Gameplay May Be King But What Is A King Without His Subjects: The Makeup Of A Great Video Game

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Everything the light touches is our kingdom, see that dark area? Yeah we don’t talk about that.

My previous post stirred something in me, reminding me of the often promoted idea that “gameplay is king” when it comes to the issue of visuals in a game. Now tell me if this sounds odd but when was the last time you thought greatly of a king when their land was in ruin, where a profound leader is unfortunately leading some truly awful. It clearly isn’t much to be king when only a fool would dare have the people of this land in their charge. A king, much like us all, are compositions of those we surround and are affiliated with, whether we really like it or not.

Such thoughts came to mind in my recent musings about my disappointment in my recent gaming endeavours. It isn’t anything particular, simply a feeling or lack thereof it. I played Mario 3D World and felt nothing magical within any of the hours, an odd quality to note I admit. I recall when I first played Super Mario Galaxy 2, I was constantly running upstairs to tell my brother about it, I was giddy like a child at the wonders of the game. Every so often I’d loudly proclaim “ohhhhh that’s cool”, I was enamoured by what they could do and were willing to do with the Nintendo Wii. Playing 3D world feels so safe and lacking in energy, in personal character. It is as if something took what they thought made Mario and distilled it.

I have recently been having a go at Smash 4 for the Wii U for those who don’t stare at their e-mail waiting for my next drop of wisdom/entertainment. Quite frankly, it is incredibly….okay. I’m just not blown away by anything, not astounded or forced into grinning like a child as I had hoped.

Perhaps I was wrong to hope such from what is essentially more Smash Bros in its entirety, there isn’t any massive appeal apart from a decent online service and customisable characters with neither being particularly impressive or amazing. I’m not exactly stoked to play as any new additions to the roster as I was say Sonic when he was announced for the previous iteration either. Like I said previously it feels more then ever to be aware that it is a fighting game, the flair of individual reactivity in the small things isn’t as prevalent as I wished for, something I’ve touched upon before with things like the new sound effects and small tweaks to existing animations.

The gameplay is pretty good….a little less flowing than say Brawl when it comes to quite a few moves, I see what people meant when they felt they weren’t happy doing anything when the first public demos were available. More than just how it feels in gameplay, the sound effects just aren’t doing it for me, they just don’t resonate with me when I land a hit or get a perfectly blocked attack.

The visuals while enjoyable in a HD upgrade from the previous in stunning 1080p, I don’t feel much looking at them. Perhaps as characters forged on systems incapable of simply fantastic polygonal models they had applied their design efforts elsewhere, to aspects that would punctuate what they saw in their minds. As such the models look good for the Wii U but that really is all, everything and everyone looks smooth and clean but perhaps not polished, there are a lot of characters so it might be likely that efforts were made to maintain the resolution and frame-rate with subtractions elsewhere. I really like the 60 FPS but I think I wouldn’t cry if the game was in a lower resolution as a trade for a more visually stunning game. Let the PC hordes boast about high resolution and lush effects, I prefer the latter to make the game better for a console.

During my day today I found myself without internet and decided to step into my emulators to have a swing at some GBA games while I wait for the router to stop bullying me. I booted up a little known game called Klonoa: Empire Of Dreams with a 100% file, playing the levels through for fun. Lo and behold, I ignore the one world with music and visuals that just don’t do anything for me. I am very aware and make others aware when necessary that I am audio nut, although that may also come together to make me an aesthetic nut but I digress. I define what truly makes my gaming experience clearly different from some and alike with many others, recently I haven’t been struck by anything to even grasp at, not a happy place to be found.

My first Wii U game was Mario Kart 8 and while I wish some of the visuals were more fantastic and mesmerizing, I found joy in quite a few good musical tracks and I liked the few stages with lots of nice nuances like twinkling sparkles in the air or golen syrup being sprayed from a pipe while I get cheered on by a gingerbread-man-esque Toad. I can generally feel when the love put into a game is showing and with Kart 8 I finally feel like some real people got their teeth into the game and made it something more.

My next game if I really can’t get into Smash is Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze. I know the game looks good and the music has been lauded every which way to Sunday. The gameplay is solid and being a game from Retro Studios it is full of little nuances here and there to solidify the game as something fantastical…I hope. See that might just be it, I’m hyping up games only to be let down.

Then again, these games are supposed to be marvels of gaming, highly rated experiences by several people and review sites/blogs/magazines/things. Have I shifted away from the current ideals of a good game or have they shifted from me into something I cannot find joy in? Only time will tell, I look to my next gaming adventure to find the holy full package”, that which will satiate my hunger and give me something new to gawk and freak out about to others.

I just wanna feel like praising something cool in a video game without a huge BUT following.

What games have you played that really made an impact on you, that you love to talk about? Can you play a game where something you find important is disappointing, even if the rest is impeccable? What aspect of a game do you adore, be it the writing, music or what have you? Thanks for the read and I’ll see you later.

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  1. #1 by YvoCaro on March 31, 2015 - 7:37 am

    Well, maybe it’s because by now you’ve seen many more games come and go then when you where playing Mario Galaxy 2? Isn’t the first ever experience always the best? I mean, I played my first game, Animal Crossing Wild World for 18 months, every single day. So I was pretty exited when New Leaf came along, but it’s just not the same. I haven’t even played it much! The only game that gave me that feeling in past years where the Chibi Robo games. Love that little guy!

    Like

    • #2 by Prof.mcstevie on March 31, 2015 - 4:57 pm

      5 years ago? At the point of being a video game fan for over a decade? Even with Galaxy 2 being a direct sequel with very few engine changes? If anything I’d say it is because Galaxy 2 wasn’t a pioneered game type like 1 was, it was what we found worked and then expanded upon tremendously, full of creativity and joy.

      Like

  2. #3 by The Night Owl on March 30, 2015 - 9:17 am

    One favourite game of mine from long ago was Dungeon Master which I loved thanks to its clever design and impressive graphics for the time. A follow up came out a couple of years later which despite being technically the same, it’s new dungeon still had me enthralled.

    However, by the time the numbered sequel arrived many years later it felt like the magic had been lost and I couldn’t get that same sense of wonder despite the graphical upgrades. Inevitably I also lost interest in the game too. I did start to get that similar vibe though from Legend of Grimrock which was encouraging and gives me some hope i’ll be addicted to dungeon crawlers again. 🙂

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  3. #4 by talbond on March 28, 2015 - 4:17 am

    I think a lot of why we think games are getting worse, is because we’re getting older. Granted, I’m sixteen years old, so I have yet to have an age distance between myself and titles I consider to be nostalgic.

    If I had to choose my favorite beloved game of all time, it would be Chibi-Robo. Chibi-Robo just did so many things…right. A whole mash-up of life-simulator-esque stuff (clean the house, maintain family relationships (albeit loosely)), a pretty good story that went on behind the scenes while you did your thing, a really good and memorable OST, and a beautiful world to explore, with an ending that blew my mind as a kid.

    I am grabbing another copy pretty soon, and I’d like to see if anything has changed in these ten years since I got it.

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    • #5 by Prof.mcstevie on March 28, 2015 - 5:01 pm

      It is the effect of big business removing much of the creative additions I believe, Games became money and money attracts a lot of people, a lot of them looking to squeeze cash out of consumers and save it whenever possible. No longer is it a hobbyist experience of throwing love and life into a game, at least nowhere near as often as it was.

      I don’t think Indies got attention for just trying to do things AAA wouldn’t do but the more personal touches the games have, the attention to little things that mean something to THAT developer or handful of developers.

      Liked by 1 person

    • #6 by talbond on March 28, 2015 - 5:20 pm

      I agree. Chibi-Robo was one of the most innovative pieces, probably just under Katamari Damacy. AAA studios have definitely gone down a path that I’m not too sure of, and independent studios are buckling to whims of SJWs, so I’m not too hopeful. I did like Sm4sh though, play it whenever I can. Bears a bunch of similarities to Melee, and the roster is robust enough for me to have three mains. I just hope more gamers can get the funding and education they need to make something they want, not necessarily something that would be GOTY or a huge cash cow or anything.

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    • #7 by Prof.mcstevie on March 28, 2015 - 5:26 pm

      The future of AAA is to control budgets or crash, they can’t sustain themselves like this. Indies will do whatever they want as is their luck, be it bow to pressures of SJWs as you say or do their own thing.

      Man I just can’t find my groove in Smash 4. I’m really good at it don’t get me wrong but the CPUs cheat at higher level with input reading and the online is either full of idiots or lag, the chance to find a good match is difficult with a peer to peer service.

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    • #8 by talbond on March 28, 2015 - 5:33 pm

      Some AAA companies will eventually fall prey to their own tactics, pumping them full of forced social media connections and microtransactions, that some independent developer will find an opening and release a totally normal game, and people will go crazy over it. I’m in the planning process of a cheap multi-player game I wish to release, and I’m sure if other people made their dream game, it’ll match with other people’s dreams and become famous. I’m just hoping for another video game crash to let in the new developers. I’m really good at Smash, and I am around par with level 9s, and I can usually figure out what went wrong when I look into the replays. Net code is horrible, yeah, but I’ve had oodles of fun with local multi-player, which is what the game has and should strive for.

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    • #9 by Prof.mcstevie on March 28, 2015 - 5:35 pm

      A crash? never, this is a multi-faceted industry now, some foundations may crumble and bring some people down but they are the sole proprietors of gaming. Maybe in the mindset of a crash many people believe like the crash before that people will lose faith in the quality of their games and the shovelware products will start to overcome the quality by a tremendous lead.

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    • #10 by talbond on March 28, 2015 - 5:41 pm

      True, true. A crash might not happen, and it might not be the best thing, but it did come out with the NES as the spearhead. I’ve already really lost hope, so I’m crusing on my game backlog till game journalism works out the kinks and games pick up in quality. The last thing that is needed is another “X Simulator” game. Ugh.

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    • #11 by Prof.mcstevie on March 28, 2015 - 5:42 pm

      The NES was a sneaky bit of marketing that was “oh we aren’t a games console” and was very much one, it slipped underneath peoples hate and came with fresh gaming that saved the industry. hell of a miracle from a company that had never even touched video games before, I’d not tempt fate to do it again.

      Like

    • #12 by talbond on March 28, 2015 - 5:50 pm

      Agreed. How would you fix the industry, if you had the funding and manpower?

      Like

    • #13 by Prof.mcstevie on March 28, 2015 - 5:54 pm

      Fix? Hmm, I suppose that depends on a perspective of what is wrong. Compared to many other thriving mediums it doesn’t do much all that differently, if anything though I’d say apply more companies to find ground for all levels of games.

      I heard a story where a development team went with a bigger game with less profit over a smaller one with more than triple the profit and a third of the cost because “we don’t have a tram for a game that small”.

      More multi tier game creation would help, a big title every now and again with some small games and a medium sized more consistently to explore designs on a smaller scope. Nobody wants to experiment on a multi million dollar title when they need 3 million sold to make a profit.

      Liked by 1 person

    • #14 by talbond on March 28, 2015 - 6:09 pm

      Thanks. Would love more experimentation in the games industry, instead of playing it safe and collecting the paycheck.

      Like

  4. #15 by Modern Reviewing Nerd on March 27, 2015 - 12:38 am

    I like your posts. It was a good thing for me to follow you. If I never went back to the comments from that Smash blog just to browse the blogs I browsed in the past…past, I would’ve never found you. You’re one of those few bloggers out there that put alot of heart and effort into your posts without seeming cheesy and not being part of a large organization. I like your blogging style and hope that you check out my blog as well. Have you heard a YouTuber by the name of SomecallmeJohnny? You remind me alot of him.

    Like

    • #16 by Modern Reviewing Nerd on March 27, 2015 - 12:40 am

      By the way, you stated you played Galaxy 2 as a kid, yet you look like an adult. Are you a teenager that got their growth spurt early or are you just a college kid?

      Like

    • #17 by Prof.mcstevie on March 28, 2015 - 4:34 pm

      I count anything below 18 as a kid, it just feels like I hit some sort of mental milestone in the 18-19 point so it’s just a personal view, Didn’t mean to confuse.

      Like

    • #18 by Prof.mcstevie on March 28, 2015 - 4:34 pm

      I appreciate the kind words and in fact subscribe to all of Somecallmejohhny’s channels, he is a favourite of mine among my few subscriptions.

      Like

  5. #19 by Scott Batson on March 26, 2015 - 5:06 pm

    When you invest $300 to $500 on a console, I don’t think it is a lot to ask that the games look great. Gameplay is certainly king, but form matters a lot. Geometry Wars would not be enjoyable if the visuals weren’t flashy and if the sound wasn’t fun.

    Like

    • #20 by Prof.mcstevie on March 26, 2015 - 8:01 pm

      Geometry Wars is a classic example of a game that when you tell it to someone sounds boring, the in game action of all the extras working as one really changes the whole experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. #21 by Matt on March 26, 2015 - 11:25 am

    Although I do not listen to game soundtracks that much outside of the games themselves, I usually really pay attention to the music.

    Games like DKC2, Tropical Freeze, Banjo-Kazooie and Tooie, the Zelda franchise, the Kirby games, and the two Galaxies are made even more special by the amazing tunes they have.

    Like

    • #22 by Prof.mcstevie on March 26, 2015 - 7:56 pm

      An OST is the one element of a game that doesn’t change with age, one of the few timeless elements of a game.

      Like

  7. #23 by Jaime Montoya on March 25, 2015 - 11:30 pm

    The last of us, that game truly made an impact in my life! greatest game ever in my opinion. Great story telling, great visuals, and GREAT writing.

    Like

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