Is it just me or has this semester gone by in a hurry?
It felt like spring break was just yesterday, but now we’re already two weeks away from school. What even happened?
Come to think of it, I probably got so caught up in my classes that I really noticed the months changing. I’m sure we’ve all had times when we’re so focused on the missions at hand that we disconnect from the rest of the world.
In my case, I also had the added stress of being extremely close to graduation, which means that all of my classes deal with advanced content that takes a lot of effort to understand.
Not that I’m complaining, it’s natural to move from simple concepts to complex versions as your understanding of a certain area grows. This is certainly the case for academia, but it also applies to most things in life, including video games. After all, hardware limitations aside, it would be weird if today’s games looked and played the same way they did in the 80s.
While this progress is obviously for the better, I can’t help but feel like some games are too caught up in these new mechanics. A clear example of this are the so-called “click games”, also known as “idle games”.
After the developers realized that players found the click satisfying, they took it to the next level and made it the only mechanism present in the game. The result was games such as “Cookie Clicker” and “Adventure Capitalist”, where players click one or two buttons without any reason or goal in mind. Worse still, it doesn’t take too long for these games to automatically click for you either, removing the only place to play.
Even putting those games aside, it doesn’t take long to find other examples of recent formats that rely on a gimmick or two to retain players. Gacha games, the subject of one of my early columns, are notoriously known for their addictive tactics, combining fun designs and gameplay elements to retain its player base, even with weeks without new content.
The result is a series of games that overall are very addictive but not exactly fun to play. Although they were born from a deep study of gaming habits and attitudes, they still feel superficial, as if they were so concerned with optimizing their experience that they forgot to entertain the audience.
Of course, these are not the only games on the market. After all, barely two columns ago I wrote about the new and downright amazing “Elden Ring” video game. But for those of us who play one or two of these highly optimized games, these great titles often seem like the exception to the rule.
Sure, “Elden Ring” is certainly a masterpiece, but compared to the hundreds of fantasy games released in the same year, can we say that’s a good indication of where the industry is headed?
So the antidote to these games isn’t necessarily amazing titles like “Elden Ring”, which look more like outliers than anything, but rather hit games that have changed very little over the years. or whose changes were made solely with the entertainment. in mind.
Sure, they can be clunky around the edges and feature frustrating segments, but the mere fact that their age-old formula has persisted after decades shows that the game’s simple pleasures still hold strong to this day.
Example: “Kirby and the Forgotten Land“.
I’ve been a Kirby fan since I was little, but even I was amazed by this new title. Finally bringing all the charm of Kirby to 3D, the game features fun and challenging platforming puzzles, introducing a handful of new mechanics while retaining the tried-and-true formula of inhaling enemies and absorbing their powers as its base.
The game, while not perfect, was still a breath of fresh air for me and kept me coming back even though it didn’t contain any of the addictive elements I described earlier. For some reason, I just couldn’t get enough. I was so mesmerized by the game that even my partner decided to jump in, helping me complete the main story and post-game content.
After definitely finishing everything the game had to offer, I pondered why it had such a hold on me for a while. As always, the answer had been simpler than I expected: it was just fun.
It was fun inhaling enemies, using their powers, and going through levels. Since the game didn’t rely on any particular mechanic, none of the fatigue of fancy games showed up.
After finishing the game, my partner and I wanted even more. Of course, if there were more levels, the game might have overstayed its welcome. But the mere fact that we ended up with this desire said a lot about how fun and charming it was.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from this experience, perhaps it’s that sometimes it’s good to look back and understand why people liked something in the first place. While the advancements are undeniably good, it’s very easy for creators to get caught up in a gimmick or two and create experiences that are too contrived to be fun.
In light of finals season, be sure to step back and remember what drew you to your major in the first place. Maybe it’s something you’ve always been good at or something you’ve always been interested in. It can even be something extremely simple.
In my case, it was having fun writing with my friends for the school magazine. Regardless of the magnitude, remembering what caused that initial spark and started you down this path can help you regain that initial wonder and keep you from focusing solely on the mission ahead.
Worst-case scenario, it could give you the motivation you desperately need after failing a test.
Guilherme Guerreiro is a junior esports writer. His column, “Press Start to Play,” airs every other Tuesday.