Games Inbox: How would you rate the current video game generation?

The morning Inbox tries to predict the next Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC fighter, as one reader plays Ninja Gaiden II on Xbox One.

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The greatest generation

Now that the next generation is in sight (sort of) there’s inevitably going to be a move towards retrospectives on the current gen and its formats. It’s obviously been a much shorter generation than the last one but I really do think it’s been one of the best, even if that’s often in spite of publishers and their horrible ideas like loot boxes and microtransactions.

But I think 2017 really was the best year ever for gaming and outside of that we’ve have many, many great games including several that could compete for the best ever mantle – and that doesn’t always happen in a generation. There’s been a lack of IP sure, and I do think that’s the biggest problem, but the overall quality – especially when you include indie games – has been the highest I’ve ever known.

I’m sure many people will have a tendency to proclaim whatever they played as a kid was best but I think if you go back and play many older games today very few of them hold up, not to the degree you remember anyway. Nostalgia is a hell of a drug but I believe we’ve never had it better.


Alternative career

Maybe I shouldn’t say this, as I’ve always felt Naughty Dog were overrated, but does it bother anyone that what they chose to show off in a tweet was them filming a cut scene? Video games are not cut scenes. Cut scenes are what you do in-between playing a game. I do wonder if Naughty Dog realise that sometimes.

The Last Of Us in particular had very mediocre gameplay I felt. Not actively bad but shallow, repetitive, and with slightly clunky controls. Uncharted is better but with The Last Of Us it seemed like they were barely even able to pretend they were interested in the gameplay. I really hope this changes in the sequel, but somehow I doubt it and fully expect them to get even worse.

I really don’t understand why some of these people – Hideo Kojima is another – didn’t just become film directors instead. You don’t see Christopher Nolan running off to make a video game while filming his latest, do you?


Open secret

I’m surprised at the interest in Mark Cerny’s comments regarding PlayStation 5. It’s been a pretty open secret for a while that Sony and Microsoft are planning to use AMD’s new CPU/GPU in their next consoles, and the performance he was stating falls pretty squarely in the ball park suggested by sites such as Wired and Eurogamer. I guess we’re all conditioned to get excited by new consoles but I’m going to massively surprised if next gen is anything but a slight upgrade.

And regarding the Xbox One S All-Digital, I agree that £199.99 is excessive, until I realised the RRP of the Xbox One S is 249.99, yet you can find it online for as low as 169.99. Come Christmas, with a price point of under £150, three kid-friendly games and three month’s Game Pass I can see it making sense to a lot of parents.
DarKerR (gamertag)/DarKerR-UK (PSN ID)

GC: We’re not sure that many people care about the tech specs, it was more the fact of Sony officially announcing the console and revealing details like backwards compatibility.


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Ninja Souls

So Ninja Gaiden II went backwards compatible today on Xbox One and… boy, this is not as good as I remember it. Before Dark Souls this is the game I would’ve called the hardest I’ve ever played but while it definitely is still that it just seems very cheap and unfair compared to Soulsborne.

The stages are so narrow and artificial too, there’s no real sense that you’re in the world. The graphics are still great, you have to give it that, but after really looking forwards to playing it again I think I’ve probably already given up.

I’d still be interested in a new sequel but mostly because the old ones seem so old-fashioned now.


Short term concerns

The reader makes a very good point when they say that subscription services are going to end up looking like much better value for money than consoles when the next gen swings around. Especially since Google Stadia and Apple Arcade are going to be up and running by then. I mean, how many subscriptions are we all going to have by that point, with Disney+ coming up and a bunch of other separate channels.

If the PlayStation 5 is £400+, which it’s blatantly going to be, who is going to be able to take that in their stride, particularly if they’ve recently bought a PS4 Pro? In fact how many will be holding off buying one purely to get the inevitable PS5 Pro?

I really do think the upgrade consoles have been a terrible idea. Confusing, expensive, and with only very minor benefits, they could go on to have a very negative effect on the whole concept of consoles if they end up putting off people buying the new ones. But hey, those short-term profits, eh?


Expect the unexpected

As much as I was looking forward to a new Direct (I agree there probably won’t be one now till E3) I do admire the fact that Nintendo never, ever do what people expect. That’s not always a good thing, it barely is half the time really, but I’d only begin to worry about them if the became predictable. Because that would mean they were no longer trying.

Looking forward to playing as Joker as I’m a great fan of the Persona series and those Mii Fighter costumes are an unexpected bonus, even if it’s a bit of a cheek to have to pay separately for them. Who says Nintendo doesn’t do microtransactions?

The question now, of course, is what are the other characters. Unfortunately, the Dragon Quest one seems a dead cert. Which is a shame because it’s just going to be another Fire Emblem clone more than just being a franchise most in the West don’t care about.

What I’m interested in though is if we’re finally get a Western character of any kind in the game. The chances of a Microsoft character seem very high now, most probably Minecraft and/or Banjo-Kazooie, but I’d like to think there’s still a chance of Master Chief too. Doomguy or someone from Bethesda also has to be in with a shoot too, if they can have characters like Bayonetta who are from 18-rated games.

I had hoped we might get a reveal for the next one along with Joker’s release, but well… you know Nintendo.


Petty cash

Ubisoft are giving almost half a billion pounds to renovate Notre Dame? That is… wow. Shows how much money they must have floating about if they can decide to do that after just a day. Makes me wish that companies would announce the budget of games, as I’d love to know what it is for Ubisoft games with their 1,000-man workforces.

I’m pretty sure you could get two or three out of that money though, including that Splinter Cell reboot everyone’s talking about. Although giving it to Notre Dame is a better guarantee that it’ll be used for something good!


Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here


Mega memories

With all the mini-console talk in the wind at the moment I would like to speculate on the contents of the Mega Drive Mini coming out in a few months. One reader wanted Cool Spot on it. Huh. That would be a waste of space. I remember it being below average even at the time, some of the levels were great sure – like the one with all the slides and the toy store level where you could run along the roof of a speeding train. But they were few in number. The level design was mostly boring and it featured no bosses! None! And it wasn’t anywhere near creative enough to justify its inclusion. The music might be great but you can listen to it on YouTube.

I felt Earthworm Jim 2 was significantly better than the original – not many bosses but what it had were great. There was the incredible Brasil-inspired ISO-9000 level full of demon accountants and paperwork as far as the eye could see in any direction, saving cows from aliens and fighting against a giant salt shaker. Earthworm Jim versus a salt shaker! How brilliant is that?

Then there was Rocket Knight Adventures. A game that sadly many forget about these days. One of the best exclusives for the system and the best game Konami put out for the system. It features the best set pieces and boss battles ever seen in a platform game. Well, I say Rocket Knight Adventures is an exclusive, it’s weird. I think there was a SNES version that never left Japan while the sequel got as far as America for the SNES but not here, where the Mega Drive reigned supreme and ensures that British gamers of a certain age (i.e. approaching middle) will forever associate the Awesome Opossum with Sega hardware.

You guys never included it in your best Mega Drive games list a few years ago – what are your memories of it? Is anybody even old enough to remember it at GC Towers? God, don’t say that – I will feel like a total fossil…

is it not an amazing game, though? Do feel free to shoot me down…

GC: We remember liking it at the time but haven’t played it in decades. All three 16-bit entries were released in Europe though – there were two sequels with identical names on the Mega Drive and SNES but they were very different games, as was not uncommon at the time.


Inbox also-rans

Transistor is free on Epic Games store from Thursday, 18 April on PC. Also, Tetris Effect is £14.99 on Amazon currently, but is not in stock at the moment.
Andrew J.

I know subscriptions are set to take over the video game world but I didn’t realise that was a general trend for everything. Just read about Adidas having a subscription service for trainers!


This week’s Hot Topic

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Carnie, who asks what’s your dream licensed video game?

Games based on movies, TV shows, comics, and other existing properties have seen something of a resurgence in recent months, particularly with Star Wars and Marvel, but what video game would you most want to see made based on something that already exists? Whether it’s James Bond or Hellboy let us know what kind of game it’d be and if you have a dream developer you’d like to see work on it.

Please remember it’s the Easter bank holiday this week, so we need as many emails in as soon as possible and by Thursday afternoon at the latest.

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]


The small print
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