Old Man Musings – The Games I Want to Play

Things are always changing. It’s important to know that’s not inherently a bad thing. It’s easy to give in to the pull of nostalgia and say that the old way is the best way and we should stick with that. I mean, let’s be honest, this category of posts is called “Old Man Musings.” That’s pretty damning evidence that I’m going to come down on the side of nostalgia. But there’s no inherent guarantee that older is actually better.

Games have changed a lot over the course of my being a gamer. We’re seeing two categories of games rocket off in terms of popularity/market saturation, and neither of them interest me. I don’t know if we need to go back to the way things were, but I would certainly enjoy if we remembered it as we create new games.

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How I Game – Handhelds at Home

Handheld gaming occupies a special place in my heart. No, it’s not just because my first console that was mine was a handheld (the Sega Game Gear, actually). It’s not just my deep love for Pokemon (though that helps). It’s not even my fond memories of playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance at stop lights while working as a delivery driver (probably not super safe, don’t recommend it). Handhelds fit the way I game that consoles hooked up to a TV and PCs just can’t match (though my laptop certainly tries).

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Missing Analysis

As you might have noticed, there was no FFIX Analysis up on Monday. Unfortunately, I was on a work trip, and I’ll be totally honest, I got way too wrapped up in learning ASM programming to get it together and try to do some sort of mediocre recording to put up. On the bright side, things are back to normal next Monday, so don’t worry.

You know, now that I’m thinking about it, I should go through the ASM coding (I realize I didn’t really explain above – the coding I’m learning is the assembly language for the NES) and put up some of my finished work from the lessons I’ve been reading/ put up some of the commented out code and how it works. I’ve actually learned a ton about how NES games physically functioned, and this seems like the best place to talk about it (since I muse about everything else under the sun). Hmm… we’ll have to see.

Musings – Fez, Myst, and Immersion

I’ve talked before now about games that have large amounts of immersion. Sure, not every title needs to completely immerse the player (when I’m playing a title like Street Fighter I want to be engaged with the gameplay, sure, but I’m not worried about being drawn into the world so much). There’s a certain magic that comes with being able to pull a player in and make them feel like they truly are part of the world. Some games have more of a knack for it than others, so I’m going to take a moment with this post and look at two that have done a brilliant job of drawing me in.

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RPG Musings – 90s RPGs

Okay, now it’s time for me to nostalgia, hard. This isn’t for a single game, though. It’s for an era that came and went. Riding high on the insane success of Final Fantasy 7, the world of RPGs became a powerful force in gaming. So, as any sane company would do, everyone started making RPGs. Sure, lots of people had been doing that already (I mean, it was the seventh Final Fantasy, after all, and they’re hardly the only RPG series that had been running from before the PlayStation), but FF7 brought RPGs to global attention. For a little while, it was a very different gaming scene. A better one? Eh, I’ll just hammer out a bunch of rose-tinted text and let you decide for yourself (spoilers: it was better).

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Horror in Games – Part 1

Horror in games is not a simple concept. Sure, there’s jump scares, but anyone that can produce a loud noise and have something suddenly appear on screen is able to create a jump scare. Games have an advantage over other media in that they can immerse you in a world with mechanics that govern how things function, ambience and atmosphere that surround you as part of the setting, and a story that can shape the way you perceive everything you see.

I like things that deeply disturb me, so I’ll do my best to break down what aspects of a game make that happen.

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Fun vs Tension – SMT4 vs Silent Hill

I love Persona. I’ve played 1, half of 2 (or 1 of 2 of 2? there’s no good way to describe that quickly), and 3. I hear 4 is the best, but it’s still on the list at the moment. I love the idea of Shin Megami Tensei (I actually read a fan translation of the first two Digital Devil light novels before I ever played any of the SMT mainline or Persona sereis), though at this point I’ve only played the first one and part of the fourth. In spite of my love for brutal RPGs (I’m working on EarthBound Zero on my WiiU) and the SMT franchise, I just can’t keep going on SMT IV. There’s fun tension, and then there’s tension in SMT IV. What makes the difference between the two?

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My Dead HDD – Time versus Preservation

My hard drive died last week (as of the writing of this – it could have been a few weeks ago by the time this is posted). It was a slow build up and a sudden burnout. I didn’t really have any indication things were wrong until I shut down explorer and it didn’t restart. This would have been resolved by a reset, but that reset never came. That would have been resolved by something, and so would have the next problem, but ultimately, it was quite dead.

I’ve been thinking a lot about game preservation lately. The incident with Silent Hills PT got me thinking, and that got me reading. I quickly became aware that this was a much bigger issue than a single demo I’d never get to experience – video games are engaged in a losing battle against the very progress that brings about new video games. As a lover of retro games, that’s a pretty serious problem.

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