Tag Archives: game

To wait or not to hit the Switch?

Let’s face it, the Switch looks great in action but the launch is about as promising as a dog poo sundae. Let’s see why:

  • Only four titles confirmed. Yes, one is a Zelda game but that’s barely enough, especially when it’s also avaliable on Wii U and when the other titles include a minigame collection that should come as a packin but somehow ISN’T and the 50,000th installment of the Skylanders series.
  • Games cost £60 each.
  • £280 for a partially portable console. If you’re so concerned about playing Zelda on the go, grab a 3DS and Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask for half the price.
  • Paid online after a trial period. Nintendo has offered free online since early last DECADE, and that gave it an edge over Sony and Microsoft in the multiplayer department. Iwata knew that there were many gamers who were having enough trouble paying their ISP bill. Now Iwata’s dead, many of his best ideas have gone with him. It’s said that Nintendo could fail to turn a profit for FIFTY YEARS and still have enough money to thrive, so then why price out people who otherwise couldn’t afford online gaming?

So I’m in two minds whether to buy at launch. Online will be free until autumn and Skylanders are avaliable cheaply from most good toy shops (and some bad ones too), but sixty pounds for a game whose core mechanics have never changed since the first installment. There are other things I’m wanting more than that at the moment. And I still have my 3DS and Wii U with Wii U games in particular coming down heavily in price. I think I may wait until September when Splatoon 2’s out and my degree is completed but free online ends around the same time.

Hmm.

 

 

 

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A look at Pokémon Moon nine days in

So I have been playing Pokémon Moon for the past week and two, long enough for me to formulate a basic opinion. And that opinion?

It’s still Pokémon, but with much of the fun ripped out. Yes, it’s still playable and downright enjoyable at times, but Game Freak and TPCi have taken many of the elements that made X&Y so good and replaced them with annoying gimmicks.

The first and most important- the gyms are gone. In their place are simplistic tasks collectively known as the Island Challenge. Complete them and you will face a “Totem Pokémon”, followed undoubtedly by a five minute long cutscene where you are given a Z-Crystal that can power moves of a certain type up to ridiculous levels. The cutscenes are tedious and unskippable, sometimes occurring just for the hell of it, but it’s nothing as annoying as the mechanic that should have at the very least stayed with Totem battles.

The SOS Battle mechanic allows most wild Pokémon to summon help. It’s as annoying as it sounds, especially when you’re trying to catch ’em all. Whittled a Pikachu down to 1HP and are ready to catch it the next turn? Too bad, here comes another Pikachu and you can’t put your ball to good use as the game considers it “too confusing”! I am not kidding! And speaking of too confusing, proof aside from the Island Challenge that the game is aimed at kids who have been spunking away their older siblings’ data on Go and not us veteran players who have given almost twenty years to the franchise is the little “super effective” or “not very effective” label below moves on the bottom screen.

That you can’t turn off.

Even as an eight year old I quickly gleaned that Ember is not very effective against Brock’s Onix. It just seems unecessary even for absolute beginners, who should be given the full Pokémon experience to begin with. I first saw this in the demo and figured there would be a way to turn it off in the final version, but nooooo.

And the annoyance gets even worse with one of the main selling points- the Rotom Pokédex. It won’t shut up! “Bzzt, you should go to such-and-such nexzzzt”. Even when you have been informed you need to go to such-and-such by the LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO TWO SECONDS BEFORE! At least the flag telling you where you need to go is somewhat helpful. Even when you’re trying to view your latest catch it has to butt in. I’ve seen it been compared to Gilbert Gottfried on more than one occassion, except it doesn’t do the Aristocrats routine. I don’t think TPCi would allow that anyway. It makes Tierno, the dull, annoying fat kid from X&Y, seem like a brilliant character in comparison. Next time, Game Freak, give it us the option to turn it off.

All these gameplay changes to cater for the next generation are only serving to turn off the veterans. And it’s not looking too substantial from where I am, having just beat Mallow’s challenge (which sees you collecting INGREDIENTS- really, Game Freak?). If you’re new and want the traditional experience, get X or Y on the cheap. Otherwise, only bother if you’re a completist. Hopefully the rumoured third version for Switch, Stars, goes back to the original and best mechanic.

Allegedly Free

Allegedly Free Games are described best on their TV Tropes page:

A game that you can play for free, with a heavy restriction on the “can play” part. Games based around this concept are commonly referred to as “Free to Pay” or “Pay to Win.”

I have never seen the latter term used by the developers to describe such, but they should start using it.

They like to give you the bare bones- one character, one level, hours to load up a certain critical value such as health and game time and a level capped at around 20. At its worst, they might as well go premium only because nobody’s going to get more than half an hour of play out of the free “version”.

And there is often no warning. All iOS does is say “offers in-app purchases” with no elaboration to what those are. Those could be something needed to complete the game! It’s time they started requiring publishers to state what exactly the “in-app purchases” are, but you just know they’d find ways around describing every little nuance.

Modern life really is rubbish.

Some late thoughts on Pokémon Go

So E3 has come and gone and with it some major Pokémon news.

The item I want to discuss is Pokémon Go, the new augmented reality game for smartphones. Like Miitomo, it’s completely free, but there is an optional Bluetooth-enabled “Pokémon Go Plus” accessory which allows you to catch Pokémon without opening your phone. Unfortunately it retails for £34.99 and the same in dollars. It’s just a piece of plastic usable in one smartphone game! I have seen Bluetooth accessories in shops for one measly pound!

Onto the game itself. The object, of course, is to “catch ’em all”. There are over 100 Pokémon avaliable for capture in the game, and what types appear depend on your real world location. So if you’re at the beach, you will find water Pokémon. While this in itself is a novel concept, many players live in areas where there is little geographical diversity. Some don’t even live near museums or monuments where “Pokéstops” (the equivalent of Pokémarts) are located.

Of course, I am waiting for the final product to be released before I formulate a full opinion. What I’ve seen of it is very good, but the limited world of most players might prove to be its downfall.

Pokémon thoughts

To be honest, I’m a little underwhelmed at the latest Pokémon Sun/Moon reveal. While I accept that it runs on the same hardware as X/Y and thus major technological advances cannot take place, it looks to be a near clone of the Generation 6 titles, just set on not-Hawaii.

Now for the setting. The real-world Hawaii has only one major city in Honolulu (or as the anti-Obama brigade likes to call it, Mombasa). I am very used to the vastness of Lumiose in XY, which is based on Paris. The Paris urban area is 1,098 sq. mi. whereas Oahu Island only has an area of 597 sq. mi.. To make the central city of Alola bigger than Lumiose would require some artistic licence. While I believe that some artistic licence on geography, as has happened in previous games, can be good, there is no way in my mind that Alola’s hub can be bigger than Lumiose. I think the lack of major cities may be a good thing in the end, but I’m reserving judgment for now.

There is something that caught my eye though. The Pokédex.

The Pokédex is now a Rotom!

sun_moon_rotom_pokc3a9dex_artwork

Get your Rotom running! (Picture: Nintendo/TPCi)

This promises a “whole new way for people and Pokémon to communicate”, and I think this will be the selling point. There has already been a taster of the new Rotomdex’s capabilities- it will have a QR scanner that enables you to register Pokémon, allowing you to view their habitats. This is the logical extension of an app released for the 3DS several years ago, where one could scan a QR code and get a full Pokédex entry.

However, as I said at the beginning, I have a feeling Generation 7 will not deliver the goods and be a rehash of Generation 6. We were begging for the franchise to be put down after Generation 4 flopped, and I can see this all over again. For the love of Arceus please, Nintendo/Game Freak/TPCi, don’t screw this up.