Every kid wanted to be a ninja back then. I wanted to be a ninja back then. Or at least get a couple of throwing stars.
Years later in high school, shadowy assassin dreams still unfulfilled, my Asian Studies teacher, Mr. Utsumi, brought up ninjas in class for some forgotten reason. He was not a fan. “You kids love ninjas.” He admonished us, dead serious I might add, as he continued, “But a ninja has no honor. They are not samurai.”
I thought of Mr. Utsumi when playing Ghost of Tsushima (which I learned while playing is pronounced TSOO-shemah, not tsoo-SHEE-mah). In it, you play Jin Sakai, a lone samurai warrior whose army has been wiped out by an invading Mongol horde. Armed with a sword and a burning desire for revenge, you set about on a massive quest to gain allies and rescue your captured uncle.
There is slashing. Lots of slashing. The sword moves (many of which I have yet to unlock) are pretty incredible with the action feeling very visceral. And there is a ton of depth and opportunities to level up your abilities.
The game plays more like an epic movie with well thought out adventures, deep emotion and flashbacks that have actual purpose. These are punctuated by intense battles that involve long distance and close quarter combat.
Mr. Utsumi would be proud… at first, at least. Jin starts off following a strict code of honor, only to relax those notions as he literally stabs people in the back.
Ghost is also very different from the games I’ve been playing lately (Vermintide II, Overwatch). It is deliberate and intentional. It takes as long as it takes. While it flows, it is not bang-bang move, bang-bang, move. It is about the journey.
So bear that in mind when deciding whether to buy the game. It’s going to take you awhile to get through it and you have to do it alone, which is kind of a bummer.
Perhaps this is the pandemic-and-never-going-out-to-socialize talking, but the one thing I wish I had while playing Ghost of Tsushima is a friend to talk with while riding horses across the plains, or slicing and dicing enemies, or figuring out exactly how do I parry again?
Thankfully, a co-op mode is coming with an expansion later this year. I look forward to that because as engaging as it is to hack my way through feudal Japan, it would be more fun if there was someone there to do it with.
Maybe Sho Kosugi is available.
Let’s stay in Japan for one more segment, shall we? This live action take on videogames in Tokyo doesn’t have any stabby-stabby with a sword, but it is an amusing 57 seconds and worth a watch.
Everybody Loves Ray Tracing
If you’ve been eyeballing the forthcoming next-gen consoles, or been wanting to upgrade your graphics card as you build your own PC, you may have heard the phrase “ray tracing.”
Is it important? Do you need a ray tracing? Is it different from tray racing? Wait, did I just invent a new sport called tray racing?
Well, if you’ve been curious and afraid to ask, this is precisely why 40 Bit exists. In a nutshell, ray tracing promises to make games even more realistic through advanced lighting capabilities. Here’s a pretty good explainer from Tom’s Guide:
Think of it like this: Light is fired out of a camera and hits a reflective surface, which then bounces light onto nearby glass, which then refracts the light onto a nearby wall. Ray-tracing effectively renders all these paths, as well as the light’s journey from the camera. This is similar to how light bounces off of surfaces and into our eyes, allowing us to see. And this is all done in real-time, rather than being pre-rendered in a single frame.
Here’s a video to demonstrate (it’s not as funny as the Tokyo one above):
At the end of the day, all the fancy lighting in the world won’t turn a bad game good, but it will make it more good looking (like you!). At least now you know. And knowing is half the battle. And one to grow on.
A couple of weeks back we launched a fancy 40 Discord channel. There is a small but mighty contingent on there right now talking about videogames. The only thing missing is you!
It’s free, and the more people join, the more fun it will be and the greater the chances of you finding someone to play Ghost of Tsushima with when the expansion comes out. Send me a note and I’ll send you and invite.
Competitve videogame speed running is a thing. Though Bloomberg reports that the Games Done Quick competition has had to go online because of the pandemic. But, someone finished The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 20 minutes, so, you know, still more entertaining than baseball.
NME: Game over: what happens when gamers get old? Hey, that’d make a great topic for a fun, weekly newsletter.
Stay cool, have a summer.
Class of ’90 rulez.
-Team 40 Bit