For the longest time, I was a believer in playing games to completion no matter what. A large part of this sentiment was codified back in my semi-official reviewing days in which we were required to beat a given game before we could review it. That always seemed like a reasonable request, and it meshed rather nicely with my general sense of optimism (…stop laughing) regarding the possibility of a game making up for its earlier shortcomings in the 11th hour. Kind of like… err… huh. I can’t think of any examples at the moment, but I’m sure there are some. And maybe this next game will be the one!
In the past few weeks, I have made a concerted effort to abandon such sentiments.
You might have noticed that I am reviewing less games these days. While I still enjoy writing reviews, I’m less convinced that many of the games I play either need or deserve them. I finished Batman: Arkham Asylum a few days ago, for example, but who out there would really benefit from my take on a game which has two sequels and a derivative (Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor) already? It’s an open question if anyone benefits from any review I do, but at least more topical games are easier to justify to myself. Once the “review potential” of a game is reduced to zero, I no longer feel any need to finish it.
Or, in some cases, even start them. My original plan was to start playing the old Tomb Raiders before starting the Square Enix reboot, but I just “Nope’d” out of there after seeing some screenshots. Company of Heroes was played just long enough to start realizing that I liked Dawn of War better. I started playing Thief Gold two days ago and stopped this afternoon. Minutes before writing this post, I was going through the tutorial of Fable: the Lost Chapters; camera was a little too wonky for my tastes though, and now here we are.
I still do feel a little bad when I banish a Steam game into my Finished category, as obviously I spent some amount of money acquiring it at some indeterminate point in ages past. But on the other hand? I can acknowledge that I have likely past the threshold beyond which there are more legitimately fun games that I am actually excited to play than I have time on this mortal coil to do so. Perhaps it is crass to say, but… if I had cancer, would I spent my remaining time playing the original Hitman? Or, really, any of the Hitman games (I’ve heard Blood Money is the best though)? Probably not.
It pains me to know other people will not likely experience the joy that was Xenogears or Tenchu or whatever, but I understand the dilemma now more than ever. No matter how good Game X was for Y reason, sometimes the Z era was what made it so. Can I really appreciate the original Thief in the proper context of its time? Well, I did make it to the third level before shutting it down. I have heard conflicting reports as to whether the Thief reboot lived up to its lineage, but I am now more inclined to spend the $6 (deal is over, alas) to purchase the new one than I am to play through the original(s).
In any case, that is where I am at the moment. I’m not opposed to older games, but they will have to work extraordinarily hard (and quickly) to keep my attention, starting now. Ain’t nobody got time to play games out of some misguided sense of obligation.
In the midterm period inbetween steady access to the internet, I decided now was as good a time as any to actually get around to playing some of the PlayStation games I own but never bothered turn on. My first choice? As the title suggests: Final Fantasy XII.
All I can say is… yikes.
To say that I was a Squaresoft fanboy growing up is an understatement of the decade(s). Indeed, Final Fantasy 7 remains my #2 game of all time – and that is despite having first played FF6 on the SNES when it came out. While the “back to the roots” FF9 nearly derailed my fanboism outright, FFX quickly set things back on the right track. Sadly, when I heard that FFXI was going to be an online-only MMO, I pretty much cut ties with the company; I stayed long enough to pick up FFX-2, but that had the dubious distinction of being the only FF game I ever sold back to a video game shop for store credit (after beating it, of course). Looking back, I think my lack of engagement with the series had more to do with college and life changes than feelings of “betrayal,” but regardless FFX-2 was the last FF game I played.
Now, I’m not saying anything necessarily about the gameplay of FFXII. To be honest, in the 30 minutes I’ve been “playing” I haven’t seen all that much of it. And if I recall correctly, FFXII was widely criticized as being non-interactive. But a more pressing concern right now is how awful the game looks on my TV. The default view is double-letterboxed such that it easily loses 15″ off the TV screen. And even then the pixelation is horrendous.
I technically bought FF7 on a Steam sale a while back (because, you know, FF7) and it’s entirely possible I will encounter similar graphical issues. But to an extent I almost see this as an existential threat to older games. Or, rather, older games that were straddling the cutting-edge for their time. Things that seemed ground-breaking for its time in comparison to more sprite-based games have looped around into barely-playable nonsense graphics in less than 10 years.
It kinda makes you wonder though, whether or not this will be a recurring issue as time goes by or if it was a specific moment in computer graphics history. Personally, I’m leaning towards the latter. After all, the original Crysis has held up exceptionally well and even the original Far Cry wasn’t that bad. But have you tried playing KotOR lately? I muscled through that a few years ago, and it left me sore with the effort. It wasn’t even the graphics really, but little things like not being able to pan the camera upwards. It’s Star Wars and you got huge alien cities and you can’t look much farther than the main character’s low-polygon ass.
Just for fun, the following is the list of old games/systems/etc that I’m selling to that website:
- Nintendo console w/ cords
- Nintendo console without cords (may not work)
- Two Original controllers
- Nintendo Advantage controller (arcade-style gamepad)
- Blaster Master
- Metal Gear
- Battle Chess
- Super Mario Bros
- Super Mario Bros 2
- Super Mario Bros 3 (two copies)
- Dr Mario
- Metroid (+instructions)
- Mega Man 3
- Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse
- Top Gun
- Duck Tales
- Super Nintendo console w/ cords
- Original controller
- 3rd party controller (unknown brand, has turbo and slow buttons)
- Mouse and Mouse pad (two mouse pads) for Mario Paint
- Zombies Ate My Neighbors (+box plus instructions)
- Chrono Trigger (+box plus instructions)
- Illusion of Gaia (+box plus instructions)
- Populous (+box plus instructions)
- The Chessmaster
- Secret of Mana
- Sim City (+box plus instructions)
- Super Metroid (+box plus instructions)
- TMNT Tournament Fighters (+instructions)
- Star Fox (+instructions)
- Mario Paint (+instructions)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (+instructions)
- Super Mario All-Stars
- Final Fantasy 3
- Beavis & Butthead (+box plus instructions)
- Jurassic Park (+box plus instructions)
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (+box)
- Streets of Rage 2 (+box)
- Madden ’94 (+box)
- Nintendo 64 console w/ cords and box
- Two Original controllers
I seem to have misplaced all my N64 games, but I still have boxes/instructions for:
- The Legend of Zelda: Orcarina of Time Collector’s edition box + instructions
- Perfect Dark box + instructions
- Conker’s Bad Fur Day box + instructions
- Turok 2: Seeds of Evil box + instructions
- Golden Eye: 007 box + instructions
- Star Fox 64 box + instructions
Similar to the N64 situation, I have loose sets of instructional manuals for the following games:
- Battletoads (NES)
- Super Mario 64 (N64)
- Wave Race 64 (N64)
- Gamecube console w/ cords
- Four Original controllers (silver, purple, black x2)
- Resident Evil Zero (+case and instructions)
- Super Smash Bros Melee (+case and instructions)
- Tales of Symphonia (+case and instructions)
The whole collection above is being bought for $375. I did do some research beforehand, and realize that a lot of those SNES games could fetch ~$50 by themselves. Indeed, Conker’s Bad Fur Day for N64 could have sold for $45 to the same website – it is supposedly a very Rare game (get it, get it… oh nevermind). Regardless, I feel pretty comfortable with $375 if only because it saves me the trouble of having to micromanage dozens of individual eBay auctions.
Finally, for the record, I had more games for these systems than listed above; I just had a tendency to sell them back to the used game place for store credit.
I am not entirely sure I will ever sell my Playstation collection though. Final Fantasy Tactics, FF7, Xenogears, Tenchu 1 & 2, Chrono Cross, Silent Hill… sigh. Soon it will be 15 years since any of these cases were opened, but I suppose there are lines even I won’t yet cross. Then again, none of those games are backwards compatible with the PS3, so once my PS2 shuts down for good… damn.