I’m almost finished with Saints Row: Gat out of Hell. I bought it right away, of course, because it will be an odd day indeed when something is released within that franchise that I don’t want, but I saved it for a while with full knowledge that I would be able to blow through it in a very short amount of actual play. True to form, here I am, with the game almost completely finished, even down to picking up the wobbly collectibles scattered throughout the game, a technique I generally eschew because it’s massively time-consuming in a larger city.
At the same time, I can appreciate the height of the end all the more because of where I started.
The start of the game, you see, drops you right back at the beginning of the usual Saints Row power curve, and leaves you at the end in roughly the same place as you were at the end of Saints Row 4 with an arsenal of slightly different superhuman powers and a flight system that’s both brilliant and fun. The difference is that instead of sinking 40 hours into the game to be most of the way to completion, I’m almost there in five. As there’s an extra layer of appreciation there.
I am not a fan of MOBAs. There are a variety of reasons – the toxic and vile player communities they tend to attract, the symptom of meatheaded posturing previously associated with physical sports steadily seeping into gaming, the usual control schemes that they support. But boy, if there was ever a genre that didn’t exist a decade ago that’s managed to explode in popularity since then, this would be the one, and I can certainly understand the heck out of people who do enjoy the games.
Of course, the downside to success is and always has been imitation. MOBAs have been hit by this pretty hard, to the point where it seems that almost every game company in existence has brought out a new MOBA, like the online equivalent of Japanese game companies making pachinko machines. Frankly, these games are a hard project even without all of the copycats, but the addition of those copies has only made the dynamic more difficult.
I’m not generally a fan of Steam’s recommendation setup simply because, well, it doesn’t work too well. It picks out things that it thinks I’ll like, but it bases those recommendations upon elements that aren’t necessarily delivered with any panache. Case in point: Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians.
Regular readers know that I’m a big fan of pairing music with gameplay. When done correctly, it really marries rhythm to action, something that creates a different gameplay flow than you normally find. So the idea of Beatbuddy, of having an action-adventure game that flows along with the beat, is very appealing to me.
Unfortunately, the game fails to deliver on that promise. Beatbuddy has great music, great visuals, and even largely solid gameplay mechanics with a few downsides. But not only does the music fail to flow along with the gameplay, in many cases the marriage between the two makes the game less fun and playable, rather than more. Which seems pretty notably backward, all right.
Tetris is, in every way, one of the simplest games ever devised. It’s also one of the most successful, perhaps the most ubiquitous game ever created. Everyone understands Tetris as a game concept more or less from the womb, and subsequent years have seen endless numbers of ports, adaptations, variants, and so forth. All based off of the very simple, straightforward, and almost trivial challenge – stack lines of blocks, don’t let the lines reach the top.
The simplicity of the game belies the fact that there’s actually a wealth and depth of challenge available in the game. It finds new ways to challenge you, perpetually, so that even though you’ve doubtlessly played the game for ages, every single game becomes a new challenge and something to be anticipated and enjoyed. It engages you on almost every level, and the result is a game that’s fascinating to both play and understand on a deeper level.
Have you ever thought about how weird it is that Pokémon doesn’t actually care if you catch all of the various little monsters?
I mean, it does, totally. The series tagline is “Gotta catch ’em all!” with more exclamation points added depending on how the writer feels that day. Obviously the game cares if you do, in fact, catch them all. Failing to catch them all means that when you reach the end of the game, you…
Well, that’s just it, isn’t it? Even if you do have hundreds of pokémon by the end of the game, you’re still not going to be using the vast majority of them. Even in the first games, you couldn’t be using the vast majority of them, since you had 150 total monsters and six spaces for your field team. Catching literally every single monster does not award you anything different except more breeding options, and the vast majority of the monsters you can potentially catch aren’t useful for that, even. The game in no way cares about you catching them all… except for that tagline.