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| Apples to Oranges, or, Does the Wii Remote Outperform the GCN Controller in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2? (3 comments )|
by: evernight (6) | Posted in cluster Editors Challenge Sponsored by Intel Round 2
Posted 75 months ago ( edited 75 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
There are those for whom console gaming is a casual diversion, and those who cleave to their component cables with the ardor of a zealot. Naturally, opinions on any given piece of hardware are going range widely among those within that continuum. But itís rare that a device both divides and coalesces the warring camps to the extent Nintendoís ďBlue OceanĒ baby, the Wii Remote has done. By now, any gamer within ICBM shot of a Best Buy has had the chance to put the Wii Remote through its paces. Press has been broadly positive, with conversation shying away from questions of intuition and towards the arena Perrin Kaplan would like us all to focus on, namely, how to get our non-gaming relatives to join the revolution. Much has been written about the Wii Remoteís innate fun-factor, the potential for new and innovative gameplay, and how long it will take Microsoft to rollout the X-Wand. Considerably less has been said on a question of interest to hardcore gamers: Can the Wii Remote make you better at games you already play?
|» MEDIA (7)|
Bow to the King.
Trunks is cool, but 16's got flare.
Blast that pink...uh...blast.
Looks like a fair fight.
Yikes, what happened to Gazoo?
This was just before Buu munched my candy...you know the rest.
Based on the research Iím about to detail, the answer is not a simple ďyesĒ or ďno.Ē Gameplay with the Wii Remote is certainly different compared to gameplay with a traditional analog controller, and actions that are simple and intuitive on one may not translate so easily on the other. The good news is that itís a two-way street. While longtime players of a particular game or genre may find a changeover frustrating at first, there are compensations in terms of new strategies that the Wii Remote makes viable. This review will not attempt to generalize the advantages of one control scheme over the other, but offer specific examples relevant to our test-case game, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2. Why DBZ: BT2? Unlike other candidates that offer support for both Wii Remote and GCN controllers, DBZ: BT2 has garnered critical acclaim in both configurations. It belongs to the fighting genre, a genre that longtime fans were deeply concerned could not be well served by the imposition of motion controls. Most importantly, it is a game I had never played before attempting this review. Not did I have any experience of its predecessors. I began my experiment as a tabula rasa.
DBZ for the New Generation
After Gokuís enthusiastic intro on the Wii Disc Channel, I booted DBZ: BT2 with my orange GCN controller in its socket. Iíd taken only a cursory glance at the instructions, so I didnít know that this would restrict me to using the GCN controller until I did a reboot without the controller attached. That seems like an oversight on Atariís part, especially as all the in-game instructions (special moves, etc.) are written in terms of the Wii Remote control scheme. The options menus, on the other hand, were clearly designed with the GCN controller, or Sonyís Dualshock, in mind. I was quickly able to navigate through the opening dialogs in Dragon Adventure mode, and dove right into the initial battle as Piccolo versus Raditz. Letís just say, the big green guy has seen better days. Iím an old-school Virtua Fighter, but none of my go-to combos saved me from a beatdown. Raditz KOíd Piccolo in under a minute.
Reeling from this slaughter, I shut down the Wii and booted with no GCN controller attached. This was when I noted the slightly awkward menu support when using the Wii Remote. There are times I was expected to click a certain icon that had been mere window-dressing under the GCN. Not very intuitive, but I got it after some head scratching. Unfortunately, I did not intuit the Wii Remote fighting controls any better than I had the GCN, though I was able to block more effectively with C-Down than with the GCNís X-Button. Raditz notched another under-60 second victory over Piccolo. However, I decided to press on, and Goku fared a little better in the gameís second storyline challenge. The C-Down defense served me well, or else Raditz simply doesnít see that well underwater, so I was able to survive his attack on Gokuís island home long enough to run down the clock. Mind you, I didnít actually look at what the clock was running down fromÖprobably better for my self-esteem.
At this point I embarked on a more scientific line of inquiry. Returning to the main menu, I set up a Player vs. CPU match. Hoping for a friendly bout, I picked Goku (me) against Krillin (CPU). False to DBZ but true to form, I lost the first bout badly. On my second attempt, I fought just as poorly, but gutted out a victory thanks to Gokuís superior endurance. I was a winner, but owing to DBZ: BT2ís system of showing damage on the characterís face and attire, I didnít look like one. The deficiency was mine, but there were mitigating factors vis-ŗ-vis the control system. I found I could hit Gokuís axe-handle slam pretty easily, but the Kamehameha was out of reach. Every attempt to use the move resulted in a slam or a flying dash. So, for those keeping score at home, it took me two fights to defeat Krillin as Goku using the Wii Remote.
Next I attempted the same feat with the GCN controller. The first three fights, Krillin dominated. In the third fight I started to get a feel for the fighting engine. At least, I learned how to effectively close distance and dodge projectile attacks. Fight four went much better, and I was able to relax enough to notice some strengths and weaknesses of the fighting engine. Gokuís basic moveset feels repetitive, but there is a distinct thrill in the interplay of blocks and counterattacks. Still, I barely made headway in the fight until accidentally pulling off a Kamehameha for a quick KO. I have no idea how I pulled off the signature move since, again, all the in-game instructions are geared toward the Wii Remote. In the fifth fight I had Krillin's number, executing a Kamehameha early on (though still without knowing how) and missing a KaiŰ-ken only because Krillin was still down from a previous rush. It was in the fifth fight that I identified weaknesses in the CPU's attack and defense, and learned to power up immediately after delivering a smash attack. So, after four fights with the GCN controller, I was able to eek out a victory. After five fights, I was able to put Krillin away in short order.
Coming back to the Wii Remote was like returning to a game you haven't played in six weeks. Beginner's luck seemed to be more a factor with the Wii Remote than with the GCN controller, but that may be a side effect of my long history with analog controllers. My first two Wii Remote battles after the GCN break were downright maddening. I found the strategies I had learned with GCN controller utterly inapplicable. Dashing with the Wii Remote is far from intuitive, and I couldnít figure out how to charge up my power level during self-created lulls in the action, even though the charge button on the Wii Remote is technically in the same position as on its GCN counterpart. It seemed harder to stumble into good moves with the Wii Remote, because often the moves were dependent on what I WASNíT doing at the time. For example, to launch a Kamehameha wave, the Wii Remote had me hold Z+B and make a back-to-forward thrust, while chanting the attackís name, though Iím pretty sure that last part was optional. The gotcha is, the move doesn't fire if any other buttons are held down while performing the motion. It seems intuitive to quit mashing extra buttons while pulling off a move on the GCN controller, but not on the Wii Remote. Intuitively, I felt like the motion control should override any button mashing. Isnít that the whole point? At this early stage, I found it easy to forget what my fingers were doing while concentrating on moving my arms.
Sometime during the third fight, though, something changed. I caught on to the need for precise, non-button mashy movements and managed to power up a Kamehameha, though Krillin interfered before I could get it off. I scraped out a victory by the cel-shaded skin of Goku's teeth, and felt much more in control. The next two fights I won on the cheap. In one fight Krillin turned his back and I caught the timing to keep him trapped while I pounded his sciatica. In the next fight I simply outlasted poor olí Krillin thanks to Gokuís extra energy tanks. It was in this fight that I finally figured out the Kamehameha, though it took two more fights to land one. That first successful Kamehameha wave met Krillinís in mid-air. I lost the subsequent tug-of-war, but the effect was sufficiently cool for me not to care. Then, finally, I hit a weak but still fiery Krillin for massive damage, albeit while he was out-of-sight behind a mesa. Over the next few fights, I struck a balance between button-mashing and button-holding, repetition and strategy. I started planning out my projectile attacks and hitting them, nailing Kamehameha blasts at willÖand the rest, as they say, is history.
Stay On or Get Off?
Now, I said above I wouldnít generalize, but in the course of several hoursí research I did make a few observations that I think could translate to other games.
• I noted considerably more hand fatigue while using the GCN controller than in my sessions with the Wii Remote. Kinda like how ďNintendo thumbĒ sucked a lot more after the SNES demonstrated its futility.
• Pulling the B-Trigger is more intuitive than clicking the B button, and being able to leave your ďBĒ finger in place makes for faster play. On the other hand, this ease-of-use may tend to make the player lean too heavily on B-Trigger attacks.
• Requiring a player to target an object manually with the Wii Remote when a traditional controller would do the job for them is a bad idea. In DBZ: BT2, you encounter this problem with the dash attacks. The added difficulty of aiming the reticule feels tacked-on. Lesson to future developers: donít make the Wii version deliberately harder unless the control scheme naturally smoothes the curve.
• I noticed myself spending more time in the air with the Wii Remote. The ascend/descend controls were more intuitive as motion controls (hold C, gesture up or down) than button presses. Iíd generalize this to say that any action that can be intuitively tied to motion controls is likely to be used more often, and potentially more effectively, than one tied to button combinations.
One more note about Wii Remote control in DBZ: BT2. Unlike, say, Zelda, thereís no way to calibrate the Wii Remoteís sensor field (or whatever) in DBZ: BT2. Thatís not the exception to the rule on Wii; Zelda is. One thing I found annoying about Atariís implementation was that it insisted I move closer to the TV whenever the sensor bar lost its signal. No lounging on the sofa from fifteen feet away while Gogeta smashed it up, though maybe thatís the point. Speaking of Gogeta, it never even occurred to me to try one of the many form changes so pivotal to DBZ plotlines. According to guides Iíve subsequently read online, itís just a matter of holding the 1 button down on the Wii Remote and tilting the analog stick. But, seriously, the 1 button? Iím not sure itís even possible to click it without body-slamming the controller to the floor. Why isnít there a motion-sensing solution here? It might be that the gameplay flow would have to be tweaked Ė maybe tying form changes to some context? Ė but Iím pretty sure there is a more elegant way this could have been handled.
Donít get me wrong. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 on Wii is massively fun. Iíd give it 4 ľ stars. Would I play it with the GCN controller, or on PS2? Not given the choice. The opinion Iíve held since Wii-Day is, thereís no going back. The GCN controller, the Dualshock, and my very spiffy Xbox 360 wireless are all worthy tools of the trade. They have now and will continue to have their uses. But the Wii Remote holds its own against these aging Balboas (thanks for that last round, Sly) and itís got the chops to do more than they ever could. Sure there are quirks. There are always quirks. But if you want investment advice, I say, invest in potential. Nintendoís Wii Remote has a tremendous upside. Itís well worth the price of admission.
|3 User Comment(s) • 1 root comment(s)|
| suibhne (65) Mar 15, 2007 - 11:10 am|
|Your conclusion doesn't seem to follow smoothly from all of the frustrations you experienced while using the Wii controller, and I'm also not convinced that your test actually tested much. It's tough to test the Wii controller against other controllers because so much depends on good software implementation, but this was still very subjective. On the other hand, I really like your writing style - definitely one of my favorite styles out of everything that's been submitted.|
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| evernight (6) Mar 15, 2007 - 01:04 pm | Edited on Mar 15, 2007 - 01:06 pm|
|It was difficult to find objective ground on what is an almost totally subjective topic, especially as I couldn't test both control schemes with an equal measure of unfamiliarity. My conclusion, and you're free to disagree with whether the narrative supports this, was based on the fact that my proficiency with both controllers improved with practice, to the point that I could see no definite performance advantage of one over the other, but I could see more potential in the Wii Remote. The thing about your trigger finger never needing to leave "B" is a functional advantage, and I noted how much easier I found it to defend with the D-Pad. |
So far as quantitative data goes, all I could really track was my own learning curve, ergo, how many tries it took to beat Krillin. What I wish is I that could have snagged one of my buddies to play a few rounds, Wii Remote versus GCN controller, but I'm actually not sure that's possible. When I booted with one GCN controller attached, it didn't seem to matter if I had two Wii Remotes on, the option for Player vs. Player was disabled. Even if I could set up the match, I'd need to get someone of similar skill to play against, though that probably wouldn't be too hard.
Still, I felt this was a worthwhile topic, as it's the sort of thing everybody was wondering about before the Wii debuted, and nothing conclusive has come out thereafter.
Anyway, thanks for the comment, and glad you liked the style!
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