Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I've been playing the new Mario RPG, Bowser's Inside Story, and it gives me an odd sensation I also felt while playing Twilight Princess and Modern Warfare -- awesome boredom. Gameplay actions give great feedback and there are new scenarios around every turn, but I just feel detached.

It bums me out. I was so excited to play the newest Mario RPG. But now I wonder whether playing all of the RPGs leading up to this one makes it now feel like I'm going through the motions. Maybe the problem is that I already know about hammers and whirlwind jumps. That I already know how to watch for subtle cues in enemy animations to learn how to dodge them. In Zelda, it was the same slingshots, boomerangs, arrows, hookshots, bombs, boots... *yawn* I think they even appeared in the exact same order. And how many cinematic shooters have I played? I wait as team members yell at me and then guns ablaze, running forward to stop the game triggers from spawning enemies out of a clown-car-like building. Is it just too familiar?

I love Zelda and want to be excited for the next one. The same is true of Modern Warfare 2, or God of War III feel. But will they also be awesome-slash-boring? I find myself wondering if I can think of any series that's managed to avoid this fate.


  1. I find that games with prolonged and involving stories manage to stymie this effect. An example of such a game (for me) is GTA4. Rarely did I feel compelled to push forward regardless of the fact that I knew what was behind the corner becuase... I didn't. I think games that stimulate us emotionally get rid of that boredom no matter how many times we play through even if combat is repetitive. Mass Effect is a game all about choices and consequences that are written so emaculately that even after the 5th time playing through, there were different choices I could make to alter the fate of npc characters, the story and even myself(digitally of course). Batman Arkham Asylum while loads of fun suffered from some of this redundancy.

  2. A lot of it comes down to player style, too. It's interesting you mention Mass Effect because barring a couple draw-in moments (e.g., death of a team mate (hats off to BioWare for getting that to feel like /something/) and *SPOILER* talking the final boss down and getting him to kill himself (INCREDIBLE) only to have him reappear to be fought anyway (LAME) *END SPOILER*), I actually found the game quite monotonous, whereas Batman, for me, somehow got more and more engaging the further I went (thought the joker end was a bit lame). Not the Mass Effect was bad. Hardly. Just different strokes for different folks, which is important not to forget.

  3. I agree, that ending in mass effect was a mix of summer blockbuster brainlessness onto an exceptionally cerebral game. Arkham Asylum was engaging in that it had a lot of problem solving but the goons were predictable and after some time you could pick up on their as you said so well before "subtle cues". Still a brilliant game though. I think games are still in infancy as we can still pick them apart, thats why I think its brilliant that you look at games like a surgeon does a complex nerve issue. You'll do great brother.

  4. Thanks. I Hope so! The fact that games are so new and I expect it to change so drastically is what makes it all so much fun. Sometimes I get jealous of what everyone will see in the future.