Games Inbox: What is the perfect length for a video game?

The Wednesday Inbox is dubious about Zelda: Skyward Sword working on Nintendo Switch, as one reader is upset at Deathloop’s delay.

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Time to beat
Nice review of Mortal Shell, GC. Not least because I’d never heard of it till now and yet am now seriously considering picking it up. It’s not the difficulty so much that attracts (although that does help) but the idea of being ‘only’ 12 hours long. As far as I’m concerned this is the perfect length for all but the most epic games and I hate the fact that so many games now try to drag themselves out for 30 hours or more.

It’s probably only something an indie could do but I would much rather pay half the normal price for a game half the length than what we have now. I just don’t have the time and I refuse to believe many other people do. Sure kids do, but I’m pretty sure that morbid, ultra-difficult action role-players are not the way they prefer to spend their more abundant spare time.

I’d love to see big publishers start to release these kind of AA games but I think they’re stuck in the current mindset at the moment and as long as it makes profit they’re going to stick with it. Here’s to Mortal Shell and being able to complete it this side of Christmas!

The Battlefield cycle
I will be very interested to see if Battlefield 6 can become a major hit because it seems to me that that is one series that has serious fallen off its pedestal this gen. It was almost neck and neck with Call Of Duty at the end of last gen and now it feels almost like a dead franchise.

I’m sure it will end up being set in the modern day, which will get enough people excited enough to make it some kind of a hit. Before they get bored of it, demand something retro again and we all go round again. I still like the idea of doing a fantasy version of Battlefield, maybe some kind of tie-in with Dragon Age. I know that may sound weird but at least it would be something new and interesting instead of the same old.

I’m sure it won’t happen but I do wonder how far that sort of left field idea must get tossed around at developers and how fat it gets. I guess Battlefield 1 was kind of a risk, although I’m not sure it necessarily paid off.

Lockdown quality assurance
Surprised to see that Ghost Of Tsushima is getting DLC already and it sounds pretty substantial even though it’s free. I guess a co-op mode is probably something they wanted to do from the start? I seem to remember GC suggested it would be a good idea in their review, and more supernatural stuff, so that’s a pretty good call.

Given how successful it’s been I’m sure we’ll be seeing a sequel next gen that will expand on these features, which would be good. I’ve beaten the game now and enjoyed it but I do agree it’s lacking a certain spark in its gameplay and story. It’s good but it’s not great and lacks that final push to make it something truly memorable.

What did impress me though is just how stable it is. I’m not sure I saw a single bug in the entire game, and this when all the QA must’ve been done during lockdown. Compare that to the broken mess that is the average Assassin’s Creed game, which this resembles very much, and it’s night of day and proof that it’s not the nature of the game but the company that determines the number of bugs.

I will be watching with much interest to see how Assassin’s Cree Valhalla compares.
Geoffrey Burr

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Perfect preservation
Question for PC gamers, especially ones that have been in the game for a while. Does it get increasingly difficult to be able to play computer games on current PCs, the older the game gets? By this I mean retro games, for example, playing games made in the 90s on a current-generation computer? I’m guessing with completely different software and system setups it must make it difficult for even the most expensive PC to run them due to the changes in technology.

It’s funny that a PC might easily be able to run GTA 5 but struggle to run the original version of Command & Conquer. Obviously, some games do get updates and reissues through Steam to work on current gen setups, etc. but I’m sure many a classic will be lost from memory and unplayable ever again due to this strange situation.

Many gamers hold onto their old consoles and can dig them out to play the old games for a bit of nostalgia, but I doubt many people have an old computer from the 90s they can dig out and load up… or one that will work! This then got me thinking… are we going to, or already have completely lost the ability to play a massive array of PC games, doomed to be just hunks of unusable plastic that used to bring joy to a generation?

I’m sure there must be illegal ROM downloads out there but due to the vast amount of PC games of the past, I doubt all will be covered. Sorry for my ramblings, just thought this was an interesting topic.

GC: We don’t fancy the chances of running any 90s games off their original discs, but between sites like and fan communities we don’t think there are any major games that can’t be played today.

All-boys club
Rocksteady only employs 16 women out of a total of over 200? How is that even possible? You’d think even by accident it’d be more than that, just counting non-developmental jobs. Never mind the accusations of harassment what on earth is the company’s HR department (who are presumably mostly men) doing?

It’s always the fault of an individual, of course, but what would you expect from that sort of laddish set-up? It sounds like an all-boys boarding school not a place of work in 2020. Please tell me they’re an outlying case, GC?
PS: No wonder all the women in those Batman game dress the way they do, I hated what they did to Harley!

GC: That is unusually low even for a video games company.

Alternative controls
If Zelda: Skyward Sword was remastered for Switch that would be awesome for me. Not finishing Xenoblade Chronicles and Skyward Sword were my two Wii gaming regrets and I have already rectified Xenoblade Chronicles with the Definitive Edition.

I have also recently tried Ōkami again (fourth version of it now) on the Switch and I think that gives an insight into how Skyward Sword could work.

  • The default Ōkami HD control system on Switch is from the PlayStation 2 where you hold a shoulder button to change the left stick from movement to drawing and swiping.
  • An alternative docked method is similar to the Wii control system where you draw and swipe with the celestial brush with the right joy-con, again whilst holding a shoulder button. (Fortunately the majority of combat in this mode is by button presses and not the Twilight Princess style Wii waggle I think the Wii version of Ōkami had.)
  • And there is also a handheld method where you can draw and swipe the celestial brush using the touchscreen.

None of these options are perfect in all situations and I have been switching between the bottom two. The touchscreen probably works best but it can be awkward to hold the Switch whilst quickly drawing.

I never found the original Skyward Sword controls as responsive and accurate as everyone else seemed to and feel it would actually benefit from alternative control and accessibility options. Purists will undoubtedly argue that this misses the point of the game but for them the Wii version still exists and depending on the Switch implementation may remain the best version of the game.

Hopefully a Switch version would also fix the game-breaking glitch from the original and tone down the frequency of Fi’s recaps.

GC: That glitch had its own patch, which is the first time we remember Nintendo ever issuing one for a specific bug.

No labels
The big problem with the Zelda: Skyward Sword position on the Switch is the assumption that the joy-cons be used in lieu of wiimotes, thus ignoring those gamers who’ve bought the Switch Lite.

It highlights a notable issue with the Switch that games really could do with clear labelling as to whether they’re optimised for Switch (docked) or Switch handheld/Lite; and whether detachable joy-cons are recommended.

For example, a couple of games are unplayable in handheld mode, due to ridiculously small text/icons (Darkest Dungeon, Phantom Doctrine) whilst others perfect for portable gaming (Golf Story, Into The Breach). Never mind games like Snipperclips/Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games, etc. that rely on detached joy-cons (saving a few quid on a Switch Lite doesn’t mean you should then be expected to buy a pair of detached joy-cons).

But there seems little indication, particularly when buying through the online store, what your gaming experience will be like for your given/preferred Switch configuration (unless there’s a demo).

It’s just all so messy, all so Nintendo.

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Clash of the Titans
It’s interesting watching the battle between Epic and Apple starting to heat up over Fortnite, but I’m curious as to what revenues both parties gain from Fortnite mobile.

None of my friend’s children play it on mobile devices, excepting the Switch, of course. They prefer it on systems with proper controllers.

The bigger play is, of course, to force Apple to lower its fees for in-app purchases, and that’s something that, principally, I agree with, as a constant stream of 30% of a developer’s revenue really does take the biscuit. Not for Epic’s sake, as they are exceedingly cash rich, but for small Indie developers, for whom every penny counts.

Having said that, I’d prefer it if the scourge of microtransactions disappear altogether, being sick of seeing stories where Little Jimmy has spent thousands of pounds on their parents cards because they didn’t realise it was real money. Charge us a fair price for your product, and yes, that will be the end of freemium and apps for 99p, but make it a complete piece of work and go back to a paid expansion if publishers must have more money.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see if Epic sees this through to the bitter end, or if Apple (and Google too, as people may forget they are part of this as well with the Android Play Store also charging 30%) back down and give Epic a special deal so they can keep charging all the other developers the same fees, knowing full well they will never have the financial clout to challenge them.

Inbox also-rans
I was going to say that Indie World was completely pointless, then they had two-player Untitled Goose Game, for free. Game of the forever!

I didn’t realise Deathloop was a PlayStation 5 timed exclusive. Good call on Sony’s part as it looks really interesting. Pit it’s, you know, been delayed.

This week’s Hot Topic
The topic for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Ishi, who asks what is your favourite role-playing game ever?

You can name any game, from any time period, but which one is your favourite and why? How much experience have you had with role-playing games and what is your preferred style, including Japanese vs. Western and action vs. turn-based?

Do you generally like role-playing games or was this one relatively unusual for you to enjoy? What general things would you like to see change about the genre and what are you hopes for the next gen?

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.

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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