Video Games are fun again

June 25, 2008 at 8:48 am | Posted in games, life, music, technology | 8 Comments

It’s been long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time!

I used to be into video games hardcore. I was into them at the very beginning. The pizzeria by us had a space invaders machine that was replaced by Pac-man when it first came out, and later, the better Ms. Pacman. My friends had Atari and Colecovision, and I had Intellivision. Before that, we had pong. I also had the Gameboy’s handheld ancestors Merlin and Microvision. My friends and I would play Yar’s Revenge for hours until my hands hurt so much from the sucky controllers that I had to ride my bike home one-handed. And we loved it. I was there when it started. For a fantastic rant about what life was like back in 1987, listen to Ernest Cline’s “When I Was A Kid,” on http://www.ernestcline.com/spokenword/

When I got a part-time job and a computer in high school, I played video games less and less. I did NOT bring them to college, not because of any intelligent choice on my part, but because computer games were getting better and better and I was playing those instead. Finding out about girls probably played a role in decreasing the video game time, too.

Anyway, I found out about the next great video games to come out, the Nintendo with Super Mario Brothers. Some cousins had it. I didn’t get it, or any of its successors. It didn’t even have a joystick, for crying out loud. It was fun I guess, but I was into other things. Since then, nothing has really grabbed me. Especially since the domination of the so-called first-person shooter games that Doom started. No thanks. My favorite games were Adventure, Utopia, Tetris, Ms. Pac-man, and the like. Puzzle games, not as much the kick the other guy’s ass games. Competition was fine, but the FPS games never grabbed me. I probably would have gotten into Starcraft, but for some reason I didn’t.

Sure, the newer systems had some other games, too. The Playstation 2 had graphics better than we could have dreamed about in the 1980s, but a minority of the games were interesting to me. And they were damn expensive. Probably just as expensive as video games of old when allowing for inflation, but still.

Then, about a year ago, the Wii came out, and as soon as I saw commercials for it, something inside me said, “Video games are fun again.”

I might actually get one.

This past weekend Jenny & I played Rock Band on a friend’s Xbox. Fantastic! We just loved it. So fun. This is a video game? It’s about time. It’s about time video games were fun again.

I read the reviews for Rock Band for the Wii. Apparently it doesn’t have all the features of Rock Band on the other game systems. For one thing, you cannot download songs online. You can only purchase bundles on CDs. Not cool. That’s a huge part of the draw for us is that we can get songs that WE want to play.

I hear that Rock Band 2 is coming out in time for Christmas, and so is a competitor, Guitar Hero: World Tour. To be honest, even though Rockband is the first one I played and I love it, GHWT for the Wii looks like it is going to have the full functionality of the other systems. And the drum set looks better, too. I know that the designers of Rockband are the same folks who developed Guitar Hero in the first place, years ago, but to me it really all depends on how good the Wii version is. I want to be able to play the songs that I want to play. That’s really what it comes down to. That, and I want to have fun with friends. Right now, it looks like GHWT will do that for the Wii, the current Rockband won’t, though Rockband 2 might. So for now, it’s a wait and see.

Besides, I don’t even have a Wii yet.

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  1. Rock Band is incredible. I’ve got it on my PS2 and love it whenever I get the chance to break it out as a party game. When four players go at it at once (and when the singer is actually trying to sing, and not just score points), it feels almost like performing for real.

    The PS2 version, like the Wii version, doesn’t support downloads (something about not having a hard drive), but the controllers are the same ones used by the PS3 version. When I eventually get a PS3 (mostly for use as a Blu-Ray movie player), I’m going to make a point of getting the PS3 Rock Band software to go with it.

    Hopefully, GHWT will be compatible with the Rock Band controllers. I really don’t want to buy a third set of instrument controllers – they take up enough space as it is. (GH doesn’t work with the RB guitars. Activision has been acting like greedy pigs and deliberately broke controller-compatibility.)

  2. It is scary how alike Derek and my childhood’s sound sometimes. Are you sure we weren’t brothers until college? First he gave a near dead-on description of my Star Trek boyhood, and now he captured my experience with video games pretty well. (You played Utopia? I loved that game. I thought I was the only one!)

    So if you like Rock Band/Guitar Hero, I guess I’ll have to consider it. I’ve never played it (only seen it in stores) so I don’t really *get* it.

    Of course, I don’t have ANY moderen game console either, so I’ll have to figure that out. At the moment, my kids are 6 and 7, and I’m trying to hold off buying video games for a while.

    It’s pretty tough. I swear every kid in my son’s first grade class brings a DS to school. I didn’t even know what that was when he first asked me for one. I had to go to the store to check it out. (Still haven’t bought him one. I resist peer presure rather well.)

  3. Shannon: If you don’t have any modern game console, I recommend either a Wii or a PS3.

    The Wii has more family-friendly games, and games that will give you some exercise while you play. The PS3 doubles up as a Blu-Ray movie player, and (I’m told) a very good one at that.

    Note that Guitar Hero and Rock Band are expensive titles, thanks to the special controllers. Expect to pay $70 for a Guitar Hero package (game and one controller). Expect to pay $170 for Rock Band (game, guitar, microphone and drum controllers.) On the plus side, if you buy the sequels, you don’t have to re-buy the controllers.

  4. Thanks. I’ll keep it in mind. Of course, by the time I get around to it, there may be a PS4 or a Wiii, or contact with Vulcan.

    Let’s see, I was about 11 or 12 when the Atari 2600 came out and my sister and I bought it with $127 of our own money. Not that they have to be the same age, but it’s not a bad guidepost. So I still have 4 or 5 years to figure it out. Besides, we’ve only just begun to let them go on the computer and try out a few kid friendly websites. And I’ve got no guideposts for that from my kid-dom.

    Eh, Derek, we were in college when I started going on “the internet,” which of course was just a BBS.

    Do you think my sons would like The Depot?

  5. Jenny’s niece likes Webkins, stuffed animals who have an online persona/life a la Sims or Second Life. I don’t know if boys would like it.

    I think The Depot would make any spawn from our group roll their eyes and say, “Oh, Dad!” in that being-patient-with-the-old-man kind of way.

    I just realized — when we were on the Depot or Drew Underground, and we would send messages to the other person/people who was/were on the other line(s), that was the begining of IM. We were IMing each other in 1987. That’s funny.

  6. Ah! I was at the forefront of something technological???

    Good thing I didn’t know it.

    By the way, you were also there when we started using our CB radios like cell phones, and not hands-free, either.

    As for Webkins, you are once again proving our similar wavelengths. THat is one of the kid-friendly sites I mentioned. (The other being PBS kids.) They love making little rooms for their pets, and having them play together. I know, I’m probably setting them up to get hooked on EverCrack or something, but by then, maybe Massive-Multi-Player games will seem lame.

    Have you heard what people are doing with cell phones and GPS’? THeir having massive scavenger hunts. I forget what the name for it is. But someone hides something, then puts the approximate coordinates out on the web, and people go find it and sign their name or something.

    Human creativity is unstoppable.

  7. It’s called geocaching. Jenny and I considered getting into that for a while, but we couldn’t settle on a GPS unit that was cheap enough for an introduction, but still had enough features to make it easy and fun. I guess we won’t settle on something like that until we actually see one in action or test one out, preferably with someone who knows how to work it.

  8. Just to add my .02 I am also resisting pressure from the young set (my oldest mostly – and he’s 5)
    The 3 1/2 yo hasn’t started asking yet….
    No hand-held electronic games in our house yet – or game systems for that matter and no plans to get any for QUITE some time.
    BUT they do go online, mostly the 5yo and mostly to the Disney websites.
    BUT both boys have gotten webkins as presents recently and they do like to do that on-line as well.


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