The Monday letters page warns about the dangers of trying to predict Nintendo, as one reader considers the history of text adventures.
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The great leveler
Like many, I was looking forward to answering The Witcher 3 again after the recent next gen patch but I have to admit it’s all been a bit of a disappointment. The graphics look better than ever and yet I find the game itself is, at least so far, far less enjoyable than I remember. It’s not really any fault of CD Projekt, but the game has aged worse than I expected.
The combat is bad, we all knew that, but I was prepared for that. Or so I thought, as it still manages to be worse than I imagined. But the real problem is how the game seems surprisingly generic and I’m not sure if this is just because so many other games have copied it or because I’m now looking at it a bit more objectively.
A bit of both, I imagine, but the first six hours or so has been a bit of a slog to be honest, since all I’ve had is predictable tutorial stuff and not much in terms of story. There hasn’t been much in the way of the gray moral choices, although the best bit is definitely that nobody seems wholly good or bad. Although there’s also a grimdark angle to it I never really registered at the time, I guess because I was younger back then (the original version is now eight years old, I am appalled to find out).
I honestly don’t know if I’m going to carry on but it’s an eye-opener to me that no matter how good a game is, time will still age it no matter how good the graphics are. Perhaps classic status will always be fleeting when it comes to video games…
That’s a decent line-up for the PlayStation VR2, in terms of games, but I’m sure everyone’s noticed they’re mostly ports of existing VR games and there’s very few that seem to have been made with the PlayStation VR2 specifically in mind. Sony has Horizon VR: Call Of The Mountain but why did they have nothing else ready for launch?
Or rather, why have the launch now if nothing else was ready? Surely this, more than any other hardware, is exactly the sort of thing you would wait until you had the games before releasing? The very last thing you want people to do at this point is buy one, get bored in a week, and just sell it on.
Although I will say that Moss: Book 2 is excellent on Meta Quest 2, so I would definitely recommend that and Rez Infinite to anyone looking for some VR filler.
Kudos to the reader who wrote about Halo at the weekend. I’m sure others will say it’s all obvious but, as he says, it took Microsoft far too long to make a decision that’s seemed obvious and necessary to others for a long time.
I noticed at the weekend that 343 Industries actually issued a tweet about the rumors but, as you can see, it doesn’t actually deny them at all. It’s worded in just such a way that the rumors about them only overseeing development could still be true.
I hope the rumors are true though because I have zero faith in 343 anymore. If management is to blame then that’s one thing but these many mistakes over such a long period of time seems impossible unless there’s something deeply wrong with the whole studio.
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Trickle down economy
So, Xbox/Microsoft is sacking 10,000 people at their game division. They buy Activision Blizzard for $7.5 billion, say it’s a good thing that they’re buying the company and it’s best for gaming. And then a little under a month after Xmas they give some of their P45, what a joke. If they do buy Activision, how many weeks will it be before some of them get their P45 and Microsoft says they need to do it?
Sorry, I just don’t get the point in paying a handful of people billions of pounds and then sacking the people who do all the hard work. It’s such a kick in the teeth, why not offer the fat cats less and keep the hard workers that do the work on? I don’t know if Sony has done the same even after they bought Bungie, but all I’ve seen is Microsoft/Xbox so far, let’s hope there aren’t more P45s handed out.
GC: They are not sacking 10,000 from their games division, but from Microsoft as a whole. The game staff affected seems to be around 100 to 200 in total.
I’m hoping I can pick the brains of one of your good readers out there.
I ordered an amiibo set from them on the 12th of September, costing me nearly £40. Thanks to the DPD driver who never left a card to say where my parcel was, it got sent back to Nintendo.
I have proof they received it back on November 8th from DPD. I’ve had numerous conversations on their live chat site about getting my money back but all I keep getting is ‘You can’t speak to our manager’ and ‘We will reimburse you when we get the item back’ or ‘Is there anything otherwise we can help you with?’.
I’m not sure where to go to get my money back from them?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Very interesting review about the Colossal Cave remake, which is a thing I had no idea existed. And I mean that in terms of both the original and the new version. I’ve never heard of it and yet I did play a few text adventures when I was a kid and enjoyed it. I don’t remember Adventure or any other variant even being mentioned and looking at the dates it seems like it wouldn’t have been outdated before I even came across the likes of The Lurking Horror and Bureaucracy.
The interesting thing about the genre, which I think you didn’t mention, is that it shows how good writing was a part of the video games industry from the very earliest days, and it’s only after the console era took over that everything became dumbed down and nonsensical – and then we’ve been slowly building up again since then.
I’m not sure what the storytelling was actually like though. I remember the games being clever in terms of puzzles and well written but I don’t remember much in terms of characters and plot. Perhaps someone who knows more about the genre can correct me, but it seems that only came later. Still, it’s an interesting part of the evolution of games that rarely gets talked about nowadays.
Completely agree with the Reader’s Feature at the weekend about the current state of AAA games. The overall quality of games has probably never been better, but the complete cynicism of big publishers, and the way they go about making new games, has never been worse.
Ubisoft are the worst but there are plenty of others that are almost as bad. Unfortunately, I have to say that also includes Microsoft, who continue to do absolutely nothing worthwhile but spend money and make people redundant for no good reason.
I feel people are forgetting the first rule of being a video games fan: never try and predict Nintendo. I know it seems obvious to us that 2024 must be the time to release a new console, but I think we need more than normal logic to decide such a thing. If component suppliers start saying that they’re providing stuff then fine but that still doesn’t mean they know anything about a release date.
And if the Switch is still selling, and Nintendo is having to increase production, that does not sound like a prelude to a new console. The next few games they announce will be a good indication of what’s going on but I still don’t think that’s enough to assume we can know what they’re planning.
Nintendo likes to wring every penny out of something that’s successful and they have to because, as others have pointed out, the success of their consoles is not consistent. The Switch is massive but that doesn’t mean the Switch 2 is, so why jump to that sooner than they have to?
If I had to bet I’d say they were aiming for Christmas 2024 but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was earlier or later.
The biggest question about Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us multiplayer game is not how big the project is but whether it would be available across all platforms, including PC? I wait with baited breath.
GC: It seems extremely unlikely for anything other than PC.
Loved the Nintendo room and the Big Cave videos, but they got nothing on me. I took my old Sinclair Spectrum I always used, wrote programs for Sinclair User magazine and put it in a frame. Beat that.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Paulie, who asks what is more important to you: graphics or gameplay?
Even if you consider both to be important do you have minimum requirements for either? Does it really not matter to you how bad the graphics are if you enjoy the rest of the game and how bad does the gameplay have to get before it becomes a problem, if you are appreciating other elements such as the visuals and story?
What are your best examples of games that excel in one area but not others and was it something you could still appreciate, or does everything have to have a good balance of features?
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The small print
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MORE : Weekend Hot Topic: Dream video game character crossovers
MORE : Games Inbox: Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom on Switch 2, the death of Metal Gear Solid, and Nintendogs love
MORE : Games Inbox: If PlayStation had no more new games this year, The Last Of Us ending, and Resident Evil 9
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