Lets talk about Pokemon Go

We had a couple of articles about Pokemon Go when it first came out. Mostly positive. Now that its been a year what the real consensus on the game? I still know a few people who easily put £40 into the game a month, I think these people are called whales [thinking-smily-emoji.com].

Unfortunately I lost my interest in the game about 2 months after launch, which is to be somewhat expected of a mobile game. My reason fell more around the fact the game was just broken, instead of being boring.

I find the game to be broken even now, 1 year after launch. The GPS warning is mostly my issue, also the fact that when i do turn it on nothing shows up. I do live in quite a rural area, my road has some 50 people and we are mostly out populated by cows. Should this stop me from playing your game – well no.

Its easy to list off what Niantic need to do in order to fix the game, everyone and their mum has had an opinion on what the game needs to do. If you go to any game forum you will find 10 posts on what a game needs to do and how some unemployed 16 year old can make a game better than you. All i really want is the game to work.

Niantic know what to do but give no fucks; since they are milking this cash cow dry….

Im not sure what Niantic are doing, so their failure so far must boil down to two things: Niantic know what to do but give no fucks; since they are milking this cash cow dry, or they really have no idea what they are doing and have the best contract pitch team in the industry.

Im not even going to talk about the massive failure they managed to pull off at the 1st year anniversary. Another fuck up which could have been avoided by just hiring people who know how to handle large scale event/meet ups. I have never run a company but if i had figures in front of me that said 20 thousand people where going to attend an event i planed – i would probably get a specialist in to handle it.

Every company has issues and a rocky 2-3 months can be somewhat forgiven. Unfortunately i’m confident that if we look back at the game in another years time this article will still be relevant.

 

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The Nintendo Switch

I jumped on board the Nintendo switch basically as an impulse buy, which for me is a bit out of the norm. I’m normally the first one to throw Nintendo on the fire, but not for the reasons most people hate on the company. I see Nintendo as the kid with allot of potential, unfortunately they always just do the minimum.

I see Nintendo as the kid with allot of potential, unfortunately they always just do the minimum.

Nintendo lives very much off its fan boys. Die hard fans who see 8 versions of the same game as some kind of achievement. New IP are slow to hit the Nintendo console, the last one being Splatoon(?). Admittedly they do like taking old IP and throwing them into new situation, like Paper Mario, Breath of the Wild, Mario sunshine, Mario.. cocaine filled drive-by.. etc. However this is unlikely to attract a new player base.

In my opinion Nintendo never quite reaches its potential and nothing highlights that more than the Wii-u failure, maybe it was the Dreamcast of its time.

The Wii was a success but mimicking that success is going to be hard. The casual player base it managed to crack have no idea that any other console exists and is still playing Wii tennis with their nan.

The Gamecube was an excellent machine and one of my favourite consoles, but if you think back to it – what did you actually play: Wind Waker, Twin snakes, Pikmin and Metroid. A good selection, but does it justify a whole console.

We have the usual games that show up each generation, Mario Kart and Smash-bros. Someone once told me that buying a Nintendo console, not to play Nintendo games is pointless. Which would be good if the Nintendo market share wasn’t shrinking.

I think all this might have finally sunk in at the Nintendo office, like the kool-aid guy showing up to your dads funeral.

Which is why I have faith in the Nintendo Switch. Rumours have it that this years E3 is going to be Nintendo, after a dismal few years. They have invested heavily in getting games on to the system, along with re-energising some of their older IP. BOTW has easily pushed the sales of the console but I’m confident the system will continue to grow.

If all else fails, I still own a N64.

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Mother 3: The first three-and-a-bit chapters

Earthbound was a pretty great, funny game about kids who save the world from aliens through courage and baseball bats. It has certainly left a lasting impression, as evidenced by the still prevalent boom in indie RPGs and Kickstarters citing it as an influence. I assumed that Mother 3 (a.k.a. Earthbound 2, never released outside of Japan) would be more of the same. I was wrong.

Maybe mild spoilers to follow.

If Earthbound was a game about hope, it’s sequel is a game about loss. Loss of old ways of life in the face of aggressive modernity and consumerism. More personally for the various characters you control, it’s about a family torn apart, simply for choosing the wrong night to walk home through a usually peaceful forest.

That the first chapter is called ‘Night of the Funeral’ should prepare you for the worst, yet by casting you as a father, whose whole family has gone missing in the woods, couples the inevitability with a mounting dread as the situation worsens. You know it’s going to end badly, but just how badly is left to play on your imagination as you plunge further into the forest in search of them.

However, games aren’t supposed to be all out depressing, and Mother 3 successfully counters all of its heavy themes with an all-round pleasantness. The world and it’s characters are so likeable, and so fully realised, and above all so creatively odd, that you want to keep going for their sake. It’s so damn charming. The save points are talking frogs! I just me one who was driving around town in a tiny sports car, but still willing to stop and let me save my game.

Also, I remember Earthbound’s battles being a bit dry. The designers probably thought this too, and decided to augment the whole thing with rhythm game aspects. It’s so fun, I wish all turn based RPGs would do the same.

Although I suspect bigger plots are afoot, the standout villain of Chapter 3, leading into Chapter 4 via a surprising, world-changing 3 year timeskip, is Fassad, a slimy overweight rich guy, determined to bring capitalism and conformity to the small town you live in, controlling peoples minds through total control of the media, and turning lifelong neighbours against one another if they won’t subscribe to his ideology of selfish enrichment at the expense of others.

Plus he’s all about torture.

Perhaps I inadvertently chose just the right game to finally get round to playing in 2017…

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2017, predictions in gaming

2017 is starting to look like a good year for games similar to the explosion of quality we received in 2015. It hard for me to choose a GOTY for 2016, simply put i never played allot of new games over the year. However now i have a rather large back log of games from last year, including Deus Ex, Dishonored 2 and Uncharted. Undeterred I’m aiming to blast through them ASAP.

If i had to choose – DOOM won GOTY for 2016 followed by Overwatch and Firewatch. This was picked up by Polygon, but not followed up by the Game Awards who went with Overwatch. Personally I can’t see a purely multiplayer game taking GOTY, but thats the elitist in me who see’s online games as little more than crack and insult generators.

So 2017.

I have a few predictions for this year. Im not going to list all the games coming out, just the ones i feel could be contenders for 2017 GOTY and ones which will amount to nothing, like how No Mans Sky was the best thing since the atom bomb but failed to take off (thats a space joke).

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard: The last 2 Resident Evils have been pretty under whelming. Resident Evil 4 took a different turn and became an instant classic. Five saw you play a steroid addicted beat the shit out of the locals followed by a fight in the a volcano. Six, something happened… but I’m confidant that seven will take the franchise into a different direction and could potentially take GOTY.

Conan: Exiles: This showed up late to my game radar and i predict it going down as a cheap mans Skyrim. But i’m hopeful its more.

For Honor: I’m going to call it now, this is going to be a buggy disappointment. Not only is it made by Ubisoft (boo) its all so hyped up to shit. Personally i hope i’m wrong, but something seems off about this title.

Horizon: Zero Dawn: This game is the reason i bought a PS4 (that and FFXV), I hope it lives up to my expectation. I hope it even goes down as GOTY.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands: This ones here for the bro’s, you know who you are. It’s likely to be a Steam Sale (Origin?) buy for me. I can see the appeal and i hope it does well, but not the game for me and unlikely to be GOTY.

Mass Effect: Andromeda: Its Mass Effect, its going to be good. The gameplay seems to have further evolved from the original cover shooter idea, but in general it seems to be grounded to the originals. People love Mass Effect so i see this doing well and maybe even taking GOTY. On a personal level i felt disappointed by the two and three, I can’t see me being that impressed by the fourth outing.

Prey: Im not entirely sure what i expect from Prey, its definitely not a sequel to the original Prey released in 2006. The game play and media released around it gives off a solid appeal which could do well. Definitely one to look out for.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: You could put a good amount of money on this taking 2017 GOTY. It’s Zelda, it’s Nintendo, it’s taken fucking ages to release. The gameplay released around this title looks polished and i’m generally excited for its release. Zelda being one of a few title i generally give a shit about when it comes to Nintendo. However the constant delay and the over the top hype coming in from the gaming media might see it fall flat on its arse, followed by a large amount of blog post entitled “It’s time to stop over hyping games”.

Read Dead Redemption 2: Another strong contender for GOTY. Unfortunately i see this getting delayed to early 2018. But still i’m hyped. Having not played the original for more than 2 hours i’m looking forward to getting into this sequel.

 

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Pokemon Go – A Casual Player’s Reaction

If you haven’t heard of this small mobile game that has taken over the world by now I’m pretty sure you’re either living in a cave, or you cut yourself off from all popular culture deliberately as you find yourself above such plebeian pleasures – either of which would make it very unlikely for you to be reading this very blog (although with the second one I still find it hard to believe you wouldn’t have even *heard* of it), so let’s forgo the basic description and get right down to it.

Pokemon Go is a phenomenal success – never in their wildest dreams did Nintendo predict it becoming as popular as it has done. Children run around with their parents, adults who grew up with the original Red and Blue run around with mixed feelings of excitement and nostalgia, hardcore gamers mingling with us casuals and even those who don’t generally play anything more complicated than Candy Crush – all running to parks and public venues to battle gyms/collect items and catch Pokemon.

I think one of the things I have loved about this game is that you see people playing it *everywhere*. Last night the future-husband and I were in the car driving to where we believed a Bulbasaur spawn nest was located, and not only did we see kids running around looking for it, we saw people our own age (and older) in their cars with passengers bathed in the electronic glow of multiple phones. I then went on Facebook and my friend had posted that she had spent her date night with her husband on the hunt for elusive ‘mons. It’s EVERYWHERE.

People have posted time and again how important this game has been in helping people connect, and although I could happily join in I realise I would just be repeating things better said elsewhere, so I will try to limit the gushing. What I will say is something that the FH (see I’m abbreviating it now) said to me when we started playing this together:

“I love that I’m part of something mainstream again.”

We geeks do love and embrace our identity, but sometimes I think we forget how fun it is to be able to engage with something we enjoy with literally anyone. The FH has managed to go out and started to recognise familiar faces on Poke-Hunts, and then start up conversations about what they have caught and if anything good is nearby. I don’t think he realises it, but the quote I shared (probably paraphrased by my terribly memory) is something he has started to regularly say when we talk about the game, or when we’re out together hunting (HA! Never thought there would be an innocent and environmentally way to talk about hunting did you?!), so I know how much he’s enjoying that feeling.

pokemon go loading screen

I will say this though – the game isn’t perfect. Because they didn’t predict the kind of global reaction this game has received, the servers are nowhere near stable and glitch all the goddamn time. And don’t even get me started on my issue with the sensitivity of throwing a bloody pokeball (my depth perception with this isn’t the best either, so I piss through pokeballs which irritates me no end). My last bugbear is the tracking, which is broken to all hell. In fact it is so bad I’m pretty sure that’s why Pokevision has become so popular (although I don’t really believe that, people will do anything to get a legendary).

But I forgive all of these. If the game kicks you out, you just wait and try to get back in when you can. Pokevision is a good alternative to tracking whilst its still broken, and has resorted in some pretty spectacular sights (the FH went out to catch a Snorlax at a school nearby, he arrived at the same time as a bunch of cars, and then proceeded to watch a stream of people break into school grounds and run across to catch this one guy. I would like to point out at this time he did not join in, instead he came back to tell me about it)

The positives definitely outweigh the bugs that come with Nintendo quickly learning how to wrestle this epic beast they have created. They have persuaded people to run around outside, and socialise in groups they wouldn’t otherwise. All whilst playing the most hated of gaming platforms – the free-to-play mobile phone game. I tip my hat to them all.

It also means I can fulfill my dream to become the Joey Rattata of Psyducks. Top percentage of Psyducks here I come!

Marina's_Psyduck

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