The Problem with Great Games by Ben Winterton
Oftentimes, when I am bored and have only my mind to occupy myself, I get to thinking about my own mental top 10/20 lists; for novels, for films, for albums, and of course, for video games. We all have titles that we know would instantly make the cut (for me, “Timesplitters 2”, “Bioshock”, “Lylat Wars”, or “Starfox 64” outside of the UK, and “Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon”). I then realise that I have something of a penchant for fairly complex, convoluted and just plain long RPGs. In this bracket I usually think of games like “Final Fantasy X”, “Baiten Kaitos”, “Tales of Symphonia”, “Dragon Warrior Monsters” and the “Golden Sun” games.
Now, don’t get me wrong. These games are absolutely superb; each one is engaging, charming, dramatic and amazingly playable. But none of them have that “pick-up-and-play-and-dick-about-causing-the-biggest-explosion-you-can-preferably-involving-your-own-body aspect. And so I sometimes find myself in the very odd situation of not wanting to start playing a game I know is better and that I will get more enjoyment out of because all I’ve played of late is epic yarns of a similar style. Case in point; the last 3 games I’ve played through have been “Mass Effect 2”, “Deathspank” and “Dragon Age: Origins”. Very diverse games, yes, but all undeniably RPGs. Now, I have a bunch of games I’ve not/barely touched; “Nier”, “Oblivion” and “Final Fantasy XIII”. Are these games going to be awesome? Almost certainly. Do I want to play them? Not really.
No, what I’ve been playing recently has been “Prototype” and, for my sins, “Overlord II”. The first of these is an enjoyable, but shallow, free-running hack-and-slash affair. The second is frankly a crap rip-off of “Pikmin”. So why am I playing it? The answer is simple; diversity.
Even back in the good ol’ days I had to occasionally take “Super Mario All-Stars” out of my SNES (if only to put “Super Mario Kart” in). It comes down to one very simple factor, and that is that you sometimes need to have soup; you can’t have steak every day. Unless you’re my mate Stu, who had steak for every meal for 4 days for a bet, until his digestive system started rebelling.