This first post may be fairly long. I will try not to explode onto the page so much in the future but I can’t make any promises as I tend to be quite verbose it my writing (working on that for my “business writing”).
Just some background and purpose behind this blog. I am an avid gamer. I always have been and likely always will be. Though I have less time for games than in years past, I still try to find time for the games that truly intrigue me.
I started gaming pretty much as soon as I could hold a controller. With both my mother and brother being gamers from the early days of the NES, there was always a game available and someone to play with. I often watched my brother play through RPGs where I had relatively no idea what was going on. He and I found a nice synergistic relation where I loved to level grind and he wanted RPGs mostly for the story… so he could head off to school and come back and be ready for some stupidly hard boss that always found its way into early RPGs.
My earliest gaming was probably with games such as Bubble Bobble, Castlevania and of course Tetris. I would play pretty much anything I could get my hands on. My first RPG was Paladin’s Quest. My brother and I decided to have a race in that game for some silly reason. It was especially amusing seeing as he had school and I didn’t. The silliness was magnified by the fact that I had no grasp at all about what was going on in the game, simply playing by intuition.
That game sparked something in me though. Early signs of the completionist side of me started to show. I started flying to random islands and checking every corner of the map (at least I have memories of that, though I was pretty young, so it is remotely likely that there isn’t even a plane in the game and I am delusional). This would become one of many defining features in my video game development that I would come to embrace over the years.
So why am I writing this blog? It is mostly to help me get my ideas on page. I hope it keeps me thinking about the part of my life that has greatly impacted who I am. Any hardcore gamer knows the look of disgust at the concept of gaming. Different people have different ways of dealing with it. Mine is to simply acknowledge someone’s disgust as an opinion and remind myself the lessons I have learned through gaming.
So why am I writing this blog? It is mostly to help me get my ideas on page. I hope it keeps me thinking about the part of my life that has greatly impacted who I am.
To me it is not a “waste of time” and not just in a “taking a break and shutting off your mind” kind of way. The microcosm world of gaming acts as a catalyst to thought provoking internal and external discussion about themes and principles that guide my actions. That is what I want to bring to light with this blog.
I’m not sure how well I will do this, but I hope to not ostracize non-gamers with my writing. While games are the catalyst, I hope the messages are universal. With this goal in mind, I will try to keep a running glossary that references wikipedia and other useful sources for terms and games that may be lost on non-gamers.
Continuing a little more background on myself. I am generally a Nintendo guy. I have played pretty much every Nintendo system starting with the NES through the Wii U. I also had a Playstation and PS2. Last time I bothered to try to make a tally of the games I have played it came out to something along the lines of 326, which was 5 years ago and probably fairly incomplete.
With less time in college I mostly turned to flash games that I can pick up and stop without any hassle. That and Super Smash Bros. Melee since that has always been my most competitive game and my three roommates enjoyed playing as well. I will try to pull from each and everyone of these games in order to help better understand what I have learned from the gaming world. I wrote about a similar topic for a high school newspaper so I may revisit the ideas of some of those articles as well as investigate all new questions and lessons.
What follows is a glimpse into my gaming portfolio; that is, what genres and games have resonated with me throughout the years. As I don’t quite know my audience yet, let me just throw out a disclaimer that this section is heavy on the gaming side; thus if you are here more for the lessons learned side now may be a good time to move on to the next article.
If anyone is trying to get a sense of what I like in a game, here is a quick(ish) run down. I love RPGs. I have played or at least watched my brother play most of the Final Fantasy series as well as many others. Some that are popping into my mind as standouts (not to say others aren’t amazing) are: Legend of the Dragoon, Valkyrie Profile, Final Fantasy (I think 10 was my favorite… maybe?), Star Ocean: Until the End of Time, the Suikoden games, Xenoblade Chronicles, and the Dragon Quest series.
I enjoy most FPSs and while it isn’t necessarily my go to genre it is a solid way to get together with friends and have a blast. I look to FPSs less and less for a solo experience, but have had some great times running coop campaigns in Halo, Gears of War, Time Splitters 2 and others. I haven’t really played a war game nor do I have any real desire to, just a personal inclination.
For sports and racing, I generally like games the less realistic they are. I started my sports gaming with Super Baseball 2020 back on Sega Genesis and that pretty much geared my mind for the fantasy sport direction. If I’m not jumping 200 feet in the air to try to catch your attempted home run or if I don’t have the most amazing basketball player to ever exist (goat head, 50 foot high dunks and team fire etc), then it’s just not for me.
Sticking with that sense of the genre though I have loved all of the Mario Sports games and played a lot of Mega Man Soccer when I was younger. Similarly, I tend to gravitate in the direction of games such as Mario Kart and FZero for racing. I also quite enjoyed the Burnout series, though not necessarily for its racing elements.
I love a good Platformer. Of all the genres, this is the one to me that has to be the most unique. I could sit back with any JRPG and love the experience, but if a platformer isn’t bringing something new to the table it tends to lose my attention. I do like my platformers to have a completionist aspect to them as well. I grew up on Croc, Crash Bandicoot, Banjo Kazooie and Spyro and loved playing them all. More recently Mario Galaxy is coming to my mind as a stand out. I also have a soft spot for the raw difficulty of some older platformers like Castlevania.
Adventure RPGs are another go-to genre for me. It’s hard to necessarily draw the line between some of these genres, but games like Zelda, Dark Cloud 2, Secret/Legend of Mana, the Shining series and Goemon were jumping in my mind as needing a shout out so I figured I would add this to the list.
Shooters are a bit of a dying breed in console games I find, but they are still alive and kicking as downloadables. I haven’t played many console shooters but I always enjoyed what I did play, and there are always shooters to be found in the flash world. I enjoy playing through the bullethell shooters I can find on Kongregate. I feel like most console bullethells never get out of Japan because the rest of the world isn’t hardcore enough and I’m not really into porting games, though right now I’m honing my skills in Castle of the Shikigami 3. I don’t think we owned any of the more classic shooters growing up. All I can think of is Xordian which was a weird platforming/shooter mix.
Strategy games are a bit of a weird area for me. I enjoy strategy RPGs a lot. Shout out to Tactics Ogre, one of the best games ever made. Also love the Fire Emblem series and games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Devil Survivor, Gladius and Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume. I enjoy strategy games without that leveling component but tend to be pretty bad at them, or at least bad at doing what the game expects me to do. Take Advance Wars for example. While my brother and good friend were always the ones to play a solid, resource management slow build game into completion, I was the one that hid in the fog of war until the HQ was unprotected to swoop in for a ridiculous victory. The main difference in the strategies? Their’s gets them a 100 rating and mine a hardcore fail score. But that is just how I am with the genre as a whole.
As for RTSs, well I’m just not that good. To me, this genre has the biggest barrier to entry. Since it is one of the most competitive genres, to play at a reasonable level I would need to put a lot of time into practicing, and I don’t particularly want to do that. I have a bit of the same problem with RTSs as I do with Strategy games as well… weird tactics that never really work the way solid, refined, practiced and repeated strategies would. I will still play them from time to time, but not too often. This is also because I am not that much of a computer gamer and most RTSs are computer games. Generally people don’t think of non multiplayer games as RTSs, but Ogre Battle 64 sorta fits there and is the one stand out as a game I absolutely loved in the genre.
For fighting games I am sort of picky, though I will mess around with pretty much anything. I grew up on Street Fighter and Tekken which I really enjoyed when I was young, but Soul Calibur and the Marvel vs. Capcom series really stand out as fighting game mechanics that fit me. The faster pace and general freedom of movement in these games makes it hard for me to play some of the slower fighters these days. By far the game I have played most in this genre though is Super Smash Bros. Melee (though perhaps that is of the Brawler genre).
Can’t go through a list of video game genres and forget about puzzle games. I love puzzles. You never quite know what you are going to get in the puzzle world. Since the genre, more than most others, rides on its core gameplay and much less on graphics or other interface issues, you see a lot of really clever puzzle games which are quite elaborate and fun, and it has a strong presence in the flash gaming world. The games that are coming to mind as being great Puzzlers are: Tetris Attack/Pokemon Puzzle League, Puyo Pop Fever, Tetrisphere, Wetrix and the Professor Layton games.
I could probably get really specific about picky minute genre descriptions in the above list but that seems pointless for the purpose of this section. So some games that stick out as bizarre genred games that I enjoyed are Blastcorps, Battletoads and Phoenix Wright.
To anyone who read this, I commend you. I look forward to getting my ideas out of my mind and on the page, and seeing if people have had similar, sharable experiences.
So until next time, game on and learn on!