First of all, we’d like to thank the amazing yurricanes for working with us to create the featured image for this episode. I think you’ll agree that it’s an amazing piece of art, and you should definitely check out their work.
We’d also like to thank Georgie (aka ChapSketch) for working with Squidge on the episode artwork for the entire New Cupboard of Shame series. Head on over to Georgie’s Etsy page to commission some work from her. You really should, as she’s blooming brilliant.
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Squidge was fully in charge of hosting, producing and editing this episode. As such, he decided to leave the few swears in the episode without bleeping them. This was done for comedy reasons, as we felt that there is very little in the episode which could offend most listeners.
Please listen responsibly.
Squidge wanted to take a shiny new look at The Cupboard of Shame. The difference being that he wanted to invite some familiar voices onto the show, one at a time, and discuss one game that they want to jettison into the Cupboard of Shame. Since this is the first episode in the new series, there was no better choice than Chief Problems.
For those who don’t know, Chief was our very first guest, appearing on the very first episode of the podcast (released back in 2017)
The Cupboard of Shame is something that Squidge describes as:
The idea behind it is games that you have bought in your past, played it, but you don’t know why you bought [them] but you did anyway.
Any complaints that you have about the game; why you want to stick it in the Cupboard of Shame. We’ll talk about the good points and the bad points [of the game], and we’ll share some fun facts about the game.
Previous Entries into the Cupboard of Shame
In previous episodes of the podcast, Squidge has challenged both G and himself to put some titles into the Cupboard of Shame. The titles that they chose include:
Iron Man the Movie Video Game
Rambo: The Video Game
Final Fantasy XIII
You can hear their discussion on these games (and a few more) in episode 47: The Cupboard of Shame
Starting things off on the correct foot, Squidge asked of Chief:
What do you want to put into the Cupboard of Shame?
And Chief started the new series off with a truly controversial pick: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - specifically the PS3 version. But why is it shameful?
It’s shameful in that I’ve never really finished it, and that I’ve given up on it.
That’s not to say that it’s a bad game, but it’s definitely one of the games that I’ve not finished, just because I can’t be bothered to push through to the end.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion had passed Chief by and he hadn’t even heard of Morrowind
talk about walking in, right in the middle of the story
And although he had never played any of the earlier entries, he knew that he was going to like Skyrim.
It’s like your first Final Fantasy game
And the discussion on similar C-RPGs
of the time, brought up both Fallout and the Dragon Age series of titles, how they seemed more engaging than Skyrim, and how Skyrim’s mapping system seemed overly complex.
Characters & Editions
Character creation seemed to be a sticking point for both Chief and Squidge. Not only is the character creation wizard in Skyrim that complex, but it seems that naming characters is also quite difficult for both of our intrepid hosts. But Chief came up with a source of inspiration:
When I watched Game of Thrones, I would just choose the names of the characters that I liked
This reminded Chief that Bethesda had released several versions of the game for his console (PS3) at the time, including the Legendary Edition. And of course, he bought the Legendary Edition too
Basically [I bought it again] for the DLC.
The old Guard stuff wasn’t bad. And you got to be on a horse, that was nice.
But riding around on a horse wasn’t enough to save the game for Chief:
You can just wander everywhere and it’s quite picturesque. But the game is shocking, the combat is shocking. I mean, the magic combat is shocking.
Which Squidge defends because Skyrim was a simplification of the combat and gameplay system of Morrowind, making it more accessible to gamers. And Morrowind lead to something that Squidge calls “The Bethesda Gambit”:
With any Bethesda game you start, learn how it works, then you start again and you do a bit better. And then you just end up repeating it until you get the most optimum character with the least amount of wallops.
Why Chief Bought Skyrim Originally
Squidge asked what it was that made Chief buy Skyrim. Was it the boxart? Was it the fact that you could play as a dragon born? Squidge wanted to know what drew Chief to the game in the first place.
I definitely wasn’t bothered about being the dragon born. I was interested in the world that you could be in… that was the selling point for me. The story was just $h!t.
At least it wasn’t as bad as Fallout ‘76, right?
The combination of the plot being both predictable and forgettable, and everyone in the world of Skyrim thinking that the player is the chosen one really turned Chief off. But this wasn’t exclusive to Skyrim
as the trope of the player being the chosen one was in the series as early as Morrowind - if not earlier. However, since Chief had missed the earlier titles, this was lost to him.
[being chosen to run every group and faction in the world] is borderline ridiculous… I mean, The Witcher 3 does this, but it hides it well, or hides it better than Skyrim does… we don’t give enough credit to the audience.
Chief desperately wanted to know something about the beloved Nintendo franchise:
Me not being a Nintendo person: what’s the big obsession with Zelda? What’s the deal with it? Am I missing out on it by not playing it?
Which was a series of questions that Squidge wasn’t able to answer too easily. We’d be interested in your thoughts on the Legend of Zelda games though; do consider getting in touch about the Zelda games, and we’ll either read out your thoughts or have you on the show to expand on them.
It’s an important part of gaming history, because it’s a touchstone
Any Redeeming Features?
With the discussion taking a rather negative turn, Squidge wanted to ask whether there was anything in Skyrim which worked in it’s favour. There must have been something, otherwise Chief wouldn’t keep coming back to it over and over again. Right?
On balance, Skyrim is an OK game. And it would be a shame to just chuck it in the bin. It is enjoyable to travel from one end of the world to the other.
But can the picturesque environment be enough to keep a player engaged? Squidge points out that both Oblivion and Morrowind where rather bad, in comparison to Skyrim and that perhaps Chief’s opinions on it would be changed if he played it.
With the discussion having gone the way that it did, Squidge and Chief decided to recommend some games to each other. Squidge recommended The Outer Worlds (aka “Captialism in Space”)
A few of the things that Chief said across the episode really seem to qualify his thoughts on Skyrim, but none so much than:
With Skyrim, it could have been so much more.
And Chief was more than happy to throw Skyrim
specifically the Game of the Year edition
into the Cupboard of Shame.
I suppose that it’s a guilty pleasure, really.
The thing about Skyrim that you have to mod it to make it your own. And it feels more like I’m going on a nice journey, rather than playing an RPG.
I enjoyed the loading screens, though.
Well we’ll yeet that into the Cupboard. But again it doesn’t mean that it’s not a good game, and that it’s not a bad game. It’s that you, personally, want to stick it in there. Even though you’ll go back to it, regardless.
It’s not about deciding whether it’s good or bad. It’s: if you want to stick it in there. I suppose the only question that I have, for anyone who is going to do this, and I’ll ask it again because I want to get it straight:
"is Skyrim a guilty pleasure for you?" It’s not something that you want to yeet in there and forget about it?