Games Inbox: Xbox Game Pass Ultimate value, Actraiser 3, and Super Mario Bros. movie memories

The Thursday Inbox is dubious about the return of the GamesMaster TV show, as one reader extols the virtues of Returnal.

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

Value for money
Interesting to see how cheap and easy it is to get the Xbox Series S compared to its big brother and the PlayStation 5. I would’ve thought it would be a lot more popular than it is because it’s very cheap, barely any more than a Switch, and not really any less powerful than the Series X. Combine that with Game Pass and I would’ve thought it’d be the best-selling next gen console, not the worst.

It makes me wonder what the lasting effects of Game Pass will actually be. For me Game Pass is the best value in gaming and I’d like to see anyone argue otherwise. You can argue that Microsoft are ‘cheating’ because they’re losing money on it and can afford to do so but the end product and value to ordinary customers is unquestionable to me.

But if people aren’t buying Xbox Series S (and maybe not even X) for it where are all those subscribers? A certain number will be on Xbox One but that’s obviously not going to last. Instead, I think an increasing percentage will be on PC and that, purposefully or not, Microsoft will be encouraging the end of consoles rather than bringing their own to dominance.

Overall they won’t mind because they’ll still come out on top in the new service based world that is to come but I’m not sure that’s what they were aiming for.

Old media
As much as I used to love GamesMaster back in the day I’m not sure I’m expecting much from three hour long episodes, what kind of impact is that going to have? And why are they so long? There is going to be an awful lot of filler in a show that long and I can just imagine all the ‘funny’ skits and bits to camera before I even watch it.

In my opinion the time for a video game show on TV has long since passed, like decades ago. Nowadays there’s nothing YouTube and Twitch can’t do just as well and far quicker. Given how long it takes to make these sort of things they’re going to be talking about games from, what, six months ago at least?

TV had its chance to get in on gaming when it was in its infancy but it squandered every chance, including GamesMaster itself, and now it’s just obsolete.

Being heard
Thanks for the Actraiser Renaissance review, GC. I’d already watched the trailer but hadn’t realise the graphics were quite so ‘unique’ until I read what you had to say about it and took another look. What a bizarre decision. I just don’t see what it’s suppose to have in common with the original style. It’s retro but retro in a completely different way to the SNES game.

I’m going to get it anyway though, as I loved that game and am curious to see all the additions they’ve added to it. Plus I want to do my part to convince Square Enix to commission a new game. I know that’s kind of silly but I imagine this is the one and only chance we’ll get to influence and as you always say publishers do listen to us gamers, or rather they listen to our wallets.

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

Killing time
In the 90s I was on a ferry on holiday and there wasn’t much to do and they had a cinema on board and they were showing two films: Sommersby which I wasn’t old enough for and Super Mario Bros. with Bob Hoskins, so me and my brother watched Super Mario Bros. about three or four times! I have watched Sommersby recently and I didn’t really like it, I haven’t watched Super Mario Bros. since when it was first shown on TV or on VHS rental.

Also, on the ferry they had a coin-op with a built-in Mega Drive, where you could select out of about 10 games or so to play. The only problem was unlike normal coin-ops, where you had to stay alive to keep playing, with this Mega Drive coin-op you put the money in and it let you play for about 10 minutes on a time limit. So when the time limit got to zero it was game over unless you put more money in for another 10 minutes.

I also remember going to the Street Fighter 2 film knowing it was bad to kill time in the long summer holidays! I only saw that film once at the cinema, and possibly once on VHS rental.
Andrew J.
PS: Europa Universalis 4 is free on Epic Games Store from 4pm on Thursday 30th September, it has not been given away free by Epic Games before.

Indie fans, I recommend checking out Unmetal. It’s hilarious, it’s a parody of Metal Gear. Unepic Fran is a single Spanish indie developer; you may have heard of Unepic, I believe it is quite popular and I’ve got it to play as well at some point.

I played his other game Ghost 1.0, which is a cool Metroidvania. You play as a disembodied AI and can take over other machines. I played an hour of Unmetal which I recorded on my YouTube channel X Power. Also check my Twitter where I’m giving away a copy! The game is £13, which felt like I stole the game, so I picked up another code for the giveaway.
Big Angry Dad82 (gamertag)

Complex issues
Let me start by saying I hate the concept of loot boxes. I’ve never bought one and generally don’t buy games with them.

However, as much as I understand complaints that they aren’t banned, the gambling commission has reviewed them more than once and the conclusion is they aren’t gambling. There’s a fine line between what is gambling and what is a competition and for now loot boxes are a competition. Even if it were gambling, I think the games would just get 18 certificates and parents would still buy them for their kids.

I don’t place the blame with people like EA though. They’re selling a product, are honest about what is in it and people are buying it.

Sony and Microsoft though, set the rules for what they allow on their platforms. They’ve made statements about walled gardens being there to make them ’safe’ and if they wanted, they could jointly set a standard of what they won’t allow. In my mind the main difference between console and mobile games at this point is consoles offering a full price game with no microtransactions but if this continues to erode, then what is the value in the high-priced games?

I remind everyone concerned with loot boxes being a gateway to gambling for children that as a parent Sony and Microsoft both do let you control this on your child’s account. The same as Apple does on iOS.

GC: The government position is far more sceptical than you’re implying. You’re also absolving publishers of any kind of moral responsibility, since they know fine well who pays for loot boxes and why.

Ticking clock
Nintendo take my money and a piece of my soul for a Metroid Prime Trilogy remaster. It also wouldn’t hurt for all four 2D Metroids and remaster/remakes to be released on one media format that is current before Dread comes out.

I don’t want this company to become Ninten’cant rather than Nintendo.
D Dubya

GC: Considering Metroid Dread is out in eight days we’re going to guess that’s not happening.

Boss of battles
Returnal is indeed a triumph in game design, GC. I have been having such a blast with Housemarque’s hauntingly beautiful, layered, intelligently designed PlayStation 5 debut.

Some thoughts on my engagements with the first two bosses: Phrike has been struck down. And I didn’t have to return to fighting him too many times either – he bested me three times, and in one of those encounters I was at a critical disadvantage in the health and weapon proficiency departments!

What an exhilarating battle that was, the malignant alien enforcer’s strikes were mesmerising to anticipate, behold, and evade. Its sweeping, double-backing lasers and swift melee charge caught me off guard an embarrassing number of times.

I would be remiss not to mention the evocative, otherworldly, almost Blade Runner 2049-esque score which certainly enhanced the inscrutable (at this early stage) hostile alien world atmospherics of this unforgettable crucible!

Next up, the flying pestilence known as Ixion has had its wings clipped and malevolent existence extinguished at the hands of the disoriented, embattled Selene (or shall I say moi).

Such a gruelling, glorious boss fight. The sheer intensity of the attack patterns in the third phase had me sweating like a purveyor of illegal paraphernalia visiting a jittery associate in a correctional facility. The devious synergies of his dash/leaping melee strikes and expanding laser ring dispersals were a right nuisance.

Now biome 3 has been kicking my hind parts with a truck full of steel toe cap boots! There has been a sharp incline in my death count you see. I had something like 22 deaths before my arrival at Mechamassacredonia. That figure has nearly double since.

My advice for anyone disheartened by the lack of progress and unapologetically draconian nature of this beast is simply to keep on persevering. Keep on returning.
Galvanized Gamer

Inbox also-rans
I hope GamesMaster invites Dave ‘The Animal’ Perry back on when it reboots. He deserves an opportunity for revenge against Super Mario 64.

Really enjoyed the two part Hot Topic again last weekend, GC. Will that be the standard now? Hope so.

GC: It all depends on how many emails we get. Right now we’ve only got enough for one part this weekend.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by various readers, who asked what is the most memorable video game box art?

It can be either memorably good or bad, but which made the most impression on you and why? Since physical copies are becoming increasingly rare you may never have seen the artwork in question on an actual box but how important do you feel key art images are in setting the tone for a game?

Have you ever tried to get a poster or other merchandise featuring the image and how iconic do you think it is outside of gaming?

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 and content.

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.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

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