PS+ Giveth, PS+ Taketh Away

playstation4

PS+ users are finally getting the hard hitting month of games they’ve been waiting for. Throughout March of 2018, people will have access to Bloodborne (PS4), Ratchet and Clank (PS4), Legend of Kay (PS3), Might No. 9 (PS3 with PS4 crossbuy), Claire: Extended Cut (Vita and PS4 crossbuy), and Bombing Busters (Vita and PS4 crossbuy).

People have pined for amazing AAA blockbusters to enter the program on PS4 for some time, and now their wait is finally over. There’s a caveat to this announcement, though, and it’s that the Vita and PS3 will no longer be part of the free games portion of PS+ as of March 8, 2019.

There’s a variety of takes on this across the internet, and many of them are predictably hyperbolic. Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX), a respected member of the online gaming community, stated: “Sony sacrificing the PS3 and PS Vita so we can get good games on PS Plus again.” I think that’s probably part of their plan, but no, this wasn’t a move ‘for the gamers’, as Sony so often leads us to believe.

I don’t think anybody expected that the PS3 and PS Vita would get ‘free’ games forever. At some point, it’s no longer financially viable for a company to pay developers and publishers large sums of money to feature games on platforms that people have long since moved on from. We’re well past the halfway point of the PS4’s life cycle (we won’t be waiting another 5 years before the PS5 is released), and with over 70 million consoles out there (as of December of 2017), people are spending less time on last generation machines than ever before. So, why continue to support those old fossils with ‘free games’? This was going to happen sometime, and ‘now’ seems about right.

But there is another issue, here. Each platform had two free games each month, and sure, if you no longer play on the Vita or PS3, you probably don’t care about losing games on those platforms. However, many of the titles on those platforms were crossbuy, so PS4 users probably got about 4 games they could add to their digital library each month. Sony have clarified that in the Vita’s and PS3’s absence, the PS4 will still only receive two games each month. So, people are going to have access to fewer games each month.

And they’re excited about that?

Well, it certainly helps that Sony has dangled a pretty attractive carrot at the time of this announcement. “Who cares about losing the number of games you get each month?” They ask. “When you can have games like Bloodborne and Ratchet and Clank, that’s all you need!”

No wonder people are excited.

To be fair, Bloodborne is, in my opinion, the best game the PS4 has to offer. The fact that everyone with a PS+ membership can enjoy it now is great, but I’m wary about taking this as a sign of things to come. Sony have pulled bait and switch routines before. In case anyone has forgotten, Driveclub was supposed to be free to all membership holders, but that’s not exactly how things went down.

But let’s say that the PS4 will see a regular trickle of solid AAA games from here on out. Are they really spending that much more to get the likes of Bloodborne on PS+? No, it’s not like they’re paying off an independent developer so their game will debut on the platform day and date for the low cost of nothing. Bloodborne has been out for ages now, and most of the people who were interested in spending money on it already have it. So, now they can hook a bunch more people that may potentially buy the game’s DLC (as will the developer). After all is said and done, I’d wager Sony are probably going to SAVE money… at least, until the PS5 comes out.

Business is business, and that’s fine, but I think it’s important for gamers to have a realistic view of what’s really happening when a company delivers bad news from one hand while holding something shiny in the other.

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Why Do You Play Video Games? A PBS Game Show Response

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Why do you play video games?

That question seems a bit absurd, I know, but I ask because every once in a while, I find myself in the thick of a quantity vs. quality debate. It’s an important conversation to have, for sure, as countless games have been padded to manipulate our perception of value. However, these discussions often take such a disheartening turn, that I can’t help but feel like I’ve wandered into an alternate dimension, one that could only befit an episode of The Twilight Zone. Expectations of gaming are going to vary from person to person, sure, but there are certain arguments I’ll just never be able to wrap my head around. Jamin Warren, host of the PBS Game Show, is my latest source of bewilderment, because he’s making the case that video games are too long.

I was intrigued to see if Mr. Warren could produce a reasonable argument in his video segment, but it took less than a minute before my eyes had rolled to the back of my skull.

To showcase the extreme amount of time we, as gamers, have to invest if we’re to play through today’s hottest games, he begins by pointing a finger at Forza Horizon 2, which takes about 10 to 15 hours to complete. Personally, I wouldn’t classify that as a long game, but to each their own.

Next, he brings up the considerably longer Grand Theft Auto V remaster, which boasts at least 30-35 hours of gameplay. Acknowledging he’s already played through the last-gen iteration, he’s still willing to tackle the lengthy heist drama once more.

Now, this is where my head begins to spin. Not because he’s willing to invest up to 70 hours on a single title, but because he’s already invalidated his opening argument. A 15 hour game is, apparently, too much to handle… yet he’s justifying a 35 hour game – twice, no less – merely because he likes it.

Dragon_Age_Inquisition_BoxArt

Of course, in the same breath, he has to go that extra sensationalist mile with Dragon Age: Inquisition, as he says the prospect of its 40 to 80 hour campaign made him ‘weep inside’.

So, one 70 hour investment is fine, yet the other is not?

But then things get interesting:

“Games are, far and away, on average, longer than any other medium on the planet. For example, during the 276 hours that this Tumblr user spent playing Call of Duty, I could watch every movie on the AFI 100, finish the works of Tolstoy, and listen to most of the major works of 20th century pop music.”

He goes on to explain that while video games are a wonderful way to spend our time, it’s hard for a responsible adult to squeeze in such drastic minimum completion times, as we still have to juggle family, friends, work, etc. As a result, at least according to him, this is why only 10 to 20 percent of people ever complete their games. I’d like to respect the correlation he’s making, because there’s undoubtedly a link between completion rate and the amount of time people have in their day-to-day lives, but I have to wonder how sincere his ‘games are fine’ asterisk is when he follows up his train of thought with:

“So I can’t help but notice when I feel like games are wasting my time.”

He immediately goes into some explanation about how other forms of entertainment don’t require your undivided attention. You can simultaneously listen to music and read a book, for example.

Subjective.

I’ll agree that music can be more liberating than other media, but it depends on the person. There are plenty of people who don’t just use music as background noise, but as something to become immersed by. As far as books go, some can deal with distractions, while others can’t. Also, the pace at which each individual reads should be taken into consideration. According to my Kindle, I still have 13 hours left on a Stephen King novel I’m reading, but I’m sure there’s people who could probably knock it out in half the time. Film and television are also ingested in a variety of ways. Point is, no one person is alike, so blanket statements need to be left out of the equation, here.

He then states that the medium is experiencing a ‘crisis of audience’. Games now appeal to most age groups, and naturally, they all carry a different set of expectations based on their lifestyle. They all want different things.

That’s a crisis? We’ve reached a point in time where games aren’t seen by most as children’s toys… and that’s a crisis?

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

ozdorothytoto

There has ALWAYS been a great deal of diversity amongst video games. You could seek what lurks in the dungeons of The Legend of Zelda, or collect fruit in the preciously adorable Bubble Bobble. Enter a castle dripping with atmosphere in Castlevania, or hop on a pogo stick as ‘Unca Scrooge’ in Ducktales. Get your face hacked off by Jason in Friday the 13th, or roam around in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Regardless of what someone sees through their rose colored glasses, there was a variety of gameplay at the ready, and not a single game was beloved by everyone. But, because video games have only become more diversified over time, there is something for everyone.

But, you know, that’s apparently a BAD thing.

Mr. Willen even goes as far to suggest that games come equipped with a story slider – very much like the ones we use for graphics and difficulty – to reduce or extend a game’s narrative. This would allow for any given game to adapt to what WE require, and not the other way around. For example, those who are turned off by the beefy Dragon Age campaign would now have reason to play it.

Now THAT’S a slippery slope if I ever heard one.

Let’s say they did this. Let’s say Dragon Age: Inquisition offered a ‘story slider’. If you abridged the story, you’d have to alter the game mechanics too, wouldn’t you? I mean, how could that even be done? The entire game would have to be re-invented multiple times to suit multiple types of gamers. Keep in mind the devs spent at LEAST three years to bring this game, as is, to retail. To ask that they retool EVERYTHING to appeal to whatever YOUR schedule dictates, would seemingly add a lot of unnecessary time – not to mention cost – to the development cycle. That means MONEY, Mr. Willen. Where would the cost of extra time and resources get passed down to? You guessed it. The consumer. Do we really need to give publishers another reason to inflate the overall cost of games?

Now, as far as game length is concerned… well, that’s nothing new, either. Many classic platformers can be beaten within a couple of hours, and there wasn’t much accommodation. Many of these games had no saves, no passwords, nothing. Just you, the controller, and whatever the game had in store. But we also had Final Fantasy VI (Final Fantasy III on the SNES), in which the primary quest could take 35 hours. Including side quests, you could easily have a 40 to 50 hour game on your hands.

Superghouls

And besides, even the SHORT games could chew up lots of time. I mean, you can technically beat Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts in less than 2 hours, but personally, I’ve NEVER been able to beat that game legit. I still play it to this day though, and I’ve probably invested well over 100 hours of my life to it.

So, who cares if Dragon Age takes 40 or even 80 hours?

I understand that life doesn’t leave much time for gaming. Most nights I only play for an hour or two, and sometimes not at all. Does that mean developers should compromise their vision to appease me? Absolutely not. It’s no secret that Dragon Age, or many of the other lengthy games out there, require a substantial investment. If you don’t want to invest the time, then don’t. Don’t buy a game if you think it’s too demanding for your lifestyle. That’s the beauty of having so many diverse experiences available in the marketplace. If one game doesn’t meet your needs, there’s plenty that will.

As a side note, despite my lack of time, I still play really long games. If I want to play it, I see no reason to skip it. Sure, it’ll take an extremely long time to beat them, but I’m fine with that. I mean, what’s the rush anyway? To get it out of the way so I can move on to the next? Personally, if a game is fun enough, I’ll see it through to the end. Know when I will step away? When it stops being fun. Otherwise, I’ll be content knowing my $60 investment could last for MONTHS.

Anyway, Mr. Willen argues that even if you DO have a lot of time on your hands, it’s still a precious commodity that shouldn’t be wasted on side quests.

Again, subjective.

Who’s to say what should constitute a waste of time for ANY of us? Some people really like the side stuff, and for a variety of reasons, at that.

One person cannot judge how valuable a game’s content is, or isn’t, for anyone else. Same goes for our tastes in books, music, and film. Some think The Lord of the Rings – as written by JRR Tolkien – is a literary masterpiece. Others believe it’s needlessly padded with an overwhelming amount of detail. Some people prefer listening to single songs, while others prefer the experience of a complete album. You can’t please everyone, right? Right. So, let the artists bring their vision to the table, and let the consumer decide what’s right for them. There doesn’t need to be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Choice is the spice of life, after all. But, hey, if that’s what you want, guess what? There’s plenty of games that already do that, and more are on the way.

Which reminds me that Mr. Willen conveniently ignores something else, though. If quick satisfaction is what you need, there’s already an entire market dedicated to you: Mobile gaming. If you own a tablet, phablet or cell phone, the options at your disposal are almost limitless. There are games that cater to those with only mere minutes to play. If you like the episodic style of Telltale Games, their titles are compatible with virtually every modern device. If you want truncated versions of major AAA console titles, mobile has that, too. Dead Space, Mass Effect, Battlefield, Hitman, Madden, Call of Duty, and Batman have all made the jump to smaller screens.

So, let’s address the elephant in the room: Is Mr. Willen even all that interested in gaming anymore?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying he needs his ‘gamer card’ revoked, or anything like that. But, what’s the most important part of any game? The gameplay… which is ironic, because this PBS Game Show host no longer seems to care about that aspect of the experience. No, he just wants to get in, get out, and walk away with a satisfying narrative… which is fine.

What’s NOT fine, however, is that he’s asking for a complete overhaul of the industry mold, and he’s doing so without considering the repercussions. I mean, let’s say developers around the world began catering to the ‘short and sweet’ crowd en masse. Polygon’s Ben Kuchera – who tends to agree with most of Mr. Willen’s argument – implies this could lead to consumer savings:

“A shorter game can be made for less money which leads to lower prices which means more people buy it… and so on.”

But does that even remotely echo reality? Mr. Willen’s specifically addressing AAA console games, but would publishers like Ubisoft, Activision and Electronic Arts REALLY reduce the price of their games if they cost less to produce? Of course not. One needs to look no further than Call of Duty, an annual franchise featuring 5 hour campaigns and a minimal multiplayer experience out of the box… unless you buy a season pass, of course. And yet, this game has the same MSRP as the time-consuming behemoth that is Dragon Age. If anything, I think these companies will stick with the $60 price tag regardless, and bank their savings from development to improve profit margins.

And since we’re talking about money, EA’s fiscal 2015 third quarter earnings call held some intriguing info about Dragon Age: Inquisition… You know, the game allegedly too daunting for the masses:

“Dragon Age: Inquisition captivated fans and critics worldwide as it launched in November, and it quickly became the most successful launch in BioWare history. More than 113 million hours have already been spent exploring the depth and detail of the single-player experience in Dragon Age: Inquisition, and more players are joining each day. Named “Game of the Year” by 32 media outlets around the world, including IGN, Game Informer and the Associated Press, Dragon Age: Inquisition is a true masterpiece from the team at BioWare and a game that is sure to be played for a long time to come.”

“In particular, Dragon Age: Inquisition had by far the most successful launch in BioWare’s history, exceeding our expectations. In addition, game sales for last-generation consoles were also much stronger than we had anticipated.”

“Outperformance versus our outlook was driven by the record-breaking Dragon Age: Inquisition performance.”

Not that there’s a strong correlation between game sales and game quality, as hype can go a long, long way… but Dragon Age is a well-established franchise. The devs themselves even more so, thanks to their success with the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Baldur’s Gate, and Mass Effect series. People knew what they were getting into.

More than anything, I think this shows that Mr. Willen doesn’t truly understand what gamers want… just what HE wants.

So, in retrospect, maybe the question isn’t why do YOU play video games – since we see the kind of a response that elicits – but why do WE play video games? As I’ve gone through painstaking detail to point out, there isn’t a simple answer for that. Never has been, never will be. We ALL have our preferences, and as we grow and mature, those preferences are likely to change. As a result, self-inventory should take a large role in our internal conversation, especially if you’re echoing the sentiment that games are too long, wasting your time, and find yourself rushing through them ‘just because’. Games should not be, as Mr. Willen puts it, a chore. Yes, some games are needlessly padded, but this happens across all mediums.

At the end of the day, it’s up to the INDIVIDUAL to decide what’s best for THEM.

New Year’s Non-Resolutions

2015

What’s the point in having a New Year’s resolution?  It’s easy to say, “I’ve learned a lot this year, and I’ll somehow apply that knowledge to make a ‘better me’ the next”, but I’m a bit more… realistic:

-The most common resolution?  “I’m fat!  I need to lose weight!”  Well, I’m a big guy that loves big food.  I will NOT be visiting ‘Camp Putdownadaforka’ in 2015.

-I could say I’ll work on propelling myself into a better job, but money isn’t everything.  I never work nights, weekends or holidays.  I don’t think it get much better than that!

-As for the money I DO make… yeah, I’m not much of a saver.  Not because I’m flat out terrible with money, but because I know how precious – not to mention fleeting – life can be.  So, I spend money on the things I enjoy.  I love taking my family to fun places, going out to restaurants, and my two favorite hobbies have always cost a fair amount of coin:  Film and video games.  I may not live in a mansion, but I lead a happy lifestyle.  What’s the point of having a wad of your cash in your pocket if you leave this life unfulfilled?

-People often vow to relieve themselves from stress in the New Year, but screw that.  “I will be less stressed” is a weak resolution, and furthermore, it’s odd.  Why would I cite myself as a source of stress?  For the sake of argument, let’s say I am.  Maybe I have a chemical imbalance and can’t help myself!  Nah, my stressors are probably the same as yours:  OTHER PEOPLE.  Not everyone, of course, but I know that if I leave the house long enough, I’ll find just enough of those joy-joy mood parasites to feel at least SOMEwhat agitated.  On second thought, I don’t even have to leave the house for that… I can just hop on the net or turn on the news.

-Travel?  Didn’t I JUST rant about how other human beings affect me?  Why would I want to hotbox myself in an airplane with people who have NO social awareness whatsoever?  I have no intention of dealing with folks who can’t keep their knees off the back of my seat, have never learned how to properly utilize an ‘inside voice’, or can’t stop burping and farting without explaining their entire medical history to me.  Your gastroenterological issues are yours and yours alone, pal.  Keep your escaped poo and bile particles confined to your own personal bubble, PLEASE.

Clearly, I’m joking.

On a more serious note, though, I’m really not the kind of guy that likes to partake in the whole ‘New Year’s Resolution’ thing.  Life is too short to fixate on flaws.  If I feel like making some changes, I’ll do my best to make them… and an arbitrary date on the calendar won’t have anything to do with it.  That said, I HAVE learned some hard lessons over the course of 2014, so the opportunity to share these ‘epiphanies’ couldn’t have come at a better time.  Hopefully, this list provides something you can think about while deciding how to spend your money in 2015 and beyond.

For starters, I’m honestly done with buying games on day 1.  The industry has changed in such a way that it doesn’t even make sense to me anymore.  Most major releases have either not worked, or required a significant patch upon release… meaning these games aren’t complete out of the box.  There’s also a troublesome trend of games being sold as if they were crack:  Major publishers will provide a mere taste at release – at $60 a pop, mind you – so you’ll get hooked and feverishly buy into whatever DLC they throw at you.  Me, I’m tired of spending full price for a product that’s literally incomplete off the shelf.  MSRP for good intentions?  No thanks.  So, I just won’t do it anymore.

And yes, this also means no more pre-ordering.  “Pre-ordering doesn’t harm anyone though, right?  I mean, if a game comes out and you hear bad things about it, you can always cancel.”  Yes, I can always cancel, but why pre-order in the first place?  How many times have you been legitimately burned for not doing so?  Unless you’re looking to get a limited collector’s edition or the latest console, your local retailers will have a TON of copies on display.  And believe it or not, pre-ordering DOES hurt the consumer.  Think about it:  Why are publishers confident enough to release their games in an unfinished state?  Because those pre-order numbers tell them they’re going to make a lot of money regardless, so as a result, they let that ‘fix it later’ mentality creep in.  This, unfortunately, is what happens when we tell these companies, “Yes, we’ll buy your product sight unseen.”

And you know, I think I’m just going to buy less games in general.  I’ve purchased a TON in the last 12 months… and for what?  To sit on my shelves looking pretty?  I mean, it’s nice having a large selection of games to choose from, yes, but that’s no justification.  It’s disheartening to think of all the games I bought at full MSRP; many of them remain unplayed, and can now be had for $30 or less.  Yes, by the time I get around to most of the titles in my backlog, they’ll be worth at LEAST 50% less than what I paid for them.  Since September alone, I haven’t had the opportunity to play Far Cry 4, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Hyrule Warriors, The Evil Within, or the remastered iteration of Grand Theft Auto V.  I’m not even sure when I will… so what the hell did I buy them for?  That’s five games I could have nabbed for $30 instead of $60… meaning if I was smart, I could have had an extra $150 in my pocket.  That’s not exactly chump change, you know?

So, with that decided, I’ll naturally work on my backlog.  As a matter of fact, I’ve already begun the process… and to be perfectly honest, I’ve been much happier with those games (The Witcher 2, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword) than most of 2014’s offerings.  That’s not to say I won’t dabble with the Wii-U, Xbox One or PS4, but rather they’re not likely to be my primary source of entertainment until the end of the year.

But there will be a point in time when tackling the backlog buffet feels too much like a chore… so I’ll keep things interesting with retro games.  I’ve emulated my childhood favorites for years, but all that did was remind me how stupid I was for selling off my old systems.  Well, I’ve had it up to here with regret, so I bought a Retron 5, original SNES controllers, and a respectable batch of old-school games.  I know it’s technically emulation, but I don’t care.  There’s just something about using original controllers in a machine that has a cart sticking out of it.  I plan on utilizing this machine A LOT, so you can expect to hear my thoughts on some retro games as I complete them.

But again, don’t mistake this rundown as New Year’s resolutions.  The wind has been blowing this way for me as of late, so the change in tide was inevitable.  For once, I actually welcome it, too… which is weird.  I’ve always been apprehensive to change, but this time it’s different.  Maybe it’s because I do my best to always look for the silver lining, I don’t know.  I certainly don’t approve of major publishers continually attempting to pull the wool over our eyes, but if they HADN’T plunged the industry to new lows last year, I’m not sure I would be the informed consumer I am today.

Regardless of how you felt about 2014 though, here’s hoping each and every one of you have a fantastic year in gaming.  New, old, or REALLY old… it matters not.  The only thing you should really concern yourself with is having fun.  That said, it never hurts to stay informed so you can make decisions that better suit you, your wallet, and the industry as a whole… that is, as you, the consumer, would want it to be.

Happy New Year!

Projekt RED Pill

CDPR

 

I’ve spent an awful lot of time pointing fingers at companies that care too much about revenue, and not enough about consumer satisfaction. So much so, that I, at times, have twisted that finger back at myself. It’s hard not to feel like an asshole when all I do is bitch and moan, but being that I’m constantly reminded of the sad state of the video game industry, I snap out of that funk pretty quick. I mean, I’m not asking too much of the devs and publishers, am I? I just want games to work the way they’re supposed to. Not on day two, seven, twenty-one or beyond… but day one. That seems both reasonable and logical, yet any time I bring this up, people tell me to “just deal with it” because “that’s just the way things are.” More than that, their attitude implies that because developers have the ability to patch our games through the internet, we should just default to being grateful… and I can’t side with that sentiment at all. As with most things I’m asked to ‘deal with’, my gratitude can only extend so far.

But it’s important to remember that just because a bunch of publishers opt to cut corners for the sake of deadlines, it doesn’t mean EVERY company is like that. No, there are studios that wholeheartedly believe in releasing games when they’re done. They know anything less would tarnish their name and drive customers away, so they try to do what’s best for EVERYONE, their company and gamers alike.

Let’s take Remedy Entertainment, for example. The studio is best known for its work on the Max Payne franchise (the first two installments), but I respect them most for the development cycle of Alan Wake. It was originally announced in 2005, with a brief tech demo shown to the press (behind closed doors, of course), but didn’t see the light of day until 2010. A long wait, sure, but the end result speaks for itself: It’s a game that exceeded both technical and conceptual expectation, and as a testament of this, stands as one of the best games on the Xbox 360. Will they uphold that quality with Xbox One’s Quantum Break? That remains to be seen, but this company has given me no reason to sweat them yet.

Rocksteady were supposed to release Batman: Arkham Knight this fall, but postponed it until June. The reason is unclear, but I think it’s safe to assume that they realized it wasn’t yet up to their level of standards. They have a decent track record thus far with Asylum and City, so why mess with it now? Warner Bros. Games Montreal took a stab at the franchise with Arkham Origins, and predictably, they shoved their offering out the door with a fair amount of bugs, including one which has been known to break the game.

You can say what you want about Nintendo, but one thing’s for sure: Their output is consistently problem free. When I turn on my Wii-U and pop in a first party game, there’s no question in my mind about how smooth an experience it will be. As a matter of fact, the only major issue I can recall is a game-breaking progression bug in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (which has since been fixed). Otherwise, everything I’ve played on their consoles has been technically spectacular.

So, why have I chosen this moment to break away from all the bitching and moaning to focus on something positive instead? That answer came in the form of an announcement from CDProjektRed:

“Dear Gamers,

Ever since we started working on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, we knew it would be an ambitious game. We wanted, and still aim, to give you an incredible experience, an epic adventure in a vast, completely open fantasy universe.

The sheer size and complexity of The Witcher, key features of the title, have had a decisive impact on production. Now, nearing the end of our work, we see many details that need to be corrected. When we release the most important game in our studio’s history, we must be absolutely sure that we did everything we could to limit any bugs to a level that will allow you to enjoy the game thoroughly.

With this in mind, we took another look at current workloads and what they mean for the team. Even though everyone is working at full speed, we concluded that we need another 12 weeks, so we are shifting the release date of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to May 19th, 2015.

We owe you an apology. We set the release date too hastily. It’s a hard lesson, one to take to heart for the future. We know what we want to do to make Wild Hunt one of the best RPGs you will ever play. And we continue to work hard to achieve just that. So, we apologize and ask for your trust.

Thank you for the all support you show us on a daily basis. We truly do appreciate it. It has fueled us in our passion since the start and will continue to do so.

The Board of CD PROJEKT SA”

Oh, and just prior to this, they announced there would be plenty of free DLC in the several weeks following launch:

“As CD PROJEKT RED, we strongly believe this is not the way it should work and, with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, we have decided to do it differently. Cutting to the chase, everyone who buys Wild Hunt will receive 16 specially prepared DLCs absolutely for free, regardless of platform. You don’t have to pre-order, you don’t have to buy any special edition to get them — if you own a copy of Wild Hunt, they’re yours. This is our way of saying thank you for buying our game.”

Is there really any question that this is how things should be done?

I know some skeptics are probably calling me a CD Projekt RED fan boy at this point, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. My first experience with this studio’s work was through The Witcher 2… and I only began playing that a couple of weeks ago. That said, I don’t have to be a devout fan to acknowledge the fact they just seem to ‘get it’. This company is openly against DRM, isn’t about to gouge their customers by selling DLC for what feels like an incomplete game, and they obviously care about the quality of their output.

It’s very seldom an entity in the industry decides to uphold these values, and while I understand that money has, and always will be the primary motivation, the likes of EA and Ubisoft should take note. If you ask gamers who they feel the most respectable studio is, you’re likely to find an overwhelming amount of people who echo Projekt RED’s name. Because of the respect they’ve shown for both their work and their customers, many in the gaming community feel they are a beacon of hope – at least as far as the AAA scene is concerned – that everyone should follow. There’s a reason why fans of this studio are increasingly loyal, and why more people swallow the RED pill each and every day. Hell, I know a couple of people who are going to buy The Witcher 3 JUST because they want to support this company’s business practices.

It’s unfortunate that so many companies have lost their way… that they’ve forgotten their customers are intelligent human beings who actually notice – and will respond negatively to – nickel-and-dime practices. Something else these companies have seemingly forgotten, is that people will actually REWARD the studios that treat them right. After all, CD Projekt RED hasn’t been elevated to ‘hero’ status amongst the gaming community for nothing. That’s not a label I’m comfortable bestowing upon them, however. My take is that they’re merely exercising common sense, but because various other companies have set the bar so low, it makes them look like saviors by comparison.

Still, the fact that an ever growing studio has managed to stick by their moral code, not to mention continually expandtheir business as a result of that, is highly encouraging. More encouraging than that, is that CD Projekt RED aren’t alone.

11bitstudios

Take, for example, 11 Bit Studios. Their latest effort, This War of Mine, had (of course) inevitably leaked on The Pirate Bay. Their course of action? Well, they didn’t call their lawyers, or release numerous ‘join the fight against piracy’ statements to the press. No, their response was pure class all the way. Direct from the comment section of the torrent page (which is now missing, due to The Pirate Bay going belly up):

“It’s Karol from 11 bit studios, the developers of This War of Mine.

We are really happy to hear that you like our game. They prove, that spending 2 years on it was worth it.

I would like to say thank you to everyone, who decides to buy the game and support us — because of that we’ll be able to develop TWoM further and create even better games in the future.

If because of some reasons you can’t buy the game, it’s ok. We know life, and we know, that sometimes it’s just not possible.

Here are some codes for the steam copy of the game, so some of you can take a look at it. And if you like the game after spending few hours in, then just spread the word, and you’ll help us a lot.”

They elaborated their position with Polygon, as well:

“It’s just that not all pirates are the same. Of course there are people that would pirate the game even if it would cost 10 cents, but you can do nothing about them…”

“What many of us often forget though, is that there are also other people. Folks that are doing that, because they are simply pissed about the current quality of many games, or those who simply can’t afford the game at the time, because of some personal reasons,” he continued. “That’s why we believe that instead of treating everyone the same way, where pirates are the most evil people on earth, it’s better to talk and try to find a solution, where everyone somehow benefits.”

“You can’t buy the game, but you would like to suport [sic] us? Tell your friends, and who knows, maybe one of them will pay for it and that would give us few bucks,” Miechowski told Polygon.

“Pretty well known Polish indie developer Sos did something similar some time ago, and just like in our case it proved, that it always pays back if you try to understand people, instead of condemning everyone.”

Every studio has tales rooted in humble origins, and while some have forgotten what it means to provide and interact with human beings, others remain humble regardless of success. Again, the studios I’ve mentioned aren’t alone, and I believe the future of gaming may not be as bleak as it often looks. Think about it: We have a slew of independent developers making a splash on both consoles and PC, and they, more than anyone, understand how important it is to let hard work and positive word of mouth lead them to success. As we’ve seen with multiple AAA releases in 2014, good things will not await those who release games that don’t work as intended… especially when DLC and microtransactions are involved. No, instead, the ‘indies’ know they need to take their time, say ‘thank you’ to their loyal customers, and hopefully if they’ve done a well enough job, reap the benefits.

Years from now, I believe at least a handful of independent studios – such as 11 Bit Studios – will grow and become as respect as the likes of CD Projekt RED, Remedy Entertainment, Rocksteady Studios, etc. All we need to do in return is ensure that those who show us respect, get it back in spades, while those who treat us like bottomless piggy banks are brought to the forefront of conversation… you know, to keep them on their toes. And believe me, it works. Obviously Microsoft had little choice but to listen to their potential customers when it came to the Xbox One. In more recent news, Ubisoft said they’re going to change the way they interact with people, while Electronic Arts looks to improving the overall quality of future projects. Why? Because this contrast exists within the industry, and our collective voice DOES have an effect on how these businesses conform.

Bringing this back full circle, I know I spend a lot of time bitching on this site… but when it comes to the gaming industry, I DO believe hope is very much alive. Support the companies whose practices you applaud, and the rest should fall in place.

@bytesizeimp

Well… At Least 2015 Is On The Horizon

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While some promising titles have seen the light of day in 2014, I have to be honest: It’s been a disappointing year. Not because there weren’t any games to play, mind you. In fact, I was overwhelmed with the number of titles to play across various platforms (PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Wii-U, 3DS). No, what really soured the year for me was that most games just didn’t live up to their potential. Nothing stood out enough to make me say, “Wow, this could be game of the year.” As it stands right now, my best of 2014 (so far) list would be dominated by remakes and remasters… but they don’t count. Francis Ford Coppola could re-release The Godfather, but that doesn’t mean it would be eligible for any current awards. If they COULD count, my conscience wouldn’t allow it. I’d much rather stick with my respectable ‘chosen by default’ list of originals.

But don’t mistake my disappointment for surprise. Every time we move to a new console cycle, we, as gamers, have little choice but to clasp our hands together, breathe deep, and wait for developers to acclimate and produce. That takes time, of course, and I wasn’t expecting the PS4 and Xbox One to match the industry’s output in 2013… which, by the way, included the likes of Rayman Legends, Pikmin 3, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Assassin’s Creed IV, Super Mario 3D World, Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider, and The Last of Us.

Even so, it felt like something was amiss this year. I know there’s a number of gamers that want to enjoy their products without focusing a critical eye on the industry, but I think it’s important – if not imperative – that we try our best to do both. Of course, that’s a difficult proposition when you’re left to wonder where that game of the year is…

The first title to really make waves in 2014 was, without question, Titanfall. I mean, the hype was unprecedented. According to Wikipedia, it took over 60 awards at its E3 2013 reveal, ‘including a record-breaking six E3 Critics Awards: Best in Show, Best Original Game, Best Console Game, Best PC Game, Best Action Game, and Best Online Multiplayer.’ IGN’s Ryan McCaffrey contributed to the hype, saying, “You will buy an Xbox One for Titanfall, and you should.” Needless to say, the hype was unprecedented.

As a ‘consumer watch’ side note: Why did Ryan McCaffrey go on record with such high praise? I could understand if he said something like, “Wow, this game is really promising. It could really shape up to be something special.” But he didn’t do that. He told people they should buy an Xbox One for Titanfall… without having seen the final product. Is it any wonder why people tend to take everything IGN (or various other industry ‘news’ sites) says with a grain of salt? I mean, this guy is an Executive Editor, meaning he probably overseas the work of other writers, ensures articles hold up to IGN’s standards, and even produces some of his own content. Furthermore – and this is the kicker – he probably makes and maintains relationships with various partners (as is typical for his job title). So, what was this guy’s motive? To maintain a relationship with the publisher (EA)? To get quoted on the back of a case? Ah well. The guys at IGN believe they’re on the right side of integrity…

So, back to it: What was wrong with Titanfall? It certainly wasn’t the core gameplay. No, the mech battles and parkour inspired verticality were a breath of fresh air in a genre staled by Call of Duty. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough content to back the gameplay. The campaign was shallow, boiling down to 9 multiplayer maps (and only two game modes between them). Multiplayer – the crux of the game – was also thin. More maps entered the fray with DLC – surprise, surprise – but it wasn’t enough to keep me playing. Again, Titanfall isn’t a BAD game… just lacking, and in a pretty big way.

Later that month, Infamous: Second Son broke the scene, and after many had expressed disappointment with the PS4’s launch lineup, it was poised to be the system’s first killer app. Its predecessor was a real treat: Character development was spot on, the story always had that much needed sense of urgency, and the gameplay had a great balance between challenge and fun. Second Son, on the other hand, seemed to take a step backwards in most respects. It’s one of the best looking next-gen titles to date, but the campaign has little variation in story and side quests, and secondary character development was seemingly saved for – again, what a surprise – DLC. I understand the devs had the task of introducing us to a new lead in an oppressive political climate, but variety is the spice of life, is it not? Get the drones, spray paint walls and billboards, take out the enemy strongholds, rinse and repeat… that was it. It’s a fun game overall, but again, just didn’t reach its potential.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes… I know the typical response is to say that it was a glorified tech demo. I hate to jump on that bandwagon… but it was. A really fun tech demo, sure, but certainly not worth its asking price.

Watch Dogs was set to launch on virtually every platform in November, but was delayed until May. There was a bit of controversy about graphical downgrades, but I bought it anyway because it’s the GAMEPLAY that counts. As far as strolling through virtual Chicago goes, the devs really brought it to life. Citizens were walking, talking, jogging, you name it. I even came across a couple arguing at a hotel: The man stood in the parking lot, pleading for his significant other to forgive his infidelity. She, on the other hand, was tossing his belongings over the balcony. Small touches like this made all the difference, and I don’t think enough credit is given for the ‘world’ that’s been created. It. Was. ALIVE. And, because Chicago WAS so immersive, I spent a great deal of time snooping on people and doing the side quests. Then, I went back to the campaign, only to get bored. Why? Because there’s virtually no difference between the story and side content. Watch Dogs recycles the same few game modes over and over again. Say it with me now: Fun for a while, but didn’t reach its potential.

Mario Kart 8 – much like Titanfall and Infamous – was also poised to be a system seller… and to be fair, it was. Still, it felt a little light on content. Sure, there’s always been four new cups and four old, but that’s precisely the problem: Half of the core game is remakes of old tracks. Nintendo fans have more or less told me “That’s just the way it is.” But that’s not really a good justification, is it? Furthermore, why does the roster feature so many duplicates? Doesn’t Nintendo have a wide enough array of characters that they shouldn’t have to resort to this sort of thing? The lack of unique tracks and roster slots are going to be addressed… but – surpriiiiiise! – as paid DLC.

In September, Bungie finally got to launch their new franchise: Destiny. From the get go, I absolutely adored this game. See, I’m the kind of guy that HAS to play through the campaign first and tackle multiplayer after, and Destiny broke me of that habit. It didn’t matter how I bounced between strikes, patrols, campaign missions, PvP and even other fire teams… everything was integrated well enough, that I never felt like I was leaving the core game. That said, I recognized and even acknowledged the game’s numerous flaws… but I was having so much fun, that I didn’t care. Once I hit the soft level cap of 20 though, my opinion began to change, and it was only a short while before I lost the will to justify the lack of content, plot, character development, etc. Yes, the veil had been lifted, and I finally accepted Destiny for what it was: A DLC platform. An empty shell of a game.

I don’t really want to take a lot of time to comment on Shadow of Mordor since I haven’t completed the campaign, but there’s something missing from that game, too. Yes, the Nemesis system is amazing and is precisely the sort of thing I want to see from this generation of gaming, but it’s not the 8 or 9 out of 10 most of the early reviews made it out to be. And, if you’ve been following the news as of late, it seems that those reviews were compromised by WB Games… sort of a ‘don’t talk negative about our game and we’ll give you a digital code’ sort of deal.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity was supposed to wow everyone with a highly detailed recreation of Paris. The city is certainly gorgeous, but the rest of the game has been criticised for a slew of immersion breaking bugs. The game allegedly has 25GB of lighting data, but shadows come and go as they please. Characters will pop in from 30 yards away. The main character fell through level geometry. The frame rate regularly dipped below 30fps and, at times, looked like a slideshow. Technical issues aside, is Unity a fun game for Assassin’s Creed fans? Yes, but hold on to your money and wait for Ubisoft to confirm the game has been fixed. Also, you should ask yourself if you’re tired of the franchise at this point or not. While Unity is certainly fun, it isn’t ‘Black Flag’ fun.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection was supposed to make people want to buy an Xbox One, but a key component – multiplayer matchmaking – didn’t work at launch, nor two weeks after the fact. But, if you don’t care for multiplayer, that’s all well and good. After all, there’s four stellar campaigns that have received performance upgrades. Oh, and Halo 2 has been given a COMPLETE overhaul. But, for people like me who have more games than they know what to do with, these campaigns may not have been the primary selling point. I’ve played Halo 1-4 a bunch over the years, and while I have no doubt I’ll revisit them again in the future, all I wanted was to relive some of the best multiplayer console gaming has to offer… and 343i botched it.

There’s other games, of course, but I haven’t been able to get hands on with some of the notables as of yet. Sunset Overdrive is on my Christmas wish list, as is Little Big Planet 3. I have Far Cry 4, but Dragon Age: Inquisition is also waiting for me on my game rack…

“Woah, Mr. Zupan. You’re forgetting some important releases!”

Well, I can’t talk about EVERY game.

I guess I glossed over South Park: The Stick of Truth. Honestly, it was an excellent RPG and I enjoyed every minute of the 16 hours it took to slay the campaign. Keep in mind, those hours INCLUDED the side quests. That said, 16 hours is nothing to scoff at… but once you beat the game, there was nothing left to do but start over. Dark Souls II was amazing, but in many ways failed to live up to its predecessor. Don’t get me wrong: These are really good games… but not ‘great’.

Not that there weren’t games that took me be surprise. Wolfenstein actually EXCEEDED expectation (which, granted, was pretty low to begin with). But the most refreshing game this year, at least for me, was Bayonetta 2. Yep, Microsoft and Sony are going to have to pound sand this time around. The Wii-U exclusive is absolutely smashing, both literally AND figuratively. It has INSANE over-the-top action coupled with breathtaking set-pieces, and the combat offers enough variety that it remains fresh and satisfying throughout. The only downside is that it’s an incredibly linear experience, but I was having so much fun watching Bayonetta unleash her ballet of pain, I just didn’t care. Oh, and they ported the original Bayonetta on its own Wii-U for this release, at least in the United States. THAT’S how you support a release.

Just for fun, I’ll talk about those remasters now:

I had never played the new Tomb Raider, so my time with it on the PS4 was pure bliss. The Last of Us made its way to the PS4, and I didn’t regret the upgrade for a single second. Diablo III (Xbox One / PS4) wasn’t only an improvement over the original PC edition, but I found it to be the definitive version overall. Rockstar seemingly did a bang-up job with Grand Theft Auto V, too.

But, like everything else in this article, while there’s a positive take on all these remasters, it only makes the rest of 2014’s line-up look all the weaker. When some of the best games of any given year are titles we’ve already played… well, isn’t it obvious that something isn’t right?

Here’s hoping 2015 rounds out to be better in every perceivable way.

Opinion-Bytes: Will the Dangling Carrot Sway You Into Buying Wolfenstein: The New Order?

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A lot of people give the famed Doom franchise credit for launching the FPS genre, but this style of gameplay had its roots firmly established in the 70’s. That said, if you really wanted to discuss the first game to kick things off proper, that honor belongs to Wolfenstein 3D (1992). I probably need four hands to count how many times I’ve played the game in its entirety over the years, and many more if I were to throw the reboot – Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001) – into the mix. I’d like to pretend the franchise remained a contender ever since, but I’m only able to count how many times I played its sequel – Wolfenstein (2009) – with a single finger.

Opinions vary wildly on that installment, but for me, it was honestly one of the most forgettable games I’ve played in the last decade. Not because the game was riddled with bugs, mind you. It’s just that Raven and Id Software produced a dreadfully boring game, and it all boils down to horrendous AI and archaic level design. Instead of being challenged by adversaries with intellect, I was met with mindless drones which would respawn endlessly until I forced my way through them. Furthermore, the maps only served to make me feel like a rat in a maze. Plenty of people felt the same way I did apparently, because Wolfenstein didn’t sell nearly as well as its publisher Activision had hoped.

So, here we are some years later, and Wolfenstein: The New Order is ready to release on May 20, 2014. I’m obviously not going to buy this game… not yet at least anyway. Despite the fact it’s being handled by MachineGames and Bethesda Softworks, my skepticism remains at an all-time high.

“Wait, Id Software have no involvement in the latest Wolfenstein? What gives?!”

Chin up. This is a GOOD thing. Id Software may have been kings of the industry once, but they haven’t come up with anything fresh in a long, long time. Their most notable effort in recent years was Rage, and it was a flop.

Not only that – and this may sound like blasphemy – but Doom 3 wasn’t as revolutionary as we were lead to believe either, by fans or media alike. Sure, it was a ton of fun, but it was still little more than your standard run-and-gunner. So, why did it work? For starters, the premise validated the game’s linearity – You’re trapped in a space station on Mars, and you’ve got to get the hell out of Dodge. The end. Thanks to the immaculate textures and lighting – which were a gamer’s wet dream upon release – a dark and spooky atmosphere oozed from every pixel. We can’t expect every game to turn out like Doom 3 though, because when it comes to games or even film, simplicity is exceedingly difficult to pull off. Just think of all the summer blockbusters you’ve seen – They’re all eye candy, but some ‘just work’ while others miss their mark. Unfortunately, Wolfenstein (2009) was one that missed the mark, and by quite a bit at that.

So yes, I’ll wait until I see some reviews and actual gameplay before making a decision. I mean, that’s the reasonable thing to do, right? Right.

Well, Bethesda seemingly wants to secure your money before YOU decide to be reasonable, because they’re offering beta access to the next Doom with every pre-order.

It’s a brilliant strategy, to say the least. The previous Wolfenstein all but killed the franchise, so they needed a hook to reel people back in… but how? Why, by dangling a carrot off a stick, of course! “Wolfenstein? Pssh. Wait, huh? Doom beta access is included? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!” Just by glancing at Reddit and various message boards across the web, people are already excited to pre-order because of this announcement, meaning a boost in day 1 sales is now an inevitability. Interested or not, these gamers are going to give the new Wolfenstein a try, and for better or worse, word of mouth will take care of the rest.

Well played, Bethesda. Well played… but I’m still going to wait. ‘Beta access to Doom’ sounds nice and all, but keep this in mind – It’s been in development hell for a while now. It’s nice to have confirmation that it’s still in active development, but it could be years before it’s ready for beta testing.

But how about you? Does this sway your decision to pre-order the game in one way or the other? Leave your thoughts below, and we’ll discuss it!

Bit-Review: DuckTales Remastered

D-d-danger lurks behind you...

D-d-danger lurks behind you…

The NES played a central role in my childhood. I remember walking around the corner to a friend’s house, spending countless hours playing the titles that were destined to become classics, and Capcom’s DuckTales was amongst the most memorable.

At the time of its release, Capcom was already a well-established company… but how they managed to land a deal with Disney is beyond me. In retrospect, I would have imagined Capcom’s reputation for producing crushingly difficult games would have sent mixed messages to the animation giant. After all, their target audience would have been the youngest of children. Could you imagine little Timmy picking up the latest Disney game, only to spend an afternoon crying because it proved to be just as punishing as Mega Man or Ghosts ‘N Goblins? Well, Capcom’s take on DuckTales was surprisingly well balanced. The gameplay wasn’t easy but not particularly challenging, yet hardcore players kept coming back to see who could find the most treasure. This addicting formula was rounded out with fun level designs and one of the catchiest 8-bit scores of all time.

If you didn’t get to experience this game as a child… I’m so, so sorry. You totally missed out… that is, until Capcom announced they’d been developing an HD remake of the original classic – DuckTales Remastered. Yeah, the first thing that flew out of my mouth was, “SHUTTUP AND TAKE MY MONEY!” The prospect of being able to play this title in HD was all I needed, but Capcom wanted to improve upon the initial experience. I wasn’t sure how that could be possible, but I was intrigued nevertheless.

Before I get ahead of myself, it’s important to discuss what made this title so much fun in the first place – Its gameplay. Scrooge McDuck traverses through the Amazon, Himalayas, Transylvania, African Mines and even the Moon, all seemingly for the sake of acquiring more wealth. I say ‘seemingly’ because the devs never bothered to fill us in on what’s drawing our beloved Unca Scrooge to these locations to begin with. That may sound appalling by today’s standards, but this was commonplace in the NES’s heyday. Anyway, in order to obtain these treasures, he has to battle his way through tough apes, giant spiders, mummies, bats, skeletons, goats, slugs, carnivorous plants and more… and that doesn’t even take the stage bosses into consideration. McDuck doesn’t venture into these areas with any projectile weapons, or even a blade for that matter. No, he uses his cane as a makeshift pogo stick, pouncing his enemies into submission. The cane also doubles as a golf club – Small boulder in your path? Stand next to it and give it a whack, hurdling it towards the next unfortunate creature. Yes, it sounds simple enough, but each level has its own series of challenges to overcome. You’ll have to carefully time your jumps from one careening mine cart to the next, or channel the spirit of Indiana Jones as you hop across a collapsing bridge while a massive boulder nips at your heels. If you want our feathered version of the Monopoly guy to survive, you’ll have to be methodical and precise.

Of course, getting from point A to point B is only half the adventure. As already mentioned, you’re continuously adding to Scrooge’s money vault, and this is perhaps the most challenging aspect of the game. Gems and treasure chests aren’t just sitting around waiting for someone to take them home. Nope, they’ll only be revealed after McDuck moves over their hiding spot, meaning you’ll want to walk and hop in every nook and cranny imaginable. Even still, you’re likely to blow your chance at retrieving certain treasures before you even have the chance to realize it… and shockingly enough, this never seems unfair. Missed opportunities will only demand multiple play-throughs, and even urge you to change your play style.

That’s pretty much the game in a nutshell. Everything worked so well in the original, so people pressed their hands together and prayed that Capcom would stay faithful to the original formula. Well, they did, and reviews of DuckTales Remastered has been mixed as a result. Seems kind of hypocritical to me, but I guess that’s the culture of gaming – Even if there’s nothing wrong with a product, you HAVE to find something to complain about. After all, what kind of news gets the most attention? Negative, of course.

So, how does the remake fare, exactly? In short, Capcom knocked it out of the park. This is about as faithful a translation as you can get – Level layouts are almost exactly the same. There’s a few minor tweaks, but they’re so subtle hardly anyone will notice. And oh, how gorgeous these diverse locations have become. Capcom actually enlisted the original series animation team to design the levels, so it actually feels like you’re playing in HD versions of the show. Furthermore, all the characters have been penned, inked and digitized as well. Last but certainly not least, the music has been lovingly recreated, and the result is pure sonic ear worm.

That wasn’t enough, however – In order to enhance the idea you’re actually playing through a DuckTales episode, there’s now a bunch of scripted segments that tie everything together. Their efforts definitely capture the heart of the show, but you know what really went a long way in driving this concept home? Getting the original cast to voice their respective characters. Yes – Scrooge, his nephews, Launchpad, Gyro, the Beagle Boys, and pretty much everyone else – they’re all here with fresh dialogue, and I dare say they sound better than ever (except for Magica DeSpell, who now sounds somewhat aged). Impressive, considering Alan Young – the voice of ‘Unca Scrooge’ – is over 90 years old.

As far as gameplay changes, there isn’t much to discuss. Certain boss battles have been modernized to be a tad more challenging, but all their classic moves are still present and accounted for. Honestly, the most notable change is that it’s easier to pogo. On the NES, you had to press A to jump, and then simultaneously hold ‘down’ and B. Oh, and move left and right at the same time. I’ll never know how I made it through my childhood with my thumbs still intact. If you’re something of a masochist, you can turn the ‘hard pogo’ control scheme on, but, uh… just don’t.

All in all, this is DuckTales as you remembered it… only better. Of course, there’s an inherent problem with this – Not everyone got the chance to enjoy the NES game or even the original series. So, how are young gamers going to react to the HD remake? Well, reviews from 20-somethings across the web are mixed, and understandably so. There was a LOT of hype for this release, so expectations were bound to get out of control.

As far as the gamers who ARE old enough to have enjoyed the 8-bit rendition, reception has been all across the board. Some herald it as the greatest HD remake of all time, whereas others have criticized Capcom for emulating the original design and gameplay to a fault… but me? I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… this, coming from a guy who wholeheartedly supports major alterations (when appropriate, of course). I mean, take the upcoming Castle of Illusion remake for example – The original Sega ‘classic’ was a fun game, but the controls were dreadful and the level design left a lot to be desired. It appears the studio behind the HD version is changing things quite a bit, and for the better. To those who wanted something more from DuckTales Remastered… I honestly don’t know what to say. That’s a lie… of course I do – Get the fudge out.

That’s not to say there aren’t some minor issues. Some have complained that the amount of integrated cut-scenes is a pain in the tooshie. I actually enjoyed the story bits throughout my initial run, but they do become tiresome on multiple replays. At that point, all you want to do is collect treasure and bonk bad guys with your cane, and the cut-scenes do cut into that experience. Fortunately, you can press ‘start’ and select ‘skip cinematic’ from the pause menu. Capcom, it would be nice to see a patch in the future that would allow us to skip the cut-scenes automatically… just sayin’.

Last but not least, some have complained that Scrooge doesn’t always pogo when you want him to… but these complaints are a tad misleading. I actually found this to be a huge problem at first, but that’s because I was attempting to ‘hard pogo’ with the new control scheme. Once I stopped trying to do more with the controls than necessary, each and every goof-up from then on was a result of MY doing, and not from faulty controls. I can’t recall a single moment where I got frustrated and said, “GAWDAMNIT! I PUSHED THE RIGHT BUTTON!!! WHAT THE &%$#?!”

In all seriousness, this is a must own title. If you’re a fan of the 2d platforming resurgence, or just a fan of old school or arcade-style games in general, then DuckTales Remastered is the (nearly) definitive experience you’ve been looking for.