I have said a lot on this blog in recent months about my growing disenchantment with “modern gaming” as a whole, and how I’m increasingly returning to older titles to occupy my game time. Continue reading “The Paradox of a “Retro Gamer” Who Is Uninterested in Retro-Inspired Games”
It seems to be expected of gamers to be cocky about their gaming prowess and claim nothing less than pro-level skill at any and all video games. Well, today I’m going against that expectation Continue reading “Top 5 Friday: Gaming Genres I Fully Admit To Being Bad At”
This piece was originally going to be a sister article to my first gaming confession ever, a piece about how I have never completed a Zelda game. I was going to talk about how, try as I might, I’ve never had an affinity for Mario. But while that statement is true, it’s only part of a larger feeling that I have (or rather, don’t have); I have very little nostalgia for any old games or franchises. My gaming choices tend to be pretty rooted in the present.
Let me take a little time and clarify both my position and why I feel slightly ashamed of it. First off let’s start with the original subject of this article, Mario. I don’t hate Mario, and I don’t hate Nintendo, but I have absolutely no added respect for the Mario franchise over and above any other that I’ve enjoyed over the years. Mario receives no special reverence from me, despite being one of the most important gaming franchises of all time.
To me, Super Mario Bros. 3 was the pinnacle of the series. I owned that game, and I loved it. I remember it with great fondness. But every Mario since (and before, really) is just kind of the same thing to me. I realize that there are innovations and that the controls and gameplay are among the best of all time, but it still just feels like the same rehashed concept over and over. He’s a cute cartoon plumber, he jumps on some stuff, he collects some stuff, and he saves a princess who never seems to be there. That was riveting…when I was 8. I know that fans of classic gaming will gasp at a statement like that, which is why it’s kind of embarrassing to confess it.
The feeling goes well beyond Mario though. As I’ve mentioned before, I have no nostalgia for Zelda, and even less for Metroid. None for Castlevania, Contra, Donkey Kong, Crash Bandicoot, or even Metal Gear Solid or Final Fantasy VII. The last two games I mentioned there being two of the most influential gaming experiences of my gaming career.
Metal Gear Solid is probably the best example. This was a game that absolutely blew my mind when I played it. Words simply cannot express how cool I thought that game was. Then Metal Gear Solid 2 came out, and I hated the ending of the story and subsequently tuned out of the whole series. Chris, by contrast, has maintained this sort of reverence for a game series that had the same effect on him when he first encountered it. Where he developed a sense of franchise loyalty, I seemed to develop none.
The same goes for the Final Fantasy series. I loved VII, VIII, and IX, didn’t care much for X, and then tuned out. I subsequently feel no loyalty to that franchise either. If a Final Fantasy game comes out, and I think that it might be good, then I’ll play that one. If I like it, I might tune in for the sequel. If I don’t, who knows.
If you count up the hours I’ve spent playing different individual games, one stands high among the rest. World of Warcraft. Even that game elicits little loyalty from me. When I’m enjoying the game, I feel good about playing it. When I get bored of it, I put it down and simply stop caring about it.
I feel like, as a child of the 90’s, that I should have some deep affinity for products beyond the here and now. I should be telling you that Super Mario World or Super Metroid is the greatest game ever made. I should be extolling the virtues of Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64. The truth is that I don’t care about any of those game though. And even though I only listed Nintendo products there, it’s not confined to just that. There are zero games from before the age of 12 that I recall with any sort of reverence. I know I’m entitled to my opinion, and if I don’t like stuff I don’t have to be ashamed. But I can’t help but feel just a little ashamed that I’m not more nostalgic about an era of gaming that was so influential to the medium as a whole.
When I was a kid, I used to love getting a new video game. An entirely new world of possibilities would lay out ahead of me; new levels to try, new game mechanics to learn. It was all so exhilarating. When I got a bit older I was able to start buying my own games. I saved up my money for that one special gem that I knew was coming out in the fall and I was so elated when I could finally bring it home and have a ball with it. When I got to high-school I got a job, which unlocked a whole new world of possibilities. I didn’t have infinite money or anything, but I could splurge on a game that I wasn’t 100% sure was going to be a winner. I could afford to take a few chances here and there and begin growing an actual game library. It was a glorious time. I remember thinking that I absolutely could not wait to be an adult and have the money to buy any game I wanted, whenever I wanted. Then something ironic happened.
Inevitably I did become an adult (in the legal sense at least) and managed to get a fairly well paying job which afforded me the opportunity to indulge my craving for games to a degree I never dreamed of. As that happened though, my gaming tastes began to change, and over the past several years it’s continued to get worse. You see, I don’t really like new games. To clarify, when I say “new games”, I don’t mean games from this generation. I don’t look at recent releases and think, ‘They sure don’t make them like they did back in my day’. What I mean here is that, as much as I’m interested in playing a game I’ve never played before, I constantly find myself going back to old staples. Certain games have wormed their way into my heart to such a degree that I often forsake new experiences just to play my old faithfuls more often.
A lot of it has to do with games requiring longer tutorial and story intro sections. Absolutely nothing turns me off more than having to go through missions or tutorial levels that explain concepts that seem pretty basic to the vast majority of gamers. For example I recently picked up Titanfall on sale and was really eager to jump into it. I’m a fan of the Call of Duty style shooter, but haven’t enjoyed the more recent releases, so Titanfall seemed like just what I was looking for to scratch that itch. The game starts with a 15 minute tutorial of how to move, aim down the sights, jump, sprint, etc… Now, perhaps there was a skip button that I missed or something, but I felt like the game was forcing me to go through stuff that I already knew. I’ve played a Call of Duty game, I know how to sprint and use iron sights. I don’t need you to hold my hand Titanfall. And this is why I have trouble with new games. I have no desire to do that stuff. Now, 15 minutes isn’t a long commitment, so I got through it. The couple of hours of Watch Dogs took me like 3 sittings though, because I kept getting utterly bored with the endless story set-up and boring tutorial missions.
I realize that this could have probably been a rant as opposed to a confession, but I feel bad about this more than I do angry. While I may not appreciate having my hand held through some tutorial stuff, it impedes my playing cool games more often than I’d like to admit. There are countless games that I have less than 2 hours of gameplay on simply because the tutorial / intro section of the game bored me so much that I quit. Some games I can power through this with, and those games usually become part of the favorites rotation. Other games get lost in the shuffle though, because I’m too damn impatient to get through some simple tutorial stuff. The real guilt here comes from knowing that if 12 year old Steve knew that I had the money and time to play tons of awesome games but wasn’t because I was being an idiot, he’d kick me right in the nuts. Somehow, I feel like I owe it to my 12 year old self to not squander the opportunity to really enjoy gaming, so somehow I’m going to have to learn to get through those annoying game beginnings.
“I’m a lifelong, diehard Nintendo fan.” It’s a statement I’ve both spoken and typed – often verbatim – many times over the years. The problem is, it’s kind of a lie.