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Your Questions Answered

by Nick DiMola - August 18, 2009, 7:35 pm EDT

What's in store for Nintendo home consoles? Is there hope for "hardcore" third party games? What the heck is up with Sonic (and why is it so bad)? Find out in the first edition of the resurrected Mailbag!

With the confirmation from Capcom that Monster Hunter 3 (tri-) will come out in North America and Europe next year (as "Monster Hunter Tri"), do you think Capcom will try and bring the pay model they use in Japan? With the PS2 installments they made them free to play outside of Japan, so that gives me hope.

- TJ Spyke (Rochester, NY)

Based on past release trends, it seems unlikely that Capcom will employ a pay-to-play pay structure with Monster Hunter Tri. Monster Hunter on the PlayStation 2, as well as Monster Hunter Freedom, Freedom 2, and Freedom Unite on the PSP have all featured free online play. Given the continued success of MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, it seems that Capcom would have a hard time drawing in US fans with a for-pay setup. Tri would be competing for the same dollars every month that many gamers already have allotted to these types of games.

On the other hand, Capcom didn't come straight out and make any announcement about this when they originally revealed the game. It seems likely that Capcom is still debating what they plan to do with the game's online pay model.

I was wondering why there is no new Mario Party for Wii or DS. It used to come out yearly, but it has been two years since 8. I also figured that the release of the DS version would start a yearly trend there as well, yet we still have not even seen a sequel. These games still sell well, so why the long delay?

- Brandon

It has been rumored that Hudson, developers of the series, are no longer interested in creating these games. As such, it makes sense that we haven't seen a new iteration of the series in some time now.

Given the success of the series, there can be no doubt that a Mario Party 9 will eventually be released, as well as an eventual handheld sequel to Mario Party DS. Given the similarity of each title in the series, this break provides a great opportunity for Nintendo to reflect on the series and determine what they can do to spice it up.

I'm wondering what you think the next generation Wii console will be like. It seems like they are going on the trend of not upgrading their systems much, like the DSi. The DSi was released about five years after the original DS, about on time for a major overhaul. The DSi was great and all, but it just played the same games with no improvements over the original DS. This has me wondering if when they release the Wii 2 they won't upgrade the hardware capabilities much, besides maybe a camera or something. The only thing I wish the Wii had is graphical power to match the Xbox 360. I know they're trying to make it affordable, but they still shouldn't fall too far behind modern technology.

- Super Clayton (Wisconsin)

When looking at the current landscape of development and the costs associated with the creation of High Definition games, it becomes obvious why Nintendo took the direction they did with Wii. Current costs to develop HD games are astronomical, and a single failed game can result in studio closure. The Wii has given developers the opportunity to create less graphically-demanding games that are in turn cheaper to produce.

Nintendo's next home console will likely parallel the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in terms of graphical prowess. By the time they roll out that system the costs of production will have come down, and most developers will be able to develop for Nintendo's system with a reasonable budget.

As for the DSi, the intention of the system was an incremental upgrade, thus the small improvement over the original DS. There is some more horsepower in the system, but DSi-specific games (excluding DSiWare) have yet to be released, so it's uncertain whether or not they will feature significant improvements over current DS titles.

How do you think Nintendo will handle MotionPlus recalibration in the next Zelda? I thought it was pretty fast and unobtrusive in Resort and hope that carries over.

- Zap (California)

As unobtrusive as recalibration is in Wii Sports Resort, the game is constantly performing the function. Each time players start a round of any of the mini-games, they are performing some sort of calibration. Nintendo could probably do something similar when players encounter enemies or draw their bow, but unless it's done seamlessly, it could feel far more obtrusive in a continuous adventure like Zelda.

Perhaps Nintendo will ask players to hold the Wii Remote in a certain position while they are just walking around. If the position is straight downward for instance, that may be good enough to decently calibrate the MotionPlus well enough to enjoy the game. It's also possible that recalibration is done far more often than necessary in Resort, and Zelda will only have to perform the function once in a great while to keep things on track.

First off I just wanted to say thanks to all the hard-working staff at NWR, y'all do a great job. Also a big thanks for bringing back the MailBag! Here's my question:

I heard a new 2D Sonic is in the Works. Now honestly, I love Sonic, but I haven't felt much love for his recent games. I have been forced to play my Mega Collection or the Sonic Rush Series for that good old Sonic love.

What are your thoughts about this? Have you heard anything on this "new" Sonic game or could this be just yet another rumor?

- Tennindo

It goes without saying that a new Sonic game is in the works. A series of its magnitude always has something in development, regardless of the performance of prior titles. As for the game being in classic 2D, I've heard no such rumor.

As a fan of the Sonic series, I couldn't agree more that the series should return to its roots. The three-dimensional gameplay has proven time and again to be unenjoyable. Players can at least expect that the next game in the Story Book series (which includes Secret Rings and Black Knight) will be relegated to a track like the others, which is in a way two-dimensional.

I just listened to your discussion about 3D Sonic on your lastest podcast, and I have a thought. I recently played the remake of Klonoa (great game), and thought that the 2.5D style would be much better for Sonic. I just imagined a faster Klonoa. In addition, Sega should only release a 3D Sonic with the launch of a new console, that way people will be distracted by the fancy new graphics and overlook the fact the game has the same camera problems as Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast. What are your thoughts?

- L.J. (Washington)

Klonoa's 2.5D style would definitely be suitable for a new Sonic title. It would allow Sonic Team to showcase beautiful 3D worlds while keeping Sonic on a 2D plane. Sonic's attack is similar to Klonoa's grab technique, and could reasonably be implemented in this style of game, maintaining some of what the newer 3D Sonic titles have introduced.

Unfortunately, it seems that Sega is content on releasing mediocre-to-poor titles that fail to capture the essenece of the original Sonic titles. As Sean Ratcliffe, Sega's Vice President of Marketing stated just a few weeks ago:

"The quality [of Sonic] is something that will be fixed over time. It's not something where you wake up one morning and say, 'You know what, we're going to improve our quality on this franchise,' and it magically happens."

When I put songs on my SD card to play on my DSi it says no music file. How can I make these work?

- Rajuvein (America)

The DSi is only able to play a few different music file types. MP3s will not work when you try to play them via the SD Card. AAC files with the extensions .m4a, .mp4, and .3gp are the only types of audio that will play on the DSi.

For more help on the subject, check out Nintendo's official support document.

My question is simple. After the failure that was MadWorld and The Conduit do you realistically believe there is a chance for real third party games on Wii like there are on 360 and PS3??

- Mocchi

"Real" third party games are definitely possible on the Wii. It seems many developers have yet to put their best foot forward when developing these games, typically viewing the Wii as a place to either port last generation games or create shallow cash-in experiences to make a quick buck.

Whether or not the sales performance of The Conduit and MadWorld will be the writing on the wall for Wii "hardcore" games is uncertain right now. MadWorld is an inherently niche title that most likely wouldn't have performed exceedingly well on any console. Reviews criticizing its length didn't help sales either, which is clearly reflected in the life-to-date sales figures. We still don't have great sales data on The Conduit, so it's hard to say what will happen there. Again, the game received some scathing reviews which may have had an impact on sales.

Given the continuing sales domination of the Wii, it seems unlikely that many developers can avoid the system forever. At some point they will have to produce a Wii title with some substance, if only to stay profitable. Given the appearance of titles like Monster Hunter Tri and Dragon Quest X, it's apparent that we are seeing some stronger support.

Fortunately, in the absence of many of these heavy-hitting titles, smaller companies like Marvelous and 2D Boy have had their chance to shine. This has provided Wii owners with a plethora of unique gaming experiences that weren't available before.

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