Roundtable – The “A” Word in Relation to Video Games

Nester

OK, let’s dive into the deep end. I would like to bring up the old “video games as art” discussion. I realize this is kind of a tired subject that has long since played itself out, but I never felt it was addressed very well, and I think it’s because there are a couple of argumental dead ends that everyone tends to fall into. I’d like to get those out of the way so that we have a better idea of what we’re talking about.

First of all, I don’t like to use the ‘A’ word in regards to video games because it tends to come with a lot of baggage and negative connotation. People hear the word “art” applied to anything, and immediately think of snobby elitism. I prefer to say that we’re thinking of video games in an academic or intellectual way, and we don’t have to let our heads float up into the clouds.

To go along with that, discussing video games as art often boils down to one of two extremes. On one end, you have the Roger Ebert school of thought that claims that since video games have rules and winning and losing conditions, then they inherently cannot be art as a matter of principle because the format is too restrictive and imprecise. On the other end, you have the philosophical argument that art is completely subjective, and no one can make a definitive statement one way or the other. I don’t like either of these perspectives because they’re both dismissive, and lack intellectual curiosity. I think we can do better.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, there’s the notion that if a video game is art, than it must be sacrificing entertainment value, or “fun,” thus defeating the purpose of the medium. This is not necessarily the case. For one thing, “fun” is just as subjective a term as “art.” Two people may enjoy the same game, but for entirely different reasons. Also, I think any form of art in any medium needs to be entertaining on some level in order for people to want to spend their time thinking about it. For some people, that level may even be “art for art’s sake,” but those people are probably less interested in the actual medium (be it video games or anything else), and simply enjoy being art scholars. For our purposes, we can probably agree that for a game to be good art, it must also succeed as an example of its medium, and thus be a good game.

Now that we have all that out of the way, I think what we mean when we call something art isn’t so much a definitive categorization, but more of an attitude. If we say something is art, then we are looking at it from the standpoint that we can analyze it, deconstruct it, discuss it, and as I put it earlier, just be intellectually curious about it. So, the question becomes, “is it worth applying this mode of thought to the medium of video games?” I think so, regardless of whether we want to attach a label to it.

I actually don’t have a specific question to ask. I would just like to hear your general thoughts on it. Is this even a relevant topic anymore?

st-av

Wildcat

Before replying, I agree with you on a lot of your points. I think that the two extreme schools of thought that have tended to dominate this discussion have sort of missed the point. But I want to address these parts of your post:

Second, and perhaps more importantly, there’s the notion that if a video game is art, than it must be sacrificing entertainment value, or “fun,” thus defeating the purpose of the medium. This is not necessarily the case. For one thing, “fun” is just as subjective a term as “art.” Two people may enjoy the same game, but for entirely different reasons.

I think that’s ludicrous. Art does not equal boredom. A game can be artistic in nature and still maintain a sense of quality in terms of its mm3-gameplay. On top of that, it would be difficult to label games as art due to the subjective nature of them. Let’s say that, for a random example, Mega Man 3 is being considered as “art”. I love the hell out of that game in terms of “fun”, and it has a great visual and audio design that delights me. It feels the most refined out of the series for me. Does that make it less of an example of an art form? I would argue no. However, if someone doesn’t like MM3 as much as I do, they may think it’s not a good representation of art or entertainment. They may prefer MM2 and want to consider that the franchise’s high point in terms of fun and in terms of artistic value. Meanwhile, I would also consider MM4 the franchise’s low point personally. However, I do think it too has some artistic merit, despite my dislike of the overall experience.

Also, I think any form of art in any medium needs to be entertaining on some level in order for people to want to spend their time thinking about it. For some people, that level may even be “art for art’s sake,” but those people are probably less interested in the actual medium (be it video games or anything else), and simply enjoy being art scholars. For our purposes, we can probably agree that for a game to be good art, it must also succeed as an example of its medium, and thus be a good game.

I would concur. I think quality must apply to both the gameplay design and the aesthetic design for a game to qualify as art.

Now that we have all that out of the way, I think what we mean when we call something art isn’t so much a definitive categorization, but more of an attitude. If we say something is art, then we are looking at it from the standpoint that we can analyze it, deconstruct it, discuss it, and as I put it earlier, just be intellectually curious about it. So, the question becomes, “is it worth applying this mode of thought to the medium of video games?” I think so, regardless of whether we want to attach a label to it.

I completely agree, and that’s one of the goals I have for LVLs. in terms of its new direction. I want to do just that! I want to analyze, deconstruction, discuss and be curious about games. I want to look at them with an anthropological eye and decipher the cultural meanings I can gleam from them. So yes, I think, at least in the terms of your phrasing here, that this is relevant. Games are a form of media, and should be gauged by similar methods. Of course, the interactivity must be considered, but that is what makes games such an awesome thing. You become part of the art with games in a way no other form of media can offer. You can bring your individualism into it, and that is incredibly profound if you ask me.

Jason X

I have to agree with Nester on this one. In practice, I lean more towards “art is whatever you want it to be” camp, but when you get right down to it, calling something “art” is just a method for classifying something as being above the common levels of entertainment.

It’s interesting to see how opinions can form and change over time. I used to be the type who would say that Ico and SotC are art. Ico Screenshot 01Nowadays, I’m not so sure. I wouldn’t argue with someone if they called those games art, but as I get on in years, I’m starting to wish that people would stop trying to make things into other things. Can’t we just enjoy something for what it is, rather than creating an entire cause around it? Both of those games touched me on an incredibly deep, emotional level, and it’s often difficult to describe precisely why to the uninitiated. Do we really need to go beyond that, though?

I think the human mind can often be its own worst enemy. It craves clarification with one side, but that same elucidation tends to take away from the enjoyment of the things we seek to define…

Or maybe I’m just getting old, and this sort of discussion is better suited for the young. Either way, I’m perfectly fine with enjoying things in my own way. All I know is you all should be playing The Walking Dead game.

A college instructor of mine once said he subscribed to the definition that “art” is something you find in an art museum. And he wasn’t intending to be cheeky, but I think it goes with what I was saying about art being an attitude. If you saw a particular photograph on the Internet, you might give it a quick look, pass some judgment on it, and move on. However, if you saw that same photograph in an art gallery, you might be more compelled to look at it a little bit longer, and think about it a little bit harder.

At the same time, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Jason’s perspective that it’s OK to just enjoy games as entertainment, and not have to get all academic about them. Most games are created that way. Maybe you like Ico because it’s just a really fun adventure game, and you’re not interested in reading into subtexts.

This may sound surprising, but when the concept of video games as art first crossed my mind, I was against it. I just wanted my games to be fun entertainment, and nothing more. I had a quick turnaround, though, when I suddenly realized that games had achieved a surprisingly profound ability for expression as early as the ’80s.

So, at the very least, the desire to classify games as art is an acknowledgement that there is another level of observation for people who might be compelled to find it.

Stripping Away Silence: The First Two Hours of The Last Story

wii-tlsWith winter break fully upon our lives, I’ve decided to finally begin my playtime with The Last Story. I ranted, raved and rambled about the game since it was announced back in 2010, and I must admit, it’s still surreal having a North American copy of the game in my hands. It was quite the ride to get to this point. I know I said I would no longer do impression pieces, but this is not so much a reactionary piece but more of a analysis. Was all of the clamoring that I made worth it?

Two hours into the game, I’m feeling pretty happy with the experience so far. The demo-esque first dungeon gave a decent idea of what combat is like; I’m still a little shaky on the whole engine, but it seems intriguing. The camaraderie of your team is pretty infectious; the cast are a little derpy at times (more on that in a bit), but they genuinely have a clear fondness for each other. They look out for each other, barb each other on (especially Syrenne), and treat each other like friends. It adds a lot to the atmosphere. The early environments are a little deviant from the standard cave/underground area you normally see in RPG’s. Similar yet unique. The enemies are also nice alternates of the common tropes; the skeletons in particular were pretty cool looking. It’s too early to know for sure if I am fully supportive of the battling part of the game, but it seems promising.

I’ve spent about half of my time exploring the city and taking in its scope. The Last Story features one of the more believable and alive cityscapes I’ve played in a game. Lots of people reacting to you, little touches that sell the accuracy (hitting Zael’s head on a sign, for one), mostly solid VA work that backs the majority of the dialogue…this is grand stuff. The music is quite lovely, too.

The tavern lets Zael interact with his teammates, and…here’s where the derp mention earlier comes in. I knew Syrenne was an alcohol lover; I did not realize she was an full-blown alcoholic. Yikes. Lowell’s flirty playboy behavior is comical, but I can imagine that it’ll rub me the wrong way sooner or later. Calista (or Lisa at this early stage) takes the ignorant princess/noble routine to the extreme, and it was a little wince-worthy at times. Zael can be charmingly stupid at times, too. However, it’s really early on in the game, so I’m withholding my judgment until the end. I do hope things swing a little from this point, though. I do like the cast, but I haven’t fully embraced them quite yet.

So, two hours in, I’m curious to see where the game takes me. I admit: I dreamed about this most of the night, so despite a little criticism here I’m clearly relishing what I’m doing. When you have so much anticipation built up, it’s impossible not to feel a bit of disappointment. Luckily, my issues are fairly minor and I’m excited to play more.

Wildcat’s Ten Favorite PS3 Games

The Playstation 3 is my most recent console purchase, and thus far I have had little regret in getting one. There have been a few games that have simply knocked me off my feet in multiple ways. I am not a big fan of some of the “features” this generation has wrought: DRM, DLC, console updating, and abusing the concept of regenerating health. Ultimately though, the games still shine through the concerns, and I’m happy to have played these amazing titles.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Square-Enix/Eidos Monteral)

Color me a bit surprised that I’m hailing the latest Deus Ex the best PS3 game I’ve played thus far, but I really do think it deserves the acclaim. The gameplay is sensational, with the excellent Deus Ex playstyle being updated beautifully. The game’s plot is intriguing and multifaceted, the characters are mostly endearing and fascinating (damn you Sarif), and the level design is splendid. Even the bosses, the one harp most people have had with the game, didn’t really faze me too much. In fact, I really liked three of them (even if one of those had me reeling and restarting it twenty times XD ). So, on the whole, this is my favorite PS3 experience I’ve had the pleasure of playing so far.

Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar/Rockstar San Diego)

Red Dead Redemption is marvelous, it truly is. It makes a GTA style game maintain its enjoyment long after the sandbox thrill wears off. The controls are responsive and rarely wonk (wow, that’s actually a word), the characters and storyline are quite engaging, and the atmosphere is very well done. Having my save erased has been a little detrimental to my overall feelings towards it; it’s such a big game that replaying it to its fullest is a mammoth task I haven’t felt up to revisiting. Still, I treasure the mostly complete first go and have continued to enjoy dabbling in its world in subsequent replays.

Dead Space 2 (EA/Visceral)

Deus Ex is mucking up a lot of things; now I need to rewrite my 2011 Looking Back. XD So, I’m going to copy my comments from there for the purposes of expressing my joys with Dead Space 2. It’s a little longer than the other entries, but I think you can handle it.

Dead Space 2 is the closest any game has gotten to toppling Resident Evil 4 from its 3D action perch, and it was a wonderful, wonderful experience all the way through.  The game improves itself from its prequel on every single level. The gameplay is stellar and features tighter controls, the enemies are more varied and even crazier than the first, the characters exhibit tons of personality and likability (even the twisted ones), the storyline is compelling and not so reliant on Issac to solve any little problem that comes up (the major issue with the first game’s plot), and the level design takes you to some very memorable setpieces, among the best in any game I’ve played (I’ll not forget the daycare any time soon). Not only that, but the terror this series has resurrected into the forefront showcases that a game can do survival horror AND be an action game at the same time.

Batman: Arkham Asylum (Eidos/Warner Bros. Int./Rocksteady)

It’s a really close call between Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. It’s almost razor-thin. What makes me feel more committed to Asylum is the Metroid-style progression. It’s wonderfully implemented here, and I don’t think any game (save Metroid Prime) has as brilliantly duplicated the concept in three dimensions. That’s my sole reason for plopping it ahead of Arkham City. Both have amazing gameplay, stellar voice work and are unbelievably fun.

Batman: Arkham City (Warner Bros. Int./Rocksteady)

See above for my reasoning for Arkham City being below Arkham Asylum. Otherwise, the expanded world, the inclusion of Catwoman, meeting up with more of Batman’s villain roster, and the tightened controls and gameplay make it (arguably) the better game. Both are really stunning examples of software, though, and you can’t go wrong with either of them!

Portal 2 (Valve)

Portal 2 lacked the innovative wow of its predecessor, but is overall the better of the two. The puzzles are cleverer, the humor is on a grander scale, and the diversity of locales gives the game some much needed visual spice. GLaDOS, Wheatley and Cave Johnson make the storyline sing, too. I haven’t tried out the multiplayer, but I would really like to someday!

Bioshock (Take 2/Irrational Games)

I’m not too keen on FPS games, but Bioshock dials into that special zone that manages to click the right switches in my brain to make me happy. Its plasmid variety gave the player plenty of options in terms of combat, and plucky players could manipulate the powers just right to create delightful combo strings. The story was phenomenal, and the art style of this game is perfectly implemented. It’s one of the better FPS games I’ve played, no question.

Rayman Origins (UBI Soft)

Michel Ancel’s return to his Rayman franchise was a glorious one. The animation quality, quirky levels and snappy music all combined to make one hell of a stupendous platformer. It’s a bit tough at times and the controls do on occasion seem out of control, but the overall game is really wondrous.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (Sony/Naughty Dog)

Nathan Drake’s adventures initially put me off; before trying out this game, I felt total apathy for the series, and they didn’t appeal to me from what I had heard. Luckily, Grace wanted to give it a go, and once I watched her play through a bit of it, I gave it a try. I’m glad I did! It’s a beautifully well-made game that, despite some platforming problems and a few pacing issues, really won me over.

Dead Space (EA/Visceral)

Despite my misgivings for the original Dead Space in comparison to its superior sequel, at present it is worthy of a spot on my favorite games list. It still delivers a tense nightmare of a world to poke around in, and it has the better boss fights!

Contenders:

Pac Man Championship Edition DX (Namco Bandai)

Mirror’s Edge (EA/DICE)

Resident Evil 5 (Capcom)

Super Street Fighter IV (Capcom)

Wildcat’s Gaming Collection – November 2012

I’m finally sharing my up-to-date photos of my gaming collection! Woo! A lot has shifted around since I did this nearly a year ago. I’ll talk about what I’ve picked up the last year, why I got rid of some things, what I still would like, and any other comments I can dredge up. :) I’ll also be including my screenshots on my Complete Game List in the near future for a visual representation of what I actually have. I’m sure the upcoming Christmas/birthday will render these obsolete, but they’ll work for now. :) Due to the high frequency of photos, I’ll force a jump to actually showcase what I have. (more…)

Wildcat’s 11 Most Wanted SNES Games

Long ago I nailed down some NES games I’d love to own someday. Today’s a good day to figure out 11 Super NES games I’ve been looking for. :) They’re not in any real order.

Soulblazer (Enix/Quartet)

I’ve heard some incredible praise for this game. I hope to stumble upon it someday.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (Konami)

This is one of the few SNES games I have prior experience with. I thought Konami did a pretty good job with this fighter, myself. I’d like to see if I still feel that way.

Starfox (Nintendo/Argonaut)

I like Starfox 64 enough to be curious about its SNES prequel. I know it’s quite different, but I’d like to give it a go all the same.

Contra III: The Alien Wars (Konami)

I love Contra for the NES, and I’ve heard splendid reports on the third proper entry.

Actraiser (Enix/Quartet)

This game’s dual gameplay approach has always intrigued me. I think I dabbled with it briefly as a kid, but I’d like to truly delve into it sometime.

Out of this World (Interplay)

I’d like to try this out. It has a fairly unique premise for this time period, and although it sounds like it has a fair amount of trial and error, sometimes that is a good thing.

Wild Guns (Natsume)

This is the kind of quirky game I can really get into. It has crazy design and a different style of shoot-em-up gameplay that may just be what I adore. Who knows?

Ninja Warriors (Taito/Natsume)

Taito makes some great stuff, as I’ve discovered through their Legends comps, and this beat-em-up gets some high marks from some gamers. Looks fun to me!

E.V.O. Quest for Eden (Enix)

Another zany gameplay idea, but one that could potentially be a blast to discover (I hope). I’ve been interested in this for years, so I’d like to get a chance to try it out.

Lufia and the Fortress of Doom (Taito/Neverland)

I have Lufia II, which is generally considered the best title in the series, but I’d still like to give its prequel a chance.

Breath of Fire (Square/Capcom)

Poor localization and rudimentary mechanics aside, I have enjoyed dabbling in this series, and would like to give the originator a shot.

Any other suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

Wildcat’s Favorite Gaming Soundtracks (2012)

A little bit ago I revised my Top 100 tunes in gaming, and had the thought of deciphering my overall favorite soundtracks as well. I’ve decided to select 50 games to represent the best of the best in terms of gaming music, and here they are. There are no limits on this one, so you’ll see a few franchises well represented here. The Top 15 will be at the top, including links to the individual playlists. The remaining selections will be below and merely listed. All are in alphabetical order. I hope you all like these soundtracks as much as I do!

TOP 15:

Age of Mythology (PC, Microsoft/Ensemble Studios, Stephen Rippy/Kevin McCullan)

Batman (NES, Sunsoft, Naoki Kodaka/Nobuyuki Hara)

Beyond Good & Evil (Multi, UBI Soft, Christophe Héral)

Body Harvest (N64, Midway/DMA Design, Stuart Ross/Allan Walker)

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (DS, Konami, Michiru Yamane/Yuko Koshiro)

Chrono Trigger (SNES, Square-Enix, Yasunori Mitsuda/Nobuo Uemetsu)

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of a Cursed King (PS2, Square-Enix/Level-5, Koichi Sugiyama)

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (DS, CiNG/Nintendo, Yuhki Mori/Satoshi Okubo)

Mega Man 3 (NES, Capcom, Yasuaki Fujita)

Metroid (NES, Nintendo, Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka)

Okami (PS2, Capcom, Masami Ueda, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Hiroyuki Hamada, Rei Kondo and Akari Groves)

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PS2, Atlus, Shoji Meguro)

Skies of Arcadia (DC, Sega/Overworks, Yutaka Minobe/Takayuki Maeda)

Super Mario 64 (N64, Nintendo, Koji Kondo)

Super Metroid (SNES, Nintendo, Kenji Yamamoto/Minako Hamano)

The Rest:

Age of Empires III (PC, Microsoft/Ensemble Studios, Stephen Rippy/Kevin McCullan)
Banjo-Kazooie (N64, Rare/Nintendo, Grant Kirkhope)
A Boy and his Blob (Wii, Majesco/Wayforward, Daniel Sadowski)
Castlevania (NES, Konami, Kinuyo Yamashita)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1, Konami, Michiru Yamane)
Contra (NES, Konami, Hidenori Maezawa, Kyouhei Sada, KONAMI KuKeiHa Club)
Deus Ex (PC, Ion Storm/Eidos, Alexander Brandon, Dan Gardopée, Michiel van den Bos, Reeves Gabrels)
Dragon Quest IX (DS, Square-Enix/Level-5, Koichi Sugiyama)
Final Fantasy III (SNES, Square-Enix, Nobuo Uemetsu)
Fire Emblem (GBA, Nintendo/Intelligent Systems, Yuka Tsujiyoko)
Goldeneye 007 (N64, Rare/Nintendo, Graeme Norgate)
Heroes of Might and Magic IV (PC, New World Computing/3DO, Paul Romero, Rob King, Steve Baca, Paul James)
King of Fighters Evolution (NeoGeo, SNK Playmore, NeoGeo Music Performance Group)
Kirby’s Adventure (NES, HAL Labs/Nintendo, Hirokazu Andō/Jun Ishikawa)
Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii, HAL Labs/Feel Good/Nintendo, Tomoya Tomita, Hirokazu Andō, Jun Ishikawa)
The Last Blade 2 (NeoGeo, SNK Playmore, NeoGeo Music Performance Group)
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64, Nintendo, Koji Kondo)
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC, Nintendo, Koji Kondo, Toru Minegishi, Asuka Ota)
Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals (DS, Neverland/Square-Enix/Natsume, Yasunori Shiono, Tomoko Morita, Yukio Nakajima)
Metroid Prime (GC, Nintendo/Retro Studios, Kenji Yamamoto)
Monster Tale (DS, Majesco/Dreamrift, Ian Stocker)
Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii, Vanillaware/Ignition, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Masaharu Iwata, Mitsuhiro Kaneda, Noriyuki Kamikura, Kimihiro Abe, Yoshimi Kudo, Azusa Chiba)
Ogre Battle 64 (N64, Square-Enix/Quest, Hayato Matsuo, Masaharu Iwata, Hitoshi Sakimoto)
Power Blade (NES, Taito/Natsume, Kinuyo Yamashita)
Rayman Origins (Multi, UBI Soft, Christophe Héral/Billy Martin)
Red Dead Redemption (PS3/Xbox 360, Rockstar/Rockstar San Diego, Bill Elm/Woody Jackson)
Secret of Mana (SNES, Square-Enix, Hiroki Kikuta)
Shadow Hearts: From the New World (PS2, Nautilus/Aruze/XSEED, Yoshitaka Hirota/Tomoko Imoto)
Sid Meier’s Pirates! (PC, Firaxis/Take 2, Mark Cromer/Michael Curran)
Silent Hill 3 (PS2, Konami, Akira Yamaoka)
Super Mario Galaxy (Wii, Nintendo, Koji Kondo/Mahito Yokota)
Tales of Symphonia (GC, Namco Bandai, Motoi Sakuraba/Shusaku Uchiyama)
Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii, Monolith Soft/Nintendo, Yoko Shinomura, ACE+, Yasunori Mitsuda, Manami Kiyota)
Zoda’s Revenge: Startropics II (NES, Nintendo, Y. Hirai/T. Kumegawa)

Stripping Away Silence: Donkey Kong: Special Edition

Nintendo of America’s Club Nintendo is offering 3DS owners a chance to download a unique NES game never before seen in America, a “complete” version of Donkey Kong that includes the “Pie Factory” level, its key selling point. To get this game, however, Nintendo is not offering it on the 3DS eShop or on the Wii Virtual Console for people to buy. Nope, that would be too nice. Instead, you have to buy one of five 3DS games, redeem it on Club Nintendo, sync your 3DS account to it, and then wait 3 – 4 weeks in order to be sent a code to be able to access the game. Seems a little convoluted, don’t you think? And what about Wii owners who have pined for the full featured Donkey Kong? Tough. What if those five games fail to interest you? No dice. What if you’re poor and can’t afford any of those games until after the expiration date of 1/6/13? Oh well! Gah. I would pay $5 to own this. Hell, even $6 at import pricing. I love the original Donkey Kong. I’d like a way to play it in full on the big screen. The Game Boy Donkey Kong ’94 has it, but it isn’t quite the same. I’m sure a lot of people would follow my lead, too. Alas, it’s been dangled as a bonus for a certain market, and with my funds being pretty damn low right now, I don’t foresee a 3DS or any of those games landing in my lap by January 6th.

It’s great Nintendo’s making it available somehow, but it would be nicer if it was purchasable AND as a bonus. My two cents.

Some Ramblings About Japanese Game Development

The latest entry in my “RPG Journal” (a series of articles at my personal blog, Lark’s Island) evolved into a mini-editorial on the state of Japanese game development. Perhaps I oversimplify the situation a little, dividing the industry into only Japan and the rest of the world, but I speculate on Japan’s resistant attitude towards foreign influence, and its consequences on the game industry as a whole:

If we step back and look at the larger picture, we get a sense of a cycle between advancements in Japanese and Western game development. Right now, we have an entire generation of Western game developers who were influenced by the groundbreaking Japanese games they grew up with. The lessons learned from the likes of Super Mario Bros., Final Fantasy and Resident Evil were evolved, pushed forward, and reimplemented, albeit in a Western fashion, resulting in the past decade’s rise of North American and European game developers. But what happens if Japan refuses to let the pendulum swing back the other way?

Check out my full article at Lark’s Island: RPG Journal – Last, But Not Least

Roundtable: Regrets about Games We’ve Lost

This week’s question posed to the LVLs. staff was this: are there any games you sold, lent to a friend and never got back, lost, or otherwise have had vanish from your collection? Nester was first on the draw, so we’ll begin with him:

I never really get rid of my games, so this isn’t a big issue for me. However, there was a short period in the ’90s when I started to think that I should sell my old games, and there were a few unfortunate casualties of that phase.

First, Super Smash T.V. for the SNES was actually a really good port of the arcade game. I played it a lot back then and got pretty good at it. Maybe that’s why I decided get rid of it, but I kind of wish I hadn’t. There is an authentic arcade version on Midway Arcade Treasures, but the emulation isn’t quite as smooth as the reprogrammed port.

Then there’s Mega Man in Dr. Wily’s Revenge and Mega Man III for the Game Boy. I have no idea why I let go of these. I loved them, and considering how rare and sought-after they are today, it would’ve been nice if I still had them.

There were a few other games as well, but these were the significant losses. I don’t suppose there’s any real point in tracking down new copies other than simply for nostalgia and collection purposes. I have greater regrets over games that I never bought in the first place, despite having the desire and opportunity. But that’s another discussion.

There are definitely a few things I wish I hadn’t sold or traded in over the years. The first that comes to mind would be Dracula X for the SNES. The game itself is nothing to write home about, especially now that you can play the Turbo Duo version in America. Even so, it ended up being worth a ton of money on the second hand market. I had no idea that would happen back in 1996!

I used to own Ogre Battle and Tactics Ogre for the PS1, as well. Unfortunately, money was tight for me back in 2002, and I had to trade those two games in to get some new stuff. I don’t regret getting Silent Hill 2 or the original Kingdom Hearts with the credit from those trades, but I do feel like a dolt to have gotten rid of such valuable (and enjoyable) games.

There’s been many a game I’ve sold, but there’s a few in particular I can look back on and ask myself “why did you do that?” Here’s some that leap to mind:

Persona 2 (PS1) – This game didn’t really click with me, but I’m not sure if I gave it the chance it needed. Of course, now I realize it was a rather rare release, so I don’t know if I can rectify that mistake without paying an arm and a leg for it. There’s the PSP remake, yes, but that’s the half we didn’t get in the first place. XD

Dragon Warrior (NES) – This is probably the easiest one to rediscover, but I was a little appalled with myself when I bought the rest of the NES games and realized I no longer had the first. XD

Vandal Hearts (PS1) – I didn’t really lose this to a sale or to a friend, but to itself. My disc stopped working! Cleaning it didn’t help, either. So, to the trash it went. :(

Bomberman 64 (N64, obviously) – I have not gotten over this one. I sold it off as a young adult and I can’t for the life of me remember why. Some people may not like its structure all that much, but I thought it was a pretty well-made platformer with a great multiplayer component. If I see it ever again, it will be mine.

Is it cynical that we regretted getting rid of games that later went on to become rare and valuable, rather than games that we genuinely miss playing?

I don’t like to get rid of games because most of them have sentimental value to me. Like a photo album, each game represents a part of my life, and if I go back and play them, the sights and sounds take me back in time. It stirs up memories and details that I may have forgotten. It’s impossible to put a price on that.

I usually don’t get rid of games that I love. In fact, I can’t think of an example where that happened off the top of my head. I liked Tactics Ogre and Ogre Battle on PS1, but they were too difficult to make much progress on. Thankfully, the PSP remake of Tactics Ogre is much, much more user friendly.

That’s an interesting point, Nester. As of late I’ve been selling off some games, some of which were very cherished memories of mine. However, what good does holding on to the Commodore 64 M.U.L.E. do when I can’t play it anymore? Will I ever go back to the DC Skies of Arcadia when the Gamecube port more than suffices? Is Paper Mario that fond of a recollection that it must be kept, despite my non-interest in revisiting it? These were all questions I asked and ultimately chose against keeping. And honestly, I don’t feel that terrible about it. MULE will always be in my memories, even if the disc itself is not. My first memories of Skies on the DC were supplanted by the ones with the ‘Cube. Paper Mario was overshadowed by its ‘Cube sequel, the much better game. The games I regret not owning anymore tend to be games that I had an attachment to over the rare or financial aspect of them.

Wildcat’s 100 Favorite Game Tunes (2012)

Last year, I put up 100 tracks from gaming that I absolutely loved. However, as the year has rolled by, I think that I’ve cooled off on some of those songs and fell in love with others I had omitted. With that in mind, I feel that it’s a good time to revisit that idea and update the list. This year’s edition will increase the Top choices to ten. I will continue to operate under the rules set last year by keeping the list diversified through not picking all of, say, Mega Man 3′s soundtrack. Only two tracks per game will be allowed. Youtube clips are provided so you can sample the music, however, I can not constantly update this page with new links as Youtube users or copyright owners shut clips down! I’ve done quite a few Song Highlights on these tunes if you’d like to dig through and read why I like some of these songs. Enjoy!

TOP 10


Mega Man 3, Protoman’s Whistle Concert, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uikEuigprFE


Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Midna’s Lament, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7GWf3e_I3w


Chrono Trigger, Memories of Green, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr9-OcPLO3M


Beyond Good & Evil, Home Sweet Home, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTdcJWDNsao


Castlevania, Wicked Child, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7PFm7mrdVY

rdr1
Red Dead Redemption, Far Away,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IkvAb6THQY

Okami, Shinshu Plains (1 and 2), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yKG-Qu4WvM

Silent Hill 3, You’re Not Here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz3ufaZCoVw

Secret of Mana, Into the Thick of It, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3N9lrq-rks

Skies of Arcadia, Lower Valua, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlJxG1FmMOU

The Rest:
A Boy and his Blob (Wii), Forest, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC_u7bmVsSc
A Boy and his Blob (Wii), Plains, http://youtu.be/pfmiI9AttYc
Age of Empires III, A Hot Meal, http://youtu.be/jB1R5s3PVEM
Age of Mythology, Suture Self, http://youtu.be/KhvklZT0LMg
Age of Mythology, Chocolate Outline, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBpz9S6I07g
Batman (NES), Stage 1/5, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlGDKfgz4fA
Batman (NES), Stage 3, http://youtu.be/zERK-4IgQAg
Beyond Good & Evil, Hillyan Suite, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p48dpXQixgk
Bionic Commando (NES), Area 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hl5UCCBCXI
Bionic Commando (NES), Area 2, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIvcYCbWMfY
Blast Corps., Angel City, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2eRyyj_NCo
Blaster Master, Level 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUnwRFMo6D0
Blaster Master, Level 2, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIjIUyXrBJg
Body Harvest, Outdoors (Violin), http://youtu.be/pC41_–XeqQ
Body Harvest, Indoors (piano), http://youtu.be/wURLANzjDLk
Breath of Fire, Deep Forest, http://youtu.be/1iCbSLFrqrU
California Games (NES), Flying Disc, http://youtu.be/5iYMN2FKkoY
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Bloody Tears, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjazC45Qkww
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Jail of Jewel, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtRdjcXfXsc
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Dracula’s Castle, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgF0uBjCds0
Cave Story, On to Grasstown, http://youtu.be/VlmOhXoKmoQ
Chrono Trigger, Wind Scene (Yearning of Wind), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqZaFDA7PXY
Contra (NES), Level 3, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U58a-svZok8
Deus Ex, Hong Kong Streets 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzvw8uSWucM
Diablo, Tristram Village, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8jJJXgNLo4
Dragon Quest IX, Heaven’s Prayer, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myjd1MnZx5Y
Dragon Quest VIII, Strange World, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN9Up_0zuUs
Dragon Quest VIII, Heavenly Flight, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taVdFgxvhRg
Ducktales, Transylvania, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UuHesrJROw
Final Fantasy, Temple of Fiends, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hW56QbT0lrM
Final Fantasy VI, Terra’s Theme, http://youtu.be/W7RPY-oiDAQ
Fire Emblem (7 in series order), Wind Across the Plains, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFWOvIrBCgc
F-Zero GX, Captain Falcon’s Theme, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L0pW3Eol6k
Grandia II, Mirumu, http://youtu.be/ZG_oW5XH71Y
Heroes of Might and Magic IV, Swamp Lands, http://youtu.be/Cffc_s0eN5Q
Hotel Dusk: Room 215, The Last Sleep, http://youtu.be/BwdCg8Gqqfk
Jet Grind Radio, Magical Girl, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h9f939bW3c
Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Butter Building, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfdJbaCfXjQ
Kirby’s Adventure, Ending, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OVKyjZs-nU
The Last Ninja, Stage 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiLvoMpLQFA
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Forest Temple, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4o3EMdYaKw
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Spirit Temple, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0PVz2pIEcw
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Kakariko Village, http://youtu.be/LdERRFGaUjY
Mario Kart 64, Credits, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYwZT3CvpMw
Mega Man 2, Air Man, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FINefcN9pPc
Mega Man 3, Snake Man, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM-Fub7Oc_A
Mega Man 5, Wave Man, http://youtu.be/Nd2O6mbhCLU
Mega Man 6, Flame Man, http://youtu.be/qdWeTin2mho
Mega Man 6, Mr. X stages, http://youtu.be/uhJ7Ss-puVY
Metroid, Ending, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQeUkUp4uRc
Metroid Prime, Phendrana Drifts (second version), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbbUv1hz6mE
Metroid Prime, Tallon Overworld, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mziw3FQkZYg
Monster Tale, Ancient Ruins, http://youtu.be/iQ1D6UJW5Jg
M.U.L.E., Main Theme, http://youtu.be/VI2e-jwjhN4
Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Seifu Meigetsu A, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUF1lkbvoUs
Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Bosyoku Souzen A, http://youtu.be/c9qBwD4bxO8
Ogre Battle 64, Premonition, http://youtu.be/Rel-IOyQTX0
Ogre Battle 64, The Sensational World, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSnlp1YAUJ0
Okami, Reset, http://youtu.be/zpuGNH75pUc
Perfect Dark, Chicago – Stealth, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJbwLjKhVGw
Persona 4, Your Affection, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ChrBp1pEGM
Persona 4, The Almighty, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNVMKpk__HQ
Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations, The Dark Fragrance of Coffee, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxzTrWUajZg
Portal, Still Alive, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6ljFaKRTrI
Portal 2, Want You Gone, http://youtu.be/jBdRaGSI4jU
Power Blade, Level 4 – Tower, http://youtu.be/c-R6Zp3n608
Rayman Origins, Sea of Serendipity – Panic at the Port!, http://youtu.be/5UVPJxSmt54
Rayman Origins, Sea of Serendipity – Lums of the Water (“Glou Glou”), http://youtu.be/oNV2uakCtzs
Secret of Mana, A Wish, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLK8IrYrZxA
Shadow Hearts: From the New World, Dead Fingers Talk, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5clzlxOZQeU
Shadow Hearts: From the New World, Adios, http://youtu.be/-lkRjV7Zp-k
Silent Hill, Silent Hill, http://youtu.be/_EN-_1OGtUY
Silent Hill 2, Laura, http://youtu.be/6LB7LZZGpkw
Silent Hill 3, Breeze ~in monochrome light~, http://youtu.be/OneUwrYiGIw
Skies of Arcadia, Kingdom of Ixa’taka, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0F-hJjD3XAs
Sly 2: Band of Thieves, Dmitri’s Nightclub, http://youtu.be/RCX3tV7lSdk
Sonic CD, Sonic Boom, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJXKoubh9sQ
Super Ghouls and Ghosts, Ice Forest, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4URokdL-dfM
Super Mario 64, Koopa’s (Bowser’s) Road, http://youtu.be/0rygsWPCjNQ
Super Mario 64, Water Course Theme (Dire Dire Docks), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqcPSbkS9TQ
Super Mario Galaxy, Gusty Garden Galaxy, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z2kxFCQ_mQ
Super Metroid, Maradia, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxobPQMNY_w
Super Metroid, Brinstar (Plant Overgrown), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ULlqfeNLWY
Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Bramble Blast, http://youtu.be/G3rnyqI7dFc
Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Metroid Theme, http://youtu.be/3MRznLSFGFQ
Tales of Symphonia, Like a Glint of Light, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFWadiZkA_8
Xenoblade Chronicles, Guar Plains, http://youtu.be/xweRl4LZlmo
Xenoblade Chronicles, Title Theme, http://youtu.be/nNR-wsFAfiU
Zoda’s Revenge: Startropics II, Dungeon Theme #2, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF-30Dg9Xs4
Zoda’s Revenge: Startropics II, Dungeon Theme #6, http://youtu.be/22ATqffTkIk

 

Dropped from last year:
Banjo-Kazooie, Click Clock Wood (spring)
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, Aquarius
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Hail from the Past
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Crystal Teardrops
Contra (NES), Level 1
Donkey Kong Country, Theme (Simian Segue)
Dragon Quest IX, I Won’t Lose
Grandia II, Carbo
Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Big Dreams
Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Outer Rings
Legend of Zelda, Death Mountain (Final Dungeon)
Mega Man 2, Wood Man
Mega Man 5, Charge Man
Persona 4, Reach out to the Truth
Resident Evil 4, Sorrow
Super Mario Galaxy 2, The Tico and the Hat
Super Mario RPG, And My Name’s Booster
Tales of Symphonia, Dry Trail

Modified on 12/26/2012, JF

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