March 15, 2010

Dark ages for video games

I finally broke down and bought a PS2 (slim), though not because there are many good original games for it -- and with some 4500 games available, that is a pathetic success rate, compared to all the gems among the roughly 900 games for the Sega Genesis, 800 for the Nintendo, or 700 for the Super Nintendo. Rather, it offers lots of great compilations. Except for racing and first-person shooter games, which are the only genres that are superior in 3-D, video games have been in the dark ages since roughly 1995. However, just like during the Medieval period of European history, the great works from the previous golden age are still being preserved and even slightly expanded upon. Sure, there are a few greats that this period has produced -- such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and evidently the New Super Mario Bros Wii (both 2-D platformers) -- but it's mostly been an era of conservation.

I bought a GameCube last summer just so I could play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games on a TV, although I was also enticed by some of the compilations they had. Still, it's become clear that the variety just isn't there; it's the PS2 that is like Baghdad's House of Wisdom. As a little kid, I never would've imagined that I'd be able to play Final Fight for real on a home console, let alone that scores of other superstar arcade games would be included on the same disc -- or have all of the Mega Man or Sonic games on one disc -- and that this wouldn't cost more than a single disc otherwise would.

Now all they need is a compilation of rare or expensive action RPGs like Terranigma and Secret of Mana, and just to fill it out, maybe some of those turn-based RPGs (which I don't like) that are impossible to find cheaply like Chrono Trigger and Earthbound. They've already made a killing with two 16-bit era compilations, so why not? It would help to tide us over until the Renaissance comes.


  1. Have you played Cave Story? It's like one of the greatest games of the NES era fell through a time warp 15 years into the future.

  2. Modern video games can be really fun when they first come out, but they deteriorate quickly. Because 2D technology peaked with the SNES, and best designers took advantage of every opportunity they had within its limits, those games are still tremendously fun, and newer 2D games for the GBA just repeat the successes of the old.

  3. If you want to play the older yet still popular games without shelling out a fair bit of money, why not just get an emulator? The games are out there if you know where to look.

  4. Agnostic, I know you're anti "cinematic" video games like Grand Theft Auto and Mass Effect, but for those of us who happen to enjoy these sorts of games, we're in more of a Renaissance than a Dark Ages. There's a ton of new content coming out for those who, contra-Agnostic, like and appreicate 3rd-person action RPGs, etc. They get better and better. Seriously.

    Your post should read "Dark ages for [Agnostic-favored] video games". Or perhaps we should come up with different terms to describe the different genres?

    This is one of the few areas where I think you have "ideological" (as such) blinkers on.

    Otherwise, keep up the great work!

  5. Grand Theft Auto is "cinematic"? I thought it was more of a mayhem-filled sandbox game. Admittedly, I haven't played as much of the more recent ones, spending much more time with 2 & 3.

  6. "Cinematic"...meaning, having cut-scenes, trying to draw the player in to the experience of the narrative (a la movies). GTA does this for sure…if you play through the missions, that is. Or you can just run around causing mayhem, which is fun in and of itself.

    I remember an earlier post or two where Agnostic basically railed against this development in video games - which is fine. Not his cup of tea. My younger brother is the same way...he prefers to play old SEGA games rather than newer XBOX 360 games. Which, again, if fine. People have different tastes, no?

    All I'm saying is that there are some (many?) who actually enjoy the newer sorts of games, and for us the new crop of current-console games is more like a "renaissance" than a "dark ages". That's all.

  7. "If you want to play the older yet still popular games without shelling out a fair bit of money, why not just get an emulator?"

    Because it's illegal. In some rare cases, I'd do it, like if the company were no longer around, no one else were even trying to sell it, and there were hardly any existing copies. But all I can think of there is Terranigma (never released in the US and no converter that would let us play a Euro copy on our machines).

    Those factors are not independent of the decisions that game players make to steal ROMs or not: if companies believe that most people are going to download ROMs, they won't re-publish their back catalog.

    Just look at how impossible it became to get ROMs over the internet once the game came out on Virtual Console. And ditto other rare games like Castlevania: Rondo of Blood for the TurboDuo. If Konami thought everyone would just freeload off a pirated ROM, they would never have included that on the Dracula X Chronicles game for the PSP.

    Game companies need a sign of good faith from their consumers not to pirate their stuff, or else they won't bother trying to please them.


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