‘Gamer’ – Hanging the term loosely in our busy lives

To describe ones self as a ‘gamer’ is perfectly fine in my books and I assume the phrase will be used in many different manners as a lot of labels are these days. There are many different types of ‘gamers’ or shall we say, people who play video games. I have certainly in the past called myself such a thing but, upon having a busy work schedule, the amount of gameplay I manage to rake in has varied if not decreased.

With that decrease so has the type of games I play. I used to play everything basically at one point or another and have gone through different phases where I would play indie games, retro games, Nintendo games and now I find myself to be playing more multi-player or online-orientated titles. The reason for this it would seem is that I appear to be afraid of story-based games as they do not take the same approach as an online shooter.

Take a game like Overwatch for example which has become a favourite of mine over the last year. The Blizzard shooter has many different types of shooter mini-games such as capturing the flag, revolving character play, point claiming and objective delivering. Most of these games can range between 2-10 minutes depending on the game and the ability of the team to hold off against the other. These games can be over quickly and with that you are also rewarded for your progress and play with ‘loot boxes’ which are treasure chest unlockable items such as new character skins. Now you don’t get them after every game, but you will probably play at least a level’s worth of gameplay in a sitting to claim something from it.

over
Overwatch has become one of the most popular online shooters with a core following of fans

Like other shooters such as Splatoon, it has monthly events which draw in more play-time because there’s that unlockable factor and once that campaign ends, those skins and other unlockables are unobtainable. So in one theory I may not feel as much of a gamer now because I concentrate on one game more than others in my vast (ever-growing) collection. Is it bad to only play one game? In no way is it my favourite but it certainly strikes out more to me than other titles in its genre.

Another way I look at this is almost ‘drug like’ as I want my quick fix of achievement. I did used to play for achievements and try and get as many as I could. There’s many different senses of accomplishment in games and completing a game seems to be one I struggle with these days. The main games you will find for completing at least for the most part are ‘story based games’. You know like something that might lead to end credits after a campaign in Halo or Horizon Zero Dawn and with these and the idea of ending a game quickly is another problem I face.

horizon
Horizon Zero Dawn… I will finish you one day

It might even sound like a chore. I can assure it’s nothing like that but, sometimes playing certain story-based games I feel I could be looking for the nearest save point because I feel I need to take a break from the experience or don’t feel like I can invest too much time into the game. It could even be that I feel the end of the game is so far in the distance I cannot feel like I’ll reach it.

Having so many games provides an issue of what do I want to play or feel like playing. Leaving myself in a difficult position of what to play might just take me to something familiar that I can adjust to quickly like a bit of Battlefront on my PS4 with a game of Blast (first to 100 kills in a team game). Referring back to playing for purpose and achievement, if I am a very busy person which I tend to be balancing work, music, home and other media forms I need to find time to enjoy a story-based game to its fullest and with a game like Gears of War, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Bloodborne or Fallout 4 I want to devote a whole days playing to really get something out of it.

Growing up I played a lot of 3D platformers such as Croc: Legend of the Gobbos and games like this and those inspired by Super Mario 64 let you play at your own pace at times and explore areas. There weren’t time limits like in my other genre love that is side-scrollers (although I played a lot of Sonic The Hedgehog with no time or end wall restrictions). I feel that relaxed environment aided me into playing video games gently…not having a memory card for my PS1 for a long time has probably ruined my engagement for stories as well.

mario kart
The average Mario Kart race will last around 4 minutes so a cup race is over quickly

One game I am playing a lot of at the moment is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch and the future games Nintendo have planned fit the same feeling I get with this title. So far on the Switch we have received a small number of big titles which have been the aforementioned Zelda title Breath of the Wild along with Super Bomberman R and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the latter two have major multi-player aspects to them on top of their single player options. Coming this month is boxing title Arms along with July’s Splatoon 2 which are all heavy multi-player games. Since its release I have been a big fan of the Switch and its capabilities and with a lot of my time on it being played with friends and colleagues the thrills of the games are quick and enjoyable.

I guess the benefit of the Switch is that I can incorporate it into work time on lunch breaks so I get the best of both worlds, giving me much needed gaming time. At the same time, I have yet to complete the main story of Breath of the Wild which I hope to achieve by the end of year and I can play this game wherever I go, but at the same time it still feels like a sit down kind of game where I want to be in my own comfort zone. A gamer for me feels like someone who is playing lots of games all of the time and playing them to completion and this was once me but is such a title that important? Maybe we should start a campaign for me to play more games to completion new and old…because man I love my retro games.

Retro games give me another enhancement of how much I have to play as for not being old enough for when the majority were produced. The only benefit to some of them is that they are a lot shorter than other games and probably can be beaten in one sitting. A lot have loopholes (not forgetting modern games like Sonic Boom) which leads to quicker completion. It all may just be a matter of well developed time management and ignore procrastination.

I ask you the audience as I conclude this post, is it important to rush games to the finish or can we go back and play them whenever? Should we concentrate on one game at a time or fill ourselves with a nice mixture?

Thank you for reading
Travis Ward – Wardculture

Advertisements

Travis questions his love for Nintendo for the 634th time

Nintendo is like that badass biker dude who has no care for education and I’m the young goody-two-shoes protagnosit depicted in most teen hearthrob drama movies. I know I should stay away but damn he just keeps pulling me back in in new ways that surprise me. I’ve shared with a lot of people over the last year why I love and why I also find troubling times with the big N and now with production stopping on the NES Classic Mini I feel it is time to talk about Nintendo some more.

I have started and never finished many stories on Nintendo on both this blog and others and I wonder why that is. I end up being a massive hypocrite basically and realise whilst coming to my conclusion that, even though Nintendo might be one of the most problematic companies in the history of video games that I could look back on and shake my head profusly…I just love their video games and franchises. When the NES Mini was announced I thought it was a neat concept and looked pretty cute but, I had easy access to the majority if not all of these re-released games on my Wii U. The big difference was the playing styles such as CRT, 3:4 and HD along with save files that weren’t possible on the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

One Sunday at my old work place I saw a NES Mini and bought it due to my thoughts on this being a very limited item and I wasn’t wrong. Now I am an owner of an original NES and I love it to pieces but I also enjoy the modern copy. It’s quick and easy to use and those save files are a life saver. They save me some money from buying expensive games like Metroid, Mega Man 2 and The Legend of Zelda II. The main issue I had was the cable length of the controller and how I had to sit on the floor to play games…it’s not really an issue but the original controller is nothing like this. The other issue is the 30 games capacity on a box which only has a motherboard inside and tonnes of empty space. I guess it’s because it’s a greatest hits and licening would have amped up the price but obvious hacks have shown how pointless it can be.

Where does Nintendo become a real problem in all of this? Oh it’s the fact that there’s a high demand for their product and they had limited numbers once again. They thought there wouldn’t be much hype and that sounds like they don’t even know their own products. The NES is one of the most iconic pieces of tech that ever existed. To make matters worse is that even now there is and has been high demand for the NES Mini but oh guess what? They cancelled production just like they cancelled production on the Wii U as Breath of the Wild was just around the corner. For a company that still rakes in billions but is also a shadow of the titan it once was is really bad at decision making. Maybe the NES Mini was expensive for the demand but, the fact that a lot of people won’t be able to own it and the capitalisting owners of said console are really exploiting this with outrageous pricing.

Nintendo or sources are trying to make everything sound better by saying “hey remember that other great console we had, yeah you know the one, the Super Nintendo, we’re going to do the same thing with that” and by the sounds of it it’s going to be even more limited. The main appeal is to collectors like myself but as nostalgia is the main selling point of products these days, lots of people who played on the NES and SNES in their hey-day will really want to play them again in an easier way. I imagine this list of games will be featured: ‘Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Mega Man X, F-Zero, Donkey Kong Country, Yoshi’s Island, Kirby Superstar, Super Mario Kart, Contra III, Star Fox, A Link To The Past, Super Tennis, Tetris Attack Super Punch-Out! and Castlevania IV’. These are all solid games and in terms of prices, another £50 pricing is great in terms of physical comparisons of these games. What would really seal the deal would be Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana which aren’t the cheapest.

The Snes list is wonderful and reminds me of why I love Nintendo but jeez I really hope they produce enough because I mean isn’t it all just about money incentives? I get asked daily for Nintendo Switch’s at work and there are so little produced at a time. The demand for Nintnedo is as real as it would have been in Christmas 1991/1992 and we are all suckers for a good time and a good price. I enjoy buying retro but damn I’d even pay out a few more pennies for a Snes Classic Mini. No doubt this will also be hacked and is probably a reason that Nintendo has cut production. It’s hard to blame them when thinking about that but at the same time a lot of people would not do that.

switch3

Before the Switch was released I was writing a 2000 word article on how I’m angry at everything about the console and then guess who buys one of launch day. Guess who is buying Mario Kart 8 again, guess who loves Breath of the Wild on the Switch and the portability aspect and has not yet bought a pro-controller…yet. I mean it’s still not the perfect console but I have a good time with it and Super Bomberman R has also been a pretty sweet game to play on it. This console still needs a bunch of highly and longly requested franchises getting a new game, new ideas for those existing franchises and brand new ones. Splatoon was brilliant and I loved playing it, Nintendo can make so much money from one franchises alone with merchendise like amiibo and new franchises keep everything fresh. Look at Sony and the Playstation 4 for example. I mean console wars are bad enough but they really do give a lot to their fans.

So Nintendo halts production on a popular product that lots of people wants and tries to move on to the next stage in development. They don’t see the brilliant money incentive which video games are about a lot of the time and they shovel out a lot of the same old game. Those games on the other hand are great and I’ll play the time and time again. Their new console has so much promise and E3 really changes everything for its future.

You can’t survive on Mario and Link forever even if they comfort the nostalgia. Don’t be stingy with third parties even if cartridges do cost more for production. Communicate well with third parties for their online games on the eShop to be competitive with Xbox and PS4 (I am Setsuna, Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+). Console launch pricing was fine and obviously peripherals are a bit high and 1, 2 Switch! should have been a complimentary add-on but you can’t win ’em all. (Am I just bitter?)

The big N is a company that could once again claim the gaming world with so many easy alternatives to what they are currently doing and as it pains me to see such a wonderful console like the Wii U fade away and a console like the GameCube not given more time, I finally hope the Switch and other novelties can really shape up the content we are given.

At the end of the day there won’t be another gaming company that makes you feel the way Nintendo does. Maybe Sega back in the day but, both had different genres of games. Mario Odyssey should remind us of that potential.

The Nintendo Switch: First thoughts

Now I was going to post about what I was hoping from the Nintendo (NX at the time) Switch but, low and behold Nintendo decided to drop a really big bomb and blow us all away with the unveiling of the console.

There were plenty of rumours to what the Switch would be, what it would look like, the types of games it would play and the methods in which you played them. And you know what? A lot of leaks or rumours did in fact turn out to be true.

switch2

Now the Switch may incorporate a lot of similarities to the Wii U and could deter a lot of people from purchasing a Nintendo console still, however, the accessibility looks pleasing. What will be interesting will be how we move on from the Wii U seeing as two of its games were featured to be played on the Nintendo Switch. As the Switch will be using tiny cartridges (a return to better days and aided by how we store memory these days) it is unlikely there will be backwards compatibility.

That being said, it would be pretty disappointing if we have to fork out again for Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon, the latter could probably see a sequel in the works due to the positive reception it has received by selling over a million copies. With Mario Kart 8 however, it is probably the tightest in the series and only needs a couple more add-ons such as more customisation. It would be great to build karts and maps in the game but, with it being on a Nintendo platform, shit just ain’t that easy.

switch7

Maybe we could see these games transferred through our Nintendo accounts? Maybe it’s just a preview of the multiplayer & e-sports aspect of the console? All I know is I don’t fancy paying out a tonne of money for the same game no matter the accessibility. In terms of money, as the Switch is of a black/grey colour-scheme, will Nintendo have more customisation for the look of its console? I mean respective Nintendo colours would be great, a themed Zelda or Mario model? Plenty would eat that up.

Microsoft have embraced customisation greatly, I mean just look at their elite controllers! Nintendo had plenty of variants for the N64 and a couple for the Wii and Gamecube… so please Nintendo give me a Breath of the Wild machine!

switch5

Those who believe that somehow we’ll be able to play 3DS titles on the machine I believe would be incorrect. The 3DS sees its next Pokémon installment next month along with series’ such as Pikmin getting their first handheld title next year. There is still plenty of life in the 3DS and to be honest it’s nice to have variety in gameplay which Nintendo and third party developers have always done well. Even though they may be cartridges, Nintendo has too much to lose by removing the 3DS. That being said who knows how long the 3DS’ life cycle will be, hopefully a few more years!

That could then argue would the Switch dominate everything or is it planning to take handheld games? Is the price going to be set for the tablet or for the home machine as well? How much are we going to be spending next year?

I’d definitely say a minimum of £300 for console alone. Games will most likely sell at the same retail price as the rest have done.

switch3

The most exciting revelation from the Switch is…THE REMOVABLE CONTROLLERS!

Nah, but this is a unique feature. It makes me think of the Wii a little or getting more immersed in the gameplay (even if it is a broken apart Wii U). The take-the-tablet-anywhere part is probably the key to this and I can see March next year having everyone with the Switch everywhere. It is rumoured to sell around two million copies upon launch so expect to have a lot of thefts in March. Will Nintendo help protect these tablets with some security? Who knows.

switch4

I think the next big thing is the third party interest. Nintendo is showing a lot of support to third parties such as Sega, Square Enix, Warner Bros. and Activision. In the trailer however, there was gameplay of 2K NBA 17 and Skyrim which is seeing a remaster Friday. So maybe we will have some 2K and Bethesda titles coming to the console? Skyrim on a portable Nintendo console sounds like a pipe-dream but it might be do-able. This will be a while after the remaster though and maybe we’ll see a new Elder Scrolls announcement next year.

You know the Switch is going to make some serious dollar. For a company that’s been losing a lot, Nintendo could easily do with some. I could easily expect a bunch of peripherals for it from different controllers, VR? and a sweet carry case. I expect that the tablet could be touch-screen and it will be interesting to see how different the menu screen is from the Wii and Wii U as it is a pretty simplistic and easy menu. Will Miiverse continue and how will internet be used on the console? WHO KNOWS ANYTHING YET. I do hope we can use more than three wi-fi hotspots though and that we have a better use of online play.

switch6

Finally, I couldn’t be more excited after seeing three seconds of a new 3D Mario game. It looks traditional with coins and platforming. What if it was open world? That would be amazing, it seems to have a western-Mexican look to me but with a more modern cartoon blocky feel to it. Everything is coming up Milhouse or Nintendo and the big N has me drawn in.

Also that trailer didn’t just appeal to children, it had a bit of everything for everyone! Nintendo continues to revolutionise (hopefully) and looks to be learning from their mistakes.

I cannot wait to blast that unreal 4 engine running piece of hardware in March. I feel a revival to what we loved about Nintendo, all I hope is that we can get some solid games and see some of our beloved series’ make a valiant return.

You’ve got to make a few a bad decisions to reach the right one I guess.