Tuesday, 3 May 2016

What's An Ocarina, Anyway?

Not me. I'm not sure this guy is invested enough in the game.

Every so often I get an itch to fire up some old retro games from my nerdy teen past. Chief among all previously prized consoles is the N64. 

The problem I have however, is that I traded my N64 and Playstation years ago when the Gamecube launched. After a short love affair with that machine I purchased an Xbox and latterly a Wii. Always upgrading for the newest, flashiest graphics and always sucked in by the advertising campaigns. 

The Wii was the last of the Nintendo generation I purchased (and still own). Since then I've been an Xbox 360 and PS4 player. Yes, I'm 31 years old and still love videogames just as much; even if my game time is now limited to an hour or so a week. 

The fact is however, that with all the latest innovations and technical upgrades of recent machines, nothing has come close to Zelda: Ocarina of Time or Final Fantasy VII, or Mario Kart - in all their blocky, bleepy glory. I admit I have an obvious tie (and bias) to these games because they formed part of my youth. A large part. 

I guess if I could dedicate ten-hour sessions to newer games like Fallout 4 then I might form a similar bond. I guess, it just got me thinking about the relationship between storytelling quality against aestethic pleasure with little in the way of satisfaction. Zelda on the N64 now looks very much a 90s game, yet the story and execution is still mind-blowing (I have it downloaded on the Wii). 

That's not to say a game like Fallout 4 doesn't have an excellent premise. The problem is that because of the power of modern machines like the PS4, producers can pack so much more in. And that isn't necessarily a good thing. There are so many more choices a player can make, which is cool until you realise you have only completed 0.6% of the game after a few hours of relentless play. At which point, either frustration or boredom takes over and Fifa is fired up. 

Marketers should keep this analogy in mind the next time they are trying to do something for the sake of a 'viral hit'. Sometimes players and customers would just prefer effectiveness, simplicity and satisfaction.