Ask the Kliq: Fifth Edition

Ask the Kliq #5

Every once in a while, you will think about video games and then ask yourself a question that has no rhyme or reason, but that just happened to pop in your head at that exact moment. In some rare instances, not even Google or Wikipedia can provide the answer you need. Sometimes you wouldn’t even need an answer to that question.

This is where we come in.

Our panel of experts is here to take on all of your video games-related questions, no matter how serious or silly they may be. With each new edition, we will submit a question to this elite committee. In turn, we will try to provide you, our beloved readers, with the most accurate answer they can come up with.

Do you have a question for us? Shoot us an e-mail at kapoutman AT with the subject line, “Ask the Kliq”, or leave one for us in the comments section. The best questions will be featured in an upcoming column.

This Week’s Question

This week, we have our faithful reader Tony chiming in with a question about Nintendo and casual gamers. According to Tony (His words, not mine), Wii Music is, “a pile of steaming crap”. He also says that, “It sucks because Nintendo and Miyamoto said they would keep finding ways to bring in more casual gamers.” Therefore, Tony’s question is in fact two questions:

1) What do you think is Nintendo’s next big plan, concept or game to bring in more casual gamers?

2) In your perfect world, what is the next game Nintendo should be working on?

Michael O’Reilly: 1) I’m tempted to answer that Nintendo’s next big plan is to release a three screened handheld, but that is the funny thing about Nintendo, they innovate and make money doing it, so anything I could say in a snarky kind of way might in fact turn out to be reality in a few years. I suspect it will make games more interactive and attractive to the casual gamer. Nintendo has always innovated towards making their games more immersive, making it easier to slip away into the game world. The rumble pack. The Wavebird wireless controller. The Wii remote. The balance board. Now, with Wii Music, I suspect that Nintendo have decided to focus their attention on audio. So perhaps voice recognition will become the new revolution from Nintendo.

2) Truthfully, in my perfect world Nintendo would be making Mario Live for the Xbox 360. I don’t own a Wii or a DS and at present I don’t feel the need, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to play their first party titles. Rock Band and Guitar Hero have already proven the gaming population will buy specialized controllers if they feel the cost is justified, so there is no longer a need for Nintendo to be a console manufacturer (despite the fact they own this generation).

Matt Yaeger: 1) Something that requires a new peripheral. Seeing as we’ve had cooking, brain games, fitness games, raising animals, paying off debts (in Animal Crossing), I’m going to guess the next one will be based off of something Miyamoto does in real life then thinks about how it can be made a game. That leaves…I don’t know, sleeping? Maybe a helmet that you where to sleep and the Wii tracks brain waves and generates something interactive based on that.

What I’d like them to work on is stricter guidelines for publishing Wii games.

2) Earthbound compilation for the DS including Mother 1 and 3. A Star Fox game where Fox stays in the ship the whole time. A Legend of Zelda game that doesn’t use the same formula from Ocarina of Time. A true sequel to Animal Crossing, and a Mario Kart game for the Wii that’s better than Mario Kart DS.

Robert Capra: 1) Bringing in casual gamers is usually pretty simple; take a basic idea, create a peripheral they need to spend more money on, profit. They’ve already got the arms taken care of, how about the legs? Perhaps some kind of leg-strap holder for the Wiimote where you can learn to dance different styles? I know millions of retirees want to know how to mambo.

2) Honestly? Something for grown-ups. I know, they’ve got Mad World coming out, but remember how Perfect Dark was supposed be a mature title? How it was going to revolutionize the way Nintendo looked at games? Yeah, don’t hold your breath. They can’t compete in this arena with the other two companies, but they could at least give it a try and give gamers some selection.

Ashe Collins: 1) There’s going to be something along the lines of casual games that they haven’t already thought of. Something that will require yet one more accessory, either for the DS or the Wii, cause let’s face it, THAT’s where Nintendo gets its money. Their accessories. They’re generally cheap to make and they sell them way over what they cost to make them. Don’t even get me started on the Wii Fit. It’ll be something simple that no one had ever thought to make a game to before, or hadn’t done it successfully, and Nintendo will capitalize on it.

2) Personally, I’d like to see something for an older crowd. Not one game Nintendo’s put out for the Wii has really grabbed my attention and said that I had to have it. I don’t get into the party games as I don’t have hoards of friends over all the time, Mario was never a favorite even if I liked Super Mario 64, and how many Pokemon games can we really have? I mean sure, I like them and so does my wife, but I took a pass on the DS version and haven’t lost any sleep over it. I want something engaging with some story and meat to it, not the shovelware and family friendly titles we’re getting now.

Charlie Marsh: 1) It has to be something people can get together and play at a party. Nothing complicated, just something anyone can pick up and play regardless of how long or how little they’ve been gaming. It also has to be something fun and potentially embarrassing. With that in mind, the next big Nintendo innovation should be a camera that puts you in the game…you walk, move, jump and react to enemies and obstacles in real time. Like Nick Arcade, except less cheesy.

2) A renewed dedication to the Virtual Console would be nice, not just in quality of games but quantity as well. I’d also suggest a new Star Fox and a new Kid Icarus.

Alex Lucard: 1) I think that this is a rather silly question. ALL Gamers are casual gamers. We turn on a system, we put in a game and we fiddle around with it. Then there’s what we used to call hardcore gamers who would try to complete a full game without hints or a strategy guide. Who would play a game more than once in order to see if they missed any secrets or who would import a game simply for the joy of playing it. Finally there’s the modern hardcore gamer which is the type of gamer who has no life outside gaming, who values their opinion as fact and derides others for thinking differently and who views how well they do on a game as a self-esteem litmus test which is both creepy and sad.

Bringing in casual gamers brings in new blood to the gaming scene and keeps the majority of gamers grounded. When you don’t bring in any new gamers, we get nailed with sequel after sequel and people who are more automatons or sheep than able to decide for themselves what to play or worse, what to think.

Wii Music, which prompted this question isn’t a “casual gamer” game. It’s simply a bad game. And gamers of all kinds realize this.

ANY well made or innovative game should bring in new (and thus casual) gamers because it hits the zeitgeist. It makes someone pause, take notice and say “I want to try this” when normally they wouldn’t. It makes gaming all inclusive and fun across the spectrum. Look at games that were once known for bringing in “casual” gamers:

Donkey Kong
Super Mario. Bros
Dance Dance Revolution
Street Fighter 2
Sonic the Hedgehog
Brain Age
Wii Sports

These ten games were all titles that appealed to “casual” gamers when they first came out. But yet, we don’t refer to these as casual titles anymore. Why? Because they turned casual gamers into regular gamers. They made people feel passion and fall in love with this form of entertainment. They broke the negative stigmata gaming once had and made people line up in an arcade to plunk down a quarter to play them or buy a console/handheld to experience them.

Those aforementioned games are what gaming is all about and why they be remembered as some of the most memorable (and best) games ever made. They did what every game wishes they could do – changed the very landscape of the industry while also changing minds. Casual gaming isn’t bad people. It’s the very foundation of the industry.

So what’s Nintendo’s next big plan to bring in casual gamers? To be honest, I know that there isn’t one. It’s focusing on some big titles across the board. They purchased the Fatal Frame series so that Nintendo has their own well made M rated exclusive series for Survival-Horror fans. They have Pokemon from the stat crazed RPG gamers. They have Link for action fans, Metroid Prime for FPS fans, Mario for platforming fans, Star Fox for furries (I mean, flight combat simulator fans), and many other titles. What’s going to be the next things that reaches across the table and brings even more newcomers to our industry? It’s got to be something innovative, easy to learn but hard to master, a non-established franchise, and that is hard to put into a single genre.

They just released it. It’s the Personal Trainer series. These not quite games like Cooking and Math have already brought in a ton of new gamers and made people that would normally eschew the concept of owning a console or handheld think twice. I know professional chefs that love the idea of a voice activated cookbook and are now inspired to make their own. Will it be as big as say Tetris? Of course not. But it’s already brought in tens of thousands of new DS owners because Nintendo is the first to realize that a game doesn’t have to necessarily be something to play. It just has to be something you find FUN.

2) Well, the new Fatal Frame is out in Japan and should hopefully be coming stateside in 2009. That’s a plus. If they could get Silicon Knights to stop wasting time with Too Human and put out Eternal Darkness 2, that would make me happy as well. I’d also like to FINALLY see the Pokemon MMORPG people have asked for. We’ve gotten closer than ever with Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, but we’re still a ways away.

In the end though, the thing I’d like to see Nintendo make most of all is something entirely new. They are the kings of innovation so why not a mashup of genres. How about a 4 person co-op first person action RPG. How about fixing the idea of Wii Music and make it more of a simulation. Make them keep in time with the beat. Maybe make it classical music and have gamers hold down buttons like you would strings on a violin while using the wiimote as the bow? Is Cosmic Walker really going to be a space version of Endless Ocean or will there be more to it?

As long as Nintendo keeps away from developing the main franchises and keeps trying new ideas and concepts, I’ll be happy.

Christopher Bowen: 1) To be honest with you, this is an almost impossible question to answer in my mind, because I’m not only not a casual gamer, I haven’t even had my Wii installed since May of ’08, and even before then, it was more or less just a more reliable Gamecube. Nintendo is thinking on a totally different wavelength than I am, so like Michael, I could say something sarcastically, just to have it show up as a product next year.

I’m trying to think of the things that Nintendo could do that they haven’t done already; I’d say language games, but there’s already very competent software for that on their own DS system in the My _____________ Coach line. So I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark here and say that they are going to take a cue from Little Big Planet and go for a make-your-own-game game. Think of the potential of Nintendo – the Kings of Platforming – doing a game where you can make your own platforming levels? Creating your own Super Mario Bros.-like stages without having to use a ROM hack! Being able to incorporate newer characters from the latest games with the older sprites! And best of all, it wouldn’t require new peripherials. That would be absolutely stunning, and even as someone that Nintendo is losing as a customer – they can spin all they want, but when they implied that core gamers were not their intended audience anymore, my first statement was “what took them so long?” – I would be all over something like that, so long as they fixed their horrific online infrastructure by that time, and didn’t go overboard with the level moderation like Sony did.

2) In a perfect world, Nintendo would be doing everything in their power to make the Virtual Console not suck.

Let’s face it: It doesn’t matter what goes on the Virtual Console, because they didn’t incorporate anything in 2006 that they couldn’t do in 1986. You mean to tell me that Nintendo couldn’t find a way to give players the options of multiple savestates? Or upscaling their older games so that guys like me can play them on our HDTVs? Or the ability to play with/against people over the internet? Or the ability to play games from removable software? Those omissions are inexcusable, and Nintendo can say it’s to keep them more “retro” all they want, it’s exceptionally lazy, especially once you consider that free emulators that play illegal ROM images offer everything I just mentioned.

I don’t want to give away too much of a future column, but Nintendo needs to not only fix these things, but stop being so arrogant about it.

A.J. Hess: 1) I would love to say “Software, software, software.” But I’d be lying. Nintendo is going to sit back and roast dollar-bill s’mores on piles of money while they go out and make Frosty the cash-man and have money-ball fights. And they are going to ride the hardware pony that got them there, laughing all the way. I expect to see multiple-color variants of the Wii before long. Think that female gamers wouldn’t squeal over the thought of a pink Wii? Or maybe the last of “teh Hardcorz” Nintendo gamers would want a black one? I bet we see something like that before 2010. Just like the DS. And speaking of that, I also expect them to come up with a way to make the camera part of the DS/i into something like Sony’s Eyetoy contraption-the motion control of the Wii plus the visual control of the Eyetoy has to have somebody over there thinking.

I would love to see Nintendo have some decent Downloadable content for their Wii Sports product. If Microsoft was in charge of it, we would have already seen dozens of $5.00 options for new Tennis Courts, Boxing Rings, Bowling Alleys, and Baseball Stadiums. Not to mention all kinds of clothing options. But when you don’t think a hard-drive is a necessary option, you don’t have too many ways to milk existing product. On the other hand, when you sell over two million consoles in a month, you obviously know what you’re doing to bring in new gamers.

2) Well Tony, since you asked two questions, I’ll give you two answers. First up, I would love to see Nintendo squeeze out a hard-drive add on and say “We have completely converted every single game that was ever released on the Nintendo and Super Nintendo Entertainment Systems to a downloadable title on the Wii. Next year we will complete the same thing for the Genesis.” That would get me to pick up the Wiimote a bit more.

Second, I want them to get me a full control Mech-sim game that uses both the Wiimote and nunchuck and the WiiFit balance board in a method similar to Steel Battalion, but not as expensive. Oh, and run it through the Xbox 360’s processor so that the graphics and sounds can be top notch. Granted, there is nothing casual about that at all and it will never be made, but you did say “Perfect World.”

Bryan Berg: 1) This is a tough one. Over the past five years, Nintendo went from dead in the water, at least as far as consoles go, to the most innovative and successful hardware developer in the world. It has done this by shattering the prior conventions of gaming – a dual-screen handheld and a motion-sensitive console. In these mediums, we’ve seen all kinds of games – games that not only are fun to play, but educate us and improve our lives. What else can Nintendo possibly do to build on the strides they’ve already made?

The Wii is doing extremely well; supply isn’t even close to matching demand. So if I were Nintendo, I’d focus on the DS. While the DS is very popular, it isn’t a must-have among 20-something casual gamers. One thing Nintendo might want to consider is packaging some of their classic titles, maybe souping them up a bit, and giving gamers a real bargain. For example, maybe eight games for $20. This way, it’s cheaper than the Virtual Console, it’s portable, and gamers get a little something extra. Nintendo has toyed with releasing older games via the E-Reader and the vintage-styled GBA SP, but never managed to figure it all out. This could be a great way to reach the lucrative demographics the DS isn’t currently hitting.

2) The one game Nintendo needed to release, a Wii version of Punch-Out, is due out this spring. Thank God. One thing I’d like to see is for Nintendo to re-focus on making actual games as opposed to really cool pieces of software that are useful, but aren’t traditional video games. That’s not to say I want to see another Mario game or anything. It’s more that I don’t want Nintendo to forget its roots. Casual gamers only stick around as long as there’s something new and exciting, so now would be a good time to start work on the next great game.

Nathan Birch: 1) Do they really need to do any more? They’ve pretty much sewn up the “casual gamer” for this generation at least, and we haven’t even got half the casual market stuff out of Japan yet (we’re just now starting to get the Personal Trainer series for the DS for instance).

But you don’t need a crystal ball to figure out what Nintendo’s next big casual-aimed idea is. It’s this. For those who don’t want to click, it’s basically a system Nintendo has patented that would give automatic hints for those stuck, allow you to have the game essentially play itself with you assuming control when you want, or allow you to simply hop to the sections you want to play DVD style. Based on the diagrams included with the patent application it seems like they plan to use it with the next Zelda, although who knows.

Of course self-described “hardcore” gamers are up in arms, but I think it’s a good thing. For too long games have been trying to strike an uneasy balance when it comes to difficulty, and all too often they end up pleasing nobody (look at Wind Waker, which was too easy for the old fans, but still too intimidating for casuals). A system like this could allow them to really go wild with difficult puzzles and bosses for the tried and tested old fans, while keeping things accessible. The game can be as hard or easy as you want it to be, and if you end up just skipping through anything challenging, well then I guess you weren’t that “hardcore” to begin with, now were you?

2) They’re already making a new Punch-Out.

Mohamed Al-Saadoon: 1) Most likely some sort of party game that involves both the Wii Balance board, Wii Speak and the upcoming Wii-Motion Plus. Nintendo knows that so called “casual” gamers aren’t going to be playing the same one-software pieces of equipment and it’s going to bite them in the ass. But using all three at once is going to save money from doing three different games for each peripheral.

Though after that they’re probably going to make another one to join the ranks of expensive game add-ons.

2) I’d love to see a new 2D Metroid for the Wii. While it’s a shame the Wii isn’t capable of High-Def output games like Wario Land show it has the capability of some good high resolution animation that would be perfect for the next instalment of Samus Aran’s adventure.

Aileen Coe: 1) I can see the Wii Balance Board being used more in other games and possibly even more new peripherals being introduced. They’re probably also going to make more pick up and play/party games, as well as continue to release games in the vein of the My _____ Coach series. So, you know, business as usual.

But really, they’ve already gotten the casual gaming market in the palm of their hands, so it’s not like they’d have to lift a finger to further ensnare it.

2) A new Punch Out is certainly a good start – it’s been 10 years since the last new one came out. Another thing: either put the original Duck Hunt on the VC or make a new one. Ideally both. That shooting game in Wii Play is alright, but it’s just not quite the same.

Guy Desmarais: 1) Nathan already talked about what Nintendo’s next big idea is, and in my opinion, it could be a good one. I doubt I would use it much, because I am a masochist who enjoyed being trapped in the Water Temple for a week when Ocarina of Time first came out. However, I know that some of my friends (Hi François!) will enjoy that system. It might even give me a break instead of receiving twenty successive calls asking about directions to the next dungeon.

In the realm of fantasy however, I will go wild and say that Nintendo’s next big concept is “Personal Trainer: Swimming”, which will come with water-proof Wiimote-casing so gamers can take them into these small, turtle-shaped plastic kiddie pools. Just place the pool in front of the TV, follow the on-screen instructions, and voila. Gotta capitalize on Michael Phelps’ popularity.

2) In a perfect world, Nintendo would be working on Mario Hockey. The plumber has played baseball, basketball, soccer, golf and tennis… how about the coolest game on Earth? Nintendo’s sport games tend to be simple but fun, and if they can shape their online mode on Mario Strikers Charged, then you can bet that I would be topping the leader board by the end of the first week of release. Just put Bowser in the goals, Wario and Luigi as the “Komisarek/Markov” defense duo and then Mario and Yoshi as the first line, with Donkey Kong completing the trio as the enforcer. That’s my perfect world.

Mark B.: 1) Well, Nintendo has shown that they’re quite interested in making products that increase the immersion of the player and/or the interactivity of the experience to some degree or another (see the Power Glove, the Virtual Boy, the DS and the Wii as prime examples of this thing), and while some are obviously more successful than others, I’d think they would be eager to continue trying to expand upon this idea as the years go on.

We’ve seen videos online of people figuring out ways to “hack” the Wii components to make games that, essentially, allow the system to register head motions and such, and I think that Nintendo would be foolish to ignore such a thing, so I’m thinking they’ll try to make some sort of peripherals that allow the player to use more than just the Wii-mote and the balance board to play games. While a Wii Helmet might be a little silly, making, say, a pair of gloves (yes, the Power Glove 2K) that allow the player to interact with the game in the same fashion as the Wii-mote and Nunchuck would probably be feasible, and hey, Nintendo could make the gloves compatible with Punch-Out just to really increase the whole feeling of deja-vu!

Or maybe they’ll make another Mario game. I heard those sell well, too.

2) Something that takes the concepts of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures and expands upon that further. The Wii, at this point, is an awesome system for same-console multiplayer titles, thanks to games like Super Smash Brothers Brawl and Mario Kart Wii, as well as the odd third-party awesomeness like Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and Trauma Center: New Blood, so I think Nintendo really needs to continue focusing on that. We know damn well that a new Mario Tennis and Mario Golf are as guaranteed as the sunrise, and obviously those games are highly desirable, no doubt, but something a little more, well, complex would also be nice now and again. I mean, I get that the system is meant to be for EVERYONE to play, but seriously, throw the rest of us a bone, y’know?

Well, I hope Tony got what he wanted. Not only have we shown you Nintendo’s real next big idea, but we also now have a concept for Wiimote leg-straps holders that could teach mambo. Sign-me up for a pre-sale.

As for out “perfect world” game, two things seem to be wanted more than anything else. First on the list is an improved Virtual Console (which I totally agree with). As for second, let’s just say that the new Punch-Out!! cannot come out soon enough.

Remember a few weeks ago, we had an “Ask the Kliq” about who would be our staff’s dream video game government? I asked you to vote, and you did. The winner of this “election” is…

…Charlie Marsh! His proposition was Guile as President with Haggar as Vice-President. Looks like you guys wanted an all-American, all-ass-kicking government. Alex Lucard’s choice of Geese Howard came in second place, without even having a Vice-President listed. Guess you don’t need anybody else when you are Geese Howard.

Do you have a question of your own which you want our experts to answer? Take Tony’s example and send an e-mail to kapoutman AT with the subject line “Ask the Kliq”, or leave one for us in the comments section. We’ll put our team right on it.



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