My teenage years English teacher, the same that encouraged me to write which was a debatable choice, once said that to read a bad book was as worthwhile as reading a good one. At the time the advice seemed profound for a young boy who was told video games and action movies were a waste of time. That fiction outside of literature could build inner value. I struggle to finish a 'bad' book to this day.
Here are 10 gaming experiences I would do differently if I could.
10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (the game)
I think this game might be evil. I made a hasty decision after liking the last 3 games so much (Chamber of Secrets is a delight) so I bought this and I was stuck with this, the game never seemed to make any sense. A mess from start to finish and an outright eye-sore. It was a mistake and I sold this game to buy Jak and Daxter and re-balance karma.
9. Buying Final Fantasy XIII
I pre-ordered it and paid full price. Anyone who did the same and also regrets it knows the pain from the shame. If I did not own the game then I never would have finished it. I should have just waited and then rented and then would have seen this was one entry not made for me.
8. Finishing Haven : Call of the King
A below average game that had decent platforming sections which somehow convinced me to continue. This game was painful, one of the few times I wanted less variety in a game which is a sentence I ever wished to write! The final section of this game was just a chore, with flying and space segments I could not make sense out of, it was just shooting at a light that looked like a weak spot. All for an ending that felt like after undergoing intensive surgery you get told you have the rest of the day to live. A bad game isn't fun but this game had glimmers of potential which makes it worse. It wasn't all bad, just bad for me.
7. Skipping Final Fantasy XI
I listened and I heard 'online' and 'no single player' and I just jumped ship. I'm not proud and I should have just played the damn game rather than allow critical influence to shape my gaming library.
6. A whole bunch of Portable titles
There was a time when I considered portable gaming a noble pursuit, before mobile gaming I saw every title as pushing the system to its limits showing real development chops. Daxter, Bowsers inside story, Killzone Liberation, Hotel Dusk were all delights. But then there were those I wish I didn't play like R&C: Size Matters, Splinter Cell: Essentials, FF6 GBA with its censoring and easy mode and then missing out on great titles like Dragon Quest V&VI on DS, Joan of Arc for PSP, YS 1 & II portable and Pursuit force. I did myself wrong in this category and missed out on several good experiences.
5. All of Beyond : Two Souls
Hearing about the game, renting it, playing it, I'd undo it all. I sometimes wish I could erase Willem Dafoe's character arc from my brain but such therapy is discouraged. Admittedly the game can be fun and cinematic to play at times and you do have some good choices but this is like a western world anime that absorbed every weird cliche from the worst of that genre and didn't see anything wrong with them. This game is corny, clichéd, silly, outright bizarre and despite aiming for high supernatural concepts you have seen everything in this story somewhere else and done better. The only good thing this game did is make Life is Strange seem a little better.
4. Playing Shadow of Mordor past the middle
This game was all shine and sparkling rays of light but without the warmth. I enjoyed the first few hours but regret everything after. Half way through this game you've seen everything that will come your way. The boss fights are an embarrassment and remind you next-gen games can look good but somehow play worse than a game from a decade prior. I enjoyed some Nemesis fights with Orc leaders but that lost steam quickly and was only good because it was unrelated to the main story and the player can turn them into pile-on sessions. By the time the ending rolled around I understood why this game went for so cheap. The bow and arrow is fun to use which gave me some good moments and it looked nice. I have to resist picking the sequel up for an even cheaper price.
3. Owning Yoshi's island 2/DS
This should fall into my portable entry but the first game is such a classic in every way, I even play it without the Rom-Hack that silences a crying Baby Mario. The sequel is overkill and while the idea of many babies for every Nintendo character promises something good, it all doesn't stick in memory and the gameplay changes were just fun gimmicks and end up being the very thing I don't wish to re-experience on another play through. I wanted more Yoshi's island when this came out but didn't realize what I was even asking for. Not bad, just not needed.
2. Not finishing Mother 3
Anyone who has played Mother 3 or watched it be played knows it transcends the RPG experience somewhat. It is like something Mark Twain would have written without all the southern lingo and slavery. I played until the halfway point and then something or other in life drifted into view and knocked gaming down in my life's priorities and I abandoned the game. Thankfully I returned to my save file and finished it 5 years later but only then did I see the sacred & subtle experience I had soiled. I wish I could slap my younger self, shake me by the bony shoulders and tell how this is the one game I should not leave unfinished. Learn from my grave mistake people.
1. Finishing Resistance 1
I didn't play Halo 1 until it was close to 10 years old, and when I played the library level I saw how a younger player would've been in for torture. I thought that was the end of those days. I made the terrible mistake of not playing Resistance 1 in split-screen co-op and as a result created an experience designed by the devil himself to drive a player insane. The final level(s) of this game are outright tedium designed to bore and disengage your player experience as pacing, restraint and structure are cast aside gradually along the way. There are games which throw everything at you to make it hard, this game did that but in a fashion of resignation where it was just turning up the quantity of its enemies and emptying its resources out onto the map as fast as possible. All the while you have crappy toy-like weapons to burst them. 'Surely you came for the online? No one actually plays this damn campaign all the way through!' it seemed to say. I sometimes have bad dreams where I am still playing this game. It's one of those odd times I can't believe I finished it, spent money to rent it, and it wasn't all some fever dream where I was held at gunpoint to get put through all nine layers of hell. But the game is plain ugly looking and generic feeling, it doesn't even deserve big worded titles to describe it, the only deserved fate is to be forgotten and never replayed. I will still play Resistance 3 however, it gathers dust on my to-play pile.
“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, "It might have been.”
It is not good to live with regrets. But I also feel that to deny their existence is equally destructive. What is important is that you learn from it and they are only regrets by a scale of your own measurement and never set by an external body.
Play away and enjoy the day.
Let me know about any gaming regrets you can't fully come to terms with or any of the above in this list you agree or disagree with.
Honorable mentions: AC II feathers completion, Anticipating Beyond Good & Evil 2, KH 358/2 days on DS, Chao Garden in Sonic Adventure 2, RE:6, Perfect Dark: Zero