When do you consider your games finished? So how challenging do you like your games? In the last generation of consoles I loved a high level of challenge and completion. At that time for me to consider a game beaten it wasnít just about seeing the end credits, but I had to experience every aspect of that game. In games like Wind Waker, Metroid Prime and even Smash Bros. Melee all of the scans, trophies and collectibles had to all be had. I played Resident Evil Remake and Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes on every difficulty and strove to open up every unlockable. Even F-Zero GX couldnít slow me down. I poured hours upon hours into that game unlocking everything even finishing the brutal single player on every difficulty level. I remember the sense of accomplishment I had from just those six games alone, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. I owned more than 50 games on the GameCube.
Today I look back at the younger me and give him a thumbs up, but given the same set of games today I donít know if I could fathom going through it again to that same degree. I mean my ego would love the kind of stroking that only a platinum trophy could provide, but today I donít even know if that is enough.
Let me juxtapose past me with present me. Today beating a game is seeing the credits. If I am enjoying a game, but donít see a reason to push on at the current difficulty I have no problems turning it down. I always start a new game at normal difficulty.
So whatís changed? Well the obvious one is where I am in my life. During the GameCube era I was in high school and college with only a part time job to contend with my time. In this generation of consoles I have a full time job, which easily sucks away time I would have spent playing games instead of doing homework. That really only effects the amount of time I have though... I mean I suppose I could still invest the time into one game just over a longer period of time. Right?
Yes, definitely, but if you are putting all of that time into one game do you wait when a new game comes out? Errr... No. Well I canít at least. Another sad side effect of the way I play games now is that I have slowly built a pile of shame. That is not to say that I am leaving that pile neglected, but when a new game comes out that I need to have or a little gem goes on sale I donít feel bad picking it up and saving it for my next open opportunity. Side note: let me tell you that these HD collections will be the death of me. Buying one game is now really like buying three! I guess I would have to admit that these days I am more about quantity of completion over quality. To be fair though there are still some games that will get me to sink the time in to see everything, but it just isnít an every game deal anymore.
Thankfully my pile doesnít even come close to resembling something like this...
The way I play games now is for the experience AND the enjoyment. There are just some things that I never enjoyed. Scanning everything in Metroid Prime? Boring. Worse? Finding out you beat the game and because you missed a scan at the beginning of the game you would have to play through the entire game again just to scan everything... again. To be clear I loved what scanning added, but I wasnít scanning everything because I loved doing it... I was scanning everything because I felt like I had to. Every game I mentioned has examples like this that make doing fun aspects of a game mundane. That isnít to say that I wonít trudge through some boredom just to be tempted by a sweet reward though. A recent example of this is that Super Mario 3D Land offered up some great levels for doing everything. On the other hand in the same franchise New Super Mario Bros. 2 barely enticed me to collect 20,000 coins let alone a million.
Another point to bring up, that I touched on earlier, is difficulty in games. Challenge isnít a reason for me to avoid a game. I am still a huge fan of Fire Emblem and have been since the Game Boy Advance days. For the record, in case you havenít been on the internet in the last month, the latest release on the 3DS is excellent. Even more I just picked up Monster Hunter and am preparing to dump a lot of time into that. If a game is challenging in its nature I am fine with it, but if it is challenging due to a poor design that is where I start to weigh the options. In that regard I have no qualms changing the difficulty anymore. Most will admit that Uncharted: Drakeís Fortune was a good game with flaws. One of those flaws for me was in the shooting mechanics. At one point in the game I was in a kill room where enemies would come out of every hole they could fit themselves through. That room ended up frustrating me so much I walked away from the game for days. I was in the middle of other games that I was really enjoying and wasnít really in any hurry to finish it. I had debated just believing that the game wasnít a match for me and being done with it, but then a light bulb appeared over my head and I brilliantly decided to change the difficulty to get through the section. For me that did the trick. I still was able to experience the game and it balanced the amount of effort I wanted to put into the game versus the return on enjoyment.
On the flip side I have a friend who never finishes games. Never is probably a little harsh, but when I ask him to tell me what games he has finished its like one hand low. One of his gaming problems that he has is that he is obsessed with trophies. Every time when he starts a game he looks at the trophy list, sees what difficulty level rewards the best trophy and starts the game there. Unsurprisingly whenever I ask him why he hasnít finished a game yet his response always ends up coming back to the difficulty. Either it takes him too long to get through a level or he dies too much. He always has a lot of excuses and in the end he has so many great games that he hasnít been able to enjoy the core experience of what they offer because of this. For me that is the point where you let the experience hinder the enjoyment.
Just want to throw in here too that he hasnít finished Journey yet because he doesnít like the fact that he canít get a stranger to get the trophies with him. A great game never completed because of a fear of being unable to complete some arbitrary accomplishment. That isnít the kind of gamer that I am satisfied being anymore. Maybe to me Journey is the best way to sum up my thoughts on this. What you should take away from a game should be itís journey and the experience it offers and everything else is a bonus.