Friday, February 6, 2009

Gamer Shames: Best-Selling What Now?

Her sentiment is applicable to this article. For better or for worse, I’ve grown up playing video games. I had an NES before I was born, on which I played everything from Yoshi (and underrated puzzler, in my opinion) to Super Bases Loaded 2 (a fantastic baseball sim according to my probably-shoddy memory). I quickly graduated to the SNES, the Playstation, its sequel, and Xbox. Generous friends have also allowed me to play games on other platforms, most notably the Gamecube and the Wii. That’s a broad spectrum of gaming.

Too bad I’ve let a lot of things fall through the cracks. Hit the jump for a few well-known titles that escaped my direct attention.

Let’s get a big one out of the way first: I’ve never played a three-dimensional Zelda title. Never. When people whistle their favorite ocarina tunes, argue about the canonical merit of masks, or whine about something called a Tingle, I simply smile and nod. I can’t even really explain this one. Maybe it’s because my neighbor owned a 64, so I didn’t have to. And since he didn’t have Zelda, I didn’t have Zelda. Basically, this means I’ve missed out not only on sailing the cartoony-ocean blue on a mustache dragon and inexplicably becoming a wolf, I’ve missed what people still consider the best game of all time.

I’ll see that landmark franchise and raise myself a slightly smaller, but still important, Nintendo franchise: Metroid. It took me years to realize that the word Metroid was not referring to the game’s main character, but in fact to some kind of alien brainjellyfish. Watching my friend play Super Metroid once, I learned that the game involved “Super Missiles,” but Samus and her arsenal were quickly forgotten when I popped in Super Star Wars instead. “Super Missiles?” Pssh! We had proton torpedoes at our disposal. I’ve since played a few rounds of multiplayer on Metroid Prime 2 – who was the wise guy who implemented a single-stick control scheme? We only accepted it on GoldenEye because there was nothing else. Stop looking to the past for answers, Nintendo! I guess I should watch what I wish for – Nintendo looked into the future and gave us this nonsense.

Don’t think I’ve skipped only Nintendo products. I’ve never spent longer than five minutes with a certain Fonz-like bandicoot. Why Sony pitted this poor excuse for a mascot against a popular plumber and his hedgehog nemesis still escapes me. I can’t find him on any Top Ten lists for the system, whether that be sales or review scores. In Japan (the land of the videogame and Sony’s home base), the original Crash Bandicoot ranks a paltry 52 on the list of PSX bestsellers. Way to pick a mascot, Sony. Good thing you picked a better one for the PS2. I hereby rescind my shame regarding this franchise.

How is it that I’ve played Heretic and Hexen but I never made it to Quake? I’m a fan of multiplayer. I like shooters. And I even enjoy the occasional Lovecraft reference. My lack of Quake exposure is probably due to my console/RPG-heavy upbringing. But with the advent of Steam, I don’t know why I’m not playing it now. Quake Live is coming soon and I need my skills to be sharp.

Here’s one series I’m really surprised I’ve managed to avoid, given my past preference for Sony systems (no, I don’t own a PS3 – I don’t spend $600 on Foreman grills, thank you): Metal Gear. More specifically Metal Gear of the Solid variety. I played a game like it once. It was called Syphon Filter, and it was pretty good. Maybe I’d tricked myself into thinking I’d already played Metal Gear. Weird. I’m not sure I’ve played a lot of third-person shooters in general, though I can’t say I have anything against them. I could probably go pick up all the landmark PS2 Metal Gears for cheap. Too bad people keep making new games and distracting me.

So there you go, a litany of games I’ve never played despite a wiki’s worth of reasons why I should. Feel free to berate me, as I’m sure I’ve just named one of your favorite games. Oh, that reminds me! Andrew, I’ve never played Dragon Quest. I’ve only watched you play it. Sorry?

In my next entry in this series of Gamer Shames, I’ll confront my ability to tout the virtues of games I’ve never beaten.