Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Well, after yesterday's little Ninja Gaiden 2 adventure, I did something I've never done before…returned a working game to the store.

That should tell you a little something about that…that…'electronic product' right there. (I'm sorry, but I refuse to call it a 'game', games are fun and are meant to entertain)

I've been a gamer pretty much since I could walk. One of my earliest memories is of playing a game on the Acorn Electron when I was around 2 years old. I've played and beaten more games than I can count, many of which are notoriously difficult. In the 27 years I've been a gamer, I have never returned a game unless the disc (or cartridge or cassette tape) was damaged.

Considering Gamestop makes 99% of its cash from buying and selling used games, I was actually surprised the guy in the store gave me my money back, even before I mentioned I'd be handing it straight back to him for another game.

My Stepson was with me again, and this time we settled on 'Pure' a quad-bike racing game.

Normally racing games aren't my thing. As I've mentioned in the past, I play games for the same reason people watch movies, for a good story and a fun experience. I especially dislike the full on 'racing simulation' games where a single mistake means your race is over. Sure, it's very realistic, but realism and fun don't necessarily go hand in hand. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who like that sort of thing (and the sales of games like Forza Motorsport back that up) but it just doesn't float my boat at all.

I want a fun experience…not a few hours of frustration and stress so I can prove I'm slightly more masochistic than all the other masochists with a good lap time.

'Pure' on the other hand, is a hell of a lot of fun. It's definitely on the arcade side of racing games rather than the simulation side and is full of massive jumps, cool tricks and a couple of very interesting game modes.

In fact, it made me think about something.

Pure is just a hell of a lot of fun. It doesn't take massive amounts of skill. In fact, you can get around most tracks without ever lifting off the gas or touching the brake (This won't get you a great lap time or land you in first place, but you'll do well enough to unlock the next track). There are no great big 'write it all over the box' gimmicks either.

This is something I wish game creators would rediscover. Games don't have to have absolutely stunning, bleeding edge graphics that look a hundred times better than their competition. They don't need ultra elaborate physics engines, deformable terrain, destructible environments and all those other gimmicks. They just need to be a hell of a lot of fun.

For example, one of the best games I've played this year is 'Trials HD' on Xbox Live arcade, and that's a remake of a freaking flash-based browser game with souped up graphics. Also, every bad game I've played this year has been based around a gimmick or feature, like 'Fracture' which was a bog standard, boring, unimaginative shooter with weapons that could morph the terrain…or Farcry 2, that was a buggy, frustrating mess, but looked absolutely gorgeous.

It's a lesson that mainstream games companies seem to deliberately miss. I mean, the 360's 'killer app' before Halo 3 came out was 'Geometry Wars', which from a pure gameplay standpoint could be replicated on a PS1.

Basically, games are meant to be fun. They're meant to give the player a fun experience. It doesn't matter if the game is gorgeous if i's not actually fun to play.

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