My name is Arthur Damian, I am 28 years old, and I've been gaming since the NES era. I like the new school and the old school. Chrono Trigger is the bestest game ever, and Junction is the worstest. I love to write, and am currently working at Brooklyn College, helping students transfer in their credits from other universities. I also love vidja gamez, and right now I'm playing games on the Sega Genesis, even though I have a huge backlog of games on the Wii and 360 to go through. BLURG. I also work for That VideoGame Blog now, writing daily news posts! YAY!
I was playing through Metroid Fusion on my 3DS, sans walk-through, and made it to the end and defeated the final boss. I was happy I had vanquished evil, yet I was saddened when I saw I had not achieved 100% item completion. Had I simply not taken enough time to explore? No; Fusion is notorious for being linear and not affording the player much time to explore, especially since you are rushing from one place to the next, having areas close off as soon as you leave them. But then my mind wandered to other games that give you all the time you need to explore, and I am frustrated with them, too. Why? It never used to be like this. Have games changed or have I, so much so that I can never go back to being that young, bright-eyed child who was always so eager to discover every secret and nook and cranny in the adventures in which he loved to take part?
Now let me just say, I love adventure games and platformers. I also have an unhealthy, OCD-like obsession with completing a game fully, leaving no stone unturned. To the uninitiated, those are two deadly combinations. It used to be so fun finding things, though. Before strategy guides and the internet, all we gamers had was ourselves and each other. My cousin taught me where all 96 courses were in Super Mario World, and he learned them from his cousin; it was like passing the torch of game knowledge through generations. I couldn't begin to tell you how awe-struck we were seeing the special part of Star Road, with its nauseatingly 90's names for levels. We were so proud sharing information with each other, and we felt such a sense of accomplishment. When we were apart and had our own games to play, we used to get along fine on our own, too! I remember finding all the items in A Link to the Past, except for one heart piece which I happened to find the location of through Nintendo Power (and my best friend told me about the super secret Good Bee. I laughed in his face because I really thought he was joking, but then I had to eat about 10 pounds of HUMBLE PIE when he showed me). I got 100% on all the levels in Super Mario World 2 on my own, and that was necessary because none of my friends owned it or even liked it (BURN THEM!). Mega Man 7? Please; I found Auto's discount bolt alone, and found all the items he sold for free using Rush Search in various levels. I don't even know how I figured out that you could defeat the pumpkin boss in Shadow Man's stage 2 different ways! I used to have so much free time. When did everything change?
I guess you could say things started going astray with the advent of strategy guides. I remember getting free game guides every time I renewed my subscription to Nintendo Power. All the Donkey Kong Country games, Mario 64, Ocarina of Time; all thoroughly and completely beaten thanks to my advanced knowledge of TEH FUTURE. But what happened to my sense of exploration? Was I obsessed with the power of knowing where everything already was, always being able to help a friend find something he couldn't on his own? Was school becoming more difficult and time consuming, and I simply didn't have the man hours anymore? It is such a strange phenomenon, because I remember going through fetch quests like Donkey Kong 64 and Banjo-Kazooie WITHOUT help, and being able to find everything. Are some games just more frustrating to spend too much time looking for every little secret? Was I becoming old and bitter and impatient? There was still a sense of adventure there, yet it kept fading and coming back, depending on the game I was playing and when I was playing it (maybe I was just able to be more adventurous during the summer).
Nowadays, things are exceptionally difficult. There is work, personal life, and an ever growing pile of unfinished games that make complete play-throughs somewhat impossible. The internet complicates things tenfold; I'm trying to find everything in Donkey Kong Country Returns alone, but when you go through a level 5 times looking for 1 puzzle piece you missed, it is very easy to get frustrated and go find the solution to your problem through your freaking phone. Games like Doom and Duke Nukem give you a sense of accomplishment through their end level percentage screens, yet it takes so much time finding everything without help. RPGs and grand games like Skyward Sword take so long to beat, I can't help but want to complete everything 100% in one go. I am happy to have a save file on Super Metroid with 100% item completion and a play-through of under 3 hours, but I managed to do that because of someone's walk-through on GameFAQs; it isn't really mine to own, because I followed someone's instructions meticulously to achieve it.
I don't know if things can ever go back to the way they were, or ever be the same. There is always going to be another game to play, waiting to be explored fully on my desk. Maybe I will never have the time to explore every one fully the way I want to, but I want to try. Even if I can't, I'd like to play every single one to the end, even without finding everything. I'll always have happy memories of exploration and completeness, including my favorite: tag-teaming with my best friend to beat A Link to the Past in one go, 100%. We did it a couple of years ago, and it took 6 straight hours, but my save file has a 0 under Link's happy face, indicating we never died or saved. I'll always have that, and nothing will ever take away from that accomplishment.