The adjustable charging stand allows the Nintendo Switch system to be charging while in Tabletop mode, enabling longer play sessions.
A traditional game is a challenge in which a player’s skill comes up again a rigid set of rules. Turn-based strategy, multiplayer death match, platformers—these are traditional. The modern, high-end, blockbuster AAA game is not a skill challenge. If it were, the player might fail and be disappointed, and then we wouldn’t sell as many copies. The rules are fluid. We change them to create tension, surprise, or excitement. Saying yes to the player only goes so far, and that distance is the exact length required to make you feel in control.
Last week, a colleague of mine asked how far I was into Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. I told him that I was in the middle of the fourth (and possibly last) stage — Lava Pit. (For what it’s worth, I had recommended the game to him.) I also told him that playing Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was the most fun I’d had with a video game in a long time. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was great, but the aesthetic doesn’t draw me back. Likewise, Splatoon 2 is lots of fun, but only in casual, Mario Kart-style doses. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battlle has me not only progressing through the main campaign, but backtracking to achieve better, cleaner results in previous battles and optional challenges.
Right now, it seems the “traditional” game is where I find fulfillment. When life feels like a maze, solving simple, zero-stakes problems — in a world you adore — is unbelievably gratifying.
If platformers fit into this bucket, then boy, oh boy am I looking forward to Super Mario Odyssey.
Outside of the tiny face buttons, the analog sticks, digital triggers, and shoulder buttons feel solid and well made.
The Joy-Con are surprisingly comfortable and versatile in the hand too. And attaching and detaching them from the console is satisfying to the point that it’s almost addictive.
I remember feeling satisfaction attaching and detaching Controller and Rumble Paks from the Nintendo 64 controller’s expansion port.
I can’t wait to get my hands on this thing.
The release and my playthrough of The Witness happened to coincide with a ramp-up in my video game podcast consumption. (Maybe not so much a coincidence than a subconscious attempt to glean a hints from podcasters.) Through this, I came across a couple of keen observations of the game’s design that I had not considered:
Jake Rodkin: It uses so many rules of Disneyland-esque design and video game level design to make it easy to navigate, but it’s not built assuming there’s that huge framework of video game messaging beneath it.
Chris Remo: That Disneyland thing is a good comparison. Video game designers have often—for good reason—and accurately pointed to Disneyland as a really useful design touchstone. Not for the experience of the rides themselves, but for the design of the actual park.
JR: Disneyland is the closest we have in real life to a constructed open-world level.
CR: Areas are connected where there’s an intuitive sense of structure, but when you’re in any given place, it feels like it’s entirely enveloping you.
JR: Until you come around a corner and then the foliage and architecture perfectly frames on a sightline – spire that is in a waypoint to a different land of the park.
CR: And The Witness is totally like that.
I completely agree. The Idle Thumbs crew may also have unraveled a core reason why I loved Myst so much. And quite possibly why I love Disneyland so much.
Jared Petty on IGN’s Game Scoop!, ep 376, 3:27:
This is a secret Metroidvania game. In a Metroid game, you get to an area. You can’t get far. You go off to a different area. You find a power-up. (In this case, the power-ups are not items you find in the game. It’s the knowledge that you gain through working out a different set of puzzles.) You get frustrated. You go off to a different area. You learn something. You come back. Boom! You get through.
Sometimes you can “bomb-jump” your way around it by figuring out something by being clever that you got a little ahead of. Or a little more doggedness or experimentation. It’s a neat game.
A very neat game.
Over the past week or so, I’ve learned that you can play Splatoon with two controllers taped together. I’ve also learned that Batman: Arkham Knight is a sprawling complicated buffet of gaming genres.
While the latter may be less about controls, I’m going to bet a “complicated buffet of gaming genres” would be a whole lot less daunting if I didn’t have 17 input methods on my PS4 to use at a moment’s notice:
After you’re done digesting all of that, take a moment to get to know your Xbox One Wireless Controller.
As Ben Thompson pointed out:
@zerocounts_ this is a huge problem for casual gamers
— Ben Thompson (@benthompson) May 28, 2015
Beyond casuals, this is a problem for returning and often busy players. The fear of returning to a video game after days, weeks, or months of not playing – hell, the fear of picking up any video game to begin with – may stem from the problems above. Tutorials are commonplace in video games. Half the time I forget what the tutorials taught me. But instead of digging through menus for a refresher, I return to button mashing and familiarity for the sake of progress.
I began playing video games with the following inputs:
Today, most people start with less: A touchscreen. Even with an unabashed fondness for the admittedly hideous and complex Nintendo 64 controller, I’ve taken to iOS games that require simple gestures and brief touches but offer rich experiences.1 (See: Alto’s Adventure, The Room, Monument Valley)
Whether or not Journey can be considered a “game”, it is an award-winning experience that only utilized for 44% of the PS3’s buttons. While all buttons were used in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, it did something extremely interesting: Auto-jumping. When I first played the game, I thought it crazy that jumping was defined by the world, not the player. But I got used to it and eventually loved it. It made perfect sense. In a physical world of button fatigue, a virtual world helped establish what was critical to player timing and what was trivial based on surroundings.
I’ve been dipping in and out of Far Cry 4 lately. I haven’t come across a good instance where I should be the one to define when to grapple or it necessary to control the climb mechanism. (Granted I’ve only played for a few hours.) Grappling seems trivial. On the flip-side, Dragon Age: Inquisition controls my use of potions based on programming, default or player defined. Potion use is trivial. Your character needs to be healed, so the game heals you. The player need not press a button.
I certainly have a reverie for the days of 5 inputs. A colleague and I spent time handling an original Game Boy last week, remembering just how comfortable and satisfying the early handheld felt. (The feels and travel of it’s buttons are a thing of beauty.) The more I sit back and think about the backwards oddity of shutting out an extremely large swath of consumers while deterring those who are ripe to purchase but are fatigued and tired of re-learning, the more I picture grandma’s remotes.
1 UPDATE: Super Mario Run nailed it.