September 26th, 2007

wart

I think I've covered a lot of this stuff before, but so what?

After we watched a segment about Halo 3 on the TV last night, bethje mentioned that she doesn't think video games are as good as they used to be. This isn't an uncommon opinion; I've seen it made plenty of other places, and I agree with it myself. It seems like the focus now is mostly on flashy graphics and top-notch sound [1], and while it's amazing how far these things have come in a fairly short amount of time, I don't know that it makes the games any more fun to play. I remember when I used to play games on my old Texas Instruments computer, and I was never very good at them, but that didn't seem to matter as much back then. Maybe that's more of a change in my own attitudes than in the games themselves, though. Am I just being Cranky Kong here?

I have heard that more recent games are easier, to the point that someone should be able to beat them after playing them only a little while. And, really, just look at how much harder the original Super Mario Bros. is compared to its sequels. Then there's the original Zelda, where you were given little or no indication as to where to bomb or burn in order to find things. Later games in the series provided cracks in the walls and such, but that first one pretty much left you on your own, or else relegated you to a strategy guide or tip hotline. [2] For that matter, not too long before these early Nintendo games came out, the idea that you COULD win a video game was pretty novel. As someone who's not very good at video games, you'd think I'd appreciate this decline in difficulty. But I have to imagine that an easier game is more of a throwaway commodity, since you don't have to stick with it for as long before finishing.

I can't say I follow the charts for video games any more than I do for music or movies, but it seems like war games are really big nowadays. In fact, that appears to be about ALL you can get for the XBox, aside from the inevitable games based on movies I didn't see [3]. One thing I appreciate about Nintendo is that they presumably intend on making Mario and Zelda games for ages to come. Even if I've never been good at those games, I still like them, and the fact that they maintain the familiar while still introducing new elements. But then, considering my taste in books and such, is it any wonder that I'd have a preference for child-friendly fantasy in video games as well?

[1] It appears to be increasingly common these days for games to simply play regular songs, which is cool from a technological perspective, but kind of a shame to a fan of old-school video game music, who has the Super Mario Bros. 2 theme as his ringtone. I was, however, rather amused a few years ago when I found out that one of the songs played in a game my brother had was Cibo Matto's "Birthday Cake," which I knew from the Brain Candy soundtrack.
[2] I can't say that I ever called the Nintendo help line. Now I kind of wish I had, for the sake of the memories.
[3] Possible topic for a future post: Good, bad, and indifferent licensed games based on movies, TV shows, etc. Just to give you a sneak preview:
GOOD: DuckTales for the NES
BAD: Bart vs. the Space Mutants
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