I’m posting twice today since this subject is full-entry-sized. For a general State of the Flower, browse down some.
While I’m ranting about The Sims and games in general, here’s my biggest pet peeve in gaming: The Old School Sierra Death Fixation. “Oh no! You died! Now you have to lose everything you’ve done since your last save game! Sucks to be you!” These games burned the QuickSave mentality in your mind. Walking near a ledge? Quicksave. Not sure if that innocent looking ladder is going to kill you for a stupid reason? Quicksave. For a budding young 12 year old boy, this and Dragon’s Lair instilled a sense of paranoia and jumpy-nerves in me rivalled only by 50’s red scare propaganda.
Fastforward to today. Squaresoft makes RPGs. RPGs are games where you explore a new world and fabulous envrionments and get killed in battle, and it’s the last bit I hate the most. In RPGs you have no QuickSave; you have save points and limited space on a memory card. If your characters are too weak to escape a dungeon alive, guess what? You’re stuck. If you got an hour of progress in since the last save point and get annihilated, too bad, you get to redo it — and woe be onto you if you haven’t figured out the ‘trick’ for the boss yet and have to redo it MANY TIMES.
And don’t even get me started on Resident Evil. Can’t aim the shotgun with those pisspoor controls designed for someone with bigger hands? YOU DIED. Reload. And don’t forget, you only have a limited number of ‘typewriter ribbon’ saves!
I absolutely hate games that force you to replay bits of them because your madskillz are lacking, and limit your ability to set the points you can replay from. I don’t see this as a challenge — I see it as an exercise in frustration. If I wanted to be constantly reminded of my personal failures and forced to do it again until I got it right I’d go back to high school.
Resource management strategy games are even worse. There is nothing I hate more than pouring strong effort and thinking into something to try and build up and develop a project, either a real one of programming/writing or a virtual military base in a game, only to have it smashed to bits because I didn’t know the intricate relationship between mineral ore, soldier training ratios, the price of yeast in the virtual market and the phase of the moon. If I wanted to be punished for having insufficent economics and statistics skills I’d go back to college.
I own GameSharks for every system I have, because I love the stories and experiences of games, but crap like that turns me off them fast. If I can stomp around in God Mode so that the constant stream of crushing battle is more of a mild annoyance than the entire focus of my existence, I can get through an RPG and enjoy it. FF8 was very fun for me as a result. (I seem to be the only person who liked its story, too…)
But other than games I have to cheat to enjoy, what real games DO I like? Fighting games spring to mind. You pick it up, set the difficulty to something you can actually manage, you brawl, you have fun, and stop. DDR works the same way. These games are less about figuring out which lever to pull to avoid death and more about honing your timing and skill and brawling in a variety of places against a variety of opponents — the fun is had in the FIGHTING, not in the SUCCEEDING.
Also good are Lucasarts graphic adventure games. Why? Cause you can’t die, that’s why. If you can’t get by a puzzle they don’t whack you with a stick and kick you back ten miles. You can keep trying new ways around the puzzle, or back up and work on another puzzle, and generally do anything you want no matter how outlandish without having to worry about Sierra style wholesale slaughter for stepping out of line.
First person shooters are generally okay, since when you get splattered, your respawn and dive back in. If you’re playing more for adrenaline kicks than for domination of the scoreboard then you can get your ‘fix’ in any small or large amount of time you want.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater is fun… but I play in Free Skate mode. I like to just explore, practice tricks, find new places to thrash, etc. I don’t care about the two minute timer and the harsh trick grading system in normal competition.
The common factor in all these games I like is that you are not penalized for making mistakes or just plain sucking. Problem is, very few games are like that; death, loss of experience points, loss of the gear you spent days trying to get, and other hideous penalties are brought upon you from on high for failure in more games than I can care to count. And I guess that’s why I’ve never been more than a casual gamer. I got tired of that sort of thing back in the days of Space Quest III.