Monday, February 09, 2009

Into the depths

Still sick, so I'm trying to distract myself from the fact that I can't really breathe. I've been playing Baroque on the Wii. It's funny how the more IGN hates a game, the more I seem to enjoy them.

In this case, I can understand some ill feelings people might have. This is basically a game that was two generations old. It was released on the Dreamcast, and I imagine at the time people were interested in a unique dungeon-crawler adventure game. Then it was on the PS2, and nobody cared. But they released the game again on the Wii, and surprise surprise, still no one cares. To be frank, releasing a strictly classic-control 2-gens-ago game on the Wii makes about as much sense as buying new sneakers for an amputee.

Nonetheless, I am enjoying this thing. The combat is surprisingly deep. The item-throwing system definitely took getting used to, but is really a lot of fun. The story setup and everything is really unusual, and that's probably the problem people have with it. By people, I mean the wussies at IGN who call themselves gamers.

Let's be clear: I am a hardcore gamer. Getting my ass kicked for the first few hours of a game is normal to me. That's how you get better. You keep going, and as you persevere and become better at it, you have a genuine feeling of pride at having conquered the challenges set before you.

"Gamers" these days want everything handed to them. God forbid you do any thinking or practice of your own. The IGN reviewer given Baroque was clearly mismatched for the task, because this is not a casual game. You are going to die. Get over it.

And every time he dies, "ZOMG Lvl 1 again?!? This is bullshit!!!" The whole idea of levels is to reflect on the fact that your fighting prowess has been growing as you go. It's nothing altogether irreplaceable, though. Hacking and slashing flying fish for experience doesn't exactly require talent. You don't even need to be that high a level to get through the game. Aside from the VT system, there's little to stop you from dropping your sword and running like a little girl all the way to the exit point.

"There is a certain breed of gamer out there that enjoys these "roguelike" adventures and aren't bothered by having their characters reset every time they die. These brave few may find Baroque to their liking, but most of us will wonder what we ever did to deserve this punishment."

Granted, I know where he's coming from. I absolutely hated this game for the first hour like everyone else. "I can die just by standing still too long? WTF?" But it grew on me. And believe it or not, the game actually gets slightly easier as you go. You'll encounter new kinds of enemies, but their power won't increase at the same rate as your Level, and the floors of the tower are littered with shiny items to help you along, including brands and parasites that decrease your VT consumption to the point that you don't really even notice it anymore.

By the way, I'd just like to say that I still think the tutorial coffin guy is funny as hell. He's supposed to be a foul-mouthed punk, but the game is rated T, so the most he can do is pepper "Goddammit" into every sentence.

I understand if some people can't appreciate the hardcore experience like I do, but today's series of casual games are making gamers soft. They don't work for anything. I get the desire for quick and dirty enjoyment from games, but some of us actually want a deeper experience than that.

So, I think the point I'm trying to make, if any at all, is judge your games slowly. If you go into a game like Baroque with specific expectations, you are going to be disappointed. I doubt many people thought games like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus could sell, but now they're both cult classics. Keep an open mind, and you might just enjoy the ride.

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