Games Inbox: What was your first Nintendo console?
The morning Inbox asks if Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is already game of the year, as one reader gets excited about David Wise’s next game.
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I see there’s still a steady trickle of letters coming in from people having just bought a Switch and being very impressed by it, and I’d like to add to that. The thing is I’ve never actually owned a Nintendo console before. I’ve played their games before, of course, but only ever on friends’ and so that’s mostly been limited to Mario Kart and other multiplayer games.
But I got a raise recently and thought I’d get a Switch for both indie games on the commute in and to sample Nintendo’s single-player games, particularly Super Mario Odyssey and Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. I’ve only had it a week, so have only really glanced at Mario, but I have to say that Breath Of The Wild has been very impressive.
At first it took a while to adjust to the lower tech graphics but the atmosphere is still very impressive and the scale is amazing for such a modestly powered console. The use of physics and the ability to experiment with the different tools is very impressive. I’m finding the combat a bit basic but exploring and climbing has been great. Importantly it’s not like any other game that I’ve got access to, which makes it seem worth it.
I wouldn’t say I feel I’ve been missing out all this time but I can see why people have praised the game and the console.
I really don’t understand why anyone is surprised that Days Gone has done well. It’s an open world PlayStation 4 exclusive with zombies in it. That simple, one sentence description is probably the only thing that was needed to greenlight and as long as it wasn’t completely terrible there was almost no chance it was going to fail next to Mortal Kombat 1032.
What does surprise me is some of the hyperbolic 3/10 scores we’ve seen, which make no sense to me in a world where games like Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed are routinely given a pass. Why everyone would suddenly turn on Days Gone for being exactly the same sort of unambitious but competent game I don’t know. Although as ever it seems to be the UK reviews that are the more sensible and considered.
GC clearly didn’t hate the game, they were just a bit bored and confused by it, which seems to have been the case with Eurogamer as well. There’s nothing surprising here but that’s exactly why it’s successful. Sometimes it’s good to just indulge in something familiar and welcoming, like a fast food burger or a silly soap. Wanting to risk £50 on some avant-garde uncertainty is something only more dedicated gamers will do.
Game of the half year
The other thing about it being E3 soon is that we’re getting well on the way for halfway through the year, especially as there’s not much out in the next few weeks. It makes me wonder whether we’ve seen anything so far that will end up being game of the year?
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice seems like the runaway leader at the moment and I would be very surprised if that’s not in the top three for most people by the end of the year. Other contenders would be Resident Evil 2 and Apex Legends, I guess? Apex Legends was getting a lot of notice early on but I already hardly hear anyone talking about it so I don’t know if it’ll have just faded away by the end of the year.
A lot of sites didn’t review it properly and I imagined at the time they’d be going back to do it later, but now I’m not sure it’ll be deemed worth it. I always hope the best is yet to come but I’m not sure what else this year is really a contender. I’d like to think it’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order or Shenmue III but, well, I’m not sure I’m really that optimistic.
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Haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere else before but came across this new game by a bunch of N64 era Rare developers called Tamarin. It’s a 3D platformer that looks very kind of Banjo-Kazooie and apparently it’s kind of a Metroidvania as well. Trailer is a bit underwhelming given all that but the best news, as far as I’m concerned, is that David Wise is doing the soundtrack.
That’s enough for me to put my money down straight away, which is odd because I don’t think I’d do that for a game based on who was actually making it (maybe Shigeru Miyamoto, I guess, but it’s not really clear he works on anything very much nowadays).
For those that don’t know David Wise did all the best music for Rare back in their Nintendo’s days and also worked on the more recent Donkey Kong Country games, Yooka-Laylee, and Snake Pass. He is, in my opinion, the best composer to ever work in gaming and I’m glad he’s having a bit of a comeback at the moment!
After the snap
My theory is that Marvel are going to properly embrace games with the next saga. After Infinity Ward and Endgame next year looks pretty quiet for new films, with Black Widow and Eternals the only ones likely to come out and even they might be delayed (I think, it all seems a bit up in the air from what I can tell).
My point is I think they’ll be building things up slowly again for whatever the new threat is and that is the perfect time for games to come in at the ground level and just kind of pretend the last 11 years didn’t happen.
There is a Marvel games division, they just have to, you know, actually do something. My only hope is that they’re not all Sony exclusives. I have a PlayStation 4 and will probably get a PlayStation 5 and even I think it’d be unfair to keep a licence that big to just one format.
Exception to the rule
For the longest time now I’ve espoused the belief that boss battles were becoming a lost art in gaming, outside of Japanese developers and a select few Western devs. But the stark sophistication and creativity in Cuphead’s bosses is extremely encouraging, almost as if the spirit of Treasure’s mastery of the genre had blessed MDHR’s exemplary work.
This visually arresting, staunchly old school game virtually feels like a spiritual successor to boss rush royalty, Alien Soldier. I’ve been consistently astonished with how artistically and mechanically phenomenal the boss design here is. The fact that this is the developer’s first game is flabbergasting!
GC: In general, Western developers have never been very good at boss battles. That hasn’t really changed over the years, even though there are always exceptions.
I can barely believe what I’m reading lately, Red Dead Redemption II is too long, too long!? These games are 50 odd quid a pop and for that price they should be!
And then to top it all off a reader thinks that Half-Life 2 is a ‘badly made game’. Well, I’ve heard it all now, I really have!
GC: What would you consider too long? Would you be happy if Red Dead Redemption II’s story (never mind the rest of it) took 200 hours to get through? Most people don’t have that sort of time spare.
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Yeah, I bought Mortal Kombat 11. Because, of course I did – it was foretold long ago by the ancient gods! Nah, I’m just a sucker for this genre.
While probably slightly better than Mortal Kombat X, it’s true you’re not missing much if you have that and are more than happy with it. You can always see the fatalities on YouTube if you are so inclined.
I do love the Krypt, though. It was a better shame that you didn’t have space to talk about it, GC as it’s very clear what sort of game NetherRealm would like to do next. And I can imagine them doing a good job.
So, by all means boycott the game if the crunch abuses and grindy nature of the Towers of Time put you off – but what would be better is writing in to places like this and leaving comments on other social media and causing a stink. NetherRealm won’t like hearing it but hear it they will. Mortal Kombat 11 is great, but nothing is worth abusing your staff over, especially the lower tier staff who have no other financial security.
It does make you think retrospectively, doesn’t it? What was it like to work for Nintendo when they did The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, Majora’s Mask, or Super Mario 64? Were people close to breaking or outright broken working on Dark Souls? Or Resident Evil 4? These are not happy thoughts.
On the brighter side, I also really love the new villain in Mortal Kombat: Kronica. As I was a child of the 1980s it always makes me think of a very old Konica advert. They made cameras, boys and girls.
GC: Those are all Japanese developers, where the general work culture is already very different to the West.
The one example of a relatively serious, modern-day game using supernatural zombies that I can think of is Zombi U. The Zombi(e)s there were all the result of an ancient curse.
Sorry, another question about Dragon’s Dogma… I like both the games it’s inspired by, but find Dark Souls too hard and Skyrim too big and too role-playing game heavy. Does Dragon’s Dogma act as a lighter-weight version of them both?
GC: A bit, but it’s neither easy nor small. But you seem desperate for us to say you should play it so why not buy the physical version and then you can sell it later if you don’t like it? Or pick up an older version for another format – they must be extremely cheap by now, given their age.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Purple Ranger, who asks what is the best PlayStation exclusive ever?
With Days Gone receiving mixed reviews but strong sales we want to know what you think is the best exclusive released on any PlayStation console, from 1 to 4 and including the portables. Anything is eligible as long as it was a PlayStation console exclusive – it doesn’t matter if Sony themselves published it or not.
Why do you like the game so much and do you feel it was important to the success of the host console? Did it make any special use of the console’s unique features and how did it compare to other exclusives of the same period? (We’ll be running similar Hot Topics on Microsoft and Nintendo games in the future.)
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The small print
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