Thursday, September 23, 2010

Please hold... Samus Aran is on the line.

I've got a few side projects going right now--a video runthrough of Mega Man 6 for YouTube; a few articles for; two walkthroughs for GameFAQs that have been on hiatus forever; a homebrew Super Mario World that I owe to a few incomprehensibly patient beta testers--but I'm putting that all on hold to play video games.

It's been months since the last time I played a game that kept drawing me back in every single night of the week. It's been months since I've wanted to play a single-player game for the sake of playing it, and not just because I'd started it and wanted to finish it so I could move on to something else.

Even games I greatly enjoy such as Muramasa: The Demon Blade started to wear on me after trying to go for 100% completion, viewing all the endings and generally seeing all there is to see. The chronic problem I've been experiencing in every new game I've played for a year, almost without exception, is that they're all too long, too repetitive, or both.

Legacy of the Wizard. Tales of Symphonia. Final Fantasy II. Final Fantasy VIII. Mighty Bomb Jack. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. These are just a few of the games I've played over the past year or so that have, at some point or another, dragged on. There were a few games, such as Mega Man V for Game Boy, that were so short by comparison that I almost forgot I'd played them.

I also started a number of games--Solar Jetman, Time Lord, and Flashback: The Quest for Identity, to name a few--that I put down just because I'd never have the time to finish the longer games otherwise. As I've mentioned before, comics took the place of video games for a time as my preferred method of geeky relaxation, but I was determined to find something I was both consistently excited about, something that maintained a good pace and didn't go on for too long.

Imagine my surprise when I started playing Metroid: Other M to the near-exclusion of even Mega Man 6. The Metroid series is only a little bit behind Mega Man on my scale of favorite video game franchises, but after spending the first 30 minutes of "gameplay" watching the Final Fantasy-esque cutscenes, and then being thrust into an action-heavy 2-D/3-D gauntlet of enemies, I was pretty certain this would be another game that would become unpleasant to play after too long.

I've been playing about an hour a day for a week, and I have no intention of breaking that trend any time soon. Even though the longwinded and clumsily executed cutscenes are degrading the integrity of the series. Even though virtually every boss and miniboss battle has resulted in a Game Over after 10-15 seconds of trying to be Metroid-Prime-style creative, when I should really just shoot shoot shoot and then dodge a projectile before repeating.

Despite my issues with the game, I'm still having enough fun to carry on, and there's enough variety and speculation about where the game will take me next to warrant this daily interest in playing more. It used to be that way for almost every game I played. I miss that feeling. I also miss not having to roll my eyes or let out a heavy, frustrated sigh every 10-20 minutes, but I'll take what I can get.

And hey, maybe once I'm finished with Other M I'll luck out and find that same kind of enthusiasm for Nightshade, Sam & Max: Season Two, or Flashback, just some of the games I've been meaning to try out/get back into. Plus, The End Day is just around the corner, and I'm fixin' to play the Game Boy Color version of Crystalis for the first time... Well, I've heard it was a terrible port, but I'm playing it anyhow.


A Philosophical Nerd said...

I actually could never get into the Metroid series. I have no idea why. Perhaps because I didn't have a proper chance to play it sitting at home. I only ever saw my friends play it and tried it once or twice while I was at their house.

I've also never played the Game Boy Color port of Crystalis, though I hear I'm not missing much.

Though I just recently purchased the original Super Mario Bros. game for the Wii Virtual Console and after spending so long playing the New Super Mario Bros. Wii, it's amazing how far the franchise has come. I'm noticing even little things, such as in the original I can't change directions in mid-jump, if you have fire power, getting hit results in your shrinking rather than just losing your power-up, and the lack of detail in the background.

Flashman85 said...

Metroid is really not the kind of series you can get into by trying it out at a friend's house. My earliest exposure that I recall was trying out Super Metroid at a friend's house, and I jumped in just before one of the first boss battles, and I thought it was terrible and too hard.

Several years later, I was on a trip through Europe with, among other people, someone who had a copy of Metroid II for Game Boy. We both started from the beginning and passed the game back and forth, and it became a race (at least for me) to beat the game first. And because European bus rides can take FOREVER, I had a lot of dedicated gaming time. It was terrific, and I fell in love with the series.

It also really depends on your playing style. While I've never heard of anyone disliking Super Metroid, every other game in the series seems to have people of widely varying opinions.

I'd say to try out a few different Metroid games until you find one that works for you, and then go from there. Unless you hate space and puzzles and platformers (which I know you don't), there's really no reason to pass this series up.

I'm a big enough Crystalis fan that I'm going to play the GBC version and love it, even if it's terrible.

I think Mario is really one of the best franchises around. Always growing and changing and being refined, but never straying too far from its roots. I appreciate the little things as well.

A Philosophical Nerd said...

I can understand that, and I'm certainly willing to give it a try. I'll see if there are any Metroid games in the Virtual Console.

As for Mario, I definitely agree with you. I consider the Mario franchise to be the most creative of all time. Not necessarily the premise, but because with each new installment it tries something new. And that thing usually works (though there are a few I haven't played, but I've heard some pretty negative things about Super Mario RPG). And from what I can tell, it shows no signs of slowing down.

Flashman85 said...

You've heard *negative* things about Super Mario RPG? Egad! Who are you talking to!? Paper Mario, yes, but not SMRPG.

I don't follow the Virtual Console scene, but I'm positive Super Metroid is available. Metroid II is a guarantee anywhere that still sells old Game Boy games, and the original Metroid has been re-released a few times in various formats--if you've got a Game Boy Advance, you can play the original Metroid, Metroid II, Zero Mission, and Fusion.

A Philosophical Nerd said...

Maybe it was Super Mario 64 I've heard negative things about. Which one is the game where you jump into the pictures and collect stars? I've played that one and it was great. The other one is the one I've heard negative things about.

I will definitely check out one of those Metroid games the next time I purchase a Wii Points card.