Rock Band and Wii….Gimped?: My $00.02

Just noticed over on Shacknews this morning that Rock Band is dated for a June 22 release on the Wii.

Unfortunately the Wii version will lack both downloadable content and online play.  Furthermore rumors abound that both character customization and world tour mode are missing as well.  While the core gameplay will remain I have to wonder if such a gimped version of the game is really worth the effort.  Given the rapidly decreasing prices, and rapidly increasing capacity, in memory cards I think that downloadable tracks should be possible on some level.  It wouldn’t be as ideal as a hard drive but it could work.

I grow increasingly worried at the longevity of the Wii.  While Nintendo has created a product able to bring gaming to the masses they have hobbled their system with poor support for online gaming and other content.  With its simple interface and intuitive controls I could see the Wii being the centerpiece of an entertainment center but with its minimal native storage space and lack of HD support this idea seems woefully underdeveloped.  I have heard far too many horror stories about the friend code system, and the lack of an online infrastrucure, in an industry that is becoming ever more dependent on cooperative and competitive online content, is going to seriously hurt in the long run.

Innovation is great.  Unfortunately innovation that comes while ignoring worthwhile industry trends is dangerous at best, and suicidal at worst.  Things aren’t all grim.  Nintendo, and other developers, seem to have recognized the problem and tried to rectify it with online support for some games.  SSB: Brawl and Guitar Heor 3 both feature online support, and the upcoming Mario Kart will feature it as well.  But again, all three are sidled with Friend Code system and, as I’ve frequently heard in the case of Brawl, servers woefully inadequate to handle player demand.  What online play does exist is eerily silent; in world where voip is increasingly mainstream playing games online in silence is becoming almost a foreign experience.

I’m not sure how one would go about rectifying this problem.  That is assuming Nintendo sees it as a problem.  Software update?  Dare I say it…new hardware?  (whether it be in add-on form, a venue Nintendo has experimented with in the past,  or a different “flavor” of the Wii).

Virtual Console married to the player communication and coordination functions of Microsoft’s Live service would be a match made in gamer heaven but Nintendo hasn’t said a word whether it plans any modification of its online services.  They have been quiet on the new Wii announcements (to my knowledge Mario Kart remains the only big title on the horizon) and I await anxiously for new from the big N on their next big step.

PS3 has *gasp* games!?

Check out Gametrailers and one might find some links to gameplay footage from actual PS3 games.  While Lair (due in July) seems to be the earliest release most of the other games are targeted for the holiday (except maybe Warhawk) and, I can taste the bile in my mouth as I say this, actually look good.  I am particularly intrigued by three titles: 1.) “Drake: Uncharted Territory” which looks like some sort of delicious fusion between Tomb Raider and Beyond Good and Evil, 2.) “Folklore,” and action rpg with stylized graphics (ooohhh pretty colors!) that someone how involves ripping the souls or spirits out of enemies, and 3.) “Eye of Judgement,” which is a card battling system for the PS3.  You read that right, you use a specialized mat and lay down cards (ala some sort of CCG deck thing) to someone spells, monsters, etc. to battle your opponent.  My inner geek shivers in glee at this thought….my outer geek too.

I know what you’re saying:  “But Mike $600!?”  To which I would respond that with developers like Ubisoft (amongst others) calling for a price drop and the rapidly dropping sales figures since launch and Sony, come November, may be forced to take action.  Or as a friend, and gamestop employee,  informed the price of used PC dropped to $500.  I haven’t confirmed this yet, niether websites for EB or Gamestop have listings for used PS3s, but even a used PS3 at, say $550 is worth considering.  Why?  Enter the B&N and its 15% discount.  Sure it doesn’t work on new consoles but it does work on used ones.  A used PS3 at the $500 pricepoint turns into a more palpatable $425 and even at say $550 still comes down to aroun $470, prices that are extraordinarily competitive with the $475 X-Box 360 7337 system.
Right now, thanks to its game library, the 360 has my vote.  A vote that is solidly locked thanks to the Microsoft exclusive Bioware games.  But, if the PS3 somehow manages to draw more developers (their current lineup is like a ghost town) and gets a competive price point that may change.  It was easy, post-December, to feel like the opening shots of the “next-gen” console war were a bit a of bust.  However I think this December will be the real make or break decider for the M$ (does using linux let me use that?) and Sony.  Notice I don’t include Nintendo in that.  I love Nintendo, I love the Wii, but it isn’t competing in the “next-gen” race….at least was we have known it (graphics and processing versus how we think and play).  Nintendo’s biggest enemy at this point is Nintendo.  Alright, enough rambling.  Go check out some PS3 vids, and if someone is actually reading, post some comments.