Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 4, 2014

Oculus Rift, Kindle Fire TV, and Mario Kart 8

Oculus Rift

Ed Fries speaks common sense and the hardcore go bonkers over him. The hardcore were already in utter shock when Facebook bought Oculus Rift (likely due to Zuckerberg listening to John Carmack [and what consumer success has Carmack had since Quake 3 which is 15 years ago? Carmack left i.d. to work fully for Oculus Rift].

The big bust of 3d is apt comparison to Virtual Reality. The Video Game market is extremely periodic, things keep happening again and again,  as V.R. is nothing new. “You must see it to believe it!” “It will spark the change in everything! So much potential!”

V.R. is extremely limited to a niche because it is based entirely on escapism. V.R. is a tool for escapism and a much better tool than, say, just a TV. V.R. not only has to compete against ‘good enough’ tools of escapism, V.R. doesn’t have any other uses entertainment wise.

One of the big reasons for Wii’s growth market was that the new market games were not escapist. The stigma of video games centers around players who ‘check out of the world’ and escape in some fantasy. Many, many people do not want escapist solutions. The future of video games is not ‘more escapism’ especially at the exclusion of everything else.

V.R. certainly wouldn’t be fun to play local multiplayer with either.

Knowing Miyamoto, I am sure he has designed the 9th Generation of Nintendo handhelds and home consoles to all be V.R. with goggles. “But Malstrom,” you say. “What about the Virtual Boy disaster. Nintendo wouldn’t do that again.” We didn’t think Nintendo would do the N64 disaster again but they made the 3DS because ‘now is the time for 3d’. We didn’t think Nintendo would do the Gamecube disaster again but they made the Wii U in order to popularize Gamecube-esque games. Why wouldn’t they make V.R. at this point? Nintendo is so stubborn that they would probably make their medical devices handle profit while they can unprofitably forever make V.R. and 3d game consoles. Hell is Aonuma Zelda and 3d Mario stomping on your face forever.


Kindle Fire TV

Amazon has released the Kindle Fire TV. It has a harddrive and a controller can be purchased to play Android games on it. Is Kindle Fire TV going to disrupt everything in console gaming?

The answer is no. Kindle Fire TV will cannibalize Ouya’s market (whatever market there is) on the gaming side and cannibalize Roku’s market on the TV entertainment side. While the market may grow, such products historically don’t bring down the Apple product. Apple TV won’t be affected by  this (unless Apple never refreshes it).


Mario Kart 8

Here is the trailer:

Looks terrible. I’ll be skipping.

Nintendo doesn’t seem to know what to do with Mario Kart. All they are doing is cramming in new characters, new items, and weird crap like hang-gliders and hover-modes. The charm of Mario Kart was go-karts-in-Wonderland which each new Mario Kart keeps getting further and further away from.

The ode to Mario Kart N64 is especially worrisome. Mario Kart 64 was terrible. The battle mode was good, but the track design and racing were godawful. It was made in an era of ‘omg, I can’t believe it is 3d’ with the tracks being too damn long and boring.

I looked for information about battle mode. I was not happy with what battle mode became in Mario Kart Wii. There still seems to be no information on it.

Video games are tools. Nintendo needs to provide a reason why this tool is needed. Can’t I just replay an older Mario Kart and get my fix that way? Why on earth would I want to pay money for MORE Mario Kart? Nintendo doesn’t provide this reason. They just throw more characters and items and shit at you.

I’d like a more down-to-earth Mario Kart, with less characters and ‘stuff’, that revolves more around the magic of go-karts. Bring back the feather. Bring back the focus on racing (just as Mario Kart is absorbing F-Zero in this game, I worry that Racing Mode is going to absorb Battle Mode. Why have Battle Mode at all when the races are littered with endless weapons?). Bring back one item box per lap so you have to use it strategically.

Mario Kart 8 will sell Wii Us, but not to the extent that Mario Kart Wii sold Wiis. Mario Kart 8 is the biggest Wii U game since NSMB U in terms of hardware selling power. Nintendo knows this and is doing their best to maximize it.

One of the Wii U’s problems is that it doesn’t even seem like a multiplayer console… not with that single giant ass Gamepad. Why on earth would I buy a Wii U for Mario Kart 8 when the system isn’t really about multiplayer anyway? Aside from Nintendo Land and Mario platformers, what type of multiplayer games are there on the Wii U? No, that mode in Pikmin 3 doesn’t count. The identity of Wii U doesn’t mesh well with party multiplayer of Mario Kart. Note that the Wii meshed extremely well with party multiplayer of Mario Kart as did the DS.

Mario Kart doesn’t seem special as there is so much bullshit in the game. Instead of adding so much crap, why not just add more courses? Or add something else? I was more than happy with 8-10? characters from Super Mario Kart. I don’t need 100 characters. I don’t need 100 different karts. I don’t need hang gliding, submarines, and hover-flying in a go-kart game.

Mario Kart is about everything but go-kart racing. This pushes me away.



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