Song to the cynic

It seems that the next fran­chise that Nin­tendo is bring­ing to smart­phones is Mario Kart, one of the great­est multiplayer rac­ing games of all time. I don’t blame Nin­tendo for mak­ing the tran­si­tion to mo­bile phone gam­ing; I’m sure it will be fi­nan­cially re­ward­ing for them, and al­low an un­tapped mar­ket to re­alise the bril­liance of all-things Nin­tendo.

How­ever I won’t be down­load­ing the Mario Kart app when it’s re­leased, be­cause I’ve just never re­ally been a mo­bile phone gamer. Videogames have been a part of my life since the ZX Spec­trum days, but it just doesn’t ap­peal to me to play a videogame on my phone. Even beloved Nin­tendo can’t sway my opin­ion on that, un­less they can pro­vide a truly orig­i­nal slant on an ex­ist­ing IP that of­fers some­thing dif­fer­ent to home con­sole it­er­a­tions. (Or fail­ing that, a new 2D smart­phone-ex­clu­sive Metroid might win me over.)

I’m sure I’m in the mi­nor­ity, and I can un­der­stand the con­ve­nience of play­ing on mo­bile to pass away idle time, but there’s two rea­sons why it isn’t for me. Firstly, my mo­bile phone bat­tery is mea­gre on longevity, with­out a videogame speed­ing up its drainage. As it is, my smart­phone has to be charged ev­ery night, to avoid the fol­low­ing day be­com­ing the tense chal­lenge of sur­viv­ing a day with only 21 per cent bat­tery, or some­thing.

But se­condly (and per­haps slightly ir­ra­tionally) there’s the im­pu­rity of play­ing a game on some­thing that’s not a ded­i­cated games ma­chine. If I’m want­ing to play a game be­yond the con­fines of the four walls of my home, then my PS Vita or my new Nin­tendo Switch ful­fils the task. Or if I want some­thing smaller to man­age, my Game­boy Mi­cro does the job mag­nif­i­cently.

I’d be in­ter­ested to know what per­cent­age of reg­u­lar smart­phone gamers are peo­ple who tend to only play on their mo­bile (and per­haps don’t own a home con­sole), as op­posed to those that are ‘hard­core’ play­ers at home and still in­vest plenty of time in mo­bile gam­ing.

For those of you that are new to Nin­tendo, and do opt to in­stall the Mario Kart app, pre­pare to live in fear of bat­tery drainage and blue shells. Ben Bul­beck

Well, Mario Kart Tour isn’t ex­actly be­ing de­vel­oped with the mul­ti­for­mat player in mind. If, as Nin­tendo hopes, it in­tro­duces more peo­ple to one of the great­est game mak­ers of all, we’re ab­so­lutely fine with it.

Hang on

Re­cently I dis­cov­ered the sub­red­dit Pa­tient Gamers. The idea is to re­ject pre­orders, day-one buy­ing and, hell, even cur­rent-year buy­ing of games in favour of play­ing the hits a few years be­hind, and boy can it save you a lot of money. As well as pick­ing up older in­die hits on the cheap, I find my­self get­ting triple-A games at ridicu­lously marked-down prices – Prey is go­ing for £15, for ex­am­ple. That’s not even men­tion­ing more ca­sual, an­nual re­leases which are frankly be­ing given away – 50p for FIFA 16! This isn’t a new idea, of course – prices for games have al­ways gone down over time. I was, how­ever, shocked at just how ex­treme the price drop was on games that weren’t ex­actly old, though. In a world where we’re re­peat­edly told how triple-A games are too ex­pen­sive to make, said drops surely aren’t the sign of a sta­ble and healthy in­dus­try.

One bad year for, say, Ac­tivi­sion, with Des­tiny 2’ s com­ing Septem­ber ex­pan­sion or the new Call Of Duty, could put them in very real trou­ble, with lit­tle chance of redemp­tion due to price drops down the line. A sce­nario like this is ar­guably what did THQ in.

A cli­mate where such dam­age can be done

“I was shocked at how ex­treme the price drop was on games that weren’t ex­actly old”

in an open­ing week or month of a game cre­ates a cul­ture of risk aver­sion, and that’s not good if we want more Niers or Zel­das this year. The movie in­dus­try has a very sim­i­lar prob­lem at the moment. Triple-A pub­lish­ers, then, should be putting their eggs in more than one bas­ket and re­ject­ing this ‘all or noth­ing’ cul­ture. Aaron Sy­posz

THQ’s prob­lem was that it was over­ex­posed in too many ways; it makes the Ac­tivi­sion way look sen­si­ble. Pa­tient Gamers sounds great – es­pe­cially if it means we get to re­view Puz­zle & Dragons again next month.

About you

Is­sue 316 was yet again a fine ad­di­tion to my book­case: a blis­ter­ing yet cor­rect crit­i­cism of Soul­cal­ibur VI, an in-depth look at A Way

Out, whose multiplayer has me truly hyped, and a praise­wor­thy Post Script to OK KO! on its fan­tas­tic com­bat sys­tem.

Oh, and there’s ten pages ded­i­cated to push­ing but­tons in orig­i­nal, artis­tic ways. Yay for orig­i­nal­ity in games, right? Yay for news me­dia tak­ing a look at the fringes of the in­dus­try, no? Yay for play­ing Pep­si­man with Pe­spi cans… but ac­tu­ally, ugh, aren’t we done with this kind of thing? The Power Glove was bad. DDR and Gui­tar Hero were fads. And the likes of EyeToy, the Wi­imote, and Kinect make me want to hurl.

I can’t help think­ing that the medium is only as good as our abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate with their CPUs. I am ex­tremely happy with the lan­guage we have de­vel­oped push­ing but­tons on joy­pads, key­boards, and mice. Not hav­ing to think about what I’m do­ing phys­i­cally helps me fo­cus on what I’m do­ing men­tally. And I hon­estly don’t feel like learn­ing new lan­guages.

And yet I am so happy you printed that ar­ti­cle. The hor­ri­ble truth is that I, and likely most other play­ers, have be­come in­vet­er­ated. We’re sticks in the mud, and we need a kick up the back­side. The first time I skimmed through the ar­ti­cle, I felt dis­dain, rant­ing in my mind: ‘These mil­len­nial beat­niks are wasting their time – go play some Su­per

Metroid.’ But read­ing it thor­oughly, tak­ing in its op­ti­mism and glee, I felt a sense of ex­cite­ment about the medium I hadn’t felt for a while. The fu­ture of in­ter­ac­tive en­ter­tain­ment? Only time will tell. But for now, this is the kind of thing I should be read­ing about, even if in­volves those silly fid­get spin­ners. Robert Au­gust de Mei­jer

Yes, we’re sorry about the fid­get spin­ners. What quick­ened our pulse about the peo­ple in Push­ing But­tons was that, un­like a Kinect or Wii Re­mote, they’re noth­ing to do with busi­ness ob­jec­tives, but the sim­ple fun of it.

Ev­ery­thing flows

Ear­lier in Jan­uary, Sony qui­etly an­nounced its en­try into the fig­urine mar­ket with the To­taku se­ries, and the In­ter­net quickly con­demned these mod­els for lack­ing any form of in-game func­tion­al­ity like their toysto-life peers. How­ever, this is the same In­ter­net that is up in arms over Ami­ibo lock­ing con­tent be­hind scarce and ex­pen­sive NFC chips, so Sony never re­ally stood a chance. In my opin­ion, this pos­tur­ing over gam­ing fig­urines (which is one sen­tence I never thought I’d type) has noth­ing to do with ac­tual func­tion­al­ity, and en­tirely to do with the av­er­age gamer’s in­ter­nal con­flict on spend­ing ex­tor­tion­ate amounts of money on, es­sen­tially, toys. Don’t get me wrong – things such as Metroid: Sa­mus Re­turns lock­ing a harder dif­fi­culty mode be­hind an Ami­ibo was par­tic­u­larly crafty, es­pe­cially to­wards long-time fans of the se­ries.

How­ever, like the hyp­ocrite I am, I didn’t even end up tak­ing time to un­lock the Fu­sion dif­fi­culty set­ting when I was lucky enough to ac­quire the fig­urine. In­stead, I found far more sat­is­fac­tion in plac­ing Baby Metroid proudly on my Ami­ibo shelf, the re­sult of a ter­ri­fy­ing, clan­des­tine in­ter-species re­la­tion­ship be­tween Wed­ding Bowser and Link. Ul­ti­mately, NFC chip or not, the only sig­nif­i­cant con­tent that these fig­urines hide from us are the games we could have bought in their place. Un­til I can see Hei­hachi and Ganon­dorf square off on the Switch, I’m happy with this com­pro­mise. Rob Fun­nell

If your point is that the In­ter­net is a ter­ri­ble place then yes, wel­come to the party. Print’s pretty great though, isn’t it?

Mel­low doubt

There has been a lot of hand-wring­ing over the wel­fare of the an­i­mals in Mon­ster

Hunter: World. Play­ers hunt gi­gan­tic lizards mer­ci­lessly for their scales, meat, bones and what­ever else they can carve off. Some peo­ple may think this is asi­nine in an in­dus­try where vi­o­lence is usu­ally the rule rather than the ex­cep­tion. I would say that we are not ques­tion­ing vi­o­lence in gam­ing enough.

Of course, game­play needs to be en­gag­ing, chal­leng­ing and fun, and usu­ally that will be a re­sult of fac­ing off against a con­flict. Of­ten, there is a sus­pen­sion of guilt. The en­e­mies be­ing shot to pieces are the bad guys, and they are meant to be killed. Maybe they are mind­less zombies. Maybe they are tow­er­ing beasts. Their pur­pose is to ex­pire.

When these en­e­mies are given some per­son­al­ity and char­ac­ter, eth­i­cal ques­tions can be brought to the fore­front in a way that’s far more im­pact­ful. Games like Spec

Ops: The Line and Shadow Of The Colossus man­age to wield this in a way that ben­e­fits the story far more than a sim­ple quest to kill all of the dudes.

It’s prob­a­ble that the moral dilemma pre­sented by MH:W is a by-prod­uct that is en­tirely ac­ci­den­tal, but it is also rel­e­vant. At what point do we start car­ing about what we’re asked to do? Should we care at all? Matt Ed­wards

Not when you can make such pretty clothes out of them, no, sorry. En­joy your new PS Plus sub, and let us know if you’re up for farm­ing up an HR Radobaan set.

Is­sue 316

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