The Monday Inbox pits Sonic All-Stars Racing vs. Crash Team Racing, as one reader recommends Virtua Racing on Nintendo Switch.
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Good place to stop
Interesting Hot Topic at the weekend, with a lot of sensible speculation. I noticed the one thing that nobody was sure about though was whether there should be, or could be, an Uncharted 5 on PlayStation 5. The fourth one certainly seemed like it would have to be the last one with Nate as the main character, unless another one was a prequel or there were other main characters.
I’d rather go with the new character, using the one teased in the ending, but of course that creates some difficult comparison with Tomb Raider. Although for my money Uncharted has always been by far the better franchise. But like Tomb Raider I’m not sure where it really goes from here. Better graphics doesn’t really change the fact that they’ve kind of gone as far as they can, unless they radically change the tone to something that’s more or less realistic than the previous ones.
Personally I’d be fine with it having a lot more supernatural elements, as I missed them in the last couple of games. On the other hand I kind of like the idea of just leaving the series where it is. Even making The Last Of Us Part II got a lot of people upset so I’d kind of like Naughty Dog to just make new things in the next gen.
Good question Azrael, and I agree Hollow Knight did diminish a good bit after I played it. I enjoyed the 60+ hours I put into it on Switch but when the next free DLC was released last autumn I didn’t even bother going back and I’m not as interested in the sequel as I could’ve been.
Other games that I really loved at the time but didn’t think much of later include most of Rockstar’s games. I think Red Dead Redemption I is the only one where I had an even more positive perception of it afterwards than while playing but after Red Dead Redemption II even my memories of its predecessor have been a bit tainted.
Other notable games include Zelda: Twilight Princess, Zelda: Skyward Sword, and the first Perfect Dark. Sometimes, because of the hype you buy into, you convince yourself that you love something because you really, really want to love it, but the comedown sets in when it’s all over.
Just a look back at the certain recent history of one of the famous names in the games industry Mr Harrison. Phil Harrison was one of the prominent names in the first few years of the disastrous PlayStation 3 launch. Then Phil leaves to join Atari and we all know their fate. So Mr Harrison joins team Xbox One which was another launch disaster that Phil was a part of.
Now Google with Stadia look to make an impact in the games industry and hire the one and only amazing track record of Phil Harrison to be the frontman of Google Stadia. OK, we do not know the fate of Google Stadia but the closer we get to the launch, the less appealing it is looking; especially compared to Nintendo, Xbox Game Pass, and PlayStation 4 games that are still to be released.
Google Stadia still might be a success but I am not convinced it has a strong leader to direct them to reach its potential. We shall see!
Adam Cole BayBay
GC: You’re completely ignoring his time during the PlayStation 1 and 2 era, when he was in charge of third party relations and had an enormous, positive, influence on the PlayStation’s first decade of games and hardware. He then went on to head up Sony’s Worldwide Studios division and was effectively in charge of all their internal development. He was one of the most important figures at Sony during that time and it’s only since leaving that his reputation has become tarnished.
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Loved all your E3 coverage, as ever. It’s the best in the industry so thanks for doing it so well, it’s like being there only without the 5,000-mile trip and fried food.
I loved the interview with Scott Kester about Borderlands 3. He was saying all the right things, although one thing Destiny does well, and Borderlands 2 didn’t, was character customisation. We might be able to tailor our arsenal to the nth degree, but the way our characters looked was very generic.
I know there is no armour system in Borderlands 3, but any signs of more skins or ways to change the way you look? The way you look is a huge deal in all of the looter genre, be it Diablo, Monster Hunter, Division, Anthem, or Destiny.
Keep up the great work!
GC: Thank you. Gearbox has promised more customisation and skins and seem to be well aware of the issue. Although the fundamental problem is that you’re playing a named character in Borderlands, rather than a mute avatar in Destiny, so there’s only so much they can do.
Very enhanced port
Definitely agree with JohnnyCash’s letter on Sega’s retro releases. I just picked up the excellent M2 port of Virtua Racing (which I guess kind of crosses the 32X/Saturn generation) on Switch and it did make me think of other enhanced ports from that era that Sega should put out. Like Nintendo’s back catalogue of N64/GameCube games I think it’s just a matter of time before NiGHTS, Daytona USA, Sega Rally, et al. and others get the treatment on Switch at least… given its success in Japan, though probably a long time.
Dreamcast would be the one though… Didn’t Crazy Taxi and Jet Set Radio get more recent (i.e. PlayStation 3/Xbox 360, I had Jet Set Radio on the PS Vita) remasters? So those soundtrack agreements must have had a fairly recent refresh (more hope than expectation, they’ll need new agreements for new consoles). If not then just give me Skies Of Arcadia, Shenmue, Rez, SoulCalibur, and Virtua Tennis in my hands!
Anyway, I recommend Virtua Racing on Switch to all, it nails the nostalgia sweat spot of looking and playing like you remember, not what it was actually like (something Sonic Mania does so well compared to Mega Drive Sonic). It only has the arcade content but it’s also only £6, the price of a pint in London these days, so don’t be stingy and buy it!
PS: Also, Hollow Knight is probably my second best game on Switch, behind only Zelda. It creates a great world to get lost in and the balance of difficulty, upgrades, and side quests is expertly spread across the running time I thought. So much so I was suspicious it was actually an indie game at all. The only improvement I think would be a slight increase in the number of save and fast travel points, even then it only needs a few more not an overhaul.
GC: The Switch version of Virtua Racing is indeed great and if we don’t get a chance to do a full review we’d strongly recommend it. Crazy Taxi and Jet Set Radio were re-released last gen but not with their full soundtracks.
Quick question. I’ve got almost every sim racer going and fancy something that’s more silly fun than serious sim on PlayStation 4. So… Sonic All-Stars or Crash CTR?
I’ll add a caveat that I never liked Crash Bandicoot (I was a Spyro boy), so I’ll be playing the game purely on a kart racer basis, no nostalgia for an old beloved character clouding my opinion. I did however have most of Sega’s and at least recognise most of the characters.
Does one of them have better longevity or superior gameplay? I’ve seen both in action on Let’s Plays, and both look great so I’ll heed your advice. It’s usually bang on – except XCOM, the one GC praised game I really didn’t like.
GC: You don’t say which All-Stars game but either way the answer is Crash Team Racing. It’s the only kart racer to come anywhere close to the best Mario Karts. The Sonic games (including Team Sonic Racing) are the next best, but they’re a whole lap behind.
So my copy of Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night arrived the other day. Of all the Kickstarter projects I’ve backed, this is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most and I feel it’s definitely lived up to its promises.
There’s just one problem; the Switch port is very much a botch-job. The graphics are noticeably muddier than they are elsewhere, the frame rate’s janky, and it even freezes every so often. I’ve heard horror stories of the game just crashing and refusing to work altogether. The game itself is great, but I do feel like Switch owners have gotten the shaft on this one, which beggars belief since I would’ve thought the console should’ve been able to handle a game like this with ease.
I’m oddly reminded of the Sega Saturn version of Symphony Of The Night, which was only released in Japan (and which incidentally was my introduction to the Castlevania series). The extras do make it worthwhile for any Castlevania collector, but it’s clear the team that did the port couldn’t code for toffee. Despite the Saturn definitely being superior when it came to 2D graphics processing, it somehow looked far worse than the PlayStation version and with quite horrendous slowdown.
That’s what I feel happened with the Switch version of Bloodstained, to be honest. The developers have thankfully been very open about the problems with the Switch version and have assured everyone that they’re working hard to bring it up to scratch. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that developers should just get Panic Button to port their games to the Switch from now on.
GC: The Switch version was never part of the original plan so we’re not surprised to hear it had problems (the week delay was another giveaway). Also, the Saturn may have been better for 2D in theory but it was a nightmare to develop for.
Any day now
Dreamcast re-releases! I want Chu Chu Rocket released on the Switch. Absolutely loved that game, still have that awesome tune bouncing about my head.
Also, would like (don’t hate me for this) Blue Stinger? Still regularly watch playthroughs of it, still love it. Must be regarded as an all-time classic by now guys, right?
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I was reading one of your letters from the other day regarding the digital-only market. This works only to a degree, as has been discussed before, but what I wanted to say was on the subject of game shops. Where I live in the North East we are lucky as we have CeX/GAME still and about four small locally-owned game shops. Thank goodness we do as their modern and retro games and don’t always cost a second mortgage to buy.
To be honest, I never use GAME anymore. How ours has stayed open I’ll never known from the poor service you receive to just the lack of games, they literally only now stock Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and a handful (one to two shelves only) of Switch and 3DS. And PC, well that’s more or less gone altogether. But its also the fact they charge more pre-owned then they do new, I’ve seen that before.
I used their buy online, collect in store service and when I got there was told my game wasn’t there and to take it up with the website. After a bit of back ‘n’ forth it turned out the staff just hadn’t bothered checking.
Luckily, I am not really into consoles these days. I kept my Xbox 360, 2DS, and Game Boy Advance, but that’s all. I now play everything else on PC. Now before anyone jumps in, this isn’t, ‘Oh PC is better than console, etc.’ it’s just my preference. I am not an online game player, I still love old skool games like Command & Conquer. I hate the fact we can’t really buy physical PC games anymore and I am not fan of Steam. I use it because I have to but luckily (and others like Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft could learn from this) GOG they sell all their games DRM free. They also offer amazing deals like free games, and not just random indie titles, I mean well-known titles. They gave me Alien Versus Predator just for testing their galaxy beta. Only used it maybe twice, as I was saying I’m not a big online player.
They use a trust system with their buyers and, yes, I guess it is a risk to allow buyers to buy and download and burn to DVD if they wish.
Maybe console will go this way in the future but with the type of DRM that means it can be backed up offline to disk, but will be linked to your console’s motherboard (bit like Windows 10). Who knowns. I believe there will always be a market for physical media, just not as big as it was.
PS: The way GAME are going I think they could end up going under yet again.
Is the Final Fantasy VII Remake a lifetime PlayStation exclusive? Could you see it coming to Xbox in the future at some point?
GC: It’s hard to imagine it ever appearing on the Xbox One. Maybe Microsoft can work out something for Project Scarlett but even a PC version looks unlikely in the short term.
Just to let everyone know that Metro Exodus is available at Argos on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for the princely sum of £24.99. A bargain if ever there was one.
This week’s Hot Topic
Since we’re just over the halfway point of the year the subject for this weekend’s Inbox is what has been your favourite new game of 2019?
How many new games have you bought this year and how does that compare to usual? Do you think 2019 has so far been a good year for new games and what do you think have been the major trends? Do you think any of the new games will go down as all-time classics and are any in your top favourite list?
You can find our list of top games here, but bear in mind our top 20 never includes remakes, remasters, expansions, compilations, or versions of games previously released on other formats – but you’re free to talk about anything as long as it was released new in the UK this year.
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