I was honestly expecting a lot out of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. SuperBot Entertainment went as far as to recruit pro gamers to their design team just to be sure that this would appeal to both the casual and the hardcore audiences. Unfortunately, I can't see it appealing to either. The game is just a broken mess at this point. Certain characters are far more powerful than others, and moves are incredibly spammable. It has all the problems that multiplayer Smash Brothers has (minus the random kills) and features broken matches with foregone conclusions. The characters are stupidly imbalanced, the meter is broken, and, overall, it just doesn't feel fun.
This one is particularly a failure due to how much promise it had. None of the booth reps could answer my questions when I talked about flaws, such as the inability to build meter at the end of a match. When I talked about the power of runaway, they couldn't give me a way to beat it. When I pointed out very blatant character imbalances, they only said it was a work in progress. I have a sinking feeling about this one. It doesn't feel like a game that simply has some problems with its alpha build; it feels like a game whose premise was flawed from the start.
I'm just going to come out and say it: The Wii U has too many controllers. There's the GamePad, the Wiimote, the Nunchuck, the Classic Controller, the Classic Controller Pro, the Balance Board, and, who knows, we may still see the Vitality Sensor come back one day. Now we have to deal with the Wii U Pro controller as well, a controller that basically looks like a shameless rip-off of an Xbox 360 pad. Sorry, it's unfair to call the two controllers identical. The face buttons on the Wii U Pro Controller are lowered, making them much more awkward to hit. Well, at least the D-pad will be better than the Xbox's.
All of this is beside the point, though, because the real problem is that the Wii U Pro Controller undermines the whole point of the Wii U. Nintendo's consoles have always been about innovation in control. The SNES gave us shoulder buttons. The N64 gave us the analog stick. The Wii gave us motion controls. The Wii U should be focusing on what it can do with the camera, touchscreen, gyro sensors, and NFC sensor on the GamePad. If you give developers yet another way to simply ignore your technological innovations, they will.
Sorry, Nintendo, but no one wants to play Assassin's Creed with a traditional controller on your system. They want to play it with touchscreen controls in a totally separate room than the TV. If they wanted a traditional gameplay experience, they would have purchased a traditional HD console.
To E3's merit, there weren't a whole lot of crappy games on the floor this year. There were, on the other hand, a whole lot of crappy new ways to interact with games. Xbox SmartGlass is one of these, and, while it's a decent idea, I just can't see it improving the video game experience in any way, shape, or form.
Let me run it down for you: SmartGlass allows you to use your exiting smartphones and tablets in conjunction with the Xbox 360, basically giving you access to makeshift Wii U controllers. The only problem is, this doesn't actually let you do anything interesting. You can control your Xbox 360 dashboard, but you can already do that with both a controller and a Kinect. You can hook it up to a piece of media, like a movie or an episode of a TV show, and it will give you information like character bios and plot synopses. In other words, it can give you things that you have to look away from the TV screen to read, effectively making you ignore whatever movie that you planned to watch in the first place. To SmartGlass' defense, they did showcase the ability to create Madden plays using an iPad, and that was pretty cool. However, much of the gaming community still doesn't have tablet devices, so it seems a little foolish to create an entire new interaction platform for the small cross section of gamers that own tablets and want to use them with Madden. Call me crazy, but I just don't get it.
I honestly felt like Sony's press conference was a cut above the rest this year. It showed off some of the most awesome titles at the entire expo. But Wonderbook? Wonderbook was so boring it almost had me in tears.
For those of you who missed the conference, Wonderbook is essentially an augmented reality book that works in conjunction with the PlayStation to bring stories to life. While this sounds really cool, all it actually amounts to is a bunch of volunteers failing to cast spells in the Wonderbook version of Harry Potter for a half hour.
Draw a spell, shuffle the book, draw a spell, flick the wand, draw a spell—over and over again. Not only is the premise of Wonderbook boring, the ARG technology simply doesn't work. It told the volunteer to draw a 4 and a Z on screen, and she did—I saw it with my own eyes over and over and over again—but the device failed to register these simple movements. Sorry Harry, but not even wizarding school can save this one.
Whereas ZombiU was one of the best examples of Wii U mechanics done right, SiNG is an example of how everything on the Wii U can go wrong.
SiNG is really just Karaoke. That's it. It's not Karaoke Revolution or some other Karaoke-styled game. It's just plain ol' Karaoke. The words show up on the Wii U screen, which you have to hold in addition to a microphone, while the screen gives commands to everyone else in the room. However, the game doesn't actually grade you or your friends in any way. It just expects you to play along for the sake of the party.
There's no actual game here. In fact, it's barely a decent Karaoke machine. The text is small on the GamePad, making it hard to see while trying to interact with everyone else in the room. The rest of the room rarely joins in because there's nothing actually to gain by doing so. The game wants to be something new and innovative, but it's just faking it. It's an insult to the Wii U, to rhythm games, and to gamers everywhere.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: June 20, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*