The Monday letters page continues its speculation on Nintendo’s software and hardware plans, as one reader reviews God Of War Ragnarök.
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As we all await the release of Tears Of The Kingdom I’ve seen many arguments about which is the worst Zelda game so far. Predictably, there seems to be no agreement but it’s clear that the main contenders are the following: The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword.
This ignores spin-offs and Zelda 2, but given that would you agree that this is the correct shortlist, and which would you pick as the ‘winner’? I would argue for The Wind Waker because, despite the amazing graphics, it’s a very empty feeling game, with a boring open world and almost nothing of interest to do outside of the dungeons.
Skyward Sword suffers similar problems, whereas the main issue with Twilight Princess is how it’s just a bad copy of Ocarina Of Time. It’s ironic though that these are the three games that get re-released the most – since they were on relatively modern hardware – and yet the true classics are getting harder to appreciate without a new remaster.
I wonder if we went back to the Inbox last January, and the January before and maybe before that, if we’d have the same letters about Nintendo’s sparse line up for the year.
From what I remember, and I concede my memory may be fuzzy, for the last few years now Nintendo have had mostly blank release schedules until a January/February Direct that details the first half of the year, then a mid-summer not-E3 one for the remainder with surprise unveilings dotted between.
I’m not particularly concerned we’ve heard little about what’s coming because we’ve been here before. Whether they announce games people want is another matter of course.
GC: We don’t think anyone’s concerned so much as curious, given the uncertainty surrounding Nintendo’s future console plans and the fact that most of their major franchises have already been on the Switch once or twice by now.
I’ve been listening to and reading about Hi-Fi Rush’s development. I thought maybe the subscription model of Game Pass had given the framework for a side project but that’s not the case as the games director, John Johanas, said the game was pitched by him in 2017, well before the Bethesda buyout.
Its greenlighting comes from a desire for the studio not to be known just as the horror studio, as explained by Tango Gameworks founder and executive prouder Shinji Mikami (director on Resident Evil 1 and 4, Resident Evil 4, Dino Crisis, God Hand, and Vanquish) in a Famitsu interview. He alluded to Hi-Fi Rush in the interview:
‘Of course, it’s nice to have fans think of us as a studio with a reputation for developing survival horror games. But we also want to be viewed as a studio that can create a wider variety of games. We will be releasing more and more new games in the future, starting with Ghostwire: Tokyo, so please give us your support.
John Johanas, who directed the DLC for The Evil Within and The Evil Within 2, is working on a completely new title that is the complete opposite of horror,’ he told Famitsu. ‘It’s a really good game, so keep your eyes peeled.’
Also, the shadow drop was credited as Bethesda’s idea in a tweet from Phil Spenser, although he did say Game Pass made that easy to do but it wouldn’t be right for most games. It seems this time Microsoft’s not unfairly questioned hands-off approach worked out in their favour. The reaction so far is very positive, and the shadow drop seems to have added generally to the already feel good nature of the game. GG’s all round to the folks at Tango Gameworks.
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Best laid plans
Lot of talk about a Switch successor.
To my mind, the current Switch is perfectly fine as a handheld. But on a big 4K TV you can see it’s lacking compared to 4K consoles.
One thought I had a while back, why don’t Nintendo release some sort of ‘Pro’ 4K dock?
Not just a boring one that has an ethernet port (OLED) but something with some processing power in it.
And built-in storage, maybe, for some 4K texture packs would be cool.
Some of the tech that was mentioned before in the Inbox could make this work.
GC: Ideas similar to that have been rumoured for years, alongside general Switch Pro talk. Thanks to the pandemic it now looks like none of it will happen.
The Day Before Us
I was interested to read the story regarding delays to The Day Before on the grounds of trademark disputes. The first time I saw a trailer for this I was sure I was looking at footage from Naughty Dog’s Factions. The similarity in the style, setting and movement to The Last Of Us was clear. Even the font on the poster/thumbnail is the same.
Maybe there’s been a lot of chat about this (I hadn’t heard any myself) but it makes you wonder if this was all done deliberately to generate interest. These decisions are surely not made in a vacuum. If this does launch around the same time as Factions, then the developers behind Day Before are in for a rough ride I think.
GC: We think it’s safe to say it wasn’t a coincidence.
Moments in time
Looking around the net, one sees much online GoldenEye 007 bashing. It’s sad but familiar, I think. Loads of folks banging on about the odd glitch, the controls, quality of graphics, etc. To me it’s a modern mentality, it’s like moaning The Sun sessions are in mono, like The Bride Of Frankenstein isn’t in widescreen, Amazing Fantasy 15 is very simplistic in its storytelling, The Celtic team of 1967 were slow in the build-up, Zelda: A Link To The Past isn’t free world or 3D, etc.
They are what they are and products of their time and undeniably classic. Some folks can get beyond such and appreciate them for what they are, others clearly must have all modern features to enjoy something. Me, I like it! I appreciate the relative simplicity.
I’ll admit though I prefer the more straightforward nature of older games. Today’s stuff I feel has become too much, it feels unfocused many times. Developers over the multi-year development don’t take risks much, don’t or can’t make full use of the hardware.
In the old days developers had to push machines to their limits to achieve something. Rambling now, I’m happy GoldenEye is here, hope it stays as my Rare Replay is a disc; I don’t think I can actually get my own copy? Here’s hoping Rainbow Islands and Speedball 2 get similar treatment soon. Oh, and a N64 controller for the Xbox.
GC: You’ll need more than hope for an official N64 controller on Xbox.
I wrote in recently to posit the idea that this generation of gaming is already the worst ever. You politely disagreed and used the example of Elden Ring and the new Sonic game as evidence to the contrary. I understand Elden Ring is a good example of excellence even if it’s not really a game for me. Sonic is sitting on my computer, basically unplayed after the first few hours of which I found deeply uninteresting. But I get that ideas of quality are deeply subjective in general.
I think the sentiment of my initial message is that everything just feels so ‘meh’ to me these days. I’ve seen people begin to attach themselves as fanboys to mega corporations and ‘intellectual properties’ and I honestly can’t think of anything more depressing.
There’s so little out there that seems interesting especially in the triple AAA sphere. These are bad times for culture. I stumbled across this article recently which I think sums up what’s going much more beautifully than I can.
GC: Are you sure it’s video games that are the root of your malaise? Last year was very good for games of all budget sizes and January isn’t even over and we’ve already had A Space For The Unbound, Fire Emblem Engage, One Piece Odyssey, Dead Space, and Hi Fi Rush – all of which have impressed us.
For fans of Llamasoft, they have a free or donation basis download of their Windows game Gridrunner++.
It’s very much in the Tempest and TxK family and can be downloaded from here. At the same page you can also download an Android version of the game, and some other Android games that aren’t available elsewhere.
GC: Gridrunner is Jeff Minter’s take on Centipede.
I finally finished God Of War Ragnarök the other day and for the most part I enjoyed my time spent with the game, having finished the main quest and a few of the optional side quests.
The game looks great, especially as I was playing the PlayStation 5 version. I wasn’t sure how much it differed from the 2018 God Of War but actually, afterwards, I did boot this up and play for a half an hour or so and there is a noticeable difference between the two, not only in terms of graphics but the menus and map and interface is clearer and easier to navigate.
I also think that Kratos’s combat is somewhat improved and more enjoyable in the new game. Again, I didn’t realise the difference until dipping back into the last game. I don’t want to give anything away to those who haven’t played the game, but it’s not just new skills that make combat more varied.
I did however prefer the more streamlined story in the first game. Although I did still enjoy the story in Ragnarök, I found that towards the end they seems to be so many new characters and plot threads that I struggled to keep track of who was who and why each thing or person was important.
I also found the game to be a bit bloated and long. Going into it, I wanted to experience everything including all the side content but by the end I just wanted it to finish and now I just don’t have the appetite to continue. That’s a shame because at times I find the side content to be a bit more varied in terms of gameplay, as it incorporates more exploration and puzzle-solving, whereas the main game can be a bit repetitive and more focused on combat.
This is a common complaint I have of most modern games. I intend to do the side quests, as they usually have a bit more variation and are a bit quirkier, but usually I find the last few hours of these massive games such as slog that I just want to be done with it and then can’t be bothered to go back to do any side missions. I wish they’d either make the main campaigns shorter or that they’d incorporate a bit more variety into the main missions.
Despite this I definitely enjoyed Ragnarök. I’m just not sure it has the same impact as the first game overall.
Thanks for replies RE: playing GameCube on a modern TV. Seems using Wii to play GameCube games might be a better/cheaper option. Can anyone advise how they do this? TV is Hisense 43″ 4K with just a single AV-in socket. If a HDMI convertor, which one for best picture quality?
Where can I play Black Kat Pirate? I would love to play it again.
GC: Pirates: The Legend Of Black Kat isn’t backwards compatible so it seems your only option is to get hold of a copy and a PlayStation 2 or original Xbox. Or hope that EA decides to remaster it, which doesn’t seem very likely.
This week’s Hot Topic
This weekend’s Inbox will announce the results of the 2022 Reader’s Top 20 of the Year. As usual, you’ve got all week to get in your votes, before we tally them all up for the final reveal.
There are no restrictions on what you can vote for, other than that they must have been released new in the UK during 2022. Otherwise, just let us know your top three favourites of the year and ideally send us some explanation for why you liked them.
What did you think of 2022 in general and how do you think it compares to other recent years in gaming? Also, which publishers and consoles do you feel had the best 12 months?
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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 and content.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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