The Forgotten Games
Recently, while sitting at my monitor and listening to "Weird Al" Yankovic's album "Polka Party" (sometimes referred to by me as "the forgotten album"), I got to thinking about something concerning Icy Brian's RPG Page. Like most not-for-profit video game-related web pages, it covers an extensive and well-researched amount of information on some of the most popular games around. And that's exactly what's wrong with it.
Sorry about that, folks, but I had to say something that could your attention. It's really not a problem; after all, why bother to make a web site about Yoshi's Island ("the forgotten Mario World sequel") or Enix's game E.V.O. ("the forgotten tedious 16-bit evolution game")?
Yet that's exactly what I'm here to talk about. Not E.V.O. "per se" (a phrase which is Latin for "partitioned out to every 'se'"), but forgotten games in general. Well, I'll narrow it down a little to forgotten RPG's. If you haven't been paying attention, this site is all about RPG's, unless you pick your computer up and shake it real hard, in which case this site is all about a screen full of jumbled images amidst flashes of static and error messages. But I digress. We all realize that the popular games have qualities that clearly make them worthy of the attention of gamers everywhere, but I often think that people miss something when they overlook less fashionable games.
Take Final Fantasy Adventure (in reality not a forgotten Final Fantasy game, but rather the forgotten prequel to Secret of Mana). For all of its flaws (choppy dialog, slow character growth, repetitive mazes) I personally found it to be a fun experience. Smashing monsters in their sneering, ugly faces with that huge Morning Star and watching them dissolve into a thick black mass is a little cooler than watching them fade to red clouds like they do in Chrono Trigger. Incidentally, those who mistook that last sentence as a slander against CT can direct their angry comments to SHUT UP!
The point I'm trying to make is that games like FFA may not have all of the makings of a memorable gaming experience, but they do have their charms. One may do well to give a lesser-know title a chance now and then. Recently, I found myself playing a game called Metal Walker, by Capcom ("the forgotten producers of Street Fighter"). Although it's not hurting for forgettable attributes (lackluster translation, aggravatingly frequent random battles), it has its better qualities. The battle system can be rather addictive; those who enjoy a good game of billiards may find pleasure in bouncing enemies off of walls and into various hazards. Despite the somewhat unappealing look of the human characters, I found the robotic creatures (including the hero's titular sidekick, Meta Ball) more pleasing to the eye. For all of its clumsy efforts not to look like a clone of Pokémon, Metal Walker does manage to avoid the "sickeningly cute" atmosphere that the former title flaunts like a new pair of boxer shorts (I don't know how the rest of you spend your birthdays ).
I'm off the topic again, aren't I? The point I want to make is that you RPG-ers out there may want to spend an afternoon or two sampling some of what the rest of RPG-dom has to offer. A lesser-known title may have a tired storyline and-- let's not kid ourselves-- jackass characters that make you want to seize your television and yell, "Why are you standing there? DODGE THE GIGANTIC LASER BEAM!," but there could be one or two nuances worth your time. The player may come out of a game and say, "Hey, despite the tired storyline and jackass character in this game, I kind of like the final death throes of that hideous monster. I suppose my fifteen hours spent negotiating that excruciatingly tedious maze were worth the effort."
Well, that scenario may be a little extreme, but it makes a statement. Sometimes the details are the best part of an experience. Then again, somebody who wastes an hour messing with a video game just to watch a virtual monster die is probably not the kind of person to be demonstrating how to live.
Ahem well, those of you who play RPG's often and have friends who do so as well have most likely found yourself at some point engaged in a debate over what features make a worthwhile game. The people who make the best argument in such discussions are usually the people who have played games that they liked in addition to games that they didn't like. Experiencing undesirable things often lets us appreciate the good things; sitting around your backyard not being stung repeatedly by scorpions is a whole lot more fun after you've spent a night passed out in the middle of Death Valley. Likewise, playing through an unpopular or even a bad RPG can help one value the good points of the better-know games.
If anybody out there is secretly hoping to be a video game developer one day (and don't lie to me, you people are out there), you'll likely do even better to try out some flash-in-the-pan game. If it stinks, you'll know what to avoid doing when you make it begin the industry. If it's good (or at least has good qualities), you'll know what kind of gaming effect to lean towards (read: skillfully plagiarize).
Now, I'm not trying to tell people to go out and waste their hard-earned credit ratings on no-name RPG titles. But if you ever find yourself in a position to borrow or rent or steal (WARNING: do not steal; it's probably illegal where you live) a lesser-know game, you may want to take that opportunity. Even if you don't like the game, you could end up with a little more perspective as to what makes the your favorite games good.
Now, if you'll excuse me, the CD just got to "Here's Johnny" ("the forgotten El DeBarge parody about Ed McMahon").
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