And in a flash of green, Voltech’s on the scene! That’s…that’s, uh…my tentative catch phrase. I’m still working on it.
Anyway, I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving, and in case I don’t get around to it -- and in the event that you’re already getting into the spirit and/or frenzy -- here’s hoping that you all have the merry holiday of your choice. I managed to handle myself and the requisite meal pretty well…but you know what? Something’s still fresh on my mind.
Not long ago I was having a conversation with my brother. He asked me if I wanted to play some Borderlands 2
with me, and help him finish up the DLC. Now, I may be in the minority here (and I’m pretty sure that saying this is grounds for being put before a firing squad), but I don’t like Borderlands 2
. I’m not going to knock anyone that does, and certainly not the effort put into it by good people, but…well, I really can’t stand it. I told my brother as such; “That game’s kinda boring,” I said, giving him the abridged version of my complaints.
As expected, he reacted poorly. “What do you mean, the game’s boring?” he snarled, eager to flay me. He gave a derisive snort. “What, and Devil Survivor
I shook my head, earning another snort. “Man, you don’t like any big budget game,” he said, and started off on his way. I would have given him a counter-argument if I could have, but nothing came to mind; thinking back, he had a good point. I’ve taken shots at plenty of big-budget or triple-A games, just like a lot of other gamers. I can’t say I have any malice for them just because they’re made with some serious funds, but…well, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed a lot of them, either. Whether or not Borderlands 2
qualifies as a big-budget game, I’ll leave that to you al and financial figures scattered across the internet; the important thing is that I’m hard-pressed to point to any games that I’ve really enjoyed, and I’m having a hard time pinpointing why. I mean…
…Hold on a second. Is it just me, or is it that every time I come and post something on Destructoid, it’s to make a complaint about games? Like, I’m raising an issue that’s either been discussed to death or is inconsequential in the long run? And now here I am talking about big-budget games, which everyone’s already discussed into the ground? Oh man…and I spent so much time coming up with a cool topic…maybe I should just pack it up.
No, no. I’m already here. Might as well write. But man, I need a drink. Maybe I’ll go get some root beer or something -- bet that’ll make this a little easier to swallow.
Ah, nuts. No more root beer. Now what am I supposed to drink with my hot dogs after this? Man, what a…huh? What’s this?
“Beer”? Hmmm. Well, if it’s anything like root beer -- which I’ll gladly admit is the second greatest invention besides the hot dog -- then I’m sure I’m in for a treat.
Huh. You know, I think I’ve heard of this “beer” before. My dad drinks it every so often, I think. And if I remember correctly, he let me try some once. The details are kinda hazy, but it’s kinda hard to forget that taste. Not something I’m used to, that’s for sure. Sticks with you, you know? And I kinda like it! Makes me feel reeeeeeally good!
Well, anyway, triple-A games. Man, there are a lot of those nowadays, aren’t there? I remember back when I first got an Xbox 360, the first game me and my brother grabbed was the original Gears of War
. And I played it (after we got a second pad), and I can’t say I had any major complaints about it besides the usual -- insert your favorite meathead joke here -- but you know what? For all the money and effort and talent that went into it, I can’t say it’s anywhere near one of my favorite games ever. Same goes for its sequels, especially Gears 3
-- likely because I’d gotten tired of the formula and I felt like there were some major missteps gameplay-wise and story-wise. Worse yet, I’m pretty sure I don’t remember anything from those games besides the big details. I remember General RAAM and Tai’s suicide and that cowboy guy…what was his name? Dusty? Rusty? Oh, right -- Dizzy. I feel like Dizzy just kinda disappeared at one point in the game, and nobody bothered to look for him. Guess I can’t blame them, though; judging by how many guys they had in Gears 3
, they weren’t starved for soldiers.
I dunno. I mean, I guess that in general triple-A games are usually fundamentally perfect, but in terms of satisfaction? It feels like they’ve been doing less and less for me these days, if anything at all. I played through the Halo 4
campaign, and while it was a solid game (except for this weird-ass glitch where a tank my brother drove kept falling through the level), and the Cortana stuff was pretty cool, it wasn’t exactly satisfying. Hell, I’m having a hard time remembering big chunks of it…except for that last boss fight, and I’m tempted to put that in quotation marks. I know I’m getting older, but I don’t think it’s a problem of me outgrowing video games or being one of those “nostalgia-tards”. I played through Tales of the Abyss
again recently, and even though I still like it, that game has some serious
problems. And I dug up my N64 just so I could play Majora’s Mask
, and that game isn’t perfect either (close to it, though). So what…
…Wow. I suddenly feel really old and depressed. Maybe I should go to sleep or something.
Or I could get another one of those beer things. Eh, let’s go with that. I still feel like writing, you know?
Wheeeeeew! Oh man. Sorry, but, ya know, I just had to make sure I ended on a nice, even number. And four’s my lucky number, you know? Yeah. Yeah, you know it. Whoa. Feelin’ a little dizzy here…but it’s all right. S’all good! Just gonna keep on typin’, and everything’ll work out.
So uh…yeah. You know what I just noticed? I just named a whole bunch o’ Japanese games. That’s not too good for my case, you know? Like, people’ll start thinking that I’m racist against western games. And I’m totally not! I’ll have you all know that I got my virtues from my mom and dad -- and they totally love white people!
So where was I? Oh, right. The games. Japanese games. They’re pretty cool, aren’t they? Like, look at Devil Survivor
. You ever heard of that one? Or…or those ones? You should have, ‘cause it’s -- they’re friggin’ great. You got your characters, and your story, and your themeses…plus they’re hard as shit, man. There’s these duck guys that’ll fly all the way across the map and heal their dudes while smashin’ up all your dudes. And ya gotta make sure ya kill ‘em in one fell swoop, or else it’s ZWOOOP! The duck soldiers are back at full health and ready to munch on your pancreas!
Course, it seems like nowadays ya can’t have a Japanese game without some busty schoolgirls…or some loli schoolgirls…oh, and ya gotta have one o’ those tsundere thingamajigs. I’m a little rusty on my Japanese, but I’m pretty sure it means “onion peeler.” Man, sure are a lotta crazy conventions out there past U.S. borders, huh? But seriously, just cause a game’s from the land o’ the risin’ red circle on a white rectangle…that…th-that don’t mean it’s a good game automatically. Ya heard any good news from Squeenix recently? Ya wanna know what they’re up to? Psh, I know. I’ll tell ya what they’re up to: makin’ games. Makin’ some good lookin’ games.
Yeah, cause they’re…they’re a game compaGAMES THAT’RE GONNA SUCK, AM I RIGHT?
‘Scuse me, I need to get some more beer. It’s good! I gotta, I gotta taste for it now! I’m just glad I got so many bottles in my fridge for some reason!
…I…uh…I, uh…you know what? Beer is…b-beer is really somethin’ else. I feel all my troubles just meltin’ awa-HEY, SHUT UP! Stupid barkin’ ass dog. What’ve ya got goin’ on in yer life! That’s right -- NUTHIN’! Cause yer a dog!
Oh gee- oh jeez. Oh boy. Head feels heavy and big and heavy. I feel like…like a lollipop in the breeze after gettin’ rained on. That’s…that’s good writin’, isn’t it? I dunno, I’m just wingin’ it here.
Oh, right. Gamez. That’s what I’m -- hic -- that’s what I’m here for, right? Games. I friggin’ love games. No, wait. I didn’t mean that. I didn’t mean it, I didn’t mean it, I take it back! Whew, that was a close one. I meant to say I friggin’ love games. Friggin’ love GOOD games, yes. And like…I feel like more money doesn’t automatically make a game better, ya know? Like, ya dump a bucket full o’ ketchup on yer hot dog and yer not eatin’ a…a, uh…what was I talkin’ about? Oh, yeah, that game Fus Ro Dah: The Game
. That’s a reeeeeeeeeeeeal good one. How much money went into that? Like, a hundred dollars? Two hundred? A gazillion googol dollars? Man, did it ever show. I go in and I’m all like, “Man, I’m gonna save the world!” And then like a day later I’m all, “Man, forget the world! Imma go kill some demon walruses with some Harry Potter shit!” And ya know what? That fuckin’ game actually let me do it!
That’s some mean green power right up in that house-ca-traz! Tasty as a fried potato! Speakin’ o’ tasty, Imma get some more beer. Bet that can tastes reeeeeeeeeeal sweet, too! I am lovin’ this
Oh God. Oh…oh God.
I…I uh…you mind if we do a little real talk? Like, if I vent a little? You know, back when I was six, I was playing outside with my brother. And I…I guess I did something to tick him off, or something -- or maybe he just wanted to mess with me a little. So you know those Nerf gun things? The things that shoot foam darts? Well, we had a few of those, and I guess he decided to see what would happen if he…if he loaded it up with some ants and shot them at me.
It went about as well as you expect. I mean, I don’t remember the details that well -- you know, for obvious reasons -- but according to my brother, I was screaming and crying and clawing at my face as all these ants started crawling over me and biting me. He got whipped for it, so I guess he learned his lesson...but you know what? Ever since then, I’ve never been able to handle bugs all that well. I’ve been pretty good at hiding it, but that’s only because I put myself in situations where I wouldn’t have to be near them. So…like, I’m thinking that maybe the reason I clung to games as a kid and not bike-riding or sports or even nature walks is because I was really, really scared of bugs. And maybe that’s why I’ve never liked guns, either -- because the fact that a Nerf gun could do so much damage is still deep in my mind. Maybe I am who I am because of my subconscious insulation, and where I'd be in life might be completely different if not for games. I mean, I wanted to be an architect for years...
And you know what else? Maybe that’s why I take games so seriously, and always say things like “games are full of potential!” and “games can be so affecting!” or “games aren’t just murder simulators!” And then I see all these triple-A games that squander their potential, and don’t affect me, and are mostly murder simulators. And then, like, what am I supposed to do next? Triple-A games, and games with guns, and all that junk? They’re everywhere -- or at least the ones that get the most attention. And I think to myself, “That’s not fair. Not fair at all.” And then I think, “Is this what games have become now? Or what they’re destined to be? Are things gonna get worse from here on out?” And it scares me. It…it seriously scares me.
…HEHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, jeez, I think I need to puke. But I know how to fix that!
Man, forget this! It’s poetry time! Let’s see if I still got the juice to spruce up this goose…on the loose.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Oh man, so this is what it’s like to be drunk
Haha, nah, just kidding
I just gotta warm up
Video games are really gamey
And I bet a lot are really samey
You know why? ‘Cuz ya put so much money into ‘em
That ya gotta make sure they hit all the high notes
‘Cept they don’t be high notes after a long time
‘Cause everyone’s seen ‘em a million times
And then it’s like, “What now?”
And then devs are all, “I dunno, whatever.”
And then I go, “Okay, so do somethin’.”
And they go, “Yeah OK LOL whaddya want?”
And then I go, “Make a good game, homeslice.”
And then they’re all like, “Dude, no problem. We got this.
We got all the money we need to do it. Just gotta put in lotsa guns and explosions, and setpieces and cinematics, and knives and orchestra music that goes DUN DA DA DUN DA DA BOOM BOOM BOOSH, and stabbing and kills, and bows and dirt, and grime and moral ambiguity, and setups for trilogies that’ll become more than trilogies cuz people’re buyin’ our shit, and ya gotta have Nolan North --”
And then I’m all like, “Wait a sec. What game’re ya makin’ again?”
And then they go, “Oh, nuthin’. We just make ALL OF THE GAEMZ.”
“Nah, dudes. Not all the games,” I tell ‘em while I’m ridin’ my Battle-Squirrel.
“Yeah, man. All da gameses.”
“Ya makin’ Mario
games? Or Zelda
games? Or Atlus games?”
And then they throw a bucket at my head laugh. “Pshaaaaaaaaaaaw! Marro n’ Zelder? Those’re big-budget games too, ya know! Plus they’re on the Wheeeeeeeee, so they suck audamadiclly!”
“’Kay, I’ll give ya Mamago
and Zell Dincht
, cause, they’re like…like, also triple-A games…kiiiiiiiiiinda. But Atlus? Nah, dudes. They’re real low-budget, probly. And they’re frippin’ top-o-da-line. You play Debble Sabaiba
? Er Ettren Odsie
? Shit, man, least tell me ya played Personer
! King’s game and Carl Jung and…and crossdressers, ‘s far as d’eye can see!”
And then they throw a beehive at my face. “Atlus ain’t shit, man! See dem graffecs? Ain’t nuthin’!”
And I go, “Don’ need dem graffecs when ya got good storees and good gameplay!”
And they go, “OK, but do dey got multimaplayer?”
And I go, “Cathrun
had some, kinda.”
And they go, “Awwwww, dat’s cute. But whadda thay got to show for it? They didn even put out DLC! How ya gonna get more money if ya don giddem with KFC?”
And I tells ‘em, I says, “Ya build loyalty -- A STORM OF LOYALTY -- with good products. Now, I ain’t a-sayin’ all yer products are terrible just ‘cuz ya make ‘em with a lotta money, ‘cuz that’s just dumb. But ya guys have lotsa money an’ make the game equiba…equiver…equivalibble of a dumpster full o’ popcorn, and guys with less money n’ less tech end up cookifyin’ a risotto served with diamonds. Ya can get people comin’ back with popcorn, and it’s good enough to get what ya want, but if ya can do better with less, then hell, why not do better
And then they stare at me for a while and say, “Man, why’re we listenin’ t’you gab on an on? Yer drunk!”
And I wave a hand n’ go, “Yeah, but I’m, like, super-artichoke when I’m drunk!”
And then they shoot me in the face with a railgun. POEM OVER! MORE BEER, PLEASE!
And lo, in my quest for truth and solace, I did thus stumble upon the highest echelons of thought.
What a trifle, the human life! And yet, what is the life -- the heart, and its decades-long journey -- but a quest to make the trifle justified? This, I believe; yea, verily, we have only to struggle to gain clarity, to open our minds to new possibilities, and indulge every so often in the blessings -- nay, in the very drink of life. It is through the flowing of that sacred liquid from one’s lips to the core embedded within that one may journey towards the apotheosis, and stroke the limits of reality and fantasy as they would a coquettish lover.
Meditate deeply on the question, my fellow men and women who traverse the earth in search of wisdom: why does one put his faith in that sacred form of storytelling? It is, of course, because what you and I adore so much is a story we live in and experience, and transform with the merest impulse from our surging minds and imaginations. It is a great trial to render those stories, however, one dictated by countless requirements and expectations -- and one who would build their story with excess invites corruption far quicker than creativity or complexity.
And in this moment, I have found my path, my friends. For to act without excess, and with clear limitations and reason in mind -- the proverbial “less is more” -- is a status that I would stake my thousands of reincarnated lives upon…my past, my present, and my very future. For with simplicity comes focus, and with focus comes balance. To impress comes not from acting on conventions and the common coin; rather, it is a test of one’s skill, and intelligence, and resolve. A true story is a proving ground, an arena where the heart and mind intersect -- a small arena, where even the slightest misstep can send the sagest of combatants tumbling into the abyss. To stand atop a platform cluttered with riches and perceived regulations…certainly, that is a determinant of certain failure.
It is an answer not without exception, but one that suits me best. For in my infinitesimal experience, I have walked this earth in search of stories in any form -- tales that assuage and aggrandize the magnificence of the radiant heart and the righteous mind. This sacred ground that we, the story-hunters, have clung to for decades -- and shall again, for decades unimagined by even the shadiest stretches of the on-looking universe -- begs us to seek out our own unyielding truths, unimpeded by the allure of coaxing fantasies and fleeting realities. If, by some sliver of chance beyond a silver lining, you cannot pursue the verisimilitude your deepest depths have yet to realize, then I promise youuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Oh. Guess I’m dead, then. Nuts -- now how am I going to finish Advance Wars: Days of Ruin
? And I don’t suppose they have a GameStop here in the afterlife…
VOLTECH…FEAR NOT, MY KIN.
What in the name of existential crises? Who is -- wait a minute. Authoritative voice. Omni-directional acoustics. Ability to speak in bold and in caps lock…is that you, God?
I AM AN APPROXIMATION OF THE HUMAN WILL, COALESCED AND GIVEN FORM. I AM AT ONCE YOUR CREATOR AND YOUR CREATION.
Really? But if that’s the case, why can’t I see you?
PRESUMABLY, BECAUSE THE COMBINATION OF YOUR MENTAL OVERACTIVITY AND CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL BEYOND YOUR LIMITS BROUGHT YOUR MIND TO THE DEEPEST REACHES OF THE UNTAPPED SPACE BETWEEN REALITY AND FANTASY. ALSO, BECAUSE YOU HAVE YET TO IMAGINE THE FACE OF A HYPERDIMENSIONAL BEING.
So you’re what I make of you?
AT THIS MOMENT, YES. IF YOU WISH TO GIVE ME A FORM, YOU HAVE ONLY TO WILL IT.
Okay, I’ll give it a shot.
…REALLY? THIS IS WHAT YOU COME UP WITH?
…FINE, WHATEVER. VOLTECH, LONG HAVE I AWAITED THIS MOMENT. YOUR ABILITY TO OVERTHINK AND OVER-RATIONALIZE ALLOW YOU TO SEE EVEN THE MOST MIDDLING TOPIC WITH INCREDIBLE INSIGHT.
You’re sure that’s a compliment, right?
THE MENTAL ENERGY YOU EXUDE ON A REGULAR BASIS, AS A RESULT OF THE DANGEROUSLY-HIGH VOLTAGE CONTAINED WITHIN YOUR AFRO INTERACTING WITH THE MANY LEVELS OF EXISTENCE, GIVE YOU JUST THE ABILITY YOU NEED TO POTENTIALLY AFFECT OTHERS ON A GRAND SCALE. AND WITH THAT IN MIND, I ASK YOU: WHY DO YOU DISCUSS? WHAT DRIVES YOU TO WONDER ABOUT TOPICS AND TALES THAT THE AVERAGE MAN HAS LONG SINCE CEASED TO CONCERN HIMSELF WITH?
I dunno. Just…whatever any writer wants, really. You know what I mean? Build a fanbase, I guess? Gain some internet notoriety? I got this blog and this web serial novel thing going, and I wouldn’t mind getting some more readers.
And beyond that, I like hearing what other people have to say about subjects near and dear to me -- even if I’m the one that brings it up at first. I guess I just feel like I’m doing a service, you know? Communicating ideas is a key part of any medium, and if I can do that, I should. And I want to.
EVEN IF YOU ARE DESTINED TO FAIL? EVEN IF THE QUESTIONS AND IDEAS YOU PUT FORTH ARE INCONSEQUENTIAL?
Hey, this is the internet! Nothing’s inconsequential as long as you make your point as obnoxiously as possible!
THEN ANSWER THIS QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF TRIPLE-A GAMES? SPEAK HONESTLY, YOUNG ONE.
Uh…well, I don’t hate them automatically. I just think that even if reviews give those games perfect scores or 90% scores, they’re still much more flawed than those glowing testimonials let on. I think Halo 4’s
campaign -- the Cortana bits aside -- was a disaster, and I can’t give it a free pass just because it’s got good multiplayer. If it was a multiplayer game only, then maybe so, but that game came with a well-funded campaign designed to bring Master Chief into a new trilogy and a new decade. I just walked away bored, disappointed, and even angry. The same goes for Gears 3
. The same goes for a lot of games this generation, really; it seems like the more money gets put into it, the less I enjoy it. Final Fantasy 13
and Resident Evil 6
are some of my most hated games this generation -- maybe my most hated games ever -- and I’m guessing it’s not that much of a stretch to slide them into that triple-A category. Especially since one of them was designed to ape those triple-A trends and was an utter disaster because of it.
I don’t think my tastes have changed that much
since I’ve gotten older, or even since 2006. I want games to affect me, and there are plenty of games that have
, even to this day. But those big-budget titles are doing less and less for me these days -- not all of them, but enough to make me weary of games in general. It seems like the common thread between the games I like is that they’re “simple.” They don’t try to be these epic, cinematic, action-packed-thrill-rides…well, at least not on purpose. They just do what they do with what they have. Rather than throw everything at you, they give you a few things -- fewer, but more meaningful events and characters and gameplay and, more often than not, great ideas. Skyward Sword
is a great example of what I want from a game; ignoring the fact that it’s got a story with incredible depth -- and horrific implications-- implied within, even the stuff that’s on the surface works to make sure that you care every step of the way.
That’s what I’ve always wanted out of my games: a reason to care. And I’m guessing others feel the same way, and have their own definitions of what they care about and want from games. I’m sure there are lots of folks with no problems with triple-A games, and that’s fine. I get that. But there are so many trends that bother me, or just plain bore me, that I can’t help but feel like my brother was right. In general, I DON’T like triple-A games…and I’m okay with that. People can do what they want -- and all I want is to be able to do the same. I know what I want out of games, and so do others. If there’s a homogenization of games into a big-budget sludge, then that may be because that’s the sum of what huge numbers of gamers want from their games. So I’ll let them have it. As for me? All I ask is that nobody tries to stab me in the head for calling out their favorite games…and let me vent every once in a while.
A PEACEABLE CONCLUSION, AS ALWAYS.
Huh. I guess you have been watching me for a while. Hey, did you see that poem I wrote about Paul Phoenix a few months back? Man, that was awesome.
CAN'T SAY I CARED FOR IT.
What? You’re serious?
POETRY IS NEVER SOMETHING I’VE ENJOYED. BUT ENOUGH RAMBLING. I BELIEVE IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO RETURN TO YOUR MORTAL BODY…OR AT LEAST, BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY HOME. YOU HAVE QUITE A DISTANCE TO TRAVEL IF YOU EVER WANT TO RETURN TO REALITY.
I do? So what, is this the start of an epic journey?
MORE LIKE A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS.
Awww…hey wait! Before I go, I have a question to ask you! If you’re the aggregate collection of human thought -- or at least a portion of it -- then you’ve absorbed a lot of knowledge, right?
A WIDE LEAP IN LOGIC, BUT A SUCCESSFUL ONE NONETHELESS. WHAT AILS YOU, MY CHILD?
If I buy the first seven seasons of How I Met Your Mother
on DVD, am I gonna get my hands on some awesome bonus content? Maybe a deleted scene where Lily gets to live out one of her wild fantasies?
…I THINK WE’RE DONE HERE.
N-no wait! I have another question to ask! What’s the meaning of li-
Ha-huh-wha-what? Oh, I’m alive again. And…I don’t have a hangover. Huh. Wait a minute, what happened to all those beer cans? There should be --
Wait a second. Did I only have one sip of beer? Man, and here I was thinking I had a high tolerance for the stuff. Oh well. Guess it’s better for my health this way…though I guess it’d be good for my credibility if I actually finished a whole bottle once in my life.
There! Now I’m a real maghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh