I’ve had some experiences with video games over the last week or so that have got me thinking. The first was while typing up my Shin Megami Tensei post from the other day. (Update to that post: I forgot that I never beat The Answer from Persona 3 and I bought Persona 1 off of PSN the other day, so it is now 10.5 unbeaten SMT games) While writing that, I realized that I have spent a lot of money on games I’ve never played. I’m not talking about my stack of bargain bin PS2 games. Sure, I might have fifty bucks invested in twenty or so games, but that is not a big deal. If there is a time to take a flier on some unheralded game it is when they are deeply discounted because stores are trying to clear shelf space for new things. No, it is that like the stack of unplayed SMT games from yesterday, I have at least twice as many more that aren’t from any specific series. And that is not including my brother’s collection of PS3 games that I am trying to work through. Now just because I spent money on something doesn’t mean I should feel compelled to play it, especially if I am not enjoying it. That is not the case with these games. I bought them all with a reasonable expectation of enjoying them and simply haven’t had the time to try them out. These mountains of unplayed games got me thinking about why I feel the need to constantly add to that stack.
The other experience is that I finally played Monster World IV. Monster World IV is a Sega Genesis game, a part of the oft overlooked Wonder Boy series, that never came to America in the 16-bit era. I picked it up on PSN a few months ago, but never had the time to play it. But a couple of days ago I turned on my PS3 to play Batman Arkham Asylum, but saw Monster World IV on my system and started that up instead. I instantly fell in love with it. It’s a rather simple to play 2D action game with an enjoyable mix of combat, puzzles, and platforming. The lovingly animated sprites are just a joy to watch in motion. Really, it is a perfect example of all the things I loved about that generation of games. In the hour and a half I played that game, clearing the first of its four elemental dungeons, I had more fun than I’ve had with all the eight or ten hours I’ve played Batman. And I like the Batman games. They are about as good of games as this generation has produced. It got my wondering just how many more gems like this I’ve yet to play.
Those two things led me to this realization: I have no interest in the next generation of video games. None whatsoever. This isn’t just my usual avoidance of launch consoles (with the exception of the WiiU I’ve never bought a console without a year or two’s worth of games and a price drop) but a complete lack of interest in modern gaming. I look at the upcoming games and realize that outside of a swiftly expanding indie game scene and some of Nintendo’s offerings, I have no interest in anything new. Less than no interest. If someone tried to give me $400 to buy a PS4 or XBONE, I’m not sure I would take them up on the offer. And not just because I’d have to pay taxes and $100 more for the XBONE. I just don’t know what I would do with the machine. What is different about this generation is that I don’t see a day when there are enough games on one of these systems to warrant a purchase. There aren’t any games that I am interested in. I guess that is not strictly true, I do want to play Final Fantasy XV. It is no burning need, especially since that game has no release date. Not enough to sway me into actually wanting the console.
If I am being honest with myself, this isn’t really a change with this generation of games. I have been drifting out of the mainstream since at least the PS2 era. I can remember being flummoxed by my friends’ love of Halo. I would join them for multiplayer games, and with Halo 2 eventually became a competent player, but outside of the multiplayer setting I had little interest the series or first-person shooters in general. Shooters, both first and third person, have increasingly come to dominate the market. For most of this last generation, I’ve played Wii and DS and ignored the supposed big consoles. That, however, was not due primarily to a lack of interest. I didn’t buy a PS3 or 360 because I couldn’t afford one. Why doesn’t Nintendo suffer from my disinterest? For the same reason that many people complain about them. They are, by and large, putting out the same kind of games they always have. They are bigger and prettier and arguably better, but at their core they are the same games. I like those games; that is the kind of game I want. It is the same for indie games. They mostly take their cues from 8 and 16-bit games. I want more of that.
I don’t mean to say there aren’t good games being made, there are. They just aren’t games for me. Occasionally Sony or Capcom drops me a bone, but mostly they make games for that shooter/Assassin’s Creed audience. I don’t blame them; they are just following the money. But I am going to bow out now. I’ve looked around and I can see this just isn’t for me anymore. Fortunately, there are enough good old games around that I don’t need new consoles.