The Thursday Inbox is not happy with Platinum Games’ attempt at an April Fool, as one reader asks for PS4 Metroidvania recommendations.
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So, I hate to say it but the years is now one quarter done. I know, right? I think it’s safe to say that at this point it’s probably not going to go down as a classic year for gaming, or anything probably. But we have had some good games in the last couple of weeks, so at the 25% mark I’ve got to ask what is the best game of 2020?
As far as I can see the main contenders are Persona 5 Royal (not really a new game, but I think it counts), Half-Life: Alyx, Doom Eternal, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Nioh 2, and Ori And The Will Of The Wisps. Now I haven’t played all of these (I’d be surprised if even 5% of readers had played Half-Life: Alyx) but for me it’s between Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing.
Of those two, personally I’ve only played Doom Eternal and I really enjoyed. But even I have to admit that Animal Crossing seems to be the bigger game, it really seems to have caught the imagination of people more than anything else I’ve seen for a long time. It obviously suits self-isolation, especially because it’s cheerful and non-violent, so plenty of non-gamers are playing it too.
Kudos to Nintendo, I say. I don’t understand why more companies don’t try to make non-violent games. It’s basically a thing only Nintendo do and from a basic business point of view that seems like a mistake. Personally I’d still rather play Doom but a good game is a good game, especially if it’s doing something differently.
So not only is E3 cancelled but the thing that was meant to replace it, at least from Bethesda, is also cancellation? What a classic this year is turning out to be! It felt like the games industry was trying to tear itself apart before the coronavirus ever started, now it feels like it’s just doing things at random. Final Fantasy 7 Remake coming out 10 days early, people leaking seemingly accurate Nintendo rumours, everybody saying as little as possible about what games they’re making… it’s cats and dogs living together all over again!
There’s a lot going wrong at once but I wonder whether the underlying problem is that companies aren’t ready for the next generation. It did really happen with the PlayStation 4 era but go back a generation from that and tons of developers, particularly in Japan, couldn’t handle the move to HD and a lot of games turned out bad or late and this smells to me like the same sort of thing.
So few games are coming out at the moment, or even getting announced, that it feels like the machinery is all jammed up. Companies don’t know when the next gen console are coming out and they’re not sure when to switch to supporting them. That’s my theory anyway. There’s too much going wrong at the same time and I can’t believe that it’s a coincidence that it’s happening during the build up to the new consoles.
PS: I admit that doesn’t explain Nintendo, but whatever can?
So let me get this straight, PlatinumGames went to all the trouble of setting up a website and doing press for the ‘Platinum 4’ and it turned out to be a remaster of one of their lesser games, a new studio for making mobile games, an April Fool’s joke, and one genuine new game? That is not what I was hoping for when they first started hyping all this up.
The new studio was disappointing enough but they said they were saving the best till last, which turned out to be a non-joke about an old arcade shooter that I bet 99% of people have never even heard of. They should hire me to be their marketing guy, I’d do it for free lunch and access to their games room and I wouldn’t come up with anything as pointless and annoying as that.
On top of all this they’re not involved in the NieR remake. Project G. G. looks good but otherwise I do not think this has been a good couple of months for Platinum.
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Hi GC and my fellow readers. I hope you are all keeping safe and getting to enjoy some gaming time during a difficult time. Now that I’m home with the kids and trying to think of fun ways to kill time, I was hoping GC or any readers could advise on which is the best family friendly ten-pin bowling game on the Switch? Something akin to the old Wii Sports would be great.
Would there be any other fun party games/sports games for families to play that you can recommend (apart from Super Mario Party and Mario Kart 8, which we already own). My eldest is six, so would need to be something not too complex ideally.
Thanks in advance.
GC: We don’t remember bowling in any Switch game, but perhaps there’s something we’ve forgotten that a reader can recommend. There seem to be various bowling games if you search in the eShop, but they all look pretty low budget and we’ve never heard of any of them before. As for other games, Just Dance is usually popular with kids and non-gamers, or there’s things like Bubble Bobble 4 Friends and Overcooked. Animal Crossing: New Horizons also allows multiple people to live on the same island, although all but the first has to take a very reduced role.
VVVVLTRFTW. Isolation has given me an opportunity to actually get back into gaming after a long break. I have been using my housemate’s Xbox to play firstly Ori And The Blind Forest and currently playing Ori And The Will Of The Wisps. What brilliantly crafted games these are! I have mostly avoided this style of ‘Metroidvania’ game before.
My housemate is getting a little bit vexed at me using his Xbox, and I own a PlayStation 4 – can anyone give me any recommendations for Metroidvania games to help relieve isolation boredom?
GC: Most Metroidvanias are multiformat indie games, so there’s Hollow Knight, Dead Cells, Axiom Verge (the closest to the actual Metroid series), Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night (the closest to Castlevania), SteamWorld Dig 2, Guacamelee, and Owlboy. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the only recent big budget example of the genre.
RE: drlowdon on game difficulty. Much as I adore the Dark Souls games, I do feel that when it comes to game difficulty there is one point that should be considered: difficulty is completely subjective.
The design decisions in the Souls games are in part what makes it difficult, but to take the example you made that, ‘The mechanic of having to collect your souls after dying also wouldn’t work if you didn’t ever actually die!’ How often each player dies is unique to that player. Some players can get through the game without ever actually dying, so don’t make use of that mechanic.
I also feel, especially in multiplayer games, the idea of rewarding good players with more powerful items and letting the worse players suffer is somewhat backwards (though directly inverting it would also be a terrible idea).
Though it would be difficult to do, dynamic difficulty would be the best option, like that seen in Resident Evil 4 (see Game Maker’s Toolkit), that way ‘lesser’ players and ‘good’ players would both have a challenge that they can overcome and enjoy.
GC: Those stories of people beating Dark Souls without dying are only after a huge amount of practice. We don’t think anyone would describe the games as anything other than difficult.
I will say this for Ubisoft they don’t give up on a game and they almost always manage to turn them around. I would’ve said that Ghost Recon Breakpoint was unsalvageable and I’m certain no other company would’ve bothered to try and fix it but sounds like Ubi actually put in the effort.
I don’t know if they’re going to get much out of doing that, considering how cheap the game is now, but I’ll probably give it a go at £15. It also makes me more confident about buying their other games in the future.
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RE: Obakasama and his letter about bad games that you actually enjoyed. This is true of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (which I think GC gave 2/10).
I’m not sure if I was blinded by complete faith to the TV show (back when it was still good and at the height of its popularity) but I actually really enjoyed the game. Putting you in the shoes of my favourite character, Daryl, using his infamous crossbow to kill walkers was perfect for placing you in the world and scoring headshots rarely left me without a smile on my face.
There was also a bit of depth to the game, where you could pick up survivors on your travels and recruit them to your group (they joined your RV). They then became available to send on scouting runs and, dependent on their skills and current inventory, had a chance of success for their missions. Whilst I never became attached to any of the characters, it did feel strange sending someone to their inevitable doom and helped build out the world.
Overall, the game was entirely forgettable, but at the time (probably due to the rose-tinted glasses) I remember being completely absorbed in its campaign.
CapoCurious (PSN ID)
Gone Home and Hob are free on PC on Epic Games Store from today for the next week.
Considering these fretful times, do you think that Pac-Man can get Pac-Man fever?
This week’s Hot Topic
The question for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Onibee, who asks what do you think, and hope, Nintendo’s next games will be for the Switch?
It’s now six months since they had a general topic Nintendo Direct and there are currently no major new Switch games scheduled for the whole year, so what do you think is going on? Although the coronavirus is exacerbating the situation Nintendo’s secrecy started last year, so why do you think that is?
What new games do you expect to see come out next and what surprises are you hoping for once they are finally announced? What do you think the secrecy is in aid of and what do you think Nintendo should do in order to try and counter the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X?
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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.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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