Some Game Announcements For the Wii U, Finally
After months of stagnation on the Wii U front, Nintendo has at long last announced several future entries in the Wii U’s library through this week’s Nintendo Direct conference. A new game featuring Yoshi was announced, which is presented in the style of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, leading to the game media dubbing it as Yoshi’s Epic Yarn, which verily it probably is unless Nintendo decides to be contrary. A high definition re-release of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was also revealed and later confirmed to be called The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Reborn. While it has not been confirmed as such, the released media seems to indicate that it may be a full-blown remake as opposed to a HD port.
More surprising was the announcement of an Atlus led Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem crossover game, though it remains to be seen whether the issue of this union will prove equal to the sum of its parts. Finally, the next Monolith Soft game was showcased, the results of which look something approximating the world of Xenoblade being recreated in Square Enix’s Crystal Tools engine. The game is clearly the next installment in Monolith’s Xeno series, but what is currently unknown is the significance of the prominent red ‘X’ which was displayed at the end of the footage. It could simply denote the game’s connection to the Xeno series, or it could be the actual proper title of the project.
Content starved Wii U owners have understandably met these announcements with great enthusiasm, as did quality starved JRPG enthusiasts looking for novelty, yet this is not to say that these projects were not met with a certain measure of criticism. While The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Reborn‘s re-imagining of the original environments is utterly delightful, the game’s characters look frankly disgusting. Gone are the whimsical cell-shaded stylings of the original game characters, and in their place are hideous waxy manikins, making the characters look like horrid little plastic goblins. Meanwhile Monolith Soft’s Xeno project has led to some fans reacting with dismay to the fact that the developers have seemingly drank deep of the current-gen Kool-aid, which dictates that current-gen graphics may only be presented in tones of muted brown, grey, and green, so that while the game looks quite similar to its critically-acclaimed Wii predecessor, it nevertheless looks much less vibrant. At any rate, graphical qualms aside, the titles themselves are all exciting developments for core Wii U fans, and constitute a bold and promising direction for the platform going forward.
Nintendo Steals From Wii U Owners
Nintendo has this habit of withholding fervently demanded features for the longest time, until at last relenting only to implement them in the worst possible fashion, as if to say: “See? What’s so great about having the internet/digital distribution/high definition graphics anyway?!“, and this Wiik the company has struck again. Since the launch of the Wii U many have despaired at the console’s lack of native Virtual Console support, as users were forced to access Virtual Console games through Wii compatibility mode, which involves a clunky interface and lack of Wii U Gamepad support. That is why many were excited when Nintendo this week announced that a Spring Wii U update would see the launch of native Virtual Console support for the system – though this sweet announcement turned into ash in one’s mouth upon hearing the proposed pricing structure of the games.
People who already own a library of Virtual Console titles on their Wiis will be forced to buy their games again if they wish for them to be properly supported by the Wii U. While never justifiable, this practice would be at least understandable if it was down to Nintendo’s typical incompetence when it comes to the running of their digital infrastructure, because if the company claimed to be unable to transfer Virtual Console releases due to a lack of user accounts then there would be few who would disbelieve them. Where Nintendo comes unstuck however, is in their offer to allow owners of a Virtual Console title on the Wii to re-purchase that title at a discounted price on the Wii U. The fact that Nintendo will be able to determine whether a user already owns the content pretty much proves that they could simply allow Wii U owners to have access to their previously purchased Virtual Console titles, yet refuse to do so on account of their preference for making Wii U owners purchase their content all over again. The situation would be functionally similar to an alternate bizzaro history wherein Sony demanded a couple of dollars for each PS1 game that an individual intended to use on their PS2. This is basically petty theft, and is equally obnoxious to any repugnant scam that EA might attempt to push.
NES titles may be repurchased for $1.00 as opposed to $4.99, while SNES games may be repurchased for $1.50 as opposed to $7.99, because there is no profit in allowing people free access to the content that they already own. The situation becomes even worse for PAL owners, as the experimental Wii U release of the Balloon Fight Virtual Console title has confirmed that Nintendo have opted to release the technically inferior PAL versions of games. The PAL television standard offers one hundred lines of extra resolution to its NTSC counterpart, yet in terms of gaming all that amounts to is one hundred lines of black letterboxing at the top and bottom of the screen, coupled with the fact that PAL titles [of the era] only support a fifty frames-per-second update while NTSC supports sixty, meaning that many NTSC games are sixteen percent faster and more fluid than their PAL counterparts [in games where slowdown is not an issue].
Finally, in relation another [unconnected] fraudulent deceit on Nintendo’s part, they have been forced to pull a television advertisement for the Wii U that was being broadcast in the UK, on account of the fact that it was misleading towards consumers. While many Wii U games allow users to play their software using the inbuilt LCD screen of the Wii U’s Gamepad, there are also a seemingly equal number of games which do not allow for this functionality. This is why the Advertising Standards Authority, when confronted with a Nintendo advertisement contending that the Wii U solved familial television disputes through the provision of off-screen play, ruled against Nintendo for misleading the public.
The Telltale Quack
Lusireaders will likely best remember Jonathan Coulton as the songwriter behind Still Alive and Want You Gone from Valve’s Portal series, but with eight studio albums to his name he is a fairly prolific geekcentric comedy-rock musician in his own right. This week an incensed Coulton took to the internet in order to draw attention to the fact that he has been made the victim of some of the most shockingly incompetent corporate theft on record. The American cultural sinkhole cum television program known as Glee has gormlessly stolen [without offer of credit or compensation] his 2006 cover version of Sir Mix-a-lot’s 1992 hit song, Baby Got Back, and has not only used it in an episode of the dreadful show, but has then also decided to sell the track on iTunes.
Coulton’s Baby Got Back licensed Mix-a-lot’s lyrics, yet the accompanying music and interpretation was all of his own making. Moreover, Coulton had even personalised the lyrics somewhat by changing the line “Mix-a-lot’s in trouble” to “Johnny C’s in trouble“, a line which Glee sloppily failed to alter when stealing Coulton’s work. Despite all this, it does not seem likely that Fox would be in breach of copyright if they had merely used their in-house ‘musicians’ to copy Coulton’s arrangement of the song, and so a livid Coulton was left with little other recourse than to take to the internet and call out Glee for its creatively moribund theft of another person’s creative property – yet he still had the sneaking suspicion that the show had done more than to simply copy his work.
“Well, they aired it, seemingly unchanged. And it’s now for sale in the US iTunes store. They also got in touch with my peeps to basically say that they’re within their legal rights to do this, and that I should be happy for the exposure (even though they do not credit me, and have not even publically acknowledged that it’s my version – so you know, it’s kind of SECRET exposure). While they appear not to be legally obligated to do any of these things, they did not apologize, offer to credit me, or offer to pay me, and indicated that this was their general policy in regards to covers of covers. It does not appear that I have a copyright claim, but I’m still investigating the possibility (which I consider likely) that they have used some or all of my audio.”
As it turns out there was to be yet another twist in this tale. Coulton has previously made available two different versions of the song; a normal version and a karaoke version – yet there is a distinctive element which both tracks share, and that is the quacking of a duck used to censor the word ‘fuck’ in the lyrics. Here is where things get interesting, the duck’s quack was actually part of one of the musical tracks within the mix, which is why it is also featured in the karaoke version of the song, and thus it would only be possible to stifle it so much before any further efforts would begin to degrade the quality of the music. Thus, after reading of Coulton’s claims that he was half-convinced that he could still hear the duck quacking in the Glee version of the song, several audio technicians set about digging through the audio-mix in search of the elusive mallard. Sure enough with a bit of work it was discovered that the ghostly echo of the quacking duck was still present in the Glee version of the song, indicating that the program did not simply copy Coulton’s arrangement of the piece, but rather had used his actual recording of the track in their awful show.
While knowing something for a fact and being able to prove that fact in a court of law are often seen to be two different things, discovery of artifacts peculiar to Coulton’s recording of the track do at least put him on strong footing with respect to pursuing his claims. That said, he would still do well to ponder the extent to which he considers it worthwhile pursuing the matter, as taking on a well-financed corporate entity is apt to cast a shadow over an individual’s every waking moment for the years that it will take for the saga to play out in court, leaving them a broken, if substantially wealthier, shell of a human being in its wake.