Friday, May 19, 2006

Retro Games And Why They're Not Just For Us Old Fogies

Games have gotten too centered on graphics, less on innovation.
[See my Forum Post that this text duplicates]
"PS3" versus "XBOX About Face"
Sony and Microsoft have really declared that the latest console war is about ever-increasing costs and hardware (Web comic on that issue).

Even though it's named after that thing that separates my son from my daughters, the Nintendo Wii looks more enticing because how I'd play games would change more than, say, buying a $2,000 HDTV screen. The Wii offers more than incremental gameplay changes, for around 10% of that cost (plus games). And no, I don't own a GameCube, and got an N64 only when my cousin junked it for a PS2 and XBOX. I'm no fanboi.

Meanwhile, genres we grew up with have died fashion deaths.

I must have seen the Beats of Rage download page three times before I saw the download "lots of mods" link. Some of those mods look like crazy fun. I'm sure most of y'all know about it, but it got my blood going.

Hyper Final Fight 2? The original Final Fight was my favorite beat-em-up game. I was sad that the genre died when the PSX entered the scene, because nothing really took its place.

How many 3d games allowed you to run all over the place beating people up? Unless you play Dynasty Warriors franchise, Rygar (PS2) ... there just aren't many options. Lame "play with your thumbs" First Person Shooters began to rule the day.

Halo 2 versus PC Gamer
Using a Lik-Sang keyboard/mouse adapter ("SmartJoy FRAG") for my XBOX, I went from being ranked 4% to 96%, behind only three other guys, one of which was my cousin, who couldn't believe it. I told him "The only reason I'm not beating you guys is that, while you've shown me where the guns are, I'm still not used to the best way to move about the level, and I have to keep my back to a wall or a buddy because I can't turn a 180 with a mouse (the adapter only approximated the mouse movement by using the thumbstick, which can only bend over so far).


Retro is Good
I don't let my kids play games often - and frequently they prefer other things like drawing with me or going outside, but they do enjoy their 2 GBA's in the van. Car rides are killers for 4 kids. Anyway, accidentally I've been showing them all kinds of retro games when I think about it. Other than Shadow of the Colossus (PS2), my oldest daughter prefers older, more strategic games, like Final Fantasy Tactics (PSX), FFT Advance (GBA), La Pucille Tactics (PS2).

Heck, all my kids do in Shadow of the Colossus is ride the horse and run around and explore. They find that immense fun. But how many games let you explore at your liesure these days? Well, ever.

Does he have a point?
Rarely. I guess I'm trying to say that the GP2X's retro gaming, it's emulators, its Vektar and homebrew games, they're good things because they all represent a time when folks without large budgets tried to make games.

For the emulated games, that time has passed.

For homebrew, you can't make a simple game for the PC and get noticed. It just doesn't normally happen. However, if you make a game for the GP2X, and it's good, man, everyone jumps on it. Folks will even pay.

While it's not the "old times" relived, it does have that flavor.

That's something I like about the handheld I have yet to own, and the community.


RAF said...

I missed the arcade days but playing jurrasic park on squidge is super fun. I think that open gaming will create a niche of development and innovation like the older days of gaming.

David said...

I agree, Reg. Look at how the open-source movement has saved the D&D license, or how open-moddability has made gold out of games that would otherwise just be "good" or "decent."

It's easy for people who have a lot of money and spend a lot of money to be scared of it, because they can no longer follow the money trail and can't quantify it. Name an accountant that could have predicted what would happen to Valve after Half-Life 1, or an analyst that saw Counter-Strike coming.

Because it's not a sure thing, people are still afraid to invest in it. Perhaps it will take a long time for cultural revolution to shift, and the old status barriers to come down in the information age...

But I digress.