Jason's Blog

Archive for May 23rd, 2005

Classic RPG video games

by on May.23, 2005, under General

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m into video games. Of course, I’m into electronics, toys, and virtually everything else there is out there that’s expensive wink. But, video games for me hold a special place in my heart. I still remember playing things like M.U.L.E. on commodore 64 (btw, speaking of that, if anyone wants to buy a full working 64 system, with tons of games, etc. let me know). Then, there were the memories and excitement of getting our first console – the Nintendo. This is where I diverged perhaps from other gamers of the era. Not so much in owning of the various consoles, but what I played on these consoles. First, some background.

The first thing to keep in mind when considering things is I’m definitely a bookworm. I grew up reading about everything I could get my hands on, but mostly focused on science fiction and fantasy. I’m not sure what first got me into that genre, but it’s a genre that has held my interest continuously through-out my life. Today, that’s about all I read when I’m in the mood to actually read anything. With that background, perhaps my love of RPG’s can be understood. RPG’s being Role Playing Games, the only video games I still am addicted to.

A lot of people love FPS’s – First Person Shooters – such as Halo, Doom, and several others. I do like playing those games on occasion, but my true love is and has always been RPG’s. There are so many aspects, including story line, the concept of a hero over coming the odds, the way the game itself is played – non-linearly, how you can work hard to level up a character, how advancement in the game is more mentally based than on relfexes alone. Role Playing Games such as the early Final Fantasy series, and numerous other series including Ultima will now and always be my favorite genre, and the games that I go back to time and time again. The newer consoles may have better graphics, the dialog may be fleshed out (“All your base belong to us” anyone smile? ), but in the end, the truely amazing games last forever – because that is the nature of a good game. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 30 years from now, I could still see myself playing things like Final Fantasy I, II, and III (American numbering). I could go back and play soul blazer, or a bunch of the Playstation games and be perfectly happy – in some ways far more happy than on Xbox. Or, I can go back, play Master of the Orion II – it still holds appeal. These are TRUE RPG’s, truely great games that stand the test of time, as their story, the way the game progresses still captures my attention tho this day, despite having only perhaps “32 bit” graphics or whatever the limitation of the console was at the time.

With that, let me also speak out on current “RPG’s”. There are very very few that have actually held any interest for me. For example Final Fantasy Online – although some have raved about it – annoys me more than it does anything else. It was a horribly put together game, where the first 10 levels are rediculously difficult. I understand that later levels change the dynamics of play quite a bit, but I’m old fashioned – how you introduce and get the game going is in some ways what makes that game great. It’s the dynamics of leveling up a character, of allowing thought and careful planning, of patience in advancing that FF online (I guess it’s Final Fantasy XII or something like that) that drove me away from many modern RPGs. Any game that is so graphics crazy, so unbalanced, and poorly designed can’t hold my interest for long. Even more, it took me nearly a month of playing to advance to a point that was useful – far too long of a time span to maintain my interest. Then, after numerous deaths because the areas weren’t very well flehsed out for new players, I was so disgusted I couldn’t hardly play it anymore. That is simply poor design.

To me it seems RPGs today are so focused on the graphics that they’ve lost all sight of those truely original values that made an RPG great – good story, ability to think things through, seeing how characters interact, etc. etc. etc. One of the only games I’ve been able to play today that keeps my interest and maintains it has been Knights of the Old Republic. It’s a beautiful combination of well designed controls, excellent playability, and numerous other things that makes a game great. But such examples are few and far between in a world of bigger, faster, more powerful, better looking, and totallyl completely shoddy game design.

A good game should be truly independent of time and the console – it’s a good game in it’s own right. And there are few, so very few of those. SO, thank you to the original designers of Final Fantasy, who made a game to stand through time. Thank you to the original RPG’s who have managed to help me pass many an hour (even if I may have cursed you at the time for taking away all my time). A major curse upon you new designers who focus so much on graphics, and one-hit-wonders, that you’ve lost all touch of true lasting beauty. Now, with that mental discourse out of the way, back to my classic gaming, back to the originals that made me love video games to begin with….

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