Back as a child, I was fascinated with computer games. We used to go around
and visit relatives quite a lot, and that tended to be a dull experience. Sure,
itís nice to see family and everything, but some of them can be really boring.
What used to save me on some visits was the presence of a games console. Iíd get
round there, say hello, and then I would disappear with my cousin upstairs to
play Sonic the Hedgehog, or Super Mario Brothers 3. Those two games were what
hooked me into gaming. Sonic for its sheer thrill, speed and simplicity. Mario
for its depth, the ability to find secret areas, and the number of levels
available to play through.
I remember getting a NES when I was 11. My Dad and my Mum had just split up,
and my sister and I used to stay over at Dadís some weekends. It was made cooler
by the fact that Dad would let us stay up until 1am. As an 11 year old, that was
really exciting. I completed Super Mario Brothers 3 late one night around my
Dadís. It was the first game of any sort that I had completed, and the simple
joy at that fact bought a smile to my face.
I progressed my way up through the consoles. I owned a Gameboy, a Game Gear,
a SNES, a Mega Drive, a Master System (my Mumís friendís son lent it to me over
one Easter, and I enjoyed the fun of The Real Ghostbusters and Alex Kidd),
before I finally graduated to the Playstation.
Thinking back on gaming before I owned the Playstation, every game I owned I
played to death. They were all so enjoyable to experience. Even a simple game
like Nintendo World Cup Football on the NES was awesome in 2-player team mode
playing with my sister. Streetfighter 2 Turbo for the SNES, a first in arcade Ė
console translation that we now take for granted, was another game that I went
through with every character just to see the endings. Maniac Mansion, a silly
game (Green Tentacle? Purple Tentacle?), but one that was thoroughly amusing and
also thought provoking.
With the Playstation, I found that I could not get as attached to every game
I owned. Sure, there was the Final Fantasy series, the Suikoden series, the
first Wild Arms, the first Grandia. I played these games as I had played many
others before. Final Fantasy VII took me three and a half years to grow bored
of. Yet there were other games as well that I didnít take to and couldnít
complete as a result. Tomb Raider, for instance. Everyone says that this is a
great game, yet I find it average at best, and never played it all the way
I thought that maybe I was growing out of gaming (and this is another topic I
intend to discuss at one point), made more recent by the purchase of my
Playstation 2. Iíve got five games in my collection. Final Fantasy X Iíve
completed once and put away and not touched since. Metal Gear Solid 2 Iíve
completed once and put away and not touched since. Legaia 2 I started playing,
but which is currently gathering dust. The only game I play a bit is Gran
Turismo 3, and thatís because my housemate and I are both playing it, changing
I went back to my copy of Final Fantasy Anthology. I bought it a year ago,
and grown bored of Final Fantasy V, so I figured Iíd give Final Fantasy IV a try
instead. I found myself heavily addicted to the storyline (a simple tale, but
one that grabs your heart and that I can relate to), and I also found the battle
system quick, responsive, easy to learn, and fun enough to help drag me through
each random encounter. The gameplay itself was fun, making me want to sit
through each battle to see what was going to happen next in the game.
Which begs the question: - Is gameplay in general beginning to deteriorate?
Are companies more concerned with getting a nice looking game, a tried and
tested system for gameplay, and then shoving it out on the shelves under an
advertising scheme to make as much money as possible? Or are there still many
great games out there that I am just not finding?
Iíd like to think that gaming companies are still trying to make new systems
of gameplay. The problem with a lot of sequels to RPGs is the reliance on the
battle system of the previous game. As a player, I want to find new options and
new ways of doing battle to make the game seem different, and make the gameplay
interesting again. If I wanted the old battle system, I would play the old RPG.
Without a doubt, games in the earlier days were more innovative because there
were less of them. Each new gaming type was a breath of fresh air and impressive
because no one had tried it before. Now, the market is flooded with first person
shooters, RPGs, driving games, fighting games. Maybe gameplay only seems stale
because there are so many games doing the same thing?