With the PS4 coming out last week, the Xbox One coming out tomorrow, and the Wii U getting its biggest game of the year (Super Mario 3D World) tomorrow as well, I thought it would be fun to reflect on the previous generation as well as look to the future.
I started out the last generation with the Xbox 360. Although it’s easy to forget now, the system had a wealth of quality exclusive RPGs early on in 2007 & 2008. There was Blue Dragon & Lost Odyssey from Mistwalker, Eternal Sonata and Tales of Vesperia from Namco, and Mass Effect from Bioware, in addition to multi-platform games like Fallout 3. More importantly for us personally, in 2008, the Xbox 360 really kicked off the modern indie era with games like Braid & Castle Crashers along with the Xbox Live Indie Games Service which allowed anyone who owned a 360 to make & sell games for the system. This eventually resulted in the start of Zeboyd Games with some text games released in 2009 and Breath of Death VII & Cthulhu Saves the World in 2010.
I picked up a Wii as soon as I was able to find one in stock (which I did by stumbling upon an employee at Target who was carrying one to store in the display case). Although the Wii had many good games, there were few standout titles for me. I enjoyed the early controller showcases from Nintendo in the form of Wii Sports & Warioware and I LOVED the Trauma games on the system (with Trauma Team being a personal favorite) but games like Zelda: Skyward Sword & Xenoblade turned out to be disappointments.
Finally, I picked up a PS3 a few years ago. Since buying the PS3, it’s become my favorite system with the most exclusive RPGs these days (like the Atelier series, Ni no Kuni, and later Tales games) and plenty of fun, quirky titles like Tokyo Jungle and Puppeteer. And with the addition of PS+, it’s redefined how I purchase games – before I would commonly buy games that I wasn’t sure about after they hit the bargain bin, but now I just wait for them to show up free in PS+.
So that’s the previous generation. How’s the new generation stacking up?
Not planning on getting an Xbox One at the moment. The flood of RPGs that the Xbox 360 received early on has long since dried up and it doesn’t look like it’s coming back to the Xbox One. Mistwalker abandoned the 360 when they canceled Cry On, Namco-Bandai is now firmly in the Playstation camp (Tales of Graces F & Xillia 1 & 2 on the PS3 and a recently announced PS4 Tales game in the works), and everybody else seems to have jumped ship to the portable systems or is making their games multiplatform. Everyone’s got an indie initiative now (and in fact, the PS4 seems to be in the lead now) so they’ve lost that advantage as well. I do all of my TV watching via Hulu & Netflix (and we already have over half a dozen devices that will play both) & I’m not much of a FPS or sports fan so Xbox One doesn’t really offer me anything at the moment.
I got a Wii U when it came out and I’ve enjoyed it a lot BUT man the post-release drought was brutal. The Wii U gamepad is more of a gimmick than the Wii remote ever was (which actually was put to good use with certain games) but at least it’s hard for developers to mess things up with it. New Super Mario Bros. U was great fun (and I say this as someone who didn’t like the Wii game), Zombi U was an interesting experiment, and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (though not exclusive) was the best kart racer I’ve played in years, but then there was over half a year where big titles got delayed and next to nothing came out on the system. Now things are looking up – The Wonderful 101 is a great game, Wind Waker HD is the best version of one of the best Zelda games, and I can’t wait for the new Mario game on Friday – but third party support still looks grim. At least, Nintendo’s output this generation is looking to be of much higher quality than it was on the Wii.
Finally, I was able to get a PS4 at a drastically reduced price (aka Sony sent us a free one and we split the cost of a second PS4 between the two of us so we’d both get one) and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. The controller is a noticeable improvement over previous Playstation controllers (and unlike some people, I never thought previous Playstation controllers were bad), the user interface & Playstation store are faster & more aesthetically pleasing, and I absolutely adore how you can use headphones for all game audio (great for me since I do most of my console playing at night and don’t want to interrupt people sleeping). PS4 -> Vita remote play works really well with a direct wireless connection and I’m looking forward to using it for horror games so my daughters don’t walk in on me. Though it’s not really my thing, I can see how the PS4′s built-in streaming functions are going to be very popular and should help many games to go viral and sell more than they would have otherwise.
Most of the games I’ve played on it have been multi-platform releases – Contrast is okay but felt like a missed opportunity, Warframe (F2P co-op shooter) was kind of fun but looks like it’ll be REALLY grindy, and Need for Speed Rivals is fantastic. The one exclusive game I’ve played for the PS4, Resogun, is amazing. Calling it the next Geometry Wars is doing it a disservice. Resogun takes the good parts of the old classic Defender, eliminates the problems, increases the intensity, adds multiple stages & difficulty levels, several different enemy types, different playable ships, and wraps the whole thing up with some fantastic visuals & audio. Like any good shmup, Resogun makes you feel powerful when you’re doing well and makes you want to strive to do better when you fail. Resogun is the killer game for the PS4′s launch.
It might be too early to recommend a purchase of any of the new consoles quite yet though. The Wii U is great if you like Nintendo games, but not good for much else; the PS4 has a lot of potential but needs more quality exclusives, and the Xbox One is the most expensive of the bunch without having any killer launch games (though I hear Forza & Dead Rising are both pretty good if you like those series). In any case, this should prove to be an interesting generation to watch – will the Wii U make a comeback? Will the Xbox One succeed despite the high price tag? Was the gamer focus of the PS4 a wise decision in our new smartphone & tablet world? Stay tuned!