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.
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.
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.
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?
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.