Games Inbox: Who is the most popular video game character?

How long have you been playing Mario games?

Everyone knows who this is (Picture: Nintendo)

The Monday letters page is worried about Rocksteady after the failure of Suicide Squad, as one reader is unimpressed by Immortals Of Aveum.

To join in with the discussions yourself email gamecentral@metro.co.uk

Guaranteed win
The funny thing about who the most iconic video game character is, is that it absolutely doesn’t need a poll. Everyone knows it’s Mario and he’s more popular now than he’s ever been, to the point where nobody else comes close.

But it’s also an indication that most of the more serious characters aren’t that distinctive visually. Everyone from Naughty Dog games are just ordinary people, with not even any unique clothing. A lot of adult games are first person, so you don’t see them, and a lot of other times they either don’t have a personality (saying Agent 47 is the third most iconic character ever, above Sonic, is just ridiculous).

The problem is calling it most ‘iconic’ rather than just popular. Maybe a lot of people have heard of Agent 47 but there’s no way the average person on the street is going to recognise him over Mario or Sonic.
Focus

Proof of concept
As much as I’m enjoying Helldivers 2, I really worry about what it’s doing to Sony’s plan for live service games. I got the feeling they were ready to give it all up a few months ago and they’ve got a massive hit and yet it’s not by one of their first party studios. I think that’s only going to make them want to try even harder, now that they see it can be done by what seems at first glance to be a fairly ordinary game.

I have nothing against live service games specifically, but everything is going to end up as one then It’s a problem. Xbox has a pretty varied line-up at the moment, but we still don’t know what Sony is thinking or planning. I really hope there’s going to be a news blowout next month, hopefully form the new PlayStation boss, or I’m not the only one that’s going to end up putting my console in the attic.
Akira92

Previous experience required
I see that Suicide Squad is going to call it a day after its season five, which I’d assume would last into next year. They have to make these things in advance though, so it probably means they’ll finish work well before the end of this year. I really fear what will happen to Rocksteady after that.

I just checked and Suicide Squad had a peak audience on Steam of just 838 today. That’s so pathetic I can’t even imagine what it’ll be by next year. I’m not going to go on about live service games, but I will say that I just wish publishers would only use experienced developers to work on them.

Rocksteady were once one of the most talented developers in the world but what do they know about live service games? Now they’ve wasted nearly a decade making a complete flop and it’s sadly easy to guess what will happen to them after that.
Corpso

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Enjoyable grind
Just want to add my recommendation for Pepper Grinder. I picked it up after the positive GC review and comments in the Inbox and it’s great. I’ve never played Drill Dozer, so those comparisons don’t mean anything to me, but it’s a really clever and unique platformer with a lot of variety.

I really like the grappling hook and the lava levels, but the one where you’re racing trucks in the snow is even better. Just really clever ideas and some neat pixellated graphics. I’ve never heard of the developer (Ahr Ech) before and I don’t think they’ve done anything before but kudos to them and I will certainly be looking out for their next game.
Tristan

Slow start
I thought I’d download Immortals Of Aveum, as I’d heard the combat is quite fun… which it may be if I ever get there. Talk about bad first impressions! It looks sort of pretty but then the faces will be weird, and the voice acting is appalling.

And let me do something! Wandering around picking up vegetables at the start of a supposed first person magic shooter is so off the mark. Start with a tease of the magical badass I’ll become. I would usually champion the effort that went into making something, but not letting me skip your terrible cut scenes just made me bored and angry before I’d even really got playing.
Ron

Old before your time
I was inspired to write this, following the reading of a similar article about placing the PlayStation up in the attic at the age of 41. I think we are seeing a shift in the psyche and creation of game content which is leaving a lot of us feeling that games have lost their phenomenal aspect and in their stead they are being churned out as money-making software with little originality and mostly cosmetics. A prime example of this, is the saturated battle royale market.

As a mental health professional, I am concerned for the younger generation who are becoming addicted to these types of video games, which are focused on colourful graphics; pointless ‘updated features’; cortisol-pumping, dopamine-hitting short sharp addictive games which make me feel nauseous, stressed, and disillusioned every time I pick up a controller to play one. At 31, I grew up in the golden age of video games, with the Nintendo 64, Mega Drive, and PlayStation 1 ready at my (or my neighbours) fingertips. Games which are now cult classics and are being released as remakes or remasters.

Maybe it’s the simple process of aging, realigning of values, time constraints and better places to be that focus the aging mind away from entertainment and towards content. I’m agreed, but unsure. Regardless, the quality of games today do appear to be focused on churning out cash titles which exist purely to propagate their own market or games existing to hook the young and the vulnerable to believe that ‘insert cosmetics for popular culture trend here’ is the characteristic of a quality game.

Playing games in the 90s and 00s felt like the cusp of something, new, exciting and world building. Maybe that is the childlike wonder projected onto an empty medium, maybe it’s something more. With respect to modern games, titles like The Last Of Us, God Of War, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, even the elusive and practically dead franchise Kingdom Hearts still trigger my interest. But the vast majority of games are so predatory and empty, it is like walking into the slot machines and looking for the one with the shiniest handle.

Maybe I am getting old, but by far the most rewarding game I and my partner have played in the last 10 years has been a small development game Firewatch, which mechanically is a walking simulator with peaceful aesthetics, lovely music, and a gripping story. It had everything that makes an excellent game but the big budget. That and games like the Life Is Strange series focus on what I think captures the interest of gaming. Being that games reflect or reflected a life experience, a story, a grounding into the human psyche, and a mirror into another world. I haven’t placed my PlayStation in the attic yet, but I’m nearing the point.
Matthew

GC: The video games golden age was a decade earlier than you’re suggesting.

Same old wave
Great interview with Eímear Noone, GC. I’ve been to one of her concerts before and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was particularly interested in your comment about the lack of synthwave in big budget games, which now you mention it is strange.

Almost every triple-A game just has the same kind of orchestral soundtrack trying to sound like Hans Zimmer and while I do enjoy that in moderation it would be good if we had more variety. Also, I hope Nintendo never give up on the jazz riffs!
Aller

Good weekend
I have to say the quality of the Reader’s Features this past weekend where up with the best of them.

There where a lot of great points raised and a lot to be discussed.

To kind of address the issue of games becoming too expensive to make these days. I always found the attitude of gamers (a lot of them, not all) to be, dare I say it, highbrow and maybe even to blame.

Now before everyone goes off on a tangent and attacks me, hear me out first.

I was at work once and I was having a discussion with two guys about a game that had been out for about a year or so. One said to the other ‘it’s an old game now’. It made me think, this attitude doesn’t really happen in any other media, and we were talking about a game from the era of consoles we were all playing.

A book that has been out for a year isn’t necessarily considered old.

Neither is a film, although you might look for a knockdown price on a movie that has been out that long.

Albums can still be in the charts after a year or so.

The only conclusion I could draw was and, I’m guilty of this too.

Gamers will buy the very newest game especially if it has state of the art graphics. As if it is somehow breathing new life into their consoles.

This is slightly true as programmers manage to save space on the game through clever programming techniques and put the new found space into a new lick of paint on the graphics.

It doesn’t take long however for that same gamer to look for a better-looking game that justifies their purchase of the same console that ran the previous game.

Now, gamers going out and buying as many games as they can on release is not in itself a bad thing but dismissing a game because it is months old is.

This explains the fire sale attitude of publishers, it’s now or never and it better not be never. They need to make their money back fast and in most cases they have about two or three weeks before it starts tumbling down the charts.

I’m glad retro gaming is coming into fashion, there is so much good stuff out there. Not all of it is great, there will always be rubbish. I recently purchased a Coleco Donkey Kong tabletop game from 1981 for £100. I would seriously have to be seduced by a game today to pay that.

I think the answer is for publishers to step back, take a breather, and realise if they can put out a good game it doesn’t matter how polished the game looks. It’s nice to have those visuals but I think gamers are slowly catching onto substance over style.

That’s how we get out of this mess.

Behaviour breads behaviour and that all starts with the attitude towards it.
freeway 77

Inbox also-rans
Good news I read yesterday. Vlambeer, one of my favourite developers, makers of the forever-replayable Nuclear Throne are back, now solely owned by Jan Willem Nijman. Can’t wait to see what it releases.
Henry

If that Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic remake ever happens I’ll be shocked. None of the developers that have been attached to it have the experience necessary and it’s going to take them years to even get properly started.
Lorel

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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 and content.

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