Oh, hello. Greetings, one and everyone. Welcome to me.... Move!... The Bongos!... Move the Bongos. Um... what else? I pretty much run the show around here. I date the only girl, and have the only propeller cap. And can run, and jump, and kick the fastest, highest and like nobody's business. If I had to pick one word to describe myself, it would probably be... Fluffy Puff Marshmallows. Or Move the Bongos. Either one, really. They both fit.
Except for the occasional Arcade shooter from XBLA or PSN the game over screen seems to be extinct. The questions is, is it better or worse for the gamers?
I believe the answer isn’t a simple “Yes” or “No”.
What do the words “Game Over” convey? Well simply put, the gaming is over. You aren’t good enough to beat this game. You tried, you used up all your lifes and your continues and now you have ran all out of them and the only resolution is to start the entire game from the beginning.
In decades past this was how we played our games - a game mechanic inherited from the quarter-craving arcades. In the 8-bit era only a select few games had such an intricate design that you actually picked up from were you last left from either a save file or through a password. Some argue that the desingers would have wanted to add these features in their games but lacked the technology to do so. When PC-gaming finally took off in the early nineties the abilty to save was inherit in the system as PC:s easily had memory to spare for such a thing and the game designer didn’t have to bundle the saveslot within the game.
Game design progressed through the years and started to lean more on games that took more of the gamers time than a few hours. The save file became a necessity, thus taking away the power of finit lives in a game. The old “1 UP” (The power up not the site) became obsolete. “Who cares about lives? I can just load from my last save.” This is particularly obvious in Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii (FTW?) where the extra lives are completely unnecessary and even the save files don’t care how many you had stocked up on.
Imagine playing Ninja Gaiden II and having a finit number of tries before the game forced you to start over from level one. Would anyone beat the game at all? Imagine Metal Gear Solid 4 where death meant you had to start the game from the beginning?
Games have evolved and lives are a part of the arcady past. Point collecting survival games as Geometry Wars will still need the them, but the rest of the games have already made their peace with the inevitable fact.