Fourth time’s a charm…


  • Posted By Brooke Burgess Eye
  • Been receiving lots of requests lately for game-related news and thoughts, so I guess you can say that I’m buckling and giving the people ‘what they want’. That said, let’s start with what’s most important, and then close with a side order of continued speculation ;)

    First, yet another personal revelation, blasphemous though it may seem. I have NEVER played through a videogame twice. Well, that’s not entirely true – I did take several swipes at a limited roster of Intellivision classics in my tween years – but otherwise, I just don’t have the time or the patience (or, quite frankly, the bankroll) to indulge my interactive entertainment jones to this degree. Yet I’ve most certainly re-read books (Rings, Narnia, and graphic novel goodness come to mind). And I’ve watched Big Trouble in Little China and Twin Peaks: FWWM upwards of 30 times by now. But I’ve never given a ‘linear’, narrative-based game a second go. For whatever reason, once the experience was essentially, uhhh, experienced…I had had my fill. And yes…even with Ocarina of Time, kids. It’s true.

    But one title has made me a tourist no more. In fact, I’ve become somewhat of a permanent Resident (*groan*). Capcom, finally stepping up and swinging a mighty big stick in game publisher wars, has shown conclusively with Resident Evil 4 that tight gameplay, beautiful graphics, intense sound design, and brilliant level layout CAN co-exist…in freakin’ harmony no less. My first time through several months back was a cautious one – I’d wait ’til nightfall, unplug the phone, crank the surround, and hit the greenery-assisted headspace for a truly singular experience. Not once did I get to bed before dawn. Not once did a day go by where I didn’t obsess over the previous night’s discoveries. And not once was my faith in this simulated world (even with some painful narration and script hackery) ever shaken to the point of detachment. And what happened after I beat the last boss and had my jetski denouement? After I celebrated my thumb-twiddling mastery? After I gobbled up the unlocked extras and reflected on the hours well-spent? The unheard of. I fired it up one more time…with infinite rocket launcher in hand. :)

    So that’s why I’m so concerned about the upcoming console generation. People just aren’t talking about what’s IMPORTANT. Engaging play. Compelling characters. Original stories. Instead, they’re unzipping and whipping out phantom benchmarks on the table. DON’T be fooled, kidlets. The PS3? It’s a monster, sure…but will any team have a programmatic handle on the cell architecture in time for the 6 month launch window? From what I’ve heard, extremely doubtful. The 360? Believe it or not, my code-monkey contacts are crying foul, as the system’s memory structure and graphics pipeline are proving to be incredibly UNDERwhelming…as in ‘maybe TWICE the power of X-Box, at best’. And Revolution? I’m the first to admit severe disappointment at their E3 bait and switch. And yeah, the lack of HD support sucks balls. But after a heated discussion with a coder pal on what truly makes games ‘great’, we couldn’t help but agree that the shining age of gaming gleamed most brightly during the SNES years:

    Pilotwings

    Actraiser

    Super Mario Kart

    Street Fighter II

    A Link to the Past

    Starfox

    Final Fantasy III

    Man,that nostalgia wave keeps on crashing against these weary shores. Maybe Nintendo IS onto something with the downloadable library scheme. Maybe we can’t move forward in this bold new medium…without remembering – and honoring – where we came from.

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