The Morning Inbox is more impressed by Animal Crossing: New Horizons than Pokémon Sword/Shield, as one reader highlights the new Haven trailer.
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I work at an after school club and parents sometimes seem worried if they come in and their son is sitting playing video games when they arrive (it is still mainly boys who seem interested but some girls do enjoy them) – I always have to reassure them that no he was out playing real football for most of the session, or whatever other activities the child’s been doing.
My experience of the children playing video games is very positive though, if it’s a rainy day and we set up a console we usually encourage them to play multiplayer (mainly so everyone gets a chance to play) so obviously that’s a social experience. But even when we get the handhelds out at the end of the day, when they come back in from playing outside, it seems very positive.
Even though they’re playing single-player games there’ll usually be a crowd around the child who’s playing and they’ll be chipping in with advice or just taking about what’s happening in the game, it’s like a real world Twitch!
Or there’ll be a couple sitting together playing different games but constantly telling each other about their in-game experiences and occasionally pausing their game to watch the other play.
Just thought I’d give my views on some of the more positive aspects of gaming.
Not brand new
Sorry to say I missed the Hot Topic about the best game of the year so far but I would say that the top two contenders, that were way ahead of the others, were Resident Evil 2 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Both of those were fantastic but I’d say otherwise it’s been a fairly ordinary year so far. Not bad, just ordinary.
The second half of the year obviously looks better but the only one I think has a chance of being a new all-time classic is Death Stranding. Although hopefully Borderlands 3, The Outer Worlds, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will be good too.
It feels like time for a new generation though, so I’m happy to move on.
PS: Is Resident Evil 2 not going to count in your Top 20 of 2019, GC? What about Final Fantasy VII Remake next year?
GC: Resident Evil 2 won’t count in our chart, because it’s a remake, but we will make sure it gets a special commendation. Final Fantasy VII Remake is going to be a tricky one though. Given the new combat system, new content, and new story elements we will probably count it as a new game, but it’s a difficult dividing line to define.
I come bearing good tidings in the form of the first gameplay trailer for Haven, the sophomore console/PC effort from The Game Bakers, the developer of Furi.
The game already looks absolutely stunning and bold in how it seemingly interweaves disparate genres. Just like how Furi’s symphony of bullet hell twin-stick shooter, hack and slasher, and introspective traversals was such a compelling proposition.
Judging by what I’ve seen already Haven looks like a dreamy amalgamation of Persona and Journey, with its emphasis on romance, companionship, and overcoming hardships within a role-playing game framework.
The aesthetics are pure Furi however. In fact, one suspects it may be set in the same Delphic universe.
It’s a fascinating premise for a game and definitely one to watch. Would you agree, GC?
PS: Once again I’d like to sing the lamentably underrated Furi’s praises. What it has to offer is elegant and exhilarating combat mechanics, great boss battles, striking art design, a thumping electronic soundtrack, and thought-provoking story themes of survival and self-determination. I can’t recommend this peculiar indie gem enough!
GC: The flying looks a bit silly but we like the art style.
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In response to the recent letters about juggling gaming and other life commitments I’d recommend giving careful thought to what you buy and the type of experience it is going to give you. I’ve got two children of my own, so am pretty time poor and tend to spend more time reading about games than actually playing them.
In the past (who am I kidding, I still do this) I fell into the trap of getting hyped up by great reviews and the buzz that follows a release, buying it, playing it for an hour or so and then drifting away. The investment of time some games request can be daunting. To me it’s a bit like trying to binge watch four series of a show your friends are going on and on about. You can do it but not if you’ve just come off of doing the same thing with another show.
I’ve found that if I’d mainlined a show (recently The Walking Dead) the last thing I’d want to do is leap into another long slog. So I’d put a film on. 90 minutes – characters introduced, drama occurs, and then they all go away. The same approach seems to work with games. After sinking lots of time into Marvel’s Spider-Man to get the platinum Trophy, I breezed through Gato Roboto in a handful of hours. The change in pace was refreshing and made me appreciate both games all the more.
As seen on TV
Netflix really is going all in on the video game shows, eh? I’m not even sure what to suggest given the completely random selection they’ve got. A Devil May Cry cartoon in the style of Castlevania I can see, but The Division? Who wants to see that, considering the story is probably the worst bit about the game?
I do wish something would happen with Nintendo though, either Netflix or movies. It seems like they talk about a Mario film every few years but nothing ever happens, but Zelda, Metroid, and F-Zero would all be much better ideas.
A CGI Zelda film with really good voice actors and everything would be amazing and I’m really surprised there’s been no hint of it yet.
GC: The guy behind Castlevania was hinting at it a year or so ago, but as you know nothing has coming of it yet.
As always, thanks for the extensive E3 coverage. I confess to greedily reading the Inbox, and your content in general, whenever I can but haven’t written in for a long time. Years in fact. So sorry for that.
I am a Shenmue III backer and have recently re-completed number II. I haven’t swallowed the delays as easily as others appear to have, in fact I was pretty gutted at the last one, but I am very pleased with how the third game is shaping up and I can’t wait to jump back in.
The confidence of the series continues to impress me. I remember the ending section of II somewhat frustrating me as a younger man, it’s a couple of hours long with very little to do aside from talk to your travelling companion and some light-hearted QTEs (till slipped into the river on more than one occasion!). However, this time round I found the whole section a nice palette cleanser for what had just happened in the city and what is still to come.
Very much looking forward to November and to seeing exactly how Yu Suzuki continues the story.
On a side note I really don’t get the outcry with regards to the Steam/Epic exclusivity. I regularly watch Angry Joe on YouTube and he was livid. I also crept a look on Twitter and some people were very upset, but I’m not sure where general disappointment stops nowadays and Internet outrage sets in. For me it will always be a console game, but for sure I’d have something to say if they changed my format choice from PlayStation to Xbox.
Happy summer to all, especially my fellow Shenmue fans who are eagerly awaiting the darker nights so we can finally guide pasty Ryo out of that cave he’s been stuck in for the last 20 years.
AWB-78 (PSN ID)
I too have a bad feeling about Pokémon Sword/Shield. I don’t like any of the new designs so far either and the whole open world area gimmick doesn’t seem to go nearly enough. If you’re being generous you could cut them a little slack because it’s their first time making what is essentially a home console game but this is easily my least anticipated Nintendo game at the moment.
I didn’t realise but there was actually a lot more footage of Animal Crossing: New Horizons at E3 than I realised and I have to say it looks really good, much more of an advance than Pokémon. And before anyone complains that it’s not a ‘real’ game I had a lot of fun playing the previous ones with my girlfriend and it made her a lot more tolerant of gaming in general.
Needless to say we’ll be getting this new one.
Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here
As a gamer who enjoys most things retro I just wanted to mention how well the Nintendo Switch is catering for us retro gamers. Unfortunately, these games all got a little lost during the E3 coverage, although GC has mentioned them briefly.
The Konami Contra Anniversary Collection is very good. A great selection of games offering arcade conversions, NES, SNES, and Mega Drive entries and one of my favourite Game Boy games in Operation C. Some might feel it’s a little padded out with both the SNES and Mega Drive PAL and NTSC versions of the same game included, albeit with slightly amended lead character graphics.
Konami have also just added the Japanese versions on this collection, as well as the Castlevania collection, via a free update. You could argue they could have included a couple of the PlayStation games but to be honest this is a strong selection of games as it stands and well worth the price. Another excellent set of conversions from M2. With this, as well as the Castlevania collection, it really does show how weak the first Arcade Classic’s Collection was, which I believe wasn’t handled by M2.
Virtua Racing arrived at the end of last month and this is a fantastic conversion. I never played the original arcade version but walked past an arcade most days on my lunch when I used to work in Leicester. I would find myself just standing and watching the amazing graphics. This is a bare bones arcade conversion, none of the extras found in any of the subsequent home conversions are here and I quite like that.
It kind of reminds me of when I first played Ridge Racer on the PS1, where it was all about learning the tracks and trying to beat your best time. A mirror mode would have been a nice extra, if anything, just to extend the playability a little more. There is also an option for up to eight players to play local multiplayer on one TV screen. I haven’t had chance to try this but sounds like fun in theory. Another great conversion and more than worth the £5.99 asking price.
Finally, a brief mention for Wonder Boy: Monster Land, I bought this for my Sega Master System many years ago and remember really enjoying it. I was fully expecting this to be an updated Master System version but it is actually the original arcade version. To be honest I have only played this briefly because I’ve been too busy playing the previously mentioned games but looking forward to returning to Monster Land soon.
Really can’t wait to see what classic Sega arcade games M2 will bring to the Switch in the future. Would love to see them release Turbo OutRun which was only released on the 3DS as part of the Sega Ages range in Japan.
GC: We should point out that the Konami collections are multiformat and not exclusive to Switch.
Well done to GC for being seemingly the only ones to point out that Stranger Things 3: The Game’s graphics are not of the era at all. They’re far too advanced and beyond what even a SNES could’ve managed a decade later than the show is set.
I’m totally fine with that cutesy Turok game as well. At least it has actual dinosaurs in it, unlike the last terrible game.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Hatton, who asks what video game do you most regret playing?
What game do you feel ended up being a waste of your time, regardless of how much you paid for it in the first place? Did you stop straight away and how often do you usually give a game before you give up on it?
Was the problem that you didn’t enjoy the gameplay or story, or was it too difficult or time consuming? Did you still finish the game and if not how often do you end up giving up on a video game before beating it – or at least spending a substantial amount of time on it?
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