Put Your Hands Up For Detroit.

There follows slight spoilers for Fahrenheit and the Detroit Become Human demo.

A small history lesson when it comes to Quantic Dreams game demos and myself. Back in 2005 I played the opening scene of the upcoming Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy for all you guys in the US) and I found myself loving it. The tension created by your character waking up from a blackout in the middle of a diner toilet was really well handled. Did you run away through the diner with the blood still on your hands and give the police outside a good look at you or do you spend time cleaning up, putting away the body and washing your hands before calmly leaving yet run the risk of being caught right next to the corpse. It felt like the game was doing something interesting by asking the players questions rather than just force them to shoot everything in sight. I put down my preorder deposit and picked up the game on day one.

I was somewhat disappointed with what followed.

The initial tense opening scene, with the background of an ancient curse turning people into murderers against their will, was well done. Rather than concentrate on this and develop a well paced story however David Cage and everybody at Quantic Dream decided to throw every other idea they must have had in there as well. During Fahrenheit’s duration you’ll find out that the homeless population of the world are one army of informants, the internet has a human form who looks like an old lady, you’ll be chased by oversized bed bugs that nobody else can see and the main character is actually dead all along yet can somehow still impregnate the main female lead. Fahrenheit became an utter car crash and was one of those game I finished not because I was enjoying it but because I felt I’d paid for it so therefore had to. It as very much a case of the developers not knowing where to stop. Not having a Playstation 3 meant that I missed out the studio’s next two efforts ‘Heavy Rain’ and ‘Beyond Two Souls’.

Yet the other night I found myself downloading the demo of Quantic Dreams new effort ‘Detroit Become Human’ and giving it a whirl. David Cage always talks about trying to get emotion into videogames using the same methods as cinema. Detroit tells the story of a future in which androids uprise against humans after becoming self aware. The demo covers one scene as an android who has been bought to look after a family’s young daughter goes rogue and now stands on a roof edge holding the child over the city streets below. The human SWAT team is in place and you, as android negotiator Connor, must enter the apartment and attempt to resolve the situation. Much like the Fahrenheit demo it’s a wonderfully tense scene that would be a fantastic opening to a movie. Sadly though Detroit Become Human is a game and finds those ambitions crashing against its need to be recognised as a emotional trigger.

The first opening shot is of Connor alone in the lift going upwards. He flicks a coin between both hands and through his fingers at great speed, never dropping it. You begin to work out that he has an almost unnatural level of dexterity. The shot then lingers on his face and a small blue circle lights up underneath the skin on his temple. It’s obvious he’s a machine of some kind. Then came the first part that made my eyebrow rise.

Just in case you have a short attention span or have forgotten the last ten seconds the shot then moves to behind Connor as it gets ready for you to assume control. Across his back, in large letters, the word ‘Android’ is emblazoned. It’s incredibly clumsy for an introduction that was going well until that moment. It has all the signs of not trusting an audience.

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As you step out of the lift you meet the Mother of the child as she is led away. She looks at you and initially begs you to save her daughter. Then she realises that you’re robotic and loudly protests that they’ve sent an android to do a job a human should be doing. It takes her a few seconds to click what’s happening but to be fair she never gets to see the back of Connor’s jacket.

During my first playthrough I followed everything to the letter. The game instructs you to firstly find the captain of the SWAT team and talk to him. He’s a typical grunt who barks that he’ll shoot the rogue android down if you don’t do something about it straight away. The game asks you to find evidence of what happened, what’s going on and the background of the situation. Searching in the girl’s room lets you find a tablet with a video of the android playing with her. You’ve got his name now, that will make life easier. You find out he’s stolen the father’s handgun so he’s armed too.

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Rather than intrust the player to come to a decision as to when they have enough information to proceed to the balcony and attempt to talk the android down there is a large piece of text that floats over Connor’s head giving a percentage chance of success. It starts at around 40% but soon moves upwards the more you discover. As the numbers stacked up I suddenly became aware that I wasn’t really letting any of this information sink in because the game was giving me a score to achieve. I was scanning rooms not because I wanted to have the best chance of saving a small child but because the game was giving me a hoop to jump through.

Wouldn’t it be far better if all this display was removed? If the game actually trusted me to make a decision as a player as to when I felt I’d got enough information to proceed then any conclusion would be mine to own. If I rushed ahead and the child ended up splattered across a car bonnet below then that guilt would carry far more weight if it was my own internal failing rather than me thinking I’d have done it if I only had another 15% added on.

I confronted the android, sent away the helicopter flying above the building, lied to him about not being armed myself (I sure was packing) and then watched as a sniper shot him down off the roof once the coast was clear. The end of demo shows you a flow chart with every permutation of choice you can make. You’re encouraged to play it again and test the engine to see all the differences.

My second playthrough saw some of the cracks show in the actual game structure. I wanted to ignore everything and just stride right in there and save the day for everybody. The game told me to find the Captain but I moved straight towards the balcony. It was this moment that a large, red laser wall appeared telling me I couldn’t move any further until I’d done what the game was telling me to do. It’s almost as if Quantic Dream are saying that they’ve spent hours rendering this Captain and recording his voice audio so they’ll be damned if you’re skipping out on them. I met him and had the exact same conversation with him I had beforehand.

Careful, considerate Connor was about to give way to gung ho mad machine.

I didn’t bother finding any clues as I stepped right beyond the windows and started talking. The option for calling him by his own name was absent so instead of getting comfy and personal my Connor just shouldered his way towards the problem, grabbed the child and barged him off the balcony. In doing so there was a hail of bullets as he fell and Connor himself died from his injuries. The game didn’t want me to do it this way and it was going to make sure I knew about it as the blue blood like liquid dripped from Connor’s wounds.

I don’t want to tarnish the entire game based on a demo. Quantic Dream might have made exactly what they obviously desire. Detroit Become Human may tell a brilliant story really well and player choice and freedom will matter. My conclusion from the demo though is that you as a human player have freedom in only ways the game allows. Games like Dishonored and Hitman will allow a player to find their own path towards an objective using whatever means they find. They will also have characters defined by their surroundings and small actions rather than plastering their job title across their back. Detroit Become Human likes to send you down predetermined streams. You’ll get choice when it says you can have a choice, until then shut up.

This is the sort of thing that leads to uprisings.

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A Twitch You Can’t Scratch.

For the last three years, on a fairly regular basis, I’ve been part of a podcast talking about old wrestling shows. The Conquistabores comprises Phil, Euan, Alan and myself debating/talking/shouting at each other.

We realised not long ago that we’ve built up a fair amount of episodes (about 24 now) and therefore it might be time to branch out to other media. Euan sorted us out a Twitch channel. We’re all waiting for Fire Pro Wrestling World to come out on the PS4 this summer so we can show the planet our dead wrestler PPV ‘A Tidal Wave Of Idiocy’.

Until then though Euan and I decided to test the waters by streaming us playing co-op prison break title ‘A Way Out’. We played the opening two hours last week and another chunk of the game last night. Despite my initial reluctance (I genuinely couldn’t get my head around watching somebody play a game rather than playing it yourself) it proved to be a lot of fun. In all honesty we weren’t flooded with viewers but we thought we would have played it together anyway so might as well stream it regardless.

If you want to see how all this unfolds and how we’ve gone terribly off brand by not doing a wrestling game on this then head over to twitch.tv/theconquistabores.

The dead wrestler shows will be good though. Ultimate Warrior vs Randy Savage is the main event in heaven.

A Wrench In Time

Being a gamer of a certain age I always thought streaming was something that had bypassed me completely. Why, I figured, would anybody want to watch me play games? As part of the wrestling podcast I’m involved in we set up a Twitch account. The main aim of this is that we can stream some Fire Pro Wrestling World matches once it comes out on PS4 this summer.

When A Way Out was released though it seemed like a good opportunity to test the waters. It’s a co-op story game which needs to be played with a friend. I picked my fellow Conquistabore Euan and we figured we’d jump on Twitch and see how this crazy thing works.

We didn’t draw massive numbers I admit but a small group popped in to chat which was lovely. We played the rather brilliant A Way Out for two hours and it went really well. We’re hopefully going to get together to play more within the next week or so.

Check us out trying to steal a wrench from a woodworking class amongst other things.

http://www.Twitch.tv/theconquistabores

Calling All Cars (Part 2)

Back in January I wrote a blog post about the idea of making a games magazine. I was gathering together small bits of an idea to see if it would work. I had a couple of meetings regarding design and costs. There is good news and bad.

First the bad. The actual cost of making a magazine seems amazingly high to do properly. There was then the matter of designing pages, getting text together, selling it, posting it and then repeating the process a month later appeared to be an uphill battle.

Therefore I canned it.

The good news is that ideas don’t die, they just adapt. I thought a bit more about it and found that it’s still a sound notion with a bit of an overhaul.

When you hear the word ‘podcast’ what do you think of? Usually it’s three of four guys all day round at once talking about something. I’m not saying this is wrong, I’m involved in two podcasts, but wouldn’t we be better trying something different? Less podcast more radio.

Rather than get people to write one thousand words for an article how’s about they talk for three or four minutes about an aspect of gaming? Then we link a few of them up and create a tight, thirty to fourty minute radio show with all kinds of voices.

Just record your bit alone then send it as a MP3. A bit easier than typing hundreds or words I think.

Cheaper to make, easier to produce, clearer path to distribution.

I would still need voices from contributers so I’m on the lookout. A few friends have expressed an interest. My son may treat to world to a talk about Splatoon 2 battle tactics (just you wait). I’ll need more though especially from women because I’m determined to make this inclusive to all who consider games a force for good. Regardless of skin colour, sexuality or gender you can have a bit of time on the show.

Games are cool, more people should know that.

Shares of this post would be lovely. Just let me know what you’d want to talk about, review or list and we’ll go from there.

Cripleh@googlemail.com or comment below.

Thanks For All The Fish

There follows spoilers for ‘What Remains Of Edith Finch’.

I didn’t really want ‘What Remains Of Edith Finch’ to be done as quickly as I got through it. I downloaded, started, played and indeed finished the game in one evening but I do not suggest this as a negative point. Every section of the game has a brilliant mechanic or gameplay idea hiding inside. Far more important however is how much some of them work well with the stories of the characters involved.

The Finch family are cursed and each and every single member seems to have died in tragic circumstances, sometimes at a very young age. Seventeen year old Edith Finch is the last member of the family alive and she inherits the family home after the death of her mother. The house has remained abandoned since everybody left. Upon approaching the building at the start of the game Edith remarks that she wasn’t allowed in half of the rooms as her mother sealed them off once that particular family member died. What Remains Of Edith Finch is a game about uncovering the past, going from room to room finding what others have left behind and piecing together the story.

It would be easy for me to talk about each and every single part of Edith Finch. There were so many sections of the game that impressed me. If there’s one part that really made me sit up and take notice though it’s probably the story of Lewis Finch, about two thirds into the game’s duration.

Lewis got a job in the local fish processing plant. He takes the fish off the conveyor belt, passes them across to the blade at the side, chops the head off and then throws the rest onto another belt to be taken away and canned. It’s not the most glamourous of jobs and it’s mind numbing to the extreme. You, as the player, hold R1 to grab the fish and move the right stick to control Lewis’ right arm. After only a few seconds you’ll be engaged in a near automatic rhythm. Fish come in, slice, fish go out.

Lewis was attending regular appointments with his psychiatrist before his death and the voice that starts to fade in during this part of the game is from those sessions in the clinic. It tells of how Lewis would invent his own stories to help distract himself from this repetitive task. A small section of the screen is taken up with a storybook being opened and the tale of a prince travelling to far away lands aboard his ship begins to play out. Control of the prince is done via the left hand analog stick. As more details are given of Lewis’ made up fantasy land that section of the screen gets bigger and bigger, eventually taking up half the display. The fish are still there, you’re still controlling Lewis doing his manual day job with one hand but also playing out the Prince’s adventure with the other.

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In time this story takes over the entire screen. All view of the fish has vanished and your full attention is on the prince arriving to meet a princess in a far away land. You’re walking through city streets with crowds cheering and waving. The crucial detail however is that whilst the fish might be gone you’re still moving the right stick with the same motions. You’ve become so used to doing the same movements again and again that you really haven’t had to think about it even after the bulk of your attention has been occupied by something else. You’ve been placed in a very similar situation to the character you’re controlling at that time. I actually couldn’t not remember the last time I’d seen a control method blend in so well with a character’s feeling and motivation. It’s the complete opposite of Call Of Duty’s ‘Press X to pay respects’ prompt.

Every character in Edith Finch has these moments. I didn’t finish it in one evening because I was rushing through it, I finished it because I was genuinely caught up in the story of this family and the troubles they went through. My congratulations must go to Giant Sparrow for creating one of my gaming high points of 2018 so far.

 

Oxenfree

Sometimes a game just skips you by due to a misunderstanding or a cross wire. Oxenfree was a game that I had certainly heard of but never really worked out fully. It seemed to be forever attached to the horror games genre and as such I’d never really taken any great interest in it. Without truly investigating it I’d managed to somehow combine it with games such as Outlast and Slenderman, games I would never really touch.

The power of the Nintendo Switch though is great indeed for being able to download indie games to play both at home and on work lunch breaks. When Oxenfree recently came down to a mere £4 in the Nintendo eShop I gave it a chance. A tenner is bargain territory, four quid is certainly ‘it doesn’t really matter if I end up not liking it’. I’d spend more than that on a coffee and sandwich during lunch.

Dear reader, I was wrong about Oxenfree.

Very wrong.

oxenfree

The initial set up for Oxenfree is very much a horror staple. Five teenagers go to what seems like a deserted island, home to a former military base, in the hope of some drinking fun away from anybody who may tell them otherwise. The very first scene in game is the player character Alex taking the ferry to the island with her friend Ren and step brother Jonas. As soon as a deserted island is mentioned you expect something like Until Dawn to play out. Somebody with a knife will surely stab their way through our group leaving you, as the last surviving player, to get off the island with all your blood intact? Oxenfree never goes there, it’s far better because of it.

During the boat ride I seriously thought I’d messed up during a dialogue option. Ren spoke to Alex and three options popped up for Alex to respond with. They quickly vanished as I was thinking about what to say and never returned. Ren then had dialogue which referenced Alex’s silence on the matter. Far from failing I’d actually tripped upon one of Oxenfree’s greatest features.

In most games with any choice in character dialogue the world will wait for you. They’ll stand there, gawping at you, as you take your sweet time deciding what to say back to them. They will then wait patiently until you’ve said your piece before responding. Oxenfree is possibly the best at representing how proper, real life humans talk to each other. Once an NPC has said something then two or three options will float over Alex’s head, each corresponding to a button on the controller and each coloured differently to suggest temperament (so you can avoid any L.A Noire style sudden mood swings). It’s possible to press the button quickly and cut people off mid speech. There’s also the option to not press anything and have Alex remain silent on the matter. For each of these occasions the NPC will react accordingly. It goes the dialogue a very natural flow and goes a really long way to you being able to influence how Alex is around others as a player. I was probably about two minutes into this game and already I was impressed.

oxenfree radio

Radios are a big thing in the world of Oxenfree. Alex carries a pocket radio that can be tuned to various frequencies, some have music and others have strange voices from the island’s past. Unlike some other games the environment isn’t full of left over audio recordings as if there was suddenly a fashion for talking into a microphone and dumping the results somewhere. Oxenfree’s voices from beyond soon seep into the story like an oil slick and their disembodied nature means you’re never truly sure who they belong to.

Personally I can live without playing horror games. I don’t think I’ll ever be in a great rush to play Resident Evil 7 or the like (I bought Alien Isolation for £10 a few months ago thinking I’d play it very soon but it remains untouched months later). I’ve come to the believe that I’m too old now to be permanently petrified during my game time. Oxenfree does something a little bit different though in that it really doesn’t go for any kind of jump scare. Everything about the island and its back story has a layer of tension with it, a creeping unease rather than an outright shock. It’s like playing an episode of The Twilight Zone rather than watching Saw. It’s much better for it as well. At no point does it seem like Oxenfree is trying to simply terrorise you as a player, it has something to say but it’s going to whisper it to you over hushed radio frequencies.

As my free time gets shorter I’ve found that the games that really stick with me are not the two hundred long hour epic RPGs anymore. Maximum enjoyment tends to arrive from those smaller games which might only be two or three hours in duration but remain in the mind long after you’ve played them. Firewatch became a favourite this way, Gone Home also. With it’s mind bending story and sometimes fourth wall breaking moment it seems Oxenfree has also joined that list.

Empty Lots

Usually in December each year I start to look at some of the games I’ve bought over the last few months but never finished. There then follows the concentrated effort to see the end credits of each before the year is out. Breath of the Wild, which I bought in the summer just after getting my Switch, still needs finished off as only Ganon remains standing. Shovel Knight could do with some attention and the Doom reboot that I picked up for a tenner still has some demons left in it.

Back in March last year I picked up Yakuza 0. It was the last copy in the shop and even then it was second hand. I’d played the original Yakuza game back on the PS2 and enjoyed it so was very interested in playing the prequel. I ended up playing a few hours, getting through the opening three chapters before something else came along and it was relegated to the sidelines. A few nights ago I figured I’d put Yakuza 0 back on just to remind myself where I was in the game. What followed was two weeks of playing the game each night to drink in the story of the power struggles within Japan’s criminal underworld. After finishing the game I have to say I had a wonderful time with it.

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Plenty of people who perhaps haven’t even touched a Yakuza game will look at it and dismiss it as a Japanese version of Grand Theft Auto. It’s true to say that both series feature you playing as characters and meeting people with dubious moral backgrounds and, much like Rockstar’s opus, it is played from the third person perspective. Whilst GTA often portrays a cartoon version of America that’s played up for laughs, Yakuza gives us a realistic world from a culture we perhaps don’t see much of. There are no restaurants in Yakuza named after dick jokes.

This is hardly to say there are no jokes in Yakuza. One of the game’s greatest strengths is keeping a rather fine balance between the serious business of hitmen, killings and main characters who have been tortured for months on end alongside moments of pure comedy. It’s quite possible to be using a bicycle as a weapon in a street fight to smash somebody’s head in one minute and then having your character sing a cheesy karaoke croonfest complete with a rock star fantasy playing out in the background. It should be a jarring change of pace but it never feels that way. There’s an atmosphere in Yakuza that is comfortable with both. Most characters in the series play it dead straight and never feel like they’re a overemphasised stereotype of the culture they inhabit.

The Yakuza games are (mostly) set in a fictional district of Tokyo called Kamurocho based on the real life suburb of Kabukicho. As far as map size goes it isn’t that big. Even at walking pace you’ll probably get from one side of the map to the other in around ten minutes. By the standards of today, with games such as The Witcher 3 and Breath of the Wild, it seems impossibly small. The key to keeping Yakuza going in how densely packed the location is. In amongst the doorways and side streets sit whisky bars serving a range of real life brands, Majong parlours, pool halls, ramen restaurants, underground women’s fighting leagues, dance floors, baseball arenas, bowling alleys and phone clubs for those who are feeling a bit frisky. Around every corner there are landmarks that begin to take root in the memory. Kamurocho becomes a familiar stomping ground for the player and it ages throughout the series. Building projects in the 1980’s set Yakuza 0 become explorable places in later games. The street layout remains the same yet the features change with the times. Like a lot of the characters caught up in Yakuza’s story, Kamurocho is changed by events for better or worse.

What characters they are as well. Yakuza 0 actually tells two stories each with their own lead character. Goro Majima begins the game as an outcast from the Yakuza having been forced out to live life as a civilian. As ‘punishment’ he runs a Hostess club and the opening chapter of his story sees him battle a club customer who has been touching the girls in an inappropriate manner. Majima’s desire to uphold the club’s rules means hitting customers is frowned upon. There follows a battle in which you must block and dodge and drunken man’s flailing fists until he injures himself punching walls or furniture. All of this whilst the in house band plays tunes in the background. It’s a period of violent flamboyance, much like Goro himself.

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In a reversal of Majima’s story Kazuma Kiryu starts in the Yakuza but leaves of his own will with no plans to get back in any time soon. He cuts a slightly less flamboyant figure than Majima (he struggles during a shopping trip to find a suit that he feels comfortable in for example). He might come from a criminal organisation but Kiryu always seems to have a strong moral compass. Unlike some of his fellow Yakuza members he doesn’t treat women like dirt and always seems willing to help people who might need him. In many ways, to use the Rockstar comparison again, he seems very much like John Marston of Red Dead Redemption. Kazuma is trying to go as straight as he can but parts of his criminal past still come back to haunt him. He’ll defend the weak and downtrodden using exactly the same methods he has been taught during his early years in the Yazuka family.  As such his character is a compelling one and it was certainly a pleasure to play as him during the game’s running time.

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Add to this the side characters you meet on the streets of Kamurocho. Fathers who have been estranged from children, journalists who are trying to go undercover in order to expose arms deals, government officials who are in town for a conference on tax and want the opinion of a ‘man on the street’ and people who are so desperate for the latest RPG console game that they’ll attack people walking out of games shops for it. The side stories of Yakuza 0 might be strange but they’re never overblown or  painted with heavy brush strokes. No matter how ridiculous some of them are there remains a sensibility to them all.

With this combination of the serious overall story, the comedy side notes and the cultural differences it’s obvious that Yakuza shouldn’t work yet somehow it does. Yakuza 0 is, storywise, a fantastic starting point in the series for anybody who has yet to catch on. It might seem daunting to begin with but once you’re in then it’s very hard to leave.

Calling All Cars

I’ve had an idea.

It’s become one of those ideas that’s very difficult to shift despite it needing planning and collaboration to move forwards to any great degree. It’s still seems like a pretty cool project though. I might have deemed it all a bit too much but I went and mentioned it on Twitter just before New Year so I’m kind of held to it now.

I want to make a games magazine. A paper, printed, words in it, thing you can hold magazine. I want to rekindle the spirit of the best games magazines from when I was a teenager. Titles such as Super Play, Games Zone and Total had a level of passion and a sense of humour that you don’t often see today.

I don’t even really want to do reviews of modern games. The problem with many websites doing any review is that they tend to rush out anything purely to be first for hits. I’ve currently clocked about 100 hours into Breath of the Wild, I would have probably had to review it after four or five hours in order to pump a review out.

Rather than engage in that arms race I’d be far more interested in putting out a collection of stories about older games, wider games culture or just bizarre articles about how you spent a whole holiday at Center Parc sneaking off to play Mortal Kombat at the bowling alley when you were 11.

That last one was me.

It wouldn’t be a huge, glossy mag full of photos because the cost of such a thing would prohibit it ever getting made. It would probably be a small mag in black and white to begin with. If people liked the first then we’d do a second one.

I need content to make that though so I’m after people to get in touch with me with ideas for what they could write for such a publication. It would be featuring off the wall articles about videogames, board games or table top RPGs. If I get enough people wanting to contribute then we’ll start putting this whole idea together.

If you have anything to plug at the end of your article then that’s all cool. Within reason though, let’s not be giving coverage to anything covered in swastikas.

Also, I’m not for making this pages full of white blokes. If you don’t fall into that category then do let me know. If you think gaming should be an all boy’s club then please walk on.

Email cripleh@googlemail.com if you want to talk about it.

Electric Daydreams

I had something of a daydream the other day. It was about starting a games magazine like they used to do in the old days. It would be a collection of articles about any aspect of gaming including video games, board games or tabletop RPGs. It would be inclusive and not regard gaming as a boy’s club. It would be written with both passion and a tongue firmly in cheek style like Super Play and Neon used to be.

I took to doing a few scribbles and diagrams in a notebook once I got home. There have also been some tentative talks on possible articles and print runs.

So, come January, this might actually be happening.

More details as they emerge.

Awaiting Stock

This time last year I decided that I didn’t really need a NES Mini Classic. Despite having many happy memories of owning the full sized NES the first time around I’d gone back to play some of the games again and felt them best left alone. I sank hours into playing Zelda 2 back then but revisiting it again just made me appreciate the modern versions a whole lot more. There was also the usual Nintendo stock shortages and it seemed impossible to get hold of one even if I had wanted to. It was a bunfight I really didn’t feel like I wanted to be part of. They sold out within minutes everywhere and haven’t been back in stock since.

Sure enough Nintendo decided to give the Mini Classic treatment to their next console in line, the Super Nintendo. Once again pre orders went up and very quickly were sold out. History was about to repeat itself. I used to work in a small independent games store. On the final day before it closed I had managed to bag myself the store display SNES and I still had it in storage. If I really wanted to play the games I remembered from the 16 bit era then it would only have taken a few quick trips to eBay. I decided that I didn’t exactly need a SNES Mini Classic.  The usual flood of ‘Sold Out Here’ news stories persisted.

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I read a story online a few weeks later about Argos having a few preorder slots left over. Rather than just giving out their stock on a first come first served basis from one pile they were apparently splitting it up based on location. Within minutes I had friends from Glasgow and Edinburgh saying that they had typed their postcodes into the site and been given the usual ‘Sold Out’ screens. I live in the very South of Scotland though, one hundred miles away from either of those cities. Curiosity took hold and I wondered if I could have bought one if I wanted to.

Putting in my postcode gave me a positive response as far as stock went. The one slight point Argos put on the pre orders was that full payment had to be taken there and then. I put my card details in fully expecting to be denied at the last moment. The money went through, the confirmation email arrived and it was very much ‘Thank you for your business’. I had accidentally pre ordered a SNES Mini Classic.

I told myself that I didn’t really need it but, thinking it over, I became really reluctant to actually go ahead and cancel the thing. The sensible part of my head was soon drowned out by the part that had hold of something rare. Why give up on this pre order if you may never have the chance to buy it again?

Then I thought about just waiting until it had arrived and selling it, unopened, on eBay. Surely, if there were still stock issues, then a tidy sum could be made? I shot that idea down in rapid time however as I came to the conclusion that it would just be me scalping somebody else and I really didn’t want to be part of that. At the time of writing this however there are still people out there selling their preorders for £200 a pop.

There’s still a small part of me that thinks it won’t come through and I’ll get an email from Argos within the next few days telling me that there’s been a problem and to have my £70 back. In all honesty I won’t believe that it’s happening until the console arrives through the post on September 29th. Nintendo have apparently promised there will not be a repeat of the shortages of NES Classics witnessed last year so I’m hopeful that they’re freely available to anybody that wants one on the day.

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In the meantime I’ve come to the conclusion that it’ll be a handy thing to have to show my son all the games I used to play when I was younger. He’s currently really digging Breath of the Wild so I can show him Link To The Past. I still think he’d love Super Metroid, Earthbound has it’s own charms and he’s yet to throw a fireball in Street Fighter 2 Turbo. He’ll probably also wonder why the heck we ever coped with pads that had to be wired into the console.

For that reason I’m now looking forward to the SNES Mini arriving. I might have had an NES back in the early 90’s but the SNES was when gaming as a hobby really clicked for me. It’s still one of the best consoles and bringing that piece of Nintendo history to generations who weren’t there at the time has to be well worth it.