I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you, viewers. And I know I do that all the time, considering that every single one of my videos has been the worst yet according to at least one of its comments, but you’ll be disappointed in a slightly different way this time. I know I usually do a video on E3, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to do one this year.
Partly because E3 started on a Tuesday, which is the day after I write the script for the following week’s ZP, so I couldn’t write about it while I didn’t own a Tardis. Secondly, while there’s usually a bit of a release lull around this time of year that accommodates some nice timely hype-bashing, that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’m looking at the release schedule and wondering how I’m going to fit them all in as it is.
And really, sometimes I get the impression that everyone’s kind of down on me this time of year when we’re all supposed to be full of hope and joy for the wondrous upcoming future and all I want to do is bring you all down to my dreary, pungent level. But I guess that’s exactly why I have to do it. Hype is a destructive thing that gives you expectations that can’t possibly be fulfilled. E3 is like the second evolved form of a hype-type Pokemon and needs to be strongly counteracted. So I’m going to cover it here, in Extra Punctuation, not just this week but the next. Next week will cover the third party titles, but for now we’ll talk about the Big Three.
I guess the other reason I’m not doing an E3 video this year is because it mostly wasn’t very interesting. We already knew Nintendo were going to announce their new console and I already figured Microsoft and Sony weren’t yet ready to admit that their various motion control ventures weren’t exactly setting the gaming world ablaze, and so they’d just keep trying to get their investment back.
Still, plenty of ammunition on all sides, so let’s start with the big one – Nintendo, and the Wii U. Now, I promised myself I wouldn’t harp on this too much, but after the first big joke of the Wii, that being that it’s basically a childish slang word for urine (and/or a small and unsatisfying penis depending on your region), I think they’re just trying to bait us now. I mean, look at all the things you can do with Wii U. Wee On You. Wee Poo. Pee-yu.
Here in Australia there’s a popular ice cream brand called Golden Gaytime, which advertises itself with the slogan “It’s hard to have a Gaytime on your own!” Now, obviously there were people at the agency who realized that this could be interpreted as talking about buttfucking. I very strongly suspect that they did it deliberately so that people who think they’re smart will tweet it to all their friends to show how they’re so smart to have been the only one to notice it, thus ensuring that the brand name gets around one way or another. And I wonder if Nintendo aren’t doing the same thing. I hope they bring one out called the Wii You Us so I can call it the Wee Poo Arse.
Sorry, I regressed about twenty years for a second there. Let’s look at the controller. Ha. Real funny, Nintendo, put that Etch-A-Sketch away and show us the real one. Oh, that is the real one. How awkward. Some motherfuckers always feel they have to reinvent the wheel, don’t they. It’s true that the controllers for the 360, PS3, Gamecube, PS2, Xbox and PS1 (post-dual shock) have all basically been functionally identical in terms of how you hold them and number and layout of buttons, but that’s because it’s a neat design that works perfectly satisfactorily. I’m sorry if your design teams weren’t feeling challenged, Nintendo, but you could have just given them logos to do. As for the touchscreen, I’ve very slightly upgraded my position from ‘get the fuck out of here’ to ‘let me see it in action, then get the fuck out of here’. Maybe I just lack the imagination to see its applications but all I know is that a screen stops feeling like my proxy eyes for looking into a magical new world if I have to swap it out for another, smaller set of eyes every now and again.
I love when people say all I do is bash Nintendo. Look around, smart guy, I’ve got bashes for everybody, if you only notice it when I do it to one company then surprise! A fanboy is you. There’s just more to say about Ninty because they’re the only ones bringing out major new hardware; for Sony and Microsoft it’s largely business as usual, pushing the already-outdated motion controls and what exclusives they could swing.
Microsoft Kinect, now, I will admit, that’s going in interesting places. The trouble is that few of them are to do with gaming, and are therefore of profound disinterest to me. Perhaps it is cool that the Kinect is being used in robotics and perhaps I would even invest in one of those Minority Report computers where I can move windows around by waving my hands, but I wouldn’t type with it and I wouldn’t play games with it, because a button with no tactile feedback – wherein your brain does not receive the immediate message that yes, the button has been pressed – is considerably less convenient to use.
As for the voice control thing they’re trying for Mass Effect 3, no. Just no. Voice control has been tried before and the problem with it is nothing to do with how well the game recognizes your words – it’s that pressing a button (call me a buttonphile, I suppose, it’s something I must have picked up as a child from going to science museums) is still less effort than voicing a command. And is less likely to make your housemates think that you’re a wally.
Finally, the only thing that really struck me as interesting from Sony’s presentation was the concept of the dual TV – the idea that the two people in the room could put on different glasses and each be seeing a different screen. It’s such a simple idea to implement with current 3D technology it makes me wonder why it took this long to think of it. Playing splitscreen is always a massive pain in the arse when you know for a fact the other bastard is only winning because he keeps watching your screen so you throw your Fanta at him and your mum yells at you. This is an actual gaming technology advancement that seems like it would actually enhance gaming without getting in the way of all the existing bits of it I like. It’s just a shame they expect us to buy a whole new TV for it when there doesn’t seem to be any reason you couldn’t modify existing 3D TVs to do it, use some of that fucking technology for good for once.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to judge all of future gaming pre-emptively or encourage you to do so. I encourage you to wait until you can play with it all yourself and draw your own conclusions. But I also think that it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for the worst, and it most certainly does hurt to be expecting the best. Being disappointed isn’t good. Do you think the French Revolution was started by a whole bunch of really satisfied and emotionally well-adjusted people?
Next week: Why every single third party game is going to be shit as well!
Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn’t talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.