Kinect And Wii U GamePad Detract Or Add To The Experience?

Rob Fahey has written a brilliant article on about why he thinks the Xbox One and Nintendo Wii U are actually worse off with their true next-gen innovations in Kinect and the GamePad.

Xbox One and Wii U are less conservative, because both of them make some effort to change the interface and context of videogames. Xbox One includes a vastly updated and improved Kinect motion sensor, which shoulders the brunt of the blame for the console’s inflated price tag. The sensor, like its predecessor, is designed to map and understand the movement of human bodies around the room in front of it – unlike its predecessor, it actually appears to be capable of doing so very well. The Wii U, meanwhile, includes the GamePad, a touchscreen controller that lets you play games even while others are watching something else on TV, but more interestingly, also creates a second screen for gameplay and has potential uses in asymmetric multiplayer, wherein one player uses the screen to set up a game while others use Wii Remotes to tackle the challenges being created.

It could be, of course, that the features themselves just aren’t much good. I think the potential of the GamePad remains to be tapped, but have some sympathy with the argument that Kinect, even in its vastly upgraded Xbox One incarnation, is a solution for which no readily apparent problem can be found. Certainly its present function, as an utterly sub-par way of controlling the console’s menu functions and an occasional shoehorned annoyance in games, does little to explain why this expensive piece of hardware is a mandatory part of Xbox One – yet I know that there are plenty of enthusiastic and intelligent games people at Microsoft, and there must be a genuine belief that Kinect 2 can deliver unique and worthwhile experiences that won’t be possible on other consoles. The problem is that, just as with the thus-far largely meaningless GamePad, Microsoft has failed to demonstrate or articulate just what those experiences will be.

It feels like both companies want to bottle some of the magic which fuelled the Wii to such great heights in the last generation, but they’ve forgotten that the real magic of the Wii wasn’t actually the Wiimote – it was Wii Sports. In one superbly crafted game, bundled free with the console in many territories, Nintendo explained exactly what the Wii was for. A few minutes with Wii Sports showed anyone and everyone what the Wiimote was designed to do and how it would change the game experience. Moreover, it set out a clear agenda for the console as a whole – a social machine, a family machine, an accessible machine. Wii Sports wasn’t just a game, it was a powerful demonstration, a mission statement and perhaps the greatest piece of marketing anyone in the games industry has ever crafted.

The Xbox One and the Wii U both have their Wiimote, but neither has their Wii Sports.

The last sentence that I highlighted in bold is really the key point in the article to me. Both devices have potential, and I have always been a supporter of the Kinect, but neither have a true stand-out game which fulfils some of the potential of either device yet. Obviously it is still very early days with the Xbox One, with Kinect-focused games like Kinect Sports Rivals coming out soon, but you would have hoped that Nintendo would have a killer game that utilises the GamePad properly by now.

Check out the full article over on

Interview With Smash Bros Creator Sakurai

Kotaku speak to Kirby and Super Smash Brothers creator Masahiro Sakurai about the next installment of Smash Bros coming to the Wii U and 3DS. Here are some of my highlights from the interview:

Kotaku: My first question is, what is the process like for deciding which characters in a Smash Bros. game to include and which to cut from game to game?

Sakurai: The first thing is to take an idea. For example, imagine a game and characters within that game. Take a character such as the villager in Animal Crossing. The next process is think about that character’s role in their game and then the structure of the game we’re making. How do those work together with each other? What kind of interesting things can you do within the structure of the game? And then if you were to actually implement that character, how would the end result be, how it works with other elements of the game?

An important thing is that the characters stand out from one another—for instance, we might wanna be able to take characters that aren’t typically combat-based characters. So you might have a sword-based character, but other characters are not necessarily going to [have swords]. You’re not gonna wanna focus on that sort of element, just so there’s a distinction between all of the other combat-based characters.

They have to have something really unique that makes them stand apart from other characters in the game, and not limit yourself to characters that are just combat-based.

Kotaku: And you can also—on the 3DS version—play against people playing the Wii U version?

Sakurai: Actually, that’s not possible. What is possible is for you to be able to customize your character, transfer it to the Wii U, and then play there. It would be technically impossible, just because the stages are so different between the two versions, so there isn’t a situation where you have a handheld device and a console and you’re able to play at the same time. Just more of a situation where there’s integration, and [ability] to transfer data.

Kotaku: How do you manage to make each character still feel strong and still feel like they can be competitive with the rest of the characters, even with all those positional factors?

Sakurai: Yeah, if it was just a flat playing surface, it would be one thing, and you could determine pretty quickly which was the stronger character. But given the circumstances of the series, and there are so many factors, it comes down to a quite simple process, where you give characters a special—something special that no other character has. A special technique. And at the same time, as that ratchets up their strength, you also have to take something away, so it becomes a sort of game of checks and balances where you’re adding and removing.

So again, it’s very important to have that system of checks and balances where if a character has some very strong point, you have to give him something weak. If a person really likes that character, and they want to have that special strength, they’re going to have to sacrifice something to be able to take that weakness and create sort of a balance in that sense, where each character has something that certain people like.

Kotaku: Do you feel like there were flaws or weaknesses in Smash Bros. Brawl that you want to make better, or fix, or learn from for the new Smash Bros. games?

Sakurai: I would consider the changes that we’re making this time around not as fixes, but that we’re changing the direction. And so the vision for the overall balance of the game inSmash Bros. Melee, it was sort of more focused towards more hardcore players. Then when it came around to making Brawl, this was a game that was targeting a Wii audience where there were a lot of beginner players, so it sort of leaned a little bit more in that direction. So now, for this time around, we’re sort of aiming for something that is in between those as far as the speed of the game. Because I don’t really think this time we’re in a situation where we’re trying to accommodate that many new players like we did last time.

Check out the whole article over on Kotaku.

100 New Screenshots From Smash Bros Wii U


Over 100 new screenshots of the new Smash Bros for the Wii U have been released, showing some of the new characters and the improved models of the old characters. It does look better than the Wii version but you can clearly see the limitations of the non-next-gen Wii U as there are some extremely low-poly models shown in these shots- especially in the floor/environment and even in some of the characters. Obviously Smash Bros is all about fast-paced mayhem so some of the low-poly edges won’t be noticed when playing but still, as a massive Smash Bros fan, its quite depressing to see this game looking so limited already 😦

Check out the article on Kotaku for the rest of the images and to see these at a higher resolution (which shows how low-poly it is even more!).

Or check out the reveal trailer here.

Zelda: Wind Waker Wii U Vs GameCube

Kotaku has posted links to two videos of Zelda: Wind Waker showing the difference between the Wii U and the GameCube version. It really does show how good the Wii U version does look, its just a shame they didn’t put a few more polys into the characters to smooth out some of the edges.

Wii U:


Check out the original article over on Kotaku.

Zelda: The Wind Waker Wii U Remake

The images showing in this video look amazing for this HD remake for The Wind Waker on the Wii U. It leaves me with a big dilema! I haven’t played the original game yet but I bought it on the GameCube and have it waiting in my playlist, but now do I just wait and play the Wii U version?!

Miiverse And Wii U Usage Videos

This is a good video showing some of the online functions on the Wii U- it actually looks pretty good- depending on how well they moderate the messages and communities.

I really like the screenshot posting directly from games online for people to reply to- about 7minutes into the video.

But there are some extremely slow parts to it- especially moving between apps and loading games!

First UK Wii U TV Advert

It’s quite cheesey but I thought this first Wii U TV advert to be aired in the UK was done well and it actually makes the console look quite attractive- it’s a shame the hardware will be so under-powered when the proper next-gen consoles come out; the Xbox 720 and PS4.

Thank you for the link.