On Gaming Roots

So one thing that I have seen other people talk about at some point is what games have been most influential to them in their lifetime. To be honest I’m not sure I could pinpoint exactly what games might fit in to that category for me. Certainly there are games that I just always remember as being my favorites, but I can’t really think of any that really changed my outlook on things.

So instead of writing about games that might have been super influential I am going to talk a little bit about how I got in to gaming in the first place. Keep in mind I’m 31 (for another month) so most of the games I feel got me in to gaming will have come out late 80’s early 90’s. Most of them pre Sony & Microsoft days.

The first time I can remember playing a video game is actually before I ever got my first NES. There was a mom & pop restaurant by where I lived at the time and they had an old 8 bit Mario arcade cabinet. This was the same game as the NES version, just with a different title, “VS Super Mario Bros.“. I don’t recall getting very far, but that isn’t saying a lot since I didn’t actually beat the original Mario game for a long time.

So as I mentioned the first console I ever had was the NES, and I remember having a couple games for it. Mario Brothers, and Track & Field that had the awesome floor mat pad that looked like the mat from Twister. We didn’t have many games, but back then I wasn’t cooped up playing them all the time either. I couldn’t say all the games I ever had for it, I just remember having the Mario games. I still love a good platformer, and that comes from growing up on that genre.

After the NES I got the SNES and the Sega Genesis (not the Master System). My love of platformers continued with both of these consoles but I got my first taste of the Zelda series when I borrowed a friends copy of “A Link To The Past”. I didn’t finish it at the time, though I did eventually. This was also the time when fighting games such as Street Fighter II and the original Mortal Kombat were seeing home releases.

Years passed by and consoles came and went. I can say I’ve owned or played at least a good majority of the various consoles that came out. At least the major brand ones from Sony, Nintendo, Sega and Microsoft. We didn’t really have the money growing up to buy a lot of games so most of them were borrowed or rented at blockbuster. Only in the last few years as I’ve finished up college and got a well paying job that I’ve been able to start buying games seriously.

I do still have an old SNES and Sega laying around. I need to find a good, legal way to play these on my tv. I know people always talk about playing ROMS and stuff on the PC but I don’t feel the same sense of joy playing an old game if it isn’t with the original console, or at least the original cart & controller.

I probably could have talked at length about this topic, but I feel like maybe various parts can be discussed individually.

That and I really need to get back to work.

On Okay Nintendo, You Win

Today’s post is going to be a bit short. I actually almost forgot to write anything at all to be honest. As things usually go today was a fairly busy day at work starting off with a nice long meeting that almost put me to sleep followed by a mad rush to do a few code changes and lots of SQL scripts.

So as I mentioned previously, this week is E3 week and all sorts of announcements are coming out and game trailers are being released. One of the games that I’ve been waiting a long time to hear about is the new Zelda title on the Wii U. Now, here’s the thing, I don’t own a Wii U. Up until now I have not felt like there has been enough of a reason to buy the system. I know there are some great Mario titles out there, but that just isn’t enough for me.

Now that they’ve announced a new regular Zelda game (I’m not counting Zelda Hyrule Warriors as canon) I finally have a game I want that system for. I’m not going to go out and buy the system right away though, I’ll wait to see if there is a special edition console first. Zelda has been and always will be a system seller for me. Twilight Princess was the reason I got a Wii on release day, even if I didn’t finish it. And the new 3DS title “A Link Between Worlds” is why I got the 3DS special edition.

Zelda has always been one of my favorite games ever since “A Link To The Past” on the SNES. I’ll admit I’ve never finished the NES versions, and I’ve not played every game in the series but I’d like to remedy that at some point.

So all I have to say to Nintendo at this point is, “Shut up and take my money”.

On Console Exclusivity

This week E3 is going on and the big companies are showing off their new games and product pitches. Yesterday both Microsoft and Sony held their big presentations talking about upcoming titles and how focused they are on providing content. Both companies tend to talk about their console exclusive titles, but also talk about cross console releases as well. The thing is both companies kept talking about how they’d have this title first or have this amount of exclusive content that you won’t get anywhere else.

Every time I heard that I want to get a rolled up newspaper and whack the presenter on the nose saying “Bad presenter, stop withholding content from your players!”. I think it is dumb to separate what players get just because they may choose one console over another. Personally I own a PS4 (for arguments sake keeping this next gen). I don’t own a XBox One and really I don’t plan to get one. A lot of the games that I want are coming out for both systems, which you know that’s great because everyone should have a chance to play a game their interested in. I don’t like the idea of console exclusive titles anyways.

It just annoys me to no end when they start talking about how console x is going to get the game release first or how they will have an extra x number of hours of additional content that the other system won’t get. If I get Assassins Creed Unity on the PS4 I want the exact same content that someone on a Xbox One is getting. I don’t see why I should be penalized because of the console I own. Don’t tell me because I didn’t buy system x I can’t have 100% of the content that was developed. I’m paying for that content so just give it to me. And especially don’t come back a year later and try to charge me money for what used to be exclusive content that is now DLC.

Now, I can understand why they do this. And it’s a pretty simple reason. They want to drive up sales of their game so that they can say how well their game sold and more money means more games that can be developed. Does that mean I have to like it?I can’t even fault any particular company for doing this because both Sony and Microsoft are doing it. Now I say the brand when the decision might be on the individual developer level, I don’t know who decides what. I’m just saying I don’t think it is fair to the consumer.

Do I think this is ever going to stop? Not really, developers and the main companies such as Sony and Microsoft make too much money off of these practices to stop doing it.

On New Game Plus

So kind of a topic stretch today, I’m doing this a bit earlier in the day than normal (it’s currently 5:45am) because I start my on call week today. This means I may be a bit too busy during the day to type up a long post, so I figure I’d do it before the world came crashing down. I’d say I would hope for a quiet week but that is never guaranteed.

That being said, today’s topic is New Game+ modes in games. I’m not exactly sure how many games have done this lately but I know of a few. Namely Dark Souls 1 & 2 and the latest Zelda game A Link Between Worlds. On the off chance you’ve never heard of new game + mode the gist of it is that once you finish the game on normal difficulty it lets you start over from the beginning with all your items/skills but makes the enemies more challenging. Now keeping all your items is not a 100 percent guarantee since Zelda does not do that. It just starts you off at the beginning with harder enemies and you lose health a lot faster. Dark Souls 1 & 2 at least lets you keep your level, and I’m sure you keep all your items as well, though I can’t say for certain as I’ve never tried.

This leads me to wonder a couple of things.

First off, why do games even offer a new game plus mode? Why not just offer a game that lets you select what difficulty you want and go from there? Personally I think it is an attempt to extend the life of a game that otherwise might not take that long to finish. Or there could be specific achievements or rewards that can only be found on a second playthrough. I know that I never find every item or collectible on the first try, and going back to earlier areas might not always be an option. The other reason I can think of is that it is there for people who want that additional challenge, maybe they thought the first playthrough was too easy or something.

The second thing is more of a reader poll. Do you play new game + mode when it is available? If so, why? Personally I have yet to finish a game in new game +. This is primarily because I have not seen any specific rewards for it other than a more difficult game. I find it especially difficult to play through a compelling story a second time as there are no longer any surprises. For me this was the case with the latest Zelda game. I really enjoyed the story, and started out playing new game + because there was a specific item that shed some light on a secondary characters backstory that only unlocked after finishing the game. Once I got that object I no longer felt compelled to keep playing. I might go back to it eventually, as I love the Zelda series, but back to back playthroughs are not my thing.