Tag Archive | "game consoles"

Nintendo Wii: Facing the Next Generation Wave

At the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo, Japanese video game developer and console manufacturer Nintendo has confirmed that they will be unleashing a brand new home console system that will rival the power and capabilities of the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. While it sounds impressive, it is also a signature of Nintendo: hardware is not everything. Sure, the new system will be powerful –compared to the 360 and the PS3 which were released several years ago.

The famous Nintendo motion gaming system, the Wii also faced a similar situation many years ago when it was first launched. The system came out ahead of its competitors at Microsoft and Sony and enjoyed plenty of sales. When the 360 and the PS3 came out months later, critics stated that the Wii’s lower spec graphics would be the downfall of the system. Now, many years later, the Wii is still performing strongly in the market.

There is no doubt that the hardcore market has long moved on from the Wii -with the system often playing second fiddle to owners of the PS3 or the 360. But it is this market position that makes the system so strong. Among casual gamers, the Wii is the number one system of choice. For hardcore gamers, the low price point and entertainment value of the Wii makes it an ideal secondary system to own. This meant that most PS3 owners had a Wii as a secondary console and the same applied to 360 owners. There were fewer gamers who bought an Xbox and a PS3 –let alone those who have all three systems.

Sales and distribution are not the only things important to a game console. A system’s game library is always among the most important factors to consider for any person choosing to purchase a system.

Right off the bat, it is pretty obvious that the Wii has a significantly younger target market. If you are planning to purchase a system for a preschooler or a grade-schooler, then the Wii should be the first choice on your list (and you might consider getting a DS as well). With plenty of games that focus on light tasks, bright colored visuals and simple storylines, the Wii makes for a perfect children’s console.

For slightly older audiences, the Wii has some pretty good titles that should not be passed up. Dead Space, Mad World and No More Heroes are just a few of the hardcore titles in the Wii’s library. There are also some interesting ports of old games such as Obscure, Resident Evil 4 and Okami that have been brought to new life with the motion controls. It may not be a first choice for the discerning, hardcore players, but if you are looking for a secondary system, it is hard to go wrong with the Wii.

In the end, the Wii has plenty to catch up on in terms of capabilities mostly due to its lower spec hardware as compared to later generation systems. But the Wii was never meant to take up the niche currently occupied by the PS3 (or the 360); instead, the Wii was developed to bring the joy of video games to a much broader audience –something that other systems would find difficult to achieve.

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3 Common Wii Issues Solved

It is easy to love the Nintendo Wii, it has plenty of great games, has a fun control system and it is a gaming experience that you can easily share with friends and family. This is why when something starts bugging up on the system, people will get worried. To help ease things out, here are a few useful tips to try out before hurriedly bringing your system to the nearest repair center.

Non-Responding WiiMotes

Now here is a common issue. After all, a WiiMote is how you control the console. Without it, playing a game is practically impossible. So what do when things start going south?

First, check the batteries. These controllers use two AA batteries to run, so click on the home button to see if how many of the four lights on the controller light up (more lights mean higher charge). If the controller is not responding, you might want to replace the batteries.

So let us say you have all four lights indicating a full charge but the game is still not responding to your commands. This may be a synchronization issue. Remember that your controller is wireless and that the Wii has to detect it before the two can work together. Simply press the red sync button near the SD card slot on your console to help your system find the controller.

Inaccurate Aiming

More often than not, games will require you to make use of the infrared sensor to aim at the screen and navigate menus, shoot guns and simply move things around. There are occasions when this starts acting abnormally.

One of the first things you should do is to confirm the set up of the sensor bar. From you Wii’s system menu, you can set the configuration of the sensor to assume that it is located on top or the bottom of your TV screen.

Another factor to consider is if there are lights in front of the TV and lights behind you. The sensor bar may accidentally pick up IR feedback from lights and other devices behind you. Be sure to look around your playing area to see if there might be items that are interfering with your system’s performance.

Lastly, check the overall lighting. In some cases, the light in the room may be too strong and is interrupting the feed between the controller and the sensor. You may choose to turn off the lights or diffuse it a little to allow for a better level of communication between the WiiMote and the sensor bar.

Unable to Back Up Save Files

This is not really a hardware issue, but more of an incompatibility problem. According to Nintendo, the Wii supports only certain SD cards. This can be a little annoying if the SD card you currently have is incompatible with the console, but sadly, the only way to remedy this issue is to purchase a brand new card. Nintendo lists SanDisk and BD&A as officially compatible, but users are also recommended to update to version 4.00 or higher of the system firmware to further improve compatibility.

So there you have it, three of the simplest quick-fixes for three of the main issues that Wii owners tend to run into. However, if your Wii console is still suffering from issues, it is advisable that you take it to the nearest authorized Nintendo service center for a quick check.

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A Last Look at Gaming on the Nintendo DS

It will not be long before Japanese game giant Nintendo announces that the production of the NDS handheld game console will finally cease. Initial estimates are saying this could happen sometime around 2012, though some insist that the device will still be in production until 2013. Regardless, the Nintendo DS has taken hold of the handheld gaming industry ever since it first came out last 2004 and has never let go since.

Naturally, a game system’s true strength lies in its games and the NDS’ game library caters to the whole palette of gamers from super casual to the almost deeply hardcore. Titles range from the as-expected Nintendo lineup of favorites such as Metroid, Super Mario and Star Fox, and a few new additions such as Animal Crossing. From third party developers, there are plenty of point and click adventures such as Trace Memory, Phoenix Wright, Professor Layton and several others. A new innovation is the touch-reliant gaming genre, which introduced titles such as The World Ends with You, Knights in the Nightmare and Rub Rabbits –titles whole gameplay factor relied heavily on the touch screen controls. Of course, the user input method was also encouraging for the development of many strategy games such as Advance Wars, FF Tactics Advance DS and many more. Between all these titles are a deluge of music games like Rock Band and Ouendan. As well as plenty of innovative and off-beat titles such as Brain Age, Love Plus, Hotel Dusk and so much more. Nintendo knew that with its unique dual-screen approach, they would start a new trend in the gaming industry –and they did.

The choice to be innovative with the system came with the development of better resistive touch screen technology. Back in 2003 to 2004 (the development period for the DS), capacitive touch screens were pretty much unheard of, let alone multi touch capabilities. For its time, the DS’ stylus based gaming opened up plenty of doors for game makers. For some, it was Nintendo’s courage to double up the screen which made the DS truly shine. Aside from the touch screen between the cursor pad and the buttons, the flip lid has a regular screen –allowing games to display two completely different visuals at the same time. Some games used this feature minimally –using the secondary screen as a map or inventory window. Others use it as an integral part of the game, where players control aspects of the two screens at the same time.

On its own the DS also served a few other purposes. The device can be used as a desk clock complete with its own alarm –not quite the best use for it, but you can if you want to. And the built in Pictochat feature allows you to communicate with drawn images with other DS users. It sounds silly, but you could lose a good couple of hours just having fun with it. Our personal favorite however, is the GBA backwards compatibility feature. You can simply plug in a GBA cart in the bottom of the device and the main system menu of the DS will offer you a choice of choosing which game to boot.

The new 3DS is offering just as much as the NDS (except the backwards compatibility bit) and offers many new features. But with the NDS’ already established gaming library, and the fact that it is already in the hands of over 50 million gamers worldwide, means that it will be a long time before this Nintendo handheld legend fades away.

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Channel Surfing on Your Nintendo Wii

The Wii gives the game console experience with a whole new twist: turning your favorite Nintendo party machine into a multipurpose hub for the family with its add-on channels. First time users of the system will notice that the main screen of the system OS features a whole swath of empty channels. With the main game channel placed on the upper left corner and the Mii channel on the second slot, one wonders what else can be added. Here’s a quick list of all the great additional content that Nintendo has to offer for your Wii.

First up is the official Nintendo Channel. From here, players can get the latest new on all things Nintendo and more. Previews, demos and video interviews regarding upcoming games and features are updated frequently on this channel. It also allows you to grab very exclusive sneak peeks at upcoming WiiWare titles as well.

Another great channel to have is the Wii Shop channel. This is the place to go for all downloadable content. There are both WiiWare and Virtual Console games, as well as additional channels that can be purchased. From here, players can load up their account with Wii Points as well as send gifts to the people on their Wii friends list.

Of course, once you have downloaded your favorite games, it is time to play them! The Virtual Console not a single channel but a multipurpose tool that emulates the Neo Geo, the old NES, SNES and N64 consoles, Sega’s Genesis and even the TurboGrafx 16 system. Each game for the various consoles will appear on the main screen as a separate channel.

Going back to your Miis, there’s a great way to enjoy your personal avatar outside of the default Mii channel. Enter the Check Mii Out channel. This is the place to go to if you want to see other people’s creations, to compare avatar designs and to compete in special weekly challenges (usually a create-a-Mii with a theme). If you did not get to join the competition, you can still join the fun by becoming part of the judging system.

And while we are on the topic of socializing with other Nintendo users, the Everybody Votes channel is one interesting polling system. Here, various questions are asked of the population in general. It’s a great big giant survey machine for the Nintendo community and is a great way to see how far or similar your view is from the public opinion. The statistics are provided in a daily basis and there are new polls to answer each week. The great part about this is that if you have got questions of your own, you can also add them to the poll.

The Nintendo News channel is a great way to introduce your non-computer savvy folks (or roommates) to the power of RSS driven news content. There is local and international news coverage on a wide range of topics (politics, science, sports, entertainment and more). Most of the content is from Reuters so users can be assured of the accuracy of details. Be warned however, as most news is often bad news -so some parents might keep their children from this content until they reach a certain age of comprehension.

Last on our list is the photo channel. From here, users can access image content stored on an SD card to view the content on the TV. This works best for system using component cables in order to achieve the best image quality. Also, the Wii will detect any MP3 music files on the card and play it as a background to your slideshow.

If you have not added any of these amazing channels on your Wii, now is the perfect time to set up your WiFi connection and experience all the useful and fun functionalities that the console has to offer.

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Solving Mysteries on the NDS, One Touch at a Time

The Nintendo DS plays host to a treasure trove of great games, and plenty of which fall under the mystery adventure genre. If you are a looking for a good point and click adventure that will keep you on your toes, here are our favorite mystery games for the NDS.

Hotel Dusk

With amazing visuals, a deep, intricate storyline and a unique way of playing on the DS, Hotel Dusk certainly has it all made. Players will have to flip their DS sideways (with options for left-handed users) and play with the screens in a vertical orientation. This provides the illusion of having a single screen –a visual effect that heavily influences the gameplay. In Hotel Dusk, players are in control of Kyle Hyde, a former NYPD officer in search of his old partner, Brian Bradley. His quest leads him to the mysterious Hotel Dusk, and there players will have to explore the various rooms, lobbies and passageways to seek out clues about what happened to Brian. The hotel is also occupied by various tenants and staff, talking with these people will reveal further information about the mystery of Brian’s whereabouts and the twisted past of Hotel Dusk itself. The story is very deep, involving a rich back story about art fraud, mysterious criminal organizations and false identities. Armchair detectives will certainly have a field day with this game.

Time Hollow

Time travel is one of the most difficult science fiction elements to make use of, and Konami’s Junko Kawano certainly made this one a solid work of art. The game places players in control of Ethan Kairos and together with the “hollow pen” players are able to create portals in time in order to observe or directly interfere with events of the past. With both of his parents suddenly disappearing, Ethan finds his world changed as if his parents had died a full five years ago. With his own friends mysteriously dying one after another, Ethan must seek out clues about the past and chase after another mysterious individual who also uses a hollow pen. The story is well written and it paces along at a pretty good rate. Much of the narration provides plenty of concise bits of information that players need to understand the game world and the overall story. Depending on the player’s actions, one of several possible endings may be unlocked –and only by solving all the mysteries can a true alternate ending be found.

Trace Memory

When Ashley Robbins celebrated her 14th birthday, she certainly did not expect to receive a gift from her father –who was supposed to have died when she was just three years old. The gift, a device called the DTS is uniquely designed to work only for Ashley. Along with this strange contraption is an invitation from her father who tells her to go to “Blood Edward Island”. Thus starts the plot for Trace Memory, a deeply moving mystery solving game that places players in the heart of a mysterious island, accompanied only by a ghost with no memories and faced with puzzles every step of the way. The stylus controls both movement and puzzle solving so expect to be using the touch screen a lot. AS with all mystery games, Trace Memory’s intricate storyline will only reveal its greatest secrets to the most inquisitive of players.

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Backtracking on Your Wii: GameCube Gaming

One of the many great features about the Wii is that it is compatible with plenty of old games. Many are already quite familiar with the many Virtual Console games which allow you to play NES, SNES, N64, Megadrive and other platform titles on the Wii. Of course, players will have to use the classic controller in order to play the games properly.

But one great feature of the Wii that is being overlooked is that it can play GameCube games. There are four dedicated ports on the system to plug in the old GC controllers and 2 memory card slots for save file access. No need to worry about the smaller GameCube discs, simply pop them into the disc tray and the Wii will automatically center it for you. If you are asking, ‘what is so good about the GameCube?’ -here is a quick list of our top picks.

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader

No fan of this generation-transcending work of science fiction can go without experiencing the amazing gameplay that Rogue Leader has to offer. Featuring plenty of amazing voice over work, sound effects that seem to pop right out of the move and a gameplay that truly places you in the heat of the action, this game takes Star Wars interactivity to a whole new level. The game also features a whole array of ships ranging from the well known X-Wing to the more obscure A-Wing as players fly off in missions that coincide with the events of the original trilogy.

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

We have a love-hate relationship with this game. Silicon Knights was given plenty of freedom with the remake of the original Metal Gear Solid game for the Playstation and had it graphically updated for the GameCube. The result is a visually stunning work of art that comes pretty close to the graphics for Sons of Liberty on the PS2. The gameplay has also been adjusted to bring in controls and functions available in the PS2 sequel.

The downside is that the Knights had a little too much freedom with Twin Snakes. While the general storyline has not been changed, minor character details have been adjusted. Otacon has become a Nintendo fanboy, Snake has turned into a bit of an acrobat –among others. While the canon story has not been altered, fans of the series felt that the changes were too out of character. Still, for those who have yet to play the MGS series, this title is a great way to be initiated into the world of stealth based action gameplay.

Animal Crossing

Oh, we already know, there is Animal Crossing: Wild World for the Wii. But somehow, nothing beats the charm and feel of the original AC for the GameCube. Most importantly, this is a great way for old GC owners to continue their towns and their game. The GC version of this life simulation game plays a lot simpler and less stylized than the newer version –which is something that a lot of the older fans of the series would appreciate. In any case, if you have been missing out on KK Slider’s weekend concerts and are not planning to play the new AC game, this might be the best time to take the game out of storage and pop it in for a trip back to your town.

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