Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nothing is as good as you remember

Go and watch the new Sequelitis. Who am I kidding, with a half million view in less than a day, you already have. I am not going to spend any time defending or attacking Arin's opinion. That kind of nonsense it reserved for YouTube comment (which you should never, ever read) and I have not played a Zelda game since Wind Waker, intentionally skipping Ocarina of Time. He could be full of shit or he could be spot on and it doesn't matter. The video was entertaining, if a bit rooted in the Egoraptor way.

Which is part of his point regarding Zelda games, so he may indeed be full of shit.

If this video makes you angry then you, too, are full of shit. No game, regardless of its own quality or that of its predecessors, is immune to criticism. It is impossible for an interactive medium to please all of the people all of the time, or even all of the people some of time. The best it can hope for is some of the people some of time and the people it leaves out will undoubtedly be the ones who make the most noise.

Video games also have the disadvantage of aging very poorly. Music written hundreds of years ago actually sounds better now due to improvements in instrument design. Classic books and movies are equally timeless. Video games went through a very ugly period during the jump from 2D to 3D, rendering huge chunks of the library unplayable now. Seriously, go back and try to play the first Tomb Raider, you will hate your life in short order. We'll call this gaming adolescence, not cute and hand drawn anymore, filled to the brim with low poly models and half baked mechanics.

Here's the problem, and the one thing that Arin does not address: no one is the same person that they were when they first played a game. Part of the sense of wonder that he says is missing from current Zelda games was born of him being a child when he played them. It is not one way activity - both the game and the player bring something to the table. What the game brings never changes. Tomb Raider is still the same it was 1996, so why was it amazing then and unbearable now? The players expectations have changed, either because he has aged or because his expectations have changed. Looking back through rose colored glasses and comparing very old game to very new games is masturbatory, at best.

I don't know if there are any truly timeless games and even if I picked one it would be meaningless because I would not have played it in twenty or more years. If forced at gun point the easy answer is Super Mario Bros 3, but which version, the original NES or the Mario All Stars SNES edition? Again, it is pointless. Games must be judged based only on their own merits, not how they compare to what the player remembers an old game looking like when they were younger and everything ran at slower frame rates and lower resolutions.

Sequelitis is entertaining, which is what matters, but most of Arin's points are an old mad yelling at kids to get off his lawn. I know because I do the exact same thing, both literally and figuratively, but I don't let my crotchetyness get in the way of enjoying something just because I had fun with a game in the same series when I was ten.

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