The kiddy-genre: Platformers

February 19, 2009

Before i start, please go watch this wonderful video:

Now, take a deep breath, wipe away the tear of joy that started growing when you were reminded of the great time you had with Super Mario Galaxy. Okay.

The clever choice of music combined with the shown scenes made me think about something. That is, why are there only kiddy platformers out there? Not kiddy in terms of gameplay, but looks, i mean. If you take a look at that genre you´ll realize something shocking: Mario, the nice plumber man, is the most mature platformer-character when it comes down to pure appearance. You have Jak, Ratchet, Crash Bandicoot, Rayman, Tak and the likes…but all of them look even more cartoonish and goofy than Mario. That had me think:

Where are the mature platformers? Platformers that take the awsome gameplay of a 3D-Mario-game, but put it into a mature, more realistic setting. I´m not even talking about Gears of War-guys jumping around, now that would be silly. But how about, instead of some abstract cartoon-character, you let me take control over a sympathic, well-designed anime-character. You know, that 08/15-, standard-adventure-hero-boy. Like…him:

VyseAnd instead of jumping in abstract levels, you create a realistic world, that works both as living world AND “jump-around-and-show-some-skill”-world. I mean, if nothing else, you could always approach the story like Virtua Fighter: Cyber Quest and have the main character enter some virtual world, where there could be as abstract levels as in those Mario-games.

Why all that would matter, you ask? Well, for one, i have more fun when i´m playing as a character i like. Secondly, i think platformers are, together with action-adventures, THE genre that gives the player a great deal of interactivity. And i´d love to experience such interactivity in a game that goes beyond cartoonish and goofy behaviour. And in case someone feels the need to name them, let me do it first: Prince of Persia and Mirrors Edge just arent platformers in the vein of a Mario-game. The latter is completely different, while the former is more of a climb-game than a jump´n run/platformer. No, give me a non-cartoonish-character that can use a double or triple-jump, that makes a wall-jump, and what not else. Though present it in a rather cool than goofy way. Personally, that´s what i´d always hoped a new Kid Icarus-game could become. A combination of Zelda´s epic presentation and Mario´s move repertoire.

Will you live long enough to play Mass Effect 3?

February 5, 2009

Today Electronic Arts announced that they´d release some games until 2010, Mass Effect 2 being one of them (and Dead Space for Wii, awsome). We´re at the beginning of the year 2009 now, so that´s one year from its release. And ME3, because this franchise was announced to be a trilogy, has no set release date, yet. There are many games that share the same fate, or should i say, many gamers.

It´s not really that news of today that got me starting to think about this, i rather use it as a pull towards this topic. Games, but also movies, are often announced many years before they´re released. Some examples are Square Enix and the Final Fantasy-series, the Lord of the Rings-movies, where you knew, you would have to wait 3 years to see them all…not even counting the time these movies were in work. Or you have Nintendo, who usually release only one game per franchise within the span of a whole console generation.

There is no way i would complain about all of them taking their time for the highest possible quality, but…you have to look at all that from another perspective: Your life´s.

How old are you going to be? 65? 70? 80? Maybe 100 and then some. But if you´re not super lucky, around 75 years would be a good achievement. Now think about that: Today you get to know: The game you want so much will be released in three or four years. One reaction could be a positive one, because you now know that this game is in development. But you could also wonder about that: Will i live long enough to be able to play this game?

My problem on this matter is that three or four or five years, whatever the time span between announcement and release is, makes a substantial part of your very own life time. Or look at it like that: If you´re going to become 75 years old and your started gaming with 10, you´d have 13 generations of consoles that are released within your life time. Though everything points towards longer console life circles, so make that less than 10 generations. Basically, if you´re now 25 years old, you have around 5-7 generations of consoles ahead of your life. Now take specific games and you´ll see: You´ll see Final Fantasy 20…but you´re not going to see Final Fantasy 21. Because you´re dead.

Of course, many would answer that 5-7 more generations of consoles are enough for them, but there´s a closer problem: Within the span of 3-5 years, many things can happen. Especially today, where all kind of horrible diseases are floating around. Don´t forget stupid traffic accidents and crime. To make a long matter short: The speed game´s are produced at nowadays, is so slow and the wait so long that the wait for them is effecting a gamer´s life. No, i´m not talking about some nerd gamers that can´t live without games, i´m just talking about your average gaming enthusiast that loves a certain franchise…and knows that it´s going to take five more years until he can play his game. Games may not have the priority to be super worried about all that, but as i guy that loves his hobby, i can´t help myself and stop thinking about how horrible long those development times are. And if i´ll be able to play the next Zelda-game. I could be dead by then.