I am blessed to have been born when I was, in terms of video games. I was born in the same year that the greatest video game of all time was released. I am able to say I grew up right along with Mario. There are many groundbreaking games like Pong, Pacman, and Donkey Kong(Mario’s first actual appearance) that came before Super Mario Bros., but none were put together quite like this. Super Mario Bros. is the total package in terms of what a video game should be, and that’s exactly why I am compelled to write about it. But first, I must explain how I intend to breakdown Super Mario Bros. and any other game I may review in the future.

Rating systems for video games have evolved nearly as quickly as the games themselves. An overwhelming amount of data can be found in previews, reviews, and opinion articles on almost every game ever created. Some websites even draw on the average score of other websites just to represent the field as a whole. With all these sources its hard to know who to trust when reading a review. I have zero evidence to suggest any large gaming companies have ever used their own magazines as a way to promote only their games, other than that Nintendo Power even exists suggests that it is in fact exclusively promoting itself. Let me say that there is nothing wrong with that, and that I’m a former subscriber to Nintendo Power and enjoyed reading that magazine for years. However I would like to at least illustrate the potential for a conflict in interest when reading information from a magazine that was created by the same game the magazine is featuring on its cover. I will eventually be writing about what I personally hold as the greatest games of all time. I will attempt to help you understand my view point for why I believe that. Furthermore as a result of reading this future article, it will hopefully allow you, “The Gamer”, to identify why games are actually good by simplifying how to rate a game.  Explaining why you liked a game is important, now lets identify how to do so by examining the key elements to what makes a great game, great.

Time and time again I find myself thinking about what my favorite games are and how they are all related. I have broken down three key elements to video games in my mind that can represent the game as a whole. These elements at the corp of a game are not always balanced. Even having one key element be elite can allow a game to be great. Conversely if any single one of these elements are too bad it can cripple a game overall, making it unplayable. The three elements of gaming I’ve come to terms with are very closely related, and at times may even overlap slightly. Picture a three circled venn diagram with varying sizes of circles. Each circle representing one of the key elements gaming. In most cases anything one discusses about a video game can categorized into these three elements: Gameplay, Sensory(Visual), and Story. It is essential for you to understand the three elements of video games so that you understand why you actually like a game. I will start with the top point on this “triforce” of elements I am so highly touting.

GAMEPLAY

Gameplay is the “grand daddy of them all” in terms of elements that make a video game great. Gameplay is essential to any gamer actively playing a game. If the Gameplay is bad, this is the fastest way for game to be tossed on the scrap heap. However if the gameplay is top notch, a game can survive solely on game play alone. This is what makes gameplay the most important element of them all. Some of the greatest games ever created are games where gameplay is its key component. So what is gameplay and what are some examples of games that have mastered this element of video games?

Gameplay is the relation between you the gamer, and the video game. Its a measure of how well the actions you make in the real world get represented in the virtual world of the video game you are playing. The next time you are using a controller, pressing buttons, or performing motion actions for a motion game, stop and try to identify how well your actions are being translated onto the screen. Is there a delay? Do the controls feel clunky? Is the character or virtual body you are controlling not performing the way you want them too? There are two possible reasons for this, for one I’m afraid, you might just stink at the game. I’m sorry but some people just have not played long enough or will always be incapable of certain actions video games require. If you’re one of those people, that’s a real bummer. The second more popular option is that the games controls are garbage and not created well enough to keep up with your talents. Being able to identify what level gamer you are takes some honesty within yourself to determine if the games sucks because you suck at it, or does the game suck because someone sucked at making it.

In general the best gameplay feels natural. It may not come easily at first but eventually fluid gameplay should allow you to be more immersed within the game you are playing. If you are often looking back at what the controls for the game are, that could be a bad sign. To counter point, there are times that I’ve played well over 100 hours of a video game and when someone asks me what button to push to perform a certain action, an action I’ve performed thousands of times, I can barely recall the correct answer. To me this is a sign of great gameplay. It means I have actively been performing those tasks(Like throwing a grenade in halo) without having to stop and decide what button I should push in that situation to do what I want in game; My body just does it. It’s fluid.

The general types of actions you take in a game also fall into the gameplay category. Genre’s of games have been made to identify a type of gameplay: Real Time Strategy(RTS), Role Playing Games(RPG), First Person Shooters(FPS), Platformers, Puzzles, Action, Racing, Sports. All of these terms are a quick way to describe a broad type of gameplay.

I mentioned before some of the greatest games of all time have mastered this element and nearly thrive on gameplay alone. The first two that come to mind are Pong, and Tetris. These are games that lean heavily on gameplay and need very little help from the other two elements of Sensory, or Story. The very first video games were developed in the late 1940’s, it a couple decades before Pong was released in 1972, but later made it into American homes by 1975. It was a huge success and there were very limited options for video gaming at that time. It is a game with the most basic graphics imaginable and zero story or purpose behind its actions. It’s a simple table tennis simulator that “bounced” a ball back and forth between “paddles” until a player scored. This game was able to captivate people for hours because it was different, simple, and addicting making it groundbreaking for its era. It’s the quintessential example from which gameplay is based from, Pong’s basic principals live on today through games like Brick Breaker and Arkanoid.

Tetris much like Pong has elementary graphics and little story. It’s actually based on a puzzle game developed by math mathematicians in the early 1900’s. But Tetris was brought to life in 1984 and is still relevant today. Tetris is found everywhere. Arcades, Home Gaming Systems, Phones, and Computers have featured Tetris through the decades. Again its simplicity of controls and requirement of quick decision making, make Tetris a classic millions of people have in enjoyed through the years. Proof that extraordinary  gameplay can make a game compelling and stand the test of time from generation to generation.

Besides classically looking at gameplay as the actions you take while participating in a match, a board, or a level, I also include the actions you take in menus and between matches falling under this gameplay umbrella. In more recent memory, Video Games seem to be getting lazy on the menu front. Keep it simple and to the point when getting between the title screen and the actual game. At the same time I want options to change my experience to fit me. I know this sounds like wanting my cake and eating it too, but just keep it neat, clean and allow for deeper menu options, statistics, and even game playbacks for the more involved gamer. Halo 3 did a fantastic job of this. Every screen was simple to understand but allowed you to go deeper if one so desired by checking other players stats, and file share video clips. Games just recently released have not followed suit, claiming a great deeply involved stat menu but fail miserably by complicating access to those stats unnecessarily. I love Battlefield 3 for PS3’s in game action, but its menus and battle log in my opinion are obtuse compared to much older games like MW2 and Halo3.  I want my game menus like I want my Referees, they are at their best when they are barely noticed. They enhance the games action by making the right calls, and shouldn’t decide the outcome of a game.

We know Gameplay is the measure of how accurately a gamer and a game interact, through playing levels and navigating menus. We also have identified classic examples of games solely driven by gameplay. Through the years games like Dance Dance Revolution, Samba De Amigo, Guitar Hero, and even the NES light gun have thought outside the traditional parameters for controller based gameplay.  But there are game developers today pushing the envelope of  innovative gameplay. Nintendo Wii truly is an amazing feat of gameplay advancement. Motion gaming may not have replaced traditional controller gaming but it has opened  eyes of the gaming industry to a new way of looking at gameplay.  If you know that you enjoy a game it is very unusual that you would hate the gameplay. That would be the first place to start looking to explain why you like a game.  In the future when looking to which games to play next, identifying the type and quality of gameplay will be important. Gameplay is the foundation of all great games, but two other elements can compliment gameplay to enhance a gaming experience to new heights. Next time I’ll look to exbound on the video game element of Sensory. That’s right were getting knee deep in graphics and sound.

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n00b

May 9, 2011

I am officially spun out of control after discovering my fatal error when not recognizing which top 100 list I actually wanted to use, in my gaming quest to play ’em all. I have a pile of used Playstation One games(recently purchased) that have completely dropped out of not only the top 100, but astonishingly the top 200 games! These turds are worthless to me now!

While the error of my ways is incredibly aggravating and embarrassing, its a sensation in this mental state of mind I’m quite familiar with. Yes it’s as bad as it sounds, when it comes to blogging, I am a complete newb(nub, nubbin, newbie, fucking doucher.) Its a disgraceful time period when undertaking any new activity in ones life. It’s when one is simply is too much of newcomer to even realize what a piece of shit they sound and look like.

N00bdom is inevitable in most circumstances, but whats scarier is that some folks just never leave this conscious(or shall I say unconscious) state of existence. Noobs are everywhere, doing everything, and that makes this world we live in incredibly terrifying. To help all the fucking n00bs(something that is frowned upon in the gaming world) that don’t fully understand what a newb is, I’ll provide some examples off the top of my head.

  • In the Halo series if you prefer using anything that is in the Covenant armory to any regular Human device provided, you my friend are a fucking noob and should kill yourself. I’d rather beat a foe down with my empty BR than pick up a fucking plasma rifle. There is only one thing worse than using ELITE weapons, and that’s using BRUTE weaponry. If you ever once enjoyed using a Spiker at any point during the entire HALO franchise series, you can go straight hell, and may god show mercy on your soul.
    No. Don’t. Just Keep running. You’re better than that… right?
  • I had been playing a lot of ModNation Racers before the PS Network went down(still waiting for Sony to flip the on switch btw). This game is about racing your own customized karts and characters: body style, frame, parts, and paint jobs. MNR has a commons area I can only compare to most foyers found in high schools across America. Its called the ModSpot, and it’s where all the racers kick it to show off their fucking gnarly and often times intricate paint jobs to one another between races. It’s the chill spot, you know to chill and talk Mods. I’ve entered said ModSpot at least 200 times over my short-lived MNR career and I do believe 100% of the time I’ve been obnoxiously crashed into with karts  while minding my own business peaceably. In the ModSpot everyone’s rank is displayed above their head, these cock bites that get a kick out of crashing into innocent bystanders are undoubtedly newbs and their rank often reveals that to world instantly. Fucking Noobs, leave me alone, and no I will not dload your bullshit emo, anime, half-assed Mods and  Karts you fucking loser.
  • The main character from the Sandlot is a grade A noob. From that fucking god awful fishing hat with the long bill, to his wretched baseball knowledge. It’s amazing that this never been kissed bitch, was able to actually befriend even Squints, let alone the ultra cool Benny The Jet. I can only imagine how many times Dennis Leary’s character(The Step Dad) beat the shit outta that little bastard after a long hard days work. It’s “The Great Bambino!” for fucks sake.
  • If you think you’re clever because you beat me(which you never EVER will) with E. Honda’s turbo punches, or Chun Li’s turbo kicks, you are in fact a noob that deserves a turbo kick in the nuts.
    Even He’s disgusted you would use him for such dubious acts against humnaity.
  • If when playing any sports games competitively you use any of the following entities without legitimately being a fan previously, you are a rotten-filthy-fair-weather-scum-of-the-earth NOOB.  The Lakers, Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, Mike Vick(you dirty cheezing fucks, you know who you are), any player that’s on the cover of the game, Barcelona,  The current World Champion__________, The All Jordan Team, The Seattle Super Sonics in NBA Jam T.E., or Bo Jackson.
  • While selecting a character in the GoldenEye multiplayer screen you for even an instance thought Odd Job was a reasonable or usable player, stop, walk away from the Nintendo 64, and reevaluate your life, you piece of shit noob.
  • If you know it’s called the n00btube and you use it anyways… *sigh* *shakes head*
  • Are you surprised that Yoshi is somebody else’s favorite character in Mario Kart? Fuck you. nob.
  • Man I love the Star Wars Trilogy. If you found yourself even contemplating “Which one? or “isn’t there two?” Please swallow the whole bottle of pills next time. Nub.
  • Do you wonder why I keep spelling noob differently? Die.

It’s important to know we are all noobs in some facet or another. Its how we embrace that fact when we finally recognize our noobness that counts. All Nubs need to be met with extreme hate until they smarten up and do better not only for themselves but for their communities. Please strive to do better at whatever it is you love to do.

Love,

Wade a.k.a recovering newb video game blogger

P.S. God Bless!

Don’t even think about picking this fuckface. NOOB!

Wade is your best friend and simply wants the best for you.