Friday, April 29, 2016

SPC Soapbox - 4/29/16 Star Fox Zero's Controls: Good or Bad?, Jim Sterling & Disliking the Vita Release Trend

It's been more than a year since I last stood on the SPC Soapbox, but now myself and the box are back for a discussion of three more topics that grind my gears. This edition's Soapbox subjects include a talk about Star Fox Zero's polarizing controls, how gaming personalities like Jim Sterling do harm as well as good to the industry, and how the PlayStation Vita's recent onslaught of digital-only releases is mighty disappointing for those wanting to save on memory cards. With that introduction out of the way let's get to the subjects at hand!

- Star Fox Zero's Controls: Good or Bad?

Ahead of my Star Fox Zero review, releasing later today, I wanted to talk about a major point of contention with the game, the controls.

It's important to consider that motion controls aren't the only atypical control scheme that have seen ire from hardcore gamers in the past. Sure, anything new whatsoever seems to draw anger from this sect of the gaming community, but it's important to consider that any new control scheme takes some learning to understand.

Remember analog controls and 3D games? If you easily picked up Super Mario 64 after having been born and raised on 2D games, then you're one of the lucky few. Analog movement took a lot of time for most users to pick up and master. It's the same case with dual analog for FPS games. Take a look at this review from Gamespot in 2000 for Alien Resurrection on the original PlayStation.

It seems crazy now that a game could have been trashed for having dual analog controls, a mainstay now in gaming that most gamers don't ever want to give up. Whether that stifles the furthering of game controls for the worse is up in the air.

Regardless, like any new control scheme, Star Fox Zero's is one that you can pick up and enjoy easily like I did, or you will find it horrible. Sure, many reviewers didn't even bother to enter into the game without bias, and automatically judged the controls, never giving them a chance. 

Now, that isn't to say that the controls for Star Fox Zero deserve to be loved by everyone or that they'll ever have the relevance and popularity of dual analog. They're polarizing, especially if you dislike any kind of controller movement, which is just fine, but maybe you shouldn't be reviewing a game like Star Fox Zero, then. For me, the dual screen system, allowing for me to shoot down enemies on one side of the screen while I'm on the complete opposite side (something that would have been impossible in Star Fox 64) thanks to being able to move the targeting recticle separate from the Arwing, works and it works well. Hardly anything close to the hyperbole, snark, and bile some reviewers used to further their own agendas. Though it's important to note that I don't believe every negative Star Fox Zero review had an agenda or biased reviewer. It's just easy to tell which ones didn't bother to actually enter their reviews with some degree of open-mindedness.

- Jim $@#$ing Sterling, son

I very much admire Jim Sterling. His crusades to further the industry are quite commendable, despite some feeling he's just hopping on a particular bandwagon to get fanfare from gamers. However, I am not in love with him like so many of his fans. For one, I can't really take someone seriously who essentially behaves like a cartoon character.

His Jimquisitions have him dressing up in ridiculous attire: black suit, red tie, cherry red glasses, black hat, black gloves, makes it incredibly hard to take him seriously. I think this detracts from his points, as well as his need to lay on the hyperbole. 

In this age of YouTube stars, it seems the only people that are listened to aren't the calm, collected, and intelligent types. Instead, it's the loud, overbearing, and controversial figures that get the attention. It's counterintuitive to the industry being taken seriously when one of the most popular voices on the Internet dresses up and talks like someone who would be a wrestling manager for Andre the Giant back in the day. 

But I just have to stop being bitter and realize that the gaming industry is still in its infancy, a greatly immature one at that. We don't have a Roger Ebert-like figure (speaking of his professionalism and high level critiques on films) yet to listen to. Instead, we get the figures our industry deserves, and that is pretty disheartening as someone who doesn't worship the ground many of these gaming personalities walk on.

- The PlayStation Vita's Game Releases Go Digital

The PlayStation Vita has suffered in the retail space. It's rare nowadays to get any kind of physical release for the Vita game, much less see a section at Best Buy or wherever dedicated to the system. Thus, many games these days just see digital releases from publishers instead of wasting money with physical releases that would just linger on store shelves and not get back the manufacturing costs (or hardly break even). 

While it's sincerely understandable why game publishers are sticking with digital only releases for their Western launches when Japan received physical versions, it's disappointing all the same. Vita memory card prices remain exorbitantly and insultingly high, preying upon the dedicated user base, the ones that buy the most digital content. 

A 16 GB memory card costs $40 USD approximately, and with all of my game saves and downloadable titles, mine is pretty much full. In order to download full retail releases in digital form, 16 GB is nowhere near enough. Thus, one has to jump to a higher memory card, and thus, a ridiculously high price. 

Instead of looking forward to what little PlayStation Vita games appeal to me (not a big fan of highly anime-influenced titles), I find myself ignoring the software releases, realizing that even if I was interested in some new games like the recent Digimon and upcoming Gods Eater Burst 2, I have no room for them on my memory card. I'm certainly not upgrading to essentially say to Sony, "yeah, your memory card prices aren't affordable whatsoever, but sure, I'll gladly toss more money at you undeservedly." 

It's a shame, too, because while I'm not playing the "delete space from my Vita memory card to free up room yet again" game, I'm really enjoying the actual games from indies and the like on my Vita. 

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