On Single Player Games

I love the feeling of sleeping in on a day off in the summer. Booting up a game system when you do finally pull yourself out of bed and hearing that opening sequence from “Sega” to whatever that loud whoosh is that Xbox has. The sun is warmly shining in through the drapes, so you close them up, you look at your backlog of games, pop one in and get to dive deep. Makes it even better when your version of sleeping in is seven in the morning and you get a good solid run at a game before anyone else bothers you.

It is times like this when I am delving deep through the wastes of New Vegas or fighting my way through Rapture once again that I realize how important it is to get time to yourself in games. What used to be the only way to play games is slowing becoming the odd way to play them. Some people even waiting to play titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 until multiplayer was implemented because that was all they cared about.

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Now the nature of my job and who I am gets me out and talking to people constantly. I like what I do, I like hearing what makes people happy and get them to open up about their passions, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t like the alone time. The fact is that when I get to play a single player game it is still a unique experience all to myself. Something that as I grow older I appreciate more because the things you want someone there for are that much worse alone. I can’t tell how many times I just don’t want to go out and grab a bite to eat when everyone else is busy, so I just cook at home instead of going solo.

I like being ten hours in and deciding I want to do a side quest for no reason. I like spending an hour on my characters customization, even if I fully know I will cover the same face with a helmet for the whole game. The feeling that there is no pressure in a game is big to me. Whenever a large game comes with multiplayer you have the problem of people progressing at different rates or one person not wanting to play when you do, and the whole thing can fall apart so fast. It is always a sickly feeling of betrayal when you load up your characters again and one of you is ten levels over the other.

Can you a person for wanting to play more or less than the others in their group?

Single player titles give you the option of doing everything at your pace. Developers are seeing great titles like God of War 4, Breath of the Wild, Spider-Man, Horizon Zero Dawn,  or even Ori and the Blind Forest and realizing how powerful they can be. How you can sell so much of a game on the story and gameplay elements that you give to one person instead of the focus on letting everyone in.

Recently I went through Rage 2, a solo title that I think could have only been played that way. Your character is a big badass that obliterates every enemy he/she runs into a grandiose fashion. You see a large mutant, well you have a rocket launcher that splats everything and can double jump into his face to use it. The “power” your character exhibits is special because only you can do it. You feel badass, so if you were driving by a bandit hideout and another player was wiping them out faster or better than you it would take away from that cool factor you have. It needed to be a single player game and I think they did great in keeping it that way.

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In fact, Diablo 3 is a game many people only play multiplayer, but one that I have put so much more time in solo. I like when my demon hunter or monk is wrecking a whole room full of enemies in seconds and feel like the game moves too slow with multiple heroes in the same lobby. The power levels again being so over the top that you feel like your hero is just a sidekick at times.

Multiplayer smash up games like gauntlet were great at keeping people even. Titles like Modern Warfare 2 were groundbreaking at making you feel like the champion of a team in critical moments. League of Legends can only ever be a good game when you have full teams going at it because the bot games are just too simple. I love the multiplayer games too and I know there is always going to be a place for them, this rant is coming to an end and I just don’t want everyone thinking I am attacking a component I do enjoy.

I think more than anything this was a short love letter to the single player games out there and to help implore developers to keep it up. When a new shooter comes out like Black Ops 4 and they decide to omit a campaign from it, they do take away something players enjoy. It is a simple fix on both sides. For the consumer, we just pay attention and don’t invest if it is lacking a component you enjoy. For the developers, I say do whatever makes your title the best title. If the new Poke’mon game simply can not have all the little poke’mon in it because they can’t fit it in, I understand. Same goes for Animal Crossing, take your time Nintendo, make it good!

I think the nostalgia of a good JRPG is calling my name now. I got that itch and it is a nice warm summer day, I think I’m going to squeeze away for now and work through something on that backlog of mine.

Until next time all,

Shane

Feature Photo by Tim Bogdanov on Unsplash

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Five Games That Remove Gamer Block

I’m sure that many of you have heard of writers’ block, the term that helps sum up the “wall” you hit when no matter what you just can’t put pen to paper. Gamers have a similar case and whether you call it gaming fatigue or block it is there. It is common when it hits you just as you finished up a long title that took hours of your time to complete. The block hitting you with the odd feeling of “what now?” leaving you unmoving. With that in mind, I am going to give you five games that are nice and simple in the way they get you moving again into gaming. It may be that it is simple and just lets you pass an hour and get excited about gaming again, or maybe it will spark a moment that leads you running to finish another title you had your eyes on. Either way, this is what we have in store.

Number One – Minecraft

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The game has always been the equivalent of dumping a bin of legos on the ground and mindlessly building for hours. Well in case you haven’t checked the shelves in a while Legos are expensive as hell now, but good old Minecraft is still sitting around twenty bucks at all times.

A game that you can build Hogwarts or a dirt shack, make a weapon out of diamonds or dig a hole. No matter what your fancy Minecraft can help you kill some hours and get you going on the gaming world again. Try playing with someone and soon you will both have built something together. The beauty of it coming from it is less serious than a title like Ark or Seven Days to Die and yet complex enough to always have you moving in some direction. The updates on it have added so much over the years and I suggest you giving it a look if you can’t seem to find anything else to do at the time.

Number Two – The Legend Of Zelda Breath of the Wild

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It is a game that you can travel to practically every mountain to see and climb it. A game that you can finish quickly if you only want to do the main quest sure, but really shines when you get to just relax and enjoy the beauty of the world that Nintendo created.

Zelda has always been a series that shines on one player going through a quest and saving the princess. Of course the sequel they spoiled slightly at E3 may shake this up a bit, but Breath of the Wild plays unlike any of the other titles before it. It can be turned on the tv and you and a friend can just enjoy the rich environments and what Hyrule has to offer. Or if you are heading out just take it with you! The great part of this title is that there is so much less pressure to continue the main quest in it. You can take your time and get where you want to when you want to. No annoying person constantly reminding you that there is so much other stuff to do. Leaving you with an experience you can enjoy at your pace and help kickstart you back into enjoying games again.

Number Three – Poke’mon Go

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Where I live it is Summer once again and already I see people walking around and hanging out at the local Poke’stops this game has to offer. Some of you may have already played this game religiously or maybe you never took the leap and downloaded the title onto your phone. The game is still alive and kicking and constantly getting more updated content and new Poke’mon added to the title.

The nice part here is there is less commitment to this game than many of the other console or PC titles may put you in. Sometimes when the block hits you hard it is a struggle to even get through a tutorial in a title. This one gets you outside and playing something in minutes. Plus I hear there is this thing called exercise that is kind of attached to it, supposedly that is good for you too?

Number Four – Any Elder Scroll or Fallout Title

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Now you may be thinking, “Wait a minute those are huge games?” They can be sure, but there is also this common misconception with these titles that you have to play the same character all the way through. To be honest, I have lost track of the times I have gone back to a Bethesda game, forgotten who my character was, and then started up a new one on the fly.

Play through as a melee only character in Fallout. Or use a Pugilist in Skyrim, punching a dragon to death is as satisfying as it sounds. Rush to become a werewolf or use only energy weapons. You can make the story in these games, and then end it any time you want to.

I know when I don’t want to watch TV, but don’t know what game I want to play I have booted up one of these. Picked a direction to walk after the tutorial, and then just went that way until I hit the edge and chose to use no fast travel. Play one of these gorgeous open world games like you haven’t ever before and soon you will find a story you have to tell to your friends.

Number Five – Mario Party

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I don’t care if you have to dig out and dust off the old N64, Gamecube, Wii, Wiiu or play on your new Switch. Man, this title has some longevity to it. These games are meant to get you playing with friends, so get with a friend and play. If you have not yet experienced a Mario Party game in your days then bring that up to someone and I bet they help you find a way to get you playing.

The board game like feel is sweet, the minigames are quick and fun, and you don’t have to take it seriously at all. Not to dissuade you from doing just that if that is how your playgroup is, but to each their own. Of course just as quickly as I popped Mario Party down it could have been Mario Kart or Tennis or Bros. The list is long and the games are made for you to play them and have fun. Remember that not every day do you need to boot up the Witcher 3 or Red Dead 2 and put in the hours of gaming require to conquer those.

So when the going gets tough and you just burn out on titles that seem to be taking to much out of you, look here at this simple little list. None of these will force you to play nine matches to get the coolest item, or hot drop to get that final kill. Just boot them up, relax, and play some titles for the sake of gaming.

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Five PS1 RPG Games That Need A Remake

The heyday of the classic turn-based RPG is well behind us. Many good titles still come out and remind us of the joy those turn-based classics once gave us, but AAA likes to keep things flashy now and even Final Fantasy has evolved. Maybe for you, it was on the SNES or the PS2, but for me, I am focusing today on some of the great PS1 titles that I believe need to have their very own remake. I am not simply talking about another graphical update like we see often but something more akin to what was done on the Resident Evil 2 release we had earlier this year. Look into Spooky Hi-Def Zombie Galore if you want to see more about that title.

So what five titles am I wanting to see done in glorious 4k Ultra HD to take my breath away once again? The same way they did years ago with my 13-inch tube tv, well look ahead and see.

 Number One – The Legend of Dragoon

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A game that changed everything I knew about RPG titles in general. When so much of my attention began to wane from the same repetitive motion over and over, I was brought into full immersion with this when it released. Picked up shortly after a Christmas this title lasted me for a few months and to master it all the way, it took even longer. The combat system of this game is something that you didn’t see at the time and I would love to see ported into today. It had an engaging story that taught you about loss and sacrifice and some of the graphics that still make me smile now with how well they did then. One of the titles that I was distraught to never see a sequel, I would be overjoyed to see this pop up on a remake list now or anytime I am still alive.

Number Two – Chrono Cross

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If you managed to play through the SNES title Chrono Trigger much of this game felt familiar to you. It was a sequel to the Trigger game that confused many by simply not having a two after the title. It put you back into time paradox stories and made you chose what party members you wanted to fight beside you with forty-five different ones to choose from. My personal favorite Glenn always took me far, a bonus since he had a special move with the main character Serge. The move sets in this would look great updated and the locations you went through would be stunning as all the dragons were summoned through the game. To be honest the best part about the updated title would be the music. An arrangement that still to this day gives me chills and sets me up for a day of adventure when I hear it.

Number Three – Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete

Art by aojiroiemura

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This one may be cheating a little bit since the title has already been moved up from Sega Saturn and released in a few different variations. The best part about this title to me was that it was one of the few that I didn’t mind watching someone else play. At the time I was really into the anime Trigun and my friend playing through the game progressed fast and let me enjoy every cutscene I saw. It may be nice to just get the cutscenes updated and move the game into an HD 2.5D style. Lunar is a title that reminds me of all the good stories told on the PS1 and may even bring back a surge of great movie title updates like Escaflowne. A man can dream.

Number 4 – Xenogears

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When a game spawns an entire franchise it is a surprise that the first title doesn’t get a full rework. Getting into the whole Xenosaga franchise, later you may even have seen Xenoblade, but somewhere you have seen this. It was a case of a game that was meant to be a sequel that later became it’s own entity entirely and anything with mechs would look cool updated. Imagine the fresh crisp graphics in RE2 that we got with the stellar stories told in this title. It would be a fast seller and branch people into so much more. Early on some of the religious content got the game some chaff, but years and years have passed and what better time to bring Xeno to the forefront than now?

Number Five – Final Fantasy IX

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I get that many would say Final Fantasy VII should be the title on this list. Let us be honest here and remember that is “supposedly” happening soon. The show specials that have been shown for that game look great and is what brought me over to nine. Love or hate it type of game you will see both fans going after this title at times. The characters were unique, the summons felt special, and the darker tones the characters had to face brought Final Fantasy ahead and apart from the other RPG titles closing in at that time. Finishing Borderlands again made me feel we could even tweak a bit with the graphics since the game always had a cartoon type of style, but tried to maintain realism with heroes like Steiner. Seeing my big boy summon Alexander in full HD would rock and I can’t wait for the day that happens.

Give me some feedback on what you thought of these five. I am positive there are so many more that would be great to see. Titles that had such a compelling story you didn’t mind the graphics or fits the old games sometimes had. Titles that made you scream if that memory card became corrupted. Thank god for the cloud saves now.

No matter what, give this a like and a share and I will see you tomorrow with the next title.

-Shane

Feature Photo by Cláudio Luiz Castro on Unsplash