Down the pipe

Back in the pre-Gamecube launch days, I re­mem­ber think­ing how bold it was for Nintendo to claim the con­sole was go­ing to be “just pow­er­ful enough”. This seemed like such a pure ap­proach to the plat­form, which made it pos­si­ble for de­vel­op­ers to pro­duce good-look­ing games with­out any fuss­ing over the poly­gon count or fram­er­ate.

To their credit, it worked pretty well. Third­party ver­sions of Tony Hawk, Soul-Cal­ibur II et al kept up nicely with those on PS2 and Xbox, and there was enough power un­der the hood to de­liver ex­clu­sives like F-Zero GX and Mario Sun­shine.

Fast for­ward a few years, and this ap­proach is killing Nintendo. For all the orig­i­nal­ity of their in­put de­vices, both Wii and Wii U have been in­ca­pable of keep­ing pace with the com­pe­ti­tion, miss­ing out on a raft of third­party ports and be­ing un­able to oc­cupy the liv­ing room alone.

As a child, I re­mem­ber be­ing blown away at ev­ery con­sole launch. Each time I picked up a new Nintendo con­sole it felt like the game had changed. The SNES and N64 were ca­pa­ble of set­ting tar­gets oth­ers sim­ply couldn’t hit. The Mega Drive couldn’t ever do F-Zero; the PS1 couldn’t get close to Mario 64 or Golden Eye. If Nintendo wants to get back on top, its next con­sole needs to blow the com­pe­ti­tion out of the wa­ter. Richard Sawyer At some point Nintendo weighed up hard­ware costs against third­party sup­port and made a clear de­ci­sion in favour of the for­mer, bank­ing on in­no­va­tions car­ry­ing it to vic­tory. That worked for the orig­i­nal Wii. It was an al­most im­pos­si­ble feat to re­peat, but Wii U’s strug­gle with ex­ter­nal sup­port is about much more than just raw power. As for the fu­ture, the forth­com­ing NX will see Nintendo main­tain­ing its strat­egy, so un­less you’re in the mar­ket for another mod­estly specced de­vice, it may be time to let go.

Patch­work quit

In a quiet few min­utes with my daugh­ter (who is too young to play videogames), I thought I’d boot up Rare Replay. Viva Piñata seemed like a good way to hold her at­ten­tion for a few min­utes while mum did some jobs and baby brother slept, and for me to sneak in a bit of retro fun.

I told her we were go­ing to see if we could get some an­i­mals to move into our gar­den. Lit­tle did we know at the time that, two hours later, she would com­plain that the “com­puter still isn’t work­ing.” She went out to ride on her bike in­stead.

It oc­curred to me that Mi­crosoft has taken gam­ing back to the ’80s. Mem­o­ries of days spent try­ing to con­vince my C64 to just let me play New Zealand Story from the Hit Squad cas­sette, us­ing a screw­driver to ad­just the az­imuth (what is az­imuth?), came flood­ing back.

Ev­ery time I turn on the Xbox One, it wants to up­date. It takes hours. In Viva Piñata’s case I also had to down­load the game I had just bought on disc, and then an up­date for it. I then found out that, de­spite be­ing signed in to the Xbox One, I wasn’t signed in to my vir­tual 360, so I had to go through that trial too. Who knew that you had to press Start and Se­lect – sorry, Menu and Op­tions – to do that?

I re­mem­bered my SNES – you could just turn it on and play. That made me sad. I went out­side too. Tom Re­gan Rare Replay’s in­stal­la­tion times were a par­tic­u­lar point of ir­ri­ta­tion in the Edge of­fice, too. Any­way, what you need, clearly, is a game de­vice that is as happy out­doors as it is in­side the house. You know how the rest of this bit works. It’s on its way.

“Mem­o­ries of us­ing a screw­driver to ad­just the az­imuth came flood­ing back”

Dan­ger­ous prece­dent

I bought Elite: Dan­ger­ous, like many peo­ple, in a fit of nos­tal­gia. I played it for a cou­ple of dozen hours but drifted away from it, mainly be­cause as a spec­ta­tor sport it just doesn’t match Skyrim, which my kids en­joy watch­ing me play.

As the chil­dren have grown older, they’ve started to play Skyrim, too. Of course, that isn’t re­ally an op­tion with Elite, not only be­cause I don’t want my hard-earned gear blow­ing up, but also due to the ac­count sys­tem. I should be grate­ful they never re­ally con­nected with it, be­cause £40 per seat is a bit much, es­pe­cially next to the £25 I paid for Skyrim, which has seen three of us through over 100 hours each and is still be­ing played to­day.

I had been plan­ning to try Elite again, though, in those rare mo­ments where I get some time to my­self. Per­haps try a bit of rares trad­ing, I thought. But now I read with dis­may that the next ma­jor up­date will be another full £40, with no loy­alty dis­count at all. Just like an in­sur­ance com­pany or Ap­ple.

I don’t mind the sub­scrip­tion model. I’ve bought four Minecraft li­cences, but they are much more rea­son­ably priced than Elite and in­clude fu­ture up­dates. If my kids de­cided they wanted to play Elite, it would cost me £160 at ev­ery ma­jor up­date. Clearly the sen­si­ble thing to do here is to write off the orig­i­nal £40, and hope that No Man’s Sky is priced more for­giv­ingly.

Tony Park

We know David Braben will be read­ing this. David, what should we tell Tony?

Taken for a ride

E284 started with a won­der­fully vit­ri­olic ed­i­to­rial that re­ferred to a lot of the prac­tices in the gam­ing in­dus­try to­day as ‘bull­shit’. How ironic, then, that hav­ing read the fea­ture on The Taken King, I got a bit of a gut punch when I tried to pre­order it.

I dig­i­tally pre­ordered Des­tiny for launch, due to my long­stand­ing love of Bungie’s FPS me­chan­ics and, I’ll be hon­est, a huge dol­lop of ‘be­liev­ing the hype’. As a shooter, it sur­passed my ex­pec­ta­tions, but I hit level 20, be­came dis­il­lu­sioned with the mis­sion struc­ture, and did not have the pa­tience for the Light sys­tem.

Imag­ine my de­light at The Taken King. I read the ar­ti­cle and all the right things were be­ing said, and I knew that deep down I was look­ing for an ex­cuse to dive back in. So I trot­ted off to the Play-Sta­tion Store, but when I searched for The Taken King it re­turned a gi­ant mid­dle fin­ger.

My op­tions are to ei­ther buy the two pre­vi­ous ex­pan­sions for £35 and then The

Taken King for £40, or al­ter­na­tively The Leg­endary Edi­tion of Des­tiny for £55 that con­tains ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing another copy of the orig­i­nal game. The Taken King is tech­ni­cally classed as an ex­pan­sion, but the cheap­est op­tion I have as some­one who sup­ported Bungie dig­i­tally on day one is to spend £55 on it.

To be clear, I’m not ex­pect­ing Bungie to throw me a party of ap­pre­ci­a­tion. I just feel that the con­tri­tion be­ing shown with the game de­sign should also ex­tend to the com­mer­cial side. I want to play Des­tiny again, but now I feel re­sent­ful and am buy­ing Me­tal Gear Solid V in­stead.

Pub­lish­ers, es­pe­cially in the dig­i­tal space, need to learn the art of value and loy­alty. At the mo­ment it just feels like, well, bull­shit.

Iain Cri­tien

Or you could shop around and get the lot – the base game, the pre­vi­ous ex­pan­sions and

The Taken King – for un­der £40. It’s a mess all right, but things would have to get much, much worse for Des­tiny be­fore you’d see Ac­tivi­sion dol­ing out a dose of con­tri­tion.

Race hate

It is al­most a year since I aban­doned PC gam­ing en­tirely. I am do­ing my work on my phone and tablet, while my play hap­pens on my as­sort­ment of con­soles al­most ex­clu­sively. But it is not merely the ease of use and lower prices of con­soles that has al­lowed me to let go of my Steam li­brary of 120+ ti­tles, but the com­mu­nity as well. While flick­ing through an old is­sue of

Edge I saw The Sailor’s Dream, a won­drous nar­ra­tive-heavy iOS game that not only re­ceived praise and sold well, but is held in high re­gard by play­ers. Com­pare that with the farce that sur­rounded Sunset on PC. Tale Of Tales is one of gam­ing’s most valu­able artis­tic voices, and yet the PC gam­ing com­mu­nity didn’t see the game’s re­gret­table com­mer­cial fail­ure and the stu­dio clos­ing as a tragedy, but a re­lief. All over the In­ter­net, the sup­posed big­gest, best and most ma­ture com­mu­nity of videogame play­ers treated Sunset and its stu­dio like a laugh­ing stock; all for Tale Of Tales’ sup­posed sin of be­ing pro­gres­sive and its de­sire to el­e­vate videogames as a medium.

This past gen­er­a­tion has seen the PC gam­ing com­mu­nity el­bow­ing out all wellmean­ing mem­bers and turn­ing into the most hos­tile, big­oted and en­ti­tled group of peo­ple in all of gamer cul­ture. Peo­ple with ab­so­lutely no sense of self-aware­ness. It makes me won­der if it is even worth it for art­house de­vel­op­ers to re­lease their wares on PC any more. Cer­tainly, con­soles and iOS all have a more tol­er­ant and wel­com­ing user­base, and those plat­forms def­i­nitely don’t al­low their users to abuse any sort of re­fund sys­tem to the detri­ment of cre­ators. It makes me won­der whether, one day, all self-re­spect­ing peo­ple will aban­don PC gam­ing en masse, just so that they wouldn’t be as­so­ci­ated with the vile group of peo­ple that have ap­pro­pri­ated the plat­form’s name. I al­ready have.

David Palinkas

The wide­spread danc­ing on Tale Of Tales’ grave was bizarre and re­gret­table, but let’s not tar the en­tirety of one of gam­ing’s largest and broad­est de­mo­graph­ics with the same brush. Some of our best friends are PC gamers. At least un­til they start bang­ing on about a game’s FOV op­tions.

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