Tag Archives: Games Suck

Goofing Around (In Video Games) Sucks

In my last post I mentioned that I 100%ed Super Mario 64. This is a heavily nostalgic game for me and countless others and while it hasn’t aged magnificently over the years it still remains a classic. It retains its charm and is still an enjoyable game to play if you can look past the shitty grafix from the late 90s. But I realized something upon completing the game that I didn’t realize before: Mario 64 is a really short game. Surely part of this is due to me having played it before, but I don’t think this has much to do with why it feels so short. It’s been so long since I played Mario 64 to completion I had almost forgotten where most of the stars were and had to “rediscover them” even if I had a vague hint of a memory where the star was. (I still remember the Turok master cheat code though: nthgthdgdcrtdtrk. Looks like something out of a Lovecraft story.) So while the game was easier than it was when I first played it, it wasn’t just a feat in repetition; I really had to discover the game all over again.

I found myself wondering how, as a kid, I was able to pour so much time into this game as I did. I was able to knock out all 120 stars within a week as an adult, and even if I had played the game before, I assume a new player could still beat the game quickly. It’s just not a long or complicated game. How did my childhood-self find this game so massive and consuming that I could literally play it for hours after school, day-after-day for months on end? Bowser had his ass kicked and I had all 120 stars, so what was I doing endlessly playing the game?

Outside of a few other minor things (being a bored kid, no internet, etc.), I assume it was because I dicked around in the game. I should explain that a bit more. This means that outside of the actual game-dictated challenges I would find other bullshit challenges to set for myself. It was total immersion in the world where you’re just playing around and having fun with the game itself. Grabbing the stars is what you’re supposed to do but dicking around is ignoring what you’re supposed to do to do random bullshit. Somehow kid-me excelled at this while adult-me is pretty terrible at it.

Bob-omb Battlefield

The first level, the iconic Bob-omb Battlefield, had a turtle whose shell you could ride like a skateboard. It was fun as hell to grab his shell and challenge yourself to do stupid shit with it: could you surf up to the top of the mountain without hitting anything and losing his shell? Could you use the shell to race Koopa the Quick? You could also grab the Wing Cap, jump into cannons, and fly around for the hell of it. Each level offered so much to do but only if you’re creative enough to play around with the game. This was even better if you had friends to play with. You could all take turns having races to the top of the Bob-omb mountain, or see who could get Baby Penguin to his mom is the fastest time possible (or who could drop him off the cliff in the most cruel/hilarious way). Your imagination was the only limit to the fun you could have in Mario 64 as well as any other game.

Shell surfin’. I crashed a few seconds after this attempting to make it to the top of the mountain.

Something changed because now I don’t have the time or patience to fuck around in video games. I don’t know if it’s adulthood itself or aspects of adulthood like having a job and a tighter schedule that changed things, but I find myself being very “goal oriented” when I play video games. It does take all the fun out of them too. I view the game as just that: a game. Games are now just a big and sometimes complex puzzle: you figure out what you need to do to achieve a goal and you do that. Find key, go to the next room. Kill enemies, get to the end of the level. Find enough moons to fight Bowser. Etc. It’s basic problem solving now: discover problem, research the problem, conquer the problem. Complete the quest and beat the game. And then onto the next game. It’s depressing.

Flyin’.

As I was writing this post, the word playing popped into my head. Dicking around in video games, as I’ve been explaining it, sounds a lot like playing. Kids will grab toys and play with them not for a purpose but just because. I even looked up the definition of the word play and guess what it is?

Engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.”

-The Damn Dictionary

So, fuck, it’s not that adult-me is overly goal-oriented or that kid-me was better at making up random shit to do, kid me was better at playing while adult me fucking sucks at it. Making this even worse is that when adult-me is “playing” video games, I’m probably not actually playing them. I’m always chasing a set of goals or in-game challenges and am not playing for the pure enjoyment or recreation of it. Or my personal enjoyment and recreation while playing a video game is in beating the game and not playing the game. Holy fuck, I didn’t think there’d be an epiphany in this post, but there it is. Kid-me played video games and adult-me beats video games.

This entire post reflects back on the last post about 100%ing Nintendo games. In that post I argued that Nintendo is kinda badass by not giving you any real rewards for going above-and-beyond in your video gaming duties. They rely on your own self-motivation to accomplish all of the extra bullshit you need to 100% one of their games. They’re going to give you the shit to do but not reward you for it. This post is sort of the same thing: to properly play a video game you also need to go outside of what the game itself gives you for goals/accomplishments and find your own way towards fun. This is the essence of playing — doing something for your own enjoyment with zero practical reason to motivate you — and is a huge reason why I enjoyed video games and could pour hours into them as a kid. I was playing and not simply trying to chase goals. As adult gamers we might become overly “goal-oriented” and miss the whole reason for playing a game: to have fun! But to have fun you need to be creative and do something for the sake of doing it, just like 100% video games entails. So the next time I play a video game I’m going to try to sit back, relax, and actually enjoy the experience instead of checking off a list of items that the game wants me to do. Being an adult is kinda shitty in case you didn’t know that yet.

Most Video Games Suck

Go to your local Walmart, Target, or GameStop and take a look at the games. Out of the hundreds of games they have, do any really appeal to you? Probably not. As a fan of the open-world, RPG-type games, and the Dark Souls type games, I really don’t have any intention of playing the newest Madden, FIFA, whatever NBA games there are, or the newest shoveled-out Call of Duty or whatever other kind of “shootan game” happens to have been released. I look at the multitude of video games displayed and maybe three or four actually have some appeal to me.

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I’d be willing to buy like three or four of these games…

Or worse yet, go dig around in the bargain bin at Walmart. You know where you can find the cheap $20 games. They’re all shit. Even worse is most of these games I’ve never even heard of. Fantastic Dance Party 2016, or GooberGoblins, or Zombie Shooter XXX. Whatever. I don’t remember any actual game names because they’re that shitty and forgettable. And if I’m ever in doubt I can pull up an internet search confirming my suspicions. Fantastic Dance Party has like a 6.5/10. GooberGoblins has a 3.4/10 for the PS4 but a 3.7 for the XBox One. Zombie Shooter XXX also is rated a shitty 5.5/10 but can “serve to distract you for awhile.” Even though they’re discounted, $20 is still quite a bit to play garbage. I could get a few value meals for that price.

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Cheap (and Shitty!) games. Although there are a few gems to be found.

And then there’s Grand Theft Auto V which is still $50 even though it’s a five year old game. That game doesn’t depreciate at all, what the fuck? It’s because it’s a good game.

Maybe that’s why I like to play older games. If you give games a few years you filter out all of the bullshit that existed in the past. Here’s an example. Think of some quality Nintendo 64 games. Ocarina of Time, Mario 64, Goldeneye 007. These games are fucking classics and if anyone wants to play the best games from a bygone era they don’t have any difficulties in doing so. Want to check out the best SNES games? Link to the Past. Super Mario World. Donkey Kong. Metroid. You know how it goes. The same goes with newer games too. Dark Souls, Mass Effect 2, Skyrim, San Andreas, Bioshock, and Madden 2017. Rofl that last one was a joke in case you were wondering.

The question usually comes up as to if games were actually better back then or not. You’d expect that games would naturally get better with the advent of better technology. At the very least newer games look better but that seems to have little effect on how good the actual game is. Newer games can be bigger, more complex, and have more detailed worlds and plots so they should be better, but there still seems to be a lot of shit out there.

The same seems to go for music with people usually saying that current music is shit and that past music was “better.” Like I did with video games, think of music from the 60s and see how it compares with today. You’ll probably think of The Beatles and how their music is so much more better than whatever trash is currently popular (GUCCI GANG GUCCI GANG GUCCI GANG). But outside of The Beatles and The Beach Boys and a few others, you probably can’t name shit else from the 60s. Was that music actually better back then? No. Because of survivorship bias.

The way it works is that only the good stuff from the past is remembered. For 80s rock you have big names like Metallica, Guns N Roses, Poison, Motley Crue, and a few other big names. That’s all you remember because it’s all that was good and “survived” on the radio until the current day. In our minds they’re sort of all that existed and it appears to have been some classical age of music all the way back to Mozart. The same goes for video games too. Just because we had Super Mario World doesn’t mean that total shit didn’t exist in the 90s. And that total shit doesn’t have a name anymore because it’s so forgettable.

One shitty game I remember was Stunt Race FX. It was some shitty game that had “good graphics” back on the SNES era and had terrible screen rate issues. It was nearly unplayable because you’d get nauseous from trying to drive a shitty car at 10 frames per second. Apparently others didn’t think it was that bad though.

Just take a look at some games on this random list. You’ve probably never even heard of them because they’re shit. Noah’s Ark 3D? Really?

My point here is that if you want to play a newer game you have to decide between a bunch of shitty games and try to find out which ones are actually good. That’s supposed to be the role of game critics but even that has its flaws. Some games only really become good with some age and distance after they’re released. So if you’re playing older games it’s a lot easier to figure out what’s worth playing or checking out because, thanks to survivorship bias, the good games are the only ones that still “exist” to us. By playing older games you have a better chance of playing a good game, and by playing new games you take the risk of playing some utter shitty ones. I really think that’s why I stick to “classic” games and write about games when they’re old as fuck.

And even if you can find a handful of good modern games you can’t exactly play them because video games are really long.