Sunshine Blogger Award

So several weeks ago I was tagged by Red Metal from Extra Life Reviews with a Sunshine Blogger Award! I have a lot of admiration for this writer and it’s an honour to write a response. Those familiar with Red‘s work will know that he likes to strip back every layer in his reviews to provide detailed critique. Therefore, it won’t come as a surprise that the questions that Red‘s posed require a fair amount of consideration (to say the least). So, without further ado… let’s get started!

In which cases would you deem the manga superior to the anime on which itโ€™s based?

So, a nice easy one to start off with! I’m ashamed to say that my knowledge of manga and anime is far too insubstantial to formulate an answer. I will say that the manga/anime inspired games I’ve played are definitely amongst the most memorable gaming experiences I’ve had. When I think of my time spent with the Nintendo Wii, one of the stand-out games that springs to mind is Suda51’s No More Heroes just for being so damn different to anything I’d played from western culture.

To give an answer that very loosely, sort-of ties to the original question, I felt the Ernest Cline’s version of Ready Player One was superior to Spielberg’s big screen adaptation ๐Ÿ™‚

Which game do you feel has the best soundtrack?

I’m a massive fan of the No Man’s Sky soundtrack. So much so that I’ll often stream it outside of the game through YouTube, and occasionally bluetooth it over the Alexa LOUDLY when I’m home alone (which I highly recommend ;).

If you could revive a dead video games series, which one would you choose?

I guess Half-Life is a fairly obvious choice… but then again, the way that Valve chose to leave the franchise in limbo after committing to an episodic format intended to provide regular content-rich ‘mini-releases’ just doesn’t sit well with me.

So instead, I’m going to pick a revival of Ron Gilbert‘s Monkey Island series, meaning I would love to see the ‘real’ conclusion to the trilogy in the eyes of the original creator. I spent many hours island-hopping through The Secret of Monkey Island and it’s sequel LeChuck’s Revenge in the early 90s, but the third game just never appealed. Aside from the absence of Gilbert and Schafer, maybe it was the character designs which seemed to be aiming towards a much younger audience than intended for LeChuck’s Revenge. I mean, remember that box-art!?

What game/film/album/book did you have a particularly difficult time adding to your collection?

I can’t imagine having ‘a difficult time’ adding a release to my collection to be honest. I’d probably choose something that would give me less of a hard time instead… or even better, something that I could add very easily. In life, there’s enough for us to have difficult times over – I’m not going to let buying a game/film/album/book be one of them ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m also not a huge collector anyway. I stopped buying music and film physically years ago, and I’ll cycle out my current gen console with all of the games for the next gen when the time comes. Honestly, these days the hardest decision is whether it’s worth paying the extra to buy something on PSN so I can have it ‘now’ without having to leave the house…

First world problems I guess.

Do you prefer to see a film at home or in the theaters?

My initial thought would be the theatre but on reflection I’m not so sure. The benefits such as the clarity of picture, early viewing, and size of screen are counter-balanced by the relaxed atmosphere, comfort and bottle of room-temperature Rioja offered by a home viewing.

In fact, the Rioja swings it – I prefer to see a film at home ๐Ÿ™‚

In what cases did you find yourself siding with critics over fans about a workโ€™s quality? In what cases did you find yourself siding with fans over critics about a workโ€™s quality?

These two questions have caused me some problems. I can think of cases where the opinions of fans and critics have been aligned and I’ve disagreed, as was the case with God of War, but am struggling to recall a time when critics and fans were at odds to the point where I would feel I needed to side with one or the other.

Specifically within the games industry, critic reviews tend to be more favourable than public opinion. I even did some research (if I can call searching some recent games on Metacritic ‘research’)…

Kingdom Hearts 3
Critics Score: 84%  User Score: 8.0

Resident Evil 2
Critics Score: 90%  User score: 8.7

God of War
Critics Score: 94%  User Score: 9.0

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
Critics Score: 81% User Score: 7.3

Apex Legends
Critics Score: 89%  User Score: 6.9

Of course, user scores can be incredibly volatile on a website such as Metacritic. I’m guessing there are a number of Fortnite fans and anti-EA activists leaving zero-score reviews for Apex Legends for example, pulling the average down. Conversely, its likely that some critic reviews may be influenced slightly towards positivity simply out of a fear of not receiving future review codes. (I have zero evidence of this by the way, but it is something that I’m sure would cross my mind if I was in a similar situation).

Like I mentioned, I struggle to remember an example where there was a large enough constrast in fan and critic opinion to side with one or the other. More often than not there is correlation, with fans being a little more critical having ‘bought’ the product.

EDIT: Okay, just before pressing ‘publish’, I noticed another blogger who had answered these questions and quite correctly, held up the ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ card. (Thanks Andrew from The Brink of Gaming). Of course! A perfect example of critics falling over themselves in praise of Rian Johnson’s mid-section, which in turn left a fanbase sickened and offended.

I’ve just written and deleted three paragraphs on this topic. In summary, I was on the side of the critics coming out of the cinema, but on reflection, I’m much closer to siding with the fans. (Which is great, because it almost answers both questions in one hit!)

What is the most difficult game youโ€™ve completed?

In a few months my answer to this question may very well be Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice judging by how the first few hours have gone. It’s an incredibly strange experience; in one respect it’s most definitely cut from the same cloth as From Software‘s ‘Soulsborne’ back catalogue. I felt after spending the whole of January soloing every single boss in Dark Souls III, I would be fully prepared. I was wrong.

The first few hours of Sekiro have required me to unlearn everything, as it relies almost exclusively on the parrying mechanic rather than roll-dodging through attacks.

Dark Souls III will remain my most difficult completion to date for some time I think. Sekiro is going to take a while.

Which game series have you been following for the longest amount of time?

I remember playing UFO: Enemy Unknown on the PC back in the mid-90s, and being amazed at how well the combination of base management and strategic turn-based missions successfully portrayed Earth’s defense against the alien threat. The sequel, X-COM: Terror from the Deep continued the tradition, albeit without the original developers…

And then the franchise lost all sense of identity, as Microprose attempted to whore out the license to several gaming genres that it just didn’t belong to.

Fast forward 20 years and 2K Games now own the X-COM license and have taken everything that made the original game so appealing, streamlined the mechanics and without losing any of the strategy. I thoroughly enjoyed the first of this new generation of X-COM games, XCOM: Enemy Unknown on the PS3 (I know the naming conventions are confusing to say the least when you start comparing these to the originals), and XCOM 2 on the PS4. 

I’m still playing the huge War of the Chosen expansion which I have recently rebought on PC due to the fact it runs horribly on the PS4. The XCOM franchise is one of my favourites of all time, and I’m sure I’ll continue to be invested for the foreseeable future. (Just please keep it turn-based strategy!)

In what ways do you feel video game critics to be ahead of their film-loving counterparts?

Another brain teaser that seems to suggest that video game critics are ahead of their film-loving counterparts. Are they?

I guess that video game critics may be slightly more grounded in reality. Professional ‘film critique’ somehow feels like it belongs on a higher level than the average consumer’s opinion of a film, whereas I’m not sure that’s the case with video game critique (although I’m sure many video game critics would disagree).

Game critics I think have a much greater understanding of the fanbase, of the public, of their needs and expectations, of the comments that they will likely leave in forums and on social media. I think this is missing from film critique possibly? For this reason, I think game critique is for the fans so they can make an informed decision on how to spend their ยฃ50.

Film critique almost seems like its for other film critics, and less about the public? I’ve intentionally book-ended that statement with a question-mark, as I’m not sure if that’s the case but it certainly seems ‘more so’ than with video-game critique? Another question-mark as I’m fearful of offending half of the critiquing public with one snap of my fingers ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, moving on to the next one…

How does hype factor into how you ultimately feel about a work?

An intriguing question! My first thought is that hype has a huge impact on our verdict on a work (whether that be a game, film or TV show) and my feeling is that it almost always has a negative impact. In reality though, I guess this is impossible to prove. We can never go back and re-experience the work without the raised expectations.

I rarely buy a video game on release, so by the time I try it I’ve likely read half a dozen glowing reviews on top of months of carefully scheduled hype-inducing news items, drip-feeding a salivating public with morsels of new titbits. I’ll have also witnessed social feeds full of day-one praise, spoilers, screengrabs and glitches. Feeling a little underwhelmed by a game after all of that buildup isn’t too uncommon.

Phew! Some of those were tough but I’m glad I managed to formulate some semblance of an answer to each question – thanks again Red Metal!

I believe the tradition is for me now to come up with my own 11 questions but rather than tag 11 bloggers, this is an open invitation. I don’t want to pressurise anyone into a response, especially as I’m sure some of you have done these a few times already! However, hopefully my questions might provide some inspiration for your own posts without the pressure of a tag ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. If you could interview any videogame character who would it be and what would you ask?
  2. If you could create the ultimate partnership made of characters from different games who would they be and why would they make a great team?
  3. For one day only, you can visit any location from any video game. Where do you go and what do you spend your day doing?
  4. You are able to teleport any item from any game into the real world. What do you choose?
  5. In 10 years time, how will video games have evolved in terms of gameplay and the way we play them?
  6. How do you see the indie game industry evolving?
  7. If you could kill off an existing video game series, which one would you choose? ๐Ÿ™‚
  8. In what ways do you think games benefit narrative and story-telling moreso than film and books?
  9. What is your earliest gaming memory?
  10. If you could change one game for the better, which would it be and what would you change?
  11. Videogames, shouldn’t you have grown out of them by now?

Thanks everyone!

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