Games Inbox: Nintendo in decline on Switch
The Thursday letters page suggests remakes of The Witcher 1 and 2, as one reader defends God Of War Ragnarök.
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I appreciate GC’s review of Splatoon 3 and the eternal question of how to mark games that are good but almost identical to their predecessors. I hadn’t been following Splatoon 3’s development closely and I assumed that there was some big new gimmick or feature, so to be told there’s nothing but new weapons and maps, well… that doesn’t sound like what I normally expect from Nintendo.
To be honest though, I think they’ve been in decline for years now. I know the pandemic messed them up but when was their last truly great game? Metroid Dread and Animal Crossing: New Horizons were both good, but they were pretty much the same thing as usual. It feels a really long time now since Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, or indeed Splatoon 2, and it feels like they need to regroup and up their efforts.
What worries me is that this Christmas’ big game is another Pokémon title. The second of the year and another game that’s probably going to be almost identical to its predecessor and will not have listened to a word of criticism about Sword and Shield. These low effort sequels are chipping away at my faith in Nintendo and their patented magic.
Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 can’t come soon enough but what I’m really interested in is what happens after that? If it’s another five years of so-so retreads then I worry something has gone badly wrong.
Infinite Assassin’s Creed
Wasn’t Assassin’s Creed Valhalla the most successful entry so far? I believe it was, and I’d say a lot of that was due to the fact that there hadn’t been any other entries for a while and there hasn’t been any new ones since, until this one due next year.
GC talked about how yearly sequels aren’t necessary anymore in its Splatoon 3 review and I agree. There’s even talk that there won’t be a new Call Of Duty next year, because Activision can just get by on season passes and Warzone.
I guess that’s kind of what Ubisoft are thinking with Assassin’s Creed Infinity being a live service game, except they’re making all these other games too, and it all sounds so overwhelming before we even know their proper names.
There’s little point me complaining because I’m sure they’ll sell anyway, they always do, but for a minute there I thought Ubisoft were learning Rockstar’s lesson: quality is the only thing that matters and absence makes the heart grow fonder.
I see that CD Projekt are trying to go the No Man’s Sky route with redeeming Cyberpunk 2077 but I’m really not sure they’re in the same situation. Hello Games were a lot faster off the mark than CD Projekt and they weren’t so much fixing things as adding to it, to make it more enjoyable.
Cyberpunk 2077 hasn’t added anything of note so far and the only time it will it’s via paid-for DLC. I just don’t see the game’s reputation ever recovering, no matter how many times Kean Reeves turns up on it.
The big question for them must be whether to do a sequel or not. They’ve definitely been hinting at but I’m guessing they wouldn’t try their luck until after The Witcher 4 is out and claws them back some kudos. It’s a long road of redemption, but more like a rickety bridge as I feel they could still fall off at any time.
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Remaking the story
Your article asked if your audience would be interested in a Witcher 4 game, to which I answer ‘I mean, sure? More Witcher story is a good thing.’ But then I am reminded that I have never played a Witcher game; read the books, watched the TV series, even watched playthroughs… but never the games. Why?
Despite being an old school gamer, my predilections towards turn-based games have their roots in the poor quality and controls of early action games and I remain unable to play the first two entries in the series. So, do I want a Witcher 4? No, I want a re-envisioned Witcher 1 and 2, so that I can enjoy the third entry without feeling like I am being dropped into the middle of a saga with neither the beginning nor end in sight.
Then again, anyone else who read the books will know this is far from unique to the games; not exactly literary masterpieces. Andrzwj’s world and lore is rich, his storytelling less so.
GC: That’s not a bad idea. The originals, especially the first, were pretty flawed. There was only ever one console version too, with The Witcher 2 on Xbox 360. By the way, if you liked turn-based games have you tried the card game Gwent?
Have to say I disagree with Zowie’s assessment of God of War 2018 weapons being uninspired. I assume he means because they use the tropes of fire and Ice. But for me in this instance I feel it’s like saying ‘Breath Of The Wild is open world and has Ubisoft towers, how uninspired.’
The combat range and use of the axe and blades in the level design and puzzles made them pretty inspired for me. The axe quickly cemented itself as one of my favourite weapons in a game ever.
PS: I give my letter a thumbs down to show solidarity with all the downvoters in the Underbox.
RE: The matter of F1 22 not being compatible with Steam Deck. I can’t comment on that particular game. I’ve only had my Steam Deck about a month but have been quite astonished at how well it has worked overall.
I think out of all the games I have tried there has only been one that has full Steam Deck verified status (Divinity: Original Sin 2), but the remainder have all been assessed as playable (with issues), unplayable, or unsupported, yet they have all worked either flawlessly or with minor issues to a greater or lesser degree.
The reader is correct in their point however, regarding Steam Deck verified status. It should be taken with caution. I think what is happening is that Valve are testing and verifying games, and thereafter said games are being updated/patched which is sometimes breaking the Steam Deck compatibility. By that point Valve has moved on to other games, despite giving the game verified status.
I must add though that it might be worth bringing up the Stream menu options on F1 22 and select Compatibility. From there try using an earlier version of Pronto to see if that helps. You may already have done this, and indeed the recent F1 22 update may have busted the game on Steam Deck regardless, but worth a shot if you haven’t tried yet.
I am having problems with your comments section on Firefox on mobile and Windows 10 desktop PC, when I type my comments and press space it doesn’t allow me to put a space between words. This has only just started happening in the past week.
So my messageslooklikethis. I can go back and add spaces but it is very time consuming, especially on a touchscreen. Another Underboxer was having the same problem too.
PS: The free games on Epic Games Store this week, from 4pm on Thursday, are Hundred Days – Wine Making Simulator (!) and Realm Royale Reforged.
GC: We’ll see if we can get someone to look into it.
I liked your Splatoon 3 review, particularly the observation that an incremental update that could’ve been DLC for the last game is all Nintendo could muster in five years.
To be fair, they supported the last game with both single and multiplayer content for a good while, so maybe the five years point is unfair in terms of resource. But I identify with your frustration because I’ve been saying for a few years now I think Nintendo in general has an effort problem.
Too much of their schedule feels like unambitious low hanging fruit they know they can get away with until, once in a blue moon, they manage to put out that genuine killer app they’ve been leading us on with.
It’s the frequency with which such tentpole titles arrive that’s always been a problem and way too much interim content has felt like stalling tactics till the main event is ready. I speak in the past tense because now it feels like that easy content represents their modus operandi and it’s instead the big pioneering stuff (the stuff I actually buy a Nintendo console for) that’s the exception.
I do get it: the reason some of the best games ever made are so good is because they take a long time to make. But all that should mean is Nintendo organises their considerable talent so such games are commissioned and released on a more sensible basis. When you count all their biggest franchises, on paper they’d have the luxury of releasing just one instalment every five or six years and that would result in at least one huge high effort title every year, accompanied by some of the less noteworthy stuff.
That doesn’t sound too unreasonable, but for a disturbingly big proportion of the Switch’s life what we usually get is a couple of B and C-tier releases at best with a shinier carrot dangling in front of us indefinitely.
For several years now we’ve been at the stage where the business has been able to pool all its resource on a single platform, the first time this has been the case since the late 80s. On paper we would have a year like the Switch had in 2017 every couple of years at worst, instead of so many low-tech attempts from legacy 3DS devs, stop gap full price ports and content-poor sports spin offs. It’s even worse when they finally do come out with a high effort title you don’t happen to be interested in (Smash Bros. for me), as it just makes the ones you care about feel like a once in a generation event.
On that note, a lot will inevitably be forgiven when the Zelda: Breath Of The Wild sequel comes out, but if they ever managed to get properly organised and deliver something special on a more regular basis, I’d certainly be a lot less resentful of all the stuff that comes in between.
You were probably being sarcastic but, yes, eBay is an option for me for Wasteland 3 but it’s twice the price of CeX and as previously mentioned, I have some vouchers to use up. Whilst I’m on again, would the second game be worth a go or is 3 the peak?
GC: We weren’t being sarcastic, you said you wanted to use your CeX credit. Wasteland 2 is good, and not that old, but Wasteland 3 is the best one. You may find Wasteland 1 a little outdated though…
I can’t help but feel Ghost Of Tsushima has kinda stolen Assassin’s Creed’s thunder with the long rumoured and awaited Japan location. What could they do that Ghost Of Tsushima and its inevitable sequel hasn’t already done?
GC: Add more quest markers?
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Dennis, who asks what retro video game has aged the best?
Retro gaming is big business nowadays but so are remasters and remakes, that aim to make older games more palatable to modern audiences, but which game do you feel holds up the best and is still as playable now as it always was?
How well do the graphics hold up and why do you think they have lasted better than other contemporaries? Do you still play the game in its original form and if there was a remaster or remake what would you change?
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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