Tag Archives: Xbox

Bring Back Conker’s Bad Fur Day

Whichever N64 game you want to play, chances are there’s a port, HD update, or Virtual Console release out there somewhere. GoldenEye’s a notable but understandable exception given what must be a minefield of rights issues – published by Nintendo, developed by Microsoft-owned Rare, based on a licence held by Activision, based on a film produced by a company that has since gone bankrupt and is now distributed by Sony – but at a push we have a couple of reasonably good remakes. How am I supposed to play Conker’s Bad Fur Day, though? It’s one of those annoying games that lacks a definitive edition – Persona 3 is another one – only with the frustration compounded by all the legal means being seriously compromised in some way.

The Great Mighty Poo in Conker: Live & Reloaded

What brought this to mind was selling my N64 copy. Given its condition and the fact that it came out quite late in the N64’s life, I made good money on it, but it was a hard sale to make because it’s a tough game to play legally nowadays. I could, of course, have plugged in the old N64, but that would be reliant on my controllers still working and, let’s face it, it’s going to look like shit on a modern TV. Plus, you know, £100.

Nintendo wouldn’t touch the game, so it was published in the UK by THQ and Rare kept the rights. Rare’s still owned by Microsoft, so no Virtual Console release.

Mercifully, then, we have the Microsoft-published Xbox remake, Conker: Live & Reloaded. It’s much prettier and it works on an Xbox 360. Problem solved? Nope. You see, it had its name changed before release from Conker: Live & Uncut, which should set off alarm bells. Compare, for example, the Great Mighty Poo scene on a Nintendo 64 to Microsoft’s adult-friendly shooter box. As someone who won’t watch a film when it’s been cut by seconds, this is completely unacceptable. No shit. Literally.

Microsoft isn’t new at this console game any more, and it’s certainly not averse to publishing adult content in its games. In that case, how about giving Conker the same treatment as Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, which both had excellent, well-received Xbox Live Arcade ports that updated the games and even added functionality that was dropped from the N64 originals? Get me a playable, uncut version of the game – hell, maybe throw in the lovely assets from the Xbox port – and you’ll both redeem yourselves for Live & Reloaded and make me feel much better for having sold out on my original copy.

Game good, DRM bad

The furore over SimCity’s always-online DRM has been inescapable over the last few days. EA has joined Activision (via Blizzard) in spectacularly failing at launching a major new game with mandatory online functionality, hopefully casting doubt over the future of the approach when titans with such deep pockets can’t make it work.

People are understandably upset, and it’s led to a predictable outcry aimed at media outlets who haven’t factored such technical issues and consumer-unfriendly DRM into their scores. Reviewers are out of touch, the argument goes, because they get to play these games without paying for them, in conditions where the authentication servers are nowhere near capacity, with a PR team on the other end of the phone who’ll bend over backwards to fix any issues, lest the critic have anything other than a stellar experience.

I’m siding with the reviewers here, though. And I think Polygon was wrong to change the score on its review.

That said, I’m not defending this form of DRM. It’s shit, and it’s a practice that shouldn’t continue. If the rumours about the next Xbox requiring a constant Internet connection and so effectively doing this across the board – and as good as Xbox Live is, it can’t be said that it’s been immune from capacity issues – are true, it’ll put my investment in the console in doubt.

But the quality of the game and the DRM are separate issues. The fact that its DRM is overzealous doesn’t make SimCity a bad game any more than the fact that I can’t rip my Blu-ray to watch the movie on my iPad makes Wreck-It Ralph a bad movie. That argument would be ridiculous in film criticism, but when writing about games it seems to be a common opinion. Maybe, if games are art, we need to separate the reviews of the game from the program, as a DVD review would award separate scores for the movie and the AV quality.

It all comes back to an argument I’ve made before that people want consumer advice, not reviews. A list of features and a number at the end, being careful not to rate it anything that might affect the Metacritic score too negatively.

When all this is ironed out and SimCity becomes reliable and playable, it will be a 8, 9, 10, or whatever score you think it’s worth. And since it’ll be the same game as everyone’s trying to play now, so it should always be.

LTTP: Ninja Gaiden

Ryu Hayabusa

Maybe it’s that shiny Sigma demo that’s doing the rounds or maybe it’s the chat about the inevitable Ninja Gaiden 2. Or, more likely, it’s the goading from a borderline obsessive friend who insists that I’ve missed out on the best action game ever made. I finally got Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox from eBay and have spent some time kicking around with that.

I’d be lying if I said I’d never played NG because I gave it a try back in 2004, only to give up on the second boss because I found it too ball-achingly hard. It still is hard – the difficulty wouldn’t be such a big sticking point if it wasn’t – but it’s one of the deepest and most rewarding action games around. Some parts, especially bosses, are unnecessarily evil (in chapter 9: a tank, another tank, and then a helicopter gunship!?) but although death is often inevitable it’s usually a case of your mistake. It plays like a fighting game which necessitates learning the fighting system and gives rise to the possibility of being killed by one of the peons, an ignominious end for a master ninja.

At the same time the odds are stacked in your favour because most of the time you have all the tricks they do and more, and most of the time you’re stronger and faster as well. It’s much more of a game of skill than the other top 3D actioners, God of War and Devil May Cry, as good as those ones are. Intelligent use of blocking is essential, the various weapons have their benefits and caveats, and it’s hugely beneficial to learn your repertoire of moves. Again, like a fighting game.

I implore you, if the difficulty made you give up on Ninja Gaiden, give it a try. The Xbox version is dirt cheap (still looks great in 720p on the 360) or you can plump for Sigma if you’re a PS3 owner. Or wait for the 360 version of Sigma when the PS3 one sells 50,000. Yeah, I went there.