March 15, 2011

Five games I'd like to play, but can't.

You've probably picked up on this by now, but I enjoy playing video games.  I have a long list of games that I've played.  The list of games I own might even be longer.  Much to my lament, I don't get to play all the games that I want to.  This list is dedicated to five games that I really do want to play, but for one reason or another, don't think I ever will get the chance to that I'm really looking for...

Doom 64

To Hell with you.

Doom 64

Publisher: Midway
Developer: Midway Studios - San Diego
System: Nintendo 64

Inhibited by: Control scheme

For all of the popularity of the first-person shooter, for many several years they mostly known as "Doom clones."  It's true.  A lot of people were still calling them that right up to the turn of the century.

Just think about what that means for a moment.  A lot of games were not just building for a specific genre like they are now.  No, they wanted to have a piece of the amazing awesomeness that Doom had.  Doom freaking rocked.  Doom was freaking awesome.  The sixty-some-odd stages of Doom and Doom II were epic awesomeness, a unique blend of  running, gunning, looking, hunting, and holy-hell-I'm-gonna-die-ing that has never since been done quite as well.

But Doom 64 is probably the closest we will ever see to re-creating this awesome experience.  It plays like Doom, and was built with just a couple new tricks to give it more mood than the original had.  It certainly does seem to come in a little short-handed technology-wise compared to what it could have been for a Nintendo 64 game, but, meh, compared to what we have today I think the smooth sprite monsters look better (and more horrifying) than the sharp-edged polygon characters of other titles.  I would have preferred a more Bobby-Prince-style soundtrack instead of the "creepy sounds" ambience the game delivers, but overall there isn't much to complain about this game.

I like me some Doom

The only reason I'm not also playing Doom on my
Sega Saturn is because I ran out of screens.

...Except those controls.  I just can't get the controls right.  I cannot make any changes to what the control stick does, (which BTW is move forward/back and look left/right,) which means I'd have to stick my strafing on the Z and R buttons, which means I'd have to juggle my other commands and my shoot button is going to be... A?  No that's not right.  Maybe I'll put the strafe buttons on the C-buttons so that I can accidentally hit the map button every time I try to walk forward.  No that won't work...  Maybe I'll have the Z button be shoot and R will be strafe right and I'll remember that I can only strafe right and never left, or perhaps I'll...  Aww, F***!  Why the hell can't I make the control stick do something useful!!

It's not that I can't play Doom 64 at all, but without a proper control scheme it means that I have to sit down and really play it, all at once, devoting a lot of constant time to it, just to re-learn how to play.  It means I can't just pick it up and play just one or two level every now and then, like I honest-to-God still do with Doom and Doom II.  I was playing more Doom even while I was writing this article.  But if I can't control the game worth crap, then I can't just play it for fun.

Of course, when I have a good free day to sit down and just play through a game undisturbed, I can finally sit down and temporarily train myself to use awkward controls to just play this game for just one day.  ...But not the next day I have free time; that day is reserved for Metal Gear Solid 4.  And when I got that kind of time I need to play Final Fantasy XII.  Oh yeah, and Skyward Sword is coming out later, and then Batman Arkham City, and...  Dang it, I'm never going to play this game, am I?

Final Fantasy XII

There are also a few Sanderson books I've been meaning to read...

Final Fantasy XII

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
System: Playstation 2

Inhibited by: Time

To be completely honest, as well as Final Fantasy 12 I could just as well add 5, 9, 10, 10-2... come to think of it, I don't think I finished 2.  And while we are on the subject of RPG's I've still got copies of Legend of the Dragoon, Vandal Hearts, and a couple Dragon Warriors just collecting dust.  But amongst all these titles, I actually have the most interest in playing Final Fantasy XII.

However, one of the most exciting and engaging features of RPG's also turns into its greatest downfall once we get old enough.  They take up a lot of time.

I did not make this

Click to englarge

Oh, but what a refreshing use of time!  Instead of giving some five levels and saying "play these over and over again until you can twitch your thumbs fast enough to beat them," an RPG will give you a world and fills it with characters, story, places to go, and treasures to find.  And RPG's give you characters and story to care about because you get the chance to actually understand the character.  You usually get to see their back-story, where they are going, and enough interaction to actually see who they are.  You get to be invested in the characters and their stories.

And on the game side of things, RPG's let you build up the strength and abilities of the people you are playing as, not the conditioned responses of you as a gamer sitting on a couch.  If you are not quite able to pass a particular challenge, things like gaining experience and rethinking strategies are actually useful and tangible in conquering your goal.  They are a total win situation.

So back in the day it was exciting to hear that an RPG gives you forty, sixty, or even eighty hours worth of desirable content.  But now?  Jeeze, that's like the time I put into a whole paycheck at my job.  Do I really want to invest that much of my spare time when I've a dozen things I need to get done?

Well, yeah, I do want to invest that time playing the game...  but maybe next month, or after this project, or...  Dang it, I'm never going to play this game, am I?

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

I suppose I would rather save my money for Duke Nukem Forever...

Modern Warfare 2

Publisher: Activision
Developer: Infinity Ward
System: Xbox 360

Inhibited by: Other people's greed

Just in case you were wondering, Infinity Ward knows how to deliver a great game.  You've been hearing about Call of Duty for years before you ever picked number four and found out why.  I could go on, I could explain why this game is so much fun.  But in the end I doubt I have any reason to explain it to you; I'm sure you already understand.

So what's the problem here?  If this game is so great why would I have any problem playing it?

Well Activision came in with a plan to squeeze all the blood from this stone that they could.  The plan?  Release a brand new Call of Duty every year.  Does it matter if it was actually made by Infinity Ward?  No, people are going to flock to it anyway.  So what does this mean for the gamers?  This means that we're only playing a game for one year before everyone drops it for the new title.  It's like that scene in Wall-e where everyone changes the color of their outfit because it's "new," except that doing so costs sixty bucks.

...I don't have that kind of cash!  Worse yet it's not always a game by the genius at Infinity Ward.  I'm not going to shell out that much for a full game that I don't fully care about.  It's just that simple.  But everyone else who has a job?  No, all my friends have moved on to Black Ops, even those who admit that they like Modern Warfare 2 better.  So because of Activision's greed I can't play this game online with any of my friends anymore.  I had one year, just one frikkin year to do it in, and that year is now over.

Gotta catch 'em all

It's the next inevitable step

But wait, can't I still just play it without my friends?  I can play online with a bunch of total strangers, right? Activision's greed won't stop me from doing that, will it?

...No I can't, because Microsoft is also demanding an unnecessary cut just the same.  They demand that I pay them sixty bucks a year to be able to play any game online.  That's the same price as a game.  So altogether it would cost me $120 to play Call of Duty for a year?  What the Hell?!

What is that money even going to?  We don't play on dedicated servers; if we did we wouldn't have the game suddenly drop when one person leaves.  What possible use does that money actually serve so far as playing online goes?  Absolutely nothing, it just lines their pockets and slightly satiate their greed.

So that's what the problem is here.  Sure I could play this game with people I don't know if I shell out another sixty bucks, or I could just wait for the next Infinity Ward and shell out another $120 to play it for only one year.  ...But that wouldn't be this game, would it?  Dang it, I'm never going to play this game, am I?

Blazing Dragons

I suppose this way I don't have to worry about it disappointing me.

Blazing Dragons

Publisher: Crystal Dynamics/Mindscape Inc.
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
System: Sega Saturn

Inhibited by: A plastic wrapper

Once while I was out looking for another game to add to my Sega Saturn collection I stumbled across this title, read a little bit about it, and decided to get it.

This is one of those classic adventure titles where the player must solve odd and unique puzzles to progress.  But unlike the more modern games like Silent Hill who deliver unique puzzles surrounded by a theme of horror, suspense, and blood-soaked zombies,  this title originates from the day where such real-world puzzle solving came wrapped in a box full of jokes, humor, and comedy.  Perhaps it comes down mostly to personal taste, but in my opinion the humor is a far more rewarding experience.

However, this title didn't just sell itself on generic comedy, but it was Monty Python comedy.  The game is taken from a cartoon series created by Terry Jones from Monty Python, lending it a lot of credibility about the quality of humor the game would feature.  To further add to the games credentials, it also boasts some professional voice talents, which was not as common back then as it is today.  Now I have of course not actually played the game yet, but I am certainly interested in giving this baby a run for its money.

So why haven't I?  Well, this title is being hindered by the most unconventional hindrance imaginable.  When I finally received the game I found it to be in immaculate new condition.  The game still has its original shrink-wrap on it.  Hell, it even has the little plastic hanger-sticker on the back.  I mean wow, I forgot that they even used to sell games like that.

I got nothin to say

The plastic hanger-sticker,
and it's not even bent for hanging.

Now it's not like I have some rule against opening a new package, but seeing even the plastic hanger-sticker on the back made me think for a moment and hold some respect toward what I have.  And I can think back to in the day when I would get a brand new NES or Super NES game, and how there were all those little details with the packaging that promptly got lost.  The posters they gave you, the white box that the cartridge sat inside, the foam block at the bottom of the NES box, and the dust-covers...  The nostalgia reminds me of a very simple pleasure of opening the game, a pleasure which only comes once.  And come to think of it, I have never had such a pleasure with the Sega Saturn before.  I wonder if it comes with unique memoirs like the old Nintendo games did?  I wonder if folks out there have that mild nostalgia for that experience for opening a new Sega Saturn game like I have for opening a new Nintendo game...

So I want to at least give this one-time experience a bit of respect, and at least remember how games once hung on thin metal rods by a plastic sticker, and imagine the pleasure of a young child tossing aside the useless registration cards and foam blocks to reveal the treasure they opened the box for.  And as I also think of that only-once opportunity and how exceedingly rare it must be to find that chance for a Sega Saturn game.  Eventually I also come to the simple notion that, although unlikely, maybe some collector might want a pretty penny for a game this pristine.  I wouldn't bank on it ever happening, but well... maybe I don't need to play this game just at this moment, and I could just wait on it a little longer...

And as far as everything that I actually want to play this game for is concerned, I can still find the marvelous quality of puzzles and humor in other titles like the Monkey Island series, which still possesses at least three titles I have yet to experience.  Add to that the whole catalogue of Tell Tale Games that offers the same list of desirable qualities.  I also have a copy of Runaway that I only played for about 15 minutes so far.  So since my real desire is to play a funny adventure game, I have other sources I can turn to for that, so I don't really need to rip off this plastic wrap just yet.  So I guess I'll just put this back on my shelf for today and maybe later I'll actually...  Dang it, I'm never going to play this game, am I?

Mega Man Zero 5

I might as well wish for a good new Star Wars movie while I'm at.

Mega Man Zero 5

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Inti Creates
System: None

Inhibited by: Existence

What series have I been a fan of longer than any other?  I'm not completely certain, but it was either Mega Man or Castlevania.  (Zelda wasn't really a "series" back then.)  But what is not in question is what series was my most-loved, and that is Mega Man.

And Mega Man has been good to his fans, providing not just a wide list of games, but in fact a list of remarkably different sub-series.  And of those many many games what may come as a surprise is that the one I enjoy the gameplay of the most are the four Mega Man Zero titles.  That's right.  Oh I love the original and am so very excited to see its new additions, and I still think that Mega Man X is frickin sweet and does no wrong.  But the core and basic gameplay of Mega Man Zero is the one that is the most fun to play.

I'd have to say that the gameplay in Mega Man X was trying to keep everything that was sweet in Mega Man and just do more awesome with it, which they did pretty well with.  Then as the series went on they just sort of toyed with, experimented with it, and tried to really work Zero into the series.  Mega Man Zero was the culmination of all that effort.  It plays off of a lot of the basic controls of Mega Man but incorporates dashing, wall-sliding, and a powerful sword.  It gives you a balanced wide assortment of options.  There's just no way to give the gameplay justice with words; it's smooth, tight, and altogether friggin sweet.


You couldn't be more awesome unless you were Batman.

So of course I want to play Mega Man Zero 5.  I want to take on another set of levels, fight another slough of bosses, and check out the new rod weapon.  But the problem?  There is no Mega Man Zero 5.  After Mega Man Zero 4 they started the Mega Man ZX series on the DS, which was certainly fun even if it wasn't quite as awesome as Mega Man Zero.  But even as a decent substitute, Mega Man ZX won't fill that void because they stopped making those after just two games.  I guess I can't complain too wildly because the next year developer Inti Creates made Mega Man 9 and soon after Mega Man 10, and presumably and hopefully they will continue to give us some more of those.

But for as much awesome fun as the new Mega Man games are, and even for all the great retro games that have come out since they proved people want them, there still is nothing to satiate my hunger for another round of Mega Man Zero action.  I suppose I could try to spread the word and convince people that Inti Creates needs to deliver us a new Mega Man Zero game... But wait, does that mean that the only way to get a new Mega Man Zero is to NOT get new retro Mega Man games?  Dang it, I'm never going to play this game, am I?