Games Inbox: Does Tomb Raider need another reboot?

The Monday Inbox hopes that the first Nintendo Direct of 2021 is imminent, as one reader is curious about the Analogue Pocket console.

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Lara’s charm
It was Lara Croft’s birthday on Sunday. Not the anniversary of Tomb Raider, that’s in October, but the actual fictional birthday of the character. Yeah, it was Valentine’s Day, which is pretty cheesy, but that’s how the old games used to be and to be honest I miss their attitude, rather than taking everything so seriously.

Although they haven’t shown anything yet, Crystal Dynamics has announced a new game and they’ve said it’ll ‘unify’ the classic and reboot timelines. I’m not sure what this means exactly as the reboot is meant to be an early Lara, which I don’t think really contradicts anything we’ve seen as the times when we saw her younger before she was barely a teenager – unless I’m forgetting one along the way.

My hope from the new game is that unifying the timelines also means unifying the tones, so that we get a wisecracking Lara and more weird stuff like dinosaurs and monsters. The new games had ghost samurai and whatever but that was both too much and not enough as far as I’m concerned. I like the idea of Lara being an older character, maybe 50ish, which should make her super experienced but also probably quite world weary and sarcastic.

Tomb Raider used to be my favourite series and although the reboots weren’t bad, they liked the charm of the early ones and that’s what I’m more concerned about than even the gameplay or story. I know some people are calling for a new reboot but I don’t think it really matters. Nobody really cares about the stories, it’s all about Lara herself. So call it a reboot or not, just make it obvious we should call it Tomb Raider.

Mario wins again
Sony’s stock issue’s is Nintendo’s gain. After three fruitless attempts to get a PlayStation 5 I decided that my last attempt would be it until they were readily available. If unsuccessful I would use the money to finally pick up a Switch.

Now computer hardware is sold out across the board be it PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nvidia graphics cards, or the Nintendo Switch so I wasn’t hopeful of getting a Switch. But to my surprise Argos had stock (the only place that did) of the newly released Mario-coloured Switch, which comes with a carry case and screen protector for £10 cheaper than everywhere else and only £10 more than the sold-out-everywhere standard model. Also, good news for anyone waiting on a Switch Pro, as my purchase pretty much guarantees it will be announced imminently.

A regular Underboxer/Inboxer contributor has already sent in a letter saying he was able to get a PlayStation 5 from Argos in their latest stock drop, due to how they seem to distribute their stock locally rather than centrally, assigning stock to be collectable only from regional stores. The unit I ordered isn’t available for home delivery, click and collect only. So bravo to Argos for at least trying to distribute their stock more evenly.

It’s been ages since I’ve had a Nintendo console. I’ve been missing a bit of that Nintendo charm and magic in my gaming. I got it with Ring Fit to burn off some of the Christmas calories. I’ll trade some stuff in to get Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Nintendo Switch Online for some retro goodness. I’ve been wanting to play the Switch port of Virtua Racing for ages. The Switch is great for indies and I’m looking forward to some Into The Breach sessions on the sofa in handheld mode.

Gentlemen’s agreement
For me, the best update that Nintendo could’ve made to Super Mario 3D World is a simple one – the option to remove the scoring at the end of every level! Can I ask if this is possible in the new version?

I’m sure a lot of people either enjoy it or simply don’t care, but it basically spoilt the original for me. Playing with my young nephews, I had to purposefully not crush them. I enjoy humiliating children as much as the next man, but after a while it’s no fun for anyone.

Likewise my fiancée. It’s the kind of game that appeals to her, a non-gamer, as a relaxing way to spend time together. But again, it just creates a weird dynamic involving me always making sure i dont collect too much stuff so as not to eclipse her score. I cant just relax and play

When playing with my fellow Nintendo fanboy friends, it turns what I would rather be a leisurely evening into a fiercely competitive, white knuckle Cat Mario Battle Royale.

Let me switch it off!

GC: Couldn’t you all agree not to look when it’s shown?

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Analogue console
I’m hoping to get my call up soon from Panic to eventually get my hands on one of their new Yellow Playdate handheld consoles.

However, GC, I was just wondering if you’ve ever heard anything regarding the other new upcoming retro handheld being released this year from the Seattle based company Analogue, called the Pocket? Apparently it’s due out this May guys?

GC: We have to admit we’ve never heard of it before. But it does look pretty cool on the website.

Bad luck
Not sure I’m totally on board with Super Mario 3D World. Obviously there’s a lot to like but man the controls are far too skittish.

The 3D-ish environments don’t lend themselves to the over-sensitive adjustments you’re constantly having to make. Reminds me of older generation platformers where you relied as much on luck as you did skill. Yet to try Bowser’s Fury but hopefully it’s a bit less rage inducing.

GC: That was not our experience of the game, we found it very precise.

Instant warning
I was wondering if a GameCentral reader could give me advice on following stock for the PlayStation 5 on Discord? I have created a Discord account on my PC and downloaded the app for my android Samsung mobile and logged in but how do you set it up so an alarm goes off when the PlayStation 5 disc version is in stock? I can’t work out how to do this.

Thank you, if someone can advise.
Andrew J.

Street Fighter for all
With Sony seemingly apathetic towards the Japanese market this generation, I’m hoping this means they won’t pay for Street Fighter exclusivity again.

I don’t want to suffer another generation without a mainline Street Fighter game. I already suffered enough during the N64, GameCube, and Wii years…
ttfp saylow (gamertag)/SW-5758-6539-2383
Now playing: Dragon Quest 11

So long, king Bowser!
Thanks for your review of Super Mario 3D World. I headed straight for Bowser’s Fury and while I agree that it shows a lot of potential, I’m not overly sold on the mechanic of having to wait for Bowser to appear to access some of the cat shines that are locked behind blocks only he can smash. Like yourselves, I found that it wasn’t entirely clear when he was going to pop up and so it seemed a very un-Mario gimmick to stand around waiting for several minutes in order to 100% an area.

It’s a huge compliment to the otherwise great design to say that in some cases, waiting is the only option because you’re never more than a few steps away from getting wrapped up in doing something entirely different.

I know there are a lot of questions about what Nintendo do next. But between this, Animal Crossing, and Ring Fit Adventure I’ll be eternally grateful for the light that they’ve brought during what has been an incredibly bleak time.
Craig (SW-5396-2105-3230)

GC: We never really waited for him, just remembered where to go back when he did turn up. It was waiting for him to go away, especially in the endgame, that we found occasionally frustrating.

Just good friends
Princess Peach always gets kidnapped by Bowser are we sure? Somehow, she always ends up in Bowser’s castle. Isn’t the kidnapping really a case of Mario’s delusion that he can’t admit Peach has left him for someone else? In the Super Mario games, we are really playing Mario’s psychosis.

Also, Bowser Jr.’s mother has never been identified? Did Bowser do a paternity test to find out the Koopalings are not his offspring? As they were originally his kids but now it’s just Bowser Jr.
Alek Kazam

GC: Bowser Jr. refers to Peach as ‘momma’ in Super Mario Sunshine, although Bowser later denies it. But yeah, there’s definitely something going on between those two.

Short list
Now Super Mario 3D World is out there (again), you’d think Nintendo would feel the need to start discussing their plans for 2021 more openly. But I was discussing this with other GC readers and while Nintendo’s release schedule is rarely out of conversation, I feel like the following retrospective detail isn’t always appreciated.

So here’s a summary of what I understand to be the past two full years’ worth of Nintendo first party game announcements that aren’t ports, remakes or remasters.

Paper Mario: The Origami King – announced May 2020
Ring Fit Adventure – September 2019
Brain Training – September 2019
Sequel to Zelda: Breath Of The Wild – June 2019
Super Mario Maker 2 – February 2019
Box Boy! + Box Girl! – February 2019

The above excludes Jump Rope Challenge and Bowser’s Fury but I don’t regard that as overlooking or cheating, hopefully for obvious reasons. The question now is will this anaemic trickle of first party news continue for much longer or does it indicate how imminent a well-overdue proper announcement or reveal is?

I mean don’t get me wrong, for all those who never played all the other stuff that isn’t strictly new, there’s been some decent content to look forward to but the above would just about qualify for a successful single event, not two years’ worth of events when it’s meant to be the peak period of one of your most successful ever machines.

GC: It depends on your definition of first party, as they published more games than just that, even if they didn’t make them themselves. Also, HAL Laboratory, makers of Box Boy! + Box Girl!, aren’t owned by Nintendo, so are technically second party. However, Intelligent Systems, who made Fire Emblem: Three Houses in 2019, are so closely tied to Nintendo they’re more like 1½ party. Luigi’s Mansion 3 could retroactively be regarded as first party, as Nintendo later bought developer Next Level Games.

Inbox also-rans
Just a couple of retro-ish questions for your goodselves. When can we expect a review of the upcoming Ghosts ‘N Goblins? Also, any firm release date on the remastered Alex Kidd In Miracle World? Thanks in advance.

GC: We will be reviewing Ghosts ‘N Goblins Resurrection, but it’s not come in yet. Alas, Alex Kidd In Miracle World DX doesn’t have a release date, but it is still down for this year.

Really enjoyed the Hot Topic at the weekend and didn’t realise how old some of these franchises were. I’d never heard of The Elder Scrolls until Oblivion, which was number four!

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Austin, who asks what game do you remember thinking would never be beaten in terms of graphics… and now looks laughably outdated.

I can be any game from any era or format, as long as you thought at the time that graphics were never going to get any better (or at least not by much). Was the thought justified and did the game in question prove to be an important milestone in gaming or just one you happened to be impressed by?

Are you still regularly impressed by video game graphics or do you worry that they’ve reached a plateau and are now only slowly improving? What do you think of next gen visuals so far and what’s impressed you the most?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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