For those of you that follow my Twitter feed, you’ve already gotten some of this…
Today’s video games suck. Not all of them. There’s always exceptions. And I’ll be talking about those as well. But let’s talk about the suck first.
As we look around the video game landscape, we are bombarded by new games, sometimes as often as every week. They all tout amazing gameplay and photo-realistic graphics. But when I get into the game…it sucks. It’s the same game I played last year.
You know the one. The one where I get to run around, first person, and shoot stuff with a variety of creative weapons. To kill something, I just need to have enough ammo. As long as keep shooting, I’ll keep advancing.
Or maybe that racing game. The one where I get to customize my car to no end, and then get to drive it around famous cities. All the while not taking nearly the damage that a guard rail at 250 MPH should provide.
Or the sports game. Be it baseball, football, soccer, golf, hockey, you name it. I get to pick my team to represent, and manage it just like the guy that does it in real life. I can make trades, set the cost of merchandise, etc. Oh yeah, and I get to simulate the games as well. I get to control the batter, or the quarterback, or the left wing. And I get to run and run and run. This game has been made every year, with a new name (and “NEW” features). BTW, making my character look more like me is not enough to get me to spend $50 again.
Finally, there’s the fighting game. You know the one. You choose one of 20 characters, and then spend the rest of the game fighting the other 19. Or your buddy, who doesn’t know the UP-DOWN-LEFT-RIGHT combo moves to destroy you.
Yes, these games get more visually appealing. I’ll agree with that. And they do add more features. But at the end of the day, it’s still the same game. Where are the new ideas?
The first new idea I’ve seen comes from one of the most storied game franchises in existence. Super Mario Galaxy. They took a great story and made it better. It’s got innovative storylines. It’s got innovative gameplay. (The inherent innovation of the Wii notwithstanding.) It is, by far, the best game I’ve played in a few years. Mario64 gave us one of the first 3D worlds. Running around spherical planets the size of a large house is a completely different experience. Now try jumping from one to the other…because they’ve each got their own gravities. Absolutely a step in the right direction for an already great line of games.
The second new idea out there is the Guitar Hero/Rockband concept. Who thought pretending to play a guitar could be so much fun? Never before has there been a game that was the POINT of everyone coming over to your house. (No, I’m not talking about your Halo LAN parties.) I’m talking about mixed company (yes, that means girls) coming over to your house to hang out. To have a few drinks. To socialize. And to wait in line to play a video game. Oh yeah, and the game provides the party’s soundtrack. Now, perhaps this happened in high school. But having your buddy and your respective girlfriends over to watch you and him play Tecmo Bowl does not count. I had 10 people over 30 in my house recently to play this game. That, my friends, is a first.
My third thought on an amazing new idea in console video games is the “training” game. Whether this be training for your body, mind, or even your eyes, these games are really taking on something new. Games like Brain Age, Big Brain Academy, and Wii Sports have really ignored the need for stunning graphics and instead focused on a game/trainer that actually claims to help you get in shape, make quick decisions, or even improve your peripheral vision. I’m in no way saying that their claims are accurate, but at the very least, I’m getting better at playing their games.
So let’s talk ideas. What do you want to see the next great game become? Personally, I’d like to see a new game that incorporates some truly FUN gameplay. Take a look around at the “casual” gaming market. Sites like popcap.com or kongregate.com. Let’s take some of the great ideas from these games, smack your “amazing graphics” package on them, and take them to prime time. There are some amazing games on these sites, and it seems only soccer moms are the ones appreciating them.