparents, parents, husbands, wives, aunts, uncles, cousins, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, etc., having the opportunity to buy Nintendo eShop cards as birthday gifts and holiday gifts for the Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo 3DS owners, Nintendo doesn’t give them a good option for that on Amazon.com. Instead of consumers being able to go to Amazon.com, finding a Nintendo eShop card at MSRP on somebody’s Wish List and buying it for them as a gift, Nintendo has completely given up that side of potential digital retail sales to its competitors, and that is very odd to me.

I think that Nintendo has seen how important digital sales can be, and how profitable they are as well. Which is probably why Nintendo is now doing many more Nintendo Wii U eShop promotions, such as the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD early Wii U eShop download starting on September 20th.

So, why wouldn’t Nintendo of America and Nintendo in general have the Nintendo eShop cards on the world’s largest online retailer for consumers to buy? I think just as importantly though, if not more so, is if Mr. Iwata does not want to publish Nintendo developed games on the other consoles offered by Microsoft and Sony, then Mr. Iwata should make sure to keep Nintendo’s own consoles in front of as many consumers as possible.

Again, why would Nintendo of America, or even Nintendo in general, not want to have the world’s largest online retailer selling Nintendo systems directly to consumers at their MSRPs? It doesn’t make any sense to me, especially if we are concerned about the long-term future and profits of Nintendo overall.

Which the last point is why don’t I believe that you, Mr. Iwata, made the decision to cut ties with Amazon.com and not sell Nintendo systems in the U.S.A. directly from the world’s largest online retailer to consumers at the MSRPs, in what has been Nintendo’s strongest market for home consoles in recent years.

Mr. Iwata, you recently told ComputerAndVideoGames in an interview that you didn’t want to concentrate just on Nintendo’s short-term profits, but instead you are responsible for the long-term future of Nintendo as well. I would agree, and that’s why I’m writing this directly to you.

If cutting ties with Amazon.com and not selling Nintendo consoles and eShop cards was a decision for the immediate short-term finances, it MIGHT make some sense, depending on the reason(s) behind the decision. But, if you are the Nintendo employee that has decided to not actively sell Nintendo eShop cards on Amazon’s sites around the world though, can you please explain that decision?

Does not having all current Nintendo systems and Nintendo eShop cards sold directly to consumers at MSRPs by the world’s largest online retailer make sense for the long-term future and profits of Nintendo? I don’t think so, unless you think that Amazon.com isn’t going to be around in 5-10 years, or that fewer consumers will be spending money on online purchases.

Whichever employee at Nintendo decided to cut ties with Amazon.com and not have Nintendo’s Wii U and 3DS systems, and even the Nintendo eShop cards as well, sold directly from Amazon.com at their MSRPs, I think has done more financial harm than good for the company.

It makes no sense to me, with more and more consumers making purchases online, to have your most important region in recent years for home console sales, the United States, not offering the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS systems (and Nintendo eShop cards) directly from the world’s largest online retailer at their MSRPs.

The current President of Nintendo of America, Mr. Fils-Aime, is aware of the Amazon.com situation, though he did not provide any details as to why the United States of America is the only country where Amazon’s website does not directly sell Nintendo systems and Nintendo eShop cards at MSRPs to consumers, when he was asked about it last year.

If you, Mr. Iwata, were the one that made the decision to cut ties with Amazon.com before the Wii U launched and apparently shortly after the Nintendo 3DS launched, can you please explain to investors why you think this is a smart decision for the long-term future and profits of Nintendo? If you weren’t the Nintendo employee that made this decision, can you please let investors know which employee made this decision and have them explain why it was made?

If you didn’t make this decision and are going to try and fix it now that you are aware of it, contacting Amazon.com’s CEO directly, Mr. Bezos, might be the best solution to finding out what exactly happened and why.

Mr. Iwata if you can fix the current Amazon.com situation in the United States and get Nintendo systems and Nintendo eShop cards on the site, I’m guessing there would be thousands of consumers (if not millions) to add them to their Amazon.com Wish Lists and/or purchase them this holiday season as gifts. Maybe you can even take it a step further, and allow developers to sell eShop codes for their games directly on Amazon.com, like what Nintendo has done for some Wii Virtual Console games in the past.

So, in short:
Dear Mr. Iwata,

Please fix this Nintendo of America problem with Amazon.com and get Nintendo systems and Nintendo eShop cards sold directly from the site at MSRPs, for consumers and Nintendo investors.

Sincerely,
Scott Mullins

Caffeinated Thoughts
I don’t understand why Nintendo of America has apparently chosen to burn its console bridge with Amazon.com, especially considering they had a new console release last year. While Microsoft and Sony both have been using Amazon.com to promote pre-orders for their new consoles and games releasing this holiday season, and their digitial promotion cards remain in the “Top 100”, it seems like Nintendo of America is happy with consumers having fewer places to buy and see their products.

So, Nintendo of America had the worst Wii U launch ads, had the horribly run Best Buy E3 Wii U events speaking from experience, and doesn’t have Nintendo systems and Nintendo eShop cards being sold at MSRPs directly by the world’s largest online retailer?

Why? Maybe they need more coffee at Nintendo of America? Maybe they need to hire more staff? Maybe the staff needs to work less, and perhaps could use some vacation time? Whatever the case is, something seems off at Nintendo of America to me, and I’m not sure how aware of the situation Mr. Iwata is, being that he just became CEO of Nintendo of America this year.

Hopefully though, this issue will be fixed before this holiday season, and hopefully before the Wii U price drop later this month. If this is an issue you would like to see Mr. Iwata and/or management at Nintendo of America address, feel free to tweet this post to @Nintendo and @NintendoAmerica.

Questions
Do you think Mr. Iwata was the Nintendo employee that made this decision regarding the relationship between Nintendo of America and Amazon.com, or do you think it was another employee at Nintendo?

If you enjoy shopping online, as I do, do you think Nintendo of America should fix the problem with Amazon.com before this holiday season, or at the very least explain to consumers and Nintendo investors why Amazon.com is the only Amazon site (that I’m aware of) to not directly carry and sell Nintendo systems at MSRPs to consumers, only having third party vendors that do it?


Links to some Nintendo items sold on Amazon.com, but not DIRECTLY BY Amazon.com:


CONNECT WITH COFFEE

Wii U update(s). Five things to be fixed, or improved, but not yet mentioned by Nintendo.

April 17, 2013


Coffee Beans
Nintendo is set to release the first big Wii U system update next week, with a second big system update planned for the summer.

What will this first Wii U system update fix? Well, Nintendo released a video in March showing the update should improve loading times when exiting from Wii U games to the system’s main menu.

Other than improving Wii U loading times though, Mr. Iwata just addressed some other features that the Wii U’s “Spring System Update” will address when it releases next week. In a Nintendo Direct this morning (April 17th), these are some of the features said to be addressed with the update:
1) Adds ability to copy/move data between two USB HDDs.
2) Download and install software in the background, while playing games.
3) Download and install updates, even when the system is off.
4) Software updates can automatically start downloading, without having to start the game.
5) Holding the B button when turning the system on, will jump you straight to the Wii U’s Wii Mode channel.

Also, Mr. Iwata said the Wii U’s Virtual Console service will become available next week, the day after the system update. (I’m guessing next Thursday, April 18th for the Virtual Console, April 17th for the system update?)

While these five updates are nice, what are some things that I think should be patched to make the Wii U a better system overall? What are (at least) five things that Nintendo hasn’t mentioned the Wii U patch(es) will address, that I think could/should be? Brew yourself some coffee, and let’s take a look!

My Trine 2 Wii U data, so far…

The Brew
1) Sharing “Daily Log” Data – I could tell you that my Trine 2 “Play Time” is 49:20, and that I have “played” it 64 times. Or, I could show you my Trine 2 Wii U data like the image above. Nintendo doesn’t like the Nintendo Channel (and, several other Wii Channels they’re getting rid of), but does that mean I shouldn’t be able to post my recorded Wii U game-play data to Miiverse? Apparently, yes. While the Wii U tracks how many hours and times you play a game (or, use a particular application) in the Daily Log channel, you can’t post that information to Miiverse using the sytem’s photo capture option like some games offer. While I doubt Nintendo will introduce a Wii U Nintendo Channel like the Wii has (or, soon to be had), I think it would be nice if Wii U owners could post Daily Log images to Miiverse. It would allow Wii U owners to share their most played/used games and apps during a month, and if a game doesn’t provide the number of hours played on the save file, it could be a good way to get an idea of the average hours played for a game.

Possessive. Not descriptive.

2) Freezing – Winter is over, but my Wii U console is still freezing. Sure, it’s only occasionally, but even as I typed this, it was sitting frozen. I hopped on Assassin’s Creed III Monday morning to get my save file stats, and posted them to Miiverse. Upon attempting to exit Miiverse, my Wii U system froze, again. The Wii U system freezing up would not be such a big issue to me, IF the system functioned as it’s supposed to function when it freezes. It doesn’t though. Still having to unplug my Wii U console when it freezes is annoying (and slightly concerning), when I should be able to simply hold the “Power” button for a few seconds to fix the freezing problem instead. Mr. Iwata did not mention the Wii U freezing issue in the Nintendo Direct a few months back when he mentioned Nintendo was working on improving the loading speeds and he didn’t mention it in today’s Nintendo Direct, so I’m a little concerned that this issue might not be able to be patched. I really hope I’m wrong, for a number of reasons, but I just find it odd that Nintendo would wait until this patch (or the summer one) to make the Wii U function as it should have when it released.

Room for keyboard shortcuts?

3) Copy/paste/keyboard options – The 100 character limit posts in Miiverse might be tough to use sometimes when trying to answer a question, or post up some thoughts on a game. One thing that would make this limit not so bad though, would be a simple copy/paste option for text. Let’s say you type out your full Miiverse message, and the text gets grayed out that is over the 100 character limit, but you have an option to “copy” some of it. You would simply copy the text over the limit, and post a new comment pasting the additional text to it. I’m surprised the copy/paste option wasn’t in the Wii U’s original Miiverse OS, because it is an option in the Wii U’s Internet Browser. Speaking of the Wii U’s Internet Browser, a GamePad keyboard update that would be an improvement I think, would be adding a “.com” button to the Internet Browser keyboard. Sure, it’s only a few extra taps on the GamePad, but I think little things like a “.com” button, and perhaps some other keyboard shortcuts, would be appreciated.

Nintendo needs to copy/paste the Copy/Paste Browser buttons to Miiverse.

4) The “Energizer” disc drive – I mentioned back in November, in my “Caffeinated Thoughts on the Wii U” post, the freezing issue and the disc drive issue. The disc drive issue, like the freezing issue, still has not been addressed. If you don’t know, the Wii U’s disc drive is constantly is reading/spinning the game disc when one is in the system. It doesn’t matter if you are just using the Wii U for Netflix, Amazon Video, or any other non-game application, if there is a game in the Wii U’s disc drive, it is spinning. It’s like the Wii U’s disc drive is an Energizer Bunny of sorts, in that it just keeps going and going, or spinning and spinning in this situation. I know some Wii owners had disc drive issues, and I received my PlayStation 3 from a friend because the disc drive had stopped working. I really hope that Nintendo updates the Wii U so the disc drive is not constantly reading/spinning the disc, when non-game Wii U applications are being used such as Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, or even the Internet Browser. The Wii’s disc drive does not constantly spin if a disc is in the system and Netflix or another non-gaming Wii Channel is being used, so I would imagine Nintendo can patch the Wii U for fix the issue.

Give yourself these Wii U eShop games, as “gifts”!

5) Gifting Wii U eShop games – Did you know you could give Virtual Console and WiiWare games to other Wii owners as “gifts”? Did you know that you cannot give Wii U eShop games to other Wii U owners as gifts? I think it’s odd that Nintendo didn’t include the gifting option right from the beginning. I hope they make “gifting” Wii U eShop titles a new feature, as I do like to give things away from time-to-time on the site, and I can think of a few eShop titles that would be at the top of that list right now: Toki Tori 2 and Trine 2.

Gift options shown for WiiWare games. One already owned, one not.

Questions
Are there any other Wii U system improvements you would like to see Nintendo address with the first big system update next week, or perhaps in the update planned for the summer?

If you’re into programming, is there any reason Nintendo can’t address the Wii U’s hard reset option (holding the Power button for a few seconds to turn the system off), with a system patch? Like I mentioned above, I just find it odd that has not already been patched.

Caffeinated Thoughts on the Wii U

November 30, 2012
How many beans can you count?

Coffee Beans
So, the Saturday night before the Wii U released on the 18th, I attempted to find a Wii U at a midnight release in town, but having no such fortune I ended up just getting our reserved Wii U system on Sunday as was originally planned.

I brought the Wii U home, but didn’t start setting it up until a few hours later (about 3:30PM), after making sure the Beans were down for their naps.

With almost 2 weeks with the Wii U system now, what do I think about it? Brew yourself some coffee, probably a whole pot for this post, and let’s take a look!

Caffeinated Thoughts
What’s a good way to go about my thoughts on the Wii U? How about the bitter, sweet, and bold!

Sad coffee face. 😦

Bitter
1) Initial Patch – While getting system updates is something I’m quite used to doing on the PlayStation 3, it’s not something I particularly like having to do. Hopefully Nintendo will start shipping Wii U units with the update already installed, so new Wii U owners can just plug-and-play on day one. I actually think having to patch the system as it is now, might keep the system from gaining popularity with the casual market the Wii initially grabbed. I know that my parents would have a time trying to figure out how to connect the Wii U to their wireless setting, so hopefully it is something that can be remedied quickly. My initial patch/update took about an hour, but I did use a USB Ethernet port to have my Wii U connected directly the internet.

2) Disc drive – The Wii U’s disc drive is constantly reading the disc when one is in the drive, even if the game is not being played and another system function is being used like Miiverse or Netflix. I think Nintendo might have patched the original Wii to solve this issue on that system, as I don’t believe the disc would be spinning when using Netflix on the Wii, so I’m hoping they solve the problem with a patch. As of now, I remove any game from our Wii U when it is not being played, but I know others don’t think it’s a big issue.

3) Poorly designed YouTube App – The YouTube App window, which is like the Netflix and Amazon Video Apps on the system, appears on the home page of the system. For whatever reason though, the GamePad is used in very minimal ways with the YouTube App. From my time with the app, the YouTube videos can’t even be switched to streaming from the GamePad, which is very odd. You have to basically be looking at the TV to search and use the YouTube App in any decent way. Fortunately, there is a better way to use YouTube on the Wii U, which I’ll get to below.

4) No NINTENDO CHANNEL DATA – Sure, I can still track Wii games on my Wii’s Nintendo Channel, but the Wii U does not provide averages played on games as the Wii does. The Nintendo Channel cannot even be downloaded to the Wii menu section on the Wii U, which means we are keeping our Wii. (Please fix this Nintendo, JUST like the Wii had it.)

5) Hard reset doesn’t hard reset – This is very odd and baffling to me. I have had my Wii U console freeze up on me twice now (twice too many!). Okay, not terrible I guess considering I have used it quite a bit so far, but still it’s a bitter experience when it happens. Your TV will most likely sound like a police car, fire truck, and ambulance sirens have gotten stuck in a high pitched squeal. But when you think, “Easy FIX! I’ll just hold the power button and get rid of that annoying sound.”, you are hit with a wall of disappoint and failure upon trying. Somehow, the Wii U made it out to the masses without the typical hard reset option working. Most of the time on electronics devices, if they freeze, you can simply hold the power button down for a few seconds and get it to turn itself off. Not with the Wii U right now. Nope. I have to crawl into the dungeon behind our entertainment system that is housing a 200-300lb beast (see TV), and unplug the system from what outlet. How in the world an electronics device got out without the typical hard reset option working, is baffling. Apparently though, Nintendo is going to patch that up for us in the next few weeks, which will hopefully make it a distant, if bitter, memory. I’m not holding my breath waiting on the patch though, because there is a lack of history from Nintendo with providing decent patches even on their games.

Happy!

Sweet
1) Finding Friends – If you own a Wii U, feel free to add me to your friend list. My Nintendo Network user name is CoffeesNintendo has improved finding and adding friends greatly over the Wii’s method. You can add “friends” directly from Miiverse, meaning just a random person you don’t know. You can search for new friends based on people you have played with in online games as well. The system’s ability to send messages to friends, and see what games they are playing (or app they are using) is a great improvement over what was offered (or not offered) on the Wii. There are some finicky things though, like my Mii not displaying the game I was playing to another friend for a while, and we’re not sure if it was on my side or his side of things (or Nintendo’s side), but overall adding and communicating with friends is a huge improvement over the Wii.

2) Video Chat – While only briefly trying this out one night with Brad, from WhoBurnedMyToast, it worked well when we used it and he was able to see the Beans (well, the older one at least) being super hyper right before their bed-time. He even spelled out “Coffee” on the GamePad and Bean 1 correctly identified the word. The drawing on the GamePad during video chat is something that I think could become a big hit with younger children and perhaps grandparents, and just doodling on the GamePad for fun during chatting as well. I guess if somebody figures out a way to do math tutoring with video chat on the Wii U, they can just do their math equations on the GamePad.

3) TV button on GamePad – This is an awesome little button/feature, and I have used it quite a bit in my time with the Wii U to turn the volume up and down in games. It works very well, though you do need to be pointing the Wii U GamePad at the TV when trying to use the TV controls; meaning if there is an object between you and the GamePad, or the GamePad is stored on top of an entertainment system above the TV as ours is, you will need to point it at the TV like a normal TV remote.

4) User Interface (UI) & Operating System (OS) – The Wii U’s UI is an updated version of the Wii’s with the tile boxes on the screen, but the OS behind it has had a good bit of overhaul to it, allowing for more features and functionality. Hitting the Home button during a game will pull up a menu, allowing you to jump to your Friend List, Miiverse, Nintendo eShop, Internet Browser, Nintendo TVii, Download Management, Controller Settings, or Manual for whatever game or app you are using. The ability to switch back and forth from displaying things on the TV to the GamePad with different apps like Netflix, Amazon Video, and YouTube within the browser is very nice. Bean 2 (the younger Bean) is now famous for finding the power button on the TV where we have it set up and last Monday night (the 19th) Bean 1 and I were sitting on the couch watching a cartoon on Netflix (probably Bob the Builder). Bean 2 found the TV power button and pressed it off, and what usually results in “Put him in jail!” from Bean 1, was instantly averted by switching Netflix to streaming on the GamePad we had on the couch with us. Bean 1 was surprised by it, but Bean 2 didn’t know any difference and went about pressing the TV power button.

5) Browser – The browser on the Wii U is very functional from my time with it, especially with the GamePad’s keyboard implementation. Typing with either the GamePad’s stylus or my fingers has worked very well for doing quick Google searches. My favorite thing about the Wii U’s browser though, is YouTube on it works incredibly well. You can choose to watch the YouTube videos on the TV, but use the GamePad to search and select more YouTube videos to play directly off of the GamePad. Or, unlike the App, you can actually choose to stream YouTube videos directly off of the GamePad. Also, this could fall under the OS and UI maybe, but if you are in a game and need help you can hit the Home button to bring up the Home menu. Then what? Well, if you select the Browser button, it will launch the browser for you and already have the game you are playing ready to be “searched” if that’s what you’re wanting. You can search, while the game is still paused, for guides on how to beat a boss, where to find an item in the game, or how many hours you can expect it to take you to finish the game. Or, you can even use the browser while the game is paused, go to YouTube and find a walk-through video on the game (if you do that) if you get stuck. The browser also has a little “curtain” that you can use to hide what you’re searching for from the TV, and I have found this actually pretty useful with keeping Bean 1 from requesting 20 different YouTube videos. After we watch one on the TV, I can put up the curtain, find another video, and hit play without him requesting a video that might not be really relevant, but the image on it just looks shiny and interesting.

6) Wii U GamePad stand/cradle set – These are included with the Wii U Deluxe Set, or can be purchased for the Wii U Basic Set for $19.99. I do recommend them, and if you are looking for Wii U accessories for your Christmas list and only have the basic set, these can be very useful. One of the stands allows the GamePad to sit in it and be charged, and while you can’t really play it like that, it’s a good place to store it and keep out of the hands of little Beans that might want it. The second stand is just a GamePad stand, with no slot for the charging cable to be plugged. I use this one quite often when sitting on the couch playing ZombiU, leaving the stand on the coffee table and putting the GamePad in the stand if I get up to go grab some more coffee, snacks, or just to check on the Beans in the middle of the night.

7) Games – So far, I have played three Wii U games. Those being Nintendo Land, Trine 2, and ZombiU.

  • Nintendo Land came with the system, and we have played it a decent amount. Bean 1 really enjoys the Mario Chase, Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, and Yoshi’s Fruit Cart mini-games the most. When you play the different mini-games, you are awarded coins and you can spend them in a Coin Game, where you have to aim the coins to fall in certain directions. If you complete the stages in the coin drop game, you are given gifts for your Nintendo Land plaza that help make it more lively, and Bean 1 enjoys the Coin Game and finding the gifts around the plaze as well. I think Mario Chase and Luigi’s Ghost Mansion are a lot of fun, and show the fun that can be had with asymmetric gameplay, and I particularly like Luigi’s Ghost Mansion the most right now. Takamaru’s Ninja Castle mini-game is a lot of fun from my time with it, but I haven’t put nearly enough time into Metroid Blast or The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, and a few of the other mini-games to really have impressions of them yet.
  • Trine 2 is an eShop title, and the developers were kind enough to provide me with a code for it, even knowing I don’t do typical reviews on games. I have said it on a few other sites, but Trine 2 is the first Wii U game that really made me realize how dated our SD TV is. Why? Trine 2 looks incredible, and it plays on the TV and/or on the GamePad, but the game looks brighter, crisper, and just more vibrant in general on the GamePad than our TV. It made me realize even more it is time for a HD TV upgrade; which we are already looking  for (recommendations welcomed)! I have made it through the first level so far, and I am really enjoying the story-telling aspect of the game. The way Trine 2’s story is told, the setting for the game, and humor used so far remind me of the movie The Princess Bride; which is a very good thing.
  • ZombiU – I purchased this day one with my Wii U system, even knowing the “reviews” published by some sites were not positive. I have now completed the game, and I will say if you are wanting to play a survival horror title, even with some sense of terror thrown in, I recommend you pick this game up and give it a try. So yes, please ignore the early reviews on this game. What was my time with ZombiU? 24+ hours, I’m above average, I know! Seriously though, I am glad to see this game get developed and published, and I have had a lot of fun with it so far. Mrs. Coffee does not like zombies (in general), and would prefer to not play FPS games due to the controls. She did try and actually enjoyed ZombiU’s local multiplayer modes though, as she used only the GamePad while I was using the FPS controls with our Wii Remote and Nunchuk. If you can go into ZombiU knowing it’s not a perfect game with perhaps some glitches to be experienced, and you enjoy survival horror type games, you should find it well worth playing.
Trine 2, ZombiU, Nintendo Land.

Bold
1) The GamePad – While maybe not as revolutionary as perhaps the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination, I think the GamePad has a lot of potential for fun and unique gameplay elements in games. The asymmetric gameplay in Nintendo Land, and even the different gameplay mechanics added in games like Trine 2 and ZombiU make me glad to see developers already using the GamePad in very different ways. I have been very impressed with how each game I have played, uses the GamePad and its features in unique ways. I really think it will be interesting to see which developer (if any) uses every single feature on the Wii U GamePad, in some fashion in a game. The speakers on the controller are actually better than I was expecting, and the volume output has been high enough from what I have experienced so far. The two little grips I wrote about from my time with the demo haven’t been an issue for me, and I have enjoyed not rushing out just yet to grab a case for it…though the Nerf GamePad cases look like they might provide the best protection from what I have seen. I really do hope that Nintendo is able to get the cost of the Wii U GamePad (and even console) down quickly, so that if Wii U owners break or experience any problems with their GamePads, they can replace them quickly and affordably.

2) Miiverse – What is Miiverse? Awesomeness. Think of Miiverse as a message board or forum, or even an ever flowing comments section for Wii U games and apps. This very feature will probably either create new jobs at some companies to help monitor Wii U owners in the game communities and help them with questions, or add a bit more of a burden to community managers at companies now that might need to start being active in the Miiverse communities. Each Wii U game and app has its own separate Miiverse community (at least of now), and I have used Miiverse in ZombiU several times; sometimes to answer questions, and a few times to get questions answered about the game. Instead of stopping the game and coming to the computer and searching, or using the Wii U’s browser option, I just hit the Home button and hop into the ZombiU Miiverse community, ask my question, hop back to the game, and check back a few minutes later to see if my question has been answered. I really, really, really like this aspect of the Wii U and that Miiverse is up and running on the system already is great to see. Miiverse allows users to use a standard keyboard input with ABCs, or hand written notes and drawings for messages using the stylus or your fingers. I have actually found the hand drawing aspect to be extremely useful in ZombiU when I got stuck somewhere. I was able to hop into Miiverse and draw a rough (very rough) map of the building I was looking at, and let them know what I was looking for. After a few back and forth comments on Miiverse, I was able to figure out what I had done wrong and continue with my game.

Overall, I have enjoyed my time with the Wii U so far, and if you have any questions about the Wii U that perhaps I didn’t answer or address here, feel free to ask in the comments below. I may have even forgotten a few of the “bitter”, “bold”, or “sweet” things I was going to include, and might be able to clarify some. If you have any questions about the games I have played so far, feel free to ask below as well.

Questions
Did any of you grab a Wii U yet, and if so what do you think about it so far? Do you agree, or disagree with any of my points?

Have you played any Wii U games you would really recommend others give a try? Are you interested in seeing any footage from the Wii U games we have right now, Nintendo Land, Trine 2, and ZombiU? If so, let me know what game you would like to see footage of in the comments below. Also, feel free to share your Wii U user name below in the comments.

Critics vs. Customers! New Review Feature

August 15, 2012

Coffee Beans

     What is “Critics vs. Customers”? The image above shows the “professional” critic review score average for a Wii retail game as 48.41%, and the Amazon.com customer review score average for the exact same game as 87.08%. How can there be such a huge difference?
     If you have wondered why I usually write professional, as “professional” when it comes to the general video game critics’ review score average in my posts, it’s because I find most of the critic review scores for games to be so similar to each other, and it’s almost like I can get more useful information about games from reading user reviews on Amazon.com, video game forums, and smaller blogs, than I can from reading reviews from sites that are supposed to be considered “professional”.
     The “professional” critics are often getting paid to play the games they review (either paid for writing the review and/or getting a free copy of the game), while the majority of the user reviews are probably from paying customers that are just trying to inform other potential customers of the good/bad they can expect from the game.
     With Critics vs. Customers we will look at a wide variety of games and see how games did with the critics’ review score averages from MetaCritic.com and GameRankings.com, and customers’ review score averages from sites like Amazon.com. General information and trailers about the games will be provided as well if possible, and maybe even more developer feedback on the posts.
     If I have played the game being covered then the piece will probably be titled, “Critics vs. Customers AND Coffee” (or something close to it), and I will try to give my insights on the game and what I thought was bitter and/or sweet about it.

Caffeinated Thoughts
     Many times game developers will have in their contracts that they may get a bonus or higher return on their games, if their game can meet certain MetaCritic review score averages. If you were to take a look at the image above and base your opinion on the game just on the “professional” critic review score average, you might not even give that game a try.
     Why should developers not get a bonus because the “professionals” apparently are the wrong target audience for the game and perhaps don’t even complete the game before writing their “reviews”, while the customers that are playing, and paying for, the very same game seem to really be enjoying it?

     I wrote a post on this topic of video game reviews, “Should There Be Game Review Standards?“, ironically just over 2 years ago (almost to the date of this post being published).
     I hope this new feature can perhaps shine a spotlight on older games, and even new releases, from a different angle and give potential buyers a different look at what paying customers think about the games, instead of just the paid critics.

Question
     Can you identify which game is used my image above, with the critic review score average of 48.41% from GameRankings.com and the customer review score average of 87.08 from Amazon.com?