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 411mania » Games » Columns

Four Player Co-op 09.19.12: Wii U, iPhone 5, Steam Big Picture, More
Posted by Stephen Randle on 09.19.2012

Todd Vote has joined the game.
Mark Salmela has joined the game.
Sean Garmer has joined the game.

Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Four Player Co-op, the gaming knowledge competition that both demands and deserves your respect. We'd also like your allegiance and your undying loyalty, but we're prepared to wait. And we'll take your wallet and car keys while we're at it.

Start the game!

QUESTION ONE: All right, we discussed the lack of Wii U information last week and as if by magic, Nintendo has delivered, so here's what we know: the release date is November 18th (just in time for my birthday…hint, hint), and there are two versions. The Basic Wii U will be 300 dollars and come with everything you need, but no game bundled with it. The Deluxe version will be 350 bucks, comes with Nintendo Land (think like Wii Sports for the original), a bigger hard drive, and some extra gewgaws. Oh, and it'll be black. An interesting feature is that both versions will come with an HDMI cable for high definition video, something neither Sony nor Microsoft provide for their consoles. So, now that we have info on what it's going to cost and what you're getting, plus some idea of release titles (Darksiders II, Bayonetta 2, and Black Ops 2, among others), let's make it easy. Wii U At Launch: Buy/No Buy?

Todd Vote
No buy. I am curious about what Nintendo can do with the game pad, but I've been burnt on buying consoles at launch in the past. I will not do it anymore. I don't care if it does end up leaving me about six months behind everybody else. At least this way I can see what all three have to offer and make my choice that way.

Mark Salmela
Buy! Buy Waffles! Fresh and tasty waffles! Now with a bright ass screen to let you know you're eating waffles! Plus you can touch it. You can't do multi-touch, but dammit, you can touch these waffles!!!

In all seriousness, yes, I will be buying the Wii U Deluxe model on launch date. I'm well aware that there are virtually no reasons to pick this thing up at launch, but I'm a sucker for new hardware. Even though I'm not that excited for yet another 2D Mario game, NintendoLand, and whatever else will be available at launch, it is a brand new piece of hardware to play around with and it'll eventually have some awesome games that'll make it worth owning the system. Hell, if everything goes according to plan and no one buys this thing, maybe Nintendo will over-react and offer another ambassador program where I end up with another 20 free games. I can't speak for everyone, but it's pretty easy to shut me up and all my complaints with some free games. Remember when the PlayStation Network went down for a few weeks? I certainly don't, and neither does my free copy of Dead Nation.

Sean Garmer
No, I think they made a big mistake not putting the basic version at $250 and then making the Deluxe $300 that way it makes people really have to think about what system they want. Right now a 4GB Xbox 360 and a full on PS3 are cheaper than both versions of the Wii U. A Xbox 360 that has 250 GB hard drive is the same price as the basic version too. To me, that´s not good for casual consumers or the hardcore crowd they alienated with the Wii. Also, Nintendo knows that in order for gamers to play multiplayer games, people have to buy a bunch of Wii Remotes and Nunchuks, which adds more money to the equation. Not to mention, you still need to buy some games for it at launch too. All of this up front cost involved does not make it a big seller for people like me that did not own a Wii in the first place. However, I will commend Nintendo for introducing Wii Tvii and getting a big exclusive like Bayonetta 2 for their console. Personally, if I had a Wii I think I would go out there and get this at launch. But, there is so much cost involved in getting the best out of the console and the fact that launch consoles always seem to have issues. This makes me feel like maybe I should wait and see if some bigger exclusives or more games like Rayman Legends come out that show everyone how the system can be used to its best ability. Until then, I will just use my money for other things.

Salms gets 524 points for his waffle-heavy portfolio, and also for being one of the many who have fallen for Nintendo's baffling launch strategy where there's never really much worth getting (remember when the Nintendo 64 launched with Mario 64, Pilotwings, and nothing else?) but they still manage to convince people to pick it up in anticipation of the titles that will come. Sony and Microsoft wish they could get away with that.

QUESTION TWO: Well, to the shock of approximately nobody, Apple has announced the iPhone 5. Has it even been a year since the 4S? Don't answer that, I already know. So, there's the usual list of new features, and it's apparently the thinnest iPhone ever, with the largest screen thus far. For me, it means I can now get an iPhone 4 for next to nothing, but what does a new iPhone mean to you? And yes, I realize this question is going to get really old at the current rate of iPhone releases.

Todd Vote
It means I get to sit around with my old phone, and not data plan, while all of my friends continually bust out new version after new version of smart phone all the while telling me how awesome they are, and how this new version is the most ultimate ever, and will never be topped. Then they will do it again in 3 months with the iPhone 75 that will be the thinnest iPhone ever with the largest screen yet.

Mark Salmela
Isn't this like the 8th iPhone being released? And they're calling it the iPhone 5? Head scratching aside, this may be the phone that Apple finally convinces me to buy. The iPhone has always been the most attractive of all the smart phones out there for me, and I'm going to have to cave in and buy one eventually. Even all my computer illiterate friends who don't know what the caps lock key does on a keyboard are starting to look at me funny for having an old "dumb phone". I must say, it's quite annoying being in an area where you really want to get onto the internet, but you can't because there's either no public wi-fi, or the wi-fi is so crappy it's completely unusable. I've tried getting by with just a 4th gen iPod Touch, but I think it may finally be time for this writer to cave in and buy an iPhone. Now I have another excuse to avoid conversation in public that doesn't relate to Driving Ms. T.T.

Sean Garmer
It means nothing to me really. I have an older Blackberry and I am fine with that. I really think Apple and phones in general should take a cue from the Games industry and maybe release a new phone every two or three years. They do not need to be like the PC industry and release a new I-Phone every year this is getting preposterous. I cannot imagine what this constant feeling of having to update their phone is like for people that actually have these things.

Personally, the iPhone 5 announcement meant that I could get an iPhone 4 for free, so I did. Sean gets 1953 points for operating under the same "grumpy old man" policy that I do. I was born in the 80's, I still use my phone as a phone, dammit! I don't need any new fancy gimmicks every six months!

QUESTION THREE: So Steam has launched the beta of its Big Picture service, which as I understand allows you to use Steam on a TV, but more importantly, has been designed for use with both a keyboard/mouse combo and a game controller, including a web browser completely optimized for use with a controller. While at the moment Big Picture seems more like an interesting but unwieldy gimmick (it does still require you to have something that can run Steam hooked to your TV, after all), it seems like it may be a predecessor to the rumoured "Steam Box" console. Using Big Picture as an indicator of how far Valve might be into console design, could such a thing come into play in time for the upcoming generation of console wars, and if so, how would it match up?

Todd Vote
Now if Valve could make this Steam Box as an affordable console that will run PC games, they may be on to something. I can't speak for others, but that has been the one major thing holding me back from playing PC games. It just costs too much money to have a machine that will run efficiently enough to support all of the things needed. The Steam Box could change that for me. Color me interested.

Mark Salmela
Maybe it's just me, but I don't see Valve becoming a competitor in the console market. They've got an incredible thing going with Steam on the PC, and they've got their own battle to be had with the new Windows PC Marketplace that's coming out with Windows 8. Valve needs to be concerned with protecting their own home front rather than trying to compete with Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo in the console wars. And if you think Valve isn't scared shitless by the upcoming Windows 8 marketplace, you've got another thing coming. Valve doesn't really think Windows 8 will be a complete disaster to code for, they're worried Steam is going to take a huge hit in sales because the Windows Marketplace will be easier and more accessible for Windows 8 users. I have many problems with Windows 8, but I know Valve's problems with the platform are strictly monetary related.

Anyways, now that I've aired my personal frustrations over Valve (quit making DOTA2 and give us HL3 already), I'll defend my first comment about Valve not entering the console space. In addition to needing to focus on protecting the PC space, I don't see why Valve would want to compete with the big 3 in terms of home entertainment. Launching a console is not cheap. Just ask the folks over at OnLive. Besides Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo it seems like a lot of these personalized home entertainment boxes just don't work out. Even things such as the Apple TV haven't worked out. I think Valve recognizes this, and while they may continue with small projects on the same scale as the Apple TV, don't expect Valve to go all in with some major entry in the next generation console wars. If anyone is going to do it, everyone knows at this point it will be Apple, and Apple clearly doesn't want to go there. I trust Apple and their market analysts better than anyone, and they clearly have a reason for avoiding the home console market.

Sean Garmer
I´ve always wanted to buy a few things on Steam. However, I am just not a PC gamer and I´d rather play things on my big TV. Also, even though my Desktop is not that old it does not have an HDMI output on it and so I have no use for the Steam Big Picture thing. As far as Steam Box goes, I think if Valve does wind up making a "Steam Box" we will see it release with the other new consoles. With the right price and allowing people to download everything they have on their Steam powered PC on the "Steam Box" I think you could see Valve be a major player in the console market. If anything, it could help the "PC Only" gamers to finally buy a console.

I was wary about the whole idea of a PC gaming "console", but the guys are actually bringing around, because they've reminded me of how hard it is to actually keep your computer optimized for gaming, which is the whole reason why consoles came around and are currently dominating the gaming market.

QUESTION FOUR: And from the "well, duh" department, Microsoft has purchased Internet domains for Halo 7,8, and 9, which would suggest that the Halo franchise is going to be around for a very, very long time. Which is pretty interesting given that the original story (and development studio) ended after Halo 3, didn't it? Also, we're only on Halo 4 at this point, so, are you ready for many, many more years of Master Chief as pretty much the closest thing the X-Box has to a mascot?

Todd Vote
Bungie ended their run with Halo Reach, if I am not mistaken. Beyond that, what is wrong with Halo sticking around as long as they can continue to build on the current mythos, and continue to make quality games. I mean, Nintendo has released something like 347,000 Mario games, and that hasn't been an issue. Is it because Halo is part of the often hated FPS genre? Don't get me wrong, I am far from a Halo guy (I'm more of a Paul Heyman guy), I've played the campaigns, but the multiplayer can kiss my taint. That being said, I see no issue with the series continuing or even expanding further, provided the quality holds up. And again, what is wrong with Chief as a mascot? U mad?

Mark Salmela
Halo is kind of in a weird place for me. On one hand I see previews for Halo 4 and think "this is awesome!" Then I'll see stories on Black-Ops 2, which releases a week away from Halo 4, and stories about how you'll need 8 GB free on your hard drive to even play Halo 4's multiplayer and I think "meh, I'll skip this one." Halo is still a very popular franchise, but it's not what it once was. Don't forget back when Halo 3 came out COD had not yet become the biggest franchise in gaming and effectively ripped the crown for "King of FPS" off Halo's head. I want to like Halo, but it's got a lot to prove in my eyes, and I'm more excited to see what Halo can do on the next generation of consoles than what Halo 4 will do in November. To answer your question, yes, I'm excited for future Halo games. Halo 4 will probably be good, but let me know when Halo 5 comes.

Sean Garmer
This does not surprise me in the slightest. Mario has existed for a long time, Sonic is still around, Sony has a bunch of different "mascots" but Microsoft´s "Mario" is Master Chief and I believe until Microsoft says "we are no longer making anymore consoles." We will see a Halo game on the Xbox whatever its called for many years to come.

Todd and Sean seem to want to give Master Chief the same power as Mario, but the Chief lacks the versatility and general exploitability that you'd probably want in your main gaming mascot. Basically, I don't think "Kart", "At The Olympics", "Party", or any other of the five million "Mario Characters In Various Popular Activities" franchises that Nintendo has been milking to expand their revenue streams, will be translated into the Halo franchise anytime soon, which probably puts Chief way down on the list of popular mascots, no matter how much the base series sells. But hey, 4264 points for trying.

BONUS QUESTION: Well, we did this for games, so how about movies. The summer blockbuster season is over and all that's left is to run out the rest of the year with Oscar bait, October horror movies, trash not good enough for other months, and big holiday releases. Anything catch your eye at the theatre going forward in 2012?

Todd Vote
Sadly, with the big disappointment that was part 3 in the franchise, I am curious about Paranormal Activity 4. Other than that, I don't really see anything getting me into the theater for the rest of the year.

Mark Salmela
In terms of upcoming movies, the only one that really catches my interest in what little remains of 2012 is the new James Bond movie. I'm a huge James Bond fan and can't wait for Daniel Craig's return to the big screen. And now that I've established a little bit of credit amongst moviegoers, let me throw it all out the window in the same paragraph. This past week I had the pleasure of seeing the movie Girls Gone Dead, and it was glorious. This comedy horror movie was so great I was in stitches at times. The movie even has Jerry Lawler, the man who just beat a heart attack on live TV, giving a piledriver to the main villain while on fire. If that doesn't spark your interest at least somewhat, nothing will. Plus, titties.

Sean Garmer
Actually there are quite a few films I am interested in seeing. I am a sucker for Animated (CG or hand drawn) films so I want to see Hotel Transylvania. Tim Burton is my favorite director, but I´ll probably watch "Franken Weenie" on DVD. I also love me some Clint Eastwood so I might go see his Trouble With the Curve movie. How could I forget the Video Game movie "Wreck-It Ralph" it actually looks like it could be very good. Not to mention, John C. Reily is doing the main character´s voice and I am sold. There is also Quentin Tarantino´s Django Unchained that comes out during Christmas time too. I don´t really care about sitting in a theater for fifty hours to watch "The Hobbit" although I´ll probably rent it on DVD.

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