In Ireland, we are a civilised people. We never leave a drink unfinished. We don’t skimp on the turkey slices. We even apologise before asking questions (‘Sorry, could you…’). But one thing we don’t do is build nuclear armadas to eradicate our global rivals.
You see, Sid Meier has a very different idea of what civilisation means. The legendary game designer released Civilisation over 25 years ago as a sped-up history lesson of sorts. According to Sid, modern society grew from conquest, the hunt for territory, and from control over resources and progress. He was right, of course, but it’s still a little uncivilised to say so.
The release of Civilisation VI on the Nintendo Switch represents a smaller step forward for human society. Now, instead of playing the world’s most enjoyable strategy game on a big screen, you can play it on the toilet too. That’s real progress.
Civilisation will be familiar to most gamers by now. You begin the game as one of many optional cultures, from Viking to Egyptian and African to English. The goal is to take your civilisation from the Stone Age to the modern age. In order to ‘win’ the game, you must reach the victory conditions in one of four areas — military, science, religious, and cultural.
The military victory means capturing the capital city of every other civilisation in the game (often with the help of nuclear attacks).
The science victory involves achieving three space-travel milestones, including landing on Mars. To triumph through religious means, your chosen religion must become the dominant religion of every other civilisation. Finally, a cultural victory is achieved when you have more visiting tourists than any other civilisation has domestic tourists. (There is no option to self-destruct by choosing to leave the European Union for no good reason.)
This means the best route to victory is choosing a strategy early on and sticking with it. So a military leader will continuously bolster his army, a religious leader will build monuments and send disciples to other lands, and so forth. But things are never quite that simple in Civilisation. The enemy players aren’t always the brightest stars in the senate, often ruining well-laid plans with a ridiculous declaration of war, or other unpredictable behaviour.
In addition, how you manage resources and time your expansion is crucial. You can’t predict where the enemies have settled either, which makes every game a little different.
On Nintendo Switch, Civilisation VI is an excellent port and perfectly adapted from the PC version. There’s no multiplayer (either online or local) but as a single-player strategy game, it’s comfortably the best of its kind on the console.
You might get frustrated by the aimless NPCs from time to time, but don’t let it bother you too much. Just be civilised.
Meanwhile, Nintendo’s world domination is largely dictated by the ‘holiday season’ as they call it in America. In the US, sales in November and December account for a whopping 60% of the company’s profit for the year. That isn’t the case for Sony or Microsoft, whose sales tend to be more evenly spread across the year.
“The reason that it’s so significant… our products make great gifts,” said Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime. “Whether you’re talking about Nintendo Switch, whether you’re talking about Nintendo 2DS, we really do well with that gift-giving occasion.”
There’s no denying that’s the case. For children under the age of 10, Nintendo’s products have long been the consoles of choice.
Nintendo’s business presence in Ireland and Europe is limited, but we suspect the numbers are just as high on this side of civilisation.
When civilisation finally ends, we may see the four horsemen come calling. No game represents that demonic quartet quite like the Darksiders series, which first starred War in a leading role, before handing over duties to Death in the second entry.
The long-awaited third instalment in the series has hit shelves and this time it stars Fury, a whip-wielding avenger on a path to concluding the series. Darksiders 3 looks a little old-fashioned by today’s standards for action adventures, but those of a more civilised taste may still enjoy the Zelda-lite structure and unique art design.