Dialogue February 2013: your letters on getting old(er), Pokemon’s slow evolution and noisy steam boxes
In Dialogue this month, Edge readers discuss growing old in the eyes of games, the difficulties Valve faces in building the Steam Box, and Game Freak’s very own chance to evolve. You also bemoan games getting it in the neck for being violent again. Send your views to firstname.lastname@example.org, using ‘Dialogue’ as the subject. Our letter of the month wins a 3DS.
Find past letters using the Dialogue tag page.
For the sake of the authenticity of the experience, I created a virtual player in FIFA with my real birthday: February 29, 1972. Then at the end of the season, together with the praise for a job well done, I was rewarded with offers for coaching a number of teams. No sign of the option to continue my player career for my bald, overweight, 40-year-old alter ego. That epiphany has represented the equivalent of a golden watch for my videogamer career, too.
Unmistakably, I had to acknowledge that I am too old for this. The realism that I was seeking, the El Dorado for my generation of gamers, hit back at my dreams. Or perhaps I should be grateful for having had a full season in Serie A, for the thrill of a few goals and the futile satisfaction of completely irrelevant stats power-ups? Where’s the glory of being able to change just the name of your player in Kick Off? What about the illusion of the ultimate, infinite videogame? Where’s Dino Dini?
We made our Saints Row: The Third character 35, and were shocked to find such a haggard, scarred and faintly manic visage staring back at us. The truth hurts, especially in HD. Rest assured, there’s no retirement age on your Edge subscription.
A clean slate
Just wanted to drop a quick note to say congratulations on the iPad version of Edge – it (along with an iPad Mini in the Christmas stocking) has finally got me to swap my print subscription for an electronic one, which will help with the piles of back issues teetering atop my coffee table. One small moan, however: it would be lovely if you could avoid the use of small, in-page scrolling areas for anything other than short passages. The Dialogue section I’m writing this from only lets me read from about a third of the screen, which is a tad frustrating on an iPad Mini.
We’re glad you’re enjoying Edge on your new iPad. We’re continually working on improvements, too, so feedback like this is always welcome.
Evolve or die?
It seems to me that Pokémon X and Y represent the first meaningful innovation for the pocket monsters since Gold and Silver hit shelves back in 1999. Not just because it’s getting a polygonal makeover but because it’s the first Pokémon ever released on time here in the west.
Everyone has a Pokémon in them and mine was Pokémon Red in the winter of ’99, some three-and-a-half years after its Japanese release back in the dark old days when PAL regions were treated like Mordor. Almost 15 years later, the rise of HDTV has put paid to the appalling 50Hz ports, but Nintendo are still the last of the major publishers who think a multi-month delay is acceptable in an Internet-enabled world where competitive gaming and global communities are a thing. And that’s why I wasn’t playing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on my 3DS back in December 2011.
The wise old men at Nintendo take a relaxed attitude to progress these days, and that often translates to their games – it’s taken 17 years for Pokémon to go 3D, which is almost admirable in its stubbornness, really. For contrast, Zelda took 12 years and Mario took 11 (so long as you’re counting from Super Mario Bros and not Donkey Kong, which would bring that figure up to 16). Metroid wins, taking 18 years, but all these games were born in the 80s; Pokémon was released on the cusp of the 3D revolution and somehow stayed resolutely 2D until this year – a time when fans are so starved of innovation that they get excited about walking diagonally.
Game Freak have a licence to stagnate. Competitive gaming communities do all they can to discourage meaningful change beyond slight spreadsheet tweaks, and every old feature is brand new to the kids for whom X and Y are their first Pokémon games. Both groups – competitive gamers and children raised on the TV show – would both be perfectly happy playing Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green until the heat death of the universe, so why innovate? When Pokémon X and Y just does what Street Fighter IV did a few years ago – the same basic rules, a few new mechanics, some polygons and some online options – that will be good enough for everyone likely to play it.
But I remember when Super Mario 64 and Ocarina Of Time dragged Mario and Link into three dimensions and changed games forever. Perhaps everyone was a little braver back in the 90s, but X and Y is Pokémon’s chance to evolve, so it seems a shame to stop at polygons and a sensible release date.
Perhaps, but it’s a start, and after years of barely discernible iteration it’s nice to see the series trying something new – especially when series sales figures suggest Game Freak could have continued treading water and watched the millions flow in.