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Looking back at how we’ve grown apart

posted on January 3rd, 2008 by matt

In the last two years, I’ve…ummm… uhhhhhhh.

Hmmm.

Two years is one hell of a long time. Asking me to write about what’s changed in the last two years concerning video games is like asking me to recall the room in which I was born. Every console that we now call next-gen was released in that time frame, and we’re knee-deep in photo-realistic gameplay.

In some ways, I’m more willing to try crazy ideas, like Every Extend Extra Extreme and Drawn to Life. But at the same time, my tastes are becoming more defined. I now know that I would prefer a game with a cohesive storyline rather than awesome gameplay. That’s why I felt completely underwhelmed by Gears of War. It has great action, but there’s not enough context for me to enjoy myself. And that’s why I’ve become hopelessly attached to games like BioShock and Phoenix Wright. I want to play games with believable characters that join together to make an awesome story. Characters like Andrew Ryan and Miles Edgeworth will always be in my heart, while I’ve already forgotten what my high score in Geometry Wars is, or what the techniques to use to kill a Locust in Gears of War.

But as I said, I will always try new things. Games like Zack and Wiki and Elebits are great gaming experiences that went under most people’s radars, which is sad. The DS is a treasure trove of crazy gaming experiences, and I wish I had the money to play them all.

What has becoming troubling to me is what I feel about Nintendo. At this moment in time, I play my 360 more than any other system. It has everything I want, and I love Xbox Live and its focus on community. Nintendo, once again, has completely forgotten about the more tech-savvy consumers and basically locked out their online experience. After awhile, it gets annoying to see Nintendo make these kinds of mistakes over and over again. Yes, we know your surveys suggest that people want to play games and only games, but I must have missed that survey because I would love a system like the 360 or PS3 from Nintendo.

This is why I’m having trouble siding with them this generation. They’re doing things their own way, and those ways are not syncing up with my current wants and needs. At one point I brought only my PSP to work, without even thinking of bringing my DS. Why? Because I could watch movies, listen to music, and play games with one system. For all its faults, the PSP is still a great system for a guy like me. Just like the 360. I can watch HD-DVD’s, go online with games like Halo 3 and Lumines Live!, and voice-chat with my friend that lives half a state away.

And the kinds of games that the Wii has brought out are starting to churn my stomach. Even though I voted Wii Sports Game of the Year last year, I am disgusted at how much crappy mini-game focused software has been created in its wake. And they’re being completely justified when games like Carnival Games sell over a million copies without having a drop of marketing behind it. There are no games like BioShock or Assassin’s Creed coming out for the Wii, and I’m having trouble defending a company that wants my mom to play a game I can program myself.

I’m not going to sell my Wii or anything, as there will probably be one or two games that I will want to play at some point, but I don’t think I’m going to think of Nintendo as my “home base” when making games purchases anymore. And it’s sad for me to say this, as I have always had the utmost respect and appreciation for Nintendo, but I’m a different man from the one I was when games like Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64 came out. I’ve changed; Nintendo hasn’t.

9 Comments

  1. shota said on January 3, 2008:

    I appreciate the subjective tone of this article and get that Wii does not satisfy your damands, but what would we gain from having Wii be a console in the photo-realistic style of 360 and PS3? Don’t you appreciate the variety the Wii offers in it’s radically different style?

    Having said this I have to say that the first system i bought was a 360 and I still don’t own a Wii.

  2. Mentally Unstable said on January 4, 2008:

    It’s nice that someone FINALLY admitted to preferring a solid storyline over awesome gameplay. I’ve felt this way forever, and most people have dubbed me as not being a “true gamer” because of it(I completely disregard those comments, because truth be told, those people were idiots), so cheers to you!

    I unfortunately don’t own a next-gen console, nor do I have the resources to purchase one anytime soon. I was leaning towards a Wii for whenever the day comes that I may purchase one, but Nintendo is too busy trying to focus on keeping their image “kid friendly” for my taste. Plus, there aren’t really any games coming out for it that tickle my fancy. I would probably choose an XBox 360–it seems to offer more, not only game-wise, but just in general. Anyway, that’s my tidbit.

    -MU-

  3. tyson said on January 4, 2008:

    While I appreciate what the Wii brings to the table as far as new play mechanics, I too am bothered by the lack of decent, non-mini game titles to play on it.

    As Jay and I were discussing, it is also disheartening to see every game that comes out for the system try to find a meaningful way to utilize the Wiimote. Developers need to remember there was a time before that gizmo when players used a regular game pad to control games and if a title doesn’t warrant Wiimote usage, to leave it out.

    As for me, I am still waiting for a new Pikmin game and an update to Pilot Wings.

  4. Matt said on January 6, 2008:

    Shota, it’s not really the lack of HD, photorealistic graphics that disappoints me with the Wii. It’s the little things that the 360, and to a lesser extent, the PS3, do so well that shows how basic the Wii is in terms of functionality. Creating a Friends list without putting in 16 digit numbers, having the ability to voice-chat with any of said friends, joining an online game by sending my friends an Game Invite, having the ability to download HD movies, even the ability to even watch a movie on the system to begin with, connecting the system to a computer and streaming music and video without some crazy hack, etc etc. I love the fact that the Wii does offer something different in terms of gaming, but at this point, I demand a lot more out of my gaming systems than just that. But as you’ve noticed, this is clearly just my opinion, formed from my personal wants and needs. And this is in no way to say the Wii was a mistake, and that Nintendo just should have stopped with the GC. This situation reminds me of what that Danc/game designer guy said about Super Mario Galaxy: the game is great, and deserves the accolades, but it’s just not for me. A lot of people on the Internet need to realize that 80% of the games released aren’t necessarily bad, they’re just not for them.

    Anyway, aside from my rambling, thanks for the comments, dear readers. I appreciate them all.

  5. TrueTallus said on January 10, 2008:

    I’m also with you on context and character being the reason to play nowadays. Can you pinpoint a rough time that started to be the priority, or has that alway been why you’ve enjoyed games, Matt?

    I hear you about functionality as well. There used to be a time when someone calling a game machine a ‘multimedia device’ would send me into fits of incensed fanboy sputtering, but after so many dvds watched on my PS2 it’s gotten to the point where I can’t help but be grateful to have a home button on my 360 or appreciate the PSP for its music playback functionality. Going back to basics with a Wii seems hollow, somehow.

  6. Matt said on January 10, 2008:

    Story became a major focus for me when I played the original Phoenix Wright, which was two years ago, incidentally. After playing that game, and nearly sweaty at the end of each case’s trial, even when I was simply tapping through text the entire time, I realized how powerful a game could be if it has a great storyline. I then started to realize that all of the great gaming experiences I had up to that point all contained great narratives and presentations, like Metroid Prime, Silent Hill 2, and the Max Payne series. And after I played Gears of War last year, which basically has no storyline, it sealed the deal for me.

  7. jay said on January 10, 2008:

    I’ve already written articles on how I disagree with the idea that games are good if they’re x (unless x = good) and I still fly into a rage when people say game systems should be multimedia hubs. I guess you’re all entitled to your opinions as long as you know you’re wrong.

  8. TrueTallus said on January 11, 2008:

    As you mentioned in said article though, jay, not everyone needs to like every kind of game. I think the point people are trying to make is that oftentimes a particular form of the artistry and craftsmanship you mentioned is most effective at creating (for them) the connection that makes a great game a great game. I don’t think anyone here is going to say Gears is a objectively a piece of garbage because Marcus spends too much time killing things and not enough time explaining what the hell is going on, but at the same time it’s harder to appreciate the game’s positive qualities when it hits so few of the sweet spots some people use to evaluate enjoyment.

  9. christian said on January 12, 2008:

    I would agree more with people who prefer stories over other things if there were better stories in videogame land.

    As it stands Gears of War was a better experience for me than any story driven game of 2007.

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