I Do Not Fear the Remake

Note: This is an old post from the soon-to-be-defunct Slow Gamers. That site is closing, so I’m moving over my Opinion posts from that site to here.

John Siracusa has an awesome take on video game remakes (in light of the recent Wind Waker HD announcement by Nintendo) over at Hypercritical, but I wanted to share my own thoughts on the matter.

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There have been a number of remakes and re-releases with graphical updates recently, the above image coming from the Ocarina of Time remake for the 3DS. I’m not afraid of these remakes and I don’t wish that they would go away for a number of reasons.

  1. I really like these games and would love to have them available on my new system. Wind Waker has been on my play-again list for a while and now I don’t have to try to find a Gamecube to play it again, I’ll just quietly wait for the Wii U version to be released. I can be patient.
  2. It gives developers a playground to try out new techniques and technologies. As was stated in the Nintendo Direct, Wind Waker HD was born out of trying out different art styles from the different Zelda games on the Wii U hardware. Making a fleshed-out game is only going to give them an opportunity to fine-tune some of their development software and graphics engines so that future games will be even better.
  3. The teams are generally smaller for these sorts of things so it might give the company an opportunity to let junior developers spread their wings a little to gain some valuable experience. I would imagine that remakes are a great way for something like that to happen.
  4. I just want to play these games again!

Alright, the last one is purely my own want. However, I understand the flip side of this as well. These games weren’t originally developed on this system so the control schemes are generally not as smooth (unless a lot of work is done … think Twilight Princess-level work to add motion controls). It also does take talent and time away from new games.

But it is known that just adding people to a project isn’t going to make it happen faster. Just “staffing up” can slow down a project sometimes as people need to get up to speed, might call into question decisions that have already been made, and also usually mean more managerial oversight as well. Those are not good things.

If a company is committed to putting out high-quality remakes (as I expect Wind Waker HD will be … even though I’m guessing it will be Wind Waker U), then I’m not going to fear them.

I will embrace them.

How I Play Games

Note: This is an old post from the soon-to-be-defunct Slow Gamers. That site is closing, so I’m moving over my Opinion posts from that site to here.

My days of long hours being spent in front of a television of computer display are long gone. They are gone to spend more time with my family and with my other responsibilities. It is not that I miss those days all that much, it is only that times have changed and so … the way I play games has changed.

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Currently my “gaming” takes place in two different areas: home consoles and mobile. More specifically the Nintendo Wii U and iOS. I’ll write in reverse order this time.

iOS and Mobile

I carry my iPad with my most places and my iPhone with me at all times. Because of that, I do keep a few games there just in case I find myself with some time to kill … and because the games are quite fun. They are also quite different from what I would traditionally play.

Letterpress, by atebits, has been the one game to stick around the longest on my phone. It is also a game that is uniquely suited for iOS and mobile gaming. The asynchronous nature of the gameplay also means I can pick it up when I have a few seconds to respond instead of needing to play continuously.

I have been playing Hundreds, another puzzle game with a unique twist supplied by the touch screen available on newer devices.

The simpler the concept and the shorter the “levels”, the better it is for me. Part of the issue stems from the fact that the current crop of mobile devices are not, in any way, meant primarily to be gaming devices. That is a secondary function among many.

The Game Gear might be the most ergonomic mobile device … if it could be considered mobile at all. After that, the original Game Boy Advance definitely would be my favorite design for a mobile gaming device. The current mobile devices are not in that category at all.

The benefit, however, is that mobile devices can have adaptive interfaces for different types of games. That’s the tradeoff.

Wii U and Consoles

The Wii U is my “traditional” gaming device, which is funny to say because it is probably the most untraditional of traditional devices currently out there. Truth be told, I have a Wii U because it comes from Nintendo and I’m not one to miss out on the next installment of The Legend of Zelda (even Wind Waker HD).

This is where I will sit down for time measured in hours, not minutes. This is where the “real gaming” happens (whatever that terrible phrase means). This is the console I have purchased with the intent that I will be purchasing the Nintendo exclusives and playing them through along with some older games.

The Wii U is also the family gaming machine. We have Just Dance 4, Nintendo Land, and New Super Mario Bros. U so far and all of them have cooperative play of some sort. This makes it great to bring my son along slowly. It is quite startling to see his progress just in the past month in how much better he is not just at manipulating the controls, but in actually forming strategies to try and beat me.

Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be able to stay ahead of him in video games as long as I might like to.

Personal Computers

Where does that leave the good old PC?

I really don’t know. I’m going to keep one around because there are games that just work better on a PC (I’m looking at you Starcraft and Sim City), but how much longer will those even entice me?

The hard part about a PC for me is that I don’t use it every day because my work is done on a Mac or iOS device. Since I don’t use it every day, I can’t justify purchasing newer hardware that easily and so it sits with outdated hardware for a while until a game comes along where I need to spend about $200 to get it running properly again … not to mention it is another piece of software to keep updated all of the time.

PC gaming is not going anywhere, but I don’t know if it is going anywhere anymore for me.

Conclusion

That’s about it. The basics of it is the same as it has always been: I will go where the games are. Right now the games, for me, are on iOS and the Wii U. When that changes, then my devices will change accordingly.

Wii U Receives System Update

Polygon reports that the Wii U received its system update last night, and I can confirm that it is true … because I installed it just about an hour ago.

Wii U Update

That’s just a picture of my son and me playing Nintendo Land.

So far, the speed update is noticeable. Wait times are down and things seem more fluid than before,  but there is always room for improvement. iOS has forever broken me, and lagging interfaces are now grating.

I haven’t had time to really dig in at all and take a look at some of the other improvements, but it is always good to see an update come down.

I’m still very satisfied with my Wii U and it has been a lot of fun to see my son improve drastically over the past months. We have a lot of fun with it, and that is the idea.

Introducing The Last Story

The Last Story

From the mind of Hironobu Sakaguchi and the people at Mistwalker (with music from Nobuo Uematsu) comes The Last Story, a decidedly Japanese action RPG with all of the thematic moldings of some of the more classic Final Fantasy games …

… which makes sense when you have the father of Final Fantasy and its only composer for the first nine numbered games involved in its creation.

I was made aware of this game a few months back just as it was being announced that it was going to be localized for North America and brought over by XSEED Games. Just the idea of Sakaguchi and Uematsu getting together to create another RPG was enough to get me excited, but then the reviews came in very positive and the fact that it was going to be a Wii exclusive made it even better.

However, I didn’t really have the time to sit down and begin playing through an RPG when it was originally released. Nonetheless I added it to my “Play In The Future” list so that I wouldn’t forget about it.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2013 and I was looking for something new to play on the Wii U. While Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U are great games in their own right, they are not something I normally sit down and play all of the way through. The Last Story seemed like a good fit.

I’ve only been playing for a few days, but so far I like it a lot … definitely the best JRPG I’ve played since Final Fantasy IX and maybe even better than some before that. I’m still getting used to the combat and die probably too often, but I am enjoying myself and so far I’ve found a way to get past any of the more difficult areas.

Look for more about this game from me in the future. Until then, if you like the Final Fantasy series before X, I recommend picking up this game and giving it a shot.