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Episode 252: Sky Puppies Defeat Fake Hero

by James Jones, Greg Leahy, and Jonathan Metts - July 31, 2011, 1:21 pm PDT
Total comments: 38

We've got a lot to say about the 3DS price drop and Ambassadors Program.

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This week on RFN, we change things up by opening with an email about Nintendo's odd 3DS marketing strategy so far. Of course, that is merely the launch pad for an extensive, segment-filling discussion of the big price drop and how it will influence the platform's viability going forward. We also take a close look at the 3DS Ambassador Program that marks a drastic new way for Nintendo to reward (and apologize to) the company's biggest fans. Ultimately, we all agree that this development is a savvy move and can only be a positive thing for gamers.

After the break, we catch up with a number of games for New Business, including some unreleased titles, as Greg just got back from the annual "E3 in England" event. He reports on the newly renamed Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7, but also gushes on the less-hyped DS swan song, Kirby Mass Attack. James spends his time dictating a love letter to the new XBLA release of Half Minute Hero, the unique micro-RPG, which he also got to play online with Jonny. The latter finally got around to playing Ghost Trick and Dark Void Zero, and he has kind things to say about both. So, all in all, this is a very positive episode of RFN. Remember, video games are fun!

There are a few days left to vote in the new RetroActive poll -- help choose which GameCube title we'll play and discuss on an upcoming show!

This podcast was edited by Greg Leahy.

Music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is used with permission from Jason Ricci & New Blood. You can purchase their newest album, Done with the Devil, directly from the record label, Amazon (CD) (MP3), or iTunes, or call your local record store and ask for it!

Additional music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is copyrighted to Nintendo, and is included under fair use protection.

Talkback

jimwood27July 31, 2011

Wow, a reasoned, level-headed, yet critical analysis of the 3DS price drop announcement and what it means for the future of the platform.  And on the internet, no less!  Not like all the other outlets declaring this the end of handhelds and fellating their iPhone.

Killer_Man_JaroTom Malina, Associate Editor (Europe)July 31, 2011

Nice feature discussion, guys. It puts initiatives like Sega's delay of Shinobi and Crush3D into perspective, as they directly cited the current hardware sales situation as their reasoning. I wonder if third parties maybe got the heads-up on this news - Sega probably reckoned these medium-to-low profile releases had more chance later this year and early next year, knowing that there would be a substantial influx of 3DS owners from the price drop and the spirit of the season of giving.

Question about Super Mario 3D Land: I've read that a new control quirk added to this game is the roll, done with a press of the R Button. Apparently, it helps to cover ground quickly and can serve as the de-facto long jump. Did the three of you observe this during your time with the demo, and do you think it could mitigate the potential problems of slow character movement that you talked about? When I initially heard about the slowness of Mario, I was concerned about what that would mean for levels designed with urgency in mind, but perhaps the roll could play a part there.

In the demo, you can roll under some structures to get coins, but it didn't seem like a way to move faster. The run mode is plenty fast, just feels a bit odd to toggle it with a button in a 3D game with analog control.

slashJuly 31, 2011

thank god you guys are back. Couldn't listen to anymore ignorant comments about 3ds.

KDR_11kAugust 01, 2011

I'm not sure how strong the "seeing it in person" effect for the 3DS is. When I saw it in person all I thought was "meh". Seems some other people react more strongly to it but to me it's more of an extra gimmick that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't (it's fine in Samurai Warriors but in OOT it's extremely disorienting when particles hit the near clipping plane of the camera which Navi's fairy dust does a lot, SWC seems to have a pretty distant near clipping plane). The biggest purchasing decision factor for me was that my mother could replace her busted old fat DS with my DSi which would give her a non-busted touchscreen and the ability to play Plants vs Zombies as DSiWare.


As for the attach rate, that's an average so 3 is extremely unlikely. I doubt many people own more than 3 games and I'm pretty sure most own less. In fact I wouldn't be surprised by an attach rate below 1. The middling quality of the 3DS games out there combined with the crazy high prices (45€ or more, I can get new Wii games for less!) won't make for a good attach rate.

LithiumAugust 01, 2011

woah, that was some really good 3ds coverage. Best i've come across so far good job guys.

YoshidiousGreg Leahy, Staff AlumnusAugust 01, 2011

Quote from: KDR_11k

As for the attach rate, that's an average so 3 is extremely unlikely. I doubt many people own more than 3 games and I'm pretty sure most own less. In fact I wouldn't be surprised by an attach rate below 1. The middling quality of the 3DS games out there combined with the crazy high prices (45€ or more, I can get new Wii games for less!) won't make for a good attach rate.

When I said the attach rate for software on 3DS was about 3, I wasn't just guessing--it comes from the global 3DS numbers in Nintendo's latest round of financials that went out at the same time as the price cut announcement. The full numbers are as follows:

Total hardware sales: 4.32 million units
Total software sales to 13.96 million units

Hence the precise attach rate is 3.23 units of software sold for every 3DS unit sold. Initially this does seem quite high, but I can think of a couple of factors that help to explain it.

Firstly, the numbers are global and so incorporate Japan, which has seen better performance from the 3DS generally, but in particular has some big name titles that Western markets don't have yet, such as the latest Professor Layton game.

Secondly, the high attach rate reflects how low the hardware sales are; the 3DS user base is sufficiently small right now that it is dominated by the kind of early adopter who is willing to devote their disposable income to buying 3DS games, even if some of them (i.e. not Ocarina 3D) didn't receive extremely high review scores or come from a really big franchise. In other words, the attach rate is one figure Nintendo would probably like to see go down a bit before it goes back up, because they want to sell a lot more hardware to a much broader crowd at the new price point. 

alegoicoeAugust 01, 2011

I dont like timed games, but from the discussion you guys had of Half minute hero, i might give a try, great 3ds discussion too.

Half-Minute Hero is timed but not "timed." You can easily reset the clock, but it does become so expensive that you do need to keep moving quickly.

I would point out that the title "Sky Puppies..." is a reference to the game. Jonny and I were marveling over the enemy names during the multiplayer session. We found that these small pink dragon-like things very fast and gave us a lot of trouble. Jonny noticed their name was "sky puppies" and they went from being evil to hilarious.

yoshi1001August 01, 2011

Shame you guys couldn't work in a reference to the Ambassadors of Funk. Ain't no place like Super Mario 3D Land!

I was also very surprised by the price drop news, especially that they went significantly below $200. I'm actually tempted to get one for my mom even though she can't stand the 3D just to get her the classic games.

Johnny, I'm surprised that you only have 1 game for the 3DS. Which one is it? Honestly I'm surprised that people feel the launch titles were subpar given other console launches in the past. DS had just Mario 64 and Feel the Magic. Wii had Wii Sports, Red Steel and Zelda. Gamecube had Luigi's Mansion and.... what? GBA had SMBA and Castlevania (man, Circle of the Moon was goood), N64 literally ONLY had Mario 64 and Waverace. PS2 had Tekken Tag Tournament and Ridge Racer....


What I'm getting at is that I think quantity-wise, the 3DS has had a decent number of good games in its launch window compared to the usual 1 or 2 that other systems has. I bought SSFIV off the bat and then Pilotwings and now Zelda and I think those are all awesome games. I'm also considering Layton, Starfox and even DoA right now. These are all at least "pretty damn decent" titles I would say.


I'm rambling. Lemme ask you this - what KIND of game are you looking to play on your 3DS. For that matter, what kind of games do you enjoy the most?

yoshi1001August 01, 2011

Actually, N64 Launched with two games in the US: Mario 64 and Pilotwings-Wave Race came later (were you thinking of the Japanese Rumble Pak rereleases?). You're also forgetting Rogue Leader, which launched with GC (and a few other games) in the US. There seems to be a tendancy for launch games to get more diverse as time goes on-anyone else notice that?

Quote from: yoshi1001

Actually, N64 Launched with two games in the US: Mario 64 and Pilotwings-Wave Race came later (were you thinking of the Japanese Rumble Pak rereleases?). You're also forgetting Rogue Leader, which launched with GC (and a few other games) in the US. There seems to be a tendancy for launch games to get more diverse as time goes on-anyone else notice that?

Ya, sorry about that - I got Wave Race and Pilotwings 64 mixed up. (Man, the N64 only debuted with 2 titles - but there WERE good ones.)

Regarding Rogue Leader launching with GC - is that right? I totally forgot it debuted with the system. Good God that was an awesome game.

..Well, when you put it that way - the 3DS didn't debut with the quality of the Gamecube then. (though I think Pilotwings Resort is at least as good as the N64 one)

ShyGuyAugust 02, 2011

Without Lindy, that was like a cheeseburger without bacon. :(

Quote from: gypsyOtoko

I'm rambling. Lemme ask you this - what KIND of game are you looking to play on your 3DS.

Extant ones

Quote from: yoshi1001

There seems to be a tendancy for launch games to get more diverse as time goes on-anyone else notice that?

Indeed, however there does not seem to be much relief on the horizon for bored 3DS owners.

KDR_11kAugust 02, 2011

BTW, Anomaly is currently 66% off on Steam, amounts to a price of 3.33€. Not even waiting for the iPad version is going to make that any cheaper.

alegoicoeAugust 02, 2011

When the Gamecube came out i only had one game Star Wars Rouge Squadron, which was at the time very impressive.

The only 3DS game card I own is Ridge Racer, which I've talked about on the show once or twice. I have also downloaded several GB and DSiWare games.


GameCube had one of the best launch periods I can remember for any platform. Within two months, it had Luigi's Mansion, Rogue Leader, Super Monkey Ball, Tony Hawk 3 (close to simultaneous multiplatform release), Pikmin, and SSB Melee. Wave Race too, if you're into that. 3DS has a larger quantity of games but nowhere near a similar level of quality.

alegoicoeAugust 02, 2011

Am planning on getting the 3ds once the price lowers with zelda Oot, i havent played Ocarina in like two years, and am really looking forward for the improved graphics and 3d effects, cause i know the adventure is triple A, other than that there is really nothing else on the platform that i like, i have seen street fighter on gamestop stores and it looks really cool and plays very nice, but that is not my type of handheld game.

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

The only 3DS game card I own is Ridge Racer, which I've talked about on the show once or twice. I have also downloaded several GB and DSiWare games.


GameCube had one of the best launch periods I can remember for any platform. Within two months, it had Luigi's Mansion, Rogue Leader, Super Monkey Ball, Tony Hawk 3 (close to simultaneous multiplatform release), Pikmin, and SSB Melee. Wave Race too, if you're into that. 3DS has a larger quantity of games but nowhere near a similar level of quality.

Man, that WAS a good launch for the cube. My memory must be failing me cause I got at least SSB and Rogue Leader when they were released and those were some awesome games.

In any event, I still recommend Pilotwings and SSFIV. They both have alot to do and keep you occupied. In Pilotwings I've gotten triple stars on all the missions and collected everything in free flight. Eventually I'm gonna try to perfect all the missions to see the hidden credits screen.

I've personally contributed quite a lot to the 3DS attach rate, having now bought 10 games for the system because I'm crazy.

TJ SpykeAugust 03, 2011

I think "Mario Kart 7" is not a good name, it just sounds too generic and like a placeholder name. They should have called it Mario Kart 3D like most people were (and it fits the naming standard used for the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 6th games in the series. Only the GBA and GCN versions differed, though in Japan the GBA version also fits the name standard used by the others).

alegoicoeAugust 03, 2011

I think Mario Kart 3D sounds more generic, something about saying Mario Kart 7 makes is sound bad ass, on the other hand the one am struggling with is Super Mario 3D Land, the land part is kind of tough to get around.

LithiumAugust 03, 2011

I think all of the mariokart kart games this gen had generic names anyways...
Mario kart DS
Mario Kart Wii
Mario Kart 7

I vote that they call it Super Mario Kart: ultra turbo gliders subaquatic extreme tubular edition...X

TJ SpykeAugust 03, 2011

As I mentioned, almost ALL of the Mario Kart games have generic names:
Super Mario Kart (many SNES games had "Super" in their name)
Mario Kart 64
Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart Wii
Even Mario Kart: Super Circuit was known as Mario Kart Advance in Japan.

That is why I thought it would make most sense to call it Mario Kart 3D. I think it was Greg who mentioned that is makes no sense to start numbering a series in its 7th entry. It would be like if they had called Skyward Sword The Legend of Zelda XIV.

I take credit for the "starting at 7" comment. I have a related point I'm holding on to, because there is a real chance this could come back up.

TJ SpykeAugust 03, 2011

My bad, I remember the discussion but forgot who made the comment.

Add me to the group who likes the 7. Which is odd, since I thought it was stupid when Microsoft did it with Windows 7, though my being a Mac guy may have had something to do with that.

adadadAugust 04, 2011

Mario Kart Prologue would be much more suitable IMO.

CericAugust 04, 2011

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

Add me to the group who likes the 7. Which is odd, since I thought it was stupid when Microsoft did it with Windows 7, though my being a Mac guy may have had something to do with that.

Yes, with your OS 10.X series because, they don't want to leave the X moniker.

SeaNetAugust 04, 2011

Hey NWR Crew! Remember me, Joseph? I called in on 250, and asked a question about the 3DS, concerned that I couldn't see in 3D...


Well, as I said there, I love portable gaming and I guess these 20 free games are what I needed to buy the system. I picked one up the other day! Still can't see it in 3D, but I still enjoy the system :)  but it's a little underwelming. Like a suped up DS.


Quote from: Ceric

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

Add me to the group who likes the 7. Which is odd, since I thought it was stupid when Microsoft did it with Windows 7, though my being a Mac guy may have had something to do with that.

Yes, with your OS 10.X series because, they don't want to leave the X moniker.

See, if I were going to criticize Apple's naming conventions I'd go after the cat names, which even for an Apple fanboy like me are getting a little tiresome at this point, before the numbering.

"Like a suped-up DS"...that's my opinion of the 3DS at this point.  It's better than the DS across the board, but what it does is too similar overall for me to have any sort of dying need for it.  The price drop is tempting (Wal-Mart has a deal coming up on August 9 that will drop it to $169.99, allowing you to buy it at the new price and still get the Ambassador games), but there still isn't anything I want to buy the system to play

The 3DS' problem all along is that there haven't been any games to really justify that $250 price tag to the vast majority.  Now that it's going to be $169.99, it's entered into the "will buy when it has several games I really want to play" territory.  It's still not an insta-buy for me, though.  The 20 free games is cool, but I honestly wouldn't play them anyways.  Maybe a couple, but in all honesty they'd probably just sit there on my 3DS.  So that isn't enough at the moment.

Nintendo's getting close, but that software library really needs something completely new, something that people haven't seen before.  Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 are not those games; those are welcome additions, but they're givens at this point.

GoldenPhoenixAugust 05, 2011

Quote from: NWR_Lindy

"Like a suped-up DS"...that's my opinion of the 3DS at this point.  It's better than the DS across the board, but what it does is too similar overall for me to have any sort of dying need for it.  The price drop is tempting (Wal-Mart has a deal coming up on August 9 that will drop it to $169.99, allowing you to buy it at the new price and still get the Ambassador games), but there still isn't anything I want to buy the system to play

The 3DS' problem all along is that there haven't been any games to really justify that $250 price tag to the vast majority.  Now that it's going to be $169.99, it's entered into the "will buy when it has several games I really want to play" territory.  It's still not an insta-buy for me, though.  The 20 free games is cool, but I honestly wouldn't play them anyways.  Maybe a couple, but in all honesty they'd probably just sit there on my 3DS.  So that isn't enough at the moment.

Nintendo's getting close, but that software library really needs something completely new, something that people haven't seen before.  Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 are not those games; those are welcome additions, but they're givens at this point.

The GBC was a souped up GB, the GBA was a souped up GBC, heck the PSP portable was basically a mini PS2. That stuff really does not matter much with handhelds, the first DS was really the only successful handheld that tried to shake things up since the original GB, even the PS Vita is basically a souped up PSP with a touch pad. I also fail to see how Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 aren't major incentives to buy the system, both games have been incentives for every Nintendo system previously released, on top of that you have Resident Evil, Kid Icarus, and even Animal Crossing (which will hopefully add a bit more then previous installments have). We also have Luigi's Mansion 2 in the wings as well.

Nintendo franchises still are big when it comes to people buying them, while it will be great to see "something new" (whatever that is) it is not that necessary so early in the game, they just need a must buy title that isn't a remake or a pretty bare bones title (Thinking of you Pilotwings, I love you but you are hardly a must buy title). That alone, IMO, will do wonders for the 3DS along with the price cut, especially for the christmas season. I still think Nintendo's biggest blunder wasn't price (even though it contributed) but lack of games, which will thankfully be rectified soon.

It is not like Sony isn't relying on established franchises to sell the PS Vita. I don't see why it should be different for Nintendo, especially since games like Mario Kart and Super Mario sell like hotcakes, not to mention sell systems, especially handhelds.

broodwarsAugust 05, 2011

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

It is not like Sony isn't relying on established franchises to sell the PS Vita. I don't see why it should be different for Nintendo, especially since games like Mario Kart and Super Mario sell like hotcakes, not to mention sell systems, especially handhelds.

I think it helps that Sony isn't taking PS1 games, replacing their textures with higher resolution versions, and then selling them for $40 on the Vita and calling them "new must-buy Vita games".  The games may be from familiar series and be very similar to previous installments of them, but they are all-new games and they're not even from franchises that are that old.  By contrast, Nintendo's so desperate for worthwhile software on the 3DS that they're re-releasing N64 games as $40 3DS titles.

GoldenPhoenixAugust 05, 2011

Quote from: broodwars

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

It is not like Sony isn't relying on established franchises to sell the PS Vita. I don't see why it should be different for Nintendo, especially since games like Mario Kart and Super Mario sell like hotcakes, not to mention sell systems, especially handhelds.

I think it helps that Sony isn't taking PS1 games, replacing their textures with higher resolution versions, and then selling them for $40 on the Vita and calling them "new must-buy Vita games".  The games may be from familiar series and be very similar to previous installments of them, but they are all-new games and they're not even from franchises that are that old.  By contrast, Nintendo's so desperate for worthwhile software on the 3DS that they're re-releasing N64 games as $40 3DS titles.

Funny, I don't believe I disputed relying on a remake is a bad idea. Thanks for taking things out of context. Also Sony isn't innocent when it comes to remake/ports, just look at God of War 1 and 2, Sly Cooper and Ico/SOTC. I don't think that is a bad thing, I am looking forward to the Ico/SOTC ports, but to act like Sony doesn't do the same stuff is silly.

We still have no idea what the launch lineup is going to be on the PS Vita, it could be just as uninspired. It is a tradition in the gaming industry for launch lineups and "launch window" games to not inspire much awe, especially lately. 3DS is probably one of the weakest and does feel rushed. I own two games for 3DS, Pilotwings and Zelda: OOT, with no other games out there I want to buy. Also I do want to defend OOT, it is more then "higher resolution textures", the game was rebuilt from the ground up visually and it does show. Do I think they should have done more? Yes, but it is more then your illustration of it.

broodwarsAugust 05, 2011

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Funny, I don't believe I disputed relying on a remake is a bad idea. Thanks for taking things out of context. Also Sony isn't innocent when it comes to remake/ports, just look at God of War 1 and 2, Sly Cooper and Ico/SOTC. I don't think that is a bad thing, I am looking forward to the Ico/SOTC ports, but to act like Sony doesn't do the same stuff is silly.

To me, those ports/remakes are a much different story, as they are compilation re-releases that complement the substantial PS3 software library already available on a continual basis every month.  With the 3DS, it's a much more dire situation.  You buy those ports or you have nothing to play on the 3DS.

Quote:

We still have no idea what the launch lineup is going to be on the PS Vita, it could be just as uninspired. It is a tradition in the gaming industry for launch lineups and "launch window" games to not inspire much awe, especially lately.

We'll see.  Sony has said that they are delaying the Vita until next year to make sure they have a worthwhile software library at launch, so maybe they won't have the same problem right out of the gate.  Sony has a much more major problem that they still have to find a way to make people want to play not-so-portable versions of console games, and I haven't seen any evidence so far that they've cracked that problem.

I think it's very ironic that with Wii, Nintendo preached that game visuals didn't matter, and the system sold gangbusters out the gate; with 3DS, the main selling feature of the system (in fact, you could say its raison d'etre) is its game visuals, and the system is struggling early.  That's what I mean...I look at the 3DS' feature set, and graphics aside, how is it markedly different from the DS?  The eShop is a bit better, but that was there already; it still uses a friend code, so while that's improved it's still a bit cumbersome; StreetPass is neat but nothing overly enticing; the touch screen/stylus setup remains unchanged.  If the 3D effects aren't used in a novel way that fundamentally changes gameplay (and that was my impression from my lengthy hands-on time at PAX East), what do you have? A suped-up DS.  Maybe Mario Kart will be good enough to make me buy the system; right now what I'm hearing about Super Mario is that it isn't.  I'm waiting for an excuse to buy one.

As for Vita, Sony is certainly doing some things that intrigue me.  3G? Hell yeah! They can do some interesting stuff with that, things that really fundamentally affect what can be done with the system. Nobody knows how they're going to handle the subscription stuff, but assuming they handle it in a sensible manner (hopefully entirely free, or free for AT&T cell customers/nominal fee for others, or free for PlayStation Plus subscribers, whatever) it'll be pretty cool. It's at least something different and new to handhelds.  I'm also digging what they're doing with Ruin, which is to literally allow you to have the same game span a console and mobile platform.  That's really interesting.  Of course, the fact that it has two analog sticks is huge for a portable.  We can finally get some legit handheld first-person shooters, instead of third-person shooters with assisted aiming and cobbled-together hybrid control schemes.  My point is that I can at least look at Vita and say, "It's stuffing a lot of technology under the hood, and doing some pretty new and different stuff...I can see why they're charging $300 for the top-end model".  I could never say that about 3DS.  All I could do was wonder what the heck cost $250 in that thing.

But then, that's just me.  I love gadgets, I love the "always on, anywhere" nature of 3G, and I love first-person shooters, so the Vita's featureset instantly appeals to me.  I love my DS to death, but 3DS needs to differentiate itself a bit more.

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