Friday, November 19, 2004

Email Response
Posted by Shocker :: 8:00 AM

Loyal Another Castle reader Gary "Topps" Sheldon sent us the following questions via email (which is now a nifty link over at the side, feel free to click it and email us with any questions you guys have). Since I am leading by example, I'll take the first crack at 'em, though it's open to all readers and writers here.

First question : With all the talk of Halo 2 being like butter from the gods..and other games being called (and apparently failing to be) "a Halo killer" - How do you feel about genre busters? Certain games that after - why do you even bother to make anything even vaguely comparable? Do you feel that some genres should be left alone for a time after something just blows it out of the water? (I know I yawned for a long time at fightersafter I played MKII)

Well, regardless of what gamers think, the gaming biz is a lot like California in 1849: As soon as one guy finds gold, everyone and their mama runs to the coast and tries to make a name for themselves. That's why you see a hundred iterations of "The Next GTA Killer". Sadly, a lot of really great games don't get a "Killer", when if companies would just try, it would greatly advance the genre (the first game that comes to mind is Super Monkey Ball, for instance).

It's a double-edged sword. Success with Street Figher 2 lead to Mortal Kombat, which eventually lead to Virtua Fighter, which led to SoulCalibur (and frankly, you can pretty much close the door right there). But success with Grand Theft Auto 3 spawned such riveting hits at True Crime: Streets of LA and The Getaway.

Ultimately, I think the whole "X-killer" is absurd. There's never going to be a game that just makes people throw down their controllers in disgust at having played some other game they previously thought was great. It's not religion... You don't wander in the desert one day and suddenly realize that your life has been a lie, and Sonic is The Way And The Light. Hell, I'll still take Mario 3 over just about any platformer out there, before or after. Maybe I should start waiting for the next "Mario 3 Killer"?

Second question: I find Tennis for the Atari 2600 EXTREMELY entertaining. Its got a ball, a net, two guys that run around and hit the ball. It keeps proper tennis score . What more does it need? barring anything not related directly to the game play (ie season/career modes etc)why would I need anything more then Tennis?

I guess you technically wouldn't. And that's kind of why a lot of tennis games failed in the interim between a game like Tennis (or even more simply, Pong) and the excellent, excellent Virtua Tennis (Dreamcast). Hell, it's even why Virtua Tennis 2k2 (DC as well) failed. Tennis, the game, is exciting when it's fast paced, back and forth action. The whole thing with Pong was that it was "fast paced", back and forth action. You can distill the game down to that, I suppose. What you may want to have in order to improve the basic back and forth is increased control over your shots, maybe a little extra give as far as you getting to the ball (shamefully, I have not played Tennis on the Atari, so I cannot speak to its gameplay), all in the name of fun. Newer games combine some of those aspects, as well as try to make a more rounded simulation, and fancy presentation options that probably aren't really necessary.

To answer the more general implication of your question, the whole thing with new games vs. old games... This is why I tend to emphasize the gameplay in my reviews, unless the game's spectacularly beautiful. Until I was 7, although the NES had already come out, the only console my family had was an Intellivision, which had been dead as a doornail since 1984 or so. But my parents had tons of games, and I grew up playing stuff like Burger Time, Astrosmash and Tron's Deadly Discs. Frankly, there isn't much more anyone needs to a game than what was there in games like those. While the new generations of consoles have introduced great gameplay and even wonderful innovations, the basic, core gameplay hasn't changed a whole lot. Most games are about winning, or defeating an opponent, or exercising a skill, or cooperating with friends. Games are about fun. If you're still finding Tennis on Atari fun, or Zelda on the NES fun, or Crash Bandicoot on the PSX fun, or Fire Pro D on the Dreamcast fun, don't let anyone tell you any friggin' different.

Third question: Your system...whatever you want it to be...has a game stuck in it. The game just won't come out and you'll probably be playing the game in it FOREVER... but your not upset at this turn of events...what gameis stuck in there?

Let's make the system the Dreamcast, and we'll say SoulCalibur, because as far as I'm concerned (Ariel can attest), my Dreamcast and SC are pretty much married at this point.

Thanks for your questions, Topps!

- Dan

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