Outgrowing Mario? Outgrowing games?

Maybe Dave’s right: maybe there is a whole generation of people outgrowing gaming without realizing it.

Eternal Darkness bored me to tears after the first 6 chapters or so. Pikmin was fun for a while then … started to seem like a waste of time. Super Monkey Ball 1 was hilarious for about 30 levels, then became so difficult it was almost soul-crushing. GTA3 was great for a while, until I realized I didn’t want to keep replaying the hard missions over and over. I know, I suck at games – I don’t pretend otherwise. But they used to be fun anyway.

The new Mario game has me wondering if I have much gaming left in me at all. On the third lousy “shine” (star) in the opening level, you have to walk across a series of tightropes to get somewhere, I guess. I don’t know because the electric boogeyman thing that lives on the third or fourth stretch of tightrope keeps knocking me into the water. When he hits you, it takes a long time before you can gain control of Mario again to get him up on the rope again so he can jump over it. When I’ve managed to get by this inanity, I inevitably jump and the camera moves and I miss a platform and end up in the water … and then swim back to shore to start all over.

I may not have given it the old college try yet, but this sort of thing is no longer something I want to spend my precious few hours of free time doing. The game is beautiful but I am not excited by running around with a hose cleaning mud off walls and bridges. And the other levels I’ve opened seem like more of the same – hanging from cages, falling into water, missing jumps, starting over.

I liked Medal of Honor (PC) and I still have Thief 2 on my PC. Warcraft 3 seems fun but I have to say that it doesn’t “call out to me” like games used to.

Maybe I’m just going through a phase.

Could just be a phase, seriously. I’ve had times where I just didn’t really feel like playing console games that much and all I wanted to do was play wargames and strategy titles. Other times I’m disenchanted with the PC and all I do is play 2D fighters, shooters and platform action games. Next week it could be all racing games again. I overdosed on racing while writing for CGM the past two years. I still love the genre but it’s been nice that there’s a break in the big auto racing game releases.

On the other hand, maybe you are just outgrowing games or certain types of games. There’s nothing wrong with it and I’d imagine a lot of people would consider it a healthy reaction depending on your age. The sequence you’re describing didn’t bother me in the least. The movement among those high wires isn’t nearly as hard as you describe. So it’s possible you’re just not into the challenge for challenge’s sake anymore. Any Mario game really isn’t made to have a huge payoff other than the gameplay itself which is super-rewarding if you complete a difficult hurdle.

Ah well…that might read like a whole lot of nothing, or it might be something…I dunno. I enjoy thinking about these problems that gaming faces and one thing I see regularly is what you’re talking about. People just grow out of things or are too weighted down by life to enjoy games. Gaming is often not a release but a frustration of sorts. It can be the best possible way to waste time or the worst depending on your mood. Take a break and come back to the game (and others) after a week away and see if you still feel the same way?

–Dave

If

Eternal Darkness
Mario
GTA3
Pikmin
Monkeyball
and Warcraft 3

aren’t doing it for you, I’d suggest a break from computer/video gaming. I built some serious permanent bookshelves for my home “library” room awhile ago. They came out very nice but I think I took 5x as long as those bastard mutant TV handymen guys. But it’s fun to work with power tools and cuss about wood and hardware stores. Working with wood is as challenging as any game…

And afterwards, gaming definitely had me happy again.

I do not enjoy console games nearly as much as I used to. I did my 8 hour wait in line for a PS2 banking on the new generation of systems to rekindle my enthusiasm. No go. Platform games, fighting games, racing, shooters…I don’t know whether it is a lack of game design innovation or a simple change in tastes.

I play many strategy titles and RPGs. The console titles in this category used to do it for me, but alas, the magic is gone. My PC games become stale more quickly, too and I seem to be constantly looking toward the next game rather than enjoying what I am playing.

It is also said that not enjoying things which you normally would is a sign of depression. Maybe some Paxil, Zoloft, or whatever the popular treatment for General Anxiety Disorder is today would fix us all right up. :wink:

Yes, I saw a huge improvement in the bouncing ball in the Zoloft commercials, he learned to love bees again.

But I agree with you on looking forward to future games rather than enjoying the ones I have. The grass is greener and such. Are you playing multiplayer on any of the games you have though? I mean, gaming can be a very solitary experience sometime and I’ve found that even though I prefer SP usually, a good multiplayer game can oftentimes hold my gaming interest for longer.

I didn’t like Pikmin at all. It was cute and well-made, but as a puzzle game it had very little density. Maybe it got better later on, but there was just too much wandering, and waiting for the Pikmin to finish a task for me to care.

Eternal Darkness was pretty homogenous gameplay-wise, so I can see how you might get bored, but I think the variety of characters and settings made up for it. The art was great. I played through the game about 1.7 times on one rental. When you complete it under all three gods, you can play through again invulnerable, which I plan to do so I can look for all the insanity effects.

I probably like Eternal Darkness more than Mario, but I still like Mario. That damn camera can bite me though. I was on this stage where you have to surf on a blooper and get 8 red coins. I get them all, and of course it cuts away to show where the shine appears. But then, when it comes back, the camera is shaking up and down, locked in one orientation, which is almost completely opposite of the direction I’m now travelling. So of course, I hit something and die, because you can’t stop your blooper, it constantly moves forward at a high rate of speed. This happens again the next time I get eight coins. Then, I figured out that constantly jumping after you get that eighth coin will slow you down and fix the camera-- but I can’t believe that that camera bug didn’t come out in testing once. I suppose that you can probably hit X and ditch the blooper like you do to dismount Yoshi, but I’m not sure. I’ve also clipped through a couple of things that I shouldn’t have.

Anyway, even when you get good at controlling the camera, stuff like this happens. And then if it causes you to die, you can’t just jump back into the start of the level, you have to sit through a sequence of: watching Mario’s death throes, getting kicked back to Delfino Plaza, going back into the zone, and watching the intro to the level fade out painfully slow when you press A to skip it. That, to me, is even more insane than a camera bug: three unskippable sequences, and one that gets skipped in bullet-time-- just to get back to the level and try again. It’s painful.

I don’t even want to comment about the scuba levels. Hate hate hate.

So I wouldn’t say “if I don’t like Mario, I must not like games” which is what you appear to be feeling right now. It can be tough and frustrating even without a bug slapping you in the face. I manage to enjoy it anyway, for the depth and all the secrets. Plus I like to torture myself by stringing together a series of perfect moves and then blowing it all with one twitch.

I’m trading in my PS2 today, and I am pretty sure I won’t be getting an XBox or Gamecube. While looking over my PSOne collection of 97 games, and my somewhat less impressive (but equally fun) collection of PC and Dreamcast games, I realized I didn’t really care about the latest generation.

I won’t deny there are some quality titles being put out, but there just isnt that feeling there. I play the games, know they are quality, but they don’t catch at all. I spend most of my time these days plunking away on my PSOne w/LCD and my Dreamcasts. The PC’s new stuff still appeals to me for some reason so I play lots of new games there too.

It isn’t really a loss since I never really played my ps2 aside from Virtua Fighter 4, which is something that IS great, but I prefer my usual 2D gauntlet over. I picked up Street Fighter Collection for PSone the other day. I was so pumped cause i needed Street Fighter Alpha 2, and I got the Gold version (better AI).

So there ya go. I am essentially giving this era of gaming a personal thumbs down. Maybe I AM just getting old.

You know I get this way myself every once in awhile. After 21 years of gaming though, it dosen’t really suprise me. I think people’s taste’s just change.

I’ve found the answer for me is, I basically hang up my gaming hat for the summer months. From about the beginning of June until the end of Aug, I try to stay away form gaming. I still follow whats going on, but try not to get sucked into any games, and instead spend my time enjoying the nice weather. When I start up again in Sept/Oct everything is so fresh!

Of course that strategy hasen’t worked so well for me this summer. With NWN, Warcraft 3, and now Icewind Dale 2 I’ve spent way too much time indoors gaming than I should have. :shock: Oh well, as far as I’m concerned this has been one of the best years for games in recent memory. I’m loving it.

I find that my gaming preferences change over time. It used to be there wasn’t a sim detailed enough for me, but now I’d be more interested in Crimson Skies 2 than Falcon 5. I used to prefer the slower pace of CS or UT on a slow speed, but now I’m on a DoD/Q3/BF1942 kick because of the faster pace. Gads, I even reinstalled Quake 1 the other day & played some old old old skool deathmatch! (Side note: check out the Tenebrae mod for Q1 - awesome.)

I’m completely off of consoles and arcades right now. The games all seriously seem like just MOTS to me. Fighting, rail shooters, driving, platforms, sports - yawn. I’ll probably be back in a year or so, though. Once my kids are a little older and are able to play, most likely.

Arcades?!? I do not even consider stepping in the one’s around these parts. They are all mall arcades to boot. The free standing one’s are extinct in Alabama and we do not have the big restaurant/arcades a la Dave & Buster’s.

Argh!! Those fucking Dancing games. I think those were medical tests created by the government to see if children needed to be put on Ridlin. Once they were found to actually entertain some Ridlin-starved malcontents, they were turned into a games to fund overseas wars.

If you haven’t been to the arcade, you haven’t played Soul Calibur II and well, you should. There’s nothing quite like playing side by side with another human you’ve never seen before and pummelling them into submission with the fighter of your choice. When you kick their ass and leave them wounded, walking out of the arcade with their tail between their legs, you know you’ve reached the summit of… uh… something. :-)

Anyway, hit your local arcade, Soul Calibur II is probably there and it, uh, rocks or something.

–Dave

I go through these phases every now and again. Usually what it takes for me to snap out of it is a solid week or so spent not really playing games or watching movies or consuming media, but getting some creative urges out of my system. Make a website, build a home project, fill up a sketchpad, practice a musical instrument a couple hours a day, etc.

It doesn’t have to be good (it’s all crap when I do it), it just has to be something you can feel like you’ve accomplished.

After spending a week or two away from games, and then coming back with something really “pick up and play,” my batteries are usually recharged.

It also really helps to spend a little time playing games that you can’t “win,” per se, just play. A SimCity game or something. Most of the time when I’m starting to hate all gaming, even the “good games,” it’s because I feel like I’m sloughing through tedium to reach some arbitrary goal with a crappy reward. I’m usually over-dramatizing it, but removing the arbitrary goal entirely and playing around with the games that are mostly just “toys” is a good way to go.

Usually when I start to feel down on gaming, I’ve just binged on a couple of “addictive” games. So I walk away for a couple of weeks, until the mood grabs me again.

Different games fulfill different needs, too. Sometimes, as the Warcraft II dwarf says, I just “love blowing things up.”

Other times, I want to take time, consider each move. And other times, I want to submerge myself in a role.

And every time I think I’ve seen it all, some new game hooks me. Whatever that game is, may not actually have that much original, but might have interesting subject matter, a slick presentation or an absorbing story. So after being on the periphery of this business for fifteen years now, I keep coming back.

As ever,

Loyd Case

JT, I know your malady, and I have good news. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s the games, man.

The games you mention are for the most part pretty good games. I’ll leave the debate of which is which to others. The problem is, they’re not designed for you. You’re not their demographic, and I can guess at that without knowing any more about you than what I read in your post.

You see, very few marketing people have grasped that the demographic for gaming has been evolving and getting older since gaming came to be. Someone said 13-24, or 16-25 and there it stuck for all eternity. For computer games, you may get luckier as at least we older players are sometime acknowledged, but if it’s not Civ or Sim you’re probably out of luck. Instead of feeding us games appropriate to all our life stages, they continue to crank out the same game with prettier pictures for a new crop of kids.

I’m going to get off my soapbox, as this is a particularly touchy subject for me, mostly because I’m old and even the best of recent games have been pathetically shallow for my college educated mind. Fun, sure, but so is pulp fiction. I can only take so much before I want literature.

  • Alex

“But I agree with you on looking forward to future games rather than enjoying the ones I have. The grass is greener and such.”

Maybe not a factor for the origional poster but I see this as a downside of the Internet and gaming. 10 years ago most regular gamers got their info from the once a month gaming mag. Maybe a small number with some of the propriatary online services. Now you can be inundated with info on a game. Want to read a few dozen previews? See a few hundred screen shots? Talk on messages boards about the game for months(maybe years) before it comes out? The Internet gives it to you.

With all the hype that the Interent gives the regular gamer now can any game live up to it? You can make yourself stay away from gaming sites so you don’t see the info but its so easy to pop the browser open to check if the demo for that game youve been waiting for is about to come out.

“You see, very few marketing people have grasped that the demographic for gaming has been evolving and getting older since gaming came to be. Someone said 13-24, or 16-25 and there it stuck for all eternity.”

I think a lot of PC game companies realize this, but the 25+ demographic is much more discriminating and probably just doesn’t buy as much. It’s harder to make a successful gaming product they will buy.

It’s why some TV shows can pull in more viewers but find they have to charge less for ads – their viewers are older and less likely to respond to advertising.

I would definitely agree with this one, because I’ve felt it myself. I much less likely to buy the horde of games I used to.

Also, does anyone else out there wish some games were simply shorter and cost less? One of the reasons I am reluctant to get into epic RPGs and adventure games is because I feel forced to committing 20 - 40 hours of my life in the next couple of weeks to them. They aren’t something you can just sort of pick up and put down because if you come back to a game a few weeks later, you may have no clue in which stage of which quest you are.

Length and scope are important to give those games epic qualities, but now that I am working more, financing a house, starting a family, paying constant bills, etc., I just don’t have huge blocks of time to set aside. Maybe one day these sorts of games can be delivered episodically, where I can pay 5$ a week to download the latest 2-hour installment of Tomb Raider Jr.: Jump Grrl

Thanks for an interesting post. I think there’s something to what you’re saying.

I think that one of the biggest problems for me is that the relentless repetition built in to virtually every game no longer holds the appeal it did when I was younger. I’m 31, and I don’t really feel the need to get 8 red f—king coins and run back to a goddamn X-Y coordinate within 60 seconds anymore. I certainly don’t want to do it 16 times. I want to be surprised by games and, like you said, impressed, and challenged in ways beyond racing against arbitrary time limits or pinpoint jumps. I read all the time and I’ve become an impatient (I won’t say demanding, it sounds pretentious) reader as well – there are so many wonderful books and so much amazing music that I don’t feel the need to spend any time reading (or listening to) stuff that doesn’t do it for me.

The last game that knocked me off my feet was probably half-life, for the first 50 percent of it anyway. I loved Full Throttle. I loved Master of Orion. I loved the first System Shock. Starcraft was a ton of fun. Paper Mario blew me away, I have no idea why. I actually finished it. I very seldom finish games. The first Zelda for N64 was pretty amazing for a while, until the boss battles became too much. I had a PS2 briefly and little appealed to me. Gran Turismo 3 gave me a stomach ache. I don’t have the time or inclination to get a masters degree in engine tuning just to engage in blurry races with AI opponents. As I said, Medal of Honor is a very good game. It’s not like I am incapable of enjoying any games. I have enjoyed Neverwinter nights. I played for a bunch of hours for a few days. But then I don’t play anymore. I hope to get back to that at some point.

Another point: What I wish was out right now was the kind of pick-up-and-go multiplayer games I used to play with my wife on the N64. But Nintendo has this weird 5-year-plan or something of spacing out titles of interest over long stretches of time. Why on earth isn’t there a Mario Golf or Mario Kart or Mario Tennis game out for the Gamecube by now? (i know monkeyball is supposed to be god’s gift to gaming, but except for short bouts of monkey target it didn’t do much for us.) My wife knows SSX tricky is fun and she likes it but when we raced in that she couldn’t hang with me and how long is that fun? With Mario Kart and games like that we could just sit down and play for a half hour without getting exasperated and wanting to throw the whole system out the window.

I’m glad I’m not the only person starting to feel like I’m outgrowing games. On the plus side, some new stuff gets me up, like Neverwinter Nights and Super Monkey Ball 2. After about 60 hours split between those two games in one week, and re-discovering some of my NES and SNES classics, I can semi-safely say that I’m not outgrowing games; games made today are, by and large, total tripe.

The Gamecube has the most pick-up-and-play multiplayer games of any console. Super Monkey Ball is the cat’s meow even if it didn’t click with you. My wife and I play Monkey Bowling, Billiards and Golf pretty regularly. I plan to get the sequel for all the new mini games too. I’d also suggest Super Smash Brothers Melee, Beach Spikers, Bomberman Generations and Sega Soccer Slam. All of them are exactly the kind of multiplayer game you’re talking about. Wave Race: Blue Storm is another one that fits the bill.

If Nintendo released all their hit properties right away with every new system release, how would they support the system later on? It takes time to build games and there’s only so many people working there. They’ve created a good range of both single and multiplayer titles for the system. For social gaming, the Gamecube is almost always the system we play at my house although the Dreamcast still gets a lot of action there too.

It sounds like one of the things you don’t like about a lot of games is the difficulty. I’m not sure how anything can help you there other than changing the difficulty to lower settings when available. You just sound burned out.

I disagree 100% with the sentiment that today’s games are tripe. We have more numerous and varied great games being made today than well, ever. If you’re not digging them, you’re probably just not into games too much anymore. You may have outgrown them or you’re burned out on them. It happens. Take a break from the Internet hype of gaming, take a break from playing games and come back to them in a few months. Maybe you’ll find another hobby that’ll be more rewarding?

–Dave

–Dave