The Thursday letters page celebrates the return of Gunstar Heroes maker Treasure, as one reader asks about gaming merch for a one-year-old.
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So another rumour/leak has proved to be 100% correct, in this case the one about the God Of War Ragnarök release date and how it was just a blog post and some ads for the collector’s editions. I know GC just pick the reliable ones, but it seems that every rumour always comes true (unless it involves Nintendo) and we never get any surprises anymore.
Although one thing the leak didn’t really get across was just how underwhelming the announcement would be. It’s not so much the lack of effort from Sony at the moment, but the complete disinterest they have in talking about anything. Where’s the enthusiasm? The showmanship?
OK, so you don’t want to show any new gameplay but couldn’t someone on the team write a proper blog with some explanation of what the game’s about and what it’ll do differently? This one was so obviously written by a marketing person and seemed to have been knocked out to meet some minimum word count.
I’m sure the game will be great in the end but that’s what makes this all so weird. Aren’t Sony proud of the game? Don’t they want other people to be excited for it? I just don’t get their attitude at the moment. This reveal was a massive disappointment and I don’t understand why they didn’t at least promise a State of Play for it. There’s got to be one, right?
GC: It seems impossible that there won’t be one, given the others Sony has had this year. The question is when.
RE: Wendel. I 100% disagree that Elden Ring needs an easy mode. This was my first From game and I found the difficulty challenging but never impossibly hard. There are always so many options to help you: NPC summons, PvP summons, online guides, going away to level up/gear up.
Whilst I did some grinding I didn’t do too much and once I got to about 50 hours in and understood it all, and had a specific build I was aiming for (a fire Strength/Faith hybrid using Blasphemous Blade) and got the two best summons (Mimic Tear and Black Knife Tiche) it was actually fine.
The most difficult/annoying bits were those containing poisonous areas to get through, but even then I got some specific armour and potions to deal with that.
Basically, you need to use your head, your skills, and all available resources. The enemies themselves are not really all that hard at all once you have a clear strategy.
It’s a masterpiece as it is and changing the difficulty would be removing what makes it such a great experience.
Rubber band length
I’ve been playing F1 22 since release and with the recent talk about difficulty in the Inbox, I thought it would be good to highlight something that F1 22 does well and that is adaptive AI. You can set the AI to be adaptive on a slider all the way from 1 – 100, which I think is a great solution as anyone can have some fun with the game.
Along with the various assists you can switch on and off on everything from the racing line, braking assists, and even the car getting turned for you should you wish. I think they’ve done a great job with accessibility for all levels of player.
Now playing: F1 22 (Xbox Series X) and Kirby And The Forgotten Land (Switch)
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Intro to Nintendo
A close friend’s son is a year old soon and I wanted to get him something video game related or Nintendo related. Can anyone recommend any toys/plushies or video game/Nintendo related presents? I was going
to spend between £10 and £50 depending on what is suggested.
It’s for a boy 1 year and up, so I can’t buy the Mario Game & Watch for him, as that is for ages 3 and up!
PS: The free games on Epic Games Store today from 4pm are Ancient Enemy and Killing Floor 2. Ancient Enemy hasn’t been given away before by Epic but Killing Floor 2 has, as I already have it in my library from
when they gave it away before.
GC: At that age it can surely only be cuddly toys or baby clothes. Both exist, with a lot of Pokémon plushies in particular.
Regarding game difficulty, I like the idea of dynamic difficulty, or games that recognise that the player is struggling and offer the option to help. I feel like certain level-based games from Nintendo have done something similar since Super Mario 3D Land, where if you die a certain amount of times the game offers you an invincibility suit. Or Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze gives you the option to straight skip a level you’ve failed multiple times, beside multiple options to adjust your experience.
I just wonder how that would be applied to open worlds, or say, a rougelike/Metroidvania (especially without purists being annoyed). Mostly I’m just baffled that people object to options. I don’t enjoy how FromSoft games play so I won’t waste my time on Elden Ring but, for example, if they released the game exactly as fans got it, but with optional difficulty adjusters, how is your experience changed? It’s a very strange hill to die on.
GC: Because if a way to make the game easier exists the temptation is going to be almost inescapable.
Any old video game
The argument that retro games are slowing the progress of big studio games is confusing. When we consider how long video games have been around, calling Skyrim ‘ancient’ is laughable. Although it is a 10+ year old game, it is hardly retro. Fallout 4 and Fallout 76 both played like Skyrim, too.
Bethesda has a formula, they’re not about to change it if they think it works. There’s a new Call Of Duty and Battlefield every year, and those franchises have made missteps despite their massive budgets and stagnant formula. The circus surrounding PS Plus Premium has less to do with retro gaming and more to do with Sony’s bonkers business practices. They have no love for the legacy they’ve left and it shows in their decisions.
I am genuinely surprised that PS Plus Premium has so few PlayStation 1 and 2 titles, given the huge selection available for sale during the PlayStation 3 era (additionally, there is a notable lack of PlayStation 3 titles with Premium). Many titles that have not been re-released digitally are stuffed away in Sony’s vault, such as Xenogears, Einhänder, and even their own first party role-playing game Legend Of Dragoon. All of those titles still play great and (depending on your taste in art) have aged fairly well.
I have a hard time believing that OG Xbox titles looked bad and played worse. I understand some games even from the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 era have not aged well. Assassin’s Creed 2 HD is so deep in the uncanny valley it is legitimately distracting. When outside of cut scenes though, the game plays as great as I remember, like wearing a tailored suit. If someone does not like retro gaming they are entitled to their opinion, but do not speak for everyone. Zelda: A Link To The Past and Super Metroid are huge in the speedrunning community, both vanilla and randomised. Zelda: Ocarina Of Time and Metroid Prime have also found new life with speedrunning and randomisers.
If retro gaming was such a waste of time, then SGDQ (Summer Games Done Quick) would not have featured those games to raise money $3 million for charity. Based on the original article, what the author seems to actually be unhappy with is the lack of innovation in triple-A titles. This is nothing new and hasn’t been for the last 35 years. When Super Mario Bros. was popular in 1985, developers at the time rushed to make the next Super Mario. When Sonic was popular in 1991, there was a rush of animal mascot games. When Devil May Cry reached popularity in 2001, everyone tried to make the next Devil May Cry.
When God Of War reached popularity in 2005, every game developer tried to make the next God Of War. When Dark Souls gained popularity in 2010, we see a whole new subgenre of Soulslikes. I agree that big studios are taking fewer risks because their projects are more expensive; it has nothing to do with retro gaming. If you want fresh new ideas, play indie titles. Carrion, CrossCode, and Anno Mutationem are all fantastic games with fresh takes on their genres.
Don’t like pixel art? There’s Battlechasers: Nightwar, Bloodstained, and Elite: Dangerous. No Man’s Sky may be a big mainstream game now, but it was made by a very small team. It is okay to not be interested in retro gaming. It is okay to hold AAA studios to a higher standard and demand more innovation in their expensive games. It is ridiculous however, to think old games are holding big companies back from new ideas.
GC: Not that it really matters, but if you assume the games industry started in 1972, with the release of Pong and the founding of Atari, that means Skyrim has been around for over a fifth of its entire lifespan. It’s definitely retro, as is any game more than two generations old.
Many deaths later
The new Cuphead DLC is excellent, especially for under £7. The new bosses are really imaginative, plus there is some hidden stuff amongst it too and I got a very solid eight hours entertainment completing it after many, many deaths.
I genuinely haven’t played a more infuriating yet absolutely brilliant game in the last 10 years at least.
GC: Are you familiar with FromSoftware?
Only mostly dead
It pleases me immensely that Treasure aren’t quite defunct and are planning a comeback after a concerning near decade long sabbatical. This developer has always been one of my favourites since their inception in 1993, with the sublime Gunstar Heroes on the Mega Drive.
In fact, one of primary reasons I bought an Xbox Series X was to play Radiant Silvergun and Guardian Heroes; which I inexplicably missed on the Xbox 360, and I never did own a Sega Saturn. Pleasingly, both have aged incredibly well and represent the absolute pinnacle of their respective genres, in my opinion.
I’d written in to the Inbox a few times rhapsodising how I feel Treasure consistently lived up to their name in the 90s and early noughties, and matched Nintendo in the creativity and purity of play departments.
For me they’ve always been synonymous with the best of video games, and kind of were indie in their game design ethos and small scale operations way before the term was commonly applied to the industry.
I’ve hankered for a totally new IP from the Japanese action gaming maestros for the longest time but would greatly welcome a HD remaster of Sin & Punishment: Successor To The Skies on the Switch, Radiant Silvergun on Switch and PlayStation consoles, and Mischief Makers on the expanded Switch online service.
Or even a Treasure Games Collection containing all the games they’ve made – yes even the McDonald’s licensed game, which had you adventuring as the unsettling clown. By most accounts I read it was a surprisingly pretty decent platformer too, in its day.
Most of all, I wish that Nintendo would just assimilate the developer into its rainbow-coloured umbrella of eclectic talent. Nintendo have bankrolled and published a few of their projects in the past and they’ve always seemed to have a robust relationship so I’d love a more permanent working arrangement between these two titans of riveting game design!
Sandopolis’ levels are filled with the best music of any Sonic game. The Egyptian beats and undulating bass menace with the ghosts is awesome. I’m glad Michael Jackson and his team didn’t have anything to do with those, otherwise I’d have been absolutely gutted.
Nick The Greek
Would the people that want easy mode be willing to pay for it? Not much, like a pound or so for a DLC outfit that gives you god mode. This way the rest of us still get the game we expect, and others can enjoy going through it a little more easily just taking in the sights and seeing all the game has to show.
GC: God mode is something completely different to an easy mode. Also, don’t give EA and Ubisoft any ideas.
This week’s Hot Topic
Since we’ve just passed the halfway mark of the year this weekend’s Inbox will act as a half-year report and ask what is your favourite game of 2022 so far?
It has to be a game released for the first time this year (here’s our top 10), so it can’t just be whatever you happened to have played from your backlog. Given that, which was your favourite and why?
What do you think of 2022 so far for games and how have you felt about the relative lack of new titles, and previews, recently? What are you most looking forward to in the second half of 2022 and how bothered are you by the smaller number of releases, compared to previous years?
E-mail your comments to: [email protected]
The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.
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