For years, I've maintained a text file in My Documents containing the release dates for upcoming games I'm interested it. It used to be that the wait for certain titles would fill me with an agonizing hunger. A friend of mine describes this feeling as an "ass itch" and I used to use his metaphor occasionally. However, in recent months, that particular symptom seems to have subsided. No, I could fairly say that it disappeared completely.
The reason? Well, like waiting for Godot, waiting for the next gaming masterpiece mostly leads to one result: disappointment.
I can't pinpoint the exact game that caused my Future Releases Apathy Syndrome (FRAS) but I have a few worthy contenders; Assassin's Creed 2, AVP and FFXIII (which wasn't disappointing because it was bad; but because it felt a little like too little, too late) are some of the more recent examples. It never bodes well for one to have high expectations when it comes to the game industry; indeed, it is best to maintain a cynical, jaded outlook on any and all upcoming title until they are processed by the merciless review machine.
It didn't help that some of the best games I've played recently were games I wasn't really expecting to be any good. Despite being a fan of Joe Madureira, I was completely uninterested in Darksiders, and yet it was one of the most pleasant surprises I've had in recent years. Same goes for Arkham Asylum, which I watched since its announcement with cautious trepidation, only for it to become my favorite game for 2009.
The combination of jarring disappointment and pleasant surprises has apparently killed my sensitivity for hype and ended what was a perpetual state of slavering for the next big release. There are more than 20 games on my future releases list, but none of them seem to stoke the fires of expectations, not even the Last Guardian or the next Metal Gear. And no, this has nothing to do with Raiden. He's cool.
It could be that, quite simply, there are no announced future games that my psyche finds enticing and irresistible. I'm almost positive that announcing a brand-new HD 2D Castlevania game for consoles would make me salivate and froth with ravenous desire. The same would hold true for new iterations of Darkstalkers, Dino Crisis, Jedi Knight, Legacy of Kain, Marvel vs Capcom, X-Men Legends or Zone of the Enders. Oh, and an announcement of a new Chrono game from SquareEnix is also likely to revive the ass itch. Yes, I confess that I'm a sucker for sequels, as long as they are done right.
Still, how many letdowns can one take before growing disillusioned? Have I crossed the threshold into a barren, dreary wasteland where every new game announcement is met by a blood-curdling 'meh' that echoes endlessly in the twilight over the sun-bleached, dusty covers of the games that failed to live up to fans' expectations?
Oh, who am I kidding? As soon as the first gameplay videos of Arkham Asylum 2, MGS Rising, Witcher 2 and Persona 5 hit the web, the itch will rear its ugly head again, and I will be trapped once more in the cycle of waiting, disappointment and surprise.