By Ethan Harmon
When I was growing up, gaming was a magical experience. I’d toss my favorite SNES cartridge into the system – Megaman X – turn it on and start shooting evil robots. Yes, the technology was limited and the gameplay was simplistic, but it took me into another world. I wasn’t Ethan, the nerdy kid. I was Megaman X, a Maverick hunter, looking to bring justice to a dystopian world by taking out the evil Sigma and his horde of Mavericks. And as technology progressed and the games grew exponentially, I would drip into the world of Midgar and fight the homicidal Sephiroth with Cloud and his band of powerful friends, or utilize Ken’s uppercut to take out Blanka when playing with friends.
Now, however, I feel like the magic is somewhat lost. Don’t get me wrong, there are still certain games and series that keep the magic going, such as Devil May Cry or Metal Gear Solid. But they are overshadowed by open-world RPGs, first-person shooters and open-world crime simulations. I’m not saying these games are bad, per se, but they just don’t contain the same magic I used to experience. Sure, GTA V is a fun game, at first. But the novelty wears thin after several hours of gameplay. Same goes for any Call of Duty game.
And, honestly, a lot of the fun begins to fade when you participate in online matches. Some of the worst, most foul, most ignorant, vile sentences come out of the mouths of players and through your TV. It really degrades the experience for me. Yes, I’d like to have fun and blow stuff up and play with people around the world. I would also like to do this without being called every derogatory word in the English language. Even if you are able to get lucky and avoid this type of experience, you are stuck playing within the same levels or same game types.
Many games that hit shelves, or Steam, just seem to rehash a similar formula. Get a gun and shoot people online. Pick a character, form a team, and take down the other team’s towers. Use your magic and weapons and explore the open-world and take on missions. Steal a car and shoot other players. I feel like, regardless of which game I choose, I end up playing the same thing. I’m stuck playing a different, and very similar, version of another game.
Where did my fun, magical games go? I’m sitting around, waiting and hoping that another DmC comes out soon, or that Mighty Number 9 is as awesome as Megaman, or that the upcoming Final Fantasy XV brings back the same fun and intrigue the franchise once gave me.
Innovation is not a bad thing. But adding a gimmick to an already established play-style does not qualify as innovation. And, to be fair, there are some games that innovate and create something fun and unique. There are also games that keep things simple, utilizing older mechanics to create an experience that is fun. That’s what I’m looking for here: fun. I want to have fun playing these games. Fun is the magic I miss. Fun took me to a different world for a few hours and gave me something engaging.