November 17, 2013

Virtual Console Thoughts (Nov. 2013)

Less irritated than before.

Over the course of the past few months, I've been forced to re-evaluate my opinions on Nintendo's Virtual Console service. All the way back in January of this year, I was annoyed that there weren't more options available to Wii U users, including the elephant in the room that is the GameCube. The trickling pace of Wii U VC titles was frustrating, especially when games such as Yoshi were chosen over other, more-worthy options.

However, after viewing the Nintendo Direct presentations over the past year (which are a brilliant way to keep the customers in the loop), I've had a partial change of heart. It is obvious that Nintendo is focusing on the indie scene, and working hard with up-and-comers to ensure a successful future. As stated before, Nintendo is a long-term thinker. Their eShop digital policies and ease of development is very generous to parties looking to release their games on a big-name console. New blood is more important than ever in this gaming industry. Nintendo and Sony both know it, and are pushing resources accordingly. Shuhei Yoshida (President of Sony Worldwide Studios) recently stated in an interview that "Sony needs Nintendo to succeed." And he's right. What industry better prospers than one with experienced, competent, and skilled competitors? The fact that both Nintendo and Sony, two of the biggest names in the business, see indie game developers as a huge part of the industry speaks volumes about their strategies and the future of the industry itself.

I agree with Nintendo's stance to focus on helping new, innovative titles. Fostering developers of the future will definitely pay off in the long run. Super Mario Bros. 3 isn't going anywhere. All of Nintendo's classic library can be put on hold, or at least moved to the back burner. There are far more pressing matters that need attention. When the delight of the classics finally wear off (if they ever do), Nintendo is going to need somewhere else to turn. I'd say it's a pretty good move to start building those relationships now. It would be fantastic to see a partnership as accomplished as the one Nintendo and Rare used to have.

The whole three-pronged approach seems to be a pretty good one. Focusing on fostering future talent and success, focusing on developing quality first-party titles, and letting the classics trickle out a little at a time so they don't overshadow something else Nintendo wants us to look at. While a small part of me is still irritated that I can't plug away at all the SNES titles I want, I know that Nintendo is doing what they think is best for the company's future. And I have to admit, I think it's a good idea. They have a pretty good track record too, so I'll trust them with this one.

Although I do wonder how long the Wii Mini will stick around in stores after the holidays.

(Not really) new!

November 8, 2013

"Helpers" - Kirby Super Star Drawing

I did this piece for my recently-born nephew. I have played every Kirby game throughout the years, and will argue to the death that Kirby Super Star is one of if not the absolute best of the bunch. Every single facet of the game has a ton of effort put into it. I really feel HAL was on top of their game when they produced that gem.

The Kirby art design has always appealed to me. I love the bright colors and cartoon-esque character/world design. Everything is very rounded with distinctive features, and there's a huge variety of characters.

I sketched out the characters in pencil, then went over outlines in Sharpie. The color was applied with colored pencils, then blended with a combination of blending stumps and isopropyl alcohol.

After cutting it for framing, I realized that it wasn't quite centered. A small flaw, but one I'm willing to live with. I was considering putting something below all the characters. Maybe some text or something like that, but I ultimately decided against it.

My nephew's nursery has a lot of artwork and color scattered throughout, so this picture hanging on the wall fits right in. I was very pleased how well it came out.

On a side note, the Kirby Super Star SNES cartridge always goes for rather high prices compared to other games of the era (for good reason), but the Wii game Kirby's Dream Collection: Special Edition is still widely available. For $40, you get Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby's Adventure, Kirby's Dream Land 2, Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dream Land 3, and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. You also get new challenge stages from Kirby's Return to Dream Land, as well as a museum area. The museum has info and video gameplay from every single Kirby game ever released. There are also three episodes of the Kirby: Right Back at Ya! television show. If that wasn't enough, there's also an art book chronicling the history of the character and creators, plus a CD with music selections. All for just $40. The game supports the Wii Remote, Classic Controller, and GameCube controller, as well as all multiplayer aspects that each game originally entailed.

HAL really went all out in celebrating Kirby's 20th anniversary, and I couldn't be happier. The game case itself is even an homage to the original Hoshi no Kirby Super Deluxe (Kirby Super Star in the U.S.) Super Famicom box.

I might do a full analysis on the Dream Collection in the future. Time will tell.