Games Inbox: How much time do you have to play video games?

The Tuesday Inbox thinks the Aladdin and The Lion King games are overrated, as one reader ponders the inner meaning of NieR:Automata.

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Time poor

Nice review for Divinity: Original Sin II on the Switch. I’m tempted, even though it’s not the usual type of game I’d go for… but, I’m worried how much time is needed to play it ‘properly’.

I am a little ‘time poor’ due to work and family commitments, so wonder what you would think is the minimum amount of time you’d need to put in to playing it to not lose track of what you were doing (and to make it worthwhile)? An example of how little time I have is when I do get to fire-up a game, I do sometimes have to check what each button does in the Control Menu, so not ideal.

I like to support games that are good, especially if they are not likely to sell all that well, but I don’t want to end up with another game sat on the shelf because I’m 50/50 on whether I need to start from the beginning again or persevere from where I am hoping that I remember the story as I go.

Are we talking hour(s) a day, or would a couple of hours a week be enough?!

GC: That’s difficult for us to answer as that’s completely different to the way we play games (or we’d never get any reviews done). We can tell you though that the story alone, with minimal side-questing, is at least 50 hours. However, the portable nature of the Switch does make it surprisingly easy to pick up and play in odd moments, which we would never have suspected from playing the previous versions.


Necro spam

I enjoyed Divinity: Original Sin II probably not quite as much as the first game, but nearly. For me there was one bit, predominantly in the last half of the game, that spoils it – the enemies incessant use of the area effect spell Necrofire.

It spoilt my enjoyment of most of the latter battles and seemed to be thrown in just to make things more irksome.

So I’d definitely shave a mark or two off that 10/10 rating.
Currently playing: SteamWorld Heist (NS) – great game!


Decisions, decisions

Hello GC and lovely fellow readers (well, I’m sure most of you are lovely). I am on the cusp of beating the Darker Side of the Moon in Super Mario Odyssey. I know – it’s so Pink Floyd, am I right? I could have done it the other day but I was careless during the Glydon section. Which was especially annoying when I was doing so well up to that point. Had six health segments and everything.

But, it should mean that I beat it within a few more goes. And then I’m going to move on to something else. But… what? Odyssey will mean I have caught up on the two big games from 2017 that I didn’t get to play at the time. I haven’t beat Horizon Zero Dawn, only just started in fact. Yet that can wait a little longer, I feel. I came to an impasse in NieR:Automata a while ago too and have even considered lowering the difficulty to easy just to get through it. I also have Devil May Cry 5, Black Desert Online, Final Fantasy XIV, Forgotton Anne, Freedom Planet, and all of the Classic Mini SNES.

Technically, that would make those games the oldest in my backlog. Aaargh! So much choice! More Mario, but 2D this time? Metroid? Zelda: A Link To The Past? EarthBound? Help! I can’t decide!

Oh God. I just remembered I’ve only just got Divinity: Original Sin II as well…


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Disney magic

I’m still catching up on news and the Inbox after a holiday, so I have now read the news about the Disney remakes of Aladdin and The Lion King, which made me raise an eyebrow.

I picked up the AtGames Mega Drive in July, after the excellent feedback from chickendave and Legal Assassin, with the rewind feature in particular making a lot more games enjoyable for someone of my limited gaming ability. I still had the cartridges for both of these games, so fired them up. Aladdin is still fun but The Lion King is needlessly difficult and the collision detection seems off as well. With the rewind feature, the games do not take long to complete at all and will be even shorter with the ‘skip ahead’ function that will be employed.

It goes without saying that Disney are trying to cash in on the live action remakes of both movies, but I don’t think these are particularly worthy of remakes. Saying that, it is good to have some more family friendly games available and I’m guessing I’m not the target audience anyway.

GC: To be honest, we always felt most Disney platformers of the 8-bit and 16-bit were overrated.


Farewell Celeste

Heads up to fans of Celeste. In case you missed it, the chapter 9 free DLC came out on Monday!

It’s been long delayed, apparently due to the creators getting carried away and adding far more content than originally planned.

I think you need to beat the main game to unlock it as it is set to by very tough. Can’t wait! I can almost feel my thumbs hurting already.
Fatys Henrys


Price driven decision

On Friday reader Onibee asked if the Switch is Nintendo’s best console ever.

I have to say: no, it’s not.

I recently bought a Wii U and so many of the must-have titles also came out on that system.

Not only that but the Switch versions are so much more expensive.

I looked up the prices of all eight Nintendo-related titles that came out on both systems, such as Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, New Super Mario Bros. double-pack, and Bayonetta 2, on a popular second-hand shop’s website.

The games would cost £93 on Wii U but a staggering £303 on Switch.

While the cheapest consoles are £70 and £230 respectively.

The Switch has also been praised for a number of indie titles, including Mutant Year Zero, Yoku’s Island Express, My Time At Portia, Banner Saga Trilogy, and Dead Cells. But I can play them (and many more) on Xbox Game Pass. And that cost me just a pound for a month’s subscription, not £17.99 to £29.99 each.

As someone not interested in Super Smash Bros. or Pokémon (tried both many times but never liked either) I can only think of one Switch title I really want to play that I can’t, which is Super Mario Odyssey.

I’m sure the Switch will have more must-have exclusives eventually.

But at the moment it seems like a huge price for very little I can’t already play elsewhere. I don’t feel I’m missing out at all by not having one.
Jean-Paul Satire

GC: What do second-hand game prices have to do with which console is best?


The main event

Best Nintendo console is so subjective. clearly from a technical ability point of view the Switch is the best ever – it can do things the NES can only dream of.

However, I’m going to say the SNES has to be best because at the time pretty much all the best developers in the world, except for Sega, were firing on all cylinders, delivering classic after classic.

The SNES wasn’t a console you owned to supplement your main gaming diet delivered by something else, it was a console where the owners were the main focus of gaming companies, if you owned one you didn’t need any other machine. Third party developers were falling over themselves to deliver entertainment. I don’t see that happening again no matter how many Switch units are sold.

GC: You make a good argument.


Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here


Getting the message

Having just finished NieR:Automata, I have to say it didn’t quite work for me. I love Platinum games, I love anime, I love philosophy, and I love questions around artificial intelligence and sentience, so in theory this should be the game for me. But in practise it just didn’t come together in the way I wanted it to. I think my main problem was I just didn’t care about the characters, in fact in the case of Pascal I found him mildly annoying.

As I didn’t form any real emotional connection with 2B and 9S, I never got past seeing them as anything but disposable, which obviously undermines the whole concept behind the game. In contrast, just thinking of the boy and Trico in Last Guardian makes me all emotional (just in case anyone thinks I’m a monster!).

In terms of actual gameplay, the action was good enough but didn’t have the depth of other Platinum titles and the role-playing elements didn’t feel fully realised. Even great ideas like the plug-in chips felt completely superfluous by halfway through the game, with little incentive to change your set-up.

Obviously, the unusual structure of multiple playthroughs and varying game styles was one of the main draws for the game but even this wasn’t completely satisfying for me. The flightsuit shooter sections were all excellent but the hacking sections, despite being inspired to begin with, started to drag by the end, especially when they completely impeded your progress. The second playthrough was fairly fresh and definitely worth the trouble but the third playthrough was really just a mix of the first and second playthrough, not actually adding anything new at all gameplay wise.

My entry for the video game turn-offs Hot Topic should have been having to play through locations multiple times without substantial change and NieR:Automata is definitely guilty of this. The sixth time in the factory was certainly not as exciting as the first (to be fair the amusement park was always exciting with the pretty fireworks).

I’ve made it sound like I completely hated the game but despite all I’ve said I still mostly enjoyed it. The music alone was worth playing for and I still have some of the songs in my head. I guess I just expected a classic and thought it’d all add up to more. Ha, maybe that sums up life in general.
Ryan O’D

GC: We think director Yoko Taro would be more than satisfied if that’s the message you took from the game.


Inbox also-rans

The worse thing about all that DualShock X/Cross business is that I have to admit that, logically, it must be Cross. But I’ll die before I ever call it that!

RE: Ben Parker’s Mean Machines feature. Here’s an article on the BBC website in case you missed it.


This week’s Hot Topic

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox is based on the fact that this week is the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast launch in America, so we want to know your memories of Sega’s last home console.

Did you own or play a Dreamcast back in the day and what are your fondest memories of it? Do you think it was a good console and what did you like about it most? What were your favourite games for it and why? Have you played any of them recently and how do you think they stand up now?

Did you use the online features of the Dreamcast and what did you think of them? How upset were you when Sega left the hardware business and do you still play the Dreamcast or its games today?

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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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