Posts Tagged ‘I never want to hear people call videogames ‘a mature medium’’

Retro City Rant-page

17 December, 2012
RCR allows the player to indulge themselves in lots of horrible '80s hairstyle. Player is currently sporting some kind of crazy big hair and '70s tache combo.

RCR allows the player to indulge themselves in lots of horrible ’80s hairstyles. Player is currently sporting some kind of crazy big hair and ’70s tache combo.

The first test of any videogame is whether it’s fun. Not if the graphics are good, not if it has an “incredible storyline” that makes idiots try and compare videogames with cinema (whoever said “I had a great time last night playing Lawrence of Arabia and beat my train-destroying record?” Exactly), not even if it’s original. No, what makes a great videogame, primarily, is the player having lots of fun.

And for that reason, based on my first two hours of play, I’m declaring Retro City Rampage a great game.

What makes it even better is that it has everything the snotty games-are-art crowd turn their noses up at: the graphics are knowingly 8-bit and cheesy as is the music, the plot is preposterous nonsense more in love with referencing ’80s and ’90s culture than anything “serious” and the hero is a deliberately empty vessel called “Player”; he doesn’t even have features in-game.

And yet this game scores where it matters: it’s superb fun. I spent yesterday playing in-game stages that referenced – in gameplay and looks – everything from Frogger to the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Commando, chuckling at the sort of daft shop names and in-jokes that used to make the GTA series such fun (and hopefully still will in the future) and engaging in some of the most entertaining videogame police chases I’ve had since I first picked up GTA Chinatown Wars, more than three years ago. I’m sure there’s more disappointing stuff in it later on, there usually is with these things, but right now it’s been good stuff all the way: engaging, good, silly, fun.

If you’ve ever used phrases like “games are a mature medium comparable with cinema now” or “the best thing about Zombiefest IV is the conflicted central character” then Retro City Rampage probably isn’t for you. If however you still think jumping over mutant telephones in Manic Miner is fun and don’t think Pac-Man has anything to do with Citizen Kane then you should probably give this a try. The only downer for me, so far, is the price which I think is a little steep at $14.99 (£9.29 in real money). It’s currently going at a reduced price on GOG.com though and you might be able to get it cheaper elsewhere.

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Grumpy old man?

15 November, 2011

"You Sons of Bitches", indeed.

The verbose ewgf on World of Spectrum drew my attention to this YouTube video (which itself was a response to this earlier clip) which is an excellent summation of what’s gone wrong with mainstream commercial gaming. The emphasis on storyline, character and plotting (all of which have traditionally, with the exception of text adventures and RPGs, been made secondary in videogaming) means that the actual “game” experience is turned into less a challenge and test of skill and more of an interactive, and frequently interrrupted, way of passing through a narrative. I was amused to find that I wasn’t the only one thinking “I wish they’d get on with it” when watching the parody narrative in the “modern Doom”.

The irony is that its two games which, in their own right, are very good that are to blame for this malaise: Half Life, which popularised the linear environment and “cinematic” feel in FPS games; and Halo which introduced the “hide and recharge” mechanic (which made sense in Halo’s universe but makes none in modern shooters). Whilst, at the time, these games felt innovative and refreshing the way they’ve come to define The Only Way Games Should Be Done means that their faults become glaring.

I don’t play a lot of modern games and when I do I’m always frustrated that the superb visuals and in-game physics are used to create such story-driven, set-piece riddled “experiences” rather than good old fashioned explorable levels and shoot-em-up gameplay. Are there many modern, commercial, mass-market games which buck the trend? Do let me know.