Sunday, January 10, 2010

Episode 31: "What's the Difference?"

update: as of 9/13/11 this video can be viewed at THIS LINK


Anonymous said...

Don't fix what isn't broken (I haven't played Madden, so if it is broken, I have no way of knowing it). People aren't going to buy Madden or 2D Mario for new gameplay, they want new content. For Madden, the content is about controlling the same athletes you see on TV, on the same stadiums you can buy tickets to, in your own living room. Likewise, the content of SMB5/NSMBWii is pure sidescrolling goodness. How would changing the gameplay help make either of these contents better? It won't, so there is no point of changing them. Also, it is people who determine what games deserve to sell well, not some armchair gaming philosopher who thinks he knows gaming better than "ignorant masses" (not directed at you, Bob).

squall lee said...

I guarantee that during that argument of it being ok for Nintendo to launch a throwback to their retro style of Mario, any nay-sayer would shoot back with, "they release the same game again and again to like Ocarina of Time-Wii edition, or the thousandth Mario Kart/Party/Sports Game, yet another Pocket Monster game."

Isn't that kinda true? But I suppose we can't blame them, I mean whenever they tried to experiment, or do something new, people bitched up a storm. The water cannon in Mario Sunshine, the cartoony style of Zelda: Wind Waker, Pikmin in it's entirety, trying to push F-Zero, trying to give more of a plot to Star Fox, putting Metroid in 3D. Granted all of those are good and they sold damn well but I reiterate, people bitched up a storm about them being so different.

And yet, when they go back to the usual stuff, they get called out for not innovating. Such a vicious and fickle cycle isn't it?

Great movie Bob

John said...

A lot of this has to do with content, as opposed to polishing. For Wind Waker, it wasn't that the criticism was focused on the cartoon art. There was some, but it's rightly gotten bullshit called on it long ago. The problem was sailing and the lack of dungeons. It just wasn't enough of a Zelda game, if you know what I mean.

Overall, this ties into an issue I've had for some time with game journalists, particularly in the JRPG field. They call out turn based battling, saying how it's outdated. They're idiots, all of them. A control scheme CAN NEVER BE OUTDATED. It's like blaming a FPS for being in first person. The truly hilarious thing is that they usually come out and say stuff like "Uncharted 2 will be the best game EVAR", when it's just a polished retread of everything before.

On that note, Bob, you should do an episode on "Why does the video game industry want to be the movie industry?" Should marry the two blogs together nicely.

Twinmill said...

YAY! Another GO episode! Nice work Bob!

I guess in a sense, we all have that genre we're loyal to... For me, personally... well I'm not really sure but I do know it takes alot to convince me to play a turn based or strategy game simply because they're not fun for me. To me, the more freeform, skill based approach in Star Ocean at least feels that way for me because in Final Fantasy, I see menus and great consequences for picking one of the many wrong choices.

I would, however, like to go off on a tangent defending Halo. I mean, sure it's fun to bash for being a hardcore game for manly men featuring a suit named John, but from a development perspective, it brought a lot of things to the table. Graphically, it proved polygon count does not equal something aesthetically pleasing, and nor does texture resolution. True, it opened the trend of dumping bloom on everything and calling it good, but Halo 1, 2, and 3 really were works of art. Not just graphically, either... That, as the case with most games, cannot be overlooked. Then again, I like First-(more accurately,) Third-Person-Shooters and have a very... dark art style 3/4 of the time.

Back to the subject...

I do know that the idea of a 3D Castlevania right now seems like a turnoff. Aye nostalgia got me too but I'm still gonna try it.

Before this gets too off subject and turns into random spewing of words, I'm gonna close it. I was actually thinking about telling my gamer history and how I grew up with Racing Simulation games on the PS1, too. I'll just post it somewhere else and link it here... okay I'm starting to sound insane so I'm gonna stop and hit post now. >.> So much to say though...

A Tribe Called Helloween said...

Good video.

By the way. I absolutely hated the fact that the "cover" of Mega Man 9 was a throwback to the awful Mega Man 1 cover. That cover was a rushed job and it's consistently hated for a reason.

tkioz said...

err you didn't answer one of your own questions... you asked early on if retrogaming was part of the problem of the industry not innovating, you never addressed that, you just went off topic around 9mins in.

Jamazz said...

Can one really compare sports games to other genres of games? Let's be honest, my life is almost similar to Bob's; I don't play many sports games, if at all, and I evolved in much the same way by consoles acquired and general level of games played and adored. However, I'm here to argue sports games vs sci-fi games. Ice Hockey was awesome, but probably because it was a complete deviation from normal hockey. For example, there were no sanctioned teams (only nations), and there were no true player stats because you only had three types of players to choose from: Short/Fat, Average, and Tall/Skinny. Anyway, my point is... If I wanted to play football, I would have done so as a kid in real life. If I wanted to do sports now, I would be doing them now. What I want to do is immerse myself in worlds that do not exist beyond the scope of realty. I don't believe games that transcend the scope of realty can be compared to ones that mimic it. As long as sports games designers keep the high-end graphics soaring to new levels, they will always keep their fan-base. I'll give you one other example to my argument before I'm done. NBA Jam for Sega-CD was awesome. Why? Because what other basketball game could you play where your basketball caught on fire and "beyond the scope of reality" sh*t happened? That's why I loved to play Super Dodge Ball, Nintendo World Cup, and Base Wars. Therein lies my point; there's just no comparison.

Mark said...


great show. i loved how you let loose the inner bostonian during the description of the concept behind NSMBWii

it sounds like we're about exactly the same age,a nd i think our stories are pretty close. of course, in my case, my college-age gaming drought started earlier than yours, due to money reasons. my parents didn't "get" the whole upgrade thing - if we got a SNES, we wouldn't play the NES anymore, thus making it a waste of cash... to them.

So I went from an NES straight to a Psone - which was given to me by a friend, long after the Ps2 had already been out.

Needless to say, I was kept company during high school by playing on friends' N64s and - very specifically - emulation (remember NESticle?). I played a number of SNES games this way first. I became a retrogamer out of necessity. It wasn't until I graduated from college in '04, armed with a ps1 (later ps2) and a job, that I started "catching" up on "current" games. This catching up still continues to this day - I am nearly all caught up on the Ps2 library, and the GC library (played on my wii). Suffice it to say i've only bought a few full-price just-released games in the past decade.

in any case I guess with me the retrogamer thing wasn't necessariliy due to a distaste for the new content - although i certainly empathize - but a lack of accessibility to it.

on topic - i think the difference is that MAdden innovates to cut corners, save money, and take advantage. I'm certain Madden fans would love it if they DID innovate. Retro games innovate to appeal to a certain demographic. These gamers would NOT like it if there was too much innovation. I think, however, there are limits here - personally I loved Mega Man 9, but MM10.... hmmmmm, i think that's milking the cash cow.

btw - you a football fan? i'm sorry about the Pats, man. bum deal. It's not too late, though, the Chargers will welcome another fan.

David said...

I think there is one key weakness in your argument. Madden is a football game. Its' not like you can add a super jump or chocobo breeding minigames. Its gameplay has to be standard for it to be a football game.

I still feel that the business model should really shift to making one engine and then selling the new game as DLC. The rock band model for sports games.

Conversely, is there any reason NSMBwii wasn't wiiware? Its essentially a 20 dollar tiles being solf for considerably more.

Smashmatt202 said...

Great, informative video, as always. Although, even with your evidence and explanations, some people STILL label you as an ignorant fanboy and don't bother listening to what you have to say.

Jeff said...

I like this video. I particularly like where you say that people and media should not criticize FANS of games instead of games themselves.

Which brings me to a request...

Could you please make a video rapping the knuckles of third parties on the Wii? I say this not as a Wii owner or fan (maybe a little), but mainly because third parties have a modus operandi of releasing either shovelware or low-budget spinoffs or ports, and when they understandably fail next to games like Mario Kart or NSMB Wii or SSBB (IE, games with a budget or passionate development or actual marketing), they blame Wii owners for not buying them.

considering the Wii is the #1 console, breaking console sales records, you'd think they might want some of those record profits Nintendo is making, but so far they haven't relented at almost trolling Wii fans at every turn.

Just a though for a new one. Thanks a bunch.

Alcibiades said...

I think you underestimate the extent to which the retrogaming movement represents some really solid games outside of their nostalgia factor. As someone who didn't get into gaming until I got a PS2, my nostalgia for the old school Mega Man games comes from the 2004 Mega Man Anniversary Collection. Yet even steeped in Halo and Metal Gear, I really enjoyed the Mega Man games back in 2004, and thoroughly enjoyed Mega Man 9 when it came out last year. Mega Man 10 is probably only third on my anticipation list behind Mass Effect 2 and Final Fantasy XIII.

I also think that Madden bashing is a cheap shot that only appeals to your constituency because they are not the game's target audience. For most gamers, it's football if you've got 11 men on the field and have to advance the ball 10 yards in 3 downs. But for those of us who pine away for Georgia Tech's triple option offense to be fully implemented, really want a better suite of options for the wildcat formation, and want ever more options to build our hapless alma mater into a dynasty, every year's new edition is worth it even if we could get roster updates as DLC on the older versions.

Of course, sometimes they make changes that make for a worse game in some people's opinion (NCAA football 09 is better than 10, IMHO)

Amund said...

I really dont see where you were heading with this topic. About retro vs new games...okay, im interested...then ther origins of your gaming...fair enough, must have a source...and then talking about how bad is madden.

I never played it, because im not into sport games. My friends play Fifa year after year. And you know what? They buy new console to play it. Why? Because they like that...they play it with older brother, father and grandfather also. Its something what western movies were before Brokeback mountain.

According to the theory you use between the two is that the "mario team" made another kind of mario games also. Okay, so if the "madden team" made something like this ( they would be okay? No, I dont think so. Actually, there is no mario-, and madden teams, they are companies the least.

And for the record...Playstation 2 was the last good game console...not just because it hard cord controllers. I'm almost at your age and my gaming is very different. This topic would have been rich...

thechial said...

heres the problem with bobs argument,.... HE DOESNT PLAY MADDEN.

basing an entire argument off of things hes read or heard is fucking stupid.

1999-2007 had shit loads of upgrades and improving overall game play every year. it wasnt even until 08 did it make it onto the ps3 and 360. the first two years it was there were dramatically different from its elders. it wasnt until the newest version has it felt like a rehash of last years.

so yah, bias and ignorance strikes again! wohoo....

Firestorm713 said...

Here's some Xbox 360 recommendations/prescriptions for you:

Mass Effect(BUY)
Dragon Age: Origins(BUY)
Batman: Arkham Asylum(rent first)
Darksiders(rent first)
Tales of Vesperia(Buy if you like JRPGs, otherwise, rent first)

If I were to recommend you only get one of these, it's Mass Effect. Narrative frigging masterpiece, and hands down the best game Bioware has ever done, not to mention the best game on the 360.
Batman will make you feel like Batman, Darksiders is an over-the-top successor to Zelda, Bayonetta is a tounge-in-cheek tribute to the sacred-feminine(watch for the symbolism), Vesperia is everything JRPGs should have been from the start, and Dragon Age is a dark fantasy RPG, aka spiritual succsessor to Baldur's Gate. They are the only games I play consistently on my 360. Gears of War and Halo can go do each other somewhere private. These are the real reasons to have an Xbox 360.

NeoRanger said...

I haven't been on either side of this argument, so I can't really comment (in fact this was the first I've heard of it), but I am wondering about something... Am I the only one who doesn't give two shits about the appeal of retrogaming, beyond the quality of the games themselves? I mean, sure, I'll buy the next Sonic game if they tell me it'll be in 2D with sprites and 16-bit sound, but I'll do it because Sonic has been sucking for far too long and I haven't played a decent Sonic game since at least Sonic Advance 3.

But otherwise, the gimmick that hits that sentimental note in the heads of most oldschool gamers just doesn't seem to work with me.

Also, I don't play Madden, but I do play FIFA-- rarely, but I do. EA used to pull the same repackaging crap with that (and for a time it even affected the Need For Speed series, especially after Underground). But see what happened a couple of years earlier; they thought that being beaten to the punch by Konami was probably a bad thing, they sat down and they made titles that were only the same with their predecessors on the fact that they shared the same license.

So I guess I do agree that fancying retrogaming does not equal holding back innovation in other titles. Besides, a lot of the so-called "retrogaming" is done based on titles that are, in fact, retro. We don't have to bring Pacman in full-3D platforming Lara Croft-style to progress Gaming in general.

Nathan said...

yes it is hypocritical, but I don't personally care. NSMBWii was a fun as hell game I had tons of fun with.

and madden is quickly becoming the only real means of connection between me and my older brother and our relationship is all the stronger for it.

Nathan said...

though as always you make a very compelling point that shakes what I personally think. so good on you and hope to keep following your vids

Lordmat said...

I laughed hard at the end!

Alex said...

My own background is similar, although the Atari/Colecovision/Intellivision were owned by my older brother and I never touched them and I got my NES in 1988 as a Christmas gift.

Even though I grew up playing games from where they got their momentum and Nintendo was the king until the Genesis showed up with its Blast Processing™, I can readily admit that I don't buy into the whole 'retrogaming' sub-culture.

Megaman 9 is a terrible game in comparison to 2 or 3 and has a helluva lot more in common with the Megaman Z series (which is unsurprising due to being made by the similarly terrible Inti Creates) with its excessive spike traps and ridiculous jumping puzzles. Give me a follow-up to Megaman & Bass any day of the week.

I can agree that nostalgia can sometimes be a powerful force, but let's not mince words here, if I wanted an old school game, it's not at all difficult to find an actual one instead of a new game trying to wear the three sizes too small clothing of an old one.

Gaming is going to keep advancing, in some areas quicker than others, and no amount of nostalgia short of full blown delusion psychosis episodes will restore the so-called glory of our youths. It's just a fundamental truth that everything that seemed magical while we're young is washed away by adulthood before we really knew what was going on.

Anonymous said...

While in a discussion about video games and pricing, Madden came up. The notion tossed about was that in order to cover all the licensing fees that make Madden what it is, EA has to make a new disc each year. Otherwise, a marginal profit becomes a heavy loss.

Of course, that's only one part of the problem. Not to mention that the ESPN 2K football games were better.

Misery said...

Eh, I see your point about Mario games, but Megaman has never really 'innovated.' There were a few weird failures here and there, but its always been primarily the same gameplay, so the argument doesn't work as well. Limiting it again is pandering.

They even took out the goddamn slide!

iNs1d3tRiP said...

I agree for the most part, but I still think there is a difference between Madden fans not wanting innovation and retro fans wanting "old school classics".

See, Madden '07 and Madden '09 are EXACTLY the same game, just with updated graphics, names ect. At this point, why would you even buy Madden '09 once you already own '07? I mean, if you like it that's cool but I just don't understand.

Retrogamers on the other hand, we do innovate. I know we like our 2d sprites in their sidescrolling world, but its not like megaman 9 was megaman 6 with the same bosses but different names for them. Yea, the philosophy stays the same, the graphics stay the same but those are not things you should necessarily innovate. If they work you should stick to them.

In all honesty, NSMB:Wii innovated TONS. Wii motion controls, ice flower, penguin suit, helicopter hat, helicopter blocks.. Not to mention the levels were (perhaps reminiscent) different and fresh from other mario brother games. There were plenty of unique features that are in NSMB:Wii that there aren't in other Mario games.

Sorry, retrogamers DO innovate. Retrogaming doesn't refer to games not changing, they should change. But they shouldn't change enough to leave their genre.

Samael said...

Defensive much?

1. Madden has changed. Training camp mini-games, a manager mode, a mode where you live out the life of a single player...

Not to mention the graphics upgrades of every generation.

2. Madden is based on a real sport. You can't throw the players in a fire dungeon, and call it innovation. You can't send them into space, or add cell shading.

3. Not only did you fail to do Madden justice, but retrogamers as well. A new MegaMan game is nice, but the true innovation comes from places like AtariAge, or in PC freeware circles.

This entire video was really about your Nintendo memories vs. your feelings about Madden and Halo. I left it knowing more about you than I did about the subjects you pretended to examine.

BUS100 Team said...

Apropos of nothing in this episode, I'm noticing a conspicuous lack of overthinking on the "Rebirth" series of WiiWare titles.

Gradius ReBirth, Contra ReBirth, & Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth would seem to have something right up your alley. Especially since Castlevania featured fairly prominently in "A Matter of Character".

Are they slapping a new coat of paint on old mechanics or bringing classic gameplay into the modern era?


Anonymous said...

Bob, being that you are an old school gamer, i discovered this video for a game that was never released in the U.S. Needless to say, it looks amazing, and i think that you would appreciate it as well.

ZAENGO said...

hulk want new episode.

Gmosphere said...

Madden sucks what about a buffalo the fights Robo-Monkeys in a Lava pit. Wouldn't that be interesting to play

Anonymous said...

Question, how can a company innovate a football game within the rules of football? I mean every madden player plays it not just for some story like in most games, but to either have the experience of playing in the NFL or have a hand in creating and owning an NFL franchise since most if not all are people who will never be wealthy enough to do so. Also, since Madden is on a real sport, you can use different elements of the game such as the playbooks and learn real-life strategy for the game of football and understand the game better. Finally, you can also play the game to be good at it and run up the score on friends and having to constantly re-learn the controls would be such a hassle. I usually take your opinion on video games in high-regard, but I'm assuming you have never played sports and thus it is why you don't get it.

Anonymous said...

This is a classic instance of a straw-man fallacy. Attacking such an obvious target barely constitutes thinking, let alone overthinking.
When it comes down to it, Mario's endless slew of franchises do not advance gaming. They are as repetitious as the Madden sequels you heap scorn on. Not only are these Mario spin-offs rarely anything more than an established genre + Mario, they have also been around since long before the Wii. They might be good, fun, etc. but they are not significantly different from the Madden model.
In short, you need to get over the fact that your heart beats for Nintendo. Use those analytic powers to illuminate topics rather than advance weak fan-boy arguments.

The franchises that you single out for praise are caught in a loop of minimal innovation which *is* the most pressing problem affecting gaming. The retro-revival is a symptom of gaming's current inability to innovate despite technological advancements. This is probably because too many people approach gaming as nothing more than a fun toy rather than a medium with significant artistic potential. But until both Mario and Madden die, we will not see that day.

To own the other consoles doesn't prove anything when you seem intent on playing only their mainstream titles so that you can heap scorn on them. There is more to the PS3/360 than Halo and Madden, and less to Nintendo than how you recall them from your youth. They are a cynical company like everyone else.

Smashmatt202 said...

I just saw this review for Super Mario Galaxy 2, made by Yahtzee Croshaw of Zero Punctuation fame. Even though I've heard MovieBob praise him numerous times, a lot of stuff Yhatzee says contradicts what MovieBob says. This is a good example:

And to be honest, he kind of has a point, in that not much is different from the first game, which is fine since the first game was good, but... Doesn't it seem like Nintendo's getting lazy with this? The same plot, the same gameplay, several additional power-ups and techniques that look like they could have just been added to the first game, the fact that you have to go through the same galaxy twice to get two different stars (first time normal, second time the exact same thing only with a time limit).

I mean, yeah, it's a fun game, but is this really it? Is this really all we want? Just the same exact game as before only with slight improvements to the first game?

Wait a minute... Did I just describe [i]Super Mario Galaxy[/i] and [i]Super Mario Galaxy 2[/i]? Or did I just describe the Madden series as a whole?

Don't get me wrong, I love [i]Super Mario Galaxy 2[/i], but he really DOES have a point.

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