An Expression of Interest



Nintendo NX- A few thoughts..

So, at some point this year Nintendo is supposed to not only unveil, but release their next platform, currently called, NX. There is a lot of speculation that it will either be a hybrid console/portable or have some sort of functionality to help bridge that gap. Given market saturation with handheld devices, namely smartphones, this might seem like a bad idea, just look at the relative commercial failure of the Vita (Note: I love my Vita), but it could be the only unique niche that they can successfully try to explode.

Nintendo has never led the charge with super powered hardware, so it is unlikely that they will try to jump into the current fight for the VR space. Let Oculus, Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung throw all of their R&D money at the first wave, and whatever comes after NX could easily build off of the lessons learned from this first real VR generation. The days of motion controls are effectively dead, at least in the way we know them now. Nintendo knows how to make a solid portable device, and despite the disappointment of the Wii-U, we know they can make a solid console. Sony’s Playstation Vita might have had a longer shelf life if they had supported it more, and not opted for overpriced proprietary memory cards, but here we are. Microsoft has no portable device, and even their Windows 10 smart phones are having trouble moving units (I tried the Lumia 950 for two weeks, it just didn’t do it for me).

If Nintendo can truly pull off a hybrid console/portable it really could be a hit, especially with all of us older farts out there. The path to victory won’t be easy though, in order for this to really succeed they will have to hit a few points to win hearts, and gain traction.

*Form Factor– If it’s going to be portable, it needs to be portable. Despite my love for the Vita, it doesn’t stay with me all the time due to it’s size, while the 3DS fits comfortably in most pockets. It will need a large and pretty enough screen to make mobile play attractive, without drinking all of the battery-milkshake up in an hour. Add in battery, and the requisite input options people will demand (dual analog sticks, shoulder buttons, touch screen), and you could easily wind up with a device too bulky to want to take with you.

*Compatibility– Just how portable will it be? It’s very doubtful that it would be able to play full console quality games un-tethered from a base console, so, what does it play? If the new Nintendo account system is being overhauled the way I hope it is, they should start making Virtual Console titles from ANY previous system playable on the mobile handset with or without the main console. Now you would have a legitimate portable device with an instant catalogue of your favorite games, and the input methods necessary to play them. These titles would also be less hardware intensive and would hopefully play nicer with the battery life. Will the mobile device also be compatible with their new smartphone offerings, or will they be content having those be separate worlds? It would be really strange if the new Pokemon AR game isn’t available at all to play on the new Nintendo system, so how will they work with those titles?

*Launch Lineup– Again, what can I play on it? They will have to have at least two big titles at launch for the main console, likely to be Zelda and something else. If they release the console while leaning on the promise of big games within a 5 month launch window, it will send mixed messages to those of us who devour video game news. Are they rushing the launch? Are they really committed to this, or is it another Wii-U?

*User Interface– Nintendo has more fun with their user interfaces that Microsoft or Sony, and they should continue to embrace this with the NX. Further the integration of their properties into the UI, make navigating the system more entertaining or dare I say nostalgic by having much more dynamic interface methods, but still have the option for quick and simple. Make it customizable with icons/backgrounds earned from completing challenges in games, similar to the stamp model they are experimenting with, or the badges on the 3DS. Have the option to make your main menu a Mario level, with different applications being blocks, again, not a forced experience, but an option, and make it easy for 3rd parties to create their own interfaces/stamps/badges/icons/whatever.

I’d love to see the NX be a hit, because after all these years I still love Nintendo games. Yes, there are a lot of amazing game experiences that you can never have on one of their systems, but then again, there really is a lot of genuine fun to be had on their systems. Looking forward to the next few months leading up to E3 to see for sure what their new plan is.


Status Update!- I’m Not Dead Yet!!

Too many spinning plates has led to a lack of posts of late. I’m working on two more interviews, another album spotlight, and another gaming update. Start of Diablo 3 season 4 stole a week from me, as well as some personal items, not to mention The Taken King and The Phantom Pain.

So anyways, hang in there, more fun is on the way, until then, keep it Kaizers

Artist Spotlight! – Joe Strummer

Yesterday (August 21st) marked the birthday of one of the most influential people in my life, John Graham Mellor, better known as Joe Strummer. The vast majority of the music public know him only has one of the founding fathers of punk through The Clash, but he left behind so much more of a legacy, not only music, but of humanity. There is a lot to say about his music, but I’m just going to touch on why he was, and still is, so important to me personally. I got into The Clash thanks to Grosse Pointe Blank (which I would later learn that Joe did the original score for), and the music tastes of Martin Scorsese (he was very fond of The Clash), his effective use of them in Bringing Out The Dead brought their sound front and center to my impressionable high school freshman brain. That first album speaks, universally to the frustrations of youth, whether or not you pickup or identify with the greater social/political themes, they are angry, and loud, and you want to be too. I devoured their discography, and dug into all the bands that had influenced their sound, and that, was when I found out about The Mescaleros.

2001 saw the release of Global A Go-Go, the second Mescaleros album, the first, Rock Art and the X-Ray Style having come out in 1999. If I can recollect, my friend Brett is the one who found Rock Art and brought it to my attention, AND, it was a bit of a let down. I couldn’t wrap my head completely around it. How do you go from I’m So Bored with the USA to Sandpaper Blues? How do you go from Janie Jones to Yalla Yalla? Up until THAT point in my life, musicians existed in a kind of bubble of space, time, and fame. Most artists tried to keep riding the exact same wave until it finally crashed ashore, with them broken on the beach. So many bands from your youth just keep trying to play the same songs, the same way, 20 years after they were ripe, as if NOTHING in the world has changed. RARE was the artist who grew up, and grew the sound of their band. 1999 saw Joe Strummer grow up, it also saw Tom Petty grow up too with Echo, but that’s another conversation. Rock Art and the X-Ray Style was the first time an album made me think and try to understand it. Not only the lyrics, but the whole album had a sound, that was just all over the place, again, how do you go from Techno D-Day to Nitcomb?!

Joe Strummer, through Rock Art and the X-Ray Style, taught me that people are where it is at. That album has a lot to do with empowering people, and above all, hope. That lesson would still take a little while to sink in, but the imminent release of Global A Go-Go would accelerate the process. Where Rock Art confused me with it’s sharp contrasts, Global felt a lot more cohesive, more grounded, more on the mark. To this day listening to Global from start to finish is like a wonderful trip through the 5th dimension, with Buckaroo Banzai at the wheel. In digging into all of the musical references laid out in the title track, I learned more about Joe’s life, moving around and experiencing different countries as a young kid. The album has a wonderful, borderless feel to it, with flavors from many different countries. The lyrics would inspire me to figure out what was going on, and in doing so, discover amazing music from all around the world. Thanks to Mega Bottle Ride I found the Balkan Blues album, which really opened my eyes further to familiar music genres through the lens of other countries, which would only further reinforce the fact that underneath it all, at the end of the day, we are all just people, and we like to express ourselves, in our own way, and we like to be happy.

Suddenly Rock Art started to make more sense, Global started to shine with all manner of new facets after every listen. I found myself looking into the history of other countries, and wanting to know what their country music sounds like. Along the way I met a lot of amazing people through the internets, with their own local band and insight into the scene in Lithuania, Argentina, Norway, Venezuela, or wherever it was, people were living, people were having fun, and people were helping each other. Music reinforced the fact that as bad as the news and media might make it seem, the world wasn’t actually falling apart just outside your door, that there isn’t any difference between you and someone on the otherside of the planet, you put on a jamming tune, and they are going to get in the groove. We are all different in our own ways, and exactly the same at a base level, a level you can instantly access through certain acoustical resonances, through music, sweet music.

I’m sure I’ll write a few more words about Joe in due time, but I just wanted to say, Thanks Joe, thanks for being yourself, high on the hog, or singing to one man and a dog. Your music taught me more than you probably intended for it to do, and I’m sure I got some stuff right, and some stuff wrong, but in the end, they’re still great songs. We’ll keep the campfires burning for you, kindling the kindness that you showed us all.

“It’s time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring..without people, you’re nothing” -Joe Strummer

Take a minute to visit the Joe Strummer Foundation

Or take a look at this interesting documentary about a particular adventure in Joe’s post Clash life

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