Is it Next Gen yet?

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One benefit of this big life shift I’m still finding myself digging through; I’ve jumped into the deep end of the new console generation.  Aside from the 3DS and a few select releases I could pick up on last gen’s consoles, I’ve been mostly ignoring the immediate past of video games, but I’ve had to adapt to life on the second floor by replacing my old, massive CRT TV with something I could actually lift up the stairs, and now that I had a tv that could accept the signal and enough credit card rewards to get a new console for virtually free, things just lined up.  It was like God had decided that he’d been putting me through some rough times, so he’d toss me a PS4 and call it even.

For the first time in a good long while, I’ve actually been looking at the games that’ve been coming out.  Playing newly released games.  I’m in the now of videogames.  Well, at least as far as Fallout 4 reaches.  Aside from that, don’t have much of a collection.  Anyways, I’m paying attention to new releases for the first time, and I’ve not really been finding what I expected.  I’ve been through a few generation handovers in my day.  I remember, how the games are, I remember the wonder and adjustment of actually being able to do new things in your games.  Sure, every console has made better looking games, and that’s been the big selling point, but visuals only take you so far.  Where the new console generations have truly excelled is by offering the power to create new types of games, new gaming experiences.

And they’ve all had games ready within the first couple months to really highlight that.  The 32/64 bit era had Mario 64 lead the charge by making the third dimension work, and work fluidly, for the first time in a long while, followed by Final Fantasy 7 demonstrate the cinematic and storytelling potential newly available to the medium. The PlayCubeBox era had a couple of games you could point to for this, but for me, it was Pikmin, which showcased the console’s ability to compute numerous actors in a wide area, keeping the span and amount of moving parts in its RAM going in a way that was not even thought of in the last generation.  Last gen brought us both the Wii, with Rayman Raving Rabids and WarioWare: Smooth Moves bringing to light all the potential uses of the Wiimote, and the PS360, where the Xbox’s Dead Rising demonstrated the new generation’s power in being able to process and compute so many independent parts of a game in much the same way Pikmin did a generation ago.

For this generation, even after two years, I’m not sure what games we have to lean on, that truly demonstrates the new consoles’ capabilities over the old.  WiiU aside.  There’s plenty I’ve seen that takes advantage of the WiiU’s capabilities, to the point that I was rather torn as to which console to pick up.  There’s a lot of games to show the new levels of detail available with the PS4 and Xbox One, which is nothing short of impressive, but as I said, visuals only go so far in creating an experience.  I haven’t seen a lot of the new generation’s games yet, and there’s still plenty for me to consider before making any sort of judgement, but still, I find myself wondering if we truly needed a new console generation.  Visuals aside, have the new machines really expanded the tools available for developers, or could these games just as easily have ended up on last gen’s consoles?

Good to be Back!

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Nintendo and I have an estranged relationship.  Once upon a time, we were inseparable.  For most of my life, in fact.  I had always been a dyed in the wool Nintendo fan.  For the longest time, I’d only owned Nintendo consoles, bought all of their major releases, subscribed to their magazine, made stupid arguments on their behalf in forums, all that sort of thing.  I was lucky enough to get my hands on the original NES right about the time I was learning to read, and my loyalty to the company was kept strong throughout the years that followed.

I had even been one of those guys that always seem to get shown on local news at console launches, waiting around well in advance for the release of the Wii.  It seems kind of silly now, but once upon a time I was so excited for a console launch I spent six hours sitting next to an ex-girlfriend in the gardening section of Wal-mart impressing my fellow nerds with my knowledge of how the Nintendo Zapper while waiting for midnight to strike so I could be one of the first in town with the system.  For a while after the release of the Wii, things were good.

Yet slowly, surely, I started to grow apart from the company.  I’m not going to be one of those consumers who claims the Wii has no good games, and that Nintendo’s abandoned their core market, because that’s not quite true.  The Wii has plenty of quality games, and Nintendo’s efforts on the DS at least show that they’ve still got the dedicated game player in mind.  It was true, however, that the frequency of game releases on the Wii that delivered the experience I was wanting was pretty low.  I started to dally in other consoles.  First, I took a PS2 off a friend’s hands, then I bought an Xbox 360.  Meanwhile, I slowly started to use my Wii more for its backwards compatibility than anything else, with only the most significant Wii releases finding a spot in my library.  I did have some really good times with my Wii, but those times were fewer than I would have liked, and as a result, Nintendo and I just grew apart.

And so it was for a fair while, Nintendo becoming just a footnote in my gaming life, rather than holding the amount of brainspace it had earlier.  But something has given me cause to review that relationship.  Recently, I finally got myself a 3DS as an early birthday present, and with it, a small collection of some of Nintendo’s recent offerings.  And it feels just like old times.  Nintendo was such a large part of my childhood, and this new console is fulfilling that old nostalgia while still offering new experiences.  It feels like I’ve been welcomed back as if I’d never parted ways with the company that made up so much of my gaming history.  Even in my brief return to Nintendo’s worlds, their games on the 3DS has been offering me the exact experiences I was hoping for from the Wii.

It remains to be seen if Nintendo and I can build the bridges we had once burned, but with my new 3DS, I’ve got more hope in my once favorite company than I have in half a decade.  May this be the renewal of the treasured experiences Nintendo once offered me, and beyond.