Sunday, January 1, 2012

EPISODE 63: "The Rose-Colored Reality"

HAPPY NEW YEAR! The brand-new episode is now LIVE a full day early! Hear The OverThinker consider whether our affection for the Golden Age has been overblown... and learn what became of The RetroThinker in the modern world!


Nick Maida said...

I would point out Sonic Colors and Generations being pretty solid games...but I understand the need for the jokes, very well done. As always, another great episode.

Ekky said...

For fucks sake, Bob, look, there are -more- games than CoD, Madden clones, BF3, Halo and Gears made these days. I get it, it's the most obvious and blatant example of stagnation within the industry - but to say that there's no innovation, interesting ideas and design choices would be fucking retarded for someone that's meant to indeed overthink a subject. Especially one like games that has more than 2 genres in its spectrum.

Yes the argument that the good ole days were the shit is annoying, stale, received badly. Yes you gave reasons as to why you consider it correct. But for bloody sake were those reasons unconvincing and contrived. The booming indie scene, the fellas at Valve, other 3rd person bonanza like LA noire, Orcs must die and hell, even the Assassins Creed series in a way. Instead you focus on the same brown and gray shit that everyone already -knows- is bottlenecking the industry, and carefully scrape it into every corner imaginable.

First episode that I fully, completely disagreed and got ticked off enough to respond to. Maybe it's for traffic gathering or some other crap, hopefully not. Oh and Sonic Generations was actually pretty damn good.

Hammbone said...

Some nice points Bob, i really enjoyed this episode keep it up!

now on to that other part of wathing TGO... the comments...

@ekky... what? selective hearing much? by "booming indie scene" i think you mean the 4-5 games that made about a tenth of the profits as CoD... and Valve whose last original IP was relesed in 2008 (l4d but thats if you dont count AS which was free)

but heres the real kicker. bob calmly and inteligently showed his points and arguments and even linked to a well written counter arguement. where you just spout incoherently (Especially one like games that has more than 2 genres in its spectrum) and swear alot.

he never said that there wasnt inovation in the industry. you are just hearing what you want to hear.

next time try and think things through before you try and start a flame war.

Aiddon said...


Bob seems to attract a lot of people like that, doesn't he? Or just long-winded pseudo-intellectuals who write dissertations that could have been summed up in a paragraph at best.

On topic, I do agree to an extent that there is a bit of a nostalgia filter when it comes to games from our childhoods. I got into gaming during the PS1 era which I still consider the golden age of RPGs, all my favorite games of all time being series that had entries during that era (Tactics Ogre, Vagrant Story, Xenogears, Chrono Cross, FFVII/Tactics being the titles). And of course people today still hold up Ocarina of Time as the greatest/most innovative/most influential game ever to have been made.

However, I do feel like we're in a slump. So far the only company that has the moxie to really shake things up and force change has been Nintendo with the DS, the Wii, and the upcoming Wii U as well as the many ballsy moves they've made with their franchises old and new such as giving Samus a personality, showing Mario in space as well as giving him 4-player co-op, and giving 1:1 sword-fighting and much more to Zelda. The indie-scene is okay, but it's mostly stuff that's like "how about we make Mario or Gradius or Diablo or Final Fantasy and give it a token mechanic?". Smaller companies and sleeper hits seem to have done more than the big blockbusters. Arc System Works' Blazblue for instance shook things up for the fighting genre with its Drive system that gave each character a unique mechanic and also making an actual narrative with richly detailed characters that has earned it a dedicated following. Dark Souls' online features, richly connected world, and gameplay depth has done the same. No More Heroes' ballsy social/gaming satire on the Wii is still probably one of the most unique IPs made this gen. And probably the hottest name in JRPGs right now is Atlus due to their oddball games like the revived Persona series and Catherine.

I would dare say the games industry got so big it's become a victim of its own success. The biggest sellers can't afford to shake things up for fear of pissing off executives in case the consumers don't buy as many as the last game. This is compounded by the absurd jump in production costs as of recent (mostly due to HD graphics; though it has resulted in gorgeous 2D artwork as seen in Blazblue, Vanillaware titles, and the King of Fighter), basically insuring that ANY risk is a gamble that could cost a company its very existence. Companies have become scared to innovate, not helped by a lot of consumers basically being scared of buying the more curious titles due to lack of brand-name due to the current economic climate. My hope is that graphics will finally top out and devs will be forced to actually be creative instead of being lazy and using processing power as a crutch

Spaghetti Meatloaf of Justice said...

Wow, after this episode you'd think Moviebob knows nothing about indie games. Or half of what Nintendo's been doing lately, but claiming that would be kind of nuts.

Sure the mainstream is mostly stagnant military shooters and the like, but to claim that gaming is worse now pretty much means ignoring all the independent developers making things easily as good as what was on the SNES, and selling them for anywhere between $5-$20, not counting sales where they drop to almost nothing.

Really, when you look past mainstream shooters, the only REAL way gaming today is worse than in the 90s is not having enough time to finish everything.

Spaghetti Meatloaf of Justice said...

Also, needing to know where to look, I guess.

Since indie games don't really get all that much press.

Eshwin said...

Happy New Year Bob! I had had a rough holiday weekend, felt extremely depressed about real things, but this episode just made me feel good all over. You don't know how much it meant to me. Thank you.

And as a former 'Sega kid,' I can also appreciate the nod we get in the form of Retrothinker, since we mostly get remembered as the fools who stayed with a sinking ship. That said -- Shinobi 3DS and Sonic Generations onf PS3/360 are pretty great.

Mads said...

How many copies did Awesome Possum move? How many have been sold?

Super Meat Boy moved 600k copies, and I bet that's a lot more.

Today is a better day to be an arcade gamer than ever before. Maybe the mascot platformers don't dominate the genre, but who gives a damn...they sell better than they ever did before.

Bob, have you even tried Super Meat Boy ? I mean, careful deliberations are great and all but are you actually playing the games?

How about Limbo? Did you play that yet? What are your thoughts on Braid?

Spongey Blob said...

Interesting episode. I don't quite get the fact that you're using visual examples "... look at these four new FPS's. They look exactly the same. Now, look at these four platformers that are essentially skins of each other. Though, even though they even use similar art styles, one's a raccoon and one's some mutated rat-kangeroo thingy. CLEARLY THEY ARE DIFFERENT!" but your points are still valid... to a point.

For the argument that the modern gaming community isn't demanding innovation - you're flatout wrong. Even the hardcore community. They're all just as eager to see their favourite series's evolve. You know who isn't?

Everyone else.

Think about how big Call of Duty is. I know a lot of people who play it, but most of them aren't exactly gamers. They play games, but aren't really all that bothered about them. Some of them don't know who Shigeru Miyamoto is. For some of them, it's the only game they've ever played. The majority of the people who play the big titles in the industry at the moment are fairly new to gaming; some of them weren't even born in the 8-bit age. Mind you, it might be solely a British thing; we were still playing the ZX Spectrum in the early 90's, and all the arcade machines were in pubs and bowling alleys.

Also, I don't think you made this argument consciously, but I got the impression that, when you said 'Well, game developers had to innovate more when we had less tools to make games with' (and I'd still argue those innovations were mostly visual, with the notable exceptions being the games the majority of people still give a damn about like Mario, Megaman, Metroid, Manic Miner, or any game beginning with the letter 'M'. Whether you're a musk-rat or skunk, you were still playing Ninja Gaiden) it seems to give off the idea that we shouldn't even HAVE so many tools, which is more than ridiculous. The tools we have to make games now have made game making easier, more varied and more accessible. A man who can't wrap his head around JavaScript or even basic maths could use his iPhone to make the next Angry Birds. Sure, FPS's now all look the same but I think that's a price worth paying.

Popcorn Dave said...

Can you turn off the auto-play on this video please? It's annoying coming back to the site to read the comments and having an unskippable ad blaring at you.

Aaaaaaanyway... whoop-de-doo, more bitching about brown FPSes. Didn't see that one coming.

Okay, so your Metal Slug and Gears of War comparison makes no sense. Metal Slug is awesome, but even the staunchest defender has to admit it's just Contra with nifty cartoon graphics. Why the fuck would you want to do a comprehensive retrospective of that series? "And then they made another one and it was exactly the same, except you could shoot crab people and you go in the spaceship at the end". Yeah. That sounds really worthwhile.

It's funny how you slipped in that "and Contra before it" qualifier as well, to suggest that even if Metal Slug didn't innovate anything, it drew on a long line of innovative games. Well, fair enough - by that logic, Gears of War, and Halo before it, and Unreal Tournament before it, and Goldeneye before it, and Quake before it, and Doom before it, and Wolfenstein before it, definitely had more of a "real lasting impact on the medium" than anything in the run-and-gun genre. Hey, I'm just comparing like with like.

You admitted yourself that other games copied Gears of War's cover mechanic, which is one of the defining features of the modern FPS. What's that if not having an impact on the medium? You can call cover-based shooting a fad if you like, but as far as I can see it ain't going anywhere.

I'm with Benzaie on this, on the whole. I'm not that excited about the current selection of triple-A titles, and I do dearly miss the golden age of pixel art, but the great thing about the modern era is you can just play whatever the hell you want and there'll be something to suit every taste. Stop posting the same old FPS screenshots and complaining about how they all look the same when there's so much more interesting stuff going on in other areas.

flamebreak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
flamebreak said...

Come on Bob, you should know being the Game Overthinker that Sonic only really had 3 years and 3 games that were actually bad. 2005-2008 saw dark times for the Blue Hedgehog, but things have looked up since then.

Goodness me, I know you need something to make fun of, but have you totally overlooked Sonic 4 (meh), Sonic Colours (good) and Sonic Generations (awesome) these last couple years? I mean they're some of the most colourful and vibrant games to be released these last few years, one of them being on your favoured home console to boot.

Or is the ending some kind of hint that, those very games are what you're going to be dealing with the next episode?

Jannie said...

Well, I'm sure this comes as no surprise, but I have to disagree...somewhat. Bob is correct when he says that people today want every shooter to be COD or Halo, every sports game to be Madden, every third-person game to be Gears or Assassin's Creed, etc.

There is a good reason for that: those games are good.

In fact I would point out that, in the future, most RPGs will be held up to the standards of Mass Effect and Skyrim too. Because those games were good.

It was the reason you saw 600 Sonic clones, because he did good work.

It's not that gamers aren't demanding diversity, it's that diversity is not, in and of itself, a good thing. It's like if everyone made planes out of metal and with jet engines and it worked for a long time, but then someone came along and demanded a plane made from dogshit with a Carebear as an engine...even IF it flew, it would not be desirable by most people because most people are used to being on a Red Eye not made of excrement and powered by love. That's a fantastical example but it's an accurate one.

I speak as a gamer of more than twenty years, so I believe I can also say I "watched it happen"...and I'm sorry but we're all better for it. Innovation and diversity is not in and of itself a good thing, sometimes quality is more important than quantity, and these games, while maybe not lovable mascots hopping around in koala suits like Mario or whatever, are quality games. The controls are so tight now games with even marginally less stellar control schemes (like the reboot Bionic Commando) are panned. Storytelling, like it or not, has reached a new threshold in gaming, as has character development...because no matter what you say, Mario is NOT an actual "character" as he lacks any sort of personality or story arc. Marcus Fenix and Master Chief are. Graphics are better and more fluid than they have ever been.

People want games they know will be good, not games that MAY be good. A while ago, Rayman Origins was released to this market. It sold like shit. A beautiful game, very fun, I know I am one of the few people who bought it...but it sold like shit. No one, NO ONE, cared. Because a whole generation of gamers now expects a standard of quality that doesn't exist in retrogames anymore. And, frankly, never did.

I mean, even IF you were able to simply ban all games produced after 1995 and just make platformers forever, these new gamers wouldn't but them. Like I said, Rayman Origins shows that they don't care--, it's just not what people want anymore. Why should they buy some game JUST BECAUSE. They want Skyrim and COD and yes, Halo, because a whole generation grew up on Master Chief the way Bob did on Mario.

That's a reality. No amount of hemming and hawing and talking about "innovation" (which, by the way, was completely absent from those old games) or "diversity" (again, not found in most platformer) is not going to change that.

But also I think this highlights a different problem, one unique to gaming somewhat...

Jannie said...

That problem is not nostalgia, at least not per se, but a persecution complex, if I may psychoanalyze a bit here.

This is something I noticed a lot in people who grew up in the eighties in general, not just with gamers but with fans of Transformers for example. They seem hard pressed to find any actual reason why poorly animated, barely coherent, half-hour toy commercials with more explosions than plot is somehow better than a much better animated, more coherent, two-hour toy commercial with more explosions than plot...yet they believe for some reason it is, and that Michael Bay is directly attacking their "childhood memories" by making a movie that, apparently, a huge segment of the population loved since all three were huge hits.

Retrogamers have it the worst though, since they seem to have convinced themselves that they are the sole owners and protectors of an entire generation of games. I have yet to hear how this is the case. I grew up during the mascot game glut of the 90s, when, if I recall, at least eighteen games with "fast animals" were produced including one with a duck, one with a weasel, two with opossums and I believe two with bats. So I can tell you that, personally, it was nothing to write home about.

What I can also tell you is that, for reasons I will never understand, they seem to believe that this era was somehow one of "innovation" and "diversity", and as someone who lived through it I would like to point out this is simply untrue. If anything games at the time had so much LESS diversity than now it's truly shocking as I think back on it. As mentioned most of those games were exclusively mascot platformers with fast animals, no discernible story, and with the exception of Sonic no actual characters (with voices, personalities and story arcs) whatsoever. Ironically the Final Fight style beat 'em ups and Street Fighter clones were actually far MORE innovative and diverse that platformers and mascot games, because they required, by default, stories, characters and actual settings besides merely "here is a duck, it is fast, it fights this evil scientist, run duck run!"

But that being said this persecution complex is also simply blinding them to the reality that if anything they have more power now than ever before, and this includes Bob.

Retrogamers now have more power, more voice, more authority and more of a chance to write their own history. They, in effect, won and can now afford to put forth the erroneous claim that they were vanguards of a Golden Age. Arcade games and Nes/SNES games are bigger now than ever before, with longplays and let's plays filling YouTube and emulators and MUGEN fighters making it impossible to avoid them at all. Mods and romhacks now allow them to make their own games, anytime, in any way shape or form, and play them with better hardware, smoother gameplay, and more options than they ever did in the "Golden Age". Even mascot fighters like MVC and Smash Bros can challenge major modern franchises like Gears and Halo for sales. If anything retrogamers have it better now than they ever did...they have everything but the full, undivided attention of the industry. Which is what they really want.

But as I said they wont get it anymore because the industry is now focused on younger gamers who have grown up never knowing or caring who Mario and Sonic actually are besides the brand names on those old carts their big brother has.

So, sorry, but retrogamers will just have to settle for a near complete stranglehold on gaming media, complete coverage of all their triumphs, covering up all their failures, and lionizing some of the blandest, least innovative, least diverse games in history as a lost halcyon age, while also playing endless, perfectly replicated copies of all their favorite games on modern and more sophisticated hardware.

Poor things.

Popcorn Dave said...

Ironically the Final Fight style beat 'em ups and Street Fighter clones were actually far MORE innovativeand diverse that platformers and mascot games, because they required, by default, stories, characters and actual settings besides merely "here is a duck, it is fast, it fights this evil scientist, run duck run!"

What do you mean? How was Streets of Rage's plot or setting any more complex than, say, Bubsy's? And even if some of these games did have interesting stories and characters, it sure wasn't required, not before the PlayStation era at any rate.

I agree that the platformers of the day barely innovated at all beyond adding a new move here and there, but I don't see how beat em ups were any better (except there weren't as many).

Josh said...

I was going to talk about the older generation of gamers' sense of entitlement, the indie gaming scene and the way FPS games, bland and samey as they are, seem to be getting the Abu Ghraib treatment on this show, but so many comments have already been made to that effect I find myself with nothing more to say.

James said...

Have to agree with what Ekky and others said, Bob. You focus too much on the lowest points and ignore other areas in which the games industry has improved greatly in the following decades. Consider RPGs - look at how much more variety there is in that genre now (Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls, Persona, the Tales... series). We know you have a problem with modern generic FPS games and the like, but don't ignore all the improvements that have been made. Yes, retro games were fun, but games as a whole didn't all stop being fun after 2000.

Aiddon said...

the GIGANTIC problem with the indie scene (as Bob himself has pointed out before) is that with stuff like Braid, Super Meat Boy, and Limbo they're just essentially clones of SNES-era classics, some of them just being infinitely more pretentious. It's nowhere near as innovative or revolutionary of a scene as a lot of journalists THINK it is. It's not so much that games have gotten better as the POTENTIAL for games has gotten better. Though unfortunately too many developers are a little too keen on just sitting on their laurels instead of doing something.

Jannie said...

Popcorn Dave:

I'm actually glad you asked that, because it's something I was mulling over a while back.

How was Streets of Rage more complex than Bubsy. Well, for one, Bubsy wouldn't be on my list of "shitty Sonic clone platformers" because, oddly enough, it actually TRIED to do something different--much like Sonic, Bubsy was an actual character with a backstory (small and inconsequential though it may be), a vague idea of an arc, even a personality and voice. This is, one must remember, one of the reasons that Sonic was so popular and for a while was trouncing Mario: Sonic had all of those things, even if most of his clones didn't, and that is why his universe expanded into comics with ongoing continuity, several TV shows with actual plot arcs, and a host of side characters with their own personalities and quirks. Bubsy, in a way, was a pale imitation of that but a pale imitation of something inherently good is still good.

The problem with the platformer glut of the 90s and 80s was that most were NOT actual pale imitations of anything, when I say "clone" I mean clone in the Multiplicity/Bizarro/Blade Runner Replicant sense, as in "imperfect copy with significant flaws".

As for those old beat 'em ups, part of the reason they showed some innovation beyond what most platformers did (and copypaste this for fighters too, since it's the same argument) was that they actually, again, attempted something new and different in their own way.

Final Fight and Streets of Rage grew out of Double Dragon, and into a whole genre onto themselves; they were darker, or as dark as possible at the time, and in many ways more realistic, aiming for some small degree of verisimilitude. And when people say "brown and grey" and "grim, gritty reboot" today the word they're ACTUALLY trying to say is verisimilitude.

Now granted, not all of them succeeded. Obviously I wouldn't argue that. But the inclusion of things like actual stories, story arcs and characterization, sometimes even plot twists, and God help me even backstories and individual personalities for the characters and bosses allowed these games to put on airs of being someone more grounded than a game where you play as a turtle-murdering plumber or a mutant hedgehog who accesses the Speed Force.

Take, for example, the Final Fight trilogy. From the first game to the last an attempt at continuity is maintained, even when it crossed over into other games like Street Fighter attempts were genuinely made to hold to the story arc established in the first one. It's not high art, don't get me wrong, but the plot, as thin as it is, IS in fact a plot--with characters, arcs, minor twists, continuity and a coherent story throughout all three games.

I mean, even the modern Final Fight game, Streetwise, held with the original continuity and grew organically from it. It still sucked but that comes down to control and gameplay issues. Speaking of which...

Innovation in controls were present in several of the games in fact, such as Final Fight 3 where it emulated, to some degree, full on Street Fighter-like moves and combos in a scrolling beat 'em up setting. Again, it's not reinventing the wheel, but yes it does matter.

I could go even further than that, and make a far more elaborate argument with a game like Street Fighter, King of Fighters or Mortal Kombat but it would mainly be just adding to the above.

I'm not trying to say these games would hold up to modern standards. They wouldn't. They'd look retarded next to something like, say, Mass Effect in terms of story telling. But in the context of the era, if you actually wanted something resembling a plot however wafer thin, or to play as actual characters with personalities however limited, you had to either play a brawler or a fighter, and even then most didn't hold up under modern scrutiny.

Like I said, it's not much, but an argument can be made.

Jannie said...

An aside:

I realize that sounds like a generalization when I say that the characters had "backstories" and they attempted to be vaguely realistic, so let me expand a bit...

Take Zan in Streets of Rage 3.

Zan is a cyborg, who once worked for terrorist leader Mr. X--who, holding with continuity from previous games, is now merely a brain in a computer due to his injuries and previous "death"--and Zan was once one of the scientists that worked for him, developing a new generation of replicate cyborgs to replace world leaders. When he saw the error of his ways, he turned on his master and sought out the other SOR characters, alerting them to the danger of the replicats joining them on their mission to stop Mr. X.

The game's several endings, branching from various choices or failures or successes in the game, allowed it to play out in a variety of ways either leading to Zan's redemption and Mr. X's final death, or a mere stalling of Mr. X's plans to destroy the city, or even Zan and the team failing and the city being effectively wrecked.

All throughout, Zan kind of acts as the team's muscle as well as what Tv Tropes would call their "Redeemer", if I recall: the character whose arc is based around his attempt to redeem himself from some previous sin, a kind of anti-heroic strongman.

I didn't make any of that up by the way it's all in the game.

Now, that's a pretty standard and fairly predictable plot, but the branching plot threads and the multiple endings and even the thrust of the actual game itself being, in a large part, triggered by Zan's actions leads one to see that in a way it's about his own redemption. It's a very archetypal concept, cliche some would call it (not me though), but the fact remains that is far more characterization and plot, and more fleshed out story arc, than most characters OUTSIDE of Sonic games ever got--now in the Sonic games, it's become something of a running gag that like half the characters are broody redeemer types (Shadow, Silver, Blaze, Knuckles, etc) but that being said Sonic games were always fairly "edgy" for their time and, believe it or not, a little plot-heavy (by platformer standards having characters that actually emote at all is "plot-heavy").

But anyway, that's one example, another possibly would be Cody's arc in the Final Fight and Streetfighter games, or even some of the interwoven plots in the Rushing Beat trilogy, again, thin though they may be.

Popcorn Dave said...


Which SNES era game is Braid cloning? And don't just say "platformers". Honestly if Braid and Super Meat Boy aren't innovative I'd really like to know what is (besides, say, the original Super Mario Bros or Wolfenstein etc.). Sure they're both sidescrollers but they do interesting and inventive things with their mechanics, have unique visual styles and offer play experiences you can't find anywhere else, and how much more innovative can you really expect a game to be?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about the multiplayer shooters, I really do. They are similar to other and you are right in saying so... but they aren't the entire media.

There is so much more diversity in games today than back then. Would you get a story about what happens when you cheat in a relationship (Catherine) back then? What about the chance to prove yourself against a world that discriminates against everything you are (some of the Dragon Age series' origins)? Or the chance to speak to an enemy and persuade him to surrender instead of just killing him one occassion (Fallout series)?

Yes, you had your plumbers and hedgehogs and women in decent armour (which I'll admit I would like to see more od, I've had enough of useless chainmail bikinis by now) but they weren't really useful as protagonists. You couldn't really have any character development or detailed plots back then (excepting JRPG's, but they have their own set of cliches too), because it wasn't physically possible to do so. Now, though, there is a chance to do so much more and, if you look around, people are using that.

I'll admit, I'm totally biased due to my love of roleplaying beating my affection for decent platformers any day of the week, but I'd rather have a game with as many choices and relatable characters as Mass Effect does than any of the silent protagonists Nintendo chooses to give me. Mario I recognise on sight, but it's my sarcastic Hawke, charming Vault 101 kid and tough but caring Shepard that hold my heart and by ignoring those sorts of games, or just lumping them in with Madden and CoD clones, you are doing them a great disservice.

I respect you and I've agreed with most of what you've said on this website. I've even grown fond of the storylines and I was quite excited to see the Retrothinker as I thought it'd be a chance to see what someone from the 8 and 16 bit eras might think of gaming today. I'm just sad the potential seems to be being wasted when you could use it to show how many advances have been made, as well as how gaming has regressed.

Jannie said...

I was looking for this Destructoid video by Jim Sterling:

It basically sums up a lot of what I feel is a problem with retrogamers and how they seem to view games from that era as some kind of Golden Age when it wasn't and does so quite succinctly. A lot of these people view this stuff, most of which was trash, through the eyes of the little kid they were when they first saw it and thought it was awesome. He also did a very, very good defense of the COD series which you can see on the Escapist magazine, and is frankly one of the few game journalists whom I can honestly say I trust and respect in the industry. Not just because he defended COD mind you, but because he seems to try and take a big picture view of this whole mess, if you will.

Too long, don't read version: gaming has gotten better, not worse, and the simple fact is that like any form of evolution the genetic blind alleys died off and the strong survived. The popularity of modern shooters and western-style RPGs like Skyrim and Mass Effect does not mean gaming is in trouble or bland or anything, it means that natural selection is working the way it should. Trying to stop it or change it or reverse it would only cause more harm than good, at best, and destroy everything that's been accomplished at worst...and for what? To relive our childhoods? Why? That's not nostalgia, that's just selfish and stupid.

Our childhoods are over, let someone else have one.

Ketsuban said...

The Benzaie link is long and awkward enough that I think you should probably have linked it in the body of the post, Bob.

Spongey Blob said...

Now here's something I'd like an answer to. Of all the games in the NES and SNES days that were so much more innovative and varied than the market of games is today... how many of them actually WERE innovative or varied?

Whenever I hear about the imagination and the innovation of the 1980's to early 90's game making, I always ask 'On what basis do you say that it was any better than it is now?' And the only answer I ever have is in the visuals. Not to insult the creativity of developers of those times, but it's not hard for a halfway decent artist to make a new design, especially if the limits of technology rescrict them to using just a few blocks; silhouettes and colour, after all, are probably the two biggest parts of creating a unique character design, neither of which were too hampered by tech of the day. Aestethics aren't innovation, they're just what a game looks and sounds like. Nothing more. Nothing less.

So, to demonstrate my point, I'm going to make a timeline, if you will, from Manic Miner to Sonic the Hedgehog, and make a list of truly innovative games. I challenge any single person to name a game that moved the industry, the game making process, the game player process, or simply game design forward in any meaningful way, not counting stuff like 'It made an already existing thing smoother' and polishing. If any one single person can name more than five more, then I will eat my own flatcap.

Manic Miner (ZX Spectrum, 1983) - First ever game to have both background music and in-game 'diegetic' sounds.

Ultima 3 (Apple 2, 1983) - First game to have turn-based combat.

Dragon Buster (Pac-land, 1984) - First game to indicate a player's life with a lifebar or any other indicator.

Elite (ZX Spectrum, 1984) - First video game to use wire-frame 3D models. Theoretically is the single largest game world to date (if you count maths-based generated worlds. In practise, it's still quite small). First game to have an economy that altered through player actions.

Super Mario Bros. (NES, 1985) - First game to use side-scrolling, a level that didn't encompass just one screen. Fun Fact = It was originally going to be a shooter!

Gauntlet (Arcade, 1985) - First top-down dungeon crawler.

Legend of Zelda (Famicom, 1986) - First game to have an internal battery for saving game states

Bubble Bobble (Arcade, 1986) - First game to have multiple endings

Metroid (Famicom, 1986) - First home video game to have a female protagonist. Also, first of the platformers to have an attack seperate to jumping on the opponent

Street Fighter 2 (Arcade, 1991) - First fighting game to use combos and juggling.

Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Mega Drive, 1991) - First game to use a cel-animation like method of creating the background, allowing multi-screen games to use less space by simply having one background that only moves slightly despite the game's foreground constantly moving, shredding through game space like a knife.

Right, that's all I could skim. It's a little simplistic, I'll admit, but any innovations that aren't purely either 'polish' or simply a visual design. Step forward. I dare you to name ten.

Spongey Blob said...

Or, how about, we ask a different question; if the games of the 8-bit and 16-bit era were so good, then why does the Angry Video Game Nerd have a career reviewing awful NES games?

I think retro-fans are suffering something I call Citizen Kane Syndrome. To look at the world of film, a lot of people say that old films are better than new films, and use Citizen Kane, The Lavender Hill Mob, The Day the Earth Stood Still, etc. etc. as examples. But hold on; wasn't this the same era as all the shite B-movies of MST3K fame?

The answer is yes, because the shite disappeared and we can only see the good.

Personal opinion and the forgotten cult classic aside, the games that MovieBob often touts as the best of the day; yer Mario's, Castlevania's, Metroid's and such, are good. Undoubtedly good. They stood the test of the time for a reason. But if you look at a sea through a cardboard tube you'll miss the islands. These games stood out because the other games were either mediocre, clones, or just plain old shite. It's silly, childish but above all WRONG to say that these were the norms as MovieBob and others often seem to suggest. Kid Icarus? No sequels? Why? Oh, that's right, it was shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

And this isn't a thing of the past. As much as we like to talk about FPS's stagnating the genre and brown games ruining everything, your Halo's and CoD's are good. But they are also the minority. What about Medal of Honour? What about Turok? What about Bomberman Zero? Those games were slaughtered in sales, because they were shit. They're the Fester's Quest of today, and they were weeded out.

And, as Jannie has said, gaming is better today than it's ever been. With so much variety in the market, there's literally something for everyone, and now thanks to ROMs and Emulators, old games such as Castlevania and Metroid won't simply die off quite like they would've done in the late 90's (and nearly did, in both of these particular cases). We have the world at our feet and the best documentation of the past we could ask for. Right now, it's never been better for games and gamers. It's a good day to be a gamer...

... at least until SOPA ruins everything.

Tommybommel said...

I have to thank you, "the overthinker", most cordially for offering such a new and amazing perspective on modern day gaming. Having watched all your episodes consecutively within 4 days, I have to say: You spoke out loudly what I had been thinking about for many years. Being a highschool teacher in Germany and also a nerd child of the golden age, I found that I gradually lost interest in all the Halo, Warfare, Skylivion and football manager (German equivalent of Madden) titels, while my gaming students were only asking questions such as: "what does costumized scope or red dot mean in German?" I could not explain, why I suddenly could not feel happy while I was gaming Skylivion, while my students were mad for reaching level 80 or gathering highest ranks in Battlefield 3. Thanks to you, I found out, that growing up with Super Mario Brothers 3, Final Fantasy, Mystic Quest, Secret of Evermore, Terranigma or Mario 64, I just could not enjoy the 200th generic dark brown and light brown title on the XOBX360. I sold all my so called "next gen gear" and took the best decision of my life by buying a 3DS and suddenly there he was, the nice man, granting you a revival of your childhood for just a Benjamin and a little more. Thanks a million. Furthermore, I would like to use some of your clips during my English lessons in Germany for my higher grade students when we talk about modern art, the media and contemporary gaming culture. The clips are excellent for this because you speak a very sophisticated English and the issues of the clips are very good for controversial discussions and careful evaluation in class afterwards. I am not sure, whether I am allowed to post my mail address here, so it would be nice, If could just post your answer in the forum. Thank you for bringing back my childhood and thank you for all those brilliant clips, Thomas

Taiso said...

Hey, Bob. Just wanted to say to keep up the good fight. I agree with most of what you say here, and I think people are missing the point of an eleven minute video that discusses, in general terms, the problem with modern gaming.

I understand you are not castigating modern gaming in general. You are lamenting the the sacrifice of innovation on the altar of commerce.

Don't stop fighting, and don't let your detractors keep you down. Speak what you believe. I don't always agree with you, but I always you have a valid point and pose interesting questions.

Don't let the bastards grind you down, man. Ever.

Sylocat said...

So, first Jannie claims that retro gamers are an irrelevant corner of the market that should be ignored because gamers don't want that stuff anymore, then turns right around and claims that they have a "near complete stranglehold" on the community.

And then she says that THEY are the ones who don't want anyone else catered to. After gloating that they're "dying out" shortly after accusing them of having nothing to worry about.

Anonymous said...

Never had much of a reason to speak out about any of your stuff, Bob. I've been watching since your first few episodes and, despite the backlash, have at least tolerated and at most legitimately enjoyed what you've done with the show on a broader scale, ie narrative inclusions and the like.

But this is the first episode I have to disagree with on an enormous scale. It's quite obvious to me that your distaste of the modern day obsession with gray/brown war sims colours your view of gaming these days, and I've admittedly agreed with pretty much everything you've said on the matter.

And then THIS episode happened. Bob, I love ya, have since you started, and despite not completely agreeing with some things (most of all some of your opinion related to Sonic, DON'T WORRY I'll get to that) I've up until this point at least been able to let matters lay, if not come to an understanding on your opinion. But just like how Sonic clones and rip-offs didn't completely colour your age in sky-blue, modern day FPS isn't colouring THIS age in it's shitstain brown.

You're looking at Call of Duty when you should take a look at Skyrim. You're disgusted by Medal of Honor when you should be embracing Portal 2. You're heaving at Battlefield 3 when you should be relishing in Assassin's Creed, Arkham City, LA Noire, and so many other GOOD games that you REFUSE to look, at under the guise of CAN'T. You're focused on a single part of gaming culture today that ultimately won't shape much besides it's next expansion pack dressed up like a Disney princess and shipped out for full price, when the rest of the culture is doing it's own, independent thing.

We all get it, Bob, you hate shooters. I'm not a fan of them either. But to go so far as to completely blind yourself to the rest of the army and go against that one underdeveloped platoon with your tactical warheads and prototype weapons is just plain disgusting. You threw Megaman, Sonic, Mario, Link, and Samus against Master Chief. Good job with that victory. The other side just beat Aero down with Ezio, Batman, GLADoS, the Dragonborn, and the older versions of pretty much everyone on your side. Now that the fodder's out of the way, would you like to start playing the game?

As a footnote to that more-ranty-than-I-preferred-but-it'll-do rant, after 3 years of doing mostly what you wanted and sacrificing a ton in the process, you better damn well have a Sonic retrospection lined up for the next episode, because Generations, Colours, and Sonic 4 did EVERYTHING you wanted, and now it's time to acknowledge that.

NathanS said...

A thing to keep in mind about FPS is they under went a MASSIVE pruning of play styles to fit on to gamepad, and this seemed to go hand in hand with a reduction in art styles.

Here's a very interesting article about how the First person games want from Doom and Doom clones to large verity of gameplay ,(like a stealth game in Thief, Action RPGS like Deus Ex, games with greater exploration focus like Descent to,) well CoD.


Aiddon said...

Interesting, I'll have to check that out later.

I disagree with consoles compromising FPS's, even if a lot of Halo's standards like two-weapon limits and regenerating health were due to a controller not having as many possible inputs as a keyboard. If anything it should have allowed a streamlining of things, though, as Bob said a couple of years ago, too many companies think they MUST use every button on a controller.

The most popular modern genres also seem to miss the point of popularity. If the FPS genre, for example. is the most popular one right now this should be a golden opportunity for people to use the first-person perspective as a means to an end. Unfortunately most people don't share that idea so for every Deus Ex, Borderlands, Amnesia, Biosock, Bulletstorm, and even the odd ambitious if flawed title like Mirror's Edge there are TEN "realistic tactical military shooters" either aping Halo or CoD.

Anonymous said...

Don't you think it's a little insensitive to make a suicide narrative over how much you think the modern state of video games sucks? It's a trivial reason to kill oneself, and it's really kind of offensive to those who have been suicidal before.

Anonymous said...

For whatever reason, I was hoping that this video would see you come around to sense and realize that "the gold old days" are really no where near as "good" as you and others like you remember. What on earth was I thinking?

It absolutely baffles me how anyone can seriously believe that video gaming isn't currently the best it's ever been before. I don't even need to mention individual titles since the platforms and avenues available to both players and developers speak for themselves. There's gesture games with Kinect, motion games with the PS Move and Wii, touch screen games on iOS and Android platforms, as well as traditional button and gamepad games. There's digital distribution with Steam as well as traditional retail, and games that run from $0.99 to $59.99, lest we forget free games available to all. There's thriving modding and indie communities, and the audience for video games has never been more broad and diverse. Surely you can't be blind to all of this, so why do you continue to ignore it?

Anonymous said...

Bob, I agree with you. That said, I'm tired of hearing you talk about this. The horse is dead.

There are more positive things to talk about, as others have said here.

Anonymous said...

One of your best episodes in my opinion Bob well-done! Stuff I disagree with but its thought provoking and that's the whole point of this show.

Is this the end of retro thinker? a shame if it is i thought there was quite a lot of entertaining overthinking you could do with that character, examining the state of the medium Captain America you-did-what-while-I-was-frozen? style.

"I'm loyal to nothing Bob...except the hedgehog"

Jannie said...



What I said was the younger gamers coming up do not seem to want or need a bunch of mascot platformers like the kind that glutted the market back in the "Golden Age". More so, yes, platformers are a GENRE that is dying out and now largely irrelevant.

Then you confused what I said about retrogamers themselves with this, which I stand by. So-called "Generation NES" gamers have a near total stranglehold on gaming media, with virtually every non-corporate website catering to them and innumerable web shows and the like lionizing gaming in the 80s and 90s, and in fact even Bob said as much in the video--though I figure, if pressed, he wouldn't go a step further and point out most of this comes from a persecution complex wherein they seem to believe they're "preserving" some lost age, when in fact emulators and virtual console and all that mean that their games are actually far, far more widely available now than they were during the Golden Age.

So yes, platformers are irrelevant now and largely dead as a genre outside of indie games and downloadables where its so cheap why NOT buy it--or things like Super Meat Boy which is a satire poking fun at the genre, also a downloadable BTW--and either way none of them have any discernible effect on the industry as a whole. Meanwhile, Skyrim, the antithesis of every gaming norm from the "Golden Age", sold seven million copies in less than a week, and looks to be a watershed event in gaming which is almost universally held up as a new golden rule to follow for western RPGs.

An aside: I have a feeling Bioshock Infinite will have roughly the same effect on FPS games, while we're on the subject, but that's neither here nor there.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Aiddon

"... for every Deus Ex, Borderlands, Amnesia, Biosock, Bulletstorm, and even the odd ambitious if flawed title like Mirror's Edge there are TEN "realistic tactical military shooters" either aping Halo or CoD."

Sorry, did you just call Halo a 'realistic shooter'? Halo? The space-marine vs aliens game, the guns that fire pink diamonds, the ability to leap twenty feet into the air while the player controls a tin-can, Halo?

Though, to be fair, you do have a point - it's just full of holes.

"However, I do feel like we're in a slump. So far the only company that has the moxie to really shake things up and force change has been Nintendo with the DS, the Wii, and the upcoming Wii U as well as the many ballsy moves they've made with their franchises old and new such as giving Samus a personality, showing Mario in space as well as giving him 4-player co-op, and giving 1:1 sword-fighting and much more to Zelda."

Of your examples, only the Wii was a risk. The Wii-U is about as innovative as a spoon with a toothbrush on the end; it's basically the Wii, but now the controller's more clumsy and has a DS screen attached. It'd be a risk to, say, end one of their franchises permanently, and say 'no more', not just put the character in a new setting like Mario, giving the series a control scheme to fit the new controller like Zelda, or ruin everything (Metroid).

"The most popular modern genres also seem to miss the point of popularity. If the FPS genre, for example. is the most popular one right now this should be a golden opportunity for people to use the first-person perspective as a means to an end. Unfortunately most people don't share that idea so for every Deus Ex, Borderlands, Amnesia, Biosock, Bulletstorm, and even the odd ambitious if flawed title like Mirror's Edge there are TEN "realistic tactical military shooters" either aping Halo or CoD."

And here's a question for you in response.

What's new?

I'm sick to death of everyone blaming CoD and Halo for the stagnation of FPS's that copy their methods. It's not just stupid, but it's hypocritical too. How is it their fault that other publishers have no imagination? Do you hate Sonic the Hedgehog for all the crappy 2D Mascot Platformers? Is Metropolis the worst film ever made because Transformers exists?

Again, as I've said, the modern game industry is so large and so varied, there's something for everyone. If you didn't like the mascot 2D platformers in the 80's and 90's, your options were limited. Now? You could be a frantic, obbessive gamer and never see an FPS in your life. You could dive right into a genre, or thousands of genres. If a particular genre stagnates (to be honest, I do agree that we saw the potential for the new CoD4 style of FPS quite a while ago) then I think that's the price worth paying for such a varied market, and I think it's silly to want to go back to the limited days of the 80's and early 90's.

Misterprickly said...

Loved it, loved it, loved it!

In a BIG way the future of games is in the past.
What I mean by this is; that to look forward, we must first look backward.

What was it about retro games that we loved and what did we HATE?

We can apply that same question to the games of today.

I got nothing against FPS's but they are VERY cookie-cutter (if ya know what I mean) and I think they need some (much needed) chlorine to be thrown in their gene pool!

Look at racing games, fighting games and sports titles.
It used to be about making your product BETTER than the other guys, not the same as the other guys!

The big names of the industry have gotten lazy and it's time they woke up!

Jannie said...

It's also worth asking: what precisely is wrong with military shooters?

People say, constantly, that they're causing "stagnation" in the industry but what does that even mean? I have said this before, but what people are complaining about is not stagnation but natural selection. These games sell, you cannot logically ask a company to NOT produce a product if demand is there. And if demand is there, then you cannot logically claim stagnation, sense if it were stagnant wouldn't people be tired of it by now?

Or do these gamers simply not exist or have the right to play what they want unless they also play a certain allotted number of mascot games too? If someone actually wants to pay THEIR OWN MONEY to play Medal of Honor or Battlefield 3 then, frankly, who the fuck are we, indeed who the fuck is anyone, to say they shouldn't have that right?

And what would be the alternative? People say we need to "get out of the rut" or whatever all the time but what does that even mean? Stop making FPS games I guess? Well then what? Are you going to force people to buy platformers and racing games instead? What if they don't WANT to play Mario, or Need For Speed, what if they want instead to play Gears of that somehow not an option now, do you just tell them to move on and forget about it?

See it's nice to talk about "fixing" a problem that isn't broke, makes everyone feel all useful and informed, and we get to throw around grenades like "stagnation" and "gun porn" and "bro gamers" and such but do you expect the industry to function if we just stop making what people want?

I know that whole response is mostly a question but Jesus it just seems like no one has ever thought this bullshit through before. Or more precisely, it's what I call "Anarchist Syndrome": it's all a wonderful idea...provided no one asks questions about how it works. But when it does work, it, well, doesn't (e.g., Somalia).

Jannie said...

A bit of a follow-up is this:

When people talk about the "stagnation" in the video game industry, has anyone ever tried to apply that to any OTHER area of life?

Like would you go to your doctor and ask him, "Well, everyone is using MRIs, that's so stagnant and samey. I want you to do one of those old exploratory surgeries like in the 1900s, so I can enjoy what medicine was like back in the Golden Age!"

Well, no of course not. But that's literally the exact same logic here. EXACT. SAME. LOGIC. This certain thing or style has become the norm, largely due to the fact it succeeded where others failed, and now we want to...what? Replace it with something older? Why?

Or how about cars. All cars today have effectively the same, exact design and shape (enough so that commercials have been made mocking this fact)...but the reason why is because that design and shape was standardized over decades and is the safest and best we can come up with. Would you ask for a Model T simply to have something "different", or for one of those huge cars from the 1950s just for "diversity"? No of course not.

My point is that, games are like everything else, subject to evolution and natural selection. Don't blame "bro gamers" because it just so happens they like a genre of game that has more staying power than a hundred clones of Sonic the Hedgehog (that completely missed the point of why Sonic was innovative to begin with but that's another discussion) from the 1990s doesn't mean it's stagnation it means that gaming has simply changed into something else. That's evolution.

And when anything evolves it leads to dead ends and blind alleys that vanish after a while. Ironically, that's why for the most part Shumps still exist (if in a different form, like Ace Combat or HAWX) while mascot games died out: people still WANT to play as a lone wolf fighter ace against an enemy empire, but apparently no one gives a fuck about playing as some random animal that runs a lot and can only navigate the world via floating platforms.

Aiddon said...

@Spongey Blob

That was actually me flubbing my wording, more than likely due to me being tired from my chronic insomnia. What I meant to say was that every shooter either apes Halo or CoD. CoD for "serious realism" (despite the fact that the scenarios they represent are laughably silly jingoist fantasies) and Halo for everything else. Now if you'll excuse me I'll go back to ignoring that whiny, nitpicky douchefucks like you even exist.

Biff said...

If anything, gaming is better now than it was then simply because now you can play the games that came out now AND then, according to your tastes. For my money, the current generation is king simply because it gave me the Wii Virtual Console.

That's the whole problem with the Retrothinker plot and Overthinker's whole premise here. Retro froze himself because he couldn't wait to play Mega Man 3 and Zelda 3, or whatever. Is there some reason he can't still do this just because games he doesn't like also exist? Hell, Retro should be blown away that there's a Mega Man SIX, let alone the entire X series. There's lots for him to enjoy, even without nostalgia trips like New SMB Wii and Mega Man 10.

This is a character who has the chance to experience Final Fantasy VI for the first time in his life, but he'd rather throw it away because Madden sequels and army-guy games are all same-y. Think about that. The thing is, in 1992 Madden sequels and army-guy games looked all same-y too, and my solution was to not play them.

The flaw in Bob's logic here is to frame the debate as "is classic gaming overrated?" when the real issue is "classic gaming is still available, so what's the problem?" Bob says the problem is lack of innovation, and then only talks about the same four or five modern games in every episode.

J.C. Hedges said...

I disagree with many points made in this episode, but I see no reason to be angry since you presented your points more intelligently than I could ever present my own and backed them up with perfectly reasonable evidence.

That said, I've never found the retro gaming nostalgia to be at all offending. Anyone who focuses too much on the old days is missing out on the good stuff that comes out every day now. You may have to look harder, but it's there.

I took your advice from previous episodes and just don't associate myself with modern trends that irritate me like military shooters and boring racing games that don't let you even whack your competitors over the head with a frying pan or something.

Sure, when you compare two Halo games only by visuals, you're not going to see much of a difference (unless you compared 1 and 2, which made a huge visual difference on the same console). We're on the verge of hitting the pinnacle of graphics, which I think will force developers to innovate where it really matters: gameplay. Halo 3 had MASSIVE level environments with all kinds of hidden goodies and potential for variety that no other shooter can even compare to.

I know Halo gave birth to the Xbox Live craze, but Bungie gave us five great games with open, replayable campaigns that didn't hustle you through one scripted sequence after another (ahem Call of Duty) and multiplayer that encourages community creativity through custom maps and gametypes over lone wolf narcississtic power trips.

I hate to fall into defense mode when I see a franchise I love viewed negatively on the Internet, but I truly believe that Halo does not deserve to be associated with stagnant, boring schlock like Call of Duty.

Well, it doesn't deserve it now, but it probably will now that Bungie's done and Microsoft plans on pumping them out every year.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Jannie

"It's also worth asking: what precisely is wrong with military shooters?"

The same as 'what precisely is wrong with retro games' or 'what precisely is wrong with JRPGs' or that question regarding pretty much every genre of game besides shovelware, propoganda games and pornographic rape simulators.

Absolutely nothing, or at least, it's supposed to be nothing.

Individual games? Sure, they can suck. They can be great, or good, or just ok, but personal opinions aside nothing should be wrong with such a huge range of games being available to an audience that is so diverse, we have to divide them into 'casual' and 'hardcore' and other divisions that are in of themselves too big to truly have any meaning. Ok, so the FPS market is in copy-overdrive right now; when hasn't that been the norm? I still say that for all retro-gamers talk about how different every game in the golden age was, that's mostly visual differences only; retro-gamers look at the good stuff and never see the bad, and assume that great games like Mario, Metroid and Castlevania must have been the norm rather than the exception. After all, if you only look at the sea with a cardboard tube, you're gonna miss all the iceburgs.

The NES and SNES games that are remembered as classics are remembered as 'classics' for a reason, just as there's a reason the knock-off majority isn't remembered at all; because they stood out amongst the rubbish. Because they were really good. But they weren't the norm. It's the same today. Halo and CoD are a minority. They're the stand-outs of the FPS genre. That's why they're so beloved. Because they're good, and it's why virtually no one liked Turok, Medal of Honour, Morpheux, and no one will remember them.

But fine. It's ok to like mascot 2D platformers. They are the building blocks of our modern experiences. It's ok to hate them. They're mostly naff, shoddy rip-offs. Because, again, the market's so varied that you will always have hundreds if not thousands of games that you will enjoy waiting for you. Gaming has only grown and continues to grow, with new talent, visions, genres, franchises, ways of making games, of playing games. Everything has grown, and I certainly think that it's ridiculous to say that it was any better back in the days when if you didn't like 2D platformers, you might as well not have been a gamer.

Smashmatt202 said...

Yeah, he probably DID get a lot of heat for the last episode, and most of his other episodes, for his apparent love for Nintendo and old school games...

I doubt this episode will help at all. But we'll see.

I can't help but chuckle a little at the idea that the guy is about to kill himself over video games... Then again, he DID throw his entire past life away just to see the future of video games. Still, can't help but feel like the culture shock has gotten the best of him...

I like how Ivan is both taking this seriously, but at the same time making fun of the situation... It's too bad that most people will hate him simply because he's a cheap-looking fairy sidekick used to inflate the ego of the guy making these videos.

I DO see this a lot. There's almost too many people taking about how awesome games were back in the day, and not many, or at least not NEARLY enough people talking about gaming today... The only guy I can think of who talks about modern gaming on a regular basis with almost no references to the "Golden Age of Gaming" is Yahtzee, although he's also suspect to Nostalgia (see Fantasy World Dizzy).

That's an interesting look... And it's also one he brought up with the Supreme Court decision. It's hard to say what kind of impact games today will have, good or bad, because we don't know if they'll be remembered or forgotten in years to come... Usually it's either the best or the worst that are remembered, the middle ground usually gets swept under the rug.

When he brought up the whole "samey & stagnent" state of games back in the day, I immediately thought o Benzaie, even before he mentioned him. Benzaie is... interesting. A very colorful contributor to TGWTG. His Let's Play of Heavy Rain is freaking HILARIOUS, if only because of his accent (he's French)! XP

I love the examples he uses, even though there WERE a lot of the same kind of platforms back in the day, there was still more variety to them, to the point where you can actually TELL what each of them were, as opposed to modern FPS's these days. You can actually see the character you're controlling for one.

I also like the reasoning behind it, not because the people making it were these creative artist who wanted to do something different, but because it's still the same kind of market today, and what the market demands dictates what gets made.

And wouldn't you know it, we blame the publishers and developers rather than blame ourselves. What a surprise. :/

When was The Goonies released? I never saw that movie, actually...

Oh, dude, there's a trailer/commerical for The Muppets on TV! THAT'S got to make the RetroThinker happy!

Okay, I think he messed up. Overthinker, get your facts straight before you go out and say something. Sonic was released in 1991, a year AFTER RetroThinker supposedly froze himself! It's just like with Kirby and Donkey Kong beforehand, there's no way he could have possibly known about them if he froze himself BEFORE they were released!

...But, whatever, the RetroThinker knows about Sonic now. Hopefully, he'll check out Sonic Generations by the next episode and realize hope is not lost for the blue blur.

Hyperme said...

Yay more bitching about shooters? I mean, you made a whole episode about the damn things. Give it a rest.

On the topic of New vs. Old, I think there's something people are missing. The Internet.

Good games, great games, bad games, bad therefore good games and terrible games have always been around. However, people were only exposed to whatever games the local game place sold, and what the gaming magazines talked about. Which, I'm guessing, had quite an overlap.

Nowadays, we have forums and the Youtube. You tell people about the bad game you found. Made a video of it. Let's Play it and lol about the badness. This leads to more people seeing the game and it's badness. If this happens for lots of bad games, it seems like gaming has declined, however, the proportion of bad games to good game has always been similar. People just didn't know about the bad games. Now they do. This makes it seems as if there are more bad games overall, even though they aren't.

tl;dr: There have always been bad games, you just think there are more now due to increased exposure to bad games.

Joe said...

@Spongey Blob:
Is Metropolis the worst film ever made because Transformers exists?

Jannie said...
Bob is correct when he says that people today want every shooter to be COD or Halo, every sports game to be Madden, every third-person game to be Gears or Assassin's Creed, etc.

There is a good reason for that: those games are good.

These two points taken together, form the strongest argument for me. Not every "good" game has to reinvent the wheel. In the history of cinema, there are those landmark films that influenced how the movies after them would be filmed or distributed or marketed: Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz, The Ten Commandments, The Wild Bunch, Rocky, Jaws, Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, The Matrix, and so on. But there are hundreds of other good films that didn't change the rules of filmmaking, but told excellent stories using just the tools available.

The same is true of video games. The 2D platformer and 2.5D beat-'em-up were popular in the 8-bit/16-bit days because the hardware at the time could handle them, the controls were fairly simple to pick up and play, and they were open enough to accommodate a variety of different settings and stories. E.g., Streets of Rage, Golden Axe and Alien Storm are practically sprite-swaps of the same basic beat-'em-up game. But in the first, you're vigilantes fighting street gangs, in the second, you're Conan-esque barbarians fighting with sword and sorcery, and in the third, you're a quirky Ghostbusters-esque team fighting alien infestations.

When PC gaming had its glut of same-y FPSes in the late 90s, developers took the basic FPS engine, but did interesting new things with it. The result were several games now considered among the best of all time: The Elder Scrolls, Half-Life 1 and 2, the original Deus Ex, Thief, Myst, System Shock 2. Once in a while, someone still does something original or at least interesting with the FPS: BioShock, Portal, Mirror's Edge, etc.

So if devs want to take the time-tested and true format of the 2D platformer, and use it to make games as different from each other as Limbo, Braid and Super Meat Boy, is that so different from George Lucas ca. 1976 making a pastiche of 30s pulp serials, 40s war movies and 50s samurai films? Or Quentin Tarantino taking the basic template of the French New Wave heist-film and putting his own spin on it?

Anonymous said...

Bob...I respect your work...I really do but something I have noticed you doing a lot recently is putting modern gaming under the umbrella of Generic FPS games. Go look at the metacritic user score for's really low. you want something interesting? how about Deus-Ex...oh right you think that game is racist when you have not even played it and are looking at that one scene out of context. Fine how about amnesia...oh wait it's not on a console so you don't want to even consider touching it. Fine. How about Borderlands, TF2, Left 4 Dead. None of these are samy brown shooters. I can list more good FPS games. There's Tribes, there's Section 8, Serious Sam. I could go on but you don't seem to enjoy FPS games anyway so I'll go to other games. There's Skyrim, there's the Witcher 2, there's Magicka, there's the Binding of Issac, Bastion, Limbo, Solar 2, Limbo. You talk about how there is no moce creativity in AAA games but I believe that there does not have to be. The same thing about risky projects and such can still happen in the indie scene. sure they're not selling as well as modern warfare but they don't have to. Most real gamers look at the people who play nothing but CoD or BF3 as non gamers. The real gamers know that there can't be as much innovation in the high profile games because they are too expensive.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is please don't judge all gamers by MW standards because we hate MW. And don't assume all games are like MW when they clearly are not.

Sylocat said...

@Jannie: Well, at least retro gamers don't seem to use the same logic that Social Darwinists use to justify the Prosperity Gospel, just in order to justify the belief (which you consistently attribute to them, no matter how many times it is explained to you that this is not actually what they want) that nobody should be making games that cater to anyone's tastes but their own.

It is odd, however, that the only one here openly applauding the death of entire genres is the Argumentum-ad-Populum-qielding FPS fan.

As for what's wrong with military shooters. There's nothing wrong with the genre itself, except for the fact that this "verisimilitude" you bring up as a point in their favor is complete hogwash. It's just a shame that many of the individual games dumb down and trivialize real warfare and spread childishly jingoistic propaganda.

Also, Skyrim is not the "antithesis" of yesteryear's games. It's a game focused on singleplayer rather than tacked-on multiplayer, involving distinctive art design and fantasy elements, rather than this phony "verisimilitude" you're so fond of. It has more in common with the "retro" games than CoD ever did.

And, if the Madden games were "good," they would release the updated rosters as DLC rather than as a brand new game every year. As it stands, anyone who willingly pays money for those games year after year is a sucker, at best.

@Spongey Blob: No, I don't blame CoD for its godawful knockoffs, I blame CoD for being a fairly-decent, at best, knockoff of every military FPS that came before it.

MW1 was the last game in the series that tried anything new (and, coincidentally, it was also the best one); every installment since then has basically been an oversized expansion pack, just with worse pacing and worse writing.

You're right that we've seen the full potential of the genre. The genre in the 2007-2008 release years, with the one-two-three release of BioShock, Portal, CoD4:MW, and a strong lineup of lower-budget/indie projects, like Painkiller.

There's been a few interesting entries since then (though the only ones I can think of offhand all have "2" at the end of their titles, which says something), but it's way overdue for a shakeup, and at this point I'm counting on BioShock: Infinite to provide a much-needed kick in the pants, if anything.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Sylocat

"No, I don't blame CoD for its godawful knockoffs, I blame CoD for being a fairly-decent, at best, knockoff of every military FPS that came before it."

In which case, Mario is a Manic Miner ripoff. Except, it's not, and neither was CoD4; I think you're mistaking 'It's not the first ever military FPS, therefore it's a ripoff' with actually ripping something else off. To be fair, Call of Duty 4's main innovations were in multiplayer which means that it must be shit, and in gameplay speed over player speed. But that's besides my main point; that people for some reason hate CoD and Halo for all the ripoffs of them that circulate, while Sonic the Hedgehog still gets an easy ride despite being ripped off millions upon millions of times.

"You're right that we've seen the full potential of the genre. The genre in the 2007-2008 release years, with the one-two-three release of BioShock, Portal, CoD4:MW, and a strong lineup of lower-budget/indie projects, like Painkiller."

Well, with that I actually meant specifically military-based shooters, rather than FPS's as a whole. First person is really just a camera angle; to say we've seen the full potential is like saying we've hit the full potential of the pencil. It's a tool, not a genre. I still always like the games that give you the option to switch between 3rd and 1st person, like Skyrim and Star Wars Battlefront.

As for FPS's, I think we're yet to hit the full potential, at least until someone makes a 3D porno with the genetic cross between Samus Aran, Audrey Hepburn and a chocolate sundae, or when that 'Beat up Nick Griffin until his eyes bleed' simulation comes out for the Wii.

Link3680 said...

1. Sonic came after the Retrothinker was frozen! He shouldn't know about the series!

2. Honestly, my problem isn't that you like video games before the present day. My problem is why. You're pretty much saying that every single video game today is terrible, and they're all similar to CoD or Madden. Nobody else I know, not even the media, shares this view. This episode should really be called Jade-Colored Reality rather than what you named it.

Anonymous said...

Another episode where Moviebob pulls the same old ""FPS games are popular so modern gaming is bad!""

YAWN. Get a new argument. It reeks of aged milk.

But that would require work and research, which I know Moviebob stinks of...

Remember this is someone who claimed...

""PC gaming is dying, because Laptops are getting more powerful to play games!""

Jannie said...

Sylocat, stop being so obtuse.

Evolution isn't something that Ayn Rand came up with, the concept existed long before that sociopathic hag coughed up Atlas Shrugged. The fact is that you simply can not argue that the market has in fact spoken. You could theoretically argue that, maybe, what has been discarded was in and of itself good and not worthy of being left behind, but you can't logically say that ALL of the people who buy Madden or COD or Skyrim are stupid because they refused to buy Rayman Origins. FYI, I actually did buy Rayman Origins, so suck it.

I also love how you use "FPS fan" as if it were an insult. If I used "platformer fan" or "casual gamer" in the same way, hypocritical little snobs like you would throw a pissy fit, but I guess that's just one of the perks of being among the Master Race.

But ok, I'll bite. HOW precisely is it hogwash? What precisely is jingoistic in Modern Warfare 2? Describe actual plot points please, and for the love of Christ, no ancient meme "jokes" if you'd be so kind. And how does it "dumb down" real warfare (which obviously you've been in, so you'd know what it was like) any more than, say, Command and Conquer or Dynasty Warriors? Or for that matter, Mario--a game where you play as an interdimensional mercenary hired by a monarchy to put down a rebellion and save their princess from being raped by a turtle.

And Skyrim is so far away from the manic animal platformers that comprise retrogamers' libraries it's scary. And that's not just because it's a "brown and grey" first-person camera game with dual wielding (dual wielding MAGIC no less; when I heard that I thought they should have just called it "The Elder Scrolls: Janie Give Us Your Money!") In fact it's different in most ways from the JRPGs that it ostensibly grew out of. It's basically a D&D game run by a computer, not a retrogame. But I'm sure you're too hip to play D&D so I'll explain what that means to the Hipster elite: see, back in the day, before Final Fantasy was just a verbose twinkle in Japan's eye, people used to play these things called "tabletop RPGs" which were basically Skyrim but without the graphics. Skyrim is a throwback to that kind of freewheeling, open ended type of game, and takes modern concepts from gaming along with it--many of them from RPGs of the last few years like Mass Effect or Fallout 3--to build a realistic word with actual plot arcs and characters and story progression (Verisimilitude? In my RPG? It's more common than you think!) where you can also kill Godzillas with magical screams. That's why it sold seven million copies in less than a week while Skyward Sword sold under a million in the same period of time. That's also why it "focuses on singleplayer", not because that's some holy grail to aim at but because that's how Bethesda decided to focus on ROLE PLAYING instead of dropping you into the role of the same floucy-haired blonde pretty boy again and again and again...ironically, my Skyrim character looks like Cloud, complete coincidence.

But I'm sure that all doesn't matter to you because you already made up your mind. I didn't by the way, I don't JUST play FPS games. I love Bastion for example, and open wold games like Just Cause and Saints Row (though Saints Row 3 was a disappointment) I'm a long-time RPG player and have a collection of the newer ones including Mass Effect, DX 1, Fallout 1-3 and yes Skyrim, though statistically everyone in the world apparently owns a copy of Skyrim. I also loved Rayman Origins, it sold like shit but it's a beautiful game and superbly well crafted. In fact, I bought Stacking. Did you buy Stacking Sylocat? Have you ever played as a Russian doll version of the Thing, assimilating other Russian dolls and using them to solve puzzles? Because I have.

Jannie said...

Also, just to finally put to lie this "jingosim" bull that people like to throw around about military shooters (people who never played them I presume) let me expand on something:

The entire crux of the Modern Warfare series is, in a nutshell, that patriotism is bullshit and those kinds of people are insane.

Makarov is the leader of the ULTRANATIONALISTS and is roundly portrayed as a psychopath; likewise General Shepherd is also a staunch patriot, and a nutcase, and a mass murderer who ironically betrays his country in pursuit of his goal of uniting it.

But even if that weren't the case, Price, the main character, SAYS that patriotism is bullshit every. Time. He. Speaks.

There are literally whole monologues in the game that amount to little more than "Are you a nationalist? Then you're an idiot!" or "America sucks, bunch of hypocrites!" and "Britain sucks too and I'm a Brit, I should know!"

Yeah real jingoistic.

Moreover the whole thrust of the game series in general is the failure of two nations, driven by jingoism, to see they're being played by someone smarter than their respective elected leaders. America gets conned by both Makarov and Shepherd, while Russian just by Makarov. Not only do they get conned, but conned into a world war which kills millions of Americans and Russians and millions more Europeans, Brits and even Africans. In the end it is not a nation, or even America, that brings down Makarov and Shepherd but one man, without back up or allies, who does it.

If anything Modern Warfare is about the FAILURE of nations to hold themselves together. Time and again the best laid plans of America fail miserable, Russia gets completely played by one of their own, and the main character makes no bones about his utter and open disdain for nationalism in general and patriotism in particular. It's a wildly un-jingoistic game whose main thrust.

But of course some people confuse "has modern military stuff in it" with "jingoism" because some people are Ben Crenshaw and apparenly anything that isn't Silent Hill just isn't good. Period. Course he hates Mario too so I know he must give retrogamers migraines too.

Jannie said...

Edit, hit send instead of preview:

"If anything Modern Warfare is about the FAILURE of nations to hold themselves together. Time and again the best laid plans of America fail miserable, Russia gets completely played by one of their own, and the main character makes no bones about his utter and open disdain for nationalism in general and patriotism in particular. It's a wildly un-jingoistic game whose main thrust..."

Is that people have to depend on themselves not on some nebulous concept like a nation or an army to protect them. Because every time anyone does in the game, it ends horribly.

Anonymous said...

Bob, this episode made me feel bad for you. I mean, you still enjoy gaming, right? I understand that OT and RT are just characters and the story is partially written to illustrate a point, but I thought this was the one time we would see you actually be positive about gaming. Having someone who's receptive to a gamer to share all of their favorite experiences of the last 20 years with them is like a fantasy come true for many I'd think.

I mean, I'm not saying that you're wrong about what you said or anything, but after the huge Steam sale I've been playing a ton of amazingly fun games, both mainstream and indie from the past couple years, and this seems like an unnecessary bring-down.

This actually goes for the entire community, but if you don't enjoy most games you play, aren't you not a gamer?

Jannie said...

Well, I wouldn't say he doesn't like being a gamer anymore, but I get the impression he doesn't like what most people would call "gaming" in the 21st century.

If I may speculate, of course I could be completely wrong.

Bob is kind of in the same boat as a lot of Retrogamers and--and this is why a long while back I mentioned Transformers--a lot of fans of older franchises that were rebooted and let's be fair, rebuilt from the ruins up after they'd completely collapsed, Transformers being one example.

Gaming really was completely rebuilt after the emergence of online multiplayer and Halo made FPS games pretty much dominant in the medium, and as a result a lot of people feel left behind. But in some ways I'd say this is their own fault. I think it's telling in an older, YouTube video when Bob was decribing Nintendo his ideal of what they represent was basically his childhood memories personified, because you get that a lot with older fans of many franchises, "you raped my childhood" or some such when something changes.

Because, you see, retrogamers don't WANT to play video games: they want to play SPECIFIC video games of SPECIFIC types and forms with no change or evolution whatsoever, completely frozen in time at the moment they first became part of the franchise. Just like older Transformers fans simply CAN NOT accept or internalize the idea that a whole generation of kids will now grow up with Bayformers and not their immobile plastic bricks (and let's be fair, that's all they were for more than two decades) because to them that, that precise concept, with Optimus as a certain kind of truck, Megatron as a gun and Starscream as a shrieking homosexual stereotype, that is the only conceivable version of Transformers that can EVER exist because that is the version they knew. The Japanese shows and movies, the mangas, the comics, all of that is "not really Transformers" the way that people who play COD and Halo are "not really gamers". The counterpoint to this, that a whole generation of people disagree with them and may feel the same way in reverse, simply doesn't register because it can't. Because that would be admitting or even legitimizing the change, instead of dismissing and marginalizing it, or trying to.

Of course this is all speculation on my part and I make no claim that I can prove this at all, but if I were going to further speculate on the hatred towards modern gaming's not exactly hatred per se, not on it's own, but hatred tempered in fear. Fear that some nebulous concept of innocence and aforementioned "childhood" will vanish if things change. Ironically I'm reminded of a children's movie I saw as girl, the name escapes me--some malarky based on a book. Anyway, the crux of it was that the villainess, a "Dark Princess" who resembled a little girl made of ice, was actually hundreds of years old and had frozen her kingdom in ice because she had such a wonderful childhood she couldn't bare losing it, which ironically she already had simply because, well, time passes. When the heroine, a girl from Earth, ended up there and started thawing things out (with the power of love, of course) it terrified the Dark Princess, and that fear turned into hate and anger and a feeling that SOMEONE was intruding on her perfect, shining childhood. It's like that.

Well, except for the part when she's forcibly thawed out at the end by the heroine and ages into dust; presumably if Nintendo folds and Mario disappears retrogamers won't all age into dust and die.


Jannie said...

In addition, speaking to that notion of how people felt about games as kids, I linked to that Jim Sterling video because I think he makes a very valid point here:

When we played games like that back in the day, we did it through the eyes of five or six year old children, who frankly weren't intelligent enough or worldly enough to see when we were being bilked out of our money (go to Wikipedia and look up "Spocket", but be warned the cover art is basically a screamer image) and so we just loved whatever game was there as long as the gameplay was moderate or good, never asking for any actual innovation or diversity despite what people who look back may think.

Realistically speaking, when people talk about how military shooters "all look the same" I could reword every single argument to cover mascot games and barely change more than five words. That's because these games were not just reskins of each other, the way that Medal of Honor was basically a reskin of Modern Warfare 2 with all the fun extracted, but literal copies of one another--I dare anyone to actually explain to me the actual difference between Zool, Aero the AcroBat and Mr. Nutz. Other than the fact they're all shameless, terrible duplicates of Sonic from a Bizarro world where Sonic's story, character, personality, energy and fun were all outlawed.

If you want to argue that games have "some ways to go" before we gain some mythical AAAART status then fine, ok. But you simply cannot logically argue that games are not better than they have ever been in every conceivable way, from story to graphics to gameplay. The only thing mascot games did better was marketing, but that's style over substance at best, none of them (save for Sonic, again) could actually muster the effort to form a coherent plot for more than two seconds, or even casually glance at this thing called "characterization" that's all the rage now.

Jannie said...


The "game" is called Socket. Pressed the P by mistake somehow...

Aiddon said...


No kidding, the genre needs an intellectual/creative jolt that it's sorely been lacking in . Too many seem to be just wasting their time recycling stuff. The Modern Weapons series has been far too comfortable resting on the laurels of the (vastly overrated) title that drove it into blockbuster status. It pains to admit that if THIS is the kind of bland gruel people demand while shunning other entries in the genre that do something different I don't have much hope for the genre at this point. Its simultaneously in its equivalent of crappy 90s comic books and 70s glam rock excess.

JAS0000000 said...

For the first time in a while I actually enjoyed watching the plot in this series. Why do you continue with the argument that video games aren't as good today as they were back in the day. The same argument can be said about music, literature, and film!

Please Bob go back to the episodes where you spoke of Carl Gustav Jong, and Dostoyevsky and compared the ideas and teachings to this wonderful medium. This series should be about enlightening others, gamers specifically, not about dreading what the industry has become!

NathanS said...


Jannie, Skyrim grew out of JRPGs? …Okay history lesson time the first attempte to bring D&D to computers happened in around 1975 with games like Dungeon, dnd and Pedit5. Due to the limits of the tech at the time they were only really able to bring over the “waking in maze, kill monsters, level up” part of the game play, and even then they had to be run on mainframes that covered multiple universities, like the PLATO terminal. It was also here that online multiplayer’s got their start, but that’s a whole different story.

Role playing finally hit the home computers around 1980, with a verity of games, notably many were in the first person perspective, meaning RPGS used that view point before shooters did. Anyway in 1980 perhaps the most influential RPG series ever came out, Ultima, and in 1981 the second most influential also came out Wizardy.

These games would eventually also make it over to Japan were a man by the name of Yuji Hori would decide to make his own take on the RPG with these games rather then D&D. The game? Dragon Quest, released in 1986 The rest is history.

But it’s not like CRPG just stopped in the west. They kept growing and evolving along a different path then their JRPG offspring. By and large getting more open and sandboxy as the tech needed to make such games was made.

In 1993 the first Elder Scroll came out, tracing it’s roots through the world of WRPGs and NOT JRPGs. So it IS a call back to the golden age, just the PCs golden Age not the consoles golden age. And for a lot of the old school WRPG fans it actually doesn't come across as a new height. The simplification of the skill and abilities you can customize along with each mission having A solution leaves many viewing it as a very watered down WRPG experience.

Oh and Transformers NEVER went under it cam close during the disaster of G2 in the early nineties, but then in 1995 Beast Wars came out and revived the franchise well rising the bar on the expected quality of writing for the shows. Since then it’s been going strong, it just that since I doubt you were into buying kid toys or watching kid TV shows (especially since the ones put out n the early 2000’s failed to meet the bar set by the Beast Era) you would have no way of knowing that.

Glen said...

Dear Bob,

While I often agree and see the points in the arguments you make. This was such a close-minded take on the current state of the industry. Since you aren't a PC gamer from what I've gathered I can assume you haven't spent time to invest into steam. The Independent movement is growing in leaps and bounds gaining a substantial share of the market compared to years prior. We are currently seeing the end of the 'Studio System' which happened to film. Smaller developers are innovating and using the medium in new ways. Yet you seem to not even acknowledge this in your normally reasonable speeches.

Every time you go on these spiels I think back to episode 59 about how you said (paraphrasing) 'we wanted everyone to conform to our ideas of gaming instead of finding their own.' Well that's what you are doing. Not everyone wants a traditional platformer, they like most of America want 'MICHAEL BEY EXPLOSIONS!'. While I find that annoying it's what people like and now they found a type of game that does that. I feel like this has been pointed out to you but still, I felt the need to point it out.

I love Historical strategy games; Hearts of Iron, Company of Heroes, Men of War, Victoria 2, Europa 3, CIV, Close Combat, Tropico (stretching it). I'm sure most of these games don't interest you and also don't showcase much innovation often using the same formula throughout. Does that mean that those who play them stagnate the industry? No, I simply have found the type of games that interest me, and those who enjoy these games get showered with tons of them.

Interesting observation; The core problem with the gaming culture is the fractured communities and how there really isn't a core market anymore. People could love games and never play anything that I play. In the golden age there were 3 systems (basically). It's like what you said with your Simpsons retrospective, the culture is so broken that there isn't much in the way of shared experiences beyond a few ones. You see FPS's as the representative of the gaming zeitgeist, when that really isn't the case and I would think that there isn't even one anymore.

Also like it or not COD 4 modern warfare was a mature and expertly crafted game and doesn't deserve the scorn you give it. Now the rest of the COD modern warfare sequels do, but COD 4 doesn't. Don't forget Valve, they created some of the best FPS's ever made. TF2 is a great example of everything done right in a game. It's Fun, Challenging, Easily Accessible, and Astatically Pleasing. TF2 has dominated online shooting, while never getting as high as CS or MW it has stayed more constant and active than any Online community of a current gen game.

P.S. these are games that showcase what games can do that are close to your comfort zone that are recent successes and showcase progress; Limbo, Braid, Minecraft, Terraria, Bastion, Trenched, Splosin' Man, and Rock of Ages. While these aren't all of them, these are the ones I've played and enjoyed.

El Pibe Progre said...

Everything I wanted to say about this episode (and the direction your show is taking in general) has alread been said so much better by those who already poested before me.

question said...

How funny it is when the most biased internet personality, posts screenshots taken entirely out of context to prove his theories. I'm not a FPS fan, i didn't even played CoD or Halo, but i know when somebody should not use the word "objective".

Sabre said...

I used to hate your game related videos, until I saw this and read you replies to Jannie in the 'Seeing Red' comments.

Simply put, I am much like you, the difference is I prefer the new to the old. I like FPS and before today you were, for lack of a better word, the enemy. In both that responce and this video you have revealed something that is lacking from most nostalgia fans and high art types. You have weighed up the arguments and made a desision.

Although some flaws with the video have been pointed out, I do think that the reason the market is less demanding in certain areas is BECAUSE of nostalgia, that when they make a change people whine and moan and complain that it's not the same game. The re-boots of Syndicate and Xcom are good examples. They look like interesting games, but because they are not the exact same game as from the past, people complain. (Although the whole rebooting in a different genre thing is another topic)

James said...

Was wondering what you thought about this article - "6 reasons modern gaming doesn't suck"

Anonymous said...

While the comments made by previous posters make good points, I think "gaming is better than ever" is a gross simplification of the current situation. For some people with certain preferences, this is the case, but for others this simply isn't the case. We've the explosion of the casual scene, online becoming bigger than ever, and more gamers are playing than ever before.

Gaming has changed. To deny this would deny everything advancement from both a technological and game development standpoint. Certain genres flourish and crumble with the passing of time. People like Bob could be generally unhappy that platformers have lost their prevalence altogether. Pure forms of genres are becoming less commonplace as developers try to appeal the largest audiences by their hybridization.

Sure I've played quite a few good games even the past couple years, but I'm can't help but feel disappointed about certain things. JRPGs are sucking, Pure RPGs have all morphed into action RPGs with emphasis on "action", adventure games are dead, platforming exists only as that "phase" between gun phases, and survival horror is mostly dead(barring amnesia). Every is so about ACTION these days I feel more cerebral/slower paced gamers are being marginalized.

While the indie scene is flourishing I don't feel its quite there yet. I can't wait some developer realize they don't have to take a slice out of the "Mass gamer" pie to make a profit. Dragon Age 1 sold a lot more than its sequel simply they targeted their demographic with laser point precision. People want more cerebral oriented RPGs with more emphasis on character building, and strategy.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind the retro gaming phenomenon, it's just that what my nostalgia goggles aim for are late nineties PC strategy games(plus some CRPGs and FPSs) and I don't know anyone who caters to my tastes. Someone who enjoyed stuff like Civilization III, Total Annihilation, Red Alert 2, Fallout 1&2, Tribes, Myst, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Arcanum, Syndicate Wars, X-COM, Sim Isle, and Sim City 3000 Unlimited.

@Sabre:"The re-boots of Syndicate and Xcom are good examples. They look like interesting games, but because they are not the exact same game as from the past, people complain."

It's not that they aren't the exact same game; they aren't even in the same genre! Both of those, some of the greatest games of all time, were deep tactical strategy games which required attention to detail. Their sequels are FPSs. Now that by itself wouldn't bother me if we had some sort of evolutionary replacement - but we don't! There are no games even remotely like the original X-COM or Syndicate Wars. The only exception to that are these X-COM clones produced by some European company, but they are exactly the same and that's not what I want. What I want something similar, but different. Something that will change the standards that I use to evaluate every game that comes afterwards.

It's the same thing with Fallout 3. It's not just that Fallout 3 is a completely different beast from the first two, it's that in addition to that I'll never get to play Van Buren.

@Jannie: "But you simply cannot logically argue that games are not better than they have ever been in every conceivable way, from story to graphics to gameplay."

I don't know about this mythical "games", but I can tell you that all of my favourite specific games are ten to fifteen years old. It really doesn't matter how good "games in general" are at any given moment in time because you are only going to play specific examples of such an amalgamation.