The Xbox One vs PS4 Deathmatch (where no one dies)

One of the things that I’ve found interesting about the last few months is the dichotomy between what it has actually been like playing games and what it has been like reading the constant bickering that exists everywhere from forums to twitter to the media itself.  While I kept reading that the launch lineups for these consoles “sucked” and there was nothing to play while I already have amassed a next-gen backlog.  There are certainly a lot of problems with both consoles, which I will get to, but the narrative that either of these machines aren’t fun yet is just plain wrong.  Both are really great at what they set out to do and they actually set out to do quite different things which makes the proposition of owning both greater than last gen where the only differentiator was exclusives and Blu-ray.  Right now the experience of both consoles feels completely different and I like both of them.  Yes, internet, it’s ok to like both of them.

When I got my PS4 I found the UI to be very fast and intuitive. I knew where to find everything and, honestly, there isn’t that much to find. The PS4 is a slick gaming machine that is indeed more powerful.  When I got home the Xbox One I found the UI far less intuitive but part of the reason for that is there is quite a bit to it.  There are many more features to play with.  The Xbox One, for instance, has a much better built-in video editor.  You can stick multiple clips together and record audio over it with the Kinect.  The PS4 video editor is dead simple… you can trim.  That’s it.  The system with the share button currently has worse tools for manipulating or exporting video.  They both have a long way to go in this regard but I was honestly surprised to see the Xbox One with more powerful tools.

The Xbox One is a much more ambitious system than the PS4. You can feel that difference pretty quickly with a myriad of options that don’t exist on the PS4.  The TV input, the snap, the multitasking… it’s all impressive.  I don’t know if Microsoft will ever deliver on their hope of being the center of the living room but they certainly have a solid base.   Despite admiring the ambition it is clear that I am not a target market for what they are trying to do. This is not me saying what they are doing is bad, it’s just not for everyone.  I game at a desk and have a TV in the room if I want to watch TV.  I have my PC monitor right next to my gaming monitor so I have zero reason to snap anything, ever.  This is all specific to me, but that’s my point.  If you have a typical living room setup, you watch a lot of cable TV, you sit on a couch far away from your Kinect… these features may be quite useful.  For me they are redundant and not as good as other options available to me.  I have a feeling that someone sitting on a couch with an iPad probably feels the same way – which is where Microsoft’s vision will find its most difficult challenge – trying to get us to put down the gadgets we already own and love.  It’s not impossible, of course, but that is their biggest hurdle to owning the living room.

Even if I don’t use all of the features of the Xbox One UI, I do like it. It’s actually hard to put my finger on exactly what I like as it’s very much Windows 8, which I hate, but I think I’m a sucker for ambition and the system is trying to do a lot.  The Kinect has been hit or miss for me thus far.  I would say my voice commands were recognized 70% of the time.  My hand gestures like 5% of the time.  I would say the hand gesture thing is my fault but is it really my fault that I don’t play games in a living room setting?  No other gaming system or my PC have had an issue with it.  The Xbox One is ambitious but it isn’t versatile.  It wants to be the king of the living room, it doesn’t give a shit about any other room.  That’s ok  though because I don’t give a shit about hand gestures so we are even.

The best feature of the PS4 UI currently is the ability to stream.  I’ve done this for many, many, hours and have really enjoyed it.  So while the PS4 UI is much more barebones than the Xbox One it does have one defining feature that the Xbox One does not have yet.  More importantly, to some people, the PS4 is a better gaming machine. If you are going to compare them spec-wise like computers, the PS4 comes out on top.  If you compare multiplatform games, the PS4 shines – often by the order of millions of pixels and higher frame rates.  This is not to say that the Xbox One has ugly games.  While the sharpening effect is pretty awful (and on its way out according to sources I’ve spoken to) games on the Xbox One still look great.  It’s not like one system is the Xbox 360 and the other is the PS2.  There is a difference and if you care the PS4 is the way to go, but if you really, really, care the PC is even more the way to go.  I’m not going to get into the launch lineup pissing match and will just say that I predicted that Forza would be the best launch exclusive and it is.  Killzone/Knack vs Dead Rising 3/Ryse is all personal preference.  I personally enjoy all of those games so far.  None of the four are even close to perfect though so bragging about them as proof your system is better is a bit silly.  Downloadable titles are the same…. I never liked Killer Instinct and I still don’t but I can see why people love it.  Resogun is great fun but would be fun on the Vita as well.  And AC4 whether at 900p or 1080p is a good game.  If you buy either of these platforms you will have plenty to play and will enjoy almost all of it.  The negativity from the press about the release games and the constant bickering between fanboy camps is just silly.  Videogames are fun, most of the time, and both of these systems have fun games.

To no one’s surprise the PS4 is the system that is built more for me and as such I like it more.  I prefer the controller.  I love the streaming (though I can stream Xbox One games with my own hardware). I can be an image quality snob so I’m happy to play games at higher resolutions.  Also, as I’m sure is the case for many people (for each system), the Playstation has its hooks in me with my trophy collection, group of friends I play with every weekend, familiarity with the game types and quality I expect from Sony.  Microsoft has the same thing, if you have a huge gamerscore and all your friends are on the Xbox One and the only reason you want a PS4 is because of higher resolution multiplats… don’t!  Get a Xbox One, play with your friends, you won’t care about the visual difference.  I have these systems side by side and I can clearly see it but it’s not a massacre by any stretch.

The Xbox One is a much more full experience.  I’ve been reading many threads around GAF and Reddit where users who own both systems just like the “feel” of the Xbox One and I can definitely understand it.  The Kinect, as much as I hated what it did to the 360 (long story-short, I feel like the 360 went from great to shit when the Kinect was released) does create a compelling experience.  There are problems to iron out.  Multitasking does slow things down.  Programs crash.  In fact as I was editing some clips in Upload Studio it crashed and my Kinect hasn’t worked since.  On the plus side Microsoft will have a new one out to me in three to five days so kudos to them for being on top of problems like this.

The trajectory of both systems over the next year will be on lines towards each other.  The PS4 UI needs more features, quickly, but without hurting the speed or ease of use of the UI.  The Xbox One needs some new features and some fixes and it needs to do it while making the UI a bit easier to get around.  If last gen taught us anything… what these systems will be in two years will be very different from what they are now.  But after an awful unveiling and a few months of backtracking Microsoft has a strong system that any Microsoft fan will enjoy.  The PS4 is what we thought it would be, a more powerful, games-first, console.  Pick your poison.  They both are pretty awesome.

If you’re a console warrior and want to hate Microsoft because they tried the DRM or whatever.  Go for it.  If you hate Sony because they killed the Dreamcast….  more power to you.  If you’re like me and have a preference (and mine is clearly Sony games)… the other system offers a unique enough experience that you should atleast keep your eye on it.  These systems co-exist pretty damn well thus far, even with the huge overlap in available games.

Super Fun Sales Chat 2013!

So the November NPDs have come in and the results have some interesting implications and give a bit of a clearer picture of what each company’s current strategy is.  Sony certainly coveted North America enough to secure the top spot but have resigned themselves to demand outstripping supply so they could take the rest of the world as well.  Microsoft clearly has designs on not letting the United States slip away and have flooded retail since the launch.  It wasn’t good enough to catch up in November, giving the PS4 a solid 200k+ lead going into December but with the Xbox One available nearly everywhere and the PS4 available almost nowhere it’s hard to believe that Sony will be the victor in December in North America. I think this should also put to rest the rumor that many people believed, myself included, that MS was having yield issues.  Their console output has been extremely strong.

Both of these strategies make sense to me.  Microsoft wants to sell services and they are going to do sell a helluva lot more NFL subscriptions in the US than it is in Taiwan.  Sony is games-games-game, a message that resonates world-wide, and they want to get their foot in the door EVERYWHERE.  I expect we will get Sony’s next world-wide total after their launch in Asia which should see them sell out the allotted 500k in the first day or two.  This number will show a pretty strong lead for the PS4 around the globe.

But as I said before, I personally expect Microsoft to take NA in December.  Some will point to NA even being close as a loss for Microsoft, but I tend to think of each generation as a reset – past performance does not mean you are guaranteed future success.  The PS2 was the best-selling console of all time.  The PS3 struggled mightily for years.  It being basically a tie in NA at new years, with strong sales for both consoles, is good for everyone involved.  Competition will ensure there isn’t complacency.

I don’t think Microsoft is out of the woods yet though.  Demand for the PS4 is obviously outstripping supply.  Supply will catch up, there’s no doubt about that – the question is when.  And if Microsoft, who has basically decided that their entire ballgame is NA and the UK, start falling behind in those markets plus being outright dominated world-wide… they will have to spend A LOT of money to get developers on board for exclusives.  That’s a big if though.  I personally don’t see Microsoft trying to win consoles sold as much as they are trying to win money-made.  Their focus on the US and UK may make them seem far behind but if people are buying games in those territories and buying XBLG, buying TV/Movies/NFL/etc…. I think MS will be perfectly happy.  There is room in the market for both of these approaches and as of now it seems fairly even.  Sony will take a strong lead in world-wide sales but I don’t think Microsoft is scrambling.  Yet.

In other news, the Wii U is going to have to go FULL VITA and carve a niche and hope that niche can keep it afloat.  The numbers weren’t as bad as Pachter predicted but they were about 1/3 of the Xbox 360.  Mario did not save the Wii U.  Personally I’d love to see it become the “HD remake Machine” and play upressed classics which would be cheap for them and possibly move some units.  The 3DS is doing OK in North America but it’s pretty clear the west just does not care about handhelds like they used to.  The Vita is holding on for dear life.  The numbers are not good.  They are, in fact, awful.  But strong digital software sales will keep Sony supporting it for the foreseeable future.  While the world at large waits for the Vita to die… everyone I talk to at Sony say they still have long-term plans for the device that haven’t deviated at all.  Hopefully the Wii U can find a similar space where they can make some money without having a huge install base.

Doddcast 221 – Games of the Generation

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After a brief discussion about the VGx and games being released unfinished we spend a long, long, time reading listener GotG lists and finishing off with Pete’s.

Music:  Battle of Who Could Care Less by Ben Folds Five, The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid by The Decemberists

Here is where you can stream it.

You can also grab it off of iTunes.

Reach me at:  petedodd@gmail.com

Double K.O.

Player One Podcast

Check Platform Nation

Pete’s Twitter

Rich’s Twitter

Games of the Generation (75 through 11)

Here are 75-11 in my Games of the Generation list.  Numbers 10 through 1 will be on Doddcast 221 which you can watch live at 11pm eastern on saturday night (check my twitter for a link around that time).  The criteria for this list are games on the PC/PS3/360 that came out from the launch of the 360 until, well, today.  I didn’t include the Wii because I honestly didn’t spend enough time with the system to give the games a fair shake so I figured leaving them out was better than low-balling them.  There are also no handheld games in this list.  PC/PS3/360.  That’s it.  I also list the system I played it on (as most are multiplats, obviously).  Some of these games I did play more on the Vita (like Guacamelee) but if they have a console/PC counterpart I listed the one I also messed around with.  Lastly, I didn’t want to list multiple games from the same series so I picked my personal favorite from each series… but it’s safe to assume that I enjoyed all of the games in each respective series.

  1. Tune in Saturday!
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  5. Tune in Saturday!
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  10. Tune in saturday!
  11. Bioshock Infinite  (PC) Loved the atmosphere and combat.  Got sucked into the story.  I get the complaints but don’t agree with them.
  12. Pixel Junk Monsters (PS3)  Best Tower Defense game ever… and I love me some TD.  Beat this game on 3 different consoles (so far)
  13. Toy Soldiers: Cold War  (360) The best example of an action-TD game.  Also amazing use of theme in graphics and gameplay.
  14. FFXIII (PS3)  Moms are tough.  I loved this game.  I don’t know why.
  15. Crackdown (360)  The open world game that made every open world game after it better.  A true classic.
  16. Divinity: Dragon Commander (PC)  I love when genres mix and D:DC mixes action with RTS with 4k strategy – and it all works!
  17. Minecraft (PC) My love affair with Minecraft was short (a few months) but rather intense.  I love building.
  18. Mass Effect 2 (360) I didn’t enjoy the first ME so when everyone was saying how good ME2 was I didn’t believe them.  I was wrong.
  19. Batman Arkham Asylum  (PS3) By far the best Batman game because of my love of old asylums.  Such a great location!  Gameplay also wonderful, of course.
  20. Gran Turismo 5 (PS3) According to my save file I spent 90 hours playing this game the first month it was out. Issues with UI aside, on the track it’s unrivaled.
  21. Dungeon Defenders (PC) A great action RPG/Tower Defense hybrid with a rather shitty art style.
  22. Spelunky (360)  Still playing this daily on my Vita I fell in love the day it came out on the 360.  This game is timeless.
  23. Super Street Fighter IV (PS3)  500 hours online with friends, easily.  I won like 4 matches during that 500 hours – but I didn’t care.
  24. Trials Evolution (360)  An improvement over the original trials in every way.  A huge amount of content for the price as well.
  25. GTA V (PS3) Better than GTA IV and I genuinely LOVED certain missions.  The ending and the online play were a flop though.
  26. Journey (PS3) Just play it.  Hard to put into words.
  27. inFamous 2 (PS3)  inFamous was a good game.  inFamous 2 improved on it in nearly every way.  I had a blast with this game from start to finish.
  28. God of War 3 (PS3)  The first 30 minutes of this game still look better than 97% of the games on my much more powerful PC.  Game had lulls though.
  29. The Walking Dead (PS3)  Amazing characterization and story and choices.  The gameplay was a bit flat.  I don’t mind though, I’ll take 10 more seasons please.
  30. Plants vs Zombies (PS3) You already know… so I’ll just use this space to complain about how bad PvZ 2 is.  HOW DID THEY RUIN THIS GAME!?!?!
  31. Mirror’s Edge (360)  A sublime experience that gets roughed up a bit by some later levels that have more combat and aren’t as open.
  32. Hotline Miami (PC)  Violent, punishing, fair, amazing.  Best soundtrack ever as well.  Yes, ever.
  33. FTL (PC) Infinite replayability, this game puts me in a trance.  A very stressful trance.
  34. Guacamelee (PS3) Drinkbox crafted an amazing game that doesn’t shy away from being difficult.  When you pull off 5 different special moves just to make a platform jump that seems impossible you will high-five yourself.
  35. Resistance 3 (PS3) Underrated and basically sent out to die this is by far the best Resistance game and one of the best SP FPSs on consoles because of its throwback to health that doesn’t regen and the ability to carry every gun.  Amazingly fun from start to finish.
  36. Need for Speed Shift (PS3) A mostly sim racer with some arcade stylings mixed in.  Also features the best in-car camera of the generation.
  37. Battlefield BC 2 (PS3) An underrated and very fun (and funny!) single player… and multiplayer where you can blow up everything.  Hundreds of hours lost to this game.  I don’t want them back.
  38. Far Cry 3 (PC)  A real looker on the PC… this game was great fun with an open world with plenty to do.  The characters were pretty awful though.
  39. Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)  One of the most inventive strategy RPGs of alltime.  It’s probably a crime I have it this far down the list.
  40. Terraria (PC) 2D Minecraft is what it was billed as… but it’s so much more.  Castlevania with digging is more accurate.
  41. NBA 2k11 (360) The NBA 2k series has always been great but 2k11 was something special.  The gameplay got better in the years since but I owned this game on both systems and played online with friends on both all year long.
  42. Savage Moon (PS3)  One of the better Tower Defense games I’ve played.  Wickedly tough but expertly crafted.  I want a sequel in the worst way… and Sony has this team making bullshit for PS Home. 😦
  43. Dragon’s Dogma (PS3) A japanese WRPG.  Yep.  And it works pretty damn well.  Capcom had a lot of misses this gen but Dragon’s Dogma is an IP I hope to see them carry on.
  44. Call of Duty 4 (360)  The game that changed everything in First Person Shooters.  It should be higher but I’m so sick of what it did that I’m scolding it and sticking it down here.
  45. Rayman Legends (PC)  An improvement over the already fantastic Rayman Origins.  Gorgeous art.  Tightened controls.  More varied levels.  I play mostly on my Vita but it’s gorgeous everywhere.  The Wii U version being the best console version.  Though the PC version was super cheap, so…
  46. FIFA 13 (PS3) FIFA 13 turned me from a kinda fan of soccer to a full-fledged fan.  I played 3 seasons without simming a game offline.  It’s been a decade since I’ve done that with a sports game.
  47. Nier (PS3)  Hammered by the press in reviews this is what many consider to be Square’s best RPG this gen.  Some truly inventive ideas.  Highly recommended.
  48. Orcs Must Die 2 (PC)  The PC only follow-up to the wonderful XBLA game the carnage you can cause with the traps make this game glorious.
  49. Sonic and Allstars Racing Transformed (PC)  Gorgeous, great handling, and more fan service than you shake a stick at.  Probably the best Kart Racer I’ve ever played (that didn’t have a track editor – i’m a nerd for that stuff)
  50. Rock Band 2 (360) Fun alone, absolutely amazing with the combo of friends and alcohol.
  51. 3d Dot Game Heroes (PS3)  A throwback to the old Zelda games.  Difficult puzzles, intense combat, and great exploration made this an underrated gem.
  52. Starhawk (PS3) Most of the world would put Warhawk and not Starhawk but I’m not most of the world.  I thought the base building aspect was one of the coolest additions to shooters this gen… and something that bombed and will be completely ignored.  Booo!
  53. MLB 13 The Show (PS3)  Every year MLB The Show delivers… so I picked the most recent one.  Death, Taxes, and MLB the Show are the only things you can count on in life.
  54. Killzone 2 (PS3) A completely forgettable story but the game looked real pretty.  The online was above average and brought me many hours of enjoyment.
  55. 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand (360)  A much better game than you would assume.  Also makes the case that all games should have a button dedicated to swearing.
  56. Fallout 3 (PS3)  I played Fallout 3 wrong.  I didn’t do a single side quest.  I went straight through the story missions.  I loved it.
  57. Wipeout HD/Fury (PS3)  RIP Studio Liverpool.  You will be missed.
  58. SSHD (PS3) Housemarque had a number of amazing games this gen but Stardust was their greatest.  If you play it on a 3D tv your head LITERALLY will explode.
  59. Team Fortress 2 (PC) Valve, man.  Valve.
  60. Bastion (360)  A stunning achievement in terms of delivering an interesting story and a decent RPG for $15.  The combat was a bit simple but I loved this game.
  61. Starcraft 2 (PC)  Blizzard made Starcraft 2 great by not doing much different from Starcraft 1.  I’m ok with this.
  62. Puzzle Quest (360)  A game that kicked off a genre, Puzzle Quest was so fun.  It still is and it’s probably available on every device you own.
  63. Socom: Confrontation (PS3)  Socom never even sniffed at the heights of the series in the PS2 era but once Slant Six cleaned up all of the bugs this was a capable but limited Socom game.  Crossroads is still one of the best maps ever made.
  64. Mafia 2 (PS3)  An open world game that has no reason to be open world, the game is great despite this.  A strong story along with capable gameplay.  Also having old Playboys, complete with boobies (before they were fake), as the hidden collectible in the game is probably the best idea this gen.
  65. Lord of the Rings: WotN (PS3)  Fun with friends.  Broken as fuck.  A giant eagle kills shit.
  66. Gears of War 2 (360) Gears 1 changed shooters for the better, Gears 2 perfected the formula and also added “Horde Mode” which is now in every game ever.  Chainsawing friends has never been so fun.
  67. Geometry Wars (360)  The OG XBLA game.  Fun to play and a giant billboard that screamed “THIS TYPE OF GAME IS VIABLE TO MAKE AND SELL AT A LOWER PRICE POINT!”  Thank you, Geo Wars.
  68. Crysis (PC)  This game still looks amazing and it came out at the very start of this gen.  It’s also the best game in the series.
  69. Company of Heroes (PC)  Company of Heroes is a RTS for people who usually don’t like RTS’s.  I do like them… but I liked this as well.  Very fun.
  70. Rainbow 6 Vegas 2(360)  I still bust this out on the PS3 (which is extremely inferior) to play some terrorist hunt with James Chilton.  But back in the day, on the 360, we played this game for months.
  71. Hero Academy (PC)  Started as a phone game but eventually made it to Steam.  It’s a great asynchronous multiplayer strategy game.
  72. Jamestown (PC)  The best Shmup I’ve played since I was a kid.  A wicked last level that separates the Men/Women from the Boys/Girls.
  73. Alice: The Madness Returns (PC)  So weird but so fun.  About 10 hours too long though.
  74. Hitman: Blood Money (360) An early gen masterpiece that doesn’t quite hold up these days but is still worth a playthrough.
  75. Kameo (360)  The Knack of last gen.  I love Knack.  I loved Kameo.

Why I am skipping Gran Turismo 6

Gran Turismo has been a favorite series of mine since I bought the first game, at launch, back on the PSone. I’ve bought every GT since then, including the $40 demo that was Prologue.  I don’t really consider myself a huge sim-racer fan but there’s something about the GT games that just absolutely hook me.  I will admit that even before I knew about the microtransactions in GT6 I was contemplating skipping it and instead waiting on the PS4 version which is surely in the pipeline.  Has that weighed on this decision?  Surely.  I will admit that.  But there is a lot more to it.

I understand that “microtransactions are here to stay.”  I understand that because it’s something we’ve all given up on.  Even on NeoGAF you will see people saying “microtransactions are here to say” over and over and over again.  If you say it enough it becomes true.  The industry has effectively eased your concerns about microtransactions enough by not increasing the grind (although some reports say Forza 5 does break this rule).  It also started out simple… pay $1 for this cool sword that you will unlock later but you can kick ass with now.  It was silly, we complained about it, we mentioned how things like this used to be called “cheats” and were free.  But we accepted them into our games and now they are becoming a bigger and bigger nuisance.

Shuhei Yoshida says that the grind in GT6 has not been increased to try to pull the player in towards the microtransactions.  This is good.  I am 100% in favor of microtransactions not hurting gameplay design.  To some people, however, this makes microtransactions Ok.  It doesn’t to me.  There are many different types of microtransactions and I of course own games that use them.  Assassin’s Creed IV evidently has a microtransaction to unlock a bunch of stuff instead of grinding your way to buying it with in-game currency.  I’m certainly not a fan of this type of microtransaction but it doesn’t b0ther me because it occurs once.

Why is once important? One of the main things I hate about microtransactions, even more than them impeding on gameplay design, is that they are designed to feed on human weakness.  Now, for most people, that’s fine.  We say “yeah the allure to spend money to unlock this car is there but I’m gonna hold off and grind.”  But if you have a mental illness… this isn’t quite so easy.  This is the dark secret about the free to play model that almost no one talks about and is truly disgusting.  We hear about these “Whales” that make F2P games profitable by spending thousands of dollars per month.  Do you think that these people are CEOs that make millions per year and are bored at the office?  No.  They aren’t. They are people with OCD.  They are people who don’t have control over their compulsions like many of us do.  This model is designed to play on these people in the same way the a casino and lottery is designed to play on those easily addicted.  It’s easy to stand back and laugh and go “what losers, they can’t control themselves, they deserve it!”  The thing is… they don’t.  I’ve worked in the mental health field for 15 years now and I’ve seen over and over how these types of things prey on the mentally ill.  F2P is basically a socialist system where the rich pay the most to support the entire ecosystem but instead of “rich” you can replace it with the word “mentally ill.”  One of my best friends growing up makes these types of games for a living and I asked him once how he felt about that.  His answer was “I try not to think about it.”

So if a game has a $3 unlock for a sword.  Fine.  Someone who wants to be overpowered can use it.  Someone who has OCD and needs it NOW can purchase it.  Not much harm is done.  If it’s part of the economy in which you can just keep going back to the well over and over to completely max out everything in the game – that’s where I draw the line.  It throws the balance of the game off whether people want to admit it or not (try playing GT6 online in the first week vs people who have spent 100s of dollars).  It preys on the mentally ill.  And even if it isn’t affecting the game design in GT6 – if it’s successful what’s to stop them from having it affect the game design in GT7?

I’ve played games with microtransactions and I will continue to do so.  I may be a hypocrite.  There is a line in the sand that I drew where everything on one side I can deal with and everything on the other can go fuck right off.  Is it arbitrary?  Not to me, no.  Will I break my own rules at some point?  Probably.  I’m weak, I know that.  The problem is that so do the people who are making these games.

Review: Super Motherload (PS4)

The day the PS4 came out in the U.S. I went to the digital store to see what indie games had made launch.  I saw Super Motherload and took a look at the pictures and thought “it kinda looks like Dig Dug but why is it $15?”  About a week later I decided to browse the Live from Playstation app and watched a Twitch stream of someone playing.  It kinda looked like Dig Dug but without any enemies.  I didn’t get it.  I didn’t understand how that could be fun. Finally, over the weekend while playing Battlefield 4 with a friend he said “It’s pure catharsis.”  Intrigued and feeling carefree with the help of some Jameson I hopped onto the store and bought it… and then I promptly went to sleep.

The following day I woke up and saw it there and decided to give it a go. I started digging.  Feels good.  The game isn’t a looker but it’s not ugly either.  The art style is simple, the graphics don’t attempt to do anything special. That’s not what this game is about.  I started digging and collecting metals and bombs and gems and then returning to the surface to sell them, repair and refuel, and then head back down.  It’s a fairly simple loop but I found myself in a trance.  You can buy upgrades that make it so you can carry more ore, or carry more fuel to dig deeper, or even expand your radar.

While not a technical showpiece for your shiny new $400 machine this game is sublime.

While not a technical showpiece for your shiny new $400 machine this game is sublime.

The game is a grind but it doesn’t ever feel like a grind.  In fact Super Motherload feels like it’s giving my OCD a massage.  I go down, find some awesome metals, I bring them back up, I upgrade, I go back down.  Then the music kicks in.  Oh man… THE MUSIC!  Sometimes spacey, sometimes lively, sometimes (but rarely) paranoid it always fit exactly how I was feeling.  At this point I knew I was in love with the game but I still couldn’t put my finger exactly on why.  I thought it was almost cynical, like a crappy iOS game, where it’s just playing on my desire to fill meters.  But then I dug a little bit deeper and I got a transmission from some miners down deeper about some not-so-pleasant things happening.  I instantly was intrigued.  I had to get deeper.  It still was the same loop and my OCD was getting the massage of a lifetime but I now had a purpose.

Next thing I knew I had been playing for four hours.  To say it’s the type of game where you say “ok just one more turn” is the understatement of the year.  I find it nearly impossible to quit the game.  I get up top and deliver my goods and get my money and see the autosave icon and think “I can qui…..  NO YOU CAN’T GO BACK DOWN THERE RIGHT NOW!!!”  It’s wonderful.  I am constantly happy while playing this game.  It is mostly relaxing as well; which is a nice change of pace from the action-heavy PS4 launch lineup.  The story does continue to unfold and intrigue as well which gives the game urgency from time to time.

I’ve probably played about 15 hours of Super Motherload in four days now.  I am completely hooked.  I’m still slightly perplexed by the $15 price point but I wouldn’t be able to argue that I haven’t gotten $15 worth of entertainment out of it.  Heck, I’ve gotten more entertainment out of it than most of the games I spent $60 on this year.  I haven’t died in over a dozen hours.  I’m never really in danger.  There’s no high score to accumulate.  But, gosh darnit, this game is such a joy to play that it doesn’t matter.  I would compare it to Flower in how at ease it puts me.  If I had to choose a genre to list it in I guess I would go with Puzzle game (?) or maybe Puzzle Adventure if that’s even a genre(?). There’s local multiplayer and a hardcore mode once you finish it, or so I’ve been told, I’m still so lost in the experience. I don’t understand what’s going on deep inside Mars or why I care so much and derive so much pleasure from trying to find out but I’m going to keep digging because I want to.  I really, really, want to.  It’s pure catharsis.

9/10