How many gamers does it take to change a light bulb? None; we play in absolute darkness for immersion, glare reduction and the hope for a slightly cheaper power bill. And while we blindly scrabble away in obscurity like the Falmer from Skyrim, here are some of the games that have occupied our happy little brains.
Super Mario World
I’ve been diving into my back catalogue this week, and finally finished Super Mario World. This was one of those games that was long overdue, as I had previously gotten to the final stage on a copy on the Super Nintendo. Of course, it was then that the game decided to freeze and delete my save. The joys. So, after months of cursing and whining, I finally got over my anxiety, and bought it for the Wii U. My experience playing it this time was very different.
Firstly, I didn’t have to blow into any cartridges, and I didn’t have any annoying wired controllers to contend with. However, the Wii U gamepad does have an awful battery. Anyway, I sprinted through Super Mario World, enjoying every moment of it. Replaying the early levels left an immense sense of satisfaction as I ran around torturing poor innocent turtles with their shells, and swooping down atop rugby players in my cape. I was even quite cheeky, using the star road short cut to get to the final level faster than a blue hedgehog. Finally getting to face Bowser was a surprising immense moment. The music was foreboding, his maniacal lizard face was horrifying, and his downfall was therefore all the more satisfying.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that the main reason I picked up Prison Architect again this week was because I knew it had no soundtrack, and I wanted something to do while listening to music. That’s not to say Prison Architect isn’t a fine game in itself, but throwing in some mariachi and electro swing adds a certain irreverent and chaotic glee to to your everyday shower shanking. And I do mean EVERY day…
So my prison is not without its share of problems. While for the most part we have a low reoffending rate for released prisoners, and have only had one mass breakout (curse those toilet tunnels), the more violent prisoners are proving extremely difficult to control. Some refuse to be cowed, no matter how much time in solitary I give them. But worst of all is Daniel “Salty” Woodward, an absolute psycho prone to random bouts of extreme violence. Every time this creepy bastard gets near another person he starts causing trouble, and when there’s nobody around he’ll start beating on the furniture. I tried keeping him in his cell all the time, but he just murdered two janitors who came to clean his cell.
As a last resort I’ve put armed guards on patrol, so that if it comes down to it, there’s a chance he might get his misbehaving head blown off and give everyone else some peace. I do still hold out a tiny ray of hope that he might be rehabilitated, however, as he’s started taking part in reform programs and treatment for his multiple addictions. I doubt his re-offending rate will ever drop much below its current staggering score of 98%, but I can dream.
This week I’ve actually been playing on my mobile phone more than my Xbox One – shocking. Aside from frequent sessions with Gems of War, I’ve taken some time to experiment more with the app that’s caused mass euphoria among mobile gamers – Pokemon Go. But aside from getting transported back to those primary school days of the early-2000s, this has been a relatively short affair for me.
Pokemon Go is a mish-mash of good and bad stuff that managed to maintain my interest for just under three weeks. The concept of physically seeking Pokemon and catching them in real-world locations was unlike anything I’d played before, but the gameplay didn’t win me over. There’s no actual battles or training involved compared to the titles of the Nintendo handhelds, just the repetitive use of swiping Pokeballs and a cumulative effect of Pokemon Candy to unlock an evolution.
I think that was the problem I’d had with Pokemon Go from the start. In order to evolve my Charmander, which held five specific candies, I’d need 25-30 Charmander Candies to get a Charmeleon – meaning that I had to somehow obtain six more Charmanders; it all seemed a bit Farfetch’d. The process of re-capturing the same Pokemon over and over made me question whether this is, in fact, a game. At this stage, Pokemon Go is certainly an effective social experiment, but it doesn’t function well enough to be a game.
A series of taps and swift swipes makes for hazardous Gym battles, with none of the usual turn-based combat from the regular formula. After reaching the dizzy heights of level nine, my strongest Pokemon ended up being a 750CP Victreebell. My patience quickly wore out, whether it was from a sheer lack of features in the game or my own disinterest.
Now I can say that I’ve been there and done that; Catching ’em All in the augmented space isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Let the record show that I only had one ‘incident’, where I went out one cloudy night looking for an Eevee and got caught in the rain; never again.
If you asked me what my favorite type of videogame is, you’d probably end up pushing me out of the nearest window before I could finish my insufferably long-winded answer. There simply is no genre of game that I would happily subsist on forever, no style of interactive package that I would gladly identify myself with. Fighting games? Plaformers? Racing Sims? No, no. I’m afraid an answer like that would be far too straightforward.
But, what I will say, is this: Firewatch is exactly my type of game. Beautiful, compelling, thoughtful and brimming with heart-pounding twists and charming surprises. In lieu of challenging gameplay or deep mechanics, Campo Santo have managed to reach right out to me and tickle the *redacted* parts that love videogames the most.
There’s a sultry magic to trawling through Firewatch’s baron wilderness. It’s striking, it’s memorable and it’s totally convincing. But, most importantly, it’s something the likes of which I have never seen before. Firewatch thrusts you somewhere completely new. It asks you to interact with its fresh narrative in truly novel ways. It’s an experience all of its own – one you won’t find in any other game (or any other form of media, for that matter) today. Now that’s my kind of game.
Monster Hunter Generations
I’m tracking down disgruntled wyverns and slaying poorly-named sand monsters once again (I’m looking at you, Nibelsnarf) in Capcom’s hit co-op hunting series, Monster Hunter. This installment is no different than the rest in that it starts me off as a noob hunter and has me picking herbs to prove my early-game worthiness to the newest village elder. After the few pleasantries of offline hunter rank one I’m back in the saddle again and ready to really start getting my hands dirty. This is currently where I’m at in my newest Monster Hunter excursion, and although my Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate edition 3DS XL might have you think I was an expert with the last title, I’m ashamed to say the title went criminally underplayed as I found myself busy with other titles I was less familiar with.
Alas, I won’t be leaving MH Generations to the same fate. To spice up my time with Generations, I’ve picked up a weapon I’m unfamiliar with to gain proficiency in. The charge blade is a far cry from the hammer, switch axe, lance and hunting horn that I’ve tried in earlier installments but it’s a versatile tool with one of the coolest finishing move animations that the series has to offer. I’m currently on village quests rank 3. Hopefully, by the next time I write one of these I’ll be well past that.