Of the three consoles in my living room, the Nintendo Wii sees the least amount of use, by a long shot. While the Xbox 360 is everyone’s favourite (my wife and eldest daughter included), the PlayStation 3 sees its fair share of use as the primary disc-based media player. With having a relationship with Nintendo for over 20 years, it’s hard to turn a blind eye. But it’s come to the point where their hardware is of no interest to me, and their software simply isn’t cutting it. So long Nintendo, and thanks for all the memories.
It’s no secret that I’ve never really been a fan of the Wii. After all, it was purchased for the family, not me specifically. And I have enjoyed the odd game, from time-to-time. With such an abundance of ridiculously awful games, I tend to only pay attention to first party titles, or those tried and true franchises that I have such fond memories of – Mario and Samus, I’m looking at you. But it seems that even those are falling short of my expectations, or perhaps I’ve finally grown out of them?
Super Mario Galaxy 2
I received Super Mario Galaxy 2 as a Father’s Day gift from my girls, and was totally excited to jump back in Yoshi’s saddle. It is definitely more of the same, but also very much refined. Levels are challenging, boss fights are memorable, and for the most part, it is a very fun game. That is, until it gets to the point where you have to go back and revisit levels in order to proceed with the story.
You see, SMG2 uses a map interface similar to older Super Mario Bros. games, but instead of simply proceeding through the levels sequentially, stars are required to open up new levels. A star is obtained at the end of each level, and some levels contain more than one star. There is also the chance of a comet visiting a previously beaten level, which adds a new challenge to the level – like making it a time trial, or starting you off with only one hit point. In some cases, they are very difficult and extremely frustrating. And I reached a point in the game where I couldn’t proceed until I gathered 3 more stars, all of which were contained in these types of challenge levels. Needless to say, my frustration got the best of me, and I decided to spare my nerves and put the controller down.
Metroid: Other M
That was a few months ago now, and aside from checking out a couple of WiiWare titles briefly, I haven’t touched the Wii since. Until a couple weeks ago, that is. Metroid: Other M was released, and I jumped on it like [insert offensive fat kid jumping on something joke here]. I was pretty stoked to spend some time with another old friend, Samus. The thought of a new Metroid game in a 2D landscape had me all kinds of giddy. The first couple hours of the game proved to be mostly enjoyable, but some things proved to be too big of an issue to look passed.
Controls are Too Simple
The opening cinematic was brilliant, and had me eagerly perched on the edge of my couch waiting to get into the action. At first, the controls felt responsive and accurate. You don’t really aim at anything – you simply point Samus in the direction of the baddies and mash the fire button. Most of the time she hits the target, but it seemed that when it really counted, she would continue to fire straight while the enemy had climbed up the wall ahead.
Switching Between Fields is Clunky
In order to file missiles, you have to go into first person mode, which is activated by turning the controller vertical and pointing it at the TV. When this happens, the enemies’ movements slow down and you have a bit of time to lock on to a target and fire a shot, before quickly swinging the controller back around in order to dodge an incoming attack. Often enough, when I entered first person, I would be looking at the opposite wall that Samus was facing in 2D, or straight down at the floor. I would then have to go back to 2D, then back to first person and try again. Sound like fun? It’s not.
Dodge, Dodge, Dodge!
Speaking of dodging, yet more button mashing comes into play here. There’s a simply dodge mechanic, where you tap any direction when an enemy or projectile is headed your way and Samus will perform a quick maneuver to get out of the way. During the tutorial, it tells you that you have to be precise with the dodge and that it’s difficult to execute – not the case. I found that Samus would be dodging every few seconds automatically when I was engaged by a few hostiles at a time. There was no skill involved in the least. It just happened as I moved around.
There’s a story here, and one that’s easier to follow and more grounded than previous games in the series. This has a lot to do with the cinematics with full-on voice overs. But before you get too excited, the voice acting is awful, and the back story that’s revealed about Samus is a downer.
This is Where it Starts to Crumble
In previous Metroid games, Samus is stripped of her weapons and acquires them piece by piece through-out the game. The same is true in Other M, except Samus has all her weapons, but she’s not allowed to use them until some dude gives her the go-ahead. This makes sense at the beginning of the game, when she is told that her missiles and bombs could harm other people in closed areas. But when you’re forced to play through 45 minutes of a lava level before the dude tells you it’s okay to turn on your Varia suit (which protects Samus from extreme heat), it simply falls apart.
But the icing on the cake, the thing that really did me in here, was the atrocity that is this new Samus, with a personality and a voice. Team Ninja took a fearless, bad-ass female bounty hunter and turned her into a whiny, self conscience girl in a bounty hunter suit. I do not approve.
At this point, I don’t hold any hope for future Nintendo hardware or software. Hardly any of it appeals to me anymore, and that which does, has proved to be a disappointment as of these recent games. I think the time has come for me to bid farewell to Nintendo once and for all. I will still look back on my childhood with fond memories of the NES and SNES generations of video games. But moving forward, I’ll be looking to Microsoft and Sony (and anyone else who might come along) to meet my gaming needs.