Sunday, April 29, 2012

Monday Musings - 30th April, 2012

Hey folks. Musings might become a little more cutback in the coming weeks. I've been forced to relocate my living arrangements and have lost most of my gaming possessions. I have this laptop, and my Steam and GoG accounts though (and there's always old console emulation too. *cough cough*), so there will still be gaming talked about, but nothing current and console specific.

With that out of the way, let us muse.

Batman: Arkham City (PS3)

I'm in the museum now. Sure there was that bit where i had to go in the subway systems, and then i've had to rescue frozen undercover police on ice while a shark looms underneath (and me without my trusty bat-shark repellent), but i've found Mr. Freeze and now i'm going to attack The Penguin head on.

One bit i'm less than enthused about is the sections where you have the gargoyles up above and have to scare and incapacitate all the gun totting goons down below. Sure it makes you feel like the Dark Knight, but here's my issue. It's so easy to just glide down when a guy is on his own, put him out, and then zip up and do it again (although one guy was scared enough to take a hostage, which was something new). The thing is then you go down and start exploring, and there's all this potential for traps and cool ways to get rid of the aforementioned goons. I guess it's a way to reward those that take the risk to scope out the area more, but as it happens so often in games, easy trumps rewarding. If there's a simple way to progress (like let's say an exploit), most gamers will always take that way. It seems the more elaborate ways to progress only happen through boredom or subsequent playthroughs of a game when experimentation is more of the focus.

So without my PS3, i won't be playing anymore of this for a while. Perhaps one day i'll grab it for cheap on Steam and continue my play. It's definitely been a fun ride so far.

Spacechem (PC)

I forgot where i heard about this original little puzzler, but i decided to download it and give it a try this week (it had been sitting in my steam collection since that initial discovery). I've definitely never played anything like this. It's one part chemistry lesson, one part programming lesson. You need to program these loops to pick up molecules of certain elements, and fuse them into more complex elements. You have two coloured loops, and a host of commands, but the pick up and drop off point of these molecules is specified by the puzzle. You can pick up, drop off, rotate, and sync up the colours. It definitely takes a couple levels for the concept to really click (and then it gets maddening pretty quickly), but as puzzle games go, it gets a recommend. It might be too obtuse for some players however.

Heh, this turned into more of a mini review than a musing. I stand by what's said however!

Final Thoughts

I want to talk about nostalgia today. Why are the games of our childhood remembered so fondly? They might have glaring faults and outdated gameplay elements but playing them we tend to ignore these. They have the same joy they presented to us at that young age. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. It seems that it's harder and harder as i age to find games that illicit that sense of wonder and joy. The last one to do so was Journey, but for the most part, games fall into the category of "Yeah, it's pretty good. I had fun". That sense of something special is lacking.

Perhaps then we return to the games of our childhood not only because it was a simpler time filled with more innocence when the medium was new and full of possibilities, but with how hectic and depressing life can be, we cling to what made us happy in days of yesteryear. And of course as a gamer, like a junkie, we keep chasing that kick, hoping that the next game will give us those same glorious feelings. Some still do, but as they say, joy is fleeting, so then nostalgic games also become a comfort. We can return to these worlds with their simplistic controls and more abstract graphics, that somehow engage us more. They flare our imaginations and transport us back to that time when all was well with the world, and with gaming.

Well at least that's one way to look at it. What say you?

Let me know your thoughts on gaming nostalgia in the comments, and till next time, happy gaming all.

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