Games Inbox: Falling out of love with gaming, Mario vs. Zelda, and EA’s bad year

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Games Inbox: Do you play video games less than you used to?
Super Mario Odyssey – have you lost your video game mojo?

The morning Inbox has more advice on the ideal games for young children, as one reader gives his views on HTC Vive VR.

To join in with the discussions yourself email [email protected]

Fan in theory

It struck me recently that I don’t actually play games all that much anymore, despite retaining a keen interest in the industry and its associated culture. Whilst familial and work based commitments, allied to… erm… advancing years… have undoubtedly contributed to this dynamic, I feel there are other significant factors at play.

Of course, I still eagerly anticipate certain releases, though I’m certainly more particular about what I choose to invest my relatively limited leisure time in these days (Super Mario Odyssey Xmas sessions abound!). In truth, I think I’m now more in love with the idea of video games and the potential that the medium has always promised, allied to what they mean to me on a personal level, them having been such a prominent part of my life for so long.

The joy of playing, however, that instinctive, wonderful connection to a title that really resonates, has slowly eroded over time. Gaming has, in a strange kind of way, outgrew me, something I can’t help feeling somewhat sad about.

Any other readers experienced similar feelings? Even, dare I ask, GC? Apologies for the somewhat downbeat tone of the subject matter!
Mark Fitz

GC: If we had our job would be a horrible chore, which it’s not.

A bad year

This really has been a bizarre year for gaming. From a new golden age in the first half to the apocalyptic terror of loot boxes and the death of single-player. Hopefully those last two are exaggerated a bit, but I realised going back through the releases is what a terrible year EA has had. Mass Effect: Andromeda was a laughing stock, Need For Speed Payback was ignored, and Star Wars: Battlefront II has turned into the frontline of the war against microtransactions.

Obviously FIFA will keep them going forever, and I assume Battlefront II will still sell because it’s Star Wars. But it’s a good job they didn’t try all this with a Battlefield game because I don’t think it would’ve survived the backlash nearly as well.

It’s been noted before that EA go through these weird cycles of being corporate monsters and actually putting out some decent games. I though this year would be one of their ‘good’ years but it’s not turned out that way. Let’s hope Anthem, the new Battlefield, and Respawn’s Star Wars game can get them back on track.

Close but no cigar

So I think I am two thirds of the way through Super Mario Odyssey and think it is a great game, and plays a lot more like Super Mario 64 and Sunshine. However, a few things don’t sit right with me. Some parts of New Donk City were wonderful but the human characters look like models from the Dreamcast era and feel out of place.

The actual world and level designs are great, and reward you for exploration at every point. But some of the character art and mish mash of styles does feel like it has been jumbled together. So far it is 9/10 for me and not as good as Super Mario Galaxy 2.

My contender for game of the year is still Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. There is so much attention to detail throughout the world, whether it is scenery, character design, or level design. Add in the weather effects and organic way the world feels is mesmerizing, and this was a game that could have been on Wii U only.

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

Child friendly

I own a Switch and my five-year-old girl loves Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Mario Kart 8. Your comment on it maybe being beyond a five-year-old is a bit ageist. She knows what to do on Zelda but in typical five-year-old manner she loves riding horses, catching new horses, and naming them at stables.

She knows how to fight guardians after I taught her how to deflect the beam. She also loves to take pictures and videos on the games so my poor SD card is getting lots of her playing my games. Since Mario has come out she is hooked on that now though, and Zelda hasn’t had a look in. Good on her, she has got to the Luncheon Kingdom all by herself.
woz 007 (gamertag)/woz_007 (NN ID)

Four Doctors ago

I have been a Doctor Who fan as well as a gamer, and despite there being some Doctor Who games there has yet to be a new Doctor Who video game featuring two specific characters. One is a specific version of the doctor played by Christopher Eccleston and the other Rose Tyler, played by Billie Piper.

Would anyone welcome a new Doctor Who game featuring these actors if it was an open world game and was developed by an award-winning developer and who would be willing to join forces with the BBC to ensure an impressive game?

This has never been done so far and would be interesting to see if both the above-mentioned cast members would do voiceovers. It would also be a unique title with specific characters in the video game series.
gaz be rotten (gamertag)

GC: Christopher Eccleston wouldn’t come back for the 50th anniversary, he’s hardly likely to come back for a video game. His character was in a Lego Dimensions level pack though.

Never again

I wrote into GC last year when my PlayStation VR went missing and Amazon accused me of stealing it.

I had to contact the police and report it as stolen before Amazon would send a replacement. Given how the Metropolitan Police are no longer concerned with theft, as it is often a waste of police time (my PlayStation VR being an obvious example), I am not sure what will happen if Amazon take this hardline approach again.

I have not bought anything from Amazon since the PlayStation VR incident and given that they were the only online store I was using, this means I have not bought anything online (except digital games from PSN/Nintendo eShop) in a year.

Perhaps if Amazon paid their drivers fairly they would not resort to stealing.

Day in the life

In response to those writing in to complain about weird delivery practices from Amazon, I thought this article might be of interest. Drivers are basically under loads of pressure and have unreasonable schedules.

Obviously they still shouldn’t be taking shortcuts like abandoning parcels with the downstairs neighbour, but I do understand why they just focus on offloading deliveries where they can.
Michael622632 (PSN ID)

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

The truth about reality

I just thought I’d write in about my experiences concerning VR.

I’ve had my HTC Vive for about a year now, and think it is absolutely fantastic. For those who say that VR isn’t ‘there yet’, I really have to disagree. While you don’t get console quality graphics (largely due to the resolution of the headsets) I have never found this to be an issue. Much like normal games, VR games are not made or broken by their graphics, but their mechanics.

A VR game with immersive gameplay makes you forget about any visual fidelity and, quite often, the graphically simpler games that focus purely on interactivity are the best. Mechanically, the Vive at least is impressively immersive due to its fantastically seamless head/room tracking and controllers.

A common criticism is that it is lacking in games, and compared to consoles at least, this is true. But there are many, many excellent VR games out there (and a lot of bad ones too – such is Steam!) and some impressive big budget ones too. One caveat I will mention is that there are few expansive, story-driven titles (though there are some!). But this is understandable I think, given how new this generation of VR is.

For those on the fence, I would urge you to try it out. I tried it for the first time at a PC World, but I see that GAME is also now doing demos. It is expensive, but given how much money I’ve seen people talk about spending on the Xbox One X and 4K televisions, or just games in general, it’s not an incomparable amount. I got mine second-hand from eBay for a very reasonable price. Nowadays, the minimum PC specs also won’t cost as much as you’d think.

Basically, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, and don’t be put off by bad experiences with lower budget alternatives!

Keep up the good work.
Now playing: Super Mario Odyssey (Switch), Call Of The Starseed: Episode 2 (Vive)

Inbox also-rans

I noticed in the Underbox they thought there was a conspiracy going on, as GC named me Anon – which I’m not and have noticed Anon writes into GC a lot. So this got me thinking is Anon short for anonymous, if you don’t leave a name in the Unbox? Perhaps GC could shed some light on this mystery? Also, to Jon Edwards you’re welcome and happy you got your Xbox One X.

GC: Yes, it’s the standard name used when people don’t give one of their own. Which… you still haven’t done.

Battlefront II is an awful Star Trek game, how much do I have to pay to unlock the Enterprise? And why do the phasers look so weird?

This week’s Hot Topic

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was inspired by reader Truk_Kurt (PSN ID), who asks what’s your favourite game that nobody else ever seems to talk about?

What game do you really love but which nobody else seems to have heard of, or unfairly dismisses? Was the game financially successful and what kind of reviews did it get? Does your opinion go against the majority or is it just because the game is really obscure?

Did the game ever get a sequel and what is the status of the franchise today? If it could be remade how would you want it to be handled, and what if anything would you change?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
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