A Game Sin That Needs To Die: Small Text

Currently I’m playing the JRPG, Ni No Kuni 2 and even though I’m enjoying it, I’m getting very annoyed with its text. It sounds absurd to be that frustrated by text but when it takes away from my experience, there is an issue. I don’t like to give games a point based review on my blog. But if I were to give Ni No Kuni 2 a number out of 10, I’d probably deduct 0.5 from its final score just because of the text. It’s that bad! Here’s an example for you kind reader:

What is that?! Even on my 40 inch TV I struggle to read it. My vision as far as I’m aware is 20/20. I’ve never had any issues with reading things at a distance but with this game I really struggle. You have all that lovely space to use up on screen, whoever made this choice. I understand that you don’t want to clutter the screen because the game looks amazing but I want to read what characters say. I wouldn’t mind so much if each bit of dialogue is voiced but it isn’t. These dialogue boxes aren’t voiced in the dungeons. Not only that but they are frequent. So far they aren’t necessary for the game but they provide nice character interactions and help to fill out the personalities of these people. I want to learn this stuff, I shouldn’t be torn between focusing on where I’m going and reading banter. This is especially annoying if in the middle of combat or trying to do a stealth section. Which brings me to my next point and problem. Here is a GIF from the first stealth section of the game:

I apologise for the blurry text. First time creating one so I might be able to find a clearer source in the future. But! You don’t need to be able to read that text. I just want you to see the problem. The text prompts require super fast reading skills. I haven’t sped that up or slowed it down, that is the default speed. Now as you can imagine, at this point you are trying not to get noticed so you are extra vigilant. A text pop up happens and obviously you want to read it because it could be important and or informative. Your attention is needed to avoid the guards so you do the classic move. Eyes up, eyes down, eyes up, eyes down. You get snippets of text and then check your movements are on point and then back down for more text. On your 3rd attempt at this however, the text disappears. Information is lost forever. I shouldn’t have to be The Flash of reading! It’s a JRPG! These games are notorious for their game length. It’s not like they’re rushed for time so how about extending that to the dialogue boxes.

90% of these won’t be important, I’m aware of that. I should have the ability to experience it thought if I want to. What the characters are talking about though is key to creating this universe it’s set in. It could be Roland’s thoughts on this new world that he finds himself in. That connection between him and me experiencing this world for the first time is vital in my opinion. He is my eyes and voice. Young Evan has just lost his father recently in the game’s timeline. He could be scared of this adventure he is setting out on but longs to be a strong leader like his father. I may miss that dialogue because of the fast and small text if he says it whilst in a dungeon. It doesn’t matter what he is saying, it could be his favourite Monster Munch flavour for all I care! The point is, those words, no matter what they are, flesh out this world and it’s inhabitants. To really delve into the universe, filler text is important. Bioshock got it right with its audio logs. You don’t need to read the subtitles as you have the audio but at least you have the choice. Rapture’s past is brought to life by those recordings. It’s just a shame that something so easy to fix in games, tends to be ignored or unnoticed. An option to change text size shouldn’t be difficult to implement. I’ve not even mentioned people whose sight is worse than mine. Everyone is different and the more options we have in games for different people, the better.

Hopefully you enjoyed my whinge and let me know if you’ve experienced similar to this. Side question, what’s your favourite Monster Munch flavour? I’m a beef guy myself. Cheers for reading!

Where’s My Team Buddies Reboot?!

Has anyone else played this Playstation game? That’s rhetorical, I know others have because there are Youtube videos of it but have you, the reader played it? If you have please message me and let me know because I have never spoken to anyone who has. Whenever I mentioned it to friends in the past and to this day, they haven’t a clue what I’m on about. I had so much fun playing this and its gameplay is perfect for an online team based game. I know there are a lot of games people want rebooted or a sequel, more well known ones than my choice. I loved Timesplitters 2 and Future Perfect but come on, Team Buddies needs some reboot love folks.

Team Buddies grid
Those arrows are confusing. Where can I put this box?

For those of you asking what the hell I’m on about, I’ll explain the premise. So Team Buddies is a game centred around the collection of boxes. Thrilling, I know! You play as these walking pill looking people of all colours of the rainbow. It’s a team based game where you and the enemy teams fight over crates that you then put on your team crafting pad to create weapons/teammates/vehicles. You then use all of what you made to destroy your enemies and to destroy their base to stop their future production. Different layouts of boxes yield different results. Not only that and I may be getting this detail mixed up, but I believe different levels make different types of characters and different types of weapons. So for instance, on one level you place a block down and you create a shotgun. On another level your characters are ninjas and one block yields shurikens whilst 4 blocks, lying flat in a square formation makes a rocket launcher. 8 blocks in cube formation will create a vehicle for your team, these include tanks and planes.

team_buddies_by_flash_gavo-d5ovxly
Look at this! Barely out of the 90’s but still full of attitude

 

What I loved about this game was the tactics you could utilise. You could hurry and make a shotgun and try to take down an enemy’s base straight away. You might succeed and eliminate a whole team but then you’ve just let the other 2 teams gather boxes and create an army. Or do you grab the boxes and launch them in your pads generally direction and hope nobody steals them while you’re away? It makes me laugh because there is an almost eerie calm before the storm in Team Buddies. The average map will have teams in opposite directions and a middle ground where the boxes continuously drop from the sky on to. Usually everyone starts with one person per team and then they have to make their own squad. 4 per team I believe. And so, the first minute of the match is usually a grab and chuck match as each colour pill is lobbing crates to their bases. Then the madness begins. Soon every team has 2 people and some with weapons. Now the fight for the crates turns lethal. Bullets hail across the map and boxes punted out of pill people’s hands. And sometimes, rare blue coloured boxes fall the sky. Manna from heaven! You can bet your bum that if you make a grab for those, you become target numero uno.

Team buddies cat
Silly cat, this is a battlefield! Home is that way!

The game features a variety of modes. Single player has scenario modes and levels and multiplayer has your now standard fare of mode. Deathmatch, Domination, Capture etc. The game featured up to 4 player multiplayer and each player could create 3 additional AI teammates. Not only that but you can swap control to another buddy with the touch of a button. Can you imagine the chaos? I wish I had friends and a multitap back then!  Also, the game featured different personalities for different buddie types. The standard buddies had a cockney accent and were boisterous, while the ninjas had bad ‘engrish’…..maybe leave that out of the reboot. Nevertheless, these quirky characteristics combined with the tongue in cheek humour and film references made me fall in love with the game. Plus,he mild cursing helped. Hey, as a teenager and formally a Nintendo kid at that, swearing was uncommon back then in gaming. My mind was blown the following year when Conker’s Bad Fur Day was released.

I do wish the game garnered more attention and a bigger fan base. From what I can gather the game had a limited release and it’s hard for an IP to make a mark. Especially with how unique and cartoony the game looked, I can imagine that didn’t help it when next to serious looking games like Tomb Raider and commercial successes like Crash Bandicoot. I love team based games and just the idea of this in an online way makes me very happy and sad that it didn’t happen. I know the idea of a reboot or spiritual successor is a pipe dream but I still want to live in that dream sometimes.  The game is pure chaotic fun and its cartoonish graphics have helped it stave off the ugliness of some early 3D games.  It’s not a perfect game but me and my sister used to have a great time playing this together.  If you can, if you have a way to play this game, if you have a copy somewhere or even through emulation, give the game a go. Better yet, give it a go with a friend or friends. I think you’ll enjoy it.

 

Overwatch is in Need of Support

A support hero specifically. I bought Overwatch on release day and since then I have usually played it every day for at least an hour. It’s a great game and rekindled my love of online FPS’s which I was quickly losing interest in. The lore surrounding the game, it’s world, the unique characters, all of this set Overwatch apart for me. It’s creator, Blizzard have done a great job, in my view, of listening to fan input and complaints. Sure, they’ve changed a few things characters recently that a large portion of the player base wasn’t too happy about, but these changed haven’t ruined the characters, they just made them different.

One thing that a big chunk of the player base wants is a new support character. For those that don’t know, Overwatch’s heroes are divided into four classes. Offence, defence, tank and support. The amount of heroes in each class is as follows respectively: 8, 6, 6, 5. As you can see Offence has the most heroes and while that’s all well and good a new support would go a long way to adding variety. Since launch on May 24th 2016, the game has welcomed Ana to the support class. She is a great addition but the class sorely needs some new freshness installed. All the support heroes in my view are fun to play as but after playing them for so long it’s losing its charm. I like to play as an all rounder and do play the classes that need playing. That tends to be support as most people lock straight in as offence or tank. And, I can hardly blame them. Offence has so many options to choose from and both it and tanks are up in the front lines, right into the fray. Supports tend to stay back and cover the teams rear while providing healing. While that’s fun and a vital part of your team, it can get stale when you’ve played that character a lot. I tend to play Mystery Heroes now as the random nature of it and the lack of needing to fill a class slot for your team, means I don’t feel obliged to play support. But, for those that play competitive or support is what they’re best at, a new hero to play as would be amazing.

Supports for me offer the most interesting opportunity. Four of those supports have healing functions. Symmetra differs, as she can set up portable turrets to assist her team, but her biggest support contribution is in her ultimate’s. A shield generator or a teleporter. I like this idea of a support that does something different to healing. The teleporter is a great tool as it lets your team back into the fight quicker and with full health. Another hero with something similar but a bit more offensive would be a good move as Symmetra doesn’t get picked as much when attacking. Quick idea off the top of my head but a character similar to Symmetra but also Torbjorn. Say you have a wall that is connected to a room on the other side. Imagine having a character who could essentially Put a door through that wall.  Like Symmetra’s teleporter. Perhaps from the same business of even a rival company. This would help flesh out the lore of the world and Symmetra’s background.  The door would allow your team mates to pass through and get behind the unsuspecting team. Offence classes are usually the flankers but with this and coordination, your entire team can be flankers. This isn’t a fully fledged hero proposal. I can see flaws with the idea already and am unsure about the other abilities this new hero would have. The point I’m striving to make is that a new support doesn’t need to be a healer. It could be something more Symmetra based or a hybrid of the two. You could walk through the door and it heals you too or something else entirely. Support means that that character helps your team. It’s a great class to get creative and weird with. Blizzard is good at being creative and I’m sure they can do infinitely better than my idea.

One other trait that would make a new support class ten times better. Make them a Talon agent or a bad guy of some kind. All the supports are nice people. Symmetra, not so much. She’s not cartoon villain evil like Reaper, which is what I want or similar. My magic door man could even be a burglar or spy or something. Overwatch is a world full of character. Right now though the good heroes outweigh the bad or selfish heroes. I want to see more clashes of ideals, and conflicts.  Roadhog and Junkrat are fantastic characters. They’re selfish but they’re not evil. They’re fun to learn more about and to imagine their devilish escapades. Goody two shoes are fine but I always prefer to watch a flamboyant villain. It’s what makes the best villains in films. A dose injected into this game would be a treat. Reaper is spot on. He’s Saturday morning cartoon baddie. But where is the evil support of that? Bad guys need to be healed too. Or a character who creates fancy weapons or gadgets for their evil schemes. Where is the eccentric follower like Igor in Frankenstein, for the Talon organisation? Mercy supports Overwatch so who supports Talon. And before you say Sombra, she’s a wild card. She’s like Catwoman. She has her own agenda and helps when she wants to. A good bad support is needed. I’m hoping we get one in the short future.

Anyway, go play Overwatch  if you haven’t already. Currently the Halloween event is on and Junkenstein’s Revenge is a great mode.  I can’t recommend the game enough. Feel free to comment and I hope you enjoyed the read.