At the fast rate video games are changing these days to the slow (becoming slower) wait between sequels, it’s a wonder that developers are able to keep us coming back for more fun with whatever set of characters to which we’ve become attached. Consider the Uncharted series. There was a mere two-year span between the releases of the first three games, and here we are waiting for Uncharted 4 to be unleashed next year, five years after Uncharted 3. (Granted, the first three games didn’t have to deal with the release of a new console.) Also consider titles like Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed where you get a new game every year or two that essentially follow the model of “same game, different place.” Then you have games series that follow their own rules, like anything that might involve Mario. He’s got a whole empire of various games series bearing his name, some of which are related (Mario Party), some of which are revamps (nearly anything Mario Bros.), and others of which are complete one-offs (Mario Paint). And what about series like Final Fantasy? This year (July 12th) marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Final Fantasy on the NES in the United States, and fans were treated to the recent announcement of a Final Fantasy VII remake. Like, in a sense, the Legend of Zelda series, these games offer unique experience under the same brand. You get to spend time in somewhat familiar places with mostly familiar (and sometimes the same) people playing with familiar mechanics. But I’m not sure we’d agree upon whether or not everything that came after Final Fantasy (1990) or The Legend of Zelda (1986) were true sequels to those originals.
Gaming idiosyncrasies, quirks, preferences — most gamers posses them to varying degrees. From playing only during a particular time of day, to having a preferred TV setup (that must NEVER be altered), to eating certain snacks only with certain games, they are what make gamers true individuals. And maybe a little…neurotic. Oh, I’m not making fun; you tell me it isn’t the truth! Personally, I have a Pelican PS3 controller that I never let anyone borrow. (It’s mine and it fits my hands perfectly!) I always, nay, I am compelled to read game manuals before starting up a game. And I’m still working on my queasy fear of first-person-perspective games. As silly as these quirks might be, they aren’t nearly as problematic as the most prominent peculiarity with which I continue to struggle: starting a game series at some point other than the beginning.
I haven’t always been so conscious of this notion. Early on, since I wasn’t an arcade regular, I often missed out on the original versions of games. I started with later Castlevania games. I never played the original Street Fighter and yet adored Super Street Fighter II. I played Ms. Pac-Man well before Pac-Man. But all this gaming happened during a time when I had regular access to games at home, before I moved away from home for college. When I moved away, none of the games came with me and so marked the beginning of a roughly decade-long gaming drought. I occasionally played here and there, but never at length.