Thursday, September 8, 2011

Seventh Generation of Video Game Consoles, and the State of Video Games Today

I said I would do this eons ago when I talked about the sixth generation, but I won't be talking about it in terms of which console is better like I initially planned, because, quite frankly, the 360 and PS3, both good systems, have similar game libraries, with about the same amount of deviation in terms of exclusives, and I can't really decide which is better. They are, however, both better than the Wii, which I might discuss a bit.

What I'm really going to do is talk about the seventh generation in general, and to get started, I'll post a video I found bitching about how incredibly bad this generation is.

Now, despite generally agreeing with him, I'd like to make a couple of counter-points.

First, his comment about the red ring of death. I agree that it sucks, and I'm sure the heat sink has something to do with it. However, I can't help but think that it's not just Microsoft's fault (not saying it isn't their fault, either, but bear with me). Most of the time I heard about my friend's systems getting that error, I investigated to figure out what was going on, and I figured out that my friends weren't cleaning their systems in any way, or were leaving them in some kind of enclosed space, or left them on for a really long time (one of them even left it on for days with a disc running inside). Naturally, they kept getting errors as they continued to either fix their systems or buy new ones. My family and I, on the other hand have had our 360s for five years, and we've not had a single problem, and we didn't suffer from the same aforementioned circumstances as our friends. Because of this, I can't help but think that lack of proper care from the owners of the systems had something to do with it. However, I still have heard cases of the system simply malfunctioning anyway, but that was something I didn't hear often, so it's not like it wasn't an issue, but I think it was a bit blown out of proportion due to a lack of knowledge on the customer's part.

Second, he recommended companies get some slight profit from the used games bought at Gamestop or other various other stores (but usually Gamestop). Problem is, any game that has been used is typically bought by the person wanting to sell it, and it's understandable they might want to make a bit of a profit off of their purchase if they decide to sell. It happens anywhere, not just Gamestop. We've been doing similar things at yard sales for a long time now. Of course, the company doesn't get a profit. That's how it has always been. However, I will also note that Gamestop still has fault in this issue, because, while they might sell used games at okay (sometimes even good) prices, they buy games to sell for jack shit. They will seriously sell a game for about thirty or forty dollars after buying it for under five. That's fucking pathetic.

And not really a counter point, but the region-locking issue has existed for a long time before this generation. Every generation, or at least most of them, had that issue.

Otherwise, I want to point out one particular point he made and emphasize it: Metroid, a legendary game series with a few of the best games ever made, jumped the shark this generation. That should say a lot. Granted, it had a couple of arguably bad or okay games, but they kept to the Metroid series and such, and weren't really that bad. But with Other M, they fucked up royally. Hopefully, if there's another game in the series, it won't be like that game.

But still, that didn't ruin this generation, it's just an example of how bad it generally is. A big thing that helped ruin it was companies catering to the casual audience. I'm fine with casual gaming to some extent, and I didn't used to think that it was really a big problem because it got more people into gaming (for a short period of time anyway). However, I eventually came to realize that it is a big problem considering not only does a lot of the crap that's released now not only caters to casuals, but also typically doesn't qualify as a "game." What you have instead is software that helps you exercise or dance or something similar, something you can do for free or cheap without buying this extra shit. Or, if it is a game, it's some tacky sports game or party game that, for the most part, sucks (Wii Sports and its sequel were the only two that could be considered fun in any way).

Which leads me to the Wii. The Wii's game library is quite lackluster, even if  it included several of the cool games not released in North America. Sure, the Virtual Console kind of makes up for it, but even that's missing quite a few grand titles, especially in terms of the Nintendo 64. But even discounting the all of the crap, I feel the need to say that even the few good games released here are lacking in terms of quality. Even that Super Mario Bros. 25th Anniversary package was a big fat disappointment, because it was simply a ROM of Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES with a crappy booklet and a disc with a few songs from several games throughout the series. I can tell it didn't even take much time for them to put together. Even Sonic got better treatment, and he's been sucking since Sonic R was released way back in the mid-nineties. Just makes me think they're not trying very hard any more. If not for the Virtual Console and a couple of pretty good games, and if not for our Gamecube's hardware issues (only the first two controller slots work anymore), I probably would've sold the Wii a while ago.

But otherwise, even their best franchises are getting worse. I already mentioned that Metroid jumped the shark, but Legend of Zelda is pretty boring anymore and is no longer interesting, Mario has been getting more linear and less fun (though I'll give that series credit for still being decent), as well as being put in crappy side games (even Mario Kart is losing steam), F-Zero games have been pushed to the side, possibly forever (I hope not, because that was one of the few really good Nintendo licenses left standing), Star Fox may soon be dead if Star Fox 64 3D doesn't perform well enough, and I doubt it will (Command wasn't good, and I doubt the series will improve beyond the original Star Fox 64 or the original Star Fox again even if it continued), the last Pilotwings was boring, and I don't know about Kirby because I haven't played the new game, Epic Yarn, but Kirby's games have typically been really good. I will, however, say that I do like the latest Donkey Kong game, but otherwise, his games have tended to suck in the past several years as well. Also, despite any complaints I have of the game, Super Smash Bros. Brawl was still a pretty good game overall.

So overall, I'm getting sick of Nintendo, but honestly, it's not just them. Most of the game series I've been into in recent times, including Fallout and Mass Effect, have been getting worse, particularly Mass Effect, which I no longer anticipate much. I'm also sure that, by now, pretty much everybody is getting sick of Assassin's Creed. I at least hope so, because it overstayed its welcome and got stale fast.

Anyway, moving on from that boring discussion. Ultimately, when I first thought about how sick of video games I was becoming, I wondered if it was just because I was growing out of them. My wife expressed similar sentiment (getting sick of video games, I mean), so I figured that was the case because we're both really close in age and we're getting older and talking about having children to raise, and we have been playing for about as long as each other. However, I was reminded of my cousin, who still buys and plays games, and she's several years older than we are, and when I asked her, even she said she was getting sick of video games, too, but none of us could put our fingers on just what was wrong. Of course, we figured out we weren't the only ones, and that there are a legion of gamers getting sick of the various crap happening.

Nowadays, we know why, and it's mostly because of the reasons mentioned above, whether in the video embedded or here on my blog. Gamers generally seem to agree: this is probably one of the worst generations of game consoles yet. I don't know whether the next generation will be any better or not, but things are looking bleak, if anything.

Another interesting point to that, though, is the fact that Duke Nukem Forever received mainly negative reviews from critics, which is sad considering the game is actually pretty damn good. It's certainly not amazing, but it was a breath of fresh air after encountering so many bad or dull or uninteresting games released in recent times. However, what I thought was interesting was I remember one reviewer said it was too much like a game released over a decade ago (oh wow, a game in development since 1997 playing like a game released in 1997, what a coincidence). But that made me think, "If anything, that just makes it more awesome." And then I had a bit of a revelation.

Because of what I thought I started thinking about no longer buying video games released after this generation passes, and my wife agrees. She even suggested getting rid of a few things, which I might go along with as well, but certainly not everything. No more new game consoles, no more new games, no more online gaming (unless it's free and still available), no more of that. Not only because it's becoming expensive, and not only because my wife and I already have a shitload of games, but because we prefer retro gaming. We're not even really too into this generation any more, either, but there's still some cool stuff hanging around. From now on, if anything, we'll either buy something retro if we ever feel like it, or maybe buy a PC game once in a long while. But still, we won't be buying much of anything any more. Even my cousin and her wife are wanting to jump on that bandwagon with me. We've realized we just prefer playing old games, because a lot of the best stuff ever made was released before this generation, though I will say Fallout 3 definitely ranks way up high among them, and I'd maybe consider Borderlands for that honor as well.

But you know what's weird about that? Any time I mention my plan to another gamer, they react like It's a weird thing for me to do. Quite frankly, no matter how you look at it, it can be considered more of a smart decision than anything else. I encourage anyone who wants to keep buying games to do so, but at the same time, this shouldn't come as a surprise at all to anyone, least of all other pissed off gamers. I mean, it's not like I'm going to stop playing video games any time soon either way. I'm sure I'll still be playing as long as I can, and even if I don't, that's okay. I have more interesting things I can do, like fuck my wife. But still, I love playing all sorts of games, and so does my family, so I'll keep playing anyway.

Anyway, sucks to see this generation suck so much, but the signs seem to have been popping up within the previous generation (that was a pretty good generation overall, though). For me at least, this generation has been the death of video games, and I'm honestly fine with that. It's actually nice to move on from it after so many wonderful years. I encourage others to do the same, but if not, I wish you luck in your gaming endeavors, and hope it eventually works out for the best.

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