Japan is crazy about portable gaming, so this year's Tokyo Game Show week focused on the Nintendo 3DS and the upcoming PlayStation Vita. Read on to learn what's new in the handheld realm, then cap off your industry dish with the tale of an Xbox Live Arcade-related melee.
Nintendo Showcases the 3DS
Nintendo doesn't participate in the Tokyo Game Show, but the company held a "showcase" earlier in the week that focused primarily on the 3DS. Since the major complaint about the device right now is a lack of games, Nintendo showed off plenty of upcoming titles and played host to several major announcements from third-party companies. Nintendo itself announced Mario Tennis and released new information about a raft of previously-announced titles such as Super Mario Land 3D and Animal Crossing. Third-party companies announced such Japan-pleasing titles as Monster Hunter 4 and Square Enix's ludicrously-named but attractive looking Bravely Default: Flying Fairy.
Nintendo's stock fell slightly after the 3DS showcase, although the company was hardly alone, as many Japanese game companies have found their stock falling after major announcements lately. Still, a number of analysts have been hysterically predicting the death of Nintendo, or stating that Nintendo is a goner unless the company starts making games for cell phones and tablets.
Apparently the wizards of Wall Street have decided that the "casuals" (and therefore the money) have migrated away from dedicated gaming devices, so nothing Nintendo does with the 3DS is likely to please them. With that logic, it seems like the PS Vita will be receiving the same treatment from financial analysts when it comes out.
There's been so much noise about cell phone and tablet gaming that Nintendo's President Iwata specifically announced this week that Nintendo will not be developing games for those devices. Iwata believes that sticking to its own gaming-focused consoles is best for the long-term financial health of the company. Considering that Nintendo has been around since 1889 and has weathered far worse financial troubles than a single slow-starting handheld device, my money's on the Big N.
Don't Forget To Take Your Vita-mins
The PlayStation Vita was the big star of the Tokyo Game Show proper. Japanese game companies have leapt on board Sony's upcoming handheld console, which features dual analog sticks, a front touchscreen, and a back touchpad. Touch technology was very much in attendance at the show, with most games showing off touch controls using both the front and back of the device. Sony states that 74 games are currently in development for the PS Vita, so if a reasonable number of those games are high-quality and available at launch, the Vita should get off to a stronger start than Nintendo's 3DS did.
Given the TGS hype and the popularity of the PSP in Japan, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Vita outperform the 3DS in that country. However, the Vita likely faces an uphill battle in North America, where the PSP didn't do nearly as well. Before the 3DS price drop, the Vita appeared poised to steal Nintendo's thunder worldwide. Now that the 3DS is only $170, however, it's been revealed that Sony had to take some major shortcuts to get the Vita down to its asking price of $250. The Vita's battery life is shorter than the PSP's at only 3-5 hours, and unlike the 3DS, the Vita doesn't come bundled with a charging dock. More importantly, the Vita does not come with included internal storage, and requires gamers to purchase a proprietary memory card at a premium price in order to store some save games and any downloaded content. Ouch.
Team Meat and Zen Studios Brawl, Make Up
Team Meat, the studio that created (what else?) Super Meat Boy, hasn't exactly been quiet about its struggles with Microsoft during the process of getting its game up on Xbox Live Arcade. The company nearly went under during the process, and describes frustrating delays and a lack of marketing support for their game.
After reading about Team Meat's experiences, the folks at Zen Studios felt compelled to share an opposite experience with the world. The makers of Pinball FX 2, Zen Studios had a very positive experience with Microsoft and felt that the game received excellent marketing support. Pinball FX 2 has had good long-term success on Xbox Live Arcade, and wanted to publicize this experience as a counterpoint to developers that have been down on Microsoft lately.
That would have been fine and good, but Zen Studios threw in some unnecessary shots at Team Meat in its open letter, mentioning that Team Meat has made millions of dollars and wondering if the Meat folks were dishonestly trying to keep up an "indie and poor" image. Team Meat responded angrily and profanely to that accusation on Twitter, leading to an antagonistic Twitter exchange between the two companies until they apparently decided to speak directly to each other on the phone about the whole mess.
The phone conversation apparently cleared the air, as the Twitter exchange ended with Team Meat offering to create a Super Meat Boy skin for Pinball FX 2. Zen Studios responded positively and excitedly, and Team Meat suggested meeting up if Zen Studios was in the Bay Area. D'awwwww.
By Becky Cunningham
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*