The term ‘Hardcore Gamer’ doesn’t sit well with me, it sounds more like some sort of dirty porn video that you’d find hidden in the depths of a lonely teen’s computer files rather than someone who enjoys playing games. However, even if the term does evoke images of asthmatic, anti-social, sweating teens in their mother’s basements venting their rather narrow-minded opinion in forums and belittling others in the process, it can’t be denied that this subsection of video game lovers have taken on the term to deliberately segregate themselves from the blending of video games into popular culture. I myself prefer the term video games enthusiast, as that is exactly what I am – enthusiastic about video games; after all you wouldn’t call a film enthusiast a hardcore filmgoer. With the impending release of the Wii U in November, it seems that this section of ‘hardcore’ gamers are up in arms about Nintendo delivering exactly what they always complained about Nintendo failing to deliver on: ‘hardcore’ games.
This of course isn’t everyone, but it’s a very vocal section of the gamer community, however, with the Wii U it seems that Nintendo are definitely on their way to reclaiming the top spot that they once held and I don’t mean in terms of financial revenue, I mean that special place in gamers’ hearts reserved for their favourite platform. Just like the days of the N64 Nintendo could be headed back to the top – although most self-professed ‘hardcore’ gamers probably aren’t really old enough to remember the N64 days.
With the N46 Nintendo revolutionised the game world by ushering in the thumbstick and optional rumble pack too that has now become industry standard; the same can be said of the Wii and it’s motion controls, and already the Wii U is influencing the gaming landscape with Microsoft and Sony clambering to release their Smart Glass and Cross Controller technology respectively. Nintendo also enjoyed strong third-party support in the N64 days, something that lacked on both the Gamecube and Wii, but with the Wii U it seems that this has come back with force.
Now the Wii U can compete with the brunt of Microsoft’s 360 and Sony’s PS3 third-party developers and jumping aboard to reach a bigger market and make use of that innovative controller. Sure it’s hard to judge how well it’ll compete in terms of grunt when the next-generation of competitor consoles joins the fray, but to hold off on an incredible machine for what could be two years is a little absurd – and even then Nintendo will still have thick third-party support by that point.
Already Nintendo have shown that publishers and developers want to jump into bed with the Wii U. Capcom showed off the impressive Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and the shock reveal came when Platinum Games’ Bayonetta 2 was revealed to be published by Nintendo themselves – a move that really shows their commitment to delivering high-octane experiences. Ubisoft have shown immense support by bringing Rayman Legends to the console as well as Assassin’s Creed III and a dark and violent new IP in ZombiU – each of them utilising the Wii U in interesting and innovative ways to boot. Typically Activision and EA are on board and are ready to deliver both classic and interesting IPs, and Namco, Tecmo Koei and a raft of smaller developers are jumping aboard to bring some hits to the console.
Maybe the idea of a new console launching with a number of previously released Triple A games is enough to put you off; however, what should be remembered is that not only do titles like Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Mass Effect 3: Special Edition and Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition all feature a plethora of extras and improvements over their original releases, but it’s not the launch titles that show you what a console can do – they only show you what it’s capable of doing. When new titles release alongside 360 and PS3 versions you’ll find yourself missing out on entirely new ways to play. It’s this potential that should have any self-confessed gamer salivating at the mouth.
The announcement that Nintendo had formed a contract with Unity Technologies to bring Unity to dev kits is also a great sign for Nintendo’s commitment to bringing new experiences to gamers. With Unity indie devs can easily develop for the console and publish their titles at a much lower cost than if they developed straight away for the Wii U. If Nintendo bring in the right delivery system – as WiiWare was rather shocking – then it’ll be a killer way to get great titles that could be found on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, and perhaps won’t be found there due to the unique opportunities the Wii U offers developers. It could quite literally be the console to own if you want to experience new and innovative games – and what ‘hardcore’ gamer wouldn’t want that?
However, that’s probably not enough to convince some out there as I’ve noticed many a ‘gamer’ complaining about the GamePad controller and their vehement disgust at having to use such a device to play “proper” games with. There is nothing I can say to these people, not because they are correct, but because I don’t want to have to talk to narrow-minded individuals. Having used the pad myself – albeit one from a Wii U dev kit – it’s an incredibly comfortable controller and comfortably light to hold too. It’s not unwieldy in any sense of the word and, while it takes a little to become accustomed to a second screen, using two screens feels surprisingly easy to do. Nicely though, Nintendo know that the GamePad won’t appeal to everyone and so they’ve developed a Pro Controller than can be used with pretty much all of the Wii U games anyway – even allowing you to use the Game Pad screen as a second screen even if you’re not using it to play games with. There really is no reason to go up in arms about how you’ll be able to play a game.
If it’s violence you’re after, and let’s be honest here most prepubescent – and pubescent – ‘hardcore’ gamers only really care about spraying some of the ol’ claret about the place, then Nintendo have you covered once again. Not only are Activision bringing the massively overrated Black Ops II to provide you with the futuristic military wet dream you’ve been craving – if you’re that way inclined that is – but ZombiU should provide you with all the rotting flesh and brain eating bloodbath you could want. If that wasn’t enough Tecmo Koei’s super violent Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge promises to be even gorier than on 360 and PS3 with dismemberment and blood aplenty – showing that Nintendo really aren’t aiming for the family market. Even the newly announced Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z could see a release on the Wii U, showing yet again that gore has found a new home to display itself in wonderful HD.
Rather than berating the Wii U and comparing it to the Wii’s shortcomings before its even released, perhaps those out there calling themselves ‘hardcore’ gamers and complaining to no end should take a step back and look seriously at what the Wii U is offering. Maybe then it’ll become apparent that Nintendo seem set to return to the lofty heights that they once populated with the success of the N64. The Wii’s family friendly model may not be gone, and it’s a good thing it hasn’t, but because Nintendo can now provide the grunt that third-party developers wanted, we’ll be seeing some of the greatest ‘hardcore’ games arriving on the platform for everyone to enjoy – even those who feel they’re more ‘hardcore’ because they play on a seven year old console.