September 17th, 2010

Worldmaker

Have you played Metroid Gear Solid

Because that's what Metroid: Other M is, with a dash of Resident Evil thrown in for good measure. Whenever I'm playing it, I'm thinking, "this would be great if it were Super Metroid, or Metroid Prime." It doesn't go far enough in either direction: there's a plot, but none of the scannable tidbits that made the Prime series so vibrant; there's action, but it's paced too oddly to provide an effective sense of combat. For one thing, you can't kill anything without hitting it with a charge beam, and the missile system is precisely clunky enough to render it pointless in hallway exchanges. Part of the joy of Super M was being able to clear through a room in an efficient fashion through judicious use of your assorted capabilities; for all its insta-charge dodging and head-stomping overkill moves, Other M still feels sluggish most of the time.

Also, I don't feel like the plot is doing it for me, but I'm not sure I'm far enough into the game to make a real judgment on it yet. Part of the problem is I decided to make some time for Soul Blazer, which I'd been meaning to beat on the original cart I bought a while back -- and that meant keeping it firmly slotted in the snes, lest an errant bump were to wipe the battery again. In a roundabout way, playing Blazer parallel to Other M put the strange nature of series updates on display: I was reminded of quasi-sequel Illusion of Gaia, a good enough game in its own right, less rough around the edges perhaps, and then Terranigma, the third in the world-reviving trilogy, which I always thought of as trying too hard. Slot in the three Metroid titles I listed (Super, Prime, Other) and they more or less fit the same descriptions.

It brings to mind a nagging worry I've had as a maturing gamer: I'm so immersed in classic gaming philosophy that I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to cope with the modern landscape. A recent ESRB infographic indicates that the average gamer is 34 years old and has been playing for 12 years. That means they started in on the N64 and Playstation around college age, while perhaps being only peripherally aware of the games that had come before then. They'd have entered on Goldeneye and Twisted Metal, identifying with polygons instead of pixels. Meanwhile, players of my ilk get all misty-eyed when we hear Travis blowing into his carts for the job minigames of No More Heroes 2. I feel as though I'm on the wrong side of a watershed, a cabal of first-person heroes who are charging ahead without me.

Well, maybe I shouldn't call it a "worry." My sister got me a Retro Gamer Magazine anthology for my birthday at no small expense, so there's obviously still a place in the world for my mode 7 memories. Maybe I'll live on a mountain and become one of those ancient gurus everyone takes advice from. What's the going rate for a hermit to get wifi?