The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (January 2023)

  • Hello and welcome to my Hall of Greats presentation! On this occasion, the game I present to the Hall of Greats is rife with lunacy, serenading with resounding echoes of bamboozling ebullience, and possessing a strikingly whimsical 3D hand-drawn art style. This platformer is just one of those games you may find being towed on a wheel trolley and wearing a straitjacket because of how off-the-wall insane it is. My nomination is 2013’s Rayman: Legends.

    The first thought you may have screeching over your prefrontal cortexes, is how on earth can James nominate an Ubisoft game-he tends to flame his wooden torch alight just to scorch their library for how big, dumb and moronic most of their games are? The answer? Rayman: Legends arrived before the swathe of huge dumb open-world games, littered with banal fetch quests and tedious design choices. Oh, and this one is not an open-world, it’s only one of the greatest 2D platformers around. A stonking achievement like Rayman: Legends helps me bask in admirable remembrance at how Ubisoft has been responsible for some of the best videogames in the industry-and Rayman: Legends is without a doubt my favourite Ubisoft game.

    There’s no denying that it takes some serious cojones and intestinal fortitude to contend with the almighty Super Mario platformers, but Rayman: Legends steps up face-to-face with the moustached maestro’s finest, all the while blasting Black Betty BAM-BA-LAM into his earhole. The moxie it takes to design a game that polishes up its shoes and puts a boot up Mario’s platforming bum, is without a doubt worth paying attention to-and oh dayum is Rayman: Legends worth paying attention to!

    I don’t know what Ubisoft Montpellier employees sprinkled on their breakfast cereal in the morning, but my prediction is it’s something dusty and wondrously hallucinogenic. This may explain how excellently crafted every level is, how whacko the creature designs are, and how breezy and buttery the platforming is. Rayman: Legends is a staggeringly attractive and vivacious experience, an unstoppable tour of whimsy, sparkle and imagination that eclipses just about every game in the genre.


    The scintillatingly scrumptious rhythmic platforming is bonkers, revelling in a tempo befitting its raucous presentation. Jumping, bouncing and bounding along in a spiritedly effervescent way is gorgeously liberating in Legends. What wins day however, is the breakneck rush of Legends’ platforming challenges is what separates it from its competition. Whether it’s the thrills of the razor-sharp precision platforming, the epic obstacle-dodging, where structures collapse around you and threaten to tumble over on you, or you’re frantically slinging along desperately ziplining onto chains and escaping doom all the while a catchy beat accompanies your scramble for safety-Rayman: Legends is fully loaded with an onslaught of pristinely-coloured levels and an enrapturing gameplay core.

    One of the greatest pleasures Legends offers you comes in the form of blazingly frenetic sequences that marry the bread-and-butter platforming with a guitar-hero like rhythm-where the gameplay and the music work together in tandem to create outrageously exciting and adventurous levels.

    Returning from Rayman 2, Murfy is your trusty sidekick during your adventures. He’s useful when it comes to removing obstacles that impede your path-whether in the form of chopping rope for a tree trunk to fall acting as a bespoke path forward. Murfy also has the power of the coochy coo too, as he is able to tickle larger enemies until they giggle uncontrollably, letting their guard down in the process and opening up the chance for you to bop them into oblivion.

    On top of all the platforming greatness Legends provides, it might be one of the most generously rewarding platformers on top of being one of the very best as well. Not only do you get a horde of delightfully sadistic challenges on expertly dreamy and luscious levels, but by collecting caged teensies and lums-you can unlock additional levels, characters and challenges. Legends is a game that keeps on giving and giving, it’s delectably and luxuriously feeding players with joyous content-it’s a museum chockful of activity that has been curated marvellously.

    It’s hard to resist isn’t it? Ogling at Rayman: Legends is irresistible. Swimming in a joyous array of hues and a vibrant multitude of characterful art designs, Legends never stops assaulting your eyelids with sheer beauty. Even the dastardly enemy and creature designs are loaded with the quirky goofiness the game excels at as its alluring motif.

    Look above at this mischievous and bloated Mocking Bird for a second. Don’t you just feel the urge to sock it in the face? A chunky, airship-sized miscreant, the Mocking Bird is a flavourful example of how glorious the creature designs are in Rayman: Legends. The otherworldly aura inherent in these monstrosities is very strongly realized, complementing the outrageous weirdness and levity that punctuates Legends’ very identity.

    The soundtrack shares similarly eccentric vibes with a fluffy layer of relaxed chill at times. Some tunes contain breezy whistling, reflecting the effortlessly sublime gameplay, whilst many others boast a sumptuous cuisine of instrument to accompany the everchanging flow of the drama onscreen including ukuleles, kazoos and bagpipes. This is one heck of a videogame soundtrack, and just like Rayman: Legends itself, you won’t have heard a videogame soundtrack that has been as fantastically and cohesively designed to quite the same bonkers degree as you’ll find here.

    So why should you nominate Rayman: Legends for entry into the Hall of Greats? It’s a spectacular platformer that’s joyous and exhilarating to play. Legends never stops stuffing itself with outrageous whimsy, top-drawer level and creature designs, it constantly rewards players with new levels and rewards, never taking itself off the gas in its quest to surprise players, and it’s above all else- a monumental pleasure to play. How can anyone say no to a game that can threaten to bust Mario’s moustachioed chops with a superior platforming experience? If you don’t believe, go experience this stellar effort for yourself.

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  • Not only is Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 arguably the peak of a legendary series (likely in the top 5 greatest sports gaming franchises), it's one of the best ever conversions into a new generation of gaming.

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    Almost overnight (just 13 months after THPS 2), completely gone were the boxy/stiff characters, the empty levels, the dark lighting, the grungy textures, the thin sound design. If it wasn't for the core gameplay, you'd be hard pressed to recognize it as the same series.

    Skaters with real human proportions and butter smooth animations. Levels that feel like populated ecosystems with infinite draw distance. Eye-popping brightness and colours. Consistent 60 FPS enabling razor-sharp control at top speed. Cutscenes for the objectives. Ridiculous special moves that go beyond spins and flips, like holding the board in your teeth, pulling out a pizza box, or doing a sexy dance. And the single biggest addition to the gameplay of any THPS sequel....

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    THPS 2 added the manual to chain street tricks together, but the other half of skateboarding, vert tricks, was still isolated. But now, vert tricks could be chained to street tricks with the revert to build combos that could link almost any obstacle together.

    Aside from 60 FPS, the biggest visual leap that THPS 3 took was the level design. Stages were fully themed, with voiced NPCs and setpiece objectives that permanently altered the map when completed such as knocking over a vat of molten steel in a foundry or halting a Hollywood car chase with an earthquake. And the scale was a mindblowing increase, especially the full-scale, multi-story Airport with corridors extending far into the distance and a towering clear glass boarding atrium, and the final "bonus" level taking place on top of a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, complete with lifeboats you can trick off of and a setpiece in a nautical museum that triggers grindable safety nets.

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    Stages also have a lot more going on in the sound department now, with a slew of ambience like distant traffic, industrial noises, wildlife, short circuiting wires, public address announcers, a car wash, and idling jetliners. The spaciousness the sound mixing adds is also a notable standout of the game's dynamite production values.

    And, of course, the soundtrack, which I feel is the only one in the series with NO filler. Even more downbeat tracks like Nextmen's "Amongst The Madness" and House of Pain's "I'm a Swing It" have memorable grooves. And the variety has expanded, with more hip-hop to balance out the signature punk, offbeat acts like Reverend Horton Heat and Mad Capsule Markets, real "name" acts like Ramones and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and a first step into classic rock with Motorhead.

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    Lastly, the create-a-park and create-a-skater features have been nicely streamlined, and both the number and quality of secret skaters have increased, with Darth Maul integrating his dual-bladed lightsaber into tricks, Kelly Slater riding around on a surfboard, and Wolverine just being impeccably realized. You can even unlock the development team!

  • Hey everybody, I didn't end up having enough time to make a video, so here is a quick written presentation. I don't have time to plan it out so it's definitely more stream-of-consciousness, so I hope it's alright. Anyway, here it is:

    When was the last time you bonded with your family over a video game? I don't mean your older brother or younger sister, I mean your family, everybody. I remember the last time for me personally. The year was 2006, and I was a kid. Shaun White had just won his first Olympic medal, Pluto had just been reclassified as a dwarf planet, and the Wii had just been released. And with it came a little game known as Wii Sports.

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    Wii Sports was nothing short of a revolution. A pack-in game for the Wii, it sold over 80 million copies, becoming a worldwide hit that achieved popularity with a large, expansive demographic of players. From children to grandparents, single moms to single-celled organisms, eveybody was playing this game. So what about it gave it this widespread appeal? I think it comes down to one key thing: simplicity.

    Wii Sports is a remarkably simple game. It consists of five sports, each one built to be as simple as possible whilst effectively utilizing the Wii's motion tech. The Sports are Tennis, Baseball, Boxing, Golf, and Bowling. Each sport feels distinctly different in how they play, and yet none of them are complicated.

    Tennis is an excellent example of the game's simplicity, as it completely eliminates the player's ability to walk around. The game will move you where you need to be, so the player focuses only on the speed of their hit and the direction they choose to hit. The elimination of movement means that it's accessible to everybody, and the result is a very fun, competitive game in which a ten year old is theoretically on the same playing field as a seasoned gamer. I'll never forget some of the hard-fought battles I had in this game, going against people who had never touched a game in their life and getting my ass kicked, all while beating seasoned gaming veterans. It puts everybody on the same level.

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    Baseball is focused on two main aspects of the sport: batting and pitching. Batting is all about timing. Much like regular baseball it's important to time your swing perfectly. Too early or too late and you're likely to have a foul ball or a pop fly, if not a strike. It's a blast figuring our your timing, and the satisfaction upon hitting a home run is like nothing else. Pitching is slightly more complicated, as you are able to determine which kind of pitch you use, while the speed of the pitch is determined by how fast you swing your arm forward. Pitching is just as fun as batting, and it's super satisfying striking out your friends or family.

    Boxing performs much like the Wii's Punch Out. You're able to perform straights, hooks, uppercuts, etc., whilst also having to block/dodge your opponent's punches. I loved this one. I remember having some intense battles with my cousins, so much so that my arms would be sore the next day. It was worth it.


    Bowling and Golf are probably the most complicated of the sports, easy to understand but difficult to master. They're both all about aim and speed. In bowling you have to try and line yourself up with the pins, and the more seasoned players will give it that extra spin when necessary. In golf you also have to worry what type of club you use, as well as wind speed, and you have to be careful not to put too much power into a hit so that it doesn't lose control in the air. They're both just as fun as the other games, just as accessible.

    Each sport is stripped down to its core elements, and as a result they're all blissfully fun, and perhaps more importantly they are easy to understand for a non-gamer audience. That's why it's a Great. I admit I haven't played this game in a long time, but it's ability to bring in swaths of people who had never touched a game before is incredible.

    I remember going to family parties and playing this game. I remember playing Tennis with my grandparents while my aunts and uncles watched with bated breath on the sidelines. I remember cheering when my dad beat his sister in baseball. I remember seeing a great uncle of mine -- a stern man I had rarely ever seen laugh -- spend five minutes lining up a shot in bowling and beaming with confidence when he secured a difficult spare. It's a game that truly and honestly brought people together. Brought my family together. That's a beautiful thing.

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    Wii Sports made gamers out of the world. It allowed older people, people who had previously looked at video games as foreign, connect with their younger relatives. It made video games a universal hobby, at least for a time. My 75 year old grandmother was able to talk to me about a video game, a video game that she was better than me at. That's a remarkably special thing. It's a game that served as a bonding experience for my family, and did so for thousands of other families. I can think of nothing greater than that.

  • Before cross-exam starts, could I nominate the Apex Legends presentation for a yellow card? While indeed a cool idea, I think the EZA crew would do the same if someone handed their script to Jones and said "you read it".

  • @oscillator Rule Presentation.4 states: "If you opt to do a 5 minute video, there are no restrictions on content". There are no other rules stating that we can't use external VO. We can add such rule in the future, but this time it should be allowed.

    Also, I think there's an important difference: Brandon was a participant of EZA's Hall of Greats but he is not of ours. I don't see how it's different from, for example, using someone else's gameplay in your presentation, which, I think, no one is against of.

    One more thing to say in my defense. Brandon's contribution is a single 15-minute recording session (and probably a couple of minutes to read the script before the recording). I've spent more than 50 hours working on this presentation. For that reason, I consider it my own creation, and I hope others will do the same.

  • @ffff0 said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (January 2023):

    Also, I think there's an important difference: Brandon was a participant of EZA's Hall of Greats but he is not of ours. I don't see how it's different from, for example, using someone else's gameplay in your presentation, which, I think, no one is against of.

    Within our sphere, he is a celebrity though. It feels somewhat 'shady backdoor deals' using "star power" to give your presentation a boost.

    I do note that it definitely isn't against any existing rules - a HoG yellow card is really just a sideways glance.

  • @oscillator I have to politely disagree. I think it's well within his right to use all of the tools that are available to him. If he has access to Jones then I think using him was a wonderful idea. It's a really fun way to polish a presentation, but it's not as though the use of Jones automatically means people will vote for the game. It still comes down to the content of the presentation, and all of the time he put into writing and editing it. The Jones thing is just a fun way of presenting it, and totally fair imo.

  • Also, thinking on it a little more deeply, such a move might not be as controversial to the EZA crew now, as Brandon isn't participating in HoG anymore.

    I'll downgrade my sideways glance to an eyebrow raise (reaching for the card, but just brushing the dust off it).

  • And just like that the Cross Examination phase is now open! I encourage you to look at the rules one more time before you ask your questions. Special reminder that everybody is able to ask a question, regardless of whether or not you submitted a presentation. You have until the end of the 22nd to ask/answer questions.

    This phase can be a little cluttered at first, so keep in mind that I will create an aggregation post as things get going. With all that said, ask away!

  • Before posting my questions to all (Fun and thoughtful presentations everyone!) I wanted to add my two cents regarding the use of Jones: I'm all for it, because it's @ffff0's words and capture. Personally speaking, I HATE the sound of my voice, so if I had the means, I would get a kick out of being able to utilize his talents, not just for our little version of HoG, but other avenues as well. I'm in complete support of anyone using Golden Voice to use for their presentations for all ceremonies moving forward.

    Not onto my questions (Which again, aggregating both questions per presenter into a single post):

    To @ffff0 for Apex Legends:

    You briefly touch on a variety of aspects in your presentation about the different mechanics and characters, but as someone who doesn’t play Apex, all I really know it as is a Battle Royale. So I want ask: Is the goal ONLY simply be the last player standing across its modes?

    I noticed throughout your presentation a lot of reference (verbally and visually) to being a part of a team of three different Legends, and it makes me wonder: For you, do you believe the balance in the game is equally tuned not just across playing solo and on a team, but between playing as different characters with their own unique abilities as well? Is there any advantages/disadvantages choosing to play as one character over another?

    To @Shoulderguy for Portal:

    Portal is one of my favorite games, but it does have a couple shortcomings (to me). The first: The knowledge of its solutions. What I mean is once you know how to solve the puzzles, you know it. I find I need to go YEARS between playing it to give me a chance to try and be challenged, but I still breeze through it because there’s nothing like that very first playthrough of discovery and problem solving. Do you feel it’s an Achilles’ Heel there’s a small, set amount of puzzles where, with a couple exceptions, the solutions are easy to redo once you know how to reach the exits?

    The other is its brevity. I appreciate Portal can be run through in about two to four hours, but at the same time, there’s a bit of a hollow feeling on replays when I fly through it. With only just less than 20 chambers and the linear inner workings of Aperture Science, I always feel like there needs to be more. Do you think Portal’s short playtime, while a positive in not being a major commitment, is ultimately a hindrance by providing very minimal replayability?

    To @JDINCINERATOR for Rayman Legends:

    Your presentation is quite overwhelming in the use of adjectives to describe the wackiness of your pick, so my first question is surrounding the gameplay. While you very briefly touch on a couple of aspects like a companion mechanic, it being a 2D platformer, and there being escape sequences, all the while tied to the beat of the game’s soundtrack, I want to ask: What makes it stand out from other platformers, or to put it another way, what does it do better or different from Mario, Donkey Kong, etc? You go out of your way to say it’s superior to Mario, but you don’t really flesh out HOW.

    This leads me to my second question. I’ve dabbled with 2D platformers here and there, but it’s not a genre I have too much experience with (proportionally speaking) to other types of games, so in the case of Rayman: Legends: How much freedom do you have? Is it a completely linear experience, always going from left to right along a set path of fixed levels, or does it have an overworld/world map where you can select level order/replay past levels?

    To @Oscillator for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3:

    Reading through your presentation, I quickly got slightly overwhelmed with the highly technical terminology, and as someone who isn’t into skating, it’s a difficult task for me to become invested when I have no idea what “Vert” and “Street” tricks are. Do you feel THPS 3 is welcoming to newcomers who have no affiliation/knowledge of the shorthand lingo in learning how to play?

    Speaking of which, I didn’t really notice much in your presentation how it feels to play and whether or not it’s easier or conversely more difficult to “pick up and play” without prior knowledge. Regarding gameplay systems, what does THPS 3 do that polishes the experience from its predecessors and conversely, does the likes of its direct sequel and the remake of THPS 1+2 offer an easier barrier of entry from a gameplay standpoint that makes THPS 3 not stand up to them as much?

    To @Capnbobamous for Wii Sports:

    A large chunk of your presentation I agree with wholeheartedly being the greatest example of gaming breaking through to the mainstream and getting anyone, regardless of experience or skill level when it comes to playing video games, involved. However, as much as I may like Wii Sports, one of the big knocks on it is just that: It’s ONLY discussed in the aspect of its approachability. Do you think the games offered in the package stand out as individual experiences on a gameplay level to where they could exist/survive as their own, individually sold games, or do you believe they only work by being grouped together?

    While I never connected with Boxing or Golf, I have to say Tennis, Baseball, and Bowling were/are my jam. And even though I had fun with them at the time, I did grow tired of playing the same three games over and over. By the time Wii Sports Resort had come out, I had long lost access to a Wii, and from what I’ve heard Switch Sports suffers (among other things) from the basis of my question: Not enough offerings. In your opinion, do you think Wii Sports only having five games is a detriment, each being able to be finished within 15-20 minutes per session, or is having five games enough to not overwhelm those who, as you point out in your presentation, don’t play video games?

  • @brannox In response to Rayman: Legends questions:

    1.The way Rayman: Legends differentiates itself from other 2D platformers is in how crazy the tempo of the gameplay is and how phenomenal the varied environments are. Donkey Kong games and Mario 2D platformers are brilliant, but they aren't driven so much by the attractions and excitement of adventure, as they are with giving you progressively difficult platforming levels. You play a Mario or Donkey Kong game, you know you're in for a challenging ride, but when you play Rayman: Legends, you're in for a challenging ride that's also fast, furious, wonderfully eccentric and quite funny in places too. Rayman: Legends I think looks more luscious than many modern platformers as well, especially when it comes to enemy designs. It's a splendid thrillride that is also a huge jubilant platforming party.

    1. There is more to Rayman: Legends than the continuing jaunt from left to right. There are secret caves with teensies that have been held captive, and you have the opportunity of freeing them provided you can overcome a platforming puzzle. You definitely can go back through the levels. The layout of the menu is essentially an exquisite art gallery-this is where you can choose the stages and within those stages are the levels. There are also party games, co-op levels, as well as daily and weekly challenges. You can also play levels from Rayman: Origins too. It's a feature-stuffed experience and I find the navigation to be very splendid and cohesive with Legends' insatiable charms.

  • @ffff0

    Unlike single-player games, the enjoyment of multiplayer games is very dependent on other people who play the game with you. Hacking/Cheating is a big reason why I've almost completely stopped playing competitive MP games. I don't play Apex Legends myself but I've heard from friends who do play this game that it is full of cheaters and that it ruins the game.

    Question: Is this true and how often does this happen?

    I've played every other game that was presented, I know these games well and don't have any questions.

    I'll try to answer all your Portal questions at the end of the week.

  • Response to @Brannox regarding Apex Legends’ goals and advantages of certain team compositions.

    This will be a very long answer as I want it to be as complete as possible. Sorry and buckle up.

    Apex Legends is not a Civilization with its multiple paths to victory – if you want to be crowned as Battle Royale champion you need to be the last team standing, and if you want to succeed in Arenas, you need to win more rounds than your opponents. However even in this two modes victory is not the only thing to work for. One of my in-game friends was obsessed for months with getting a very respectful “kill 20 players in a single match” badge, and was asking me to not kill other players when we were fighting and allow them to freely respawn their teammates (which is something you don’t want to do if you play for a win). And there were times when I played just to farm damage, as it was required to unlock another version of character’s skin.

    Then there’s a ranked mode where your primary goal is to get more ranking points than you’ve spent to enter the match. Those points are earned both by placements and kills, and getting 4th with a lot of kills can be more rewarding that winning with just a few. You want both kills and wins obviously, but circumstances may force you to change your plans during the match. For example, you may be the only one who escaped early encounter, and for the rest of the match your primary goal will be to hide from everyone else to survive as long as possible. And let me tell you – getting second when you play a rat feels just as good as wining with a full team. The same is true when you play in a tournament, only the stakes are much higher.

    Then there are limited-time modes which quite often have nothing to do with battle royale. This week you can play beloved Control, where two teams of nine tries to capture three zones that give you points each second you hold them (and you need to earn certain number of points to win). During holidays we had Winter Express with a train roaming across the map that you need to capture to win a round. And before that we had Gun Run, where your weapon changes each time you kill someone, and you need to go through the whole arsenal before others do.

    Finally there are private matches where you can do whatever you want. Popular pass times are hide-and-seek (all but one team hide across the map, one team tries to find everyone) and zombies (in wide open are one geared up team sets defenses, then the rest run towards them simultaneously using only melee to attack). Those are unofficial of course and can’t be just queued up for, but game’s community loves being creative, so finding players willing to organize and participate in such activities should be relatively easy.

    Now to answer your second question about advantages and disadvantages of playing as one character over another. Imagine a situation when the ring is going to the opposite side of the map and you don’t have much time to gear up for future fights. What can you do? If you have Loba, she can put her Black Market to allow everyone to grab nearby ammo and gear and save time on running around. If you have Valkyrie, then you have a lot of time, because she will take you to the sky for a quick relocation. If you have several offensive Legends, then you can just go and fight other teams to grab all you need from their corpses. All of those are sound approaches and it just comes down to what playstyle works best for you. So, the advantage of playing certain Legends is that they allow you to play the game the way you want to.

    Of course, there are situations that can be “solved” only if you have certain Legend in your team, putting you at a disadvantage if no one is playing them. However, this is not a game of constant regrets as you can plan ahead to avoid getting into those scenarios in the first place. For example, if you don’t have any defensive Legends then instead of desperately trying to hold the best spot that will be highly contested you can occupy something else and then third-party teams who are fighting for the best one. In other words, advantages and disadvantages of each Legends manifest themselves in opportunities you’ll have, but in the right hands and with the right strategy advantages can be enhanced and disadvantages can be mitigated.

    Which brings us to the second part of your question: the balancing. I truly believe that the best Legend to play as is the one you’re most comfortable with. Yes, some characters are more popular than others, and some Legends may be considered as part of the meta, almost required to be successful. But you can absolutely win with off-meta picks, you don’t even need to have each character of certain type in your roster. Just look at teams at 04:10 in my presentation – the winners (us by the way) had two Legends almost no one else was playing as.

    And that’s the beauty of balancing in Apex Legends – the game doesn’t force you to play a certain way to be successful, it enables you to succeed with whatever style you prefer. I’m not exaggerating – I’m not good at aiming and shooting, I forget about grenades so often that I rarely even pick them, yet I’m constantly reaching pretty high rank, because the game allows me to use my wits to gain an advantage. I can be good in a shooter with my bad shooting, which is truly amazing.

    To summarize this very long answer, Apex Legends is not a game you play just for the win, the choice of your Legends really matters, but the game is balanced well to avoid losing matches on a character selection screen.

  • Response to @Shoulderguy regarding cheaters in Apex Legends.

    I’ve played more than 8500 matches and I never saw something glaring like flying players, or someone not taking damage they supposed to. Full disclosure, I’m a console player, but I also saw nothing like that when I teamed up with PC players and played in PC lobby. If I’ve encountered cheaters, they passed as better players, so I’ve accepted the loss and just queued for the next match. I never felt like the fun of playing the game or things I can accomplish are taken from me by unfair means. Not claiming that others are wrong, but my personal experience doesn’t match those opinions.

  • Question for @Brannox about an The Last of Us Part I.

    I think you’ll agree that story is the name of the game and the main reason you play and remember The Last of Us. However, there’s actually a lot of gameplay here, which is not nearly as good as the narrative, and can be frustrating in numerous ways. It can be immersion-breaking when enemies don’t get alerted by companion’s noises or even annoying when you know exactly how to get through encounter stealthily but have to just sit and wait for enemy’s rotation. Exploration has good rewards but is very basic due to linear nature of the game – you are not going on a small journey, you just stopping to pick something. As a result, the gameplay feels like a road bump that you must bypass to get the next story bit. This especially annoyed me when I replayed the game, particularly the winter segment. “Okay, this should be finally it… nope, another wave of enemies. Okay, we should be there by now… nope, another foggy street” – those were my thoughts as I was “entering the answer.” I want to make it clear: I’m not claiming that gameplay in The Last of Us is bad, it’s good. But exceptional narrative make gameplay feels like vegetables you’re forced to eat before getting to what you actually want to consume. And there is a full greenhouse of veggies here.

    Do you agree that The Last of Us would be a better experience if there were less game in it?

  • Question for @Shoulderguy about Portal.

    Portal is extremely short game. The first 10 levels of 19 are just a tutorial, and the rest are also very brief, with the exception of the last one. It honestly feels like a prologue of an early-access game that never saw a full release, leaving you wanting for more and not in a good way.

    Why would you recommend this game over Portal 2 to those who never played Portal before?

  • Question for @JDINCINERATOR about Rayman: Legends.

    This game was designed for Wii U, but at the last moment was changed to be multiplatform. Do you feel that playing with unintended input device makes this game worse?

  • Question for @Oscillator about Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3.

    I’m a gamer who can’t perform complicated inputs, like long button combinations and time-sensitive actions. I’ve never played Tony Hawk games, but from the outside they seem to require very precise inputs to achieve most of level’s goals. Since it’s a game in which new levels are locked until you clear enough goals on the previous ones, I will be forever stuck of the first level if I decide to play it. It’s perfectly fine to have tough goals and achievement only a few can accomplish but locking less capable players out of most of game’s content seems unnecessarily harsh by 2023’s standards.

    Do you agree that this game’s progression haven’t stood the test of time?

  • Question for @Capnbobamous about Wii Sports.

    You’ve spoke a lot about how this game bring together gamers and non-gamers. But what if you don’t have non-gamers in your household? Is there enough complexity and content for a group of seasoned players? Can you have any fun playing all by yourself?

  • Answering @ffff0's question if The Last of Us would be better with less "game."

    Personally, I don't believe so because the fundamental gameplay loop of having to survive off limited resources (ammo and crafting materials to make useful equipment) coupled with needing to be stealthy most of the time is crucial to the satisfaction it provides when clearing an encounter without being spotted, or getting through an intense fight on your last bullet or arrow (or even running out and having to run and hide -OR- rely on your melee ability, which is never a guarantee).

    Regarding immersion breaking, one of the touted improvements of Part I via PS5 was the reworked companion A.I. to prevent the very scenario you describe. Is it 100% successful? No. But it's better than the original or Remastered versions, and in my experience, when I do notice it (which isn't often), it doesn't necessarily take me out of it because the game is relying on my skill/wits to progress. If the A.I. acted like an actual human player, there wouldn't really be a game at all as I could sit back and just let Ellie stealthily stab enemies without having to lift a finger (which, if this was the case, would be most definitely "less game" as you put it, and I would argue would make it a worse experience).

    Regarding exploring for materials, I disagree, but only up to a point. When scavenging for supplies, it's not necessarily a journey to find rewards, but rather a necessity to make sure you're always prepared. This is where some of the more slightly open level design in certain spaces helps in this regard. For example, the main street of Bill's Town, the Suburbs as soon as you leave the sewer system, and the University (and more) all have plenty of side paths worth seeking out for Supplements, ammo, or weapon parts (especially the doors requiring a Shiv), because there's always the promise of finding something you need, whether you can hold it for a dire time, or if you're short on the spot and need to top off. But crucially, these examples are entirely optional. You can just blow right on by to the objective, missing out on many a material, observation, and conversation. I would never recommend doing so, but it's possible, if you so choose. When seeking out such materials, the point (to me) isn't to say "Scour everywhere to see what you can find!" insofar as "Scour everywhere to find what you must." I guess to word this long winded-paragraph in a different way: Walking down a side path doesn't have to be treated like a major side-quest, but rather should be handled as a necessity, because if you don't it'll cost you when you're low on something you need.

    Lastly, regarding Winter: I concur on that (again, speaking for me) is my least favorite section for several reasons (gameplay, story, and level design, to name a few). And while I do think it's excellent in many respects, not the least of which is its the section that leaves you with a sense of heightened tension for its entire duration, fighting against the infected with David, sneaking through the blizzard (as both Ellie and Joel), and the final showdown with the aforementioned cannibal leader does not feel as strong as the rest of the game. However, it's BECAUSE of these very segments being gameplay why they ultimately work. As I write, it's the day after the TV series had its premiere episode, and while I look forward to watching (awaiting the full thing is out, then burn a free trail or pay a month's subscription to go through it all), I'm curious to see presenting this story as a passive experience as opposed to an active one whether or not one medium highlights strengths and/or weaknesses of the other.

    To conclude, no, I personally don't believe The Last of Us would be better with less "game," because without having the minutia of managing supplies and overcoming both human and infected alike, there's less of an emotional investment when you're actively having to consider such things (though the TV series should provide an absolutely excellent use-case for this very critique).