One of the issues with working fulltime is that I can’t justify a 40 hours for a game that isn’t amazing. I can’t even justify 4 hours in most cases; in this case, I couldn’t even last 40 minutes. From time to time, I get my hands on a game, but don’t manage to finish things. Couple that with a bad case of old man’s disease (aka nostalgia) and every new game is competing against a backlog of old winners.
I’d pencil-in 4 hours a night to play Ocarina of Time, but that level of commitment is unjustified on most games. Add in the fact that the bargain bin is overflowing with classics that I missed the first time (Deus Ex, Planescape Torment, Fallout 1 & 2).
Stamina is another limiting factor. I spent 78 Hours on Fallout: New Vegas, loved it, bought the DLC on the cheap, and put in 15 more hours. That was 6 months ago, but strangely I’m still satisfied. I’ve recently spent huge hours on Skyward Sword and Mass Effect 3, but I’m just not ready to stab into another 70+ Hour Marathon. Of course, Bethesda just dumped Skyrim on us last winter, but even that’s not enough to lure me out of hibernation. So I’m putting it on hold until it hits $10 on sale. I’ve played out this scenario between every Bethesda-Style Game since Oblivion.
Now those were just my reasons for not starting games, but that situation echoes through when it’s time to quit.
The difficult part in quitting a game is that most games do not peak for a few hours, yet most games never peak. If you dislike something on a mechanical level, odds are it isn’t going to change. Otherwise you find yourself 33 hours into a game waiting for it to “get good.” That one’s for you FF XII & XIII. Despite my grievances, this series will field less tirade than introspection. I’ve learned a lot about making games, from simply studying my motivations for playing them.
Why do certain games pull us in, only to be rejected part way? And why do we find other games simultaneously repulsive and mandatory? There’s just too much to say, so let’s take this game by game.
Game #1 – Yoshi’s Island DS.
It ran into the same issue I’ve had with Skyward Sword, “Why should I play it over the best games in the series?” It’s an odd indictment, particularly for a series with so few games. However, that factor is amplified for me since I haven’t played the original in years.
My main gripe is that the music just wasn’t any good. Not that it was even bad, but I picked up the title on grounds of nostalgia Add the fact that it’s a throwback to one of my proven favorites and I just couldn’t get into it. Not when the original is also playable on my DS lite. What’s strange is that the game is mechanically sound and the graphics are spot on.
So instead of Yoshi’s Island DS pulling me into a new point in the series, it only managed to force me right back to the beginning. All in all, I can’t say that’s a bad thing.
What I Learned
- Never underestimate Koji Kondo or any quality composer. Games implicitly bundle so many forms of media that the right balance can ocassionally feel asinine.
- With a new Koji Kondo soundtrack or even the original, I’d be playing this game right now.
- Nostalgia is a terrifying force and might be the biggest threat to a long-running series.
- This question is explored further in Today I Played #7 – Skyward Sword
I Must Regress
Yoshi’s Island DS is not poorly constructed. It’s not even a bad game. Had I more time, or a more recent Yoshi’s Island 1 play-through, I would’ve enjoyed this enough to keep playing. However, the issue I have is that I no longer have the luxury of playing a game just because it’s good enough. Games are a largely mechanical medium, which makes it quite easy to get lost in games purely because they’ve ticked off your preferred feature list. So many games today are playable. That’s the one thing the industry seems to do consistently. But the real question is why be satisfied with just playable?
I’m trying to move past that. When I play games now, I’m looking for potential favorites or genre-busting experiences. While most games (and most likely my own) will collapse under that much scrutiny, that standard quickly forces you to clearly delineate your wants. This mindset works even better as a creator. I’ve come to realize that my ideal game design lets the experience drive the features, while the standard format flows in reverse. Ultimately, I have no idea how much of that statement is blind idealism versus pure sensibility. It’s an easy stance to take, but a very difficult one to deliver.
Even still, it makes for a perfect goal.