April TVGB Q&A / Special Inaugural Edition!

It’s new feature time here at That VideoGame Blog, and I’m proud to introduce a little ditty we like to call the TVGB Q&A. This is how it’ll work: each month, we’re going to randomly select a handful of writers from TVGB’s pool of deliriously attractive and talented wordsmiths and pick their brains with questions that touch on everything from hot topics in the industry to which game would most benefit from a legitimate nude code. Of course, we also want you guys to participate, so please don’t hesitate to fill up the comments section with your own unique brain dumpage.

Kicking off the inaugural TVGB Q&A is a question inspired by the fracas that erupted over Resident Evil 5‘s control scheme, AKA The Great “Why Can’t I Move and Shoot at the Same Time” Debate. Without further ado, here’s the Q:

What features have you always felt were missing from a particular game/series/platform?

Jeremy Hill: Gaming consoles today are some of the most powerful computing machines on the market. We’ve gone beyond the times where certain things were only possible on a PC. Take Unreal Tournament 3 for example. The Unreal Tournament franchise is one of the best, fast-paced multiplayer shooter series of all time, and it allows players to make their own mods and implement them into the game. When Unreal Tournament 3 was released on the PS3, it carried the ability to use PC-created mods on the console. This feature solidified the idea that consoles can do anything a standard PC can. I think console games are missing out on this feature and a lot more.

More from Jeremy and the gang after the break…

Console games are still dependent on save points and checkpoints in a level. Some games are generous about restarting you from a reasonable position if you die or quit the game, but other games still haven’t quite gotten it right. There is really no way to guarantee that an automatic save feature will please everyone; therefore, a quick save system should be put into all console games. Like in PC games, the ability to quick save anywhere will let players complete levels on their own time and eliminate the fear of thinking, “Oh man if I die now, I’ll have to start all over again.”

Taking in-game screenshots is another feature I can’t believe hasn’t become a standard practice by now. All consoles can support internal and external storage that can hold gigabytes of information. If we can have custom soundtracks, 16-person chat rooms, and chat across different games, why can’t I take a simple picture? If these current generation consoles will fully implement things the PC has been doing for ages, the lines between PC and console gaming would be a lot less blurred.

Matthew Razak: Actually, Jeremy hit on a point I was just thinking about when playing Tomb Raider on my 360. It wasn’t when I died that was annoying; it was when I had to quit unexpectedly and couldn’t save to a specific point — just the last check point. I remembered back when I played the first Tomb Raider on my PC and thought that while the new game obviously was far better in almost every other way, this was a step back. However, that’s not the first thing I would pick out as the most vexing thing missing from gaming or a game.

I would have to say that the greatest missing feature from a game is the lack of voice in the Zelda series. I know this is a bit cliche, but the series creates such a fantastic world, and it would be made so much better with actual voices in it. No, Link does not have to speak just because everyone else does. The same rules would apply if Zelda spoke out loud to him as they do when she speaks to him in text. For a series that does such an amazing job capturing an incredibly creative world visually (everyone remembers at least one section of a Zelda game like they played it yesterday), I don’t understand why Nintendo won’t step up to the plate on this. There is no way around it — talking would make Zelda a better game. Leave the monosyllabic grunts to Link, and give everyone else the voices they deserve!

Chad George: Since Jeremy stole my thunder with the save points, I will go in another direction and point out the lack of fan support by most publishers. Sure, there are the rare exceptions, such as Bungie, Criterion, and Valve, but for the most part the game is released and then nothing else is given to the buyer. Well, nothing for free. There is always the premium DLC to extend the life of the game. Imagine the sheer increase in sales if EA supported the consumer as much as it gouges them. We go and buy the game; is it really too much to ask that we get something thrown our way for free?

Ashutosh Chhibbar: Having viewed some of the incredible hacked Super Mario World levels created by talented amateurs, I really feel Nintendo has missed the boat with the 2D Mario series by not offering level editors and the ability to share creations with others. In the past, Nintendo has dabbled with this idea in the F-Zero and Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, but it’s been left far behind by Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet. Both the Wii and now the DSi are more than capable of being host to such content – EA is all set to release Boom Blox 2 with a level editor and the ability to share and download levels with absolutely no Friend Codes. If Nintendo could first offer such a feature in their 2D Mario games, then it could perhaps even allow access to the tools that created the levels in Super Mario Galaxy, although this may be asking for too much…

Evan O’Donnell: Ashutosh, your idea for a Mario level editor is so obvious, I can’t believe I haven’t thought of it before (or that Nintendo hasn’t already done it). That would be a perfect WiiWare or DSiWare experience. Even if they just put up assets from the NES Super Mario Bros., they could easily charge 1,500 Nintendo points and sit back and watch as the same wildly creative gamers who remade Contra inside LittleBigPlanet do things with Mario no one ever thought possible. How awesome would that be? I’m actually going to leave Mario alone, though — my beef (like Matthew above) is with the Zelda series.

Actually, since I’m a huge Zelda fan (currently enjoying Phantom Hourglass), beef is probably the wrong word. I just think that since the original Legend of Zelda for the NES, a true sense of adventure has been missing from the series. Despite being loaded with side quests, mini-games, and various other “stuff” to do, the games in the Zelda series have become increasingly linear and formulaic. I would love a Zelda game that just drops you into a vast world and only gives you vague hints about what to do next. A Zelda game where not every boss has a weak point that can be exploited by the item you collected in its dungeon. A Zelda game that’s as much about survival and ingenuity as it is rupees and heart containers. Link vs. Wild, if you will.