#69: Nice


I am slammed with consultancy work, my brain is a mess because I am only drinking water for a month and have terrible caffeine withdrawal, and ‘tis a quiet day out there for news. Let us do something different today; perhaps a little fun. In honour of the hallowed integer, herewith some videogame things I think are nice.

Parries. In my younger days I was all about the precise timing, the high risk and high reward, of parry systems in such games as Third Strike and Bayonetta. These days, older and slower and always so very very tired, I am increasingly appreciative of games whose parry windows are large, but whose effects scale according to how well you time the input. I particularly enjoyed this idea in Ghost Of Tsushima: time it too soon and you simply block the attack, but get it right and you don’t just knock them away for a riposte, but get some health back too. Far less risk if you get it wrong, way more reward if you get it right. Dad approves.

Drifting. Not the thing Forza Horizon calls drifting; that is not drifting, I am afraid. I’m talking about Burnout, about OutRun 2, about Ridge Racer: about the car being almost perpendicular to the road round a sweeping right-hand bend, then swinging suddenly through 180 degrees to do the same around the left-hander. The sort of thing that a passer-by would think insane and dangerous, and they would shout and I would shout back, ‘This is the proper way to drive, actually! The tracks have been explicitly designed around it!’, and that would be them told. I miss drifting.


Pump-action shotguns.

Indie games that, while being very obviously about feelings, do not feel the need to make that fact screamingly apparent to you while you play. Celeste is the standard-bearer for this, I think, but I got a similar vibe playing Unpacking yesterday. It is on Game Pass and just about everything else, I think, and it is an absolute treat. If you take one thing away from today’s edition, it should be: please play Unpacking. If I’m honest it’s the only reason I wrote this bit. I think the rest of it is a bit of a reach.

Shortcuts in FromSoftware games. I think perhaps this files under ‘relief’ rather than niceness, per se, but come on. Kicking that ladder down in Undead Burg was nice, wasn’t it.

Headshots. If they proc a buff of some kind, like the faster reload speed on Destiny’s Fatebringer, so much the nicer.

Speedruns. What isn’t there to love about a nerd, or collective of nerds — and I use that term with the utmost fondness and respect — devoting hundreds or thousands of hours of their lives to breaking a game apart, unearthing all its secrets and little idiosyncrasies, then using that knowledge to devise a way of completing it more quickly than anyone ever has? Throw in a Games Done Quick live crowd of like-minded nerds, with their costumes and their plushies and their cheering, and you have, yes, perhaps the nicest thing in all of videogames. Hats off to them.

Music. I feel like we covered some of this off the other day, but we didn’t talk about games that are actually about music, which is a whole different kettle of ball-games. The chills when the beat drops in the first stage of Tetris Effect. Blinking away tears in Rez Infinite’s Area X because it’s in VR and you kind of need your eyes to function normally. Deliberately playing Lumines badly, dropping blocks hither and thither without clearing any because you want to ride the breakdown in Shake Your Body for as long as possible. Oh god, these are all Mizuguchi games, aren’t they? Okay, fine, Tetsuya Mizuguchi. He’s a lovely man in real life, so I suppose it still works.

I know we don’t normally ‘do’ comments around here, but this would be a good day for you to all weigh in with things you think are nice. Have your say, and so on.


  • Jen Oneal, appointed as co-leader of Blizzard just three months ago in the wake of the studio’s sexual misconduct scandal, is headed for the exit door, leaving Mike Ybarra to steer the ship solo. She’s staying within Activision Blizzard until the end of the year, using a $1m grant the publisher has given to Women In Games International, where Oneal has a board seat, to “explore how I can do more to have games and diversity intersect.”
  • In other Blizzard news, both Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 have been delayed to 2023 at the earliest. Not especially surprising, really.
  • Microsoft wants to do metaverse things on Xbox. Bleurgh.
  • Crystal Dynamics has apologised for introducing paid-for XP boosters to Marvel’s Avengers, despite previous promises it would never dare do so, and removed them from sale. “We hope that this can be the first step in rebuilding your confidence in us as a team,” the game’s Twitter account sobbed.
  • Android users worldwide can now sample the lacklustre early fruits of Netflix’s foray into gaming.
  • Nintendo is reducing Switch production by 20%, and lowering forecasts accordingly, in response to the global semiconductor shortage.

That’s your lot. You know what else is nice? Writing a newsletter three times a week and looking on, surprised, as the stats keep going up. Perhaps, if you’d be so kind, you’d help keep those graphs heading in the right direction — either by sharing this post, or taking out a paid subscription. I’d like to keep doing this thing for a long time! With your help, perhaps we can get to #420, and I can write it while off my bracket on edibles. Have a good couple of days, and I’ll see you Friday.