Bothering Jeff Minter’s sheep following a trip to Mute City
We’ve heard it so many times. Some of us may have even uttered the words ourselves: “This is great, but… imagine it in VR.” Now that we’ve spent time immersed in VR with all sorts of games and other applications, and for extended periods rather than simply dabbling, the inappropriateness of the remark comes into grim focus. In compiling this issue’s Play section, for the first time in history a game caused one of our review staff to actually vomit.
Videogames have long held the potential to mess with our bodies’ delicate systems. This parish’s own James Leach recalls a trip to see game designer Jeff Minter 25 years ago: “We went to his cottage in deepest Wales. We saw a variety of llama-related titles he was developing, and then he showed off his brand-new Super Famicom on a big TV. He had F-Zero, with its mighty Mode 7 3D effects, and after a few minutes of both watching and playing it, my face went extremely cold and I had to go into the garden, where there were three sheep. A pint of tea, mixed with a motorway breakfast and a Fry’s Turkish Delight, was ejected over the fence. I recall not wanting his sheep to graze on the fresh vomit, which was thoughtful of me. On the way back we had to stop at the Severn Crossing services so that more spew could emerge. I did my best to avoid Mode 7 games after that. And lamb, for a while, too.” In a way, it all brings us back to what we were talking about in the intro of
E291 – that we should be increasingly disinclined to expect that what works for one person will chime with another. Plenty of you will be able to make it through all of this issue’s VR games without turning green, after all.
This month’s cover game, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, is precisely the sort of thing that would have once been naively held up as a made-to-order candidate for VR treatment. But, sensibly, it is being delivered in a context much less likely to turn the stomach, as a PC, PS4 and Xbox One action adventure played on an old-fashioned screen, with familiar controllers. Crucially, though, the team at DICE is putting in the effort to build upon the lustrous original in a series of innovative ways. Our report begins on p60.
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