Bears Can’t Drift!? Can They?

I remember the first time I played a kart racer, huddled around a small CRT TV, three friends and I would sink countless hours into Mario Kart – a newly founded concept of the racing game genre. Throughout the years I developed a strong fondness for kart racing games, from playing the likes of Crash Team Racing, Modnation Racers and the Mario Kart series. I adore retro karting action, however, it seemed like this was something that the PS4 lacked.

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Bears Can’t Drift!? is scratching the kart racer itch that I’ve had for over half a decade.

I began to do a little digging, in the hope of finding a kart racer that would invoke the same feeling I had when playing those that share a special place in my heart. I stumbled across an article, on the Unreal Engine forums, written by Arran Langmead. After watching the attached videos within the thread and reading through the features of the game, I quickly became enamoured with Bears Can’t Drift!? – A kart racer being developed by Strangely Named Studio.

The project started as a small Unity made game for the OUYA, developed by a team of two. With a few unfortunate twists and turns, Arran single-handedly steered the ship in a different direction and chose to target Steam and PS4, instead of the OUYA platform. Starting from scratch he made the switch from Unity to Unreal and began utilising Unreal Engine 4’s Blueprint system.

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I think I’ve found my favourite racer already.

Although the game was made primarily by Arran, seven months into development two new members joined the team. Adam Barton became a business partner and co-developer on Bears Can’t Drift!? with Rachel Simpson working alongside both, as a freelance composer and sound designer.

You can clearly tell that Arran has matured with the same undying love for kart racers that so many of us hold dearly. Taking inspiration from unforgettable classics of the early Nintendo and PlayStation era. Bears Can’t Drift!? features an open hub world to explore while also replacing the traditional menu system.

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A beautifully sculpted array of colours makes up this stunning oriental themed enviroment.

Players are able to drive through whatever hub they desire to gain admittance to three uniquely themed worlds, each hosting up to twelve playable tracks. Players can dual among other racers by using and combining power-ups to cause frantic mayhem throughout the course. In order to gain access to more challenging difficulty levels, you will need to prove you’re worthy enough by completing a specific task – such as making a challenging jump after drifting around a dangerously narrow pathway rather than just selecting it from a menu.

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A mountainous, woodland area allows for the grizzlies to drift free in their natural habitat.

The artistic flair and prodigious sound design, that first attracted me to the game, were distinctly reminiscent of my childhood, each aspect of the game creating a sense of nostalgia. Worlds seem full of character in terms of visual design and sound, possibly one of the most admiring features is the inclusion of four-player, offline split screen.

It’s very rare these days that games cater for the offline players, as more tend to focus on the online portion of the game. Rekindling with old friends in this couch, co-op, kart racer will definitely be on the agenda later this summer. Bears Can’t Drift!? is certainly worth keeping an eye on.

To see more recent updates, follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Youtube.

/ CR

 

E3 2016 in Retrospect

Well another E3 has passed and it’s unsettling to think how fast this one has come and gone. It seems not long ago I was sitting down to watch the reveal of Fallout 4, and now it’s been nearly a year since it’s release. I’m not here to talk about what was and wasn’t at E3 or what the games are like in terms of features, gameplay, story etc. That’s all already been covered by press insiders and the likes, as always I’m here to give my opinion on the last couple of days while I sip on a freshly made brew.

I always look forward to E3, the build up before the conferences can only be compared to the sleepless nights as a child on the eve of Christmas Day. I become very excited and giddy to see what the next year holds for the gaming industry as a whole. As many of you know I’m a PlayStation and Nintendo gamer at heart, but that’s not to say I don’t like to dabble in what Xbox and the other third parties are up too.

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Gears of War 4 is looking absolutely incredible, a big miss for PlayStation fans.

Xbox seemed to have a very strong conference this year, far improved to what was shown the year previous. Every year there’s always a game from their conference that I wish would be coming to PlayStation, this year it was Gears of War 4. I’ve only ever played the first two from the series and although enjoyable I’ve failed to work through the whole series, but the latest instalment looks incredible and is sure to be making a lot of GOW fans very happy.Project Scorpio was also revealed, something to get very excited about, as of now I’m a little wary about the whole concept. I’d like to see how developers will provide the better game for the newer consoles when they will always need to cater

Project Scorpio was also revealed, something to get very excited about. As of now I’m a little wary about the whole concept. I’d like to see how developers will provide the better game for the newer consoles when they will always need to cater for the lowest denominator. However, they could take the approach of a PC mentality, where the game is able to run at low, medium and high settings. Allowing Scorpio to take advantage of the high end and the original consoles run on the low end. Still no confirmation has been made although I’m very eager to hear more.

When voicing my opinion I try to avoid the negativity surrounding games and focus on the more positive aspects of the industry, but I really can’t fathom the words to describe the EA conference in a positive way. I feel like EA is kind of going through an identity crisis at the moment, in terms of where they stand or who they really appeal to. Their conference and genre of games seem too diverse in relation to the audience in a way that their showcase is never going to appeal to everyone. Once again the word on Twitter was that there was far too much talk about sports games, with FIFA and Madden taking up most of the show. I would’ve loved to have seen more of Mass Effect personally, as well as the Star Wars game from Visceral, sadly that wasn’t the case as it appears that both titles are too far away to devote any solid time to either one.

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Dishonored II’s setting is definitely remincient of the Bioshock series.

Without fail E3 always causes me to face off against my backlog of broken dreams, all those games I pictured finishing but just never got round to. In this case, it was Dishonored. As the second instalment began to unfold on stage it reminded me that I really needed to get back to the first game. The showcase of Dishonored II was glorious. Drawing me straight into that living, breathing world. The setting, atmosphere and culture of Karnaca, known as “the jewel of the south” in game, seems to absolutely thrive. It reminds me of the Bioshock series, which holds, in my opinion, the most unforgettable setting in a video game to date.

The conference I most look forward too is Sony’s. Mainly due to Nintendo not holding a traditional conference and PlayStation being my go to console ever since I was young. Last year’s conference was described as the “Year of Dreams” due to how well-received it was. They had a lot of competition this year from Microsoft and I thought that Xbox may steal this year’s event. That was until PlayStation came out firing on all cylinders, the conference kicked off with the reveal of five PlayStation exclusives off the belt, all revealed alongside a live symphony orchestra that was playing the score along to each trailer.

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God of War made it’s triumphant return and is looking as beautiful as ever.

It was great to see God of War return, many have said that it’s a little too close to the Last of Us, yet I’d disagree. Kratos, the main protagonist of the series, has never been a character that I’ve cared much about. The God of War games always had a fantastic concept in terms of reference to Greek Gods and Norse Mythology, yet Kratos was just an angry ball of fury and the games just seemed to be a tech demo for each console. However that changed with the reveal of this new title, Kratos seemed to convey more emotion in that one trailer than all three games previous. The game looked stunning and I can’t wait to see more of it and who can deny Kratos’ new epic beard.

I was also blown away by how great Horizon: Zero Dawn looked too, the animations when taking down the mechs were incredible. The fights seemed to convey the protagonist in the form of a dancing duel with the walker while using whatever she had in her arsenal to take it down. it’s so great to see the folks at Guerrilla, who’s portfolio consists of nearly nothing but the Killzone series, excelling on every level in order to create a fantastic looking game with a truly unique concept.

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In terms of sheer beauty, Horizon definitely took the show for me. The game is shaping up to be one of the best I’ve seen.

The pacing of the Sony show was total perfection and every game they revealed was something that genuinely interested or intrigued me. The surprise of the show was definitely the Crash Bandicoot remastered collection, I never thought the Bandicoot would see the light of day again, but as promised the three greatest crash titles will be remastered from the ground up. A highlight was seeing Hideo Kojima unveil his new game while uttering the words “I’m Back” with a smile beaming across his face, it was certainly a special moment for the fans. A truly magnificent way to round off another great year of games for Sony.

Last but not least was Nintendo, although they were showing the least amount of games I was fully aware that Pokemon Sun and Moon and The Legend of Zelda were the only ones being shown. It was great to see new additions to generation 7 of the Pokemon franchise, although I do feel as though more could have been shown, especially the next evolution line of the starter Pokemon.

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It was brilliant to finally get an in depth look at The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and what an incredible one at that. 

The Legend of Zelda was finally given its title, Breath of the Wild. I have a lot more to speak out on about the title, which will be coming in my next post, mainly to talk about my biggest gripe with the game. However, the game looks beautiful. The art style is right up my street and the general design aesthetic in terms of monsters, clothing, weapons and architecture is just stunning, going as far as to exceed Windwaker on a visual level, in my opinion.

All in all, it has been a fantastic E3, There’s so much to look forward to in the next year. Not only are all these great games coming out in the next year and onwards, but we have the reveal of the NX to look forward to along with VR and the 0.5 releases of PlayStation and Xbox. Certainly a lot to look forward too.

To see more recent updates, follow me on Instagram and Twitter.

I’m going to Japan!

After months and months of saving and planning, in just under two weeks time I’ll finally get to tick “Travel to Japan” off my bucket list. It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. From a very young age, I developed an interest in Japanese culture without even realising.

It all started when I got a SNES for Christmas, back in the early 90’s. I was brought up on Nintendo – Super Mario Bros. being my introduction to Video Games. My collection included classics such as – The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Street Fighter II, Star Fox, Donkey Kong Country and much more. These games were my bread and butter and I sunk countless hours into them as a child. Through my friends, I got introduced to Pokemon, which was a complete phenomenon through the 90’s.

I have vivid memories of how it literally swept the nation and the world for that matter. It was incredible. Everyone was collecting and trading Pokemon cards, watching the TV show or playing the games. I used to watch Pokemon every Saturday morning and weekday nights along with Dragonball/Dragonball Z. I picked up a Gameboy with Tetris, which I still have to this day. I remember the day I got Pokemon Yellow, I went into town with my Mother and little brother. We bought it from a now discontinued gaming store. I came home and spent the rest of the day playing it until the batteries in my Gameboy died. Such great memories.

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Nintendo and PlayStation are my go to platforms when it comes to gaming.

As I got a little older I transitioned to PlayStation, although I still held a strong love for Nintendo. Video Games began to get a little more mature and I began to realise that games weren’t just a pastime for young children. Metal Gear Solid was the game that brought me to that realisation. The story gripped you, the character arcs were incredible and it felt like more than just a game. Final Fantasy VII evoked the same emotions. It was my first introduction to a deep story-driven JRPG, and I absolutely adored it.

You may begin to see a pattern starting to emerge – all of these Video Games, TV shows and various popular culture originate from Japan. This was something I wasn’t aware of at a younger age. The same pattern continued throughout the PS2 era and around the dawn of the PS3. I started to become aware of just how much of an influence Japanese gaming had on me. If it wasn’t for all of these games, I may have never been into gaming as much as I am now. I never knew that I was a fan of Anime, or that I even used to watch it and as I became aware of it I began to watch more of it. The older I got the more I developed a love for Japan, along with its history and culture. It soon became the country I wanted to visit most but it always seemed like a pipe dream. A few year ago my girlfriend and I conceived the idea of visiting Japan through the form a guided tour, but the price just seemed inaccessible and my dream of visiting Japan seemed to wither.

Luckily things changed, we decided to scrap the idea of paying for a guided tour and plan things ourselves. Finally, the dream of the Video Gamer pilgrimage to Akihabara was alive and well. Apart from the usual tourist destinations, Geek culture wise, I plan to visit the Pokemon Centre(s), Animate – The 8-floor Flagship store for everything Anime and Manga related, Nanako Broadway and many others. I’m open to any other recommendations as to where to visit if there are any readers who have visited Japan before or have heard of anywhere that’s recommended?

I’ll be documenting my trip through photography, blog posts and youtube videos. All of which will be done when I get home. Although I will be live updating on Twitter and Instagram while I’m there, if you’d like to follow those feeds. I have a lot of content planned with this trip in mind, I know I have a large number of followers who share this interest of mine so I hope you guys look forward to what will be coming to WhatRhinoSaid over the next few month.

/ CR

Delayed Video Games: It’s Not the End of the World

Video game delay announcements. It’s something we, as gamers, all hate hearing about – especially if it’s a game we’re really looking forward too, but I’ve never understood why some people act like it’s the end of the world. A number of people may argue that a delay can be a good thing. If a development team need that extra time to polish and turn a game from a six to a nine, thus creating a more compelling story, smoother game play and a better game in general, then so be it.

Personally, as much as it can be an annoyance at times, I welcome delays with a general understanding and acceptance although many may not. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has seen three delays now, with the most recent postpone coming in order to deliver on the studio’s ambitious vision for the games ending. When Neil Druckmann states that;

This’ll make for a smooth worldwide launch. Thanks for your patience… It’ll be worth it at the end. Promise

When Druckmann makes a promise on behalf of the famous Naughty Dog studio, the ones responsible for bringing us a slew of incredible games in the past, I’m well inclined to believe him and trust his judgement that the game just wasn’t ready and that this delay will invoke a more spectacular finished product.

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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is shaping up to be a spectacular finale to the series.

We see a magnitude of games follow the same suit. In relation to the header image, Persona 5 was originally due to be released in 2014 on the PS3, now, after a number of changes and a different platform release we see it’s next upcoming release date to be June of 2016 and it’s radio silent on Atlus’ behalf with only a couple of month to go. This isn’t the end of the world thought, I’d rather they work on the game than focus on PR and marketing. There are many different games and other activities to occupy our time. Although some people happen to think otherwise…

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It’s quite disheartening seeing a vulgar response like this, but sadly these things still happen. I mean, it’s not as if the team at ATLUS want their audience to wait as long as possible to play their games. The amount of pressure the developers already face in the first place is immense, never mind inpatient individuals screaming down their necks about the game not releasing when they want it too.

If a game is held back they aren’t doing it to purposefully annoy people, they’re only harming themselves anyway and not on purpose either, but can some games really recover from development hell or a vast number of delays and setbacks? The Last Guardian has been in development since 2007 and has had it’s fair share of development hell, to the point of where many thought the project had been cancelled all together until it resurfaced in 2015.

Journalists have expressed their concern as to whether the game would even be such a landmark title as initially seen. In many ways, the landscape of gaming has greatly changed since the release of The Shadow of the Colossus, and The Last Guardian already has big boots to fill with that in mind. I’d be very much surprised if the game can clinch anything back and if it would well be worth the wait.

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The Last Guardian looks beautiful, but will it be able to hit as hard as SOTC did?

The likes of Final Fantasy XV share a similar story. Originally announced as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, a PS3 exclusive spin off, it soon became apparent that the title wasn’t going in the direction that they first hoped. With a transition to the eighth-generation hardware, a change of name, new director, a different story and essentially a totally different change of game. After ten long years of development and more than likely thousands of pounds put into resources, Final Fantasy XV is nearing its release date this year. But will the wait really be worth it?

Why do studios release these dates and then don’t adhere to them without knowing that they’ll definitely meet their deadline? Why do they give a release date in the first place if they just can’t meet it? Well, it’s more than likely pressure from the publishing side of things, the sooner they get a release date out the sooner they can start marketing the game and making money from pre-orders and merchandise. Why not just take a leaf out of Bethesda’s book and release in a similar way Fallout 4 did, with a ton of info, trailers, game play, and a solid release date that was only a number of months away from annoucment, as opposed to years.

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Fallout 4 was released just a few months after it’s announcement.

I think we’d all love to see games released that way. I would love too. I believe it’s the best way for all parties – publishers, studio and consumers. That can’t always be the case thought. Some games just don’t have the stature or an audience as big as Fallout so they aren’t able to draw a big enough audience in a short space of time, they need to build up their public relations over an extended period.

Sometimes delays just can’t be helped and it’s certainly not the end of the world when they happen. I think the overreactions to when these incidents happen needs to stop. No one ever wants a delay. Not the consumers, publishers or studio working on the title. There’s a ton of other games out there and when your favorite game has a setback, just remember – patience is the best policy. If a game is going to fall into development hell then it’s the studio/publisher that is affected and not you. At the end of the day, there’s no point crying over spilt milk.

Have you ever suffered from Video Game fatigue?

Late of last year, I was totally engrossed in the hype leading up to Fallout 4 and Star Wars: Battlefront. When both games released I actually took time off work to play them through. I played both titles endlessly and when I wasn’t swapping between the two of them, I’d be creating related content from both, to upload to my YouTube channel. As Christmas rolled in I began playing those games a lot less, In all honesty, I was playing all games less and less to the point where my PS4 started gathering dust as the weeks went by.

This isn’t the first time its happened. When I was younger I had a lot more time to play. I didn’t have a job, didn’t have a girlfriend and apart from a social life, gaming became my biggest form of recreation. As you get older, you begin to become more responsible for a number of things. Whether it be a full-time job, paying your way, spending time with your partner, becoming a parent etc. There are many things that can begin to chip away at your time spent gaming. In my case, I fall under a number of those categories, yet I still find the time to play games, but at the moment I just don’t have the drive or motivation to do so and that isn’t a bad thing.

When I first encountered this sudden turn off from gaming I scoured the web in search of some kind of remedy or advice, something that would allow me to continue enjoying video games in the same way I may have at a previous point in time. I’d try my hand at classics – going back to games I’d thoroughly enjoyed at an earlier age. I’d play new games and try to experience something different. None of the above ever worked, which is when I realised I’d gotten burnt out from playing video games. It may sound crazy, video games are meant to be fun aren’t they? something you turn to when you feel burnt out from other things such as work or after a bad day? But I definitely stand by the saying; too much of a good thing can be bad for you.

I definitely stand by the saying; too much of a good thing can be bad for you

If you genuinely love playing games and do so the majority of the time then this fatigue may be something you have experienced before. Nothing really seemed to jump out at me, I had a shelf full of games I’d barely touched yet didn’t feel the need to sit down and play them. There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to do something that you have no love for. I’m an avid watcher of Kinda Funny and I spent a lot of time watching the various youtube content they uploaded. I realised I was going through the same experience of video game fatigue at the same time as Colin Moriarty, one of the driving forces behind Kinda Funny. It’s very rare that you hear people, especially highly involved in the gaming industry, talk about their lack of interest in video games at a given time.

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The set of Kinda Funny Gamescast – featuring Tim Gettys, Colin Moriarty and Greg Miller

From then on I just decided to take a step back from gaming and embrace it. I focused my interests elsewhere – picking up my first DSLR in order to continue my hobby of photography, I began reading a lot more and started catching up on various TV series’ and Films that had remained on my watch list for the last few month. I even booked my long awaited trip to Japan. I’ve never once felt guilty about not constantly being involved in video games, even though I am a passionate gamer at heart and someone who always wants to create content around that medium, in forms of blog writing and video related content.

The point I’m trying to get at is, it’s not a bad thing to take a step back now and again. Video games aren’t a form of prison or a ball and chain that is constantly tied to your persona. If you aren’t enjoying something it doesn’t hurt to take a break, no matter how long that break may be.

The point I’m trying to get at is, it’s not a bad thing to take a step back now and again. Video games aren’t a form of prison or a ball and chain that is constantly tied to your persona.

If you love video games, something will come along eventually and generally catch your attention enough to peak your interest again. I have my eye on The Witness at the minute and Firewatch isn’t too far away now. With those intriguing titles on the horizon, my video game drought may be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

/ CR

Welcome to Vault 111

The first episode of my Fallout 4 let’s play is now LIVE! After GAME’s frustrating cock up, resulting in myself and many others receiving the game late, and then having a couple of sleepless nights in order to perfect my Let’s Play setup and to learn Sony Vegas – the video has already been through a lot. It’s all been worth it though and I’m pleased with the end result. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this video, in order to perfect it, as I never want to put things out that are just “half arsed’ so to speak, hopefully you can see that from the vide and appriciate the fact that a lot of passion and care has gone into it.

I’ve always wanted to share my first reactions to a series that means so much to me, not just for others to view, but for something to look back on in years to come. I’m aiming to get 3 videos up a week, as well as maintaining my blog and live streaming on Twitch. Part 2 will be up wednesday night (18th Nov, 7.30pm GMT) so please drop me a sub if you haven’t already. It’s gonna be hard work to stick to this schedule, but I really love what I do so it’s all worth it, hopefully you guys think so to. I won’t be spamming my blog with these videos, but I just wanted to make you guys aware I’d finally started my first let’s play series of Fallout 4. Thanks again for the continued support and enjoy!

 

For more episodes head on over to my youtube channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW5Haq1I9rtjSxDybDxeZRw

Do you remember why you started playing video games?

If you were to ask this question 20 years ago, you might well get a completely different answer from today’s generation. It’s absolutely mind-blowing how much video game content we have on hand these days. There are constantly active social feeds going off at all times around the globe, each displaying various information on the next upcoming trend – whether it’s a new game, news, reviews, leaks etc. Even if you choose not to follow, this information still seeps through the cracks, whether it be from sponsored links, ads tailored to your search engine entries, YouTube/TV ads or even posts liked by your social circle that just so happen to appear in your news feed.

The video game industry has blown up since the dawn of the Internet and the psychical world still holds its own too. Now this may be true with nearly every form of entertainment. But the way we consume video games and their media never used to be anywhere near the magnitude it is today.

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Rather than bringing us together, gamers can tear each other apart because of what their platform of choice is. Why? Not everyone likes the same things.

It’s not just video game media that’s changed though, video games themselves have massively spiked in popularity, and they’re now a commercial phenomenon, appealing to the most casual audiences with characters and consoles becoming household names. The industry consists of multi million dollar projects, which make up an impressive $90 billion dollar industry, as of 2015. Video Games as a medium now share a close likeness to film – due to the sheer jump in visuals, writing and game play we’ve seen in the last 20 years.

The medium is one of the fastest growing forms of entertainment. Which barely even existed 30 years ago. Can you remember when gaming was a relatively underground activity? When games existed in just a 2D pixel based format, the evolution in terms of time has been drastic. As the medium grows so rapidly, so does the selection that comes with it, with each company wanting to get a piece of the pie, which they then in turn can feed to us consumers to make a substantial profit.

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Fallout 4 seems to be a huge contender for GOTY, but still has to fight off an astounding amount of competition.

I’ve recently created a list of all the games I’m hoping to get my hands on in the coming months. Two of those titles sit high upon my wish list perch – Fallout 4 and Star Wars: Battlefront. Although I may not want the many others as much as these two, the others that sit beneath it still call out for my attention through a vast form of media. With my recent trip to EGX I got a reminder of just how many games I have my eye on going into Q4 – Uncharted Collection, Assassins Creed Syndicate; which seems to have made a triumphant return in terms of reviews and from what I’ve played.

Call of Duty Black Ops 3 also makes its way onto the list along with Rainbow Six: Siege and Just Cause 3. Each game cleverly marketed to draw my attention – mostly through nostalgia I’ve noticed. Call of Duty with its throwback to Nuketown and emphasis on Zombies, Battlefront with its authenticity of the original trilogy and Fallout 4 with the expansion on all of the good points from Fallout 3, moulded into something even better.

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 Companies often like to hone in on our Nostalgia. Nuketown is a firm favourite amongst COD fans.

Now I know I’m not the only one who would love to pick every single one these titles. The media I consume each day insists that I have them all. I’d love to play the majority and each one has been fighting for my attention through adverts, promotions, etc. But when does it all just become too much? How much time do you really have? How are you expected to keep up with everything, not just with the games but also with the media that comes with it?

Do you ever get that feeling like you’ve missed out on something you should have played way back, but at the time there was just too much choice and now it’s come back to bite you in the arse. For example Mass Effect is a series I always wanted to try out, but due to the already overflowing market I never ended up picking it up. Maybe it was financial constraints due to blowing my budget on other games that were released around that time, or maybe due to already devoting a lot of time trying to get through other games.

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The new Mass Effect trailer looks outstanding, but with all of these other games on offer I really don’t know if I’d find the time to play through the series.

When Andromeda was previewed the media and gaming community went crazy for it, yet I feel as though I missed out on everything that came before it and feel like an outsider looking in on something I don’t feel part of, but should, even becoming scrutinized by certain folk because I was never part of the series in the early days. I’ve also seen this happen to others on Twitter most recently with the likes of the Fallout series.

It’s not just the consumers that can sometimes suffer, companies can also feel the squeeze in such a saturated market. People pay with their wallets and its survival of the fittest. But is it really too saturated? Do we have too much choice as gamers? Is that a better thing, which then in turn equals more competition?

Do you just pick and choose, hoping the game you want doesn’t flop after spending your hard-earned cash on it, while others that may not have been as appealing end up rising in popularity after you’ve already laid down your moolah elsewhere. It’s so brutal out there, for both seller and consumer at times.

If games don’t sell the prices take a massive cut too. With so many on the market you can end up picking up new games for half of their retail price, just a few weeks after release as the companies fight to keep themselves and their games afloat. It really is that cutthroat. People complain that games are too expensive, even though they’re the cheapest they’ve ever been. If your game isn’t pulling in an audience then the price won’t stay as high as its initial release. Games like GTA V can remain at their first price because of how popular they are while others take a nosedive in order to sell the copies that remain.

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Not many games can stack up against GTA V in terms of popularity.

Trying to keep up with all of the latest gaming trends, what’s hot, what’s not, what you should be playing, what you shouldn’t be, who’s streaming what, the most popular YouTube video doing the rounds, FPS this and 1080p that, all the different types of memes and gifs, hateful comments, Gamer Gate etc, etc, etc. JUST STOP, ARGH! It all just gets a little too much at times, doesn’t it?

The way everything is extremely scrutinized, the cutthroat market, the endless choice, marketing that reveals every minute detail about a game it ships, the uninviting media, the annoying YouTubers, the swatted twitch players, micro transactions, season passes, pre-order bonuses and DLC. Remember simpler times, when none of this even existed?

Thinking back to when I was a child I was allowed one game for Christmas, maybe two if I was very lucky. The deciding factor would come from a few screenshots on the back of a box or the cover artwork on the front. That experience of buying a new game, travelling home, reading the cover front to back, actually reading through the instruction manual. All of that now just a distant memory often thought back too in a flicker of video game nostalgia. I’d play the games I had over and over, numerous times, I’d know the ins and outs of every part.

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I put countless hours into Legend of Zelda: A link to the past, as at one point, it was all I had to play. Attempting tough puzzles and feeling a real sense of achievement once I’d progressed further. Whatever happened to putting in the groundwork?

Games weren’t as accessible as they are now, you’d actually get your money’s worth. You wouldn’t play a game for five minutes, get bored and move on. You wouldn’t buy games in a sale and let them gather dust. You’d dedicate yourself to them. I’m not saying that’s what all gamers are like, but it seems the attention span of many has greatly reduced over the years.

It’s not just the short attention span though; games are just much more accessible these days. I have countless games sat on my shelf, still in the cellophane, in my steam or PlayStation library, all un-played, hoping to see the light of day, but I’m no octopus, I can’t play everything at once. I get a game, play as much as I can, then before I know it, its old news and the media and gaming community are all focused on something else, I then feel like the un-cool kid in the playground who isn’t on board with the new fad and before I know it, new games are out, time moves on and the old stuff, still un-played, gets left behind. The 10-year-old me would have never let that happen.

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Through the year I’d mainly have to rent games but each rental was decided on my own accord, what I thought looked good, regardless if it was or not, it was ME that made the decision and I felt no marketing or peer pressure in doing so. You’d discover hidden gems and amazing experiences, like getting lost in a library of amazing new worlds. Memory didn’t matter; your handful of MB on your memory card was sufficient enough. You’d play games first hand – mainly knowing nothing about them, apart from a blurb on the back or a paragraph in a magazine – that was it.

Yeah some were lacklustre and not worth your time. But remember the ones that were worth it, the ones you knew hardly anything about, you’d become engrossed in their worlds or get lost in the story, yet you’d essentially go in blind, knowing very little about them as opposed to how much we know of a game, pre-release, now.

Look at No Mans Sky for example – Murray and Hello Games are negatively criticized for not revealing much information about the game. I’m sorry, but that game looks intriguing enough as it is and I’d rather find out about it for myself when I have it in my own hands.

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Playing Minecraft for the first time, without any idea of what it was, how to play, or what I should do, was such an amazing experience. Something that made me think back to a time when each game I tried was like playing Minecraft for the first time.

Remember when Minecraft wasn’t even a thing, yet when people first jumped into that they knew nothing, no instruction manual, no tutorial – you just played first hand and worked it out for yourself. Just like how it used to be. You’d play games due to how engaging and fun they were. How a game looked, in terms of visuals, just didn’t matter. You’d share a couch with friends, it was a social thing – playing co-op, competitive split screen multiplayer, conducting mini gaming tournaments for FUN or taking turns handing the controller to one another after each turn. That is but a distant memory with most games.

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The couch never used to be this lonely.

Yet now people are constantly connected, with a camera and microphone in their face, sat on a specialized “gaming” chair, pondering over YouTube or Twitch or arguing in forums over FPS and Display Quality, something that was relatively unheard of. Everything has become so competitive; if you aren’t winning, then you’re a loser.

Some games even offer you the option to skip levels if they’re too hard, what happened to actually putting the effort in and retrying until you got it, you know, when games actually taught you valuable life lessons – not to give up, to always keep at something even if you fail over and over, to put the time, effort and work in, in order to reap the benefits, rather than paying your way out of something, skipping a level, paying to win or progress. It baffles me how anyone would rather chose the latter.

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The fact that the invincibility leaf power up, in Super Mario 3D World, is even a thing makes me weep inside.

Remember when fighting games had hidden characters and you’d have to work your way through the roster in order to obtain them, putting the time in to unlock them, now you can just download them from the store or get them free for pre-ordering. The likes of Black Ops 3 allows you to play every level from the get go. You don’t even have to work your way through the game, you can just go right ahead and play the last level if you so desire, never mind skipping sections if they get too hard, this let’s you skip the whole game, period.

What next? An auto pilot button, that when pressed, just plays the game for you while you watch. Some may argue that this already exists in the form of watching let’s plays – now don’t get me wrong, watching lets plays can be fun, but when you hear people saying they can’t be bothered to play the game and that they’d rather just watch someone else play to see what happens, it really gets to me.

Gaming never used to be like this, or at least this isn’t how I experienced video games when growing up. Even though you are constantly connected with people around the globe and the industry is abundant with all different types of titles, video gaming can, at times, leave you feeling isolated or become very over whelming.

It seems with an ever-growing industry the times, values and reasons people play games have changed dramatically. People play games because of how popular they are, resulting in more views on their latest lets play videos, rather than playing what they really love, regardless of how popular it is. I’m not saying this applies to every gamer, but it applies a lot more today than it did 20 years ago.

Maybe I’m just stuck in my old ways, agitated by a fast paced world, everything moves so fast these days, written media is a dying art form, 8 second vine clips and countless snapchats are all the rage. People don’t have time to play games these days, or so it seems. Hmm. I don’t know, maybe that’s how we’ve evolved as a society, not enough time for anything, but still enough time to keep our social feeds up to date.

Maybe it’s time I stopped trying to adapt to every form of change within the industry and take a step back. Chasing trends and gaming fads will never work. You’ll always feel left behind or out of the loop, even if your first to arrive, the party will be over before you know it and you’ll be left wondering why you even attended in the first place.

Stop feeling like you’re left behind. Play what you love and love what you play, you shouldn’t play games for anyone else but yourself. You didn’t get into games because other people wanted you to play, so why become a puppet on a string to please others?

Whatever it may be, we need to remember why we got into gaming in the first place, hopefully for the love of it and the chance to visit amazing new worlds, to get lost in different time periods; whether it’s fiction or non fiction or sharing the love we have for different games and characters.

Forget about all the inconsequential shit and play for your love of playing, as without that, what does that make gaming, but a passive form of media, as we let it pass by in such a fast pace world, watching others experience it, rather than experiencing it for ourselves.

Why don’t you pick up a controller, take an old game from your shelf and remember what made you start playing in the first place.

/ CR