I remember back in the day, when I was barely even able to read or write; that first time I plugged in a cartridge into a gaming system, and how doing so changed my whole life forever. Maybe back then I wasn't as addicted as I was today, but I remember the days where sliding plumbers down tubes and digging holes to trap enemies and even simply fitting differently shaped blocks together were the epitomes of "fun." It's almost as if those days are gone forever...
Nowadays I sweep through manuals explaining "revolutionary" and "hyper complex" systems of the games of today. Whenever I plunge into a new game I sit my butt down through 30 minutes of tutorials explaining battle systems, party mechanics, or whatever else the game has that developers think I don't understand. If I didn't have to read textbook-thick manuals or grueling tutorials, I'd be forced to scour the net looking for information on how to get my character to even move across the screen. Ahh..... the innovations of today...
Do "innovations" and "revolutions" like these make games better or needlessly complex? At times I simply find it frustrating to learn certain aspects of games because, in my opinion, they just get in the way. Many games I've played of this generation are great, yet bogged down by useless things that were never even needed. I ask myself the aforementioned questioned simply because I end up wondering what is better: The simple things or the new things?
Innovations in the gaming industry have done much to improve the overall experience of games. They've helped improve the experience altogether, all the while bringing in new people into a culture that was almost solely reserved for a select few - often derided as geeks or loners. These days people from all walks of life have probably, at least once, played a game they've liked, and we can attribute these to the new ideas in gaming that have brought in the interest of more people than ever before. And not just new people, but these have sparked the interest of even the old fans.
However, are there times where these things just complicate the game? Not all new things introduced into the culture are inherently good. Some backfire, some become immediately outdated, some even just make the game teh suck. Some innovations make the game too muddy and tedious to truly enjoy. You get so stuck and concentrated on these systems and rules that it almost sucks the fun out of game. The focus is lost, and the enjoyment with it.
And perhaps, in ways, these innovations are still rooted in the simple things; the simple game mechanics that were developed years ago, what we can call the cornerstones of gaming. Every innovative idea, no matter how complex in itself, is still rooted in the basics that have existed since the dawn of the first game system.
To me this is the main reason why some games tend to suck: they've lost all connections to the simple things, the simple basics. Too many new things are stuffed into one game that the things that made games fun in the first place are obscured, or even lost altogether. It is then that we remember what made these games so fun in the first place: the simple things. They may not possess some extreme form of character building or maybe even the "next generation in platforming", yet somewhere they have a heart. This heart did nothing less than to make the game fun, ultimately the only thing we all look for in games.
Think about Mario for a moment. Here we see a fat plumber in red jumpers off to save the princess from the evil Bowser. Sure, to this day such a formula has been used countless of times, yet Mario has transcended time as a classic that never gets old, even if you've memorized every single level in the original. Is it because of the graphics, story or even Mario himself? To me it's all of those things too, but moreso of this: a simple, straighforward game that promised nothing flashy, yet delivered a fun and engaging game of jumping, tube sliding and fireball spewing goodness.
The thing is that the core of these games, to me, is most difficult to describe with words. Every game at their core has this simple engagement factor that gets buried under so many things that are, at most, cosmetic. In all games lie a true core of "fun" that seems to be lost with today's addiction to new ideas. Yet, for the most successful and fun games, they were what they are, smply because they never lost touch with what should be there in all games: simple fun.