Once upon a time, hardcore gamers reigned supreme. Then the casual gamer appeared. To accomidate this inferior being, gaming nowadays has become more mainstreamed that with the exception of the occasional challenge (e.g. Ninja Gaiden Black on Ninja Master mode) or import, one can literally breeze through todays movie-fests, all to sate the fragile ego of the casual gamer. You know when you're speaking to a casual gamer when:
-He's never heard of any other RPG series besides Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior.
-He buys the same sports title every year.
-He associates shooters with Halo rather than Thunderforce III, Darius Gaiden or Contra: Hard Corps.
-He thinks Tekken is a good fighting game.
-And that Metal Gear Solid is a good stealth game.
-He thinks the Saturn doesn't have any games ("All it had was NiGHTs" said one guy.)
What happened to the gaming environment? Why have the sidescroller beat-em-up and top-down shooter disappeared save for the occasional import? Why was I able to breeze through Legendary Mode of Halo 1 without breaking a sweat? And why is it that "professional reviewers" are now criticizing games for being too difficult (case in point: Gamespy Review of Ikaruga) or not having state-of-the-art graphics (Gamespot review of Alien Hominid)?
Though far be it from me to blame this change of gaming trends, I put the blame on the Multimedia Revolution and Sony. Back in the early 90s when the CD was introduced as replacement for floppy discs and VHS tapes, people were crazy for "interactive multimedia" or in layman's terms, crap. The most logical case of this trend came in Myst and Night Trap, two popular pieces of shit no real gamer would be caught dead with. Eventually, people wised up to this fad of bad FMV and non-interactive gaming and the end of the Multimedia Revolution (and the subsequent deaths of the 3D0, CD-I, CD32, and Sega CD, as well as the cancellation of the Hasbro Controlvision and Nintendo Playstation) left Sony in a prime position to take over the CD medium.
Market their new Playstation they did well, and market games the third-parties did. With movie-like FMVs to take away from actual gameplay (though the gameplay was better than the crap for previous systems), games like FFVII and Metal Gear Solid made gaming a popular form of entertainment for everyone besides kids and diehard enthusiasts. Nevermind the fact that GameArts had pulled off the successful integration of interaction and non-interaction with Lunar: Eternal Blue, for only a few diehard gamers even heard of Lunar as it got buried in a sea of shit.
In the end, the rise of mainstream gravely wounded hardcore gamers; why make a top-down shooter that sells 50,000 copies when one could make an FMV-fest that sells a million? Of course, a good portion of these million people do not know how to lose, and so the games get toned down in difficulty (notice a difficulty difference between Contra: Shattered Soldier and Neo Contra?); true, some games have adjustable difficulties yet many more either don't have this (most RPGs and Nintendo games) or require you play through easy mode to unlock the (marginally) harder mode.
I rant. I know there are plenty of good titles out there nowadays, like Splinter Cell and Freedom Force, yet it feels like there's more overrated crap nowadays. Even Nintendo, after reaching a high point quality-wise in the 64 era (what with Mario 64, Goldeneye 007, Custom Robo, and Sin&Punishment) now sucks save for Fire Emblem (and this game series has more challengers now that tactical RPGs are relatively popular now).
This may be a biased article but I'm too worn out to check for subjectivity as of now. I need to catch some sleep.
|Most recent blog posts from ...|
|lasthero - May 03, 2006 (10:54 AM)
True enough, true enough.
|zigfried - May 03, 2006 (04:02 PM)
I hereby declare that you rule. Nice nod to Lunar 2, also... which was coincidentally and tragically dumbed down for casual gamers when it hit the PSX.
|joseph_valencia - May 03, 2006 (05:10 PM)
Yeah, they made Borgan a complete puss. I'll never forgive Working Designs for that.
|janus - May 04, 2006 (07:02 AM)
I've always felt that having to unlock a harder mode (unless it's from hard to super badass instant death hard) was a cop out. Developers need to actually think up some proper rewards rather than features that should be there from the start.
But as long as I have Splinter Cell I'm happy.