Little Inferno

UPDATE: Little Inferno’s default price now seems to be $9.99.  For that reason, I’m bumping up my enthusiasm to recommend it to “moderately decent.”  I also bumped it 30 spots up the Leaderboard.  Yes, $5 does make a difference.

Looking for the solution to the four things you need to burn?  I posted them under the trailer below. 

Tis the season of gifts.  Or, if you want to be a killjoy, the season to burn toys in a fireplace.  That’s the idea behind Little Inferno, an independent game for the Wii U.  It’s by the guys behind World of Goo, which was probably the best digital-download game on the original Wii.  But World of Goo got by on being a quirky, addictive physics-puzzler.  Little Inferno, on the other hand, feels like the type of time-sink you would find on the iPhone market.  In fact, there are lots mechanical issues with Little Inferno that make me think it started life as a micro transaction-oriented mobile game, like Doodle God for arsonists.  Only such games typically cost $1 or less and make their money by nickle-and-diming you to speed up the gameplay.  Little Inferno charges you $15 upfront, and keeps the action nice-and-slow.

Good fun for the whole family.

There is a bit of a story here.  You’re a kid that lives in a snowy world.  You receive an Inferno Entertainment Center.  With it, you place toys in it and then burn them.  Once you burn a toy, it spits out more money than you paid for it.  You then hit a catalog to order more shit to burn.  While you’re doing this, you get a barrage of messages from a creepy neighbor girl who asks you to send her gifts.  There’s a few twists and turns along the way, one of which genuinely made me feel bad.  But the plot goes way too far.  Once you finish all the catalogs, an obnoxious ending unfolds over the course of the next twenty-plus minutes.  I’ve heard it described as “bold” or “social commentary” or the ever-dreaded “art!”  And of course, art here is meant to mean “criticism proof.”  As always, art is in the eye of the beholder, and while I held Little Inferno, my eyes started to get a bit droopy while I watched the ending.  It didn’t feel connected to the game.  I had someone tell me that Little Inferno actually gives you visual clues as to what is really going on, but the visual style kind of masks those clues unless you’re outright looking for them.  And besides, the gameplay is downright hypnotic, and after a while any and all interruptions were about as well received as a fart to the mouth would be.

The gameplay itself is really too simplistic for its own good.  Yet, it’s still oddly addictive.  Beating the game only requires you to purchase and burn each item in the catalog once.  Things are kept fresh by a having a list of 99 combos that you have to figure out on your own.  It sounds neater than it is.  Achieving a combo is done by buying each item, putting them in the fire together, and burning them together.  For example, you might see a combo listed as “Movie Night.”  To clear this, you have to buy an ear of corn (which of course turns into popcorn when you burn it) and a television set.  Unfortunately, this is about as deep as it gets.  Although some of the items have moving parts or unique sequences while they burn, you never have to create a Rube-Goldberg-style setup to get a combo.  Despite having a sophisticated physics engine, it’s not really put to use here.  It’s like one of those douchebags that buys a Lamborghini and then keeps it in his garage without ever driving it.

And getting those combos can be fucking agonizing because the game has needless item-refill times.  When you purchase an item, you have to wait for it to be “delivered” to you.  This can take quite a while.  You can erase the time by spending stamps, but they spawn infrequently and combos generally don’t spit out enough of them.  This is annoying, but what’s REALLY annoying is then the shop takes time to restock the item.  I’ll give you an example: Combo #73 requires you to burn one of those spring-loaded snakes in a canister with a thing of protein powder.  The powder requires you to wait two minutes for it to be delivered.  BUT, the very next combo requires the protein powder and a statue of a guy doing an Atlas pose.  This means you have to wait at least three minutes before attempting each combo.  This isn’t a phone game, assholes.  I think you meant it to be one, but these wait times are ridiculous.  Especially when you consider we’re playing on a game machine that’s battery life is shorter than the average Lord of the Rings movie.

Weird part is, this is exactly how my abuela Maritza died.

Weird part is, this is exactly how my abuela Maritza died.

To be clear, there’s something undeniably fun about Little Inferno.  I think.  I mean, with time sinks such as this, it’s tough to tell.  But the story is ruined by some boneheaded twists that take it from potentially a dark, macabre tale into a bullshit deep introspective journey of growing up.  I would love the game more if not for two things.  #1, it shouldn’t have been on the Wii U.  There’s no need for it to be on the Wii U.  The game can be played entirely on the Wii U gamepad, but this type of game lends itself more to “knock out a few minutes while waiting for the cashier to get a price check on a gallon of milk” sessions.  Not being tethered to a game console.  And, #2, it’s too fucking expensive.  $15 for this?  Yea, it’s on sale right now for $10, but that only lasts for a few more days.  And by the way, idiot that I am, I got this sucker on my first trip to the eShop and never actually played it until now, after Brian left for his vacation.  Stupid, stupid me, I paid the full price for it, and it’s not even close to worth it.  It’s not even worth the $10 sales price.  $5 seems like a good price.  $1 on iPhone and not a penny more.  Maybe that’s really the gag here: the biggest thing you burn with Little Inferno is your own money.

Little InfernoLittle Inferno was developed by Tomorrow Corporation

$14.99 said this was like Toy Story meets the Spanish Inquisition in the making of this review.

IGC_ApprovedSigh, can’t believe I’m saying this, but overpriced as heck Little Inferno is Chick Approved on the grounds that I had fun with it.  Only Xbox Live Indie Games get ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.  By the way, remove the “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but overpriced as heck” part if the price is $10.  And if they ever drop it to $5, you can remove the “Sigh” too. 

The four items you need to burn are the magnet, the firefly jar, the exterminator, and the sunglasses.  You’re welcome.

Advertisements

Wiitirement

The Wii U is out.  This means all that’s left for the original Wii is the typical third-party shovelware that a dead system gets once its successor hits.  In the Wii’s case, this is known as the status quo.  I’m kidding.  Mostly.  But this really does mark the end of the Wii’s life cycle, as no major first or third-party titles are left for the system.  That makes this a fitting time to look back on a console that alienated hardcore gamers (even slobbering Nintendo fanboys) and ultimately collected more dust than your average Egyptian tomb.  And yet, even as sales of the system slowed, it retires having outsold its rivals by nearly thirty-million consoles each, and will go down as one of the most profitable video game consoles in history.  Take a bow, Wii.  Don’t worry, I won’t wedgie you.

Wii was controversial from the moment its controller was unveiled.  It looked silly, gimmicky, and went against everything thirty years worth of convention said gaming controllers should be.  People thought Nintendo had lost their fucking minds.  I did too, but in retrospect I’m not sure why.  Nintendo popularized the D-pad, shoulder-buttons, the analog stick, and rumbling controllers.  There have been missteps (Virtual Boy) but otherwise Nintendo tends to get these things right.  Then the name came out.  Wii.  We’ve all heard the jokes and bad puns, which I’m obviously not above doing as indicated by the title of this piece.  This irrational hatred all stems from the codename being Revolution, which people got attached to, with no consideration that the word “revolution” is practically taboo in large parts of the world.

And, of course, the Wii was vastly underpowered compared to other consoles of the generation.  People moaned that they had only made slight adjustments to the Gamecube and nothing more.  As if this is a new practice.  The NES was, more or less, a re-purposed Atari 2600.  Both consoles had very similar processors, but the NES had access to components and features that were price-prohibitive in 1976 when the Atari was being speced out.  I’m not excusing Nintendo for excluding HD though.  Then again, I’m not really admonishing them either.  This is Nintendo we’re talking about, a company that had an irrational phobia of disc based things and internet connectivity.  Do you know what Nintendo is?  Nintendo is my father.  Impressed, or possibly obsessed, with “high-tech” inputs, but terrified of actual technological progress.

Punisher makers take note: your game can be difficult AND fun. Donkey Kong Returns proves that.

I’ll be honest: I’m not a fan of the system.  It would rank a distant third for me among seventh-generation consoles.  Fifth if you include the sublime Nintendo DS and the unsung workhorse that was the Sony PSP.  But saying the Wii was the straggler of this generation is like making fun of a bench player on a Super Bowl Champion.  This last generation was, and still is as long as the PS3 and Xbox 360 keep chugging along, the greatest generation in gaming history.  So I don’t really care if the Wii was the dumping ground of shovelware and half-baked ideas.  I wouldn’t really want to play third-party stuff on Wii anyway.  I would rather play them on one of the other consoles, with all the bells and whistles those systems provided, instead of on the Wii with gimmicky controls.

Wii gave me what I wanted: high-quality first-party Nintendo games.  That’s all I ever want out of a Nintendo console.  Anyone who expected otherwise obviously has problems with pattern recognition.  The Gamecube wasn’t exactly overflowing with third-party stuff that had a leg up on their PS2 or Xbox counterparts.  The Nintendo 64 certainly didn’t.  There might be a handful of exceptions, but the only reason any rational gamer would buy a Nintendo system is to play Nintendo games.  And the Wii had more quality first-party stuff than previous consoles did.  It’s not even close, in fact.  So why the hate?

I got into an argument with a friend of mine over this.  He felt Nintendo had abandoned “hardcore” fans.  This is a very common argument among Nintendo fanboys.  My short response: you’re wrong.  My long response: you’re all stupid, entitled, butthurt idiots.  And I can prove you’re wrong about Nintendo abandoning you.  Again, the only reason to own a Nintendo console in this day and age is for the first-party exclusives.  I know many of you cling to the era of the NES and SNES where Nintendo was king of the hill and had incredible third-party support.  Sorry, but those days are long gone.  They ceased to be in 1996 when Nintendo pissed off third-parties by keeping the cart format for the N64.  There were almost 800 SNES games released in North America, versus around 250 Nintendo 64 games, and around 400 Gamecube games.

Then the Wii became an unprecedented hit.  Nobody saw it coming.  It also was cheap to produce games for and Nintendo was much more modest with licensing fees than they had been in previous generations.  Suddenly, Wii is being flooded with hastily produced, low-quality shovelware.  This created a fogging effect that made the overall picture appear deluded.  Then Nintendo decided to really experiment with things like Wii Fit and Link’s Crossbow Trainer, and suddenly Nintendo fans felt like they were being ignored in favor of gimmicky, mass-market oriented stuff.

Huh?

Quick question to Nintendo fans: how many original Zelda games were on Nintendo 64?  Two, right?  How many on Gamecube?  Two again (three if you count Twilight Princess as a Gamecube game).  And how many were on Wii?  Um, two?

How many proper Mario games were on Nintendo 64?  You had Super Mario 64 and.. um.. that’s it.  On Gamecube, you had Mario Sunshine and that’s it.  On Wii, you had Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and New Super Mario Bros.

Not all first-party games were worthwhile. Mario Kart 7, Mario Party 8, and Animal Crossing were pretty big steps backwards in my opinion.

How many Metroid games were there on Nintendo 64?  Oh that’s right: NONE.  How many were on Gamecube?  Two.  How many were on Wii?  Two.

How many Punch-Out games were on Nintendo 64?  Zero.  How many were on Gamecube?  Zilch.  How many were on Wii?  One.  One really good one.

And talking about over-using gimmicks: how many Donkey Kong Country games were on Gamecube?  One, if you count Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, a 2D platformer where the controller was replaced by banging on a fucking BONGO to maneuver Donkey Kong.  On the gimmicky Wii, you used standard controls.

There was a very good Paper Mario title, a decent 2D Wario Land title, two pretty good Kirby games, and a pretty good Fire Emblem title.  And that’s just the franchised stuff.  My friend also complained about the lack of original properties.  I guess he missed Wii Sports (fuck all the haters, that game was fun), Endless Ocean, Fortune Street (making its North American debut), Big Brain Academy, the Art Style series on WiiWare, Sin & Punishment (and its Nintendo 64 predecessor that never made it stateside), and the way overlooked Fluidity on WiiWare.

And for you fans of paying for the same shit you’ve already paid for once and played a million times, you had the Virtual Console, plus “Wii-makes” of previous generation stuff like Pikmin, Metroid Prime, Resident Evil 4, etc.

This is abandonment?

Look, I’m not going to deny that the Wii was a disappointment, but didn’t most of that stem from ambitious but ultimately shitty third-party games?  Madworld, Conduit, Force Unleashed, and Epic Mickey spring to mind.  But that ignores some really neat smaller titles, like Elebits or Boom Blox that were a lot of fun.  While its true that my mind was never blown by anything third-party on the system, to say it was a wasteland of mediocrity is absurd.

I was quite fond of Zack & Wiki. It’s too bad nobody bought it.

Here’s one last thought on the Wii: if you were ten-years old, how much do you think you would like it?  I’m guessing the answer is “a lot more than you would have at age 30.”  Is it possible that your expectations were based on what Nintendo meant to you as a child?  Because here’s a newsflash: your beloved NES and SNES were overflowing with garbage that you would absolutely detest if you had never played it and it was released today.   I certainly would have liked Sonic and the Secret Rings a lot more if I was seven and the Wii had been my first machine, even though the game is not really that good.  Just like how I loved Crash Bandicoot at that same age, a game I would loath if I played it today.

No, Nintendo didn’t abandon you, the hardcore gamer.  They bent over backwards trying to appease you and keep you interested with the Wii.  But Nintendo has competition that can’t be beaten: your own memories.  The older you get, the more rosy those memories become, and the more insurmountable they become.  So instead of bitching about gimmicks, power, or shovelware that you wouldn’t buy anyway, look at what Nintendo did for you with the Wii and tip your hat to them.  Yea, my Wii sat unused for over a year before Skyward Sword showed up to disappoint me.  Yea, I probably played it a small fraction as much as my other consoles.  Yea, I would rather dive split-eagle on an electric fence than play 95% of the games on it.  But despite being a strange, often clunky, underpowered piece of shit, it provided me with many hours of fun.  I’ll miss it.  You should too.

My Ten Favorite Games Ever – Part 4

Continuing from Part 3, these are my personal ten favorite games ever.  Not the best games ever made, or even games I want to play again.  But the ten games I had the most fun playing the first time I played them.

Banjo-Kazooie

Age I was: 9

Last attempt at playing it: ten years later at age 19, when it was released on XBLA.

Would I ever play it again: No

Crash Bandicoot and Crash Bandicoot 2. Those were pretty much the definitive games of my formative years as a gamer.  Sure, there were lots of oddball games between those.   The original Rayman I enjoyed.  Bubsy 3D I did not.  At age 7, it was my first clue that not all games are created equal.  But while my experience playing a PlayStation kiosk lured me into asking Santa Claus for one for Christmas, I wasn’t quite to the point of tracking down every new release and having actual anticipation for upcoming titles.  And then I played Banjo-Kazooie at Toys R Us, and everything changed.

July 11, 1998.  My 9th birthday.  A brand new Nintendo 64, a controller that looked like a tumorous raptor-claw, and Banjo-Kazooie.  All mine.  How much did I love Banjo-Kazooie?  I didn’t even open the other game I got that day, Mario Kart 64, until a month later.  Banjo owned the rest of my summer.  I spent hours hunting down every music note, honeycomb, nook, cranny, and just being in awe of how much bigger this was than anything I had played before it.  This wasn’t a roped-off parade route, like Crash.  This was a full-fledged world that was alive and breathing, and it was mine to explore.

Banjo wasn’t the last game to wow me like that.  I had similar feelings the first time I explored Hyrule in Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or raced a Killer Whale in Sonic Adventure.  None of which I feel hold up today, but that first time through each will always hold a special place in my heart.  Platformers didn’t become special again for me until long after that.  Super Mario 64, which I played for the first time immediately after finishing Banjo-Kazooie, was hugely disappointing for me.  The world seemed less alive, less vibrant, and duller.  But that made sense.  It came out years before Banjo, and even Shigeru Miyamoto wasn’t totally satisfied with it.  He wanted to keep refining it, until Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi outright told him “it’s good enough, we need to get this into manufacturing!”

Nuts & Bolts was just alright for me. Some of my readers are shocked that I didn’t like it more on account of my childhood love for Banjo. I don’t get the logic of that at all. It’s like saying I like peanuts, and therefore I’ll like peanuts even if they’re fifteen years past the expiration date.

Mario 64 not “doing it for me” was perfectly logical.  So how come Donkey Kong 64 or Banjo-Tooie didn’t “do it for me” either?  Or for that matter, Super Mario Sunshine or Sly Cooper or countless other very good platformers?  Even after experiencing a couple “holy shit, this is amazing!” moments in Sonic Adventure (a game I concede is an atrocious piece of shit, but I was blinded at the time by the shiny new hardware) or my first time playing the Game Boy Advance ports of stuff I missed like Super Mario Bros. 3 or Yoshi’s Island, nothing ever quite approached that month spent playing Banjo-Kazooie.

But let’s not kid ourselves: Isn’t that how it should be?  Those moments of pure gaming nirvana, where you know you’re playing something uniquely special that makes you feel different than all other games do, shouldn’t those be rare?  For you it might have been Mario 3 or Chrono Trigger or Link to the Past.  For me, it was Banjo-Kazooie, and that’s just because of the generation gap.  If I had felt the same way after Tooie, or Mario 64, or Donkey Kong 64, or Blinx, or Vexx, or Billy Hatcher, then that original moment isn’t as special.  I enjoyed all the games I just listed, some very much so.   But only Banjo-Kazooie made me feel awesome in ways that defy description.  And I can’t get that feeling back from playing it again.  I tried not too long after I finished Banjo the first time.  I tried again when Banjo got a nifty HD port to Xbox Live Arcade.  It’s just not the same game for me anymore.  Like Shadow of the Colossus, I have nothing left to get from it.  At one point, I chalked it up to platformers not meaning as much to me as they did when I was a kid.  I still enjoyed them, but my gaming palate had grown and I liked other genres now.  I figured nothing would ever make me feel like Banjo-Kazooie did.  And then I played this..

Super Mario Galaxy

Age I was: 18

Last attempt at playing it: I never went back and played the original again, but the sequel was a glorified expansion pack and it hit when I was 21, so there you go.

Would I ever play it again: No

Mario doesn’t mean the same to me as he does to you.  That doesn’t mean I think Mario games are somehow inferior to your perception of them.  In general, they’re pretty fucking awesome.  But my childhood wasn’t spent counting down the days until the next game with Mario would hit the shelves.  That’s why I can’t get even remotely nostalgic about Super Mario 3, nor can I stand hearing people try to justify The Wizard.  Super Mario World wasn’t a benchmark title for me.  It was just the second game in the series to be ported to Game Boy Advance, and it was really fun.  Mario 64 was that game that let me down after Banzo-Kazooie, but I didn’t hate it or anything.  I just don’t think it’s a game that transcends time.  New Super Mario Bros. was that weird title that felt like the gaming equivalent of a bunch of frat boys trying to recreate their glory days and coming across as sadly quaint and pathetic.  I guess I’m really weird, because my favorite Mario up to this point had been Super Mario Advance.  You know, the remake of Super Mario 2.  The strange one that only became a Mario game because Shigeru Miyamoto went on the rag and decided he wanted humanity to suffer, making the real Mario 2 so brutally difficult that nobody could possibly like it.  Yea, I’m talking about the vegetable pulling one where NOBODY actually used Mario.  They either used Luigi or the Princess, and they probably warped past the ice world because that shit was fucking horrid.

I didn’t have low expectations for Super Mario Galaxy.  I thought it would be fun, just like Mario Sunshine had been, and that I would enjoy it for a couple of days, finish it, and think nothing of it.  So imagine my surprise when I totally melted as I played it.  It was awesome.  And it did what no game had done for me since Banjo: it turned me into a nine-year-old again, and kept me that way the whole play-through.  It was magical.  It really was.

The amazing levels, crazy gravity, fun objectives, and that sense that everything you were experiencing was something new and unique.  You’ve seen stuff like Mario Galaxy before.  It borrowed elements from previous games in the series liberally.  But they had never felt quite like this did.  It was utterly amazing.  The goals were always short and focused, so that they never grew tiresome, and worlds had just enough objectives to feel like they knew exactly how long it would all take to get boring and stopped just short of it.  There were plenty of surprises, legitimate challenges, and moments where you had to sit back and admit that this is as close to perfect as a game can get.  I don’t put Nintendo on a pedestal.  Quite frankly, I think they’re pretty overrated.  That’s mostly because they weren’t single-handedly responsible for my entire catalog of childhood memories like they were for so many gamers.  And while I don’t think the Wii is the abomination that so many hold it to be, it certainly won’t go down as one of my favorite systems ever.

But Mario Galaxy?  It will be special to me forever.

I’m really not a big fan of Yoshi. I don’t see what it adds to a game besides unneeded complexity and annoyance. It doesn’t help that my first encounter with him was Yoshi’s Story for the Nintendo 64. Even at 9 years old, the game was so pitifully easy that I actually spent hours staring at the box trying to figure out where the fine print that says “For Ages 2 – 4” was at.

But let’s not kid ourselves: When Mario Galaxy 2 hit, it was a very good game that simply couldn’t recreate the magic of the original.  The uniqueness had worn off, and the sense of wonder was gone.  It was more of the same.  Which is fine, because the original was so good.  But once the magic is gone, it’s gone.  That happens so much with me.  Even if a sequel is clearly the better game, the originals always stick with me more.  I really enjoyed Arkham City, but my memories of Arkham Asylum are much stronger.  I’ll reminisce about God of War before I think back to that great time I had with God of War III.  And these aren’t even the games that I hold to be the best.  It’s rare when I say a sequel actually is better enough that I’m certain to remember it first.  After discussing it with friends, only two games stuck out: Uncharted 2 and Pikmin 2 (though Assassin’s Creed III might win a spot).  Being 23 years old contributes to that somewhat, because I didn’t play most of the great franchises in chronological order.

I think why Mario Galaxy means so much to me is because it ended the cynic in me who felt that gaming would never get as good as it was when I was 9.  Obviously if playing Banjo-Kazooie on XBLA at age 19 couldn’t make me feel the same way that playing Banjo-Kazooie on Nintendo 64 at age 9 did, nothing would.  That was wrong, and I should have known better.  Of course I could feel that way again.  It just wouldn’t come from the same source.  It came from Mario Galaxy.  And you know what?  Some day I’ll feel that way again.  A game will come along that reverts me back to a smiling, giggling nine-year-old.  Do you know what else I know?  It won’t be Mario Galaxy.

Final part coming next with my two favorite games ever!

The Sequel Blues

We have been penalized by the lack of new consoles on the market. I understand the manufacturers don’t want them too often because it’s expensive, but it’s important for the entire industry to have new consoles because it helps creativity.

-Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft

I’m rarely stunned by the stupidity of words that come from the heads of major game studios, so I have to give Mr. Guillemot credit.  That was a remarkably dumb statement.  One that I wholeheartedly reject.  It was a defensive statement, for something that doesn’t need defending.

Gamers can be an irrational breed of people.  When they’re at their worst, gamers can be reactionary, twitchy, slobbering crybabies.  Or we can shorten that and call it “fanboys.”  I get it with kids.  Santa Claus brings Johnny an Xbox 360 for Christmas, while Bobby gets a PlayStation 3.  They’ll end up doing what kids do, arguing that their machine is the best.  But the bad ones, they’re the assholes who drag this argument out into adulthood.  They’re also the ones who bitch about console manufacturers who push non-gaming content, DLC, and especially sequels.

Minecraft 360 has sold over three million copies. Not bad for a dead platform.

I don’t get the argument against sequels.  Of all the truly stupid shit that gamers get angry over, the resentment of sequels is the one that baffles me the most.  I think many people forget that gaming is a business that exists to be profitable.  That might sound condescending, but it’s true.  When you bitch at developer for being too sequel heavy, you’re essentially telling them to not take the path of least resistance towards profitability, placing their company’s future at a greater risk.

Here’s my question: why does this make you, the angry gamer, so damn mad?  How in the blue fuck does Call of Battlewar Modern Reach 17 possibly affect you?  Other than the fact that you’ll be $60 less wealthy once it’s out because you know you’ll buy it.  Yes you will.

If sequels aren’t your thing, don’t get them!  Their existence doesn’t stop the influx of other purchasing options.  Gaming has entered a second Golden Age of creativity.  The advent of independent gaming, plus the roll out of digital distribution on consoles has opened the door to new and original properties that would never be given a green-light seven years ago.  In 2012, the major digital platforms on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have seen two record-shattering games be released: Journey and Minecraft 360.  Whether these games appeal to you directly or not is irrelevant.  It’s what they represent that is important.  They’re new properties (in Minecraft’s case, new to consoles) that destroys the notion of sequels drowning the industry.  The gaming landscape is full of titles like that.  Rarely does a month go by where there isn’t at least one, maybe two games on those platforms that I just have to try because they look so different.

Are we really ready to let go of the PlayStation 3 when such innovative, never before attempted ideas such as this one are on the verge of fulfillment?

That’s why I think Yves Guillemot’s comment pissed me off so much.  Because it was a pass-the-buck move for something that didn’t require defending or an explanation.  Anybody whinny enough to complain about sequels will never be satisfied with anything because they’re miserable human beings just looking for stuff to moan about.  You can’t please them, and it’s not even worth trying.  Whether they admit it or not, they buy all the mass-marketed stuff anyway.  They just have to try to be “cool” and reject sequels.  That makes them sound non-conformist.  I walked into a Gamestop once (bad decision, I admit.  I think I might have been under the influence of seizure medication) and saw what looked to be a half-man, half-manatee complaining about Crackdown 2 being a soulless cash-in that didn’t really try to be different.  And he said all this with a straight face while wearing a Gears of War 2 tee-shirt.  This is the type of moron you can’t win with.

Why try to justify yourself to these people?  Especially with outright bullshit, as is the case with Mr. Guillemot.  Saying “no no no no, it’s not OUR fault that we’re making sequels.  It’s their fault!  Sony’s and Microsoft’s!  Blame them!  We need new hardware or we simply can’t be original!”  Right.  Because launch-window games are known for their high-risk creative endeavors.  Of course they’re not.  New consoles bring with them 12 to 18 months worth of last-generation gameplay rehashes dressed-up with shiny graphics.  The Wii might have been an exception to that, just because it had that wacky new controller thing, but I don’t think anyone would try to argue the machine sparked a revolution of creativity.  It takes about two years for developers, even first party ones, to get over the learning curve of developing for a new platform.  While that is going on, they stick with what they know.

So Mr. Guillemot is wrong.  New consoles don’t breed creativity.  They might make a game producer’s imagination run wild with possibilities, but that doesn’t necessarily transition to the final product.  That’s why the truly neat stuff doesn’t hit until a console has been around a while.  A new concept, like Katamari Damacy, couldn’t have launched with the PlayStation 2.  Developers stick with what they know works, which is why Touch My Katamari launched with the Vita.

Spec Ops: The Line is technically a sequel, but it’s not really, because the series was never this bad ass.

And that’s why I don’t want this generation of consoles to end just yet.  Look at what the last 18 months have given us.  L.A. Noire.  Journey.  Bastion.  From Dust.  Fez.  Walking Dead.  Catherine.  Dragon’s Dogma.  I just finished Spec Ops: The Line, a game that is a sequel in name only, and I was blown away by its gutsy narrative.  You wouldn’t see anything like that christen a new platform.  You just wouldn’t.  Yea, this console generation has had an unusually long lifespan, but with promising new IPs like Watch Dogs or The Last of Us still on the horizon, why are we already writing a eulogy?  So I reject Mr. Guillemot’s assertion that developers need new consoles to be creative.  An especially hypocritical stance from the guy in charge of the publishing house that is bringing us the next big new IP, Watch Dogs.  According to him, they shouldn’t have even bothered, and instead of focused on the Wii U, which is the new platform his employees need or they just can’t think.  And what is this new platform in essence?  A screen that you have to flail around like you’re trying to swat a fly with it.  What is he doing with that?  ZombiU.  That’s his idea of innovation: holding a screen in front of another screen.  It would be like Firestone deciding the next generation of tires should be square-shaped.  Besides, my faith in that game is nil.  Ubisoft does launch titles about as well as buffaloes do deep-sea diving.  I remember Red Steel.

Sequels are not the problem with gaming.  I’m not even sure there is a problem with gaming right now.  We live in an era that features multiple thriving platforms, and hundreds (if not thousands) of games of all shapes, sizes, and costs that are released annually.  With so many options available to consumers, I simply don’t understand how so many gamers can be singing the Sequel Blues.  If all you can see is sequels, you need to get your eyes examined, because I do believe you’re more near-sighted than Mr. Magoo.

%d bloggers like this: