Monday, September 12, 2011

The great downloadable games Swindle.

With a quite astonishingly low total of THREE reviews on Metacritic, you could be forgiven for not having heard of GO Series: Portable Shrine Wars before now. And even if you have heard of it and read all the reviews, you would probably be no wiser as the scores for it vary quite drastically. IGN gave it a rather splendid 9/10, whilst at the other end Eurogamer gave it a derisory 4.

I'm not going to give it a score, because to be frank I think scores for reviews are about as much use as pockets in your wellies. Besides which, the rather excellent trailer tells you everything you need to know :

So, got that? You steer the shrine, collect guys to speed up, shoot them at the other shrines, or bump into them or even jump on them. You can see within about half a millisecond if this sort of thing will even remotely appeal to you. (Hint: It should.) You can also see that it is hectic, colourful, and available only on DSi/3DS as part of the DSiware range. What you can't see is the price, which stands at 200 Nintendo points. In real money, that translates to two of your local currency units in the US or Euro zone, and even less in the UK. So, $2/€2/£1.80.

That is RIDICULOUSLY cheap! That is down at the App Store "Did I even just pay for that?" price point of outright impulse buy essentiality. The kind of price that, were it put on sale on Steam for, you would drop sight unseen just because "Well, it's cheap, innit?"

And yet, because it is DSiware, there is seemingly this assumption that it is going to be awful. That, even at such a mere slip of a price point, it will still not be worth the money. Or, worse yet, that it is going to be some casual nonsense that no real gamer worth his/her salt should be bothering with.

Well, you know that assumption? As a great man once said, it makes an ass out of you and umption.

I could attempt to wax lyrical and extol the games virtues with some clever and inventive wordplay. I could layer the hyperbole on so thick and fast that you are left dizzy reading it, which is pretty much how the game makes you feel when playing it and is therefore exactly the kind of thing I do when reviewing a game. I could appeal to your better nature and talk about how downloadable titles from smaller studios need your support.

I'll not do that. I shall instead just reiterate that it is TWO FUCKING HUNDRED NINTENDO POINTS. At that price, it is an insult to not pick it up.

But, all this ignores the real issue. Which is, just why is this gem of a game at this gold-encrusted gem of a price being ignored by so many of the mainstream gaming websites? Eurogamer may have covered it, but they chose to stick it on page 3 of a "Roundup" which suggests before you even read that nothing in there is worth your time. IGN, to their credit, review more or less everything that gets released. But where are the reviews from Gamespot, EDGE, 1UP, Kotaku, GameTrailers, etc.? Why are they all actively choosing to ignore it?

It can only be because it is a DSiware title, and that means there is a stigma attached to it. "Downloadable titles on the Nintendo consoles are for casuals, therefore we won't review them." would seem to be the mantra chanted religiously by all the big sites who are happy enough to review Call of Duty map packs. (Which, incidentally, usually cost five times what this game costs.)

It gets worse if, dear reader, you were to try and find a review for newly released Wiiware title "Aya and the Cubes of Light" to help you to decide if you should part with 1000 Nintendo points. Because, to date, not a SINGLE WEBSITE has bothered to review it. Or, to be more accurate, not a single website that Metacritic deem worthy of including. Which is a shame, because it looks like a genuinely interesting concept, but one that is doomed before it even got off the ground. Whereas 17 websites to date have felt the need to tell us how predictably piss-poor Lucha Fury is.

What makes things all the more unbelievable is the way that all these big sites are geared towards getting hits above and beyond actually catering to the readers in any way imaginable. They review the Call of Duty map packs not because their readership demands it, but because they know that they will gain even more hit counts from these additional visitors, which all makes for good numbers to give to the advertisers. Of course, the fact that most of these visitors are of the non-returning variety is swept under the carpet. Never let the truth get in the way of a good statistic, eh?

The problem, as I see it, is that the DS is far and away the biggest selling console available today. And in 2nd place, we have the Wii. Which means that websites are not catering to what may well be their biggest audience by a considerable margin, and are doing their "hardcore" followings a disservice by not featuring the great and the good when it does arrive on the Nintendo services. I won't pretend for even one second that everything available in the DSistore or e-Shop is fantastic, but I know for a damn sure fact that it isn't all atrocious, either.

Gamers, you deserve better. Your websites are not working hard enough to show you the good stuff out there. All they ever show you is the marketed stuff, the stuff they get for free, and the stuff the publishers tell them to show you. When absolute bollocks like Hole in the Wall Kinect manages to garner more reviews than the GENIUS that is Portable Shrine Wars, then something is very rotten in Denmark. Very, very rotten indeed.

Once more; TWO FUCKING HUNDRED NINTENDO POINTS. And, dat trailer! Go buy it; you might just save the internet.


  1. The DS might well have the largest platform, but how many people with one are aware that DSiware even exists?

    I'd wager very few.

    Nintendo does such a piss poor job of promoting it's services that chances are most people arent even aware they CAN download games for their DS, let alone where to go to find reviews of things. I'd be interested to see some statistics on how many people that own a DS have actually downloaded anything at all.

    And it's this that prevents websites from doing reviews for them: Why review something when there's next to no target audience?

  2. The audience at most major games websites know of DSiware, though, and it is this exact audience that are being ignored. You generally only find the reviews on smaller Nintendo-specific websites, which are exactly the kind ot not turn up in the first page of google searches.

    It seems to me that the big boys are missing a trick. Just take a look at how many views the Animal Crossing threads have at to see what I am talking about.