July 27th, 2005

Happy game time

As most people who know me already know, DDR, Bemani, and other similar music/rhythm games have pretty much dominated my video gaming experience of the past five years. But that doesn't mean they're the only or only types of games I've ever played or am interested in playing.

I've always enjoyed strategy/planning-type games like the SimCity series. I can remember blowing entire days lost in games like that. I've never really been much of an action gamer. Of course I've played many of the well-known platform series like Mario and Sonic, but I didn't own a game console between the Atari 2600 and the Dreamcast, so most of those experiences were at friends' houses. The only fighting game I was ever really into was the Mortal Kombat series. I can also remember being into flight simulators, and most specifically the Wing Commander series for its way of combining flight with combat and epic storytelling.

But probably the one genre of game that I have historically enjoyed the most over the years is adventure games. I love to be a part of a story unfolding around me and to be able to make decisions that can affect the outcome. When done correctly, the characters and stories can match or even better those of quality movies or television. Plus the challenge of figuring out puzzles and tasks can be hours of frustrating fun.

I can remember playing the completely text-based adventure, Dungeon, so long ago it feels like a whole other lifetime. I also remember playing the early Sierra Quest games (King's Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, etc.) in monochrome, EGA, and finally VGA graphics as the years went on. Heck, I can even remember playing the original King's Quest on a PCjr, of all things.

Those Sierra games were probably the biggest part of my adventure gaming history...leading all the way into my relationship with lissarenee. I can remember playing through a few of the Quest series titles with her along with some other Sierra games including the Laura Bow mysteries and the (at the time) darkly disturbing Phantasmagoria. I also played through such classics as The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour, the original Myst and Riven, Dracula Unleashed, Sam & Max, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango.

We enjoy being able to work on the puzzles and take in the story together. And the pacing is usually such that we don't feel pressured It's like watching a movie--only more interactive. But between my Bemani binging and her interest in other things, we haven't had played very many lately. It is also a sad and unfortunate reality that the adventure game genre is pretty much on life support these past few years as it seems the majority of gamers vote with their pocketbooks toward other types of games.

But last year Lissa and I did manage to sit down and play through Myst III and enjoyed the experience of the type of gameplay that we hadn't made time for in quite some time. It had been sitting on the shelf just waiting to be played along with another title, The Longest Journey, which I had picked up after reading several very positive reviews. We finally decided to load that up a week ago or so and have been playing through it on a few evenings. We had acutally started it before, but didn't end up sticking with it for some reason. This time around it seems to have hooked us in better and we're having fun with it.

In the meantime, I've been doing some research and found out that Myst IV was released last year and V is due later this year. Plus Uru: Ages Beyond Myst was already out while we were playing III. Also, a long-awaited sequel to The Longest Journey (which was originally released way back in '99), Dreamfall, is due for later this year. So we should have plenty of things to work on in the months to come in spite of the overall lack of titles when compared with other genres, and I'm looking forward to the experience.

Meanwhile, I finally experienced Katamari Damacy at the urging of several of my friends. I found it to be quite entertaining in its delightful quirkiness. Although it reminds me of how inept I am with a Dual Shock. :P I managed to complete all the levels in a reasonably short amount of time, but the game has the addictive quality to it that will probably have me replaying it for awhile to complete my collections or even just for some carefree entertainment. It is similar to Bemani in the way that I don't mind playing it over (in whole or in part) even if I can already say I've "finished" it.

And alas, the Sim City 4 I bought over a year ago still sits on the floor in my office just waiting to be played...