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Let’s get to know each other, shall we?
A sudden realization dawned on me the other day while I was pondering the meaning of life: I’ve never discussed my gaming preferences with my blogging audience. Today, I aim to fix that. Since you all trust me to be your go-to source for gaming (let’s all play along now), I think it’s only fair that you know what I like and don’t like in the world of gaming. Enjoy!
The things I like:
Single-Player is King
It should come as no surprise to those of you who have read all of the reviews on this here blog: I enjoy single-player games the most. No, it’s not because I don’t have any friends who will play with me (I play online with friends fairly often, thank you much). It’s because the things I enjoy most in a video game (e.g. an engaging story, likeable characters, not interacting with real humans) are mostly found in single-player games. These types of games are also usually complete experiences which is always nice. There have been times where a trailer for a game piqued my interest but then it quickly faded once I realized the game was a multiplayer title.
As for what genres I prefer, I love RPGs and adventure games (that’s a broad term, I know) though I have been known to branch out into other categories like First-Person Shooters or action titles for example. As I said, I love a good story so if a game has that then I will happily play it no matter what genre it is.
Japan, Japan, Japan
If you’ve read my three-part series about Japanese games on Xbox, then you should know that I love Japanese games. I love games from Japan because they usually contain three essential ingredients: a strong story, good combat mechanics, and excellent characters. Please keep in mind that this isn’t true for all the games of Japanese origin that I like. For example, I love practically all of the Mario games in existence and they’re not exactly known for their compelling stories. But, by and large, Japanese games usually focus on developing their characters and stories in unique and wonderful ways while also having inventive worlds to play around in. All of these elements are right up my alley hence why I love Japanese games so much.
Another reason why I love Japanese games is because they always have a different feel to them when compared to Western games. You can always tell if you’re playing a Japanese game based off of how it feels (this includes everything from the atmosphere of the game to the characters). Japanese games have a certain Je ne sais quoi about them that is hard to describe but you know it once you experience it. It may come down to the fact that I’m American and not Japanese thus games from that country have a uniqueness about them that comes from them being made in a foreign land. I like to think that there’s more to it than that but I’m sure that that plays a major role in my feelings towards Japanese games.
Companies I Love:
There are a few companies from which I would buy games without question. Whose output has left an impression on me and has made me a fan for life. It’s a relatively short list but I think it’s worth taking a look at.
1. CD Projekt Red
I think I’ve told this story before so I apologize if you’re reading this for the second time. Back in high school, while a friend and I were supposed to be working on an English project, he allowed me to try out a game that he had just bought. That game was The Witcher and I was immediately pulled into its world. So much so that, when I built my own computer later that year (with that same friend’s help), my only demand was that it be powerful enough to run The Witcher. With my new computer in hand, I greedily devoured The Witcher and couldn’t wait to see if its developer, CD Projekt Red, would make more games.
Luckily for me, they did and I have been there on day one for almost all of their projects (I was late picking up Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales but I have since rectified that). Each game CD Projekt Red develops is better than the last and that is why I keep coming back for more. Not to mention that all of their games feature great stories and characters as well. Although I would take a medieval and magical world like what you would find in the The Witcher games over a futuristic setting any day of the week, I still can’t wait to get on my hands on Cyberpunk 2077 later this year. That’s how much I like the good people at CD Projekt Red’s work.
Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio
In case you missed it, there’s this series called Yakuza which is really quite good. The studio behind this series, Ryu Ga Gotoku, has become one of my favorites in a relatively short amount of time. Although the core team has worked on many series’ before Yakuza, I mostly know them from that series. They’ve been focused on Yakuza and Yakuza-like games (think Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise and Judgment) in recent years which is fine by me. If they ever feel like developing an entirely different type of game, however, I will be there to buy it too because this studio does some quality work, I tell you what. Before I move on, I just want to remind everyone that Yakuza 7 is coming out this year and it seems to be shaping up quite nicely. I can’t wait.
The first Platinum game I ever bought was Nier: Automata. I was the weird one playing Nier while everyone else was playing either Breath of the Wild or Horizon: Zero Dawn (all three games came out within a week or so of each other). I was hooked by its weird story, beautiful yet depressing world, and fast-paced action combat. From there, I decided to try the studio’s other games. I have since played Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2, and the relatively recently released Astral Chain (review is imminent) and I can now say that I’m a huge fan of Platinum Games. I hope we get to hear more about Bayonetta 3 soon.
In my early gaming days, I had always been an admirer of Square Enix from afar. This company usually makes interesting-looking games and I’m always curious to see what they show at events like E3. In the PS2 era, I loved watching my friends play games like Final Fantasy X and Kingdom Hearts (I didn’t own a PS2 until much later so I never played them myself). Flash forward to today and I have actually started playing Square Enix’s games and have enjoyed most of them. This includes the games that Square Enix has published as well. Nier: Automata, Dragon Quest VIII, Octopath Traveler, and all the games in The Tomb Raider and the Deus Ex series reboots (when is the next one coming out, Square?!) are all excellent. I’m currently playing through the Final Fantasy series (starting with VI) and I have to say that I now understand why people love them so much.
The problem with Square Enix is that it has certainly released bad games (The Quiet Man and Left Alive come to mind) and has had trouble with game development in recent memory (Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III) which brings my excitement for the company down a little bit. By and large though, Square Enix always has interesting games up its sleeve and has a way of drawing my attention. I’m certainly looking forward to Final Fantasy VII Remake (as are many of you, I’m sure) and I hope we get to see even more exciting games from Square Enix in the near future. Especially since a new console generation is coming out soon.
What can I say about Nintendo? This company has been with me since the very beginning of my gaming days. It all started when my parents brought home an N64 with a copy of Super Mario 64. My brother and I played the heck out of that game. I also have fond memories of Mario Kart 64, The World is Not Enough, and, of course, Goldeneye 007. In fact, my brother, sister, and I still play Mario Kart 64 to this day. Funnily enough, we never had any of the Zelda games on the N64.
You would assume that, from all my good times with the N64, I would have bought all the preceding Nintendo consoles, right? Well, you’d be wrong. In a strange twist of fate, I have never owned any of Nintendo’s home consoles until the Switch. My brother did buy a GameCube but we never really had any of the games that made that console famous. We mostly played James Bond 007: Nightfire on it and that was about it (which we still play nowadays just like Mario Kart 64). I really can’t point out the reason why I wasn’t a part of the Nintendo ecosystem for such a long time. It is quite the puzzle.
Even though I didn’t own its home consoles, I have owned nearly all of Nintendo’s handheld systems; i.e. the GameBoy Color, Gameboy Advance, the DS, and even a 2DS XL. I must be honest and say that these systems mostly served as Pokémon devices although I did play a few games outside of that series on these systems (like a few Fire Emblem titles for instance). There wasn’t much else that I played on them (although I did recently finish playing A Link Between Worlds on my 2DS).
Which brings us to the Switch. From the moment I viewed that first trailer unveiling that console to the world, I was sold. The ability to play a game both at home and on the go with a seamless transition between both playstyles was one of the greatest things I have ever seen (in the world of gaming at least). I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. I missed out on the preorders for the system but I was still able to get a Switch on Day One (but that’s a story for another time).
It was made even better by the fact that many great games have been released on the system: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Astral Chain, Link’s Awakening, and the list goes on and on. I have even become interested in a few series which never sparked my interest before (looking at you Animal Crossing). More than anything else, the Switch reminded me of why I fell in love with Nintendo and its games in the first place. They’re fun, whimsical, silly, and a ton of fun to play (none of these labels really apply to Fire Emblem but you get what I mean).
The Switch has also made me interested in all the games I have missed out on from Nintendo over the years. I am now a proud owner of not only a Switch but also a GameCube and even a Wii U (I essentially got this system for only one game: you’ll have to wait until later in the year to find out more). Needless to say, I’ve been having a blast playing games on all of these systems.
I think I’ve went on for long enough about Nintendo and may have even gotten a little bit off track. My point is this: Nintendo makes some good stuff and I am sorry that I have missed out on most of it over the years. This company develops a wide variety of games in a plethora of genres. I have many great memories (both recent and in the past) of playing games on Nintendo’s consoles and I hope we get a Direct soon to see what the future holds. Come on, Nintendo!
The Things I Don’t Like:
Live Service Games:
It is important that I define, from my perspective, what a “Live Service” game is here. A Live Service, to me, is a game that focuses primarily on multiplayer gameplay and is updated almost constantly. Not only that but these types of games are usually heavily monetized with microtransactions. These can range from paying for new skins (essentially new outfits for characters for anyone who is unfamiliar with the term) to everybody’s favorite type of microtransaction: lootboxes.
I remember a time when a game would simply hand out new outfits (skins if you will) as a reward for simply playing the damn thing. Thus, I have never found the need to spend money on skins or games that sell them. I remember being absolutely dumbfounded when one of my cousins said he had spent over twenty dollars on a new skin for a combat knife. That’s probably when I decided these types of games weren’t for me. I fully acknowledge that microtransactions for “purely cosmetic” items are better than lootboxes but it still rubs me the wrong way. Live Service games seem to be constantly trying to reach into my wallet to grab more cash hence why I stay away from them.
Not to mention the fact that most of these games seem like a full-time job more than a recreational activity. They feature in-game events, daily login bonuses, and most of them don’t have a story which is worth a damn. Couple all of this with the fact that I would have to interact with strangers online and it should become clear why I neither play nor review live service games. Which is bad for me since most AAA publishers (at least in the West) appear to be moving or have already moved their games in that direction.
In what should come as a surprise to no one, I dislike mobile games. Take everything I dislike about live services (the microtransactions, daily logins, lack of a story, etc.) and multiply it by ten and you get mobile games. In fact, mobile games are squarely to blame for everything I hate about modern gaming on consoles and PC. No other type of game can make me lose interest faster than if a game is revealed to be only for mobile phones. And yes, I’m aware that I’m squarely in the minority when it comes to my disdain for mobile games since most of the world loves them (and loves wasting money on them). I think about this fact often and it depresses me to no end.
The only time I’ve ever considered playing anything on a phone was when Apple Arcade came out. I’m not a huge fan of Apple either but their Arcade service piqued my interest since most of the games it launched with seem like full, complete games sans the microtransactions and other bullshit. I never tried out Apple Arcade since, like I said, I don’t particularly like Apple and thus don’t own any of their products.
Before I go, I do want to point out that even though I have these biases for and against certain games doesn’t mean I won’t unfairly review a game just because of what it is. What I wanted to do here today is simply discuss what my preferences were upfront so you can see why I like certain games and dislike others. We all have biases that influence the way we consume entertainment. Instead of pretending like they don’t exist, I wanted to get mine out in the open so you all can have an understanding of where I’m coming from when I review games. This will also give you a good idea of which games I will choose to review in the future.
Anyways, I’ve rambled on for long enough. Thank you for reading and I hope you are having a good week! What are some of your gaming biases and preferences? What do you like? Don’t like? Hate? Let me know!