Games Inbox: Is Game Pass the future of gaming?

The Thursday Inbox has advice for finding the best Super Mario Maker 2 levels, as one reader is unhappy about the new Commander Keen.

To join in with the discussions yourself email [email protected]


Welcome future

I’m going to praise Microsoft and Game Pass again. Having not been sold on Metro Exodus when it was initially released I’m really loving it now it’s ‘free’ on Game Pass.

In my opinion this is the future. Recent games I or my kids have enjoyed, but would never have actually bought, include Supermarket Shriek, Resident Evil Revelations, Absolver, Below, Batman: Arkham Knight, etc., etc. To me it represents good value and I’m happy to pay it.


Making do

So… World War Z, eh? Not a bad little game at all. Much harder than I expected on normal difficulty too. I’ll happily take this as a Left 4 Dead interim until Valve get their act together.

Also, Metro Exodus. What a game. Currently addicted, the systems and lone wolf feel are great. The freedom is great, the graphics are stunning. Game Pass has truly been special so far this year. I have 500-odd games on the Xbox alone and struggle to make a dent when titles of this quality drop so frequently.

GC: If nothing else we’re glad people are getting a chance to appreciate Metro Exodus, it already feels like it’s being unfairly overlooked in terms of being amongst this year’s best games.


Not so Keen

Been meaning to write this for a while, since E3 really. I was first shocked (in surprise) and then shocked (in horror) by the reveal of the new Commander Keen game. When I was little, long before I ever had a console, I played Episode 4 (Secret Of The Oracle) for hours and hours. Keen was literally born out of the developer wanting to port Super Mario Bros. over to the PC and to my nine-year-old self this was my Mario.

So to see the new Keen in action stirred some, let’s say, strong feelings. Why oh why did they make this a mobile game – and it’s not even a platform game! I’ve kind of taken to the art style – it really brings to mind Saturday morning cartoons – but just cannot believe they used it in anything other than a platformer. While always for a younger audience, Keen was never so juvenile (the intro line from the reveal trailer ‘get Uranus to Mars’ made me wince) and Keen’s character was more of a brave nerd than some little punk kid with ‘tude.

This can be explained away by the fact that that it’s actually the original Keen’s child(ren) rather than the OG one but it’s still poor characterisation. Perhaps this is all due to the non-involvement of the original creator Tom Hall, who has publicly distanced himself from this new one. The fact that he has been trying to get another game made for decades now without success (he doesn’t hold the rights to his own creation) and they’ve passed him over to do their own thing leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

I’m still not happy with the direction they’ve gone but I’m at least hopeful that if the characters prove to be popular it may lead to a new game somewhere down the line – one that respects and does justice to the original.
PS: The only other thing that I was peeved at was the redesign of the cult icon the Dopefish. If the Dopefish is supposed to be the second dumbest creature in the universe then whoever OK’d that redesign must be the first.


E-mail your comments to: [email protected]


Head start

Good review for Super Mario Maker 2.

If you are getting the game then I would definitely head over to the Mario Maker subreddit.

This is the best place to find great levels to your own tastes and get help with designing.

The first game took about a year or so before many people began to create some truly amazing levels. The sequel has a massive head start however, as many people have a few years of experience now.

The Level Of The Week contest is returning in a couple of weeks and whether you wish to compete or not it is a regular source of great levels of all kinds.

Also check out the Discord, many friendly people hang out there, including myself!

It’s almost certain that the majority of levels you will find by only using the games search feature or endless mode will be hot garbage. Use Reddit, seriously! If you want to play traditional Mario levels, Metroidvanias, or Kaizo speedruns, it doesn’t matter, you will find them there.


So good I played it twice

Forgotten Anne sure has done a fine job of etching its measured goodness into my memories.

Its Studio Ghibli esque art style and graceful animations are sumptuous to behold; the story and characters are captivating and beyond charming; the platforming gameplay channels the rigid, deliberate precision of the original Prince Of Persia, Flashback, and Another World; and the puzzle solving, which primarily focuses on the extraction, insertion and diverting of energy to operate machinery, is often stimulating in my opinion.

I’ve already finished this enchanting fairy tale-like adventure but I’ve decided to dive straight back in to get the other ending. Can’t recommended this indie gem enough!
Galvanized Gamer

GC: It is one of the best hidden gems of recent years.


Secret annoucement

What an underwhelming announcement for the PC Engine Mini! For me this is the most exciting news out of this year’s E3. I am genuinely excited about this.

When the PC Engine was originally released they were very much out of my reach financially and indeed most people my age.

Interesting that Konami own the rights for this as they have a good catalogue of games on the system. It will be interesting to see what makes it onto the games list and how many games we will get. It’s possible it’s going to be a little shoot ‘em-up heavy but I hope they don’t mess this up like Sony did with their PlayStation mini.

GC: Konami bought developer Hudson Soft back in 2012, so they own all their games and the PC Engine hardware and brand. Although Bomberman is the only one they’ve used recently.


Encouraging more

Are there any indications of how many copies Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night has sold?

I’m hoping it sold well not only to warrant another game from Koji Igarashi, but to show Konami that an old school Castlevania is still wanted by fans.
LoRd SiNn

GC: That’s very difficult to say with a crowd-funded game. It didn’t have much impact on the physical sales charts but most of its sales would’ve been digital and it’s essentially already been paid for. If Konami are doing a new Contra a new Castlevania game has got to be inevitable at some point. The last rumour we heard was that it was for PlayStation 5/Project Scarlett.


Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here


Missing the boat

I think the problem for me with lack of enthusiasm for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order isn’t just EA’s track record but the fact that it’s been 5 years and we barely have any decent Star Wars games in comparison to the wealth of titles which existed prior to the Disney buyout of the franchise.

We’ve experienced two generations of consoles in that time (not including the PlayStation VR) and neither has brought us more advanced artificial intellegence, more immersive interaction, or gameplay innovation.

EA could’ve released so many titles spanning multiple genres, like point ‘n’ click Thimbleweed Park story-based, X-Wing, motion-controlled lightsabre combat within a new Jedi training game, a smuggler simulator, a full VR starfighter game, or even a retro-themed 2D Uniracers/Super Mario World/Lost Vikings style BB-8 droid platformer. We haven’t even had a VR update of Pod Racer! Imagine how visceral that would be.

I mean, a completely immersive yet passive game in the PlayStation VR Ocean Descent or Panzer Dragoon vein influenced by Star Tours would be amazing, and not too difficult to produce. I’d settle for a Millennium Falcon game where you can walk freely around the inside of the ship and play co-op with friends in VR, like Star Trek Bridge Crew; fighting attacking TIEs off in the gunner positions, fixing the hyperdrive, flying through asteroid fields, practicing with a lightsabre with the remote target, and picking up/dropping off cargo and hiding under the flooring from boarding Stormtroopers as mini-tasks.

Fallen Order just looks generic and derivative. Where’s all the imagination?
Demonscythe Synthwave


Inbox also-rans

The Last Day Of June game is free on PC on Epic Games Store from today.
Andrew J.
Just completed: Walking Dead Season 4 and Life Is Strange 2: Episode 3 (PS4)

I didn’t follow E3 that closely but I completely missed the announcement about the mini PC Engine. Is there any likelihood it will be released in the UK? Inbox magic do your thing.

GC: It is, or at least the basic model is. There are some cosmetic variants that probably won’t though.


This week’s Hot Topic

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Tully and asks what would you make the launch title for the PlayStation 5 and/or Project Scarlett?

Despite E3 having just taken place we still have no clear idea about what’s happening with the next gen formats, even though they’re due to launch next year. But if you were in charge what game or games would you ensure were available on the new consoles from day one?

Would it be part of an established franchise or something brand new? If it is new, what kind of game would it be and how would it take advantage of the more powerful hardware? Are there particular types of game that either company are currently missing? And if Nintendo announces a new format soon what would you advise for them?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]


The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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