Greetings, denizens of Eurogamer. Your regular epistolary pal, Jaz Rignall, is off taking a vacation in Hawaii - I believe that's the America equivalent of going on holiday to the Canary Islands? While the rest of us shiver beneath a blanket of snow, he's sitting on a blanket on the sand beneath a big umbrella sipping a fruity drink that contains a much smaller umbrella, like some fractal equation of total relaxation. This means he's much too busy to bother with his weekly column, so you'll have to settle for a letter from me, an actual American.
Don't be afraid. I promise to keep the safeties latched on my expansive personal collection of large-bore firearms.
I know Jaz usually creates some sort of narrative to pull together the disparate threads of his letters to you, but I'll be honest: I'm totally stumped to come up with any kind of connective ligament to bind this week's gaming news. We're in the depths of the mid-winter doldrums, that quagmire between last fall's releases and the news that begins tumbling forth around the time of Game Developers Conference in mid-March. Ain't much doing at the moment, I'm afraid.
Not surprisingly, Nintendo's misery dominated a lot of gaming news bandwidth again. It isn't just that there's so little in the way of other news; the enormity of Nintendo's troubles makes the situation worth discussing. The good news for Nintendo fans - and bear in mind that Nintendo loyalty runs pretty deep in the States, since they didn't make a hash of the 8- and 16-bit eras in America the way they did in the UK! - is that the company seemingly has no intention of departing the console market.
Still, I can't help but feel president Satoru Iwata's conviction that everything will be fine if only they can convince the world that the Wii U GamePad is amazing seems a bit naive. On the other hand, I think they definitely have the right idea in extending their business beyond the boundaries of video games and into areas like merchandising and education. A big part of why people never talk about Sony and Microsoft going third-party even though their console businesses often create massive losses is that those companies are diversified and don't have to rely on just games. Admittedly, that has its downside, too - Sony's non-gaming losses could end up spoiling things for PlayStation, and Microsoft's bosses apparently want to cut the Xbox business loose altogether. There's just no winning.
I do appreciate the fact that while Nintendo struggles to build consumer confidence, Microsoft is being weird across the board like they just don't care anymore. They just bought the Gears of War property from Epic for obscene amounts of money, seemingly undeterred by the fact that no one actually played last year's Gears of War: Judgment. I've seen people tossing around comparisons between this purchase and Microsoft's acquisition of Rare, which isn't the most encouraging parallel. I know Rare is a British national treasure and all, but I'm pretty sure all the treasure-making happened before the buyout. But don't worry, Microsoft has a great plan for ensuring there's a solid player base for next-gen Gears; they're offering a $100 credit toward an Xbox One if you trade in your old PlayStation 3, because taking the high road is just too much trouble these days.
In the here and now, Mike Williams and I put the new version of Tomb Raider through its paces. Mike still loves the game, while I still have reservations about the direction Crystal Dynamics has taken. However, I think everyone agrees that Bravely Default is the bee's knees, in part because its creators cheerfully abandoned the "Final Fantasy" name in order to do their own thing. Yes, we're only just now getting Bravely Default in the US. I'd complain, but I've been enjoying Shin Megami Tensei IV since July, so that would be lousy of me.
If the travails of console wars and the vagaries of release dates get you down, just remember that the real future of gaming lies with PCs anyway. I mean, have you seen EverQuest Next? Mike spent a few days out in California getting some quality time with the game, and his excitement is infectious. Normally "infectious" isn't what you want to hear about a guy currently on a cross-country flight, but it doesn't matter anyway. The La Mulana 2 Kickstarter has reminded us that we're all mortal and will die futilely in the end. And in case you missed the point, Dark Souls 2 is more than happy to draw a line under it.
Too bleak? Well, we always like to draw comfort from the past. The whole USgamer staff sat down and mused about which 10 classic games we'd like to see remade - you know, old games we love but that could probably stand some freshening up. And the Daily Classics project continues apace, recounting a different golden oldie each day of the week. This time around, we looked at the ways the 2D platformer genre evolved throughout the year 1984. But if you want to go really retro, Pete Davision has put together a great list of board game adaptations of video games. I have to say, they've come a long way from the days when "playing Pac-Man" for me consisted of moving a plastic piece around a board "eating" marbles.
And I think that's about it for this week. Thanks for reading. Did I break the website? Oh god I thi
Jeremy Parish is senior editor of USgamer.net, the American version of Eurogamer.