The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page, February 11, 2022 – A big deal

The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page

Good afternoon everyone! We’re another week closer to the inevitable heat death of the universe, and as such it’s time to celebrate! I’m not sure what it’s time to celebrate, but I feel like we’ve all earned at the very least a coffee and a cake, and perhaps something a little harder if you’re in the mood for such things.

Don’t forget our mailbox is always open to you, not just on Fridays — drop us a line with the form at the end of every edition of the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page, or via the dedicated Letters Page and we’ll get back to you the following Friday. Ask us a question, tell us about something cool or just have a chat — we love to hear from you!

Anyway, it’s been a busy and exciting week, particularly with that Nintendo Direct we had — so let’s get right into this week’s mail and have a chat!

Original art by Hitoshi. Source

Is that it?

Dear Rice,

I know a lot of people are excited about the stuff that came out of the Nintendo Direct, but I feel like a lot of it was remakes, remasters and that sort of thing. Am I alone in feeling like that’s a lot less exciting than genuinely new and innovative stuff? Or stuff we’ve been waiting to hear about for ages, like Breath of the Wild 2 and Metroid Prime?

Alice


Hi Alice, and thanks for your contribution to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page. I’ve seen a few people ponder this over the last couple of days, and I touched on the reason why these remakes and remasters are particularly exciting in my piece on the Direct the other day, but it doesn’t hurt to go over the same ground again.

Basically the big deal here is not the fact that these games are remakes or remasters of classic games — though there’s definitely an argument to be made in favour of more affordable rereleases of games that are extremely expensive and/or difficult to collect these days. Rather, the big deal is that a number of these games have never been officially experienced by certain territories in the world.

Chrono Cross, for example, never made it to Europe, because Squaresoft/Square Enix at the time it released was in a weird place where they only really let us have mainline Final Fantasy games and the odd outlier here and there — even though these games had already been localised into English for the North American market. There’s a whole heap of absolute classics from that era that European players never got to see without importing them and jumping through the hoops required to get region-locked discs running on their European consoles: Parasite Eve (though we got the second one, weirdly), Xenogears, Brave Fencer Musashi — even Final Fantasy Tactics. And, of course, Chrono Cross.

Letters page: Chrono Cross
Chrono Cross

So that’s one reason; European players will be happy to be able to play Chrono Cross without either having to faff around with emulators, or make use of a modded system. (That or use “the pen lid trick” — which I’m sure at least some of you reading are old enough to remember.)

But perhaps the more significant thing about this array of Square Enix rereleases is that several games have never been available in English before. Live a Live in particular is a game that a lot of people have been hoping beyond hope would get localised at some point — and for it to be happening in the form of one of those lovely-looking HD-2D remakes is even better. On top of that, Front Mission has always had a cult following — plus mech-heads have been fairly starved of good eatin’ for a while — and thus this marks a welcome return for a classic series.

In other words, these games may not be “new” in the traditional sense, but there’s a significant audience for whom they actually are all new. And they are proof positive that good games are truly timeless — just because these games don’t have HDR 60fps open worlds with ray-tracing and haptic feedback doesn’t mean that they’re in any way lesser. The continued popularity of both the retro and indie game sectors should make that amply clear.

As such, I’d encourage you not to write these games in particular off as being “just remakes” — because them finally coming to English-speaking audiences at last is a sign that the industry is in a very different place to what it was in the ’90s. There’s now an understanding that there is indeed an English-speaking audience for games like this, whereas back then it was easy for developers and publishers to assume that there would be no market for them outside Japan.

On top of that, publishers like Square Enix now have significantly more resources at their disposal to throw at localisation like this, which might have been prohibitively expensive or complex to pull off back in the day. All those people you probably know playing FFXIV? You can thank them for at least part of this.

And hey, if you’re still not convinced — Xenoblade Chronicles 3!

Tormented brains

Dear Rice,

I started playing Tormented Souls recently and have been finding your guide very helpful. I got completely stumped by the puzzle with Caroline’s TV, though — it doesn’t seem to bear any relation to what you wrote! Help?

Rae


Hi Rae, and thanks for writing to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page. Looking into this, it seems like the developer changed this puzzle at some point, perhaps after too many people complaining about it being too hard!

Letters page: Tormented Souls

The solution is to check the child’s diary until you find a picture of a safe with the code 28436. You then need to use the television in the same way as a safe to make the combination: turn the knob right to 2, left to 8, right to 4, left to 3, right to 6. Except the TV doesn’t show numbers: it shows images that relate to numbers. The combination is right to yin-yang (2 halves), left to spider (8 legs), right to four-leaf clover (4 leaves), left to tricycle (3 wheels), right to dice (6 sides). After that things should unfold as previously described!

Thanks for bringing this up — we’ll make sure the walkthrough is updated so no-one else falls foul of this!

WiiUWiiUWiiU

Dear Rice,

I still have a Wii U, gathering dust as people like to say. I only have a few games for it, though, and your recent article about it got me thinking I should nab some more. Any suggestions for both Wii and Wii U games worth getting?

Aaron


Hey Aaron, thanks for your letter to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page. I’m glad Trent’s piece is convincing people to, as the saying goes, dust off their Wii U and give it another chance. Although a lot of its best titles have been ported to more recent and/or more successful platforms, there’s still a few exclusives worth fiddling around with.

Xenoblade Chronicles X is obviously the big one — and with each passing Nintendo Direct where that’s not announced for a remake, I begin to feel like that’s not going to happen. Besides, I still maintain that game’s map function is one of the best uses of the GamePad I’ve seen — it adds a really sort of “strategic” layer to the game that I very much like.

Outside of that, a slightly more obscure one that I’m rather fond of is Namco’s Tank! Tank! Tank! — this is, I believe, a port of an arcade game, but it makes for a raucous party game, particularly with its excellent use of the GamePad’s camera to plaster your face onto enemies and make silly player icons. There are lots of ways to play, too, including cooperative modes where you take on hordes of enemies and big bosses, as well as competitive party game modes. A particular highlight is one where one player controls a giant robotic King Kong-style monster, and the “tank” players have to take them down. A real delight.

Letters page: NES Remix

Digitally, there’s the two NES Remix games, which are not only excellent collections of some highly creative and silly dexterity-based challenges in their own right, they’re also a good means of experiencing an “abridged version” of some Nintendo classics. If you’ve always wanted to see the cool bits of the NES Zeldas and the original Metroid but can’t be arsed to play them all the way through, the two NES Remix games essentially allow you to play just the best bits as individual challenges. Kinda neat.

The Virtual Console on Wii U is also worth exploring while it’s still possible to buy games on there — remember that Nintendo are planning to shut down the ability to pay for things on there in “early 2022”, so you may want to jump in on that sharpish.

As for Wii games, there’s a whole bunch that I could rattle off — probably too much to cover in the space of a single Letters Page response! Off the top of my head, nab yourself copies of The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower if you can find them cheap — they came out around the same time as the original Xenoblade Chronicles and are also absolutely excellent RPGs.

Blast Works is great if you like shoot ’em ups, particularly the abstract ones by Kenta Cho such as rRootage. Boom Blox is an essential party game — and still one of the best physics-based games ever created. Boom Street (also known as Fortune Street) is a great virtual board game that includes both Nintendo and Dragon Quest characters. And the Trauma Center games are a reminder of a series that Atlus should really give another shot at some point.

Our sister site Retrounite has covered Wii and Wii U games on a few occasions — take a look at these pieces on the best cheap Wii games and the most valuable Wii games!


And that’s that for today. Hope you all have a lovely weekend — I will likely be enjoying more Shadowbringers, as well as perhaps trying to kick this troublesome Vampire Survivors addiction. I can stop any time I want, I’ll have you know. I just don’t want to.

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