State of play


Regular readers of this blog will have observed I haven’t been posting many reviews of late.  Well, I’ve simply not been watching that many movies and concentrating, entertainment-wise more on videogames, what with recently buying the Nintendo Switch and having a great deal of fun with it.  Even my Xbox One and PS4 have become a little neglected as a result, even though I have been playing Persona 5 on the PS4 recently and getting some fun out of that.

Nintendo_Switch

Firstly I’ll report how much I’m enjoying the versatility of the Switch.  That simple idea of being able to play it like other consoles on my TV, and then being able to take that experience mobile and go play it wherever I like portably.  It’s pretty revolutionary and I’m guessing the big reason the console has been selling like hot cake since launch.  A month on I’ve clocked in over 60 hours in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and also had fun playing Graceful Explosion Machine and most recently, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.  To a lesser extent I’ve found indie titles like Snake Pass and Mister Shifty, intriguing but somewhat flawed and very frustrating.  However I’m mostly aiming that at Snake Pass which I doubt I’ll even pick up again it annoyed me so much.

Persona-5Going back to Persona 5 for a moment, I craved a traditional JRPG and with it’s lush anime style visuals and quirky personality, I jumped on this with excitement.  The opening hours though are very slow, dialogue driven and well, not much action and I could see it putting some people off.  However having stuck with it after what seemed to be a lengthy tutorial, the game did open up, the exploration restrictions and focus on dialogue relaxed a little and I could get more into the world, the game mechanics and the general vibe.  I cleared the first major mission after about 10 hours of game time and I’m intrigued to see where the story goes.  However it is a game that once you start playing, hours fly by and I realise I need to set some time aside each time I play to really get any progression done.  For now though I’m enjoying it.

Breath of the WildBreath of the Wild has been a massive, somewhat daunting experience but has all that unique Nintendo charm I’ve always admired, and this feels like the most fleshed-out and intricately detailed Zelda game I’ve played.  I wouldn’t call myself a Legend of Zelda aficionado by any stretch and have only really played through the Gameboy release ‘Links Awakening’ and the Gamecube game ‘Wind Waker’ whilst only slightly touching on ‘Twilight Princess’ back in the day, and although this has echoes of all those games, with an art style slightly resembling Wind Waker (but less kiddie more Ghibli), I have fallen in love with everything it has to offer.  Even 60 hours in I’m still finding new areas, uncovering side quests and well, have barely delved into the main missions (I’ve completed one ‘divine beast’ so far…) so still tons to do.  All I’ll say though now to conclude is that I’m very much impressed.

On the back burner some games have had to be placed.  It’s the nature of the beast I’m afraid owning three consoles now, and I need to focus on just a small amount or run the risk of getting bogged now with unfinished games.  So Dishonoured 2 which I’ve been really enjoying has had to be ignored for a bit, as has Watchdogs 2 and Mafia 3.  Phew that’s a lot of games but for now my time is best spent with Zelda and Persona, even though both games are reportedly so huge that It’ll be a while before I dive into much else.

Smaller games are an easy option though just for a bit of variety and some of those games, like Mario Kart and Graceful Explosion Machine are dip in and dip out experiences that I don’t need to dedicate hours.  I suppose I’m lucky to have the options that I have, and I don’t take any of it for granted even though I work hard to buy the things I enjoy.

My final thoughts on the above come down to one sentence:  It’s a great time to be a gamer.  Additionally I also have some movies I need to get reviewing so expect normal service to resume shortly.

That’s all from me for now.

Craig.

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Nintendo Switch – my thoughts


NintendoSwitch

Well earlier in the week, Nintendo dropped a bombshell with the reveal of their next console … formerly known as the Nintendo NX, now named Nintendo Switch … a great name and I’d say a great concept.  Give the video below a quick look…

I love the idea that it’s both a home console you hook up to your HDTV and also a portable console, seamlessly transforming just from removing the device from it’s docking station and going wherever to continue your gaming.  How the control pad transforms allowing the user to remove the two ‘joy-cons’ and then attach them to the portable version.  Very clever and something I could easily see myself utilising, for times someone either wants the TV I’m using or I simply want to sit elsewhere and carry on with my game.  From the video things I can’t see taking off is the two-player bits where people use those tiny controllers and game on the same screen … er no, Nintendo nobody’s going to be doing that.  Also unconfirmed reveals of ‘The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim’ and ‘NBA 2K17’ running on the system, is a slight concern despite both games being shown in the video – why is 2K and Bethesda being so cagey??  Also that footage of ‘Mario’ looks worrying like a run-into-the-screen mobile game and not necessarily the Mario 64 successor some people are hyping it to be.  Yet I don’t think anyone can dismiss how good the new ‘Zelda’ looks.

Questions still remain though.  We have no price as of yet.  We don’t really have any confirmed games other than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and well, is that a touch-screen?  I’m guessing it will be.  Third party support has been confirmed as having all the big publishers like Activision and EA (see below), which could mean the usual drought of games for a Nintendo system may not be a concern this time … only time will tell.

Switch_Partners

For now I’m optimistically excited for what Nintendo reveal next and the initial reveal of the system has me waning a Nintendo system again.  So they’re doing something right.

Thanks Sony


Well we already knew it was official…but we’re getting an upgraded version of the PS4…PS4 Pro…where existing games and future games will run smoother and look better with bigger draw distance as well as 4K resolution.

PS4-PRO

So those millions of PS4 owners who happily lined Sony’s pockets with a ton of money – what about us?

Sony’s answer in not as many words?  Fuck You.

Yes.  That’s right no matter how their P.R. try and paint it…us existing PS4 owners are going to get the raw deal … yes, we still get the big games (for now) but they’ll run better on PS4 Pro.  So thank you Sony.  Glad you appreciate our support.  Fuck you back.

Excuse my language please…but this pisses me off.  I’m going to go and cool down now.

My gaming history … Part 1


This is a post I’ve been thinking of doing for a while and have been thinking back lately of how video games (and computer games) has affected me in my life and my humble origins in the hobby.  Back in the late eighties and during the micro computer popularity in the UK, I was fortunate enough to have an Amstrad CPC 464 colour computer (colour being something of a novelty at the time … the CPC even came in a green screen version for a little less money).  See images below.

Amstrad_CPC464

I absolutely loved it.  I remember prior to having it (I think it was a Christmas present) I was imagining the possibilities of actually interacting with a game, rather than say watching a film or reading a book.  You see, I wasn’t really that familiar with arcades as I didn’t live near a Holiday resort, so hadn’t really played games apart form perhaps hand-held space invaders and pac-man systems (before the advent of Gameboys).  So actually having a system to play on and also do other things like word-processing and trying to create your own games (I think I made a un-finished text adventure once) was something I’d never experienced before.

Treasure Island DizzyIt was my first real introduction into gaming and I enjoyed many games with highlights for me being: Dizzy (and Treasure Island Dizzy), Gryzor (aka Contra), Renegade (and Target Renegade – surely the greatest name for a game ever), Chase HQ and Barbarian.  These were primitive days for games coming on cassette and taking an age to load.  The Amstrad however wasn’t as popular as two other machines around at the time, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and the Commodore 64.  This puzzled me though, as the Amstrad had much more vibrant graphics to it’s games and more often than not superior versions of multi-format titles.

Barbarian

My first one on one fighter, which caused a bit of a stir at the time for having the ability to decapitate your opponent, and the fact the cover art had big-breasted page 3 girl Maria Whittaker on it.

Gryzor

Not sure why the title was changed for the much more famous Contra to Gryzor and I never managed to get past the first level, and well, that loading screen image is clearly a rip-off of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator.

Amstrad themselves had other versions of the computer boasting more memory and even a floppy disk drive instead of cassette.  They even attempted to enter the video game console market at one stage with the GX4000 but that was a flop.  At this time I realised it was my time to move on, but to what system next?  That’s a story for Part 2…

Amstrad-GX4000

Maturity and disillusion


Last November I reached 40 years old.  Lately I’ve been looking back and feeling nostalgic and a bit unhappy with how I feel about some of my hobbies and the stuff I used to get really excited about.  Maybe the world has changed or I’ve just changed which is more likely … but finding things that really pinch my enthusiasm is getting harder and harder.  I continue to love movies and video games but the excitement I had either as a kid or even a young adult has lessened to some degree, and well, I sometimes even feel I’m going through the motions.  That feeling has also bled into my day to day life occasionally.

In recent years I’ve pretty much turned my back on writing, especially fiction writing although I can still exercise that interest with my writing on the blog – but that’s different than putting a story together, coming up with situations and creating characters.  I have several stories spanning many chapters that I am proud of but I look back on them like they come from a world I no longer belong to.  I’ve let other things enter my head, other responsibilities and distractions to such an extent that I can’t even bring myself to attempt fiction writing anymore.  It makes me sad to look back, to think of the hours and the passion I used to put into that part of my life, but now barely recognise it.

I think this disillusion is a lot to do with getting older, maturing and having work and responsibilities, but it’s a shame I feel I can’t relate to some hobbies or even approach them with the same level of excitement I once did.  The same goes for music which I used to be passionate about but that has left me feeling cold and bored apart from a small handful of artists.  The same also goes for relationships or the idea of one … where I have been hurt in my search and now feel so ‘meh’ about the whole subject I can’t find the energy to attempt it again.  Also this information overload / social media world we live in breeds contempt when everything that is thrown at you is thrown at you by the bucket load and I just end up feeling overwhelmed, unable to focus.  There is a heck of a lot of superficiality to everything these days it seems … and entertainment, celebrity and life in general has at times felt cheapened as a result.

Yet that’s not to say there isn’t some merit to be found, it just feels a much rarer commodity to really get excited about a TV show or a game or a movie, and then to want to talk about it.  Occasionally I have to force myself to find things to say even about a subject I really love.  Luckily I still manage to get there, to write something interesting (I hope) and to keep this blog going.  But lately it’s getting easier and easier to just be lazy and let the entertainment wash over me with hardly any concentration.  Life can get me down, it can be stressful and particularly tiring and I long to be younger sometimes and have no other worries and just indulge myself in my own little world.  Hey, I liked it there.

But I suppose we all have to grow up.  Only thing is, for some it can suck big time.  That’s why adults tell children to enjoy being young – it really is the best years of your life.

Craig.