The new media hybrid games

The other day BBC was invited over to Kojima Studios, where they received a nice media tour and some philosophizing from the man himself. As usual Hideo was cryptic and vague, but what caught my eye was his idea that all our forms out entertainment are converging. From the interview:

“In life people are very busy doing lots of things,” he explains through a translator.
“The time you have to choose what media or entertainment you experience is dwindling.
“More and more people are looking at types of media that combine elements together.
“If we just make a game people are less likely to choose that as something to do.”

As if to buttress that notion, a new Kickstarter has launched to videogameify Apocalypse Now, the famous Heart of Darkness in Vietnam Coppola flick. Now let’s suspend our common heuristic that most video game adaptations of movies end up being pretty terrible. The project has a bunch of Kickstarter dev vets, and the RPG pedigree is certainly there (Obsidian, etc). Still, I imagine as Executive Producer Larry Liberty will have his work cut for him. I wonder how much input these various entities will have on the project.  They’re pitching this as a survival horror RPG which I suppose is as good a vehicle as any for the movie. The main question I would ask myself is how do you marry an interactive narrative with a static one? Or rather, how do you give narrative control to a player without railroading the plot? To me that seems like the biggest problem facing any kind of hybrid game especially of the film + game variety.

To circle back to Kojima’s idea, consider this:

“He’s planning on a future where movies are playable and games give players the choice to access more extended movie like content within them.”

I’m guessing that playable movies won’t be like the Futurama audience voting on the hero’s next action.

 

Switch Pro Controllers presale buzz

Nintendo Today brings us news that the Switch Pro Controllers sold out in 15 minutes on Amazon:

Just a few hours ago, Amazon received their first pre-order allotment for the accessory and sold out in just 15 minutes. We’re not sure if people just really want to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with the Pro Controller or have scalping on their minds, but that’s pretty fast.

A quick glance at the Amazon Movers & Shakers page for video games shows the Pro Controller ranked at number 4. It was previously unlisted. Not bad for a peripheral. An interesting aspect of 21st century Nintendo products has been the alternate controller scheme. Given their innovative (if not always successful) controller schemes since the Wii, it leaves players with an unexpected choice to make when purchasing their systems: what’s the best controller to use for the games I want to play?

It was obvious on the Wii that the wii remote and nunchuck gimmick wasn’t suitable to games that had been more or less built up around the traditional game pad. Once you moved on Wii Sports it was advisable to pick a game that had been designed from the ground up with that controller in mind (Metroid Prime 3). Playing Twilight Princess – which as I mentioned before began life as a GameCube game – with the remote and nunchuck was a brutally difficult experience for me. I don’t think I got past the fishing tutorial. As Nintendo Today hints, some people are probably anticipating similar angst with the new Zelda game.

 

Nintendo Switch impressions

As told by Mimimi Productions CEO Johannes Roth:

The Nintendo Switch presentation yesterday was awesome. The device feels and looks great, an enormous step beyond the clunky, aged WiiU. The screen is bright, colorful and is just “alive”. I couldn’t notice that it was only running at 720p at all. Playing together on one screen was fun, the size of the tablet striking a perfect balance. Even the speakers are powerful enough to hear everything you need to in a crowded environment. JoyCons are small, but handle and work great, much better than anticipated. HD rumble is phenomenal, but we’ll have to wait to see how much potential it really has for more than a handful of cool mini games. I also noticed some of the usual gyro shaking that we all know from the Wii. Joystick placement of the right JoyCon troubles me the most. Sadly reminded me of the pain my thumbs had to go through with the original 3DS. Also, the Joysticks themselves are a bit odd, because JoyCons have to be so thin their “feel” when moving them is unusual. But it’s too early to judge.
Read the whole thing on his FB note, with some interesting impressions about the Breath of the Wild port.

Video game canon

Felipe Pepe wonders about the state of gamer knowledge about games over at Gamasutra:

If 2016 alone saw the release of over 4207 games on Steam, how can a youngling in 2017 learn our history and get up to speed with over 40 years of releases? How can one get acquaintance with the “Game Canon”?

One useful resource he lists is HowLongToBeat.com, which if I’m not mistaken, is a community driven source for game lengths. As you all know I have a rather extensive back catalog that goes back a mere 16 years, so this was useful for ballparks as to how long it would take me to actually beat each game once.

But that’s not enough according to Pepe. He goes on to discuss the Masters of Mario 64 and other games. I have to admit I was reminded of the old skit from PwnPwnage:

Saturday Night Slam Masters II

When I was growing up one of my gaming group’s favorite guilty pleasures was Saturday Night Slam Masters. A Capcom fighting game, it took a lot of familiar moves and animations from the company’s uber popular Street Fighter II series and plopped them down into a pro wrestling ring. We would play that game for hours on end, team battle royale especially. I feel it’s a hidden gem now for those who want a retro arcade experience without a lot of buy in.

What I didn’t know is that Capcom made a sequel to the game and apparently stripped out most of its pro wrestling DNA in favor of a straight up SFII fighter.