The 'Shroom:Issue 129/Palette Swap
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Hi, guys! I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays. I know I have, what with the Breath of the Wild and ARMS DLC we just got. If you haven't tried ARMS, you really should. The DLC is free and it's a lot of fun.
I don't have too much to say this month, so I'll just let you get on to the great sections we have this month. Happy holidays! ~FunkyK38
Section of the Month
What's on the Box?
Hello readers, and welcome back to What's on the Box.
Now, I'm sure you've already looked at the image on the right to see what boxart I'm looking at this month, and I do hope you haven't skipped this section because of the game's relatively low quality. And I mean low quality, even the Official Nintendo Magazine UK could only give it 49...
Now, despite the game's quality, the boxart is at least pretty. It features Mario, Princess Peach, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Knuckles the Echidna all skiing down one of Sochi's snow slopes. However, other than a couple of hot-air balloons in the shape of a Super Mushroom and a Chao, there's nothing else to note. Zooming in doesn't offer anything else, except an obscured Goomba and Toad spectating on the event.
It would have been nice for the boxart to showcase a few other characters on it, even if they're right back at the start of the event. It also would have been nice if they featured more events than just skiing. An image of one of the characters snowboarding could easily have been placed onto the boxart. Or, even better, split the whole thing up and showcase various different events, like ice hockey, figure skating, and even the dream events. And one final point, going back to the Goomba and the Toad, maybe have some Sonic species spectating as well. Even if it is just some of Eggman's robots.
So, in conclusion, the boxart is beautiful, I mean really beautiful. The images are as crisp as the snow on the ground, and the trees in the background look incredibly well done. But sadly, that's where the praise ends, although it showcases the two rivals duking it out, it would have been nice to see either more characters or more events. At least it's an official Olympic game.
Ongoing Fan Projects
The Wii U was an undeniable commercial failure that was plagued with problems ranging from a lack of third-party support, poor marketing, and a lack of appeal to either casual or hardcore gamers. It’s easy to look back on the Wii U and call its failure inevitable, and that might even be an accurate statement. On that note, it’s just as important to understand that the Wii U held a lot of promise, delivered a number of impressive games, and was an overall innovative console. With all of the good and the bad surrounding the console and Nintendo’s strategy, it seems like a good idea to take some time to reflect on the promises and mistakes of the Wii U. This section isn’t about analyzing video game consoles, though. That being said, this month’s section is still going to include a commentary on the Wii U, but it’s going to be based around four songs about the console. I’ve prepared the songs in this month’s section in such a way that they help to tell the story of the Wii U. With no further delay, let’s jump into a musical retrospective on the Wii U.
Whenever a new console is announced, it is accompanied by a period of optimism and excitement over the new features and offerings of the console, even if there are always some naysayers out of the gate. The Wii U, while facing a fumbled announcement, was no exception. Fittingly covering the numerous features which the then new console possessed, the first song this month is Random Encounter’s “Why Not Wii U?”. While I would not call it (with all due respect to its creators) a musical masterpiece, the video was published only a few days after the Wii U’s launch and reflects the optimism that surrounded the console at launch, making it a good starting point for this retrospective. The song begins by pointing out the Wii U’s low (compared to its competitors) price point of three hundred dollars and the console’s promise of more developed online features than the Wii or DS offered. That low price point may have been influenced, as so much of Nintendo’s strategy with the Wii U was, by the Wii’s widespread success with casual gamers and even those who generally wouldn’t buy a videogame console. As with the Wii, it was hoped that the low price might make the console more appealing to these groups and the low price was considered a justifiable trade-off for the Wii U’s lack of processing power compared to its competitors. In addition, the song makes note of the Wii U’s large number of features, including NFC, gyroscopic controls, and, of course, the second screen of the Gamepad. These types of features show that Nintendo certainly was willing to experiment with new avenues for gameplay and interaction with the Wii U, a move which later materialized with amiibo, the experimental social network Miiverse, and the dual-screen controls of games like Pikmin 3. Of course, Nintendo relies on its well-known and enjoyable line-up of games far more than on processing power and flashy (or, to the cynic, gimmicky) features to move its consoles and handhelds. The video addresses this too, and a large portion of the song consists of a list of the various games and franchises which already were available for the Wii U, like Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U. At the time of this video’s production, it seemed that the Wii U might even carry impressive third-party titles sure to attract a wider audience, as noted when the singers state that “Third-Party support’s stealing the show.” Wrapping up the praise for the console, the song advocates ignoring the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in favor of the Wii U, and takes a jab at Nintendo’s frustrating perennial shortages. While a bit light on the details, the song does reflect the promise that the Wii U carried when it launched and serves as a good reminder that, despite all of the shortcomings of the Wii U that are so apparent now, the console started with an apparently solid chance of doing quite well for itself.
The last song may have focused on the Wii U exclusively, but no console can be understood without understanding the competition it faces. Nintendo tends to go its own route while letting Sony and Microsoft battle for dominance in graphics and power, and the Wii U was an odd compromise between this standard strategy and upgrading the highly successful Wii. Though far more powerful than the Wii, the Wii U couldn’t compete in terms of power and its innovations just weren’t revolutionary enough to mirror the Wii’s success. All of that noted, it’s time to examine how Random Encounters portrays the battle the Wii U waged in their musical “Console Wars”. Rather than just being catchy and having a humorous video which turns the Console Wars into a mechanized military conflict, the song communicates the strategies of Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft as well as the features and faults of their consoles. Among the mentions when the consoles are unveiled are PlayStation 4’s “Tons of indie support,” Microsoft’s Xbox Live Internet service, and Nintendo’s strategy of arming the Wii U with “tech to the teeth” in the form of its “NFC, touchscreen, and more.” Reflecting Nintendo’s strategy, the Wii U’s representative notes that “No other games claim the same fame or fun. / So who would pay more for PS4 or Xbox One?” Nintendo relied on its well-known IPs and the great reputation of its games to sell Wii U systems and hoped that the console’s low price point would attract a wider audience. These two points, as the song demonstrates, formed the core of Nintendo’s plans to carve itself a niche and outsell its competitors. The song goes on to note some of the advantages each of the consoles enjoyed, such as Microsoft’s robust achievement system and the Wii U’s early launch. The video isn’t afraid though, to highlight some of the missteps which ultimately plagued the consoles. Microsoft’s multiple reversals on their policy of used game support certainly caused frustration for consumers, as did Nintendo’s attempt to duplicate the Wii’s success with casuals and non-gamers by focusing on highly accessible party games and simplicity. Ultimately, the song notes that the three console manufacturers focus on a similar strategy of “change the name / stay the course,” a strategy which was clearly the attempt with all three consoles. Even the Wii U followed this path, with its name, marketing, and overall strategy designed to pull off a repeat of the Wii’s success. On all three consoles one will find that they do “make great games,” but, as the next song will show, the Wii U proved that great games alone aren’t enough to make a console successful.
The Wii U was plagued with numerous problems from its announcement on, and it’s difficult to rank any one of the mistakes which Nintendo made above the others. There are plenty of articles out there which try to piece together the story of the Wii U’s failure, such as this one. If you’re the curious type, read up on some of them. At the risk of oversimplification, this retrospective is going to focus on a single broad failure of the console. At the heart of the Wii U’s failure was its inability to attract either the casual and non-gamer market which the Wii was so effectively able to capture or the hardcore gaming crowd which came to disdain Nintendo’s insistent focus on party games. The first market was lost to mobile gaming and other entertainment or simply tired of videogames, while the dissatisfied latter market turned to Xbox One and PlayStation 4. This month’s third song, “It’s Not Wii U, It’s Me”, captures this fundamental failure of the Wii U in song. The narrator of the song introduces himself as a “hardcore gamer” and, after recounting his history with Nintendo through its early years in the videogame industry to the Wii’s release, laments that the company has “Turned [its] wandering eye to casual gamers.” The whole song is essentially a break-up between the narrator and Nintendo, and the song expresses the frustrations that many gamers felt towards the company throughout the Wii and Wii U years. The narrator complains about the abundance of party games on the systems and about “gimmicky” games meant to appeal to a wider audience such as Wii Fit and Wii Fit U. The song continues to alternate between a longing for the days of the Nintendo 64 and criticism of the Wii and Wii U. “Shovelware”, or cheap and poor-quality games made to appeal to a massive audience through simple controls and gameplay, is a target of the narrator’s criticism. Shovelware was a massive problem for the Wii due to its large install base and simple motion controls, but, in large part due to its poor sales, did not appear as much on the Wii U. Noting even the Wii and Wii U’s declining popularity amongst casuals, the narrator notes that “Old folks at the home are sick of Wii Sports.” While the “blue ocean” strategy of making the Wii appeal to an untapped audience worked for some time, it eventually, like most fads, passed. The Wii U might have been expected to ride on the Wii’s success, but, as the song points out, enthusiasm for the Wii had already dried up by the time of the console’s release and its associations with its predecessor may have even harmed its reputation. Undoubtedly, the Wii U’s failure was complex and warrants detailed analysis, but, as this song shows, people ultimately abandoned the console because it failed to appeal to any audience, neither those who purchased the Wii with great enthusiasm nor those who had been long committed to video games. “It’s Not Wii U, It’s Me” is not only enjoyable, but relatable for the numerous fans whom Nintendo alienated during the Wii and Wii U years.
Of course, while the Wii U was a resounding failure and mistakes were made in abundance, not everything about the Wii U was bad. The Gamepad almost undoubtedly inspired the Switch’s innovative hybrid design, and, while they weren’t enough to save the system, Nintendo and its partners put out an amazing selection of high quality games for the system which should not be discounted. Quality is subjective, of course, but games like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Smash Bros. For Wii U, Mario Kart 8, and Bayonetta 2 made an impression on many gamers and received quite a positive response. Games like Super Mario Maker, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Pokénn Tournament, and Splatoon, on the other hand, showed that Nintendo was quite willing to innovate and give Wii U owners a new experience. The Wii U’s wonderful lineup is celebrated in this month’s final song, which celebrates the Wii U’s legacy and points to the console’s impressive software lineup. The song is a bit heavy-handed with the praise and is clearly biased, but “Goodbye Wii U: A Wii U Tribute Song” does offer one final positive note of reflection on the Wii U. The Wii U may have been a flop, but it did have some great software. There is not any reason to look at this song in detail, as it essentially just praises the Wii U’s software successes, but the song and its accompanying montage are worth listening to and viewing.
With its paltry thirteen and a half million units sold, the Wii U was a flop. It may have held a lot of promise and brought new technology and a different gameplay experience, but it ultimately failed to attract any audience and failed to carve out a place for itself between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Without a clear strategy forward after failing to repeat the success of the Wii, Nintendo’s Wii U floundered despite the numerous high-quality games it accrued over its run. Whether you feel like the betrayed narrator from “It’s Not Wii U, It’s Me” or you cherished the Wii U like the narrator of “Goodbye Wii U,” it’s important to understand the story of the Wii U in order to understand the Switch. Nintendo’s strategy with the Switch has seemingly been informed by avoiding the mistakes of the Wii U, and it seems to be working. In any case, I hope that this musical retrospective was informative without distracting too much from the entertaining and creative songs which inspired it. If not, hopefully the songs were enjoyable. In any case, to those Wii U owners out there, I’d suggest considering returning to some of those great games it had, reflecting on the console’s story, or, in the spirit of Mario’s Boombox, making music with it.
HI, everyone! I'm your reflective Statistics Manager, Tucayo, here with this year's last edition of Take Cover! Originally, I got into this section thinking it would be my last Take Cover!, at least in a while, because this sections requires so much time to write and also because I felt like it needed a break; however, when writing it I realized how much I love this section - it's probably the section I have enjoyed the most writing since I joined The 'Shroom - so instead of flat-out resigning from it, I will move to writing it on a bimonthly basis, which will give me enough time to gather great covers and will let me write a section of high quality as you all deserve. Now, with that out of the way, this section will have one cover which I really want to show you and then some holiday music to get you in the festive mood. Enjoy!
And so we successfully complete another trip around the sun! I hope 2018 brings you and your loved ones joy, peace, and health. May it be a year filled with success and happiness. As Google put it, be fearless. And move forward. I'll see you in February.