All About Articuno76
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I've been playing Ninja Gaiden Sigma + for the Vita (for free now for Japanese PS+ members) and I have to say that the game is certainly showing it's age in terms of player-friendly design. This is at once feeling easier than both NG and NG: Black (both of which I played a lot of back on the XBOX).
The trouble NG is that in terms of player-friendliness the game hasn't really got it together with the times. Here is a short-list of some of the really strange issues the game has that struck me as baffling.
i. No retry option: When being bested by a boss the first thing I want to do is jump right back in for another go. NGS+ does not allow you to do this and instead boots you back to your last savepoint. You will then have to run back to the boss and watch the unskippable cutscene again. The only thing between me and the boss is a straight line and a door (I saved after clearing out the enemies near the save point). Everytime I die I have to wait for the load-time, run foward, open the door, watch the cutscene and then I finally get to play. This kind of game design does not make the game more challenging at all (It's not like I'm going to get lost on the way back to the door...).
ii. No checkpointing. Same as above. The game is already broken down into a series of small encounters (and enemies will only chase you so far) so checkpointing between them doesn't make much of a difference. If I defeat a group of enemies upon death I should be given the choice of starting again at a checkpoint that activated after killing them (with my health and inventory corrected to reflect my status at the time of crossing the checkpoint) or started back at the savepoint (and there should be a figure telling me how long ago that savepoint/what status I was at).
iii. Odd camera-work: The ideal camera for this game would be largely scripted. A narrow corridor with only room for one person to pass doesn't need the camera to be near-over-the-shoulder. A sideways on (2.5D style) camera would work much better. Scripted cameras have become a big thing this generation as event scripting has become more common. It's odd that in many cases NG is actually very linear and yet the camera needs some degree of baby-sitting.
The other issues I have with the camera include that it is pitched ever so slightly upwards when being pitched downwards would be far more useful. Camera rotation speed is also way too slow with no customisation options. All this makes taking in the location of your enemies harder than it should be (and I am guessing here that this was not the intent of the game developers).
iv. Accept/Cancel button reversal: This is likely a problem that has arisen because I am playing a Japanese game on UK hardware but the important thing here is it needn't have had to happen. In the game I use X as accept in menus...accept when interacting with objects in the world where the opposite is true. This is unnecessary. Make it consistent either one way or the other (or better yet, make it an option).\
Credit where it is due though. Using the D-Pad to change and use items is a nice touch. It would have been nice to go one step further and be allow to use it to change weapons/sub-weapons in addition to items (left cycles weapons, right cycles sub-weapons, up cycles items, down equips/uses last cycled article (which will naturally be highlighted).
The gist of this interview is that as men get powerful they get more liked and as women get more powerful they get less liked and accused of being bossy.
I think this is a gross simplication of the kind many women make that men can see as problemed from a mile away. There is a subtle, but very clear difference to men between a woman who is bossy and one who is powerful (and that difference may be much more subtle than it is with men. It would be unsurprising to find women frustrated because the disctinction is subtle). My last boss was a woman who I would not consider bossy at all and well respected. Ann Suu Kyi is prominent powerful political figure who is not considered bossy at all (and by all accounts many would consider her feminine at the same time). There is indeed a difference and I wish many women would stop to realise that instead of feeling victimised (and making themselves victims in the process).
The rest of the interview makes some very good points about people's internal worlds (feeling like an imposter). I do however feel that when she makes the statement about women feeling the effects of 'being a fraud' or fretting over their choices and 'men being fine' she is well off the mark.
Being a man myself (and having male friends who I've known for years and been through a lot with and so finally pryed them open wide enough to tell me) I can state that men's feelings of insecurity are very, very real. We are just exceptionally good at hiding them (often even from ourselves).
When she makes statements like 'men are fine' that can in an of itself be taken as another one of those statements that makes men feel further compelled to retreat further into their tough guy image. All the while the number of male heart attacks and suicides (which are often attributed to men not being able to show their weaknesses or confide in anyone because it forces them to choose between themselves and success) continue to climb.
Men have a whole world of hurt and the reason we get so butt-hurt over women voicing their problems is because we know we will never be able to do the same without cashing in our masculinity (which for a man, is everything, the way he is perceived and how sucessful he is depends on it). We see women able to capitalise what is essentially 'being a women' to improve their situation and we know that we can't do the same. We know that we won't be understood. And even if we are we learnt long-ago that big boys don't cry and to take action...sometimes I believe that that is actually correct, sometimes I don't.
The point is. Looks are extremely deceiving. Especially when only looking at powerful/influential men who most certainly do not make up the majority of any organisation.
Here are a few things the Vita could do with:
i. I should be able to press the reception icon in the top corner to instantly toggle wireless on/off. It's simple, elegant and removes a few steps from what is one of the most common contrivances I put up with. Heck you should be able to touch and drag that omnipresent black bar down to reveal the settings app functionality (Android style). It doesn't need its own application.
ii. When viewing the manuals for PSP games I should be able to turn the Vita on it's side and view the manual pages in portrait mode (PSP manuals are designed to be read that way). We already know that the Vita can gyrotate images so it would be nice to see it do it here.
iii. Another way to take pictures. Being able to take pictures is nice and all, but hitting Start/Select often means an in-game action occurs which obscures the photo we want to take. How about changing the way the home button works:
Tap = photo
Double-tap = jump to home screen
Hold = settings (the length of time needed to bring up this menu should also be shortened as there is no need for it to be so long. As long as a tap and a hold aren't being confused that is fine).
Naturally, we should be able to customise these.
iv. Instant volume muting. Press both the volume buttons at once for an instant volume mute. Press either of them again to un-mute.
v. An option to remove the game-card reading upon boot-up. Many people simply keep a card in their system for convenience whilst they are playing games stored on memory. It is annoying to have the system freeze for 2 seconds everytime I turn it on. How about changing this so that the card is read only when I attempt to open the corrosponding game/manual? Again, the player could be given choice over when they want this read to happen.
vi. Have icon arrangement save to the system memory instead of the memory cards. It is annoying to have the icons go all over the place each time you change a memory card.
Future Vita Iterations:
vii. Future iterations of the Vita should include a little more memory to accomodate the seamless background implementation of applications like Skype and Facebook. The mail client isn't all that useful if it isn't always-on.
viii. A future Vita would do well to include the PS4-style share button for instant sharing of pictures (auto-upload to the tied FB account done seamlessly in the background. When done/failed the notification manager can give us a heads-up).
ix. Get rid of the contours around the buttons and sticks as all they are good for is getting stuff stuck inbetween them. They don't even help the system aesthetically.
x. Change the type of touchscreen to one that works. I have a HTC One S which has a screen easily on par with the Vita's in terms of colour, response time and deep inky blacks. And that screen doesn't have a touch screen that sucks. When playing Virtue's Last Reward I felt pangs of regret over having not played the 3DS version instead because of how bad it is. Something about the Vita touch screen also invites rainbow-smudge marks (something I almost never see appear on my phone).
xi. Move the speakers. The speakers are in the exact position where dual-stick users are likely to place their thumbs. Quite how this was overlooked is a little flabbergasting. I have to admit that I do sometimes accidentally blot the speakers out. Those speakers would do better to be placed above the d-pad/facia buttons.
xii. USB3.0 support. Seriously. It's 2013 and I have a lot of digital content I'm shuffling around (not helped by the fact that memory cards are prohibitively expensive or the fact you can't move digital games/corrosponding save files around independantly of each other).
xiii: The USB connector that connects to the power-supply on the plug. This is a really elegant solution. But did we really need that special proprietary connector? It's not like (as I have mentioned above) it is a special high-speed interface. It's just USB 2.0 in a different shell. Drop it for a universal USB3.0-to-USB3.0 mini. Saves space on the system, makes replacements easier and of course we can get a longer charging cable replacement quite easily.
xvi. Developers should build in the functionality to move save games between/on/off game and memory cards. Or maybe this can be something Sony can bake into the firmware/content manager?
xv. Analog sticks with more throw. The current analog sticks are a little imprecise because of how small they are. A new system design (provided it doesn't get thinner) could resolve this by having the stick-well be larger/deeper.
xvi. Magnetic sliding door for the game-card bay. The current door is cheap and flimsy feeling (though admittedly you would have to try very hard to break it clean off) and a little fiddly to undo. A slide-and-drag mechanism would be easier to open. A magnet locking system would also help fight wear-and-tear on the mechanism because even if the door/slide-rail wears down the powers of magnetism will not.
The other stuff that could be changed and improved (screen brightness, different memory card types) I won't touch upon here. Just stuff I felt could be implemented. The first 6 points in particular look like they could be implemented with a firmware update.
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