Buis’ Bits: Where have all the good games gone?

Video games suck. And there’s little hope of them getting better.

The next wave of the video game console wars is locked into graphics quality. Everyone wants stunning graphics, pretty colors and fantasy worlds that look real.

All of these shiny objects coming out act as a distraction for a real issue nowadays. To alter a successful ad campaign–where’s the game?

This holiday season, Microsoft is rolling out the Xbox 360 to kick off a new generation of video game consoles. For those of you who missed the special on its release last May, I’ll sum it up very simply.

The machine debuted on MTV–the channel with music in its name, not its schedule. It doesn’t bode well for the gaming experience, other than that there will be pretty graphics.

Sony is ready to unleash its PlayStation 3. It has pretty graphics too. The main difference between it and the Xbox 360 is the incredible boomerang controller, which will come back to you after throwing it in frustration every time the hard drive glitches.

I’ve been testing out a game on a soon-to-be-obsolete console called “Army Men: Sarge’s War.” If you’re not familiar with the game or the series, you take the little green army men that come in the big plastic tubs and make them fight the tan army men, with very real weapons.

At one point, I was in the sandbox when I was ambushed by at least ten tan army guys that started firing away. I ducked behind a letter block, switched from my carbine to my assault rifle and jumped out, tapping the “L” button to choose my targets and firing away with the “A” button until they were nothing but a pile of tan goo. One of them got off a good shot and left a massive hole in my chest, but a health pack fixed that.

Most people would read that description and wonder how on earth they could make such a terrible game that would allow people to commit such terrible acts of violence. Don’t plastic people have feelings too?

The only thing that worried me the most was that stupid “L” button. All I had to do was hold that down long enough to get a shot off and keep going until I blew them all away. Where’s the strategy in that?

I grew up in an era when games like this were actually challenging. They required actual skill and didn’t let you get away with rushing the enemy.

The original “Contra” is much better than anything put out nowadays. You had three lives and if you were shot just once, you’d lose one. It was almost impossible to beat without a continue or the code to get 30 lives you could enter before the title screen appeared.

Games that difficult just don’t exist anymore. The strategy and tactics are set aside as the games get easier. Why is this?

One word–graphics.

In the pursuit for the prettiest picture ever perceived, the game industry has effectively sold their soul. (Note: This doesn’t apply to Microsoft, however, as it did not have one in the first place.) Sure, you have to push a few extra buttons from time to time, but that’s all it becomes–complicated button-mashing.

The only ray of light in the next-gen gaming market is the Nintendo console code named “Revolution.”

Very few details have been released about it, but, according to officials with Nintendo, the company is foregoing high-definition compatibility–pretty colors and graphics–for a simpler console that focuses more on the games than the manual.

Part of this work can be seen with the latest installment of the “Legend of Zelda” series, “Twilight Princess.” Nintendo recently announced it will delay the launch of the game beyond the holiday season.

Why?

Nintendo is adding more dungeons to it and is actually making the game’s plot intriguing and interesting. Add in the fact that it will use orchestrated music for the first time, instead of the computer-synthesized stuff, and you realize that Nintendo is showing that it actually cares about the experience after you buy the game.

So for now, even with the vacuum of details Nintendo has provided, the Revolution, or whatever it ends up calling the new system, will have my support.

If I wanted pretty colors, I’d stare at the sun for a while.

Kyle Buis can be reached at
kbuis@orion-online.net

Brief word on Katrina

The relief efforts in Louisiana and across the Southeast will take a great deal of support and funding. Most of this will come from the generous financial support of people across the country.

Unfortunately these tragedies also bring out the worst in people. They pose as charities and try to get in touch with people or stop them on the street. This money never comes close to the people who need it.

If you feel compelled to donate, use the link at the bottom of this page. It will provide you with a way to donate directly to the American Red Cross.

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