Tag Archives: Video Games

Depression in Stardew Valley Sucks

A few days ago I became legitimately depressed while playing Stardew Valley. It was both kinda funny and sad at how awful I felt over the game; I didn’t know whether I should laugh about it or feel depressed by being depressed by a video game, let alone Stardew Valley. This incident also shined some light on my own personality and the lack of self confidence I have in life. This post will probably be deeper than you might expect from a Stardew Valley inspired post, but here goes.

Here’s where I give a shitty overview of the game in case people don’t know what I’m talking about: Stardew Valley is a game where you farm stuff and live in a tiny village. You can talk to, befriend, and even marry some of the residents in the town. I don’t know how important all of that is to the main story of the game, but the game does stress the aspect of community, which freshens it up from being only a farming simulator. Anyway, it’s also a cutesy, 2D top down, “kiddie game” as one of my friends described it. This almost makes the incident worse because as stated it’s a kids game: It shouldn’t punch me right in the feels, especially as directly as it did.

In-game Jeremy wandering the fuck around.

There’s a community dance (The Flower Dance) that happens in the forest around day 25. It’s an optional thing to do so whatever, no big deal. I went to the dance because I’m trying to be the friendly new guy in town who is trying his damndest to fit in and be accepted in the community. I should also say that up to this point in the game I’ve been a very diligent and socially-isolated farmer: I’m toiling away in my fields every single day either chopping wood for fertilizer, planting/harvesting/watering the crops, or running into town to buy more seeds. While some people might be fucking around socializing in town all day, I’m trying to turn my farm into the most fantastic farm ever and give the community something to be proud of. Because fuck the JoJa Corporation and Capitalism in general. I’m all about seizing the means of production, even if I haven’t told Mayor Lewis any of my intentions yet…

Pam is a beauty…

So Jeremy who is the new resident of Stardew Valley — let’s call him in-game Jeremy — shows up to the dance and starts talking to people. Some of the townsfolk he sort of knowns, and others appear to be new faces. Mayor Lewis allows in-game Jeremy to decide when the dance should actually start (since the game sort of revolves around in-game Jeremy for some terrible reason. Unbeknownst to in-game Jeremy he is, in fact, the player character. The story literally revolves around him). After talking to most of the people in-game Jeremy realizes that he can ask people to dance with him. Oh shit! He actually found this when he accidentally asked the emo gothic guy to dance with him. Luckily he said no but it was still awkward. (“Hey bro, you want to dance with me? No homo tho, I just think those skinny jeans look really good on you.”) In-game Jeremy then proceeds to confidently ask the females, being picky at first but then growing desperate and asking anyoneeven the trashy, alcoholic Pam but you can’t actually ask her — if they would like to dance. They usually replied with something like this:

“Oh! Oh! I’m sorry…I, er…have plans to ask someone else.”

“I’m flattered! But…no.”

“That’s flattering…but I’m gonna have to say no. Sorry.”

“I’ll be honest. I don’t want to dance with you.”

“Eww…No.”

Holy fuck game, thanks for the hefty dose of rejection. So in-game Jeremy, with no one to dance with, finally walks up to Mayor Lewis and gives him the go-ahead to start the dance. In game Jeremy wants to just get the stupid-ass dance over with so he can head back home and go to sleep. He’s sick of these people, their rejection, and their unappreciation of him, his hard work, and his farm.

After the dance in-game Jeremy goes to his house and goes to bed. It’s night and there’s nothing to do. He almost thought about watering the crops before bed, but fuck the plants too, they can wait. In the morning, in-game Jeremy stares at the crops and doesn’t actually want to do any work, but he sure as fuck isn’t going to town today to socialize with those assholes. He doesn’t want to work on the crops but there’s nothing else to do with his life so he begrudgingly gets to work. Watering. Weeding. Planting. Harvesting. Urgh. Not that anyone appreciates it. “Fuck this place,” In-game Jeremy says as he toils in the fields the day after the dance.

A few days later, still feeling shitty but not quite as shitty, in-game Jeremy realizes that it’s Emily’s birthday, and that he should give her a gift. Maybe a flower? After he picks a few flowers and heads into town he stops and thinks, “Is she even going to like this? She probably won’t even give a shit if I give her a gift or not. If anything it’ll be the wrong gift and she’ll hate me.” In-game Jeremy goes up to the “shipping bin” where you place products your farm has created, and chucks the flowers into that. Emily has no idea in-game Jeremy was even going to give her a gift and goes about her day knowing nothing of the conflict that occured in in-game Jeremy’s head. In-game Jeremy continues to sulk and overthink things as he tends to his garden daily. “Pretty sure all the fuckers hate me,” he thinks to himself.

The next day in-game Jeremy finally drags his ass into town. He ran into Haley, a young and beautiful blonde lady who lives in town. He tries talking to her, just to say “Hi” or “How’s your day going?” The game informed in-game Jeremy that: 

HALEY IS IGNORING YOU

“Maybe you should, like, kill yourself? No one likes you or your stupid farm!”

Jesus Christ, Stardew Valley is depressing as fuck.

In-game Jeremy then stops into Pierre’s store to find some rope for a noose, but sadly Pierre doesn’t sell rope. Not that in-game Jeremy has unlocked the noose-crafting node anyways. In-game Jeremy, as depressed as he is, is hopelessly stuck in the world with no way to escape.

While I was trying to strike a clear difference between me — IRL Jeremy — and my avatar in-game (in-game Jeremy) I found it kinda difficult to do in practice. When you play a game that is as absorbing as Stardew you kinda become the player character and this is a good thing. (“This game really makes you feel like Spiderman!”) While in-game Jeremy felt like shit over being rejected by everyone in town, it also became difficult for IRL Jeremy to also not feel rejected, even if there was no reason to feel that way. While IRL Jeremy was laughing at the brutal and consist nature of in-game Jeremy’s rejection something inside was also being stirred around. The vague shadow of repressed memories, fears of total social rejection, and loneliness from high school/college swam at the corners of my consciousness. What if everyone I know actually hates me? What do people say about me when I’m not around? Am I really as awkward as I think I am? Does anyone actually appreciate me? It was kinda scary. Faced with the “fun, kid-friendly” story and graphics of Stardew Valley, it almost seemed surreal in a way. This game was making me feel like shit about my own life and had me questioning all my real relationships and my worth in the world.

I also felt bitter and angry towards the damn in-game townsfolk; these people aren’t even real and I was pissed at them! Logically it made sense that no one wanted to dance with in-game Jeremy because he was the new guy in town who has only been around for 25 days (or like 2.5 months if you take Stardew time in terms of a year) and who wasn’t being social at all or making zero effort to socialize. The town basically sees in-game Jeremy as a recluse farmer who never talks to people but then shows up and creepily asks every person available to dance. No shit they said no! If I was a video game NPC like these people I’d also say no! In-game Jeremy — you socially-inept idiot — you have to make actual effort in relationships for them to work. And if that isn’t hitting things a bit close for IRL Jeremy as well. I found myself questioning how much effort I put into friendships and if I expect other people to do all the work. Or do I just show up and expect people to like me when I do nothing likeable at all? Do I show enough interest in other people? Or am I self-centered asshole that metaphorically is a recluse farmer who tends his fields all day? Once again I wasn’t expecting goddamn life lessons from Stardew but here we are.

One of the highlights of the game so far. I was pissed and fishing off this bridge just because, and Abigail walked up and stood next to me. She stood there for hours watching me fish and neither of us said anything. In-game Jeremy was utterly focused on catching those damn fish and gave no outward sign of his appreciation, but he loved her for being there keeping him company.

I’m complaining here but you have to give the game credit: usually people play video games just to kill time, to have fun, or to escape the real world for a little bit. To feel some progress in a game world to counteract the utter difficulty and lack of progress in the real world. It’s a rare game that somehow acts as a mirror and puts yourself up there on display for you to analyze, especially if said game is usually viewed as a “kids game.” This allows you to lower your defenses and to be vulnerable, not realizing that you’re about to get utterly punched in the feels so aggressively that it resonates with your actual self. Stardew Valley made in-game Jeremy feel like a loser who would never properly fit in with the townsfolk even if he really wanted to, and that made IRL Jeremy also feel the same way, constantly searching for approval, community, and appreciation. The depressive mood didn’t last for long, maybe twenty minutes or so, but it was twenty minutes that I was not prepared for at all. It was an eye-opening experience that I wasn’t at all ready for. Fuck you Stardew Valley for being such a good game.

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.

The Mario Jump Rope Challenge Sucks: The Hardest Moon in the Game

I played Super Mario 64 when it was released in like 1996 or something. Yeah, I’m kinda old. In case you didn’t know, the main plot of the game involves you collecting power stars to open up locked areas of the castle in an effort to — wait for it — save Princess Peach from Bowser. The thing is you only need 70 moons to actually beat the game while the game offers a total of 120 stars. This might be the first Mario game where there is this idea of collectable items. It’s a natural tendency for us OCD-prone people to need all 120 of those damn stars to finally 100% complete the game. The leads directly to my current problem…

Super Mario Odyssey — the newest and possibly greatest game in the Mario series — has the very same DNA as Mario 64 except things are turned up to 11 this time. Instead of needing 70 stars to beat the game you need like 120 stars moons. There’s a second ending and more levels that are unlocked when you obtain 500 stars moons while the game holds a total of an amazing 880 unique stars moons! (Really it’s like 830 unique moons as some of these are “multi-moons” that count as three.) Compare this to Mario 64 where you need about 60% of the moons to beat the game. Odyssey requires only 124 moons — or about 15% of the total moons — to beat the game. More levels are unlocked at 250 and 500 moons: 30% and 60% of the total, respectively. My point is Odyssey requires a smaller percentage of moons to actually progress the game leaving a goddamn mountain of moons to find if you want to 100% it.

And of course you want to 100% the game because you have such fond memories of meeting Yoshi on top of Peach’s Castle after getting the 120 stars in Mario 64. It was the crowning achievement of your elementary school days so, naturally, wouldn’t it be cool to 100% Mario Odyssey as well? Mario 64 ingrained us with that drive to 100% Mario games and it isn’t any different in Odyssey. There’s only one problem with that: Odyssey is hard.

I laugh when people think Mario is a kids game. Mario is a kids game but it’s also a cruel and harsh Nintendo game and sometimes Nintendo simply doesn’t fuck around. Sometimes Nintendo makes a game that’s very cute and friendly towards kids but totally fucks people up that push the game to its limit. And that’s exactly what happens when you want to 100% the game. The game asks — no requires — a precise level of platforming if you want that 100%.

There are certain stars moons in this game that are total bullshit to obtain. Some final levels are basically repeats of earlier levels where the devs take out (or insert) some really cruel mechanic. One level requires you to dodge poison plants (as you’ve done previously) but they make the walkway above the poison lake invisible (“Invisible Road: Rush!” moon). In one final level you repeat a timed level that features the motor scooter except they remove the scooter and you have to roll as fast as possible (“Vanishing Road Rush”). The margin of error on that level is only like a second or so. Another level requires you to do like 12 perfectly timed long jumps in a row (“Breakdown Road” moons) where a single mistake or slightly mistimed jump means you fail the level.

There’s also the volleyball challenge where you must hit a ball 100 times (“Hero of the Beach!”). This sounds really trivial except you get to start over at the beginning if you fuck up. Making it up to 50 isn’t hard so replaying the entire first half is torture. I think it took me 2 or 3 tries so it wasn’t too bad I guess. It was one of those challenges that is kinda a cheap sort of challenge. It just takes time smacking a ball back and forth. It’s monotonous.

But the crowning achievement of Odyssey’s bullshit-moons is the infernal jump rope challenge moon (“Jump Rope Genius”). The first moon of this challenge in New Donk City is easy enough and triggers after only 20 jumps; it’s the second moon that is impossible to get. You need 100 perfectly timed jumps to unlock this moon and it seems to be nearly impossible even if it does seem stupidly trivial at first.

A good example of the rope moving fast enough to display individual frames with Cappy looking kinda surprised.

As with the volleyball challenge, as you progress the speed of the rope increases to insane levels. I’ve personally made it up to about 60 jumps and by this time the rope is moving so fast I can’t physically hit the jump button fast enough. Mario doesn’t make it down to the ground quickly enough to start another jump! Gravity isn’t strong enough for me to make these jumps! The A button physically cant be hit fast enough by my finger to jump over the rope! You can literally see the single frames of the rope as it flashes across the screen as quickly as it does: it ceases to be a smooth motion at that rate. 30 frames-per-second doesn’t even survive the jump rope challenge. But Nintendo, a friendly game company that makes easy kid bullshit, forces this onto you if you’re crazy enough to 100% Mario Odyssey. It’s insane and I suppose I’m insaner by trying to 100% a Nintendo game in the first place. Remember taking pictures in Wind Waker? That is what purgatory would be like.

I’m pretty sure this will be the last thing I do in the game as I just can’t make any progress on it and quickly give up to find other moons. The bullshit challenges I mentioned earlier are easier (mostly because they’re real challenges) and I think I’ve beaten the invisible plant poison level already. Hell, I even think the marathon Darker Side of the Moon level will be easier (and more cheeseable) than the stupid jump rope moon is; at least you can use Assist Mode it if you really want to. But Rope? Rope isn’t having none of that shit.

The real technique to getting this goddamn moon.

In all honesty there is a way to glitch the game by using the MARIO letters in New Donk City, but even that appears to be quite a challenge. What you do is clip a letter outside of its boundary and simply sit on it while the rope clips through the letter. With you on top of the letter or hanging on the side the game registers you “jumping over” the rope and this is why all the high scores for the jump rope challenge are all 99999: people cheesed the game with a glitch. But in all honesty getting the moon via glitch seems more rewarding and satisfying than trying to jump that fucking rope 100 times. Let’s just pretend the moon jump rope champion really is titled “MARIO Letters Out-of-Bounds CLIP CHAMPION!” because that’s much more fitting. Fuck jump rope.

Mario basking in the glory of his newly-acquired moon as the rope clips through his foot.

Note: If you read the post on my birthday you know that I actually beat this horrible challenge via the MARIO letter glitch. Truthfully, I don’t even feel guilty about it because glitching the letters out of bounds was way more fun and fulfilling than tapping a perfectly 100+ times would’ve been. I have no guilt and you shouldn’t either if you try to 100% the game.

Zelda Intros Suck: Twilight Princess

(As you can see, I nearly gave up on the header image. I couldn’t be bothered to play the game again to get a decent picture so I screenshotted some dudes YouTube video of the intro cutscene. I couldn’t be bothered to properly caption it so I tossed up some Comic Sans because why the fuck not? I just didn’t care.)

In my last post I shit all over the The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword because it had an insufferable introduction filled with dialogue-tutorials and it was frustrating having to “play” for over an hour just to get to play the game. Even after the intro I was constantly interrupted by whatever  my sword and couldn’t enjoy the game at all. I also hinted that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was just as bad, if not worse, although I didn’t elaborate on it because that would’ve turned into a very long post. So here it is! Why Twilight Princess — at least the introduction — is fucking awful.

I’ll recap the introduction the best I can because it’s been awhile since I played the game. This is probably good because you can see how nothing coherent happened, at least when you try to recall it. It goes something like this: There was something about kids and a sword and a slingshot and a shield and somewhere along that mess you turn into a fucking dog with some wierd whateverthefuck Midna following you around. You fish and get some random lantern from a stoner and can buy oil from a parrot. You can use grass to call hawks to get mice or something. Twilight descends, monsters appear, and three or four kids get kidnapped. And then they make you herd goats. Twice. Eventually, after an hour and a half I made it to the first fucking dungeon after saving some kids and finding some glow-ball thingys. After an hour and a half. I legit timed myself too. The beginning was just a mess. I had no idea what was going on.

The game catches its stride after that (be wolf, find glowy things, be human, beat dungeon) but holy fuck they could probably design a game intro better than that. I understand the idea of plot and world building and tutorials at the beginning but Twilight Princess beat it all into the ground with about 20 random things tossed at you in an hour. It’s a fucking mess and in that first hour you’re seriously wondering what the fuck, if anything, is actually going on. I think I’ve started Twilight Princess like 3 or 4 times and only finished it once. The beginning is that fucking bad. I thought Dark Souls was hard to get into…

I guess I have this idea of “the Great Zelda Game” in my head. The last game I played was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and while I shit upon it a little bit for the Master Sword “quest” it’s an amazingly wonderful and beautiful game. Nostalgia goggles aside it’ll probably be one of my favorite Zelda games ever. At the very least its intro blows Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword out of the water because of one primary reason: there isn’t an intro. Whereas those two beat you over the head for over an hour with tutorials, cutscenes, and random shit like fishing, Breath of the Wild says “Hey, grab that tablet over there. Have some clothes. Here’s how you climb a cliff. See ya!” And you get to play the game right away. The one dude that can give you some idea of plot or purpose doesn’t say a whole lot and you can just ignore him if you want. The game doesn’t force you into the plot at all, and when it does you’re about an hour or so into the game and can deal with a short cutscene or two. Breath of the Wild succeeds because it tosses you into the game and the world without any explanation. It’s a big and mysterious world because the game didn’t explain a damn thing to you and you’re left to explore and discover things on your own just as intended.

What about Ocarina of Time, the definitive “Great Zelda Game”? The Great Dickhead Deku Tree needs to see you. Dildo Mido won’t let you pass until you have a sword and a shield. You find those in about 5 or ten minutes and BAM you’re in the first fucking dungeon after the Great Dickhead Tree explains a few things to you. You get to play the game right away.

What about Wind Waker? You overslept and need to go to Granny’s house because it’s your birthday. Something happens with your sister and you save her and BAM! You’re on an adventure with some pirates and you get to play the game right away. Sure the game doesn’t really pick up steam until you get your ass off Windfall Island but at least you feel like you’re progressing the game. Wind Waker has its flaws but they sure don’t occur in the first fucking hour of the game.

Twilight Princess

Well…yeah…

And don’t even get me started on Majora’s Mask! You’re walking in the woods about a minute into the game and BAM! Some dickhead steals your horse and makes your day very shitty by trying to end the world. Within a minute or two of starting you’re playing the goddamned game.

Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword beat you endlessly over the head with total bullshit before you even get to play the game. It’s frustrating especially as a person replaying the games because I have fond memories of them as great games. But I’d like to play the game and not watch an hour of cutscenes, random tutorials, and pointless plot elements at the start of the game. This is probably made worse because the last game I played in the Zelda series was Breath of the Wild, a masterpiece of minimalistic design that didn’t beat you over the head with anything (other than Koroks). Even compared to older Zelda games the introductions of these two are bloated and do nothing to let you have fun playing the games. While they’re great games at their cores, you need to actually get to the gameplay to find the greatness! I loved the games and will probably power through to get to the actual game, but fuck, those intros almost broke my fucking spirit and will to play. They fucking Suck.

Zelda Intros Suck: Skyward Sword

My three year old daughter is on a Mario kick. I recently beat Super Mario Odyssey and she was there to witness the final battle and ending cutscene (which was marvelous). Her being a little gamer it’s no surprise that she’s fucking nuts about Princess Peach now. That’s all she talks about: “Dada I wanna save the Peach! I wanna save the Princess Peach!” Okay. So I thought it might be fun to hook up the Nintendo Wii so she can save “The Peach” in Super Mario Galaxy. After all it has motion controls and that will be fun and easy for a kid, right?

This isn’t about Mario though. What happened was I hooked up the Wii, she played a bit, and then wanted me to play. My game in Mario Galaxy was so far along that I didn’t feel like dicking around with the upper level stars that I had left. Coming back to games after awhile is hard because you’re not used to the difficulty curve anymore. You lost all points in GIT and GUD. Anyways, I decided to hop over to Twilight Princess and tried playing that trainwreck of a game. I had an older file where I had just beaten the first dungeon (forest temple? The Great Dickhead Tree? Idk.) and was headed to Kakariko Village. I was teleported back to wherever to find some stupid-ass bridge and I had zero patience to play that game anymore. More on that in a future post. So I tried starting a new game in Skyward Sword.

Skyward Sword was a Zelda game I played quite some time ago while working both full time and part time jobs. Life was shitty then and I don’t recall the game. Like at all. Something about a bird and some clouds and a sword controlled by the Wiimote. I remember some of the game but it’s like a vague dream recalled hours after you wake up where you have a general idea of what happened but everything is really fuzzy. It would be nice to play again, and would be a change from that shitty Twilight Princess ordeal that I just wasn’t in the mood for.

So how did Skyward Sword go? It was awful. Apparently all the first hour of Skyward Sword is fucking cutscenes and dialogue that you cannot skip. You can’t even make the text appear quickly; it slowly types out letter after letter and there’s nothing you can do about it. Anyways, the game does this, I’m assuming, so you get involved in the plot which circles around Zelda and Links “friendship” and some fucker Gaston Groose who is jealous over the whole ordeal.

Like, whatever. You start the game and there are tutorials all over the place “disguised” as dialogue. You talk to some fucker and he makes you get a cat thing he lost. This is so you can be taught how to climb and move boxes. What a dickhead. After that you sit through about ten minutes of cutscene with you and Zelda talking and looking around at clouds. You find your flying ostrich bro is gone and discover Gaston Groose is behind it (SURPRISE!) and you have to find it. You need a sword and the game forces you through another tutorial by showing you how to get carpal tunnel syndrome from the Wiimote. Finally (rather eventually), you find the bird and the game gets underway. Except not really. Not yet. Fuck you Link: more dialogue for you to hear. You do a race, win the race, pass out, and Zelda is lost. Now is the time you get to save her! Her dad, the dude in charge of the entire village tells you to go find her, so you do. Or you try to. You walk outside your room, ready to finally start the goddamn game and some stupid-ass NPC stops you for more dialogue! He gives you a satchel he made and suggests you buy a shield. Fuck that guy, I didn’t buy a shield and took off for the world under the clouds immediately. Fuck the shield, I’ll play the entire game without one if I have to. I’ve played Bloodborne so I can fucking dodge the shitty Zelda enemies with no problem. When he stopped me and started talking I literally yelled at the TV “Can I play the fucking game yet?? Come the fuck on!”

Gaston

This is the entire first hour of the game…

BUT BEFORE ALL OF THAT you have to get another sword and deal with even more dialogue. It’s such a goddamn pain. Even once you make it under the clouds there’s even more talking with some old lady and anything that is alive. I seriously played for an hour and a half without doing a damn thing.

Your sword also interrupts you every 2 minutes to say something stupid and obvious. “Do you know you don’t have a shield? That’s a bad idea. I highly suggest you acquire one before you proceed.” FUCK YOU I DON’T NEED A SHIELD FI THANKS THO. If you’re low on hearts she states the fact, rudely interrupting whatever world-saving quest you’re on. The beeping the game makes to signal you being low on health isn’t enough apparently and she has to point it out.

Fi

“…were you aware that I’m a massive pain in the ass?”

I mean it works okay the first time you play the game because it’s new and you don’t know what to expect, but fucking hell, it’s brutal sitting through a second time. Even as brutal as sitting through Skyward Sword’s introduction was there was one game that somehow topped that…

Remember Twilight Princess? And how I griped about it earlier? Yeah…That’ll be in another post in a few days because this one was surprisingly long for me to complain about a video game.

Life Sucks (as a Video Game)

The author Kurt Vonnegut touched upon the idea that everyone thinks they’re the protagonist of the world they’re in and everyone else are NPCs — the people that only exist to serve the protagonist. Check this out from his novel Breakfast of Champions:

I thought Beatrice Keedsler had joined hands with other old-fashioned storytellers to make people believe that life had leading characters, minor characters, significant details, insignificant details, that it had lessons to be learned, tests to be passed, and a beginning, a middle, and an end.

He then goes on to blame the current state of society on this flawed outlook promoted by stories, writers, and other artists. It’s a decent book, Check it Out!

Stevie!

I don’t think we all have that extremely dark view of society but I do think most of us view ourselves as “the primary hero” while other people are just sort of there. I also think the only people that really get outside of that worldview are probably Buddhist monks or something. This obviously becomes a problem because, well, we’re probably not the main character and are most likely random NPCs ourselves. By thinking you’re the hero and living a pretty average and mundane life you think you’re a total failure. You’re not saving the world so what are you even doing?

Video games are guilty of promoting this worldview and self-image in everyone the same as other forms of entertainment. In games you usually play as a hero and do some hero shit like saving the world or defeating some Evil Power™. This obviously isn’t realistic and considering that, what would a game be like that was as accurate to real life as possible? Many games have mechanics that simulate parts of real life (the Grand Theft Auto series comes to mind) but those occurs on a superficial level. Sure you can drive cars like in real life but the lack of consequences in GTA breaks any real comparison. The Sims do a good job too, especially with the game-breaking existential crisis that inevitably occurs after playing for too long. Real life also has much more due to chance while games put you in charge of nearly everything. So, what would that game look like?

To start, it’d be boring and no one would want to play it. The Life Game would consists of you doing some stupid and boring task for hours and hours while earning hardly any useful in-game cash. Everything you need to buy is also really expensive. Instead of buying the best car ever you can only afford a shitty, 15-year-old vehicle to get you to and from work just so you can continue to make shitty money. Food also takes up the rest of the cash you earn. It’d be hours upon hours of absolute nothingness to just buy food and other essential items.

As the game starts you could randomly die as well. This is mostly dependent upon where you’re born which is totally due to chance. You could spawn in a poor country and die in the first few minutes thanks to malnourishment or disease and there’s nothing you can do to change your fate. Once you start the game that’s what you are given. You could end up in a decent area where healthcare is abundant, but you could also, by chance, end up in a shithole and die within a short timespan.

You could be born into a family that has tons of money, but that would be really rare. Once again you don’t have any choice in all of that because it’s all random. Being rich would also take all the fun out of The Life Game because you can do whatever you want with little to no challenge. At least starting off poor gives you a challenge somewhat. If you’re not starting off in abject poverty that is.

Another fun aspect of The Life Game is that you could randomly die at anytime. You could be in the safest area possible but someone could randomly kill you with a bus or a gun or whatever. Sometimes even airplanes fall onto your house although that is reserved for only the most unluckiest people. The same is true for lightning. But the fact is that anyone could die at anytime with little to no warning. The Life Game doesn’t care about what quest your on or how important you are or how much cash you have and you’ll just randomly die.

The most interesting aspect of The Life Game would be the lack of a main quest. You’d think this might be fun because you can “make your own goals” but after a few hours the gameplay just lacks meaning. It’ll be like Minecraft or The Sims where you have a pretty decent time exploring and learning the game mechanics and creating useless bullshit, but then the lack of a main quest gets to you. Eventually in Minecraft or The Sims you look around the world and realize this is it. Then you quit playing because you’re bored and the game is meaningless. The same happens in Kerbal Space Program after you’ve explored the entire solar system. There simply isn’t anything left to do. The same would happen in The Life Game because there’s no reason or purpose for you to be there. There are side quests to accomplish but those are usually shitty by giving you little reward for completing them or by being too hard to actually accomplish in the first place. You could sell your furniture on Craigslist or get a PhD in astrodynamics for example. Or you could blog about how shitty The Life Game is. But you don’t have to because they’re side quests. There is no world to save, no overarching evil to destroy, and no princess to save. You could just do nothing. So what do you even do in this game?

And one last thing: The Life Game only lets you play once. Some people think that you might get to play multiple times but they don’t know that for sure. If you’re the unlucky soul that dies in the first five minutes of the game, well, too bad but that’s all you get! The ones who make it farther into the game should feel special for doing so well, but since the game is so shitty no one really feels good about it. Hell, some people even quit the game on purpose. That’s how terrible The Life Game is.

If life was a video game is would fucking Suck. There wouldn’t be a main quest and the difficulty curve would be ridiculous but in a really lame and cheap way. You’d just die randomly and without good cause. Sometimes you’d just die as soon as you started the game, once again without cause or reason. Some people spawn in ridiculously privileged ways and others are spawned in ridiculously unfair conditions. You dick around trying to keep yourself busy but since there isn’t a main quest nothing ever seems very pointful. The Life Game Sucks.

Video Games are too Long (and too Short!!)

The entire Lord of the Rings movie trilogy is apparently 11 and a half hours long.. It’s probably one of the longer trilogies that you can find.  This isn’t really a problem with the series because its epic story justifies the long run time. Now The Hobbit is a whole other story and this is part of why it fucking sucks; it’s too long while the source material isn’t. Anyways…you can compare Lord of the Rings runtime of 11 hours to the Star Wars original trilogy runtime of 6 hours and 15 minutes. While 6-11 hours is a long ass time in movie-land, it is much different in videogame-land. A 6-11 hour game is stupidly short.

Consider Bioshock, a video game that has received much acclaim due to its story, gameplay, and considerable horror elements. According to this Bioshock clocks in with around 10 hours of gameplay. This would be long for a movie or trilogy but for a game is very short. Bioshock, while being a fantastic game has nothing to keep you playing other than the main story: when you’re done with the game, you’re done. Would you want to pay $60 for 10 hours of gameplay?

And then you have Shadow of the Colossus, a game I bring up now because I just purchased the remastered version. It was $40 and according to YouTuber VideoGameDunkey Shadow of the Colossus has only 5 hours of gameplay. (My first playthrough took a bit longer though because I sucked) Is that justifiable? I don’t know. Somehow I justified it so criticize me all you want.

And before I forget, think of Journey, the fucking masterpiece of a game that Doesn’t Suck. Lengthwise it is only a few hours but does some amazing things with such a small amount of time. But would you pay $40 for a “walking simulator” as some people have derided it? That’s up to you…

Putting some numbers on the experience yields some interesting results. Bioshock, at $60 for a ten hour game is roughly $6 per hour of gameplay. Shadow would be even worse at $8 per hour. If you compare this to a movie at a theater, and considering a single 2 hour film might be about $20, this would run you $10 per hour; this is a bit more than our short video game example. It seems that short video games are sold at a comparable price to movies, and are even somewhat cheaper. Obviously if you steal videos, buy bootlegs, rent, or purchase shitty DVDs from the WalMart bargain bin it’d be cheaper. And if you pirate video games you don’t have to worry about the cost for anything, except maybe being caught.

Compare that to Skyrim at $60 and having over a hundred hours of gameplay. That is a stupidly low number of $0.60 per hour of gameplay. It’s probably one of the cheaper games you can play if you look at it that way. And hell, it’s an old game so it’s even cheaper than $60. But Skyrim, while being cheap for all the gameplay you get, has another problem: it’s too long!

Skyrim is a perfect example of one of these open-world RPG style games. It isn’t unheard of people dumping over 100 hours into these types of games, Skyrim, Fallout 4, or any other game included. (My dad apparently is at level 117 in Fallout 4. Think about how long he’s been playing that crap.) Those seem to be games where you can and are expected to dump tons of time into. By immersing yourself in the world you get sucked in and invested in the game. Even if the game is cheaper on a “per hour” basis, I still have to plop 100 hours into Skyrim to properly feel like I experienced the game the way it’s supposed to be experienced. You could sit down, do only the main quest, do nothing extra and beat the game, but that isn’t how the game is supposed to be played and it’s almost insulting to the massive world you just missed out on exploring. Some games you have to throw tons of time into exploring and adventuring; it’s just how they are.

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Look closer…

Zoomed Stimpak

Level 117, 126 Stimpaks, and 33 Radaway!

So whatever, it takes a long time to finish a game. So what? You were just bitching about short games and now you’re complaining about long games? There’s a lot of games to play and I want to get around to them! I wrote here that despite most games sucking there are a few masterfull gems out there. I really want to play them eventually and — with all the games being rather long — I have a large backlog that I’m trying to play through.. As of now I need to beat Breath of the Wild which I’ve probably put 30 or 40 hours into then move onto Super Mario Odyssey. After that The Witcher 3 is up, and I heard that game is a nightmare of wonderful world building, questing, and exploring so that’s going to take like a half of a year to get through. I still haven’t finished Amnesia: The Dark Descent or Metal Gear Solid V which were free games for PlayStation Plus (From October 2017 by the way). Oh yeah, and a new Kerbal Space Program is out for the Ps4. There’s just so many good games to play but games take a long time to complete so I can’t actually enjoy all the games I want to.

So sure, Bioshock and Shadow of the Colossus are short games and just as pricey as any other game, but I can actually play them in a reasonable amount of time. Open world games are great to sink time into, but with them I never have enough time to actually enjoy them fully. This contributes to my inability to play more games that I want to play. Preferably I like games between 20 and 50 hours; they’re short enough where you can stay focused on them and live a busy life but long enough that you don’t feel like you were cheated out of your money. I’m thinking the Breath of the Wilds, the Dark Souls, and about any Mario game out there. They strike a good balance between the two extremes, extremes which Suck for differing reasons.