Those Were The Days…

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There are only a few games that carry tremendous nostalgic value, regardless of how ancient the game has become. Recently I tried revisiting some of my past favorite games but my eyes couldn’t handle it. It would only take a few seconds before they would repudiate the pixelated polygons and lead me to never touching the game ever again. It’s hard to imagine how 10 year-old-me had the patience to adapt to the controls, gameaplay, and visuals. Granted, technology has evolved exponentially over the years but it’s mind boggling to see how reliant and dependent we’ve all become within video games.

A few weeks ago I attempted a play through of Final Fantasy 6–an epic I’ve yet to complete. With a game like this, I can get by the visuals as I think the 16-bit art style is still relevant today. But what I couldn’t get by was the discordantly slow-pacing text and plot. Understandably the series is usually a slow-burn but time is valuable and I don’t have the patience for a 5 hour exposition of textual dialogue. I’m sure it’s a worthwhile RPG but considering how conservative I’ve become with my time, I’ve got better things to do. And let me also come out and say I had the same exact experience with Xenogears.

However, there has always been one game I can go back to: Metal Gear Solid. It comes with great hubris when someone asks me what game I would wed if I had the chance (a bit exaggerated, sorry). Few games rarely capture story and character immersion hand-in-hand so well. With Kojima and Metal Gear Solid, it’s not just another stealth-espionage game for me, it’s my childhood. I’m somewhat relieved my parents were clueless about ESRB ratings because I would have not had the chance to play the game that helped mold my perspective on video games. For every “SNAAAAAAAAKE” and every codec alert, the more I wished all games were as accessible as Kojima’s masterpiece.

For me it’s very sentimental when it comes to personal games like MGS, and we all have games like that. Whether if it’s Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out or Borderlands, the efficacy that video games produce is an experience encompassed around nostalgia and memory; which is probably why I didn’t enjoy FF6 and Xenogears–nothing to drive that experience.

In other news, this blog has now become a one-stop acrimony for all crazed RPG fans.

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The State of Games

It comes with great shame to admit that I’ve yet to finish Chrono Trigger. At this point we’re all aware of how transcendental this game was to not only RPGs but to video games in general. With it’s legendary soundtrack composed by the great Uemtasu-san and Mitsuda-san, and it’s masterful storytelling through the means of time traveling, Chrono Trigger is the full package that many games today sadly lack.

I’ve lost count on my attempts of finishing the game. The farthest I got was the Pre-Historic time period– unfortunately I don’t remember what made me stop playing. But considering my age-old habits, I most likely got stuck in a dungeon and called it quits. It’s not to say that I wasn’t enjoying my time with the game, however. It evoked a sheer amount of nostalgia that I’m constantly trying to find in current titles. Everything from the music to the world of the game was something unique to that generation.

With a lot of games today, most of the attention goes towards the gameplay and visuals. Although these are two very crucial facets of any video game, many developers are straying from the crux of any worthy adventure– the story. In the beginning of the current generation, when we had new technology and hardware, it was the norm to extraneously push the limits and produce jaw-dropping visuals. But at this point we’ve seen it all; aside from the current consoles, PC’s are far more capable of pushing more frames per second and developing visuals that exceed all our expectations. Slowly but surely more developers are realizing the significance of a well-structured story, but are still lacking the proper delivery.

Games like Chrono Trigger, Half Life, Super Mario 64, and Grand Theft Auto III all executed on the basic framework of a video game– and at the same time familiarized gamers with new mechanics. I’m not proposing that developers recycle previous mechanics– as most games do that already. But it’s important to notice the ambitiousness some of these developers went through to produce such games. With big budget titles and so much money and many jobs on the line, developers and publishers are fearful and toiling in the thought of ambitious ideas. Unsurprisingly, indie games are beginning to take this initiative of introducing fresh breathes of air. Games such as Sound Shapes and Journey kept the fundamental formula of a video game but formalized a specific facet of the game and developed something enjoyable and distinct.

I’m not trying to convince anyone that games nowadays are trash or unenjoyable, but I am saying that developers need to start being bold and assertive. There is absolutely nothing wrong with recycling old gameplay but the very least they can do is attempt to progress the age-old formula we are all familiar with.

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Yeah, No, Not Worth It

With the Steam Summer Sale fully underway, I’m sure that a lot of us are rashly adding every enticing deal to our carts. Because let’s be honest, there’s not much to lose for a $3 train simulator. But is it really worth that amount? It’s dawned on me recently that despite these large discounts, ranging from 50% – 90%, many are begrudgingly still turning these games down. Mind you that some of these games are big budget titles that were originally listed at a full retail price. Heavily discounted titles such as L.A. Noire, Saints Row 3, Spec Ops: The Line, and so on, are still being unwarranted despite their cheap price tags. It baffles me that people are saying “no, it’s not worth it” or “wait for a bigger discount”. What exactly justifies a purchase? Free? $1, $2, $3 less? It’s ridiculous. I understand that some of these games are either imperfect ports or just bad games, but to denounce them as titles that aren’t worth the bargain price is outrageous. Is it worthwhile to mention that at one point they were listed full retail, as well?

Gamers are probably one of the most cynical and stingy people on the planet. Here we are, being offered a library of games for the price of a Subway Cold-Cut, and we say, “No thanks, not worth it”. Maybe it’s the fact that clothing triggers a different appeal, but to an average consumer, those Steam deals are off the roof! I can’t say that I’ve bought every daily/flash deal because, well, I’m not made of fat stacks, yo. But I do want to say that if a gamer is curious about any of the deals, they owe it to themselves to put down $4 – $8 to try them out. I can’t speak for indie games, as those can be debatable due to different pricing, but for these full retail titles, there is not much to lose. And seriously, how many of us weren’t curious about Train Simulator 2012 for $3?

-mL