Control

I love controllers. And Smash Friday gives me chance to justify my obsession with accumulating them.

On my list: custom Xbox One controller, and PS4 Midnight Blue.


Super Mario Odyssey

Sometimes it feels like Nintendo makes games specifically for me. The format of the Switch is exactly what I’ve wanted for a long time. I love the PS4 and PC for gaming but I don’t love having to sit in a specific room and dominate the TV to play things (even though that’s exactly what I’ve been doing with Odyssey).

If I wake up early on a Saturday, I try to sneak in some gaming or something before everyone else is awake. Last Saturday, Tabitha came in and saw me playing Odyssey and wanted to have a go too. She hasn’t played a load of games, though she does like Sonic Advance, so she was just picking up the controls but her glee at collecting coins mirrors a lot of the happiness I’ve felt playing this game.


Nintendo

Nintendo makes the best handhelds. Even in spite of their technical inferiority to Sony, they always make games that, to me, are just more fun. I do love the Vita, but Sony seemed to heavily invest in killing it, almost as soon as it launched. I digress.

Instagram has a really strong community of Nintendo handheld modders. I got this Game Boy Macro from Obirux a while ago, and it's brilliant.

I took this picture of my Nintendo handhelds on our new kitchen counters. Obirux reposted it to his account and it got a few more likes than it did on mine.


VR

Max took this photo

I saw VR as another fad, like 3D TVs, massive megapixel counts on consumer cameras and fixed gear freestyle. This is one of those occasions where I formed an opinion with too little basis and, as usual, that was a mistake.

I was fortunate enough to get to spend some time with REZ Infinite on PSVR and I loved every second of it.

My first experience with the current generation of VR was the Oculus Rift dev kit 2. It was low resolution, heavy, uncomfortable, made from low quality plastic, and had basically no support when I tried it. The lack of support isn't really a failing of Oculus, but the rest is and it massively put me off. Everyone sung the praises of Oculus, and it made me think this was where the bar was set.

Having tried the PSVR, the horrible taste the Oculus left in my mouth is gone. The headset is light and comfortable, and the screen resolution is great. Text appears sharp and clear, and because I was able to get a good seal on the headset, I got impressive depth in-game.

The thing that struck me most was you lose all notion of the passing of time. I had to really focus on this in order to not hog the whole thing (there was a queue behind me). I realise this is the objective, but it felt incredibly real. Much more than I anticipated. I looked down at one point and something hit me in the chest and I flinched. It was incredibly immersive. That coupled with a good pair of headphones and I was just somewhere else.

Now that I've tried a good implementation of VR (although some people are adamant that you'll need the full room experience, which PSVR doesn't currently offer; I disagree), I am convinced that this is going to be huge for gaming, and even computing as a whole. If Red Dead Redemption 2 or Gravity Rush 2 support it, I can see myself spending worrying amounts of time with it. If an MMO adopts it (or worse: Second Life - hello OASIS), it'll ruin many lives. I can absolutely see it working for things like meetings and conference calls, too.

So there we are. Baseless skeptic to slavish convert in less than fifteen minutes. I just need to try and figure out how to sneak the purchase of a PS4 Pro, camera and PSVR past Charlotte.


Tabitha plays Animal Crossing: New Leaf

A couple of years ago, I banned myself from playing Animal Crossing. Games that lack an objective are not good for me, because I play them in the same way as an objective-driven game. I obsessively try to achieve a task which, when there is no real task, results in some very weird behaviour. I would spend five hours each day picking weeds, watering plants, collecting fruit, catching fish and chasing bugs. Then exchanging those for money to improve my virtual house. All whilst my real house stayed the same.

This game is so simultaneously compulsive and relaxing that it became an incredibly effective form of escapism that ended up nearly being quite damaging for me. I wasn't sleeping or socialising. For someone working from home, that's not good!

Tabitha plays all games in the same way - as a sort of pseudo RPG. She doesn't try to complete the task, she just does things in the world as a character. Until I realised what she was doing, it was incredibly frustrating to watch, but now I actually quite admire it.

That's why I thought Animal Crossing would be perfect for her, but I was wrong. It seems she enjoys ignoring tasks rather than not having tasks, and she got bored very quickly. Probably for the best because I don't think I need this game back in my life again. Did I mention I was really obsessed with it? I'm sure I did.