The excessive use of ‘favouritism’ – mere fun or outdated?

If you’re like me, you use the adjective ‘favourite’ a hell of a lot and I’ve come to thinking recently that it feels overused and I find myself wondering why we feel the need for such a context (especially from a media perspective which is what i’m basing this off of) to exist? I like games, music, movies and TV shows along with their electronic counterparts but, merely enjoying these mediums doesn’t seem to feel enough in the modern day.

Simply click onto YouTube and you will most likely stumble upon a ‘top ten’ or whatever subsequent number list of whatever topic the person in the video is talking about. This was a big seller for video game-based YouTubers a few years ago and some still do them today but, definitely less regularly as most did not want that to be their only output or attachment. The most famous YouTube page for top ten videos has to be WatchMojo. The American firm has managed to get millions of views on videos looking at all kinds of media platforms that advertise to all walks of life. They look at genres of film and anime, death scenes, decade eras, consoles, spoilers, end scenes and a lot of other themes that revolve around games and film.

Creating said top ten video may prove to be influential or open discussions between people about what they thought of the list and bring forth their opinions as well. The only issue with this is that most of the time the viewership will not agree with the video and each other in the comments. This is good as we are all entitled to our opinions but in that thinking that is what damages the idea of favourites, best ofs and top tens… HOW CAN THERE BE ONE SUCH GREAT THING? Sticking ‘personal’ in front or use of personal pronouns expectedly improves the situation but even than it is not without conflict.

At this point in the webisphere, top ten videos feel outdated and even more so their influence was metaphorically shoved down our throats by the internet ‘news source’ Buzzfeed. The company’s consistent selling point was these lists and their output led to other news outlets doing the same, most notably the free newspaper Metro on their website. This posting was a major influence in the term ‘clickbait’ where companies would create ‘relatable’ content to readers so they would click onto their website and increase their web traffic and the climb up through the Google search engine. Doing these lists has enabled them to shovel out the same stuff with perhaps one update each year and people have forotten about them thus ending back on them. It is all very tiring and I of course are guilty for trawling through these posts to find out how relatable they are…perhaps they were good in the sense of answering our questions of how relatable we were with other people.

The main premise of this article is…can’t we just enjoy things?  Comparing and rating is definitely one of the forefronts of our conversations and I’m very guilty of that. To say you like a certain album or game than another by the artist or in its series somehow defines you as a person. You’re one of ‘them’ kinds of people. If I can draw a comparison from my own interests, a band I really like, Weezer are most notably recognised for their first two albums ‘Weezer (The Blue Album)’ and ‘Pinkerton’ being their best work and so fans argue which is better. I like the latter better and due to its darker undertones that changes who I am as a person to some people, but we like things for our own reasoning and that’s how it should be. Perhaps I’m getting too invested in this matter but like a major factor in my life is console wars which definitely ruin how we enjoy video games.

I’m a console collector and have played and most home consoles since the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and I enjoy games from all of them. In this day and age where first party titles are better and different on the current consoles of the three big companies: Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, you start thinking: “well this must be popular because A and B however this console also has good components from B yet the final console has great features which neither match what A and B are saying…comprende?”

When referencing console wars, going back to the early 90’s where the feud between the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and the Sega MegaDrive/Genisis divided many people as both were great consoles with great games that featured personally or on both machines. Those which featured on both machines like Disney Capcom title Aladdin would strike even bigger debates about different concepts of video games such as gameplay, fame rate, look and audio. There just had to be one better than the other which I guess is fair because that’s how games work, but the superior in gaming terminology may not be someone’s favourite due to personal experience and someone could argue to them asking why the superior isn’t their favourite for A and B reasoning again.

Perhaps I am being cynical and too radical to this idea and that it is good for us to enjoy things and rating said categories merely expands our minds. Being able to develop an assumption for ourselves that we think a certain item deserves a higher ranking personalises who were are and brings forth these important discussions. Having discussions is what furthers our development. It may sound a little philosophical, yet if we discuss in a civilised manner and not shit all over each others ideas and favourites then we might enjoy favouriting things more. I believe it is even more enjoyable if we keep an open mind and hear someone’s reasoning for their placing of whatever it is that they are talking about. At the same time calling something ‘favourite’ one day does not define it as such seeing as opinions can change constantly so we shouldn’t hang too heavy over what someone describes as their favourite too much.

What are your opinions?

Do we try and favourite things too much or is it good to favourite the things we enjoy and love?


 

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The Ataribox: what is it?

So a couple months ago Atari teased that they would be releasing their first console in 24 years since the Jaguar in 1993. This tease has actually turned out to be true and the company is currently working on their new console, the interestingly dubbed ‘Ataribox’ and images of the console were released to give us a look at what the company are hoping to make.

The console has a dark wood/black and red/black finish and gives the impression of an 80’s styled hardware with a modern crisp touch to it, reminiscent of their older models like the 2600. So far no release dates, game confirmations, specs or pricing has been confirmed or mentioned but it is stated that the console will have the best of retro and ‘modern’ content from the brand. Whilst Atari own the brand it is expected that a lot of their classic titles will end up on this console. It does not appear to be a simple ‘plug and play’ machine which has been created by third parties (most notably the Flashback console).

Recently on Steam, Xbox One and PS4 two Atari game packages were released called the ‘Flashback Classics vol. 1/2‘ and this is just some of many in terms of Atari re-releases over the years which have previously been on Steam and older Playstation consoles. There are so many ways of obtaining their back catalogue which features titles such as Pac-Man, Asteroids, Joust, Yars Revenge, Adventure, Centipede, Breakout and Space Invaders that is it really necessary for this console to even exist? Such a thought has drifted around for years as it seemed like another Atari console would never happen and the same could be said for a lot of other companies (one with a blue hedgehog).

The Atari Jaguar released in 1993 was a major flop and saw Atari exit the console market…in the time of their last console to the Ataribox…I was born.

This console will favour nicely to retro fans and it will be interesting to see if the console is a disc drive system seeing as the NES & SNES Classic Mini have proven to be popular and are such simple systems with no add-on features. Another interesting fact will be their idea of ‘modern’ games being thrown into the mix…surely this won’t have the most amazing specs and will sit in between console specs over the last few years. Will it merely just license recent Atari titles to its console like Roller Coaster Tycoon? Well it is nice to have everything in one place and the console itself does look aesthetically pleasing to say the least. On the other hand the name will strike a fuse with gamers seeing as the addition on ‘box’ contrasts with ‘Xbox’ but, I feel its to exemplify how a lot of Atari content will be in this machine…maybe it’s a prototype name like ‘NX’.

The console will have HDMI, SD Card and USB  inputs which gives me the impression that it will support modern gaming and have updated (to a degree) specifications. The console will also be crowdfunded and I imagine to shovel enough out the company will set themselves a high target. Atari are not just jumping right back into the console game as they are listening to fans and taking a step by step approach to make sure everyone’s feelings on the project are heard.

Stay tuned for further updates on this interesting new retro project!

Post-E3: What are we really wanting from games and their annual events?

It appears that many of us were left disappointed at the unfoldings from this year’s supposed ‘biggest gaming event’. E3 has its ups and downs every year as people favour companies to others and some perform better. As a combination those of the ‘big six’ certainly hit the marker more than others. The big six I speak of are Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Bethesda and EA. Last year appeared to be quite a big event with tons of great games announced…so why aren’t we pleased this year?

I will try and give my look on some issues which find us to be clashing over these conferences. Now for one I wasn’t disappointed by everything at the event. In my opinion the company that won E3 for me was Nintendo. You could say I’m quite the Nintendo fanboy and enjoyed what we got last year which happened to be mostly three games (Pokémon: GO, Pokémon: Sun & Moon and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild). However, I favoured Sony’s as we got to see a ton of new games announced. This year Nintendo showed us new games from some of their much loved franchises which were Yoshi, Kirby, Mario and Metroid. These game announcements benefit both of their gaming systems (Switch & 3DS) and a partnership with Ubisoft showed their (Ubisoft’s) conference to be a major improvement on the previous year…less gags and more gameplay.

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The upcoming Spider-Man title on PS4 gave us a mixture of old titles and fresh new gameplay.

With my two comparisons of Sony and Nintendo, this year Sony merely showed titles we knew about and didn’t reveal any game release dates for this year. It was nice to see extended gameplay, especially for games such as God of War and Spider-Man, but besides that there wasn’t too much of what we already hadn’t heard of or seen. Should E3 be about showing gameplay from games coming up or about revealing new games? There is a lot of nostalgia pulling at the heart strings and fans are always looking to revisit old titles but at the same time want something new and exciting from the gaming world.

Xbox gave us some expected material for they have less franchises than Sony’s Playstation and we got to see more footage from Rare’s Sea of Thieves with the new additions Crackdown 3 and State of Decay 2 along with some unique titles such as Ori & The Will of the Wisps. There were big games like Anthem, Metro: Exodus and Assassins Creed: Origins showcased at the event, but these are cross-over titles and so could have been shown by other companies. Indie title Cuphead from Studio MDHR was finally given a release date (September 28th) and Super Lucky’s Tale which was previously a VR character and reminisces Conker’s Bad Fur Day also caught my attention. There seems to be a big deal that even if the game isn’t by the company, them getting the game trailer out first appears to be vital for Microsoft….maybe Sony doesn’t have much more room? Hype is intended when you hear ‘world exclusive’ said before the pictures come onto the screen, but without hearing ‘Xbox exclusive’ it doesn’t sound as exciting.

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It was another year and another fast car for Xbox.

Obviously I’m forgetting the big elephant in the room or actually their smallest elephant yet which is the ‘Xbox One X’ (brilliant name). Yes it looks nice and if you’re a film fan you’re getting true 4K which the PS4 Pro cannot output and you also get 6 terraflops of memory storage, but when you’ve not convinced me with new games, how am I going to be interested in this machine? If you like Xbox I am sure this will be appealing and what caught my attention was the original Xbox console’s catalogue going backwards compatible on the Xbox One. Whilst we all want new…old sounds pretty good as well and will definitely push retro sales…and prices. That is where Sony miss out majorly. We like both new and old and yes all of these new games look nice but man we want some cross-play or some PS3 playability without paying out more for subscriptions.

There’s benefits to both consoles but what we didn’t see from Sony where they have the 1-UP on Microsoft is new footage from their VR tech. The Playstation VR is a really nice VR headset and has had some nice games and features so far in almost its first year. It would have been nice to receive some new content but I guess we can always receive that at any point of the year. The same goes for any game announcement. Does it always have to be at E3…can it not advance on a previous announcement?

One part of video games we love and can loathe is sequels to games as we like to further a series but do we get the same amount of new games or new game-types announced? Bethesda gave us Wolfenstein 2 and Evil Within 2, Ubisoft gave us Beyond Good & Evil 2 and EA some more sports titles like Fifa 18. Whether there is the case of longevity between games in a series to be taken into account like BG&E2 or the expected timeline follow up in the Bethesda names – is it all too ‘samey’ or ‘expected’? Just because a game in this series hasn’t been out for years, it doesn’t mean it’ll be good or perhaps we’ll get ourselves too excited and the hype will ruin our expectations. That can be an issue in deciding what to bring out next, especially from a retro perspective but a game like the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy couldn’t have come at a better time or been a better remaster.

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Activision’s conferences seem to have disappeared. Remember an expensive looking Eminem opening to promote the new Call of Duty: Ghosts title?

Perhaps we are lacking new games, but companies like Nintendo can keep using the same series’ again and again…is that because they got it right the first time? Is it the age difference between them and modern consoles or the game types? The longevity between Metroid games has proven to get folks excited even if it is another Prime game. We do get a lot of the same old genres like shooters and stealth titles – you can give them a new coat of paint and name/lead character but the playability will be similar. People might like that though and kudos to them.

If you’re someone who loves games and doesn’t believe in the consoles wars which is a thought process we should all have you may have less to worry about at such conferences except for the fact you might not see enough gameplay. Nintendo show off lots of gameplay (they have done so for Mario Odyssey) and you get to see all of the different worlds and abilities. Sony however showed small segments from the games but didn’t reveal too much more and then companies like Ubisoft may have just shown a majority of trailers. Obviously for their big games like Far Cry 5 and Assassins Creed: Origins we got gameplay but how much is too much? Some people might not want to see any past a simple launch trailer as they don’t want the game to be spoiled upon launch day. Others might want lots of content to learn more about the game before it is released. It’s a difficult area and no doubt these companies will think about how much and of what they want to show the audience.

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Nintendo changed their big conference stages shortly after the Wii U was available for purchase.

It has been rumoured that Xbox and Sony didn’t show us everything they had due to a big factor which is the timeline of showing the game to its release. Phil Spencer, the big dog at Xbox said that the company has signed new games but would not want to show something that might not even be out for three years. Xbox recently cancelled the production on title ‘Scalebound’ and so to create hype now for something that isn’t finished would be a risky move.

We will still have other gaming events throughout the year such as Gamescom where we can still expect to see more content. There’s new ways with the internet and streaming to advertise games (the Nintendo Treehouse as one example) and those are always a nice watch. It spreads out game announcements and we’re treated throughout the year instead of taking in everything at once and proceeding to argue about who was better. With how fast the gaming world is moving with advancements in picture quality, cross-play and virtual reality I’m left with wondering whether we’re even impressed these days and expect too much from companies. If a console can output good graphics, do we deserve them? Are game prices too high? Are we seeing the same game repeated too much? Should companies focus on less games? Endless questions and possibilities my dear Watson.

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Is E3 becoming a bit too ‘samey’ over the years and is this doing good for games?

Let’s just turn everything on its head for a second. Does E3 really do any good for the gaming world?

Are we not giving too much attention to one moment of the year and giving too much pressure onto game designers and companies? As video games are in no way a similar environment to what they were 20-25 years ago, are we looking at video games in the right way? They are a means of profit and E3 has definitely been a key player in carrying on profits in the gaming sphere for the next few months. A lot of material seems rushed and time and effort is wasted due to commercialism. There will always be deadlines but E3 is a bit like a toy at Christmas and everyone wants their big thing to be in everyone’s homes. What has saved video games recently has been indie titles because their breakaway from big name companies has brought some notable titles which may be influenced from better days but also made retro the norm again. Games such as Super Meat Boy, Binding of Isaac: ReBirth, Braid, Rogue Legacy, Fez, Owlboy, Limbo and many more have turned the focus away from big names and most will find themselves on most platforms after a couple years. There are still some credible games out there!

E3 is still a special place in the gaming world. How companies choose to stage their conferences is up to them and we do get a nice mix: EA in London and Los Angeles, Nintendo in their private conference and the others doing big rooms (and less jokes and bad presenting from Ubisoft this year made it one of the best). Sony adds a nice visual touch and Microsoft keeps it straightforward and tries a realistic approach and all are welcomed by audiences. We argue who has the better console and even though a lot of games from this year’s E3 will not be out this year we still have a lot to look forward to. No doubt we will see The Last of Us 2 and Death Stranding shown later on in the year by Sony…

 

The SNES Classic Mini: Thoughts

I wrote a piece back in April after I had first heard the rumour of there being the ‘SNES Classic Mini’ console which would follow on from the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) console from last year. Well the console is legitimate and will be released September 29th in the UK.

The consoles will feature 21 games including a title that was never released on a physical format in Britain: Starfox 2 which is very exciting. A lot of the other games you can buy on the Wii U eShop but some big names include Earthbound and Secret of Mana. All of your expected faces are there including Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Yoshi, Kirby and Samus which were all pretty much expected. Even myself gave a list in my other story where 14 of the games I proposed ended up being correct.

The NES Mini had 30 games and also retailed at £49.99 whereas the SNES Mini has only 21 games and will cost between £69.99-£79.99 due to high retail demand. No doubt this will be hackable again but the comaprison is sad because surely some games like Pilotwings, Chrono Trigger and Super Tennis could have made it onto the console? Or even the sequel Donkey Kong and Mega Man X games? I could list other games like Turtles in Time but there’s obvious copyright restraints that stop certain titles reaching the console. Sure it is 16bit but does that mean the console has to cost more? Once again there is a limited supply and it’s a worry Nintendo will not supply enough machines even though the demand will surely be even higher this time. Some of the original cartridges for these games cost £50 minimum and people really want to play these titles.

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What did you feel was missed from the SNES Classic Mini?

One of the issues with the previous machine was the controllers and I hope they’ve made the length longer but I’m not crossing my fingers for anything amazing. The inputs before were different as well so you couldn’t just plug in an old NES controller…oh no you would have to spend more on add ons…I hope I can use my SNES or third-party equivalents. It is rumoured that the console will be fitted with two controllers which means for games like Super Mario Kart and Kirby’s Dream Course you will be able to get playing straight away with a friend who doesn’t have the console and means you will not have to fork out another £40 for a controller.

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The SNES had some great games and I’m looking forward to playing them again in a whole new way. I’m disappointed by many factors I have outlined but it is nice to see retro gaming get the love it deserves in the modern day. Let’s just hope for more consoles and less scalpers which ruin everything good about gaming.

At the end of the day there is still the possibility of purchasing the original consoles or purchasing a retron combo replica, but for those on a budget or want to try these games out for the first time this is a great way to do so.

I wouldn’t have even minded some more fighting games…

Here is the full list of games:

  1. Contra III: The Alien Wars
  2. Donkey Kong Country
  3. Earthbound
  4. Final Fantasy III
  5. F-Zero
  6. Kirby Super Star
  7. Kirby’s Dream Course
  8. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  9. Mega Man X
  10. Secret Of Mana
  11. Star Fox
  12. Star Fox 2
  13. Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
  14. Super Castlevania IV
  15. Super Ghouls N’ Ghosts
  16. Super Mario Kart
  17. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  18. Super Mario World
  19. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
  20. Super Metroid
  21. Super Punch Out!!