As an extension to Chi's excellent blog post about Nintendo not catering to hardcore gamer, I stare at my Wii every day and think to myself, "When am I ever going to use you again?"
This is not a slight against Nintendo, and I applaud their bravery and approach to the industry. But a hardcore gamer who has remained loyal to their company for two decades sometimes can't help but feel a little abandoned by them, no matter how many quality first party or second party games they release.
For example, Nintendo was able to fully realize 3D control and camera movement in Super Mario 64. It was a revolution that defined two consecutive console generations. Yet Nintendo has abandoned that directional style of 3D movement for its remote. The remote offers nothing in terms of what has become traditional 3D movement. Instead Nintendo has left it up to developers to discover their own way of moving the camera, and completely eschewed any real camera movement in its most significant Wii release, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
It's hurtful to have asked us gamers, at a young age, to invest so much time and energy toward the earlier systems. After all, most "hardcore" gamers have earned that moniker through an almost life-long dedication to the hobby, and any dedication of that breadth will more than likely span into the NES years. And after all those years, we're now faced with games that don't cater to our growing needs and demands. Instead, Sony and Microsoft had heeded that call, thus creating the market shift we still live with today.
That's why it's refreshing for me when a game like The Godfather: Blackhand Edition is released. This game had every reason to be horrible. It's a licensed movie game based on what is often considered the greatest achievement in cinema. It's developer and publisher, EA, has a reputation of being the videogame industry's equivalent to a big-name record label's hit factory. It's a port of a year-old PlayStation 2 game, and Al Pacino and Francis Ford Coppola both have had a hands-off approach to the product.
Yet EA took the time to tailor the game for the Wii, and the results are astounding. What we instead have is a masterclass in adopting new technology to an old formula. Instead of getting a run-of-the-mill Grand Theft Auto clone, the controls breathe new life and vitality into the standard actions of any violent game, like shooting, strangling and throwing people.
The game looks about three years old really, but I stopped caring once I realized that I could mimick grabbing a shopkeeper by his collar and tossing them into a window. The action isn't tiring either, because there is consistent, revitalizing joy in seeing the results: The tumbling animation, the shattering glass, your character towering over his fallen opponent. Then there's the virtual emotional response to your act, with panic among the store's customers, the shopkeep ready to submit a cut of his profits to you and cowering in fear.
The Godfather: Blackhand edition is proof positive that the Wii can still excite hardcore gamers besides dangling annual Mario/Metroid/Zelda releases. It only requires some dedication, time, and yes, some brilliance, to apply the Wii's unique control system to existing genres hardcore gamers have spent years practicing on. If done well, it suddenly feels natural, yet new. And it's not just a "tacked-on" approach that Zelda was even guilty of. At least in The Godfather, you can alternate between left and right punches and attacks. Zelda didn't even give you that much.
Now imagine dual wielding and dual AIMING on the Wii. If only someone can fix that all-important issue of camera control.