Breaking Bad and the advent of television.

As Breaking Bad soon comes to a close and Mad Men ends in 2014, I have to wonder if this marks the end of the golden age of television. Since 1999, we’ve been treated to numerous culture-defining television that have shaped television as we know it.

  • The Sopranos – 1999- 2006
  • Six Feet Under – 2001 – 2005
  • The Wire – 2002 – 2008
  • Carnivale – 2003 – 2005
  • Deadwood – 2004 – 2006
  • Mad Men – 2007 – 2014
  • Breaking Bad – 2008 – 2013

While there do seem to be several solid shows still on the horizon such as Person of Interest and Looper (Idris Elba, anyone?), there doesn’t seem any other pop culture-defining shows on the horizon. While television has certainly enjoyed itself a golden age, I have to say that I would be disappointed if this marks the end of the quality television we’ve come to expect.

Does the end of Walt’s empire and Don Draper’s troubles mean the end of television as we know it? Voice your thoughts in the comments below.

3DS news round-up!

A 3DS Nintendo Direct has recently aired providing us with a lot of new announcements. I’ve detailed them below.

  • Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Star Fox 64 3D, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D are all coming to the European and North American eShop. The four games are available right now for €44.99/£39.99 in Europe while in North America, they will be available for $39.99 on October 18.

 

  • White 3DS XL Mario Kart 7 bundle and Pikachu 3DS XL announced for Europe. The Mario Kart 7 3DS XL will launch later this year. The Pikachu 3DS XL does not yet have a release-date and will only be available for a limited time

 

  • Pushmo sequel, Crashmo (Fallblox) is coming to US and Europe this November (the 22nd for the US). It will feature 90 training levels and 120 new levels. There is a new gameplay mechanic adding gravity to puzzle blocks. Not only that but puzzles are no longer limited to a 2D plane and can pulled from every side.

 

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GBA games might finally arrive on the 3DS eShop!

On the Nintendo of Europe press server, the box-arts for three GBA games (Super Mario Ball, Mario Golf Advance Tour and Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga) were uploaded.

 
As you might know, a European 3DS-focused Nintendo Direct was announced. It is very possible that they may end up announcing GBA games for the eShop during that presentation!

In the Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga spirit, I ask you guys this.

Rumour: Retro working on a Wii U engine, got Epic to reconsider UE4 for the Wii U

Over at GenGame, there is a rumour that claims that Retro is creating a game engine for the Wii U and “helping other devs implement” it. Supposedly, this involves both internal and external projects. The more interesting bit is that Retro apparently showed what they could do with the Wii U to Epic Games and got them to reconsider bringing Unreal Engine 4 to the system.

Even if this turns out to not be true, I still look forward to Retro’s Wii U game.

The pictures above show Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Donkey Kong Country: Returns emulated in HD on the Dolphin emulator. If Retro was able to make games that looked this good on the Wii, I can’t even begin to imagine what they could do on the Wii U!

Wii U confirmed to use a “modified” E6760 GPU

Recently, there have been numerous rumours going around claiming that the Wii U featured an embedded Radeon E6760 GPU.  I emailed them last week to verify these rumours and I can confirm that they are indeed true.

I’ve detailed specifications for this GPU below which you can also view at AMD’s site.

AMD Radeon™ E6760
GPU + memory, 37.5 mm x 37.5 mm BGA
TDP: 35W
Process Technology: 40 nm
Operating Frequency: 600 MHz
PCI Express® 2.1 (x1, x2, x4, x8, x16)
Shader Processing Units: 6 SIMD engines x 80 processing elements = 480 shaders
Floating Point Performance (single precision, peak): 576 GFLOPs
3D Mark Score: 5870
AMD App Acceleration, AMD Eyefinity & AMD HD3D technologies
DirectX® 11
Shader Model 5.0
OpenGL 4.1
AMD App Acceleration, OpenCL™ 1.18, DirectCompute 11
UVD3 for H.264, VC-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 part 2 decode
Operating Frequency (max): 800 MHz / 3.2 Gbps
Configuration, type: 128-bit wide, 1 GB, GDDR5, 51.2 GB/s

With a floating point performance of 576 GFLOPS, 480 shader units and DirectX 11 support, this GPU is quite a large step-up over current-generation consoles (360, PS3) and should competently allow for next-gen downports (from the PS4 or Nextbox). Frankly, I’m quite excited!

Wii U: Will it flop or be a wild success?

And we certainly got a lot of news this week regarding the Wii U which I’ll detail my thoughts on below.

Hardware and Price:

Well we learned that the Wii U features 2GB RAM, GPGPU functions and a 5x Blu-ray drive. Honestly I’m pretty pleased with the news. Iwata specifically mentioning GPGPU functions leads me to think that the GPU is pretty modern (and adding credence to the rumour that the Wii U is using a AMD 7 Series GPU). A 5x Blu-ray drive is a nice improvement over the PS3’s drive too hopefully eliminating the mandatory game installs that we got.

An interesting thing Iwata said was that the RAM was split between 1GB system memory and 1GB for games (VRAM, I guess). 1GB of RAM is quite a lot (with the 360 only dedicating 32MB to the OS). I’m interested in seeing what Nintendo will do with it.


As for the price, while I do think $300 is very reasonable for a console like this, I worry that it will be too expensive to attract the mass-market. Nintendo really needs to push the point that this is a next-gen console and not just a current-gen contender when they advertise it.

I’ve noticed some bloggers expressing concern at the fact that the Wii U contains only 8GB/32GB of storage space. I don’t think it’s a problem at all. Nintendo has given us the ability to add more space by adding in an external USB drive or SD card. An added bonus is that you can get a drive as big as you like (without being restricted to certain sizes) as well as the ability to compare prices and get the best deal in town.
Games:

E3 2012 left me a little skeptical. We were shown late ports and Pikmin 3. While I was happy with the latter, I was expecting more than that.

The recent conference alleviated my concerns, though. Nintendo brought Bayonetta 2 back from the dead. We’re getting Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate! Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, the biggest game this year is coming. Overall, third-party support seems good. I just hope this support carries on into the PS4/Nextbox era.


Bayonetta 2 being an exclusive really said something to me. Considering that the first one didn’t exactly sell a lot, Nintendo isn’t looking to make a big profit with this. I would say they are trying to fill the gaping holes that exist in their platform’s typical library and I applaud them for that.

Oh and with the Platinum Games-Nintendo partnership that seems to be going on, I expect a Star Fox game developed from them for the Wii U. Mark my words.

Other Functionality:

Not much was shown in terms of things outside of games but we did get a look at Nintendo TVii which I think is quite revolutionary. Being able to access my cable television, Netflix, Hulu+, Amazon Video, DVR and whatever other services in one app is a very appealing prospect.
 


I can see my self using the second-screen functionality that they showed too. The ability to get stats while watching basketball or whatever and the ability to screenshot a show and share on Facebook, Twitter and Miiverse (particularly Twitter since I use that) is very appealing.

Oh and it’s free which is always good!

 

We also got some more details on the internet browser. I’m particularly happy with the fact that we can surf alone with the GamePad, view videos straight from the browser (plug-ins), use multiple tabs and multi-task with a game. The latter is the my favourite feature as checking a walkthrough using the browser while playing a game would be very convenient.

All in all, I’m very excited. Although I don’t have enough dough to buy it at launch, I will get one eventually. With the game library, specs and other functionality, I think the platform really has promise. I just hope Nintendo has made strides in ensuring third-party support so that it doesn’t end up lacking good third-party games in comparison to other platforms like with the Wii.