G.I. No

Nostalgia is a tricky thing.

A properly placed pop culture reference from the past can serve as a kind of Shibboleth. Like Darmok at Tanagra, people who get it, get it. And that’s great!

But too many references, too much nostalgia, and you run the risk of being stuck, of being an OK boomer who fetishizes the past and can’t break free of it (See: Ready Player One (the book), or the previous paragaph).

It is with this in mind that I point you to G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout, a third-person shooter released this week.

Operation Blackout lets you play as one of 12 characters from the fabled 80s cartoon franchise including: Scarlett, Destro and Roadblock. There’s PvP and co-op modes where you go on missions and unlike the cartoon, presumabley the laser bullets fired here actually hit people (though I’m not sure if a parachute automatically unfurls if your F.A.N.G. gets shot down).

One chapter in the game is entirely without words.

I haven’t played it, but I don’t imagine I will cough up the $40 for it (you could buy Star Wars: Squadrons for that). The graphics look last gen at best, and from the trailer, the action seems sluggish. But more importantly, I just don’t care and am not sure who this game is for.

Sure, I have fond memories of watching G.I. Joe cartoons after school, but I don’t want to re-visit them now (I will, however, Patreon the fine fellows at iFanboy to do so, because they are fantastic at it). I doubt any of my friends want to play the game in a co-op match either, so that leaves me with trying and unlock Storm Shadow on my own? No, thank you.

What’s kinda funny is that the this new G.I. Joe game arrives a week after John Rambo, another Cold War cartoon hero, shot his way into the latest Mortal Kombat.

I realize that there are a ton of older, gen x gamers out there (feel free to forward this newsletter to them). But sometimes it feels like the companies that hold this type of IP are just throwing it out there to retain their rights and eke whatever nostalgic dollars they can squeeze out of an almost-40 year old franchise.

in other words, game companies are stuck in the past. Perhaps they should just let the Joes cook up some pork chop sandwiches, and spend more time developing new ideas.

Get the [expletive] out!
Image via Ubisoft

Assassins Creed Valhalla Kills Off Side Quests

Ahhh, side quests.

The tangential bits of gaming that force you into unwanted conversations with randos who, in a panic, implore you to do things like gather up all the pigs that have broken out of their pen. Collect all 75 pigs, good traveler, and you will be rewarded with 17 drachmae and this ratty scarf.

If you’re sick of zig-zagging across vast feudal landscapes in order to level up and complete a game, then by Odin’s beard, Assasin’s Creed Valhalla has some good news for you.

As IGN reports in its final preview, Valhalla is taking an axe to sidequests:

There are still a ton of side activities, just not in the way that you might expect. Instead, when you synchronize a new part of the map, you’ll discover a bunch of dots colored yellow, blue, or white that pinpoint those activities.

The yellow dots correspond to a side activity that will reward you with some sort of tangible item: some gold, a new piece of gear, or a book of knowledge that either teaches or upgrades a skill. The larger the dot on the map, the more substantial the challenge and greater the reward. A large yellow dot, for instance, might correspond to a heavily guarded fortress with multiple large chests, while a smaller yellow dot might represent a single chest hidden behind a minor locked door puzzle.

We haven’t had a chance to try Valhalla‘s new system out, but anything that brings simplicity and focus to videogames should be a main mission for creators everywhere.

Image via PlayStation Blog

More Headlines

Ghost of Tsushima multiplayer and new game plus arrive today – I got bored pretty quick with GoT, so am intrigued to try out multiplayer. Hit me up on our 40 Bit Discord channel if interested in teaming up. Related: Hit me up for an invite to our 40 Bit Discord channel, if interested in meeting other 40 Bitters.

NBA 2K21 Uses PS5’s DualSense to Simulate How Tired Players Are – Neat trick, but I don’t need a videogame to simulate how tired I am. Zing! <adjusts tie> Still got it.

How does cloud gaming work? An explainer from Polygon if you’ve wondered how Google Stadia and Amazon Luna work.

How hitboxes work – If you’ve wondered how punches and kicks in fighting games work, and because, evidently I’m into explainers today.

Retro Experts Analogue Making A New TurboGrafx and PC Engine Console – Kotaku has the goods on the console, dubbed Duo, which can play “TurboGrafx-16, PC Engine, SuperGrafx, TurboGrafx CD, PC Engine CD-ROM², and Super Arcade CD-ROM² games.” So go rummage around to see if you still have any.

That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading.

Stay cool. Have a great summer. Class of ’90 rulez.

-Chris at 40 Bit

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