Amnesia Lane: When good isn’t good enough

generic amnesia

When I first read about Nostalgia, the premise interested me and I tucked it away in my GameFly queue.

It’s a quaint DS RPG, harkening back to simpler design principles while injecting some fresh variety. It mixes normal combat with ship-to-ship battles in the sky, and has adopted a more modern system of learning and improving skills. The dungeons are small enough to never feel like you’re slogging through them and the plot, while slow to develop, is quick to push your from point to point. A few side quests, mostly involving go-out-and-kill-these, may be needed to actually explore the areas you go visit.

nostalgiapic_080709

These pictures previously turned up in the very first edition of Geoffrey’s Cover Art Chronicles.

So I’ve said a lot of nice things about Nostalgia… but did I finish it? No. Do I intend to? No.

Why?

Nostalgia‘s good… but not good enough to work its way into my backlog.

From Nostalgia to nostalgic

If this were 10 years ago, I would have played through an equivalent game of the era (so long as it wasn’t Quest 64. That music drove me batty).

When we were younger, there was more time and fewer games. This was a boon, considering that we were more or less on our own to get by the hard or less-than-obvious parts. We needed the time and lack of distractions to actually get anywhere in the games of the ’80s and ’90s.

It took me many weeks of exploration, dying and repetition to get to the end of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and many many more to find my way through that maze of a palace, and finally kill the Thunderbird with enough life and magic left over to take on the shadow and emerge victorious.

YOU try doing this without Nintendo Power. Map from ZeldaWiki.
YOU try doing this without Nintendo Power. Map from ZeldaWiki.

It’s a feat I managed repeatedly before I was 15, but have been unable to repeat since. It took a lot of practice and luck, and not in a way that’s like riding a bicycle. But in the olden days, there were fewer games to distract me from giving any one my all.

Fickle environment

As I’ve said before, there is plenty to play today. That, and the time constraints of this welcome-to-real-life era means that there are so many “A” games that I haven’t the time for the “B+” games. I might play everything interesting by renouncing all other forms of media and even writing posts for Damage Control (though some might say this is already happening).

The other side of this coin is that I have no patience for BS in games (forget for the moment that I play Pok√©mon. This part will have fewer logic holes if you do). Compulsory grinding, glitches to work around, cheap or ineffectual AI, escort missions, luck-based missions, trial-and-error gameplay, backtracking, inconvenient or too few checkpoints, monkey-in-the-middle plot devices, arbitrary locks on content, unnecessary padding, buggy releases that should never have been put on a gold master with mandatory patches to render the retail release playable, DRM and paying more money to play a game I’ve already bought are all things that will knock the letters off an otherwise A-rated game for me.

(I don’t mind a challenge, but challenge is far from the only reason I — and doubtless many other people — play games. If a game is ONLY challenging due to poor design choices and testing, it’s an artificial challenge which tests our obsessiveness, not our skills.)

An otherwise good game possessing one of these may be rejected. An otherwise good game with many of these will likely be summarily rejected in favor of other good games with less BS.

Nostalgia, fortunately, doesn’t suffer from too many of these flaws, so I would recommend it if you have the time for it. As for me:

Status report:

Just Finished: Ace Attorney: Miles Edgeworth Investigations, Portal, Soulblazer, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3

Just started: The Lost Vikings, Pokemon Platinum

Still Playing: Braid, Earthbound, Final Fantasy: Disidia, Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Edition, Pokemon Soul Silver

Lagging behind: Brood War, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Persona 3: FES, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4

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