The future of the Virtual Console+Nintendo subscription

The Virtual Console is a way for Nintendo to allow for digital backwards compatibility going several generations back. That’s a great idea allowing them to capitalize on their rich legacy, but as the years go on, it feels like the VC needs a big change in order to keep consumers interested.

Pricing:

While it’s something Iwata wanted to prevent, games do devalue over time and they should account for that. NES games are a tad on the expensive side, especially with the NES Mini offering 30 games for $60 which would cost you around $150 on the VC. Lowering each by 20-40% might do them some good. $1.99 for NES/GBC, $3.99 for SNES/GBA, $5.99 for N64/DS, $9.99 for GCN, and $14.99 for Wii/3DS seems reasonable enough.

Nintendo’s PS+:

PS+ is a great money making strategy while adding value to consumers and it’s something Nintendo should very much be looking into with NX. An issue would be that including new retail games is a challenge, especially early on in a generation. With a massive back catalog of 5 generations and 9 console libraries they can fill in that quota for awhile. Additionally, new games (be it indie or retail releases) are devalued if they get on PS+ with some fans feeling ripped off for buying the game earlier or if they only own other platforms. This could ease the issue while allowing Nintendo to stick with their drip feed method.

I don’t believe they can gate online play behind a paywall, not until they get rid of the stigma, but being like the original PS+ would make consumers pretty happy while providing an additional source of revenue.

Netflix-like service:

Another alternative Nintendo might want to look into is a Netflix style service. Allowing access to their entire back catalog (likely excluding Wii U) for a certain amount per year. Maybe tie this in with other incentives like early access to new releases, additional discounts, etc. They have a lot of exclusive titles to put on offer, something Netflix is trying to achieve now, which will increase profitability if done right. This would require most of the VC library to be available from the offset, though, so the drip-feed method would not work. I think there’s still a large market for Nintendo’s retro games, but not sold individually and released slowly over a long period of time.

Pricing for something like this could be similar to Netflix’s $9 per month, or $90 per year.  Should match the value provided, at least, which is another issue.

Emulation features:

Emulation has taken off on PC, usually illegally, but people have grown used to having several features when playing these games and maybe Nintendo should take advantage of them. Nintendo already implemented save states which alleviates some frustration when revisiting older games. Additional visual upgrades might be warranted as well. Filters for older games as well and resolution bumps could add value to older games. Nintendo experimented with 2x resolution for DS games on the Wii U VC, but left the feature disabled for some reason (bugs?) so they’ve at least considered it. 3DS and GameCube games would generally look pretty nice with an improved resolution (as seen above).

Nintendo should look into expanding their line up, which has been stuck on N64 level games since the Wii. Eurogamer looked into the possibility of GCN and Wii emulation and the results are somewhat promising, though it might require more effort they’d be willing to put for every release. Even a 480p GCN game would look pretty nice on a 5″ screen, though. If they manage to add Wii, 3DS, and GCN games to the service, they’d be able to access over 90% of their back catalog outside of Wii U software. Wii U emulation isn’t likely for several years so porting key titles like Bayonetta 2 or Smash 4 is recommended.

As a side note, marketing the VC as a “buy once and play anywhere” type service could work pretty well. I imagine many would love to revisit retro games on the go, especially GCN and N64 titles. Also, giving Wii/Wii U owners the chance to transfer their purchases would result in a lot of good will which would make those most likely to buy a lot of VC games to come back especially if they already have a library of games available from the get go (remember, there’s no native BC based on the Eurogamer rumor)

I believe there’s a lot that can be done with Nintendo’s massive back catalog and these are just a few suggestions that might be more effective than their current strategy. These games already came out and made their money, they can do much more with them now a days than selling them for an inflated price. Giving them away for a small subscription is one way of handling it, as is lowering the price. I hope they reconsider their strategy since it doesn’t appear to be working optimally.

 

 

NX to use NVIDIA’s Pascal GPU architecture?

Since it is being discussed elsewhere, I can say with confidence that Nvidia will announce a Pascal Tegra chip for NX.

While rumors indicate that the NX will indeed use NVIDIA processors, we still don’t know if they’ll stick to the Maxwell based X1 or a newer architecture. The NVIDIA Pascal Tegra chip won’t help determine power, but it is very efficient which is something Nintendo is looking for.

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Disney Infinity Online services will be discontinued by March next year

With the shocking news that Disney was not only cancelling future Disney Infinity projects, but also shutting down the studio, Disney has announced more bad news for the virtual house of mouse.

Disney Infinity online services will be discontinued on March 3rd 2017 making the game rather useless. Additionally, Disney will not be reviewing nor approving custom toy box levels after this September.

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Making sense of WSJ’s NX mobile compatibility statement

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The Wall Street Journal, while backing the Eurogamer rumor, said:

A person familiar with the matter said NX would be a handheld-console hybrid that would be compatible with its own smartphone games.

While many people, including myself, thought this meant that the games would run natively on the tablet like system, that wouldn’t make much sense nor be worth mentioning. Unless it runs Android, it would require some form of porting and at that point it wouldn’t be compatible or “run on NX” natively.

A new (…from 2 months ago) rumor from a Portuguese forum seems to shed some light. Essentially, as I had stated previously, having to port Nintendo games from mobile to NX wouldn’t really be worth noting as a feature in a leak, but compatibility has other meanings. The WSJ’s vague post most likely refers to NX working together with mobile games, transferring data between the two. A potentially exciting example would be Miitomo linking up with NX’s MiiMaker via MyNintendo allowing you to get the clothes you have accumulated over time. Would make Miitomo a long term project for Nintendo while improving Miis as a whole. Other examples could be getting troops from Fire Emblem Mobile, transferring Pokemon Go Pokemon to Pokemon NX, and more.

Let me know what you think in the comments bellow

REVIEW: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE for Nintendo Wii U

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Tokyo Mirage Session #FE (TMS) was announced in January of 2013 as Shin Megami Tensei (SMT) x Fire Emblem. After 3 and a half years of waiting, we finally got the game in the west. Was the wait actually worth it?

While many might be disappointed with the lighter tone that goes against the series this spin off is based off of, I personally had hoped for this project to be more like Persona rather being a hardcore dungeon crawler like the mainline SMT series. I’m quite pleased with the results. TMS is indeed a SMT dungeon crawler but the changes it adds to the formula greatly improve the gameplay. The game borrows SMT’s Press Turn battle system and adds in its own twist via sessions. Instead of getting a second attack by finding the enemies weakness, your party joins in the attack and lands a blow one after the other. This is an extremely stylish update to the established gameplay that feels extremely satisfying and continues to evolve overtime.

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Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE has a great way of handling progression. You’re constantly growing or leveling up stats in one way or the other. Fighting monsters give you enemy drops which can be used to create weapons called “Carnage Forms” which function similarly to demon/persona fusion in other SMT titles. Each Carnage Form grants you several abilities to add to your party permanently like new magic spells, passive abilities, or stat boosts making it a necessity. Progressing in the story and partaking in side quests gains you additional abilities which improve the combat system without being too complex. As mentioned previously, TMS also has the Session attacks which plays a huge role in all of this. As you gain more characters they can participate in Session attacks even if they’re not in the active party. This is great since it incentivizes you to keep all members in your party properly leveled instead of ignoring them once someone better arrives (a common occurrence in JRPGs #RIPYukiko). At the start of the game you’ll have one hit Sessions and end up with Session attacks that reach up to 15+ additional hits.

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Dungeon Crawling, another franchise staple, also sees a big improvement over previous SMT games. Instead of the flat corridors of the series, each dungeon has a slight puzzle element to it. Puzzle dungeons aren’t new, and games like Persona 4 had some elements to it with Persona Q having way too many, but TMS strikes a nice balance where I was never lost for too long or stumped with what to do next. It’s pretty well done and adds a lot to the game. Finding secrets by solving puzzles is pretty satisfying and rewarding. Exploring dungeons is also made more enjoyable through special abilities which can slow down enemies, make more or fewer appear, spawn strong/rare enemies, etc. Hitting enemies with your sword in the overworld also stuns them so you can continue without fighting. Difficulty is overall pretty spot on for most of the game. All this combined with difficulty sliders makes the experience very personalizable and enjoyable.

Earlier when I said I was a fan of Persona and I was hoping that this game would be like it, I meant is specifically for relationship building and character interactions. While the characters don’t get as much time to get fleshed out like in Persona 4, the game pulls off this aspect fairly well. Each major character (including non playable characters like Barry and Tiki) has around 3 Social Link-esque events where the character grows and changes. These are story based events where you occasionally have to go into a dungeon to fight a special boss-like creature. They’re pretty good and they give you fairly big benefits like new moves and special abilities (NPCs give you benefits like reduced prices in stores and characters gain these special music video attacks which are very useful in battle). You can tackle these side quest whenever you choose and you can achieve all of them in a singular playthrough without the stress that Persona 4 provides (running out of time and not being able to S rank every character). The characters shine through in the little you see of them, leaving me wanting more which might be my biggest complaint thus far.

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The game is very charming and funny. These are fun and varied characters that make the ridiculous premise of using performance arts skills to fight monsters actually work. The plot isn’t the deepest, but it’s quirky and character driven. It’s light hearted and just a good time overall.

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All this is not to say that the game lacks flaws, of course. The save system is antiquated and frustrating at times. On easy/friendly difficulties you can retry a battle not losing any progress, but on normal you can get a straight up game over if you lose a fight. This happened around 3 times in my playthrough where I lost a lot of progress due to being surprised by a tough enemy and wiped out. I got used to this and saving became second habit after ever other battle, but it’s worth considering. There’s also no headphone jack option which seems like a massive oversight for this game. The gamepad is mandatory but outside of a bleep every once in awhile it doesn’t really take advantage of the gamepad’s audio. With the animu moaning noises it could make playing this game while living with others a bit difficult or embarrassing.

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In terms of length, the game can be finished in around 40 hours or so, but I spent upwards of 100 hours finishing the game. There’s a lot of content for those that want to dive in deep into the game but it’s mostly optional for those that just want to experience the main story. As you could probably tell, I dove into the deep end. It’s rare that I willingly spend so much time on a game with it not feeling like such a long drag. SMT IV felt considerably longer for me despite only playing for 78 hours. I think I might have dragged things out a bit too much (doing every side quest that I could), but I had fun with most of my play time which is more than I can say with a lot of other JRPGs I’ve played recently.

tokyo-mirage-sessions-1While the story and relationships between the characters don’t reach the heights of Persona 4, the gameplay in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is the best the Shin Megami Tensei franchise has ever accomplished and as a whole it’s one of the best JRPGs in the market.

Cartridge Games awards Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE a:

9/10