Hey Harvey!

Posted on Nov 17th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (slackur)
Posted under PS5, Super Mario Bros. Game and Watch

As a guy who has stood in long lines more than once for a new console, the impending release of the new gaming hardware generation this time around just had not lit the same fire.  A combination of more strained finances, a gaming backlog of comical proportions, and a lack of day-one gotta-have-'em games meant while I would like to eventually own the new hardware, I was fine waiting.  But it just so happens, I have a wonderful Beloved (and also several now-spent gift cards and rewards points) and after a sudden opportunity we now have a shiny PlayStation 5.  As the title suggests, I'd like to offer my initial impressions.

Beyond the surprisingly large physical size of the thing (kinda reminded me of the first time I saw an original XBox) I think the look and design is fine.  I appreciate having two USB ports in the back and one in the front.  I really do like the feel of the new DualSense controller (if not the absurd price tag on new ones.)  In fact, the new controllers (particularly the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback) are my favorite elements of the PS5 by far.   Sadly I have to note that only a few days in, the "O" button on one of our DualSense controllers is already sticking, as in physically getting stuck down.  That's a bit concerning, and a return will be in our immediate future...

My second favorite thing about the PS5 is, well, it is a lot like the PS4!  The UI, menus, store, pretty much everything is about 90% similar to the PS4, which I personally like far more than the XBox UI.  (But then, I haven't liked the XBox UI since they replaced the "blades" interface of the original 360, so maybe I'm just an old man.)  Everything so far has been pretty intuitive and easy, and I cannot express my thankfulness that the crucial accessibility options were the same, and even a "swap analog" feature was added just for me. Smiley

My next favorite thing thus far is the backwards compatibility.  We popped in the PS4 physical import copies of Xeno Crisis and Door Kickers: Action Squad into the PS5 for some (very) old-school co-op action.  Both came right up and installed with no issues whatsoever and controlled flawlessly.  As a fellow gamer/collector with an extensive physical collection of older PlayStation games I was very disappointed that backwards compatibility only extended one generation (especially after Microsoft's cross-generational efforts in the field.)  Still, you can't get more esoteric physical PS4 titles than Xeno Crisis and Door Kickers and if those play perfectly I have full assurance on the PS5's compatibility.

I recognize that two of the three things I've liked the most about our expensive new toy is directly tied to the past instead of the future.  What about something that shows off the heralded newfangled power of a new console generation?  The most impressive new games we've played thus far are the upgraded Dirt 5 and Astro's Playroom.

I enjoy rally racing games and the Dirt series in particular.  I've played through much of the content in almost every title in the series, and so the next-gen facelift for a new title was a perfect fit.  While the game proper is not shaping up to be my favorite in the series, it is a fun arcade racer with gorgeous graphics on the PS5.  The colors, lighting, reflections, particle effects, dynamic weather, and detailed textures really come together to showcase the starting line for next-gen visuals.  But the adaptive triggers were my favorite part; while not exactly trying to be realistic, the nuances of how the trigger offered varying resistance was an immersive touch that sold me on the possibilities of the new tech.

Speaking of being sold on the new controller, Astro's Playroom is the real hidden gem in the PS5 library.  A freebie on each PS5, the game is both a tech display for the PS5 and DualSense in particular, and a fun 3D platformer in its own right.  The game does a remarkable job displaying the various haptic feedback feeling of different textures, minigame-like uses of the adaptive triggers, and a litany of inventive displays of everything else packed into the new controller.  Best of all, if you are any kind of Sony fanboy, Astro's Playroom is a virtual celebration of all things PlayStation.  There is a constant stream of brilliant touches and fun call-backs from each hardware generation.  From the OG PS Intro sound to oddball Vita accessories, if you have enjoyed Sony hardware you will be delighted at picking apart all of the little easter eggs and references.  Best of all, as the pseudo-sequel to the brilliant VR game Astro Bot Rescue Mission, ASOBI Team has created another full-fledged game that is far more than just a tech-demo.  I'd put this in the same breath as Wii Sports and even Super Mario Bros. as a great launch experience that functions as an impressive tech display while also an excellent game in its own right.  If you do pick up a PS5, don't write this one off; try it out, and you may be as delighted as we were.

As for other PS5 games, Bugsnax is a cute 3D adventure game but it hasn't connected with our family, and we haven't picked up anything else yet.  The new Spider-Man: Miles Morales and of course Demon's Souls are no-brainers for us to get soon, as will be the new Horizon: Forbidden West.

The only other point I want to make is the frustration with the next-gen storage media.  This likely isn't news to anyone who's been following the new systems, but I for one am not sold on the extra speed at the expense of the relative paltry size of the built-in SSDs.  The PS5 only starts out with a usable 667 Gigs. (XBox Series X has a little more at 802, and the Series S is a wincing 364.)  When the new Call of Duty takes about 200 gigs, problems are going to be immediately obvious.  To make matters worse new games have to run off the main drive and not external drives, so any SSD speed gains are somewhat nullified if it takes time to dump and transfer or redownload something else to play.  We see these growing pains with most new generations (I remember having to juggle data all the way back to the Turbo Duo and Sega CD internal storage) but it is still a notable issue.

I am overall glad to have a PS5. The launch library may be underwhelming but has some solid titles.  (Ah, remember the N64 launch?)  All of the pieces are here for a great start, and I for one am happy that the transition between the now and the future seems pretty smooth overall.


Oh, and just for fun, we picked up the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.  So here's a mini-review:  If you know what this is, you probably know if it is for you or not.  The packaging is beautiful and nostalgic, the Famicom colors are perfect, and build quality (including the brilliant screen and rubbery buttons) is surprisingly good.  There is no stand, so the "watch" feature is apparently considered even more of a novelty, even as it hides almost all of the 35 "surprises."  It also has about 8 hours before needing a USB-C recharge, so there goes my intentions of using this as an actual clock for our bedroom.

But how does it play?  Well, the buttons feel great but the d-pad is small, a little stiff, and positioned low enough to cause a bit of hand cramping after extended play.  Of course, this is all part of the original Game & Watch design and I get that, but it does affect playability.  Also, I've really gotten used to some modern amenities such as easy save-states and the emulator used here is as basic as they come.  My original intention of using this device to finally complete Super Mario Bros. 2 (or The Lost Levels as we know it here in the US) is not likely to happen given these factors.  And I have to admit, if this thing had Super Mario Bros. 3 included, I'd be a lot more forgiving.  $50 for another rerelease of Super Mario Bros., The Lost Levels, and a remake of the original Game & Watch Ball means you aren't buying it strictly for something new to play.

Still, most will be picking this up as a collectable, and for that it excels, even if it is a little pricey if you never intend to play with it.  I've certainly spent more for far less, especially since it is only available for a limited time.  A cash grab from a greedy company?  Sure.  Worth it?  You knew as soon as you saw it if it was for you.  We grabbed it day one.


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Erk, reading this after posting with all my mistakes is embarrassing. Lol @ 2 "best of all".
Sorry about that.
When I was young and didn't have money for an alarm clock, my Super Mario G&W (which I traded my cassette copy of GnR Appetite for Destruction to get) was responsible for waking for work for close to a year. Now I use my phone and have no need for such a thing, but as silly as it sounds the lack of a kickstand killed the idea of getting the new G&W, regardless of how wonderful it looks.
A few years ago, I probably would have been all over something like the SMB G&W. Now, I don't have the kind of fomo I would have experienced then. It looks like a fun novelty, but that's kinda how I see it. I'll have more interest in the PS5, once we get an iterated release (a mark 2, if you will), and the price comes down. I'm usually late to the game when it comes to new consoles, and I'm okay with that. I don't need to play new stuff right away, with a handful of rare exceptions.
Sounds like I'll need to get Dirt 5...been waiting for more reviews and it sounds so much fun.

I'd give Bugsnax another try, I stuck with it and found it to be a real charmer. Plus its a fun and manageable game to plat.
@bombatomba:I hear you, not having a kickstand was a surprisingly negative oversight I didn't realize I'd miss, but I really do :p

@MetalFRO:Really the only reason we got the PS5 so early was the kindness of friends/family and the ability to use a bunch of coupons. I'm right with you on waiting on the Mark 2, but I do certainly intend to make the most of it now that we have it lol.

@hockeycollector:Dirt 5 is a lot of fun, but surprisingly buggy thus far. I've had to hard reset a number of times and some of the tracks are noticeably glitchy (random resets, cars popping into existence, etc. I don't recall any other Dirt game launching with this many technical issues.

Also, I think my middle kiddo will get into Bugsnax once he gets past Persona 5. As for me, I appreciate the originality and creativity of the design, but maybe I'm just not in the mood for it right now. I'm trying to get back to several story-based games with my Beloved (Close to the Sun, Observation, Cloudpunk) and if I'm in the action mood, Xeko Crisis is still kicking my tail.

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