Nintendo finally held a special conference to announce the Wii U's price and launch date on Thursday. The company has apparently decided it just doesn't like making major announcements at trade shows like E3 and the upcoming Tokyo Game Show. In the meantime, two unfortunate game developers have run afoul of the Greek government and have been arrested for espionage. And speaking of espionage, we've got some news about Insomniac's upcoming spy caper, the game formerly known as Overstrike.
Nintendo Announces Wii U Launch
Nintendo held simultaneous press conferences in Japan, the USA, and the UK on Thursday morning, announcing the release date and prices for its Wii U packages. The details of the North American Wii U launch can be found in our news story, but the main thrust of the announcement is that two Wii U packages, at $300 and $350 respectively, will be available in mid-November. Interestingly, the Basic Wii U will be white and the Deluxe Wii U will be black, meaning that for the first time, customers can't make a Nintendo hardware purchase decision based purely on color.
The company certainly seems to be trying to overcome the Wii's reputation for having mostly casual and shovelware titles from third parties. Along with focusing on a fair number of already-announced core titles from various third parties, Thursday's conference announced that Bayonetta 2 will be exclusive to the Wii U. In fact, between Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101 (formerly called Project P-100), Platinum seems to be doing most of its work for Nintendo these days.
The announcement of Nintendo TVii also shows that the company is in fact keeping up with current console trends. The fact that the Wii U's TV functionality works with all major cable and dish providers in North America puts Nintendo ahead of the curve in terms of console-based TV systems. It will be interesting to see how Nintendo accomplishes that feat and how Microsoft and Sony respond to this TVii challenge.
There's been a fair bit of Internet chatter suggesting that Nintendo will probably price-drop the Wii U quickly like it did with the 3DS, but I have doubts about that. The company purposefully priced the 3DS with a higher profit margin than usual because of the console's pre-release reception. There has been no indication that it's doing so with the Wii U, which is priced normally for a HD console and includes a tablet controller, which undoubtedly drives up manufacturing costs.
Now that it's officially launching well before Christmas and has the holiday to itself in terms of major gaming hardware releases, will the Wii U own the holiday? Can the system overcome the common public perception that it's just a new tablet controller for the Wii? Will it attract the many core gamers who abandoned the Wii due to its motion controls and overly extensive shovelware library? Stay tuned to find out!
Real-Life Gaming Spy Caper
Nobody can say that the ArmA developers at Bohemia Interactive aren't serious about detail in their work. The company is well-known for its dedication to simulating the experience of using real-life military equipment as closely as possible. These folks have a passion for what they do, so much so that two Bohemia employees decided to visit the Greek Isle of Lemnos, on which the setting of ArmA III is based, on vacation.
On official business, Bohemia is always careful to use publicly available information when creating its games. Unfortunately, its vacationing developers may have gotten a bit too close to some military installations while taking photographs, as they were arrested by Greek law enforcement on suspicion of espionage. Beyond confirming that the arrested men were indeed Bohemia employees and that they were not there on business for the company, Bohemia is currently not commenting on the situation. We hope everything can get sorted out for these gents!
Overstrike Becomes Fuse
During E3 2011, Insomniac showed off a promising trailer for a comedic spy caper called Overstrike. As somebody who loved No One Lives Forever, it got my attention as a spiritual successor. After more than a year of radio silence regarding the game, the company is finally showing off what happened between then and now. As confirmed by Cheat Code Central's Josh Wirtanen, Overstrike has been renamed to Fuse, a game with the same cast, but with a focus on hard-hitting weapons and action over stealth.
It turns out that Insomniac just wasn't feeling the magic when it came time to play Overstrike's four spy characters and their co-op stealth-oriented missions. Thus, the game's premise and gameplay was changed in order to play more towards the company's strengths in the action gaming arena. The characters are now equipped with experimental weapons made using a mysterious (and top-secret, of course) alien element that the government has acquired. This allows the characters to have access to crazy, high-damage attacks that Insomniac found to be more satisfying in a co-op environment.
It appears that Fuse's cast is still the same as it was during the game's time as Overstrike, but the team reports that the game's humor is now less campy, drier, and more mature. It's interesting to get this look into how a game can change over the course of development, something we don't always see because games aren't usually shown off until after their main concepts and gameplay have been locked in. Good on Insomniac for seeing when a concept wasn't working and being willing to make the call and change things up.
Date: September 14, 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.*