Letter from America

USgamer's Jaz Rignall reports on what's happening on our yeehaw sister site.

Hello again from across the pond. If you missed the first one last week, Letter from America is a regular weekly blog written by old gaming geezer Jaz Rignall, an ex-pat who runs Eurogamer's star-spangled American sister site, USgamer.net.

And we've certainly been spangling the stars this week. After spending most of the summer waiting for new games, a whole bunch of them came around the corner at the same time. The most notable - or at least the game that was rated the highest this week - was Gone Home, which we ended up giving a full five stars.

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Gone Home.

The game became a bit of a clarion call to the pseudo-intellectual chin-strokers, who leaped upon it as some kind of validation of games media as an art form. Which of course, it is not. Ultimately, it's clever, it's engrossing, but your feelings towards it will be dictated by how much you relate to its context and setting on a personal level. I played through it with little emotional resonance, while it nailed a good friend of mine right through his heart. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A game that ended up surprising me was DuckTales Remastered, which generated far more community response than any other review this week. It wasn't that anyone particularly disagreed with my criticisms in regards to the inane and intrusive plot that had been added to the beloved NES classic, it just seemed to trigger a huge wave of nostalgia. Which is understandable considering the American market. At the time of the game's release, the NES was absolutely dominating the landscape with over 90% market share, so pretty much anything on NES from that period will mean something to the vast majority of stateside gamers. Out here, the NES played second fiddle to the Master System, so far fewer remember the game. To be honest, I'm more looking forward to the new Mickey Mouse: Castle of Illusion, which I played at E3 and felt was looking very promising.

A couple of games that were released in the states this week that you mightn't have seen are Ibb and Obb on PS3, and SteamWorld Dig on 3DS. The former is a cute-looking, utter bastard hard two-player co-op platformer, while the latter is an old-school platform-digger that's really good fun.

Big news of the week was the multiplayer Call of Duty: Ghosts event, to which we sent our man Jeremy Parish, so that he could become a woman. Because for the first time ever, the COD franchise features female player characters. I'm sort of stunned it has taken this long, as indeed is our own Cassandra Khaw. What I'm most curious about is seeing whether this is in any way going to change the nature of the friendly knockabout joshing and japing the ever-felicitous COD player base is famous for.

Other than that, Wii U sales continue to suck badly, to the point where we wonder whether Nintendo will simply limp through this generation with a “cult” machine. I don't think there's any danger of the company going away, since 3DS is more than capable of keeping the lights on. But Nintendo clearly needs a bit of a rethink of its strategy if it's going to be anything other than a sideshow against the mighty Xbox One and PS4. Oh, and speaking of Xbox One - no week would be complete without a Microsoft reversal, and most cheered at the announcement that the machine will let users turn off the Kinect sensor.

To finish off, a couple of things we wrote that I though were really interesting were Jeremy Parish's retrospective on Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima's cult GBA classic Boktai, and Pete Davison's fun feature about the jump scare, which elicited some really good community comments.

Cheers!

Jaz Rignall is editorial director of USgamer.net, Eurogamer's new boy-howdy-rootin-tootin American cousin. Every week he will be updating you on what's new in the land of missing 'u's and serial commas.

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