“A Jedi, Like My Father Before Me” – The “Luke Turns” Theory Examined

We’re less than a fortnight away from the first movie in the long-heralded Star Wars “sequel trilogy” (also the first in the post-Lucas Disney era) and speculation is running wild. Fans are nitpicking every frame of every trailer for clues. One theory which has picked up speed in the last month comes from Rob Conery, who proposes that Return of the Jedi does not show us the ultimate bittersweet victory of Luke Skywalker but rather the tragic fall of the saga’s hero to the Dark Side of the Force.

You can read Conery’s thoughts here. MatPat of Game Theory & Film Theory summarizes the theory beautifully here, as well.

In short, the “Luke Turns” Theory (as I call it) suggests that Luke’s decision to leave Yoda and his traumatic battle with Vader in The Empire Strikes Back start him on the path to the Dark Side. His actions in Return of the Jedi set the stage for his fall, and the machinations of Emperor Palpatine finally bring him to the path of the Sith. Luke comes to desire the promise Vader offered, that he could “rule the galaxy as father and son,” but he has that chance taken away with Vader’s death; he ultimately succumbs to hatred for nothing.

To think our intrepid hero could have become a villain can be jarring. Was Conery on to something, though?

Before the Duel

When we first see Luke at the beginning of Jedi, he’s dressed in black and has a confident, even arrogant air about him. He threatens Jabba, pushes his guards with the Force, and even barters with his friends’ lives. It’s a far cry from the mopey Skywalker we saw in A New Hope or the brave front he put on in Empire.

We’re programmed to associate dark attire like his new robes with villains, or at least antiheroes of questionable allegiance. It could be construed as a clue to his fate – or it could just signify his inner turmoil and despair at the bleak state of the Rebellion. He lost his hand, his best friend is trapped in carbonite, his mentor is dead, and he’s just had his world shattered by the news of his father’s true identity. Luke’s had a hard go; surely we can let him tap into his angsty side.

The persona he shows to Jabba is not entirely unbecoming of a Jedi, either. The Hutt is not an opponent to be underestimated. If he shows any sign of weakness, the entire plan could be ruined. Furthermore, we’ve seen other Jedi act this condescending to others on a handful of other occasions.

When looking for proof of Luke’s fall, these instances can seem like foreshadowing – and yet they don’t mean much.

Intent vs. Final Product

One of the cornerstones of this theory is the original outline for Jedi as devised by George Lucas and Gary Kurtz. During the outlining phase, the film was meant to be radically different – Han died, Leia struggled with her new leadership duties, and Luke became an ambivalent gunslinger archetype. Lucas eventually changed this angsty conclusion for the happy little bow of an ending we know now, dreading the cut the dark tone could hurt the series’ lucrative toy sales.

It should also be noted, I think, that in one of these early drafts Obi-Wan was supposed to remanifest in a corporeal form, literally willing himself back to life to help finish the fight against Vader. These unpolished outlines sound … really bad. There’s a reason stories go through several drafts. Jedi‘s ending, as shown, is undeniably hokey, but at least the final product has a sense of closure that doesn’t undercut much of the saga.

Parts of this original intent, however, survived in the final product. Hamill has stated before (including one round-table conversation with Kevin Smith and J.J. Abrams, director of The Force Awakens) that he thought this was a much more interesting end to Luke’s story, and when you watch Jedi through the lens of this theory you can see him tapping into this idea during the climactic battle.

The Truth of Battle

Whatever the original drafts or moments of foreshadowing suggest, the true deciding moment is the battle between Vader and Luke, father and son. (You can watch the whole showdown here, without the other storylines getting in the way.)

The fight proper begins when Luke makes an attempt on Palpatine’s life. On one hand, taking another’s life deliberately can be seen as an evil, un-Jedilike action. Yet again, this is the big evil mastermind of the series that he tries to kill. Any evil in talking Palpatine’s life is drastically worth the lives saved by removing him from the galactic equation. This is a move for the greater good, and we cannot consider this a move toward the Dark Side.

Throughout the first phase of the fight (before he tries to hide), Luke is noncommittal. Luke’s more interested in talking his father back to the Light than in actually fighting him. He isn’t on the slippery slope just yet. It takes a threat on Leia’s life and soul to bring out Luke’s rage.

In the second phase of the fight, Luke fights like a proper Sith Lord. From the moment he cries “never,” he is on the offensive with the upper hand. Once he gets his father against the railing he really taps into that anger – look at the way he hammers against Vader’s saber until his guard breaks and (literally) disarms (dishands?) his foe.

There’s no refuting that Luke is flirting with the Dark Side here. To act in rage (or, really, in any form of impassioned emotion) is to forsake the path of the Jedi for the path of the Sith, and there’s no emotion more suited for the dark side than rage, hate, anger. In that, the theory holds absolutely true. This is the closest Luke has come to the evil side of the Force.

He realizes what he’s doing, however, and stops himself – a very Jedi-like action. Luke puts on the brakes as the cliff approaches. Of course, this sets the stage for Palpatine’s signature Force Lightning and a conclusion that cuts the head off the Empire and removes both of his would-be Sith tutors.

If Luke is truly turning to the Dark Side in this battle, why does he refuse to kill his father? He uses his hate only to subdue the threat Vader poses, but cannot finish the deed in cold blood.

Conery suggests that Luke wants to take Vader up on his offer to “rule the galaxy as father and son.” He needs his father alive to teach him the ways of the Force, and Palpatine is a threat to them both, as well as his friends down on the forest moon of Endor. Palpatine realizes what’s going on – that he’s set up an alliance between the Chosen One and his son – and tries to neutralize the threat Luke poses. Here the theory paints Luke as a pretty diabolical figure, sustaining the effects of Palpatine’s Force Lightning but playing on his father’s emotions to save him. Not only has Luke turned, but he’s also quickly adapted the diabolical practices of the Sith.

You can see support for this in Vader’s funeral scene, where Luke sullenly watches the flames and smoke rise into the night. The average viewer sees the hero mourning the father he saved but never truly knew, but Conery sees the newly turned villain mourning a father-son alliance that could have brought the galaxy to its knees. Thanks to Hamill’s performance, either reading of the scene is valid.

There are some holes in Conery’s theory here, however. Anakin, with his last few breaths, claims that Luke has done well and saved him before the end of his life. If Luke was truly bummed that he couldn’t take over the Empire with his father, perhaps this would have been a better time to lament the lost opportunity – “we could have ruled together, father!” or something to that effect .Instead they sadly celebrate the redemption of Anakin Skywalker in those few fleeting moments they have together. There is no bitter vow to finish the evil works he set in motion. Furthermore, Luke is later visited by the spirits of Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Anakin (Christensen or Shaw, depending on your preference), who show their spectral approval. If Luke has indeed embraced the dark side now, perhaps his mentors, who now dwell in the very essence of the Force itself, would sense the change in him and do more than stand by to watch the festivities. Granted, Obi-Wan and Yoda never saw the threat Palpatine posed back in the Republic…

Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes

So Conery’s theory has some legs, although they’re more contravened by the actual print of the film. If one holds to the theory, one is left to cite revised intentions and interpretations of Hamill’s performance for support. Abrams may yet turn Luke Skywalker into a villain, but for now there’s very little concrete evidence to stand on. It’s clear that Lucas did not ultimately intend this interpretation, and yet there are debatable grounds for it.

I contend that we can apply some conditions to the arguments for and against the Luke Turns Theory, at least until the world sees The Force Awakens and we know Luke’s true fate (and his connection to Kylo Ren, if any). Allow me to elaborate.

Consider the tales of Luke Skywalker post-Vader in the Expanded Universe. He establishes an academy on Yavin IV and founds a new generation of Jedi to face ongoing threats to galactic peace. He has countless brushes with the Dark Side akin to the showdown with Vader – as do most of his students. Encountering the evil within either break these new Jedi or make them all the more resolved in their convictions. Luke, for his part, stands firm in his devotion to the Jedi path.

If Abrams does complete Luke Skywalker’s journey to the Dark Side, I suggest we consider the works of the Expanded Universe as two sides of a coin. On one hand, we have the now defunct timeline of the Expanded Universe, or the “Legends” timeline, to follow the new publishing convention – in this timeline, Luke Skywalker remains a good guy and trains the next generation of Jedi (including Jacen and Jaina, the twin children of Han and Leia). We would also have the current Disney canon, validating Conery, where Luke Skywalker is seduced by the Dark Side and does … whatever he’s been up to over the last thirty years. We’d have a Good Timeline and an Evil Timeline (or, to quote Community, a Darkest Timeline). This would appease long-time fans like me who were upset to see years of lore pushed aside unceremoniously.


Do you agree with Conery, Hamill, and Abrams – that Luke falling to the Dark Side is a more powerful conclusion to the saga? Or do you prefer the happy ending Lucas presented? Or are you just too excited about Episode VII to care about anything else right now? Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter!





Supply & Diimand

Another wave of Nintendo’s Amiibo figures launched at the end of May, but if you walk into your local game store you might not see any confirmation of that. What stock was available was quickly decimated by savvy gamers and scalpers. (I had an opportunity to look for the Lucina figure about an hour after stores opened and there was hardly any new stock available, save the less popular options.)

If you’ve heard anything about these little plastic cash-sinks (on this blog, for instance) you should not be surprised. Nintendo’s supply has been laughable from the product line’s launch in November; every subsequent wave has been met with consumer frenzy; and opportunistic merchants have pillaged stores for eBay fodder. If you knew nothing about the figures and saw their display in a store, you might think Amiibo were only for the classic characters of the Super Mario franchise – not for lesser known characters appearing in Smash Bros, like the Animal Crossing Villager or Fire Emblem protagonists.

The situation is officially out of hand now.

I eventually found one off Kijiji, from a rare re-seller who didn't charge triple MSRP.
I eventually found one off Kijiji, from a rare re-seller who didn’t charge triple MSRP.

Organized Chaos

After the frustrations of the first launch, it was easy to point fingers at Nintendo for under-stocking retailers, or at a port strike in the US for clogging up imports. The Big N was simply following its usual business practices, however. It’s been a long-standing tactic to keep supply low in order to drive demand higher – it’s Business 101 executed immaculately. It worked for the Super Nintendo, it worked for the Wii, and it’s worked incredibly well for Amiibos.

I was disappointed in Nintendo at the start too. To undersupply consoles, or even games, is one thing; they sell at a higher price at a one-time-per-household rate. The Amiibo, however, are a much cheaper collectible item. The dedicated collector wants to obtain at least one of each (the obsessive might get two, one to use and one to preserve); the casual gamer who hops on the bandwagon probably wants two or three of his favourite characters.

It seemed, back in November, like a pretty big blunder. One of the hottest figures was for Marth, a staple of the Smash Bros competitive scene for over a decade, and his figure remains unattainable. I will forever kick myself for not buying one at the Smash Bros for Wii U midnight launch – but that’s the rub. “That figure looks cool, but I don’t need it right now,” I told myself. “I’ll try out the Link figure, and if these things are fun maybe I’ll grab him later.” Silly me for assuming a company would supply its product sufficiently, right? I’ve got a small cluster of Disney Infinity figures and have never had a problem finding a specific one. As Disney Infinity 3.0 producer John Vignocchi recently said, when asked if his game would be affected by the Amiibo craze:

There is never an intention to create a shortage of any [Infinity] figures. It is irresponsible and rude to your hardcore fans. They don’t want to create frustration or the hunt. So they will be stocking the shelves well!

This is what displays should look like.
This is what displays should look like.

Now, however, it’s important to remember this was (mostly) a deliberate move by Big N. In a way, the current sky-high demand for the plastic statues is ideal for them. The masses clamour and scour stores weekly in hopes of finding that elusive piece for their collection.  Once again Nintendo has smartly played the market – but it’s time to change strategies.

The Lunatics Run the Asylum

An Amiibo retails for $14 CDN. Ideally you should be able to walk into a store and pay $42 to pick up the Marth, Villager, and Wii Fit Trainer figures. Instead, look at the reality in this eBay listing:

Yup, these figures (called “the Holy Trinity” by some) as a lot go for nearly ten times the MSRP. If this seller paid retail price for them, he stands to make about $330 off the sale, by Canadian dollar standards.

And this is the problem with the ongoing Amiibo shortage. Demand is through the roof, certainly higher than even Nintendo’s most optimistic executive hoped, because of the artificial shortage – mission accomplished there. But now it’s not Nintendo making money off the product, it’s the legion of scalpers and hunters snapping up rare figures and exploiting others for insane profits.

Back in 1991, Nintendo could withhold Super Nintendos from retailers to ensure its subsequent shipments would be snapped up quickly without much interference from opportunists like this. The internet didn’t exist and scalpers could only prey upon people nearby. eBay and its ilk allow these sharks to exploit people all around the world nowadays.

Now, whenever someone sells a Marth figure for $100 or more, the bar is pushed a little bit higher. One shark sees another score that price and starts his auctions around the same price.

I’d wager that the vast majority of these opportunists aren’t even Nintendo fans, or at least have no interest in the actual application of the figures. So they score the figures at retail price and sell them back to dedicated fans or collectors for many times their investment – and now both fans and Nintendo are losing out. An incredible greed has accumulated around the entire Amiibo line, and it’s become little more than a cash-grab for opportunists.

Show Us Riispect

Nintendo truly needs to step up its production game now. The product is a great success in supply/demand terms, yes, but the company is no longer profiting from their own success. Those $330 profits aren’t coming back to them, or their retailers. Worst of all, there’s a wall of extortion between their dedicated consumers and their product. The Big N does itself and its customers a disservice. It’s past time to abandon the artificial shortages and get sufficient stock back on the shelves, or else scalpers will continue to exploit both supplier and consumer.

Romancing the Apostate: Love in Games & Dragon Age

I was a little tardy to the Dragon Age: Inquisition party last winter; my priorities were elsewhere, and while a couple of my friends were saving Thedas I was Smashing away. When I did finally dive in, I quickly understood why my friends were so insistent that I was missing out. Inquisition is a return to form for the series after the step back that was Dragon Age 2, and it’s great to be playing a true avatar of my choosing again.

My friends – let’s call them Ned and Nyx – are particularly taken with the cast, and one party member in particular, Dorian. The player’s companions are arguably one of the best aspects of the franchise and Inquisition did not disappoint. Nyx was smitten with Dorian from the get-go and lamented that she could not seek a romance with him, living vicariously through Ned when his Inquisitor fell in love with the dashing mage

Dorian is one of the best game characters in recent memory. For one, he bears the honour of being the first truly homosexual male romance option in the series (if not all of gaming), alongside the bawdy Sera for female Inquisitors – to this point, romance options were hetero or vaguely bisexual, and it’s about time the representation was balanced, to see a character truly dealing with his sexuality in the fantasy world. Dorian feels like a very authentic representation. He hails from Tevinter, a place we’ve yet to visit in the franchise, from which most of the villainy in the game originates – so he has particularly useful insight, if you can keep other members of the Inquisition from despising him. Most of all, he’s just well-written; he’s charismatic and funny, and I found myself seeking him out for new conversations every time I returned to my home base after a mission, just as I did with Varric in DA2.

Funny, charming, powerful, with insight on your enemies - what's not to love?
Funny, charming, powerful, with insight on your enemies – what’s not to love?

My approach with the first playthrough of games like Dragon Age, generally, is to play close to my own personality, so in terms of romance I was left to choose between Cassandra, the stern Seeker, or Josephine, the Orlesian diplomat. After some flirting with Josephine (and Dorian – the flirting conversational options were just too fun to miss), I set my Inquisitor’s heart on Cassandra, which required some persistence and old-fashioned chivalric romance. Considering her conviction to murder me at the very start of the game and her no-nonsense personality, it was a bit of a challenge to open her heart – but I have experience doing this in the series.

Seeing Ned and Nyx so smitten with Dorian, her despair at complications in her own romance with Blackwall, and my pursuit of Cassandra, I was constantly reminded of Morrigan from Origins – and not just because I was anticipating her eventual arrival in Inquisition‘s story.

Whenever a game allows for love and marriage – games like Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Fable, and so on – I always dedicate a little time to pursue a virtual love interest, partly for the inevitable Trophy for committing and partly for the benefits it might impart. My wife watched me wed and bed a different woman in each city in Fable III, for no other reason than because it was an amusing option that provided me a small boon when I returned to those homes, and rolled her eyes. I took partners in Skyrim mostly for the convenient store options, and the buff from sleeping at home.

Romance isn't fully developed in most games that include it.
Romance isn’t fully developed in most games that include it.

Dragon Age has always been different for me. I’m actually compelled by its characters; I genuinely enjoy the conversations and don’t exhaust the dialogue options just to unlock any possible quests or benefits. I don’t befriend or romance them just for the Trophies (though I still grin triumphantly when I earn them). I wanted to get Cassandra to open up, to put aside her righteous anger and show a little humanity, and the scene where she reveals her taste in literature was a great reward

The characters in Dragon Age are very well developed; you have to earn their trust and friendship, and they won’t put up with your shit if you keep choosing options that they don’t like. They gradually tell you more about themselves, revealing flaws and insecurities and troubled pasts. By successfully navigating conversations and completing the quests they entrust you with, you are rewarded with their true companionship. They’re some of the most well-rounded and realistic video game characters I’ve ever encountered.

This authenticity and depth is part of what drew me to Morrigan in Origins. It’s hard not to be drawn to her when you meet her near the start of the story. I found her conversations enlightening about the game world and my current quests, and entertaining to boot. My Warden saw the human beneath the mystique her mother laid upon her and wanted to help her break free of Flemeth’s yoke, to show her she could love. It took some dedication (and some shiny gifts) but in time Morrigan opened her heart to me, and it seemed a bigger victory than besting the Archdemon in the final battle. The inevitably sad conclusion to the romance in Origins and the Witch Hunt DLC was all the more powerful for my personal involvement – and I was determined to follow her wherever she ran in said epilogue. In the shoes of my Warden, I had a real connection with her.

Witch Hunt nearly broke my virtual heart again.
Witch Hunt nearly broke my virtual heart again.

Knowing Morrigan was set to return in Inquisition, I was eager to delve into the story after importing my past decisions via Dragon Age Keep – and was rewarded with a happier ending than I expected. I’ve only just encountered her and haven’t yet progressed any farther in the story, but in talking with her in the gardens of Skyhold I learned that the fate of my Warden and his love was not as bleak as Origins had painted it. That I could still be so invested in a character I played six years ago is a testament to the series’ craft and integrity – I’m not one to truly connect with video game characters on a personal level, outside of my literary engagement with the medium.

In hearing Nyx and Ned recount stories of encounters with Blackwall and Dorian, and getting genuinely invested in courting Cassandra, I realized what it is about the Dragon Age games that I love: truly roleplaying. RPGs are my favourite genre, but it’s in Dragon Age that I really put myself in my avatar’s shoes and get drawn into his interactions with the people and world around him. For me, the game is more about the conversations and decisions than the actual battle mechanics (which are good, don’t get me wrong, but if I go a whole session without drawing my weapon I’m not exactly disappointed).  It sets a bar of quality that more games should aspire to meet, that I’d like to meet in my own writing.

Growing Pains: Pitfalls of Internet Dependence

After a year of anticipation and saving, I finally obtained a brand new, shiny Playstation 4 this past Boxing Day. I reverently set it up, powered it on, and waited to be blown away… only to be undercut by Sony’s downed servers. Without being able to connect to the PlayStation Network servers, I couldn’t access my profile from PS3, update the games I’d bought, or redeem the voucher for LittleBigPlanet 3 included with my console. Nor could I check out Destiny, or start a worthwhile game of Dragon Age: Inquisition when I couldn’t import my World State from EA’s save date transfer service. The thrill of my new console was quickly quelled when half of its functionality was inaccessible.

It’s not Sony’s fault they were hacked – I won’t touch on the motivations of the attack, but it wasn’t their choice to have their servers down as the biggest annual influx of new console owners arrived. However, the incident did illustrate to me a major problem with today’s gaming industry: internet dependence.

Hard as it may be to process, the internet is still a fairly new aspect of our lives. Fifteen years ago it was a luxury item or curiosity at best; the majority of North American civilization may be dependent upon their smartphones for many major aspects of their daily lives, but those same people were at least born in a day where these wondrous devices were nothing more than science fiction.

And of course, the gaming industry has embraced the technology with open arms, as it should. It’s a natural progression as the medium grows – like the jump from two controllers to four, expanding the number of potential players from four people playing on the same local system to four strangers playing from four remote systems makes sense. These features have enriched and revitalized many franchises, and draw new players.

There are a handful of ways in which online multiplayer is currently bogging down games and, in a way, the industry as a whole.

Problem #1: Shoehorning
Some genres and games stand as online-only – MMORPGs, MOBAs, etc. These games, like World of Warcraft or League of Legends, are designed from square one as online games and arguably wouldn’t thrive if they had offline modes. There’s room in the industry for them.

But not every game needs an online multiplayer mode, let alone a multiplayer mode of any kind. Let’s use Assassin’s Creed as an example. The third entry in the series, Brotherhood, introduced an online multiplayer mode. On paper, it seemed bizarre; the first two games had been excellent single-player endeavours with no obvious room for such an addition. How could you translate Desmond’s experience reliving his ancestor’s accomplishments via the Animus into something 2-16 players could experience simultaneously?

To Ubisoft’s credit, the concept of the online mode was novel, if not ingenious: they put players in the shoes of the villainous Abstergo’s recruits as they used the Animus to become footsoldiers worthy of countering the Assassins. But the gameplay did not hold up as well. It was jittery and nervous, watching every generic character to see if one was behaving like a real person and not an algorithm, trying to find the person you were to kill and avoid the person trying to kill you. It was almost like rock-paper-scissors while suffering a panic attack. After a couple rounds, the concept was spent for most players. The gameplay was shallow, despite the wealth of unlockables and improvements to be earned, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the players who stuck it out and hit the level cap were just completionists hunting the exclusive Trophies.

In Brotherhood, this was an oddity; in the years that followed, it was a detriment to Revelations and ACIII. ACII and Brotherhood are commonly seen as the high point of the series, while III is widely reviled as a disappointment or outright failure. Had the resources that were put into including multiplayer in those two games been reassigned to improving the core campaign, would these two entires not been the faltering point of the series?

There’s a certain pressure to include online multiplayer in the age of Call of Duty, but outside of the FPS genre, should developers really bow to it? Did the Tomb Raider reboot or Dragon Age: Inquisition really need this addition? They were excellent games in their own right, and the absence of multiplayer would not have condemned them.

Problem #2: Future Functionality
Another angle to consider is how games will hold up over time. The retro gaming niche is stronger than ever these days, as collectors heap piles of games higher and as parents introduce their children to the games they played when they were that age. You can easily find an old functional NES, pop in a Super Mario Bros cartridge, and take a nostalgia trip. (Of course, this is getting a little more complicated as technology advances, but there are still workarounds like the lineup of Retron systems.)

Will this be the case for the past two generations of consoles? Someday a man who was raised on the multiplayer of Modern Warfare on his 360 will dust off his console and try to show his son what he spent so much time playing as a kid – and will he find functional servers to play on? Highly unlikely.

This has already affected things like Nintendo’s servers for the Wii and DS. Last year they were taken offline and suddenly a host of games like Pokemon, Smash Bros Brawl, and Mario Kart lost a chunk of their features. It’s happened with a host of PC games in the past. How big will the outcry be when the 360 and PS3 lose their functionality?

There needs to be something there that can stand when the scaffolding of online features is kicked out from beneath us, something that can survive the test of time. It’s the same reason I can’t fully endorse e-reading – I’ve studied history, I know how important it is to have some kind of archive future generations can access.

Solution: Pass the Gravy?
Game developers should be treating online functionality as gravy – a little added flavour to the meat of the single-player campaign, or in certain dire situations, something to enrich a dry piece of meat and help slide it down your gullet.

I’m going to use Nintendo as an example here. They’ve stumbled to create a cohesive online platform for their systems, which Sony and Microsoft both did so easily at the start of the last generation – they still use an archaic Friend Code system, and there’s still some nuisances with their eShop when you own multiple systems, but they’ve made strides in the last year with the Wii U and Miiverse.

But look at the online features of their first-party games. Super Smash Bros has a robust competitive environment and the functionality is in place for players to compete against random strangers – but it’s just one of a host of options available from the main menu. It’s no different than setting up a battle with CPUs or your buddies on the same couch. It wouldn’t have been a huge demand on the developers’ time; unlike AC:Brotherhood‘s multiplayer, it wasn’t an entirely unique game within their game that required a whole host of its own assets. It’s the kind of mode Sakurai could have added later in development. Online play is the gravy to the main game’s roast beef – there if you want it, but the entree itself is so delicious you may not need it at all.

Mario Kart 8 is a similar situation. Online play is there at the main menu, but there’s no obligation to try it and it didn’t detract from the development of the main game modes. You’ll be able to pop the game into your system twenty years from now and get the full experience.

The Pokemon games on 3DS are a great example of the enrichment online play can bring. There’s a whole menu on the bottom screen for interacting with other players, which can really help you access Pokemon you might not have been able to find otherwise, or at least make accessing multiplayer features so much easier than in previous games – you can do these things at any time outside of battle or conversation instead of detouring to the nearest Pokemon Center. Without features like the Global Trading System or Wonder Trade, you aren’t really missing much, but with them you have one more neat little trick at your disposal.

There seems to be too much emphasis put on online functionality in today’s industry – to continue the metaphor, developers are spending too much time on the gravy, putting too much on the meat of their games. If it needs to be present, it needs to be on the side, there if you desire it but not smothering your meal.