Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Best Games I'll Never Play

I'm usually pretty good about getting around to everything I want to play, even if it takes a couple of years to do so.  That said, there are some games (widely regarded as being excellent interactive experiences) I will never work up the motivation for despite being right up my alley.  Here are a few examples.

Considered an oddity among other entries in the adventure game genre, The Last Express is basically a World War 1 era version of the classic black and white film Casablanca.  Granted, it takes place on a train instead of a nightclub, and it's a bit less sentimental, but you get the idea.  The puzzle elements common to the point-and-click adventure genre are toned down here in lieu of fully voice acted dialogue segments, many of which are subtitled due to the wide variety of languages spoken throughout the game.  As far as out-of-the-ordinary features go though, it's not the sound (but rather the visual presentation) that is truly unconventional.  At a time when FMV games were at their peak, The Last Express tried to differentiate itself by opting for rotoscope animation.  The only other game that I'm aware of that used this technique in a non-trivial way is The Banner Saga.  Obviously, it's rare to see this kind of animation technique anywhere because of how resource intensive it is.  Typically, it's used sparingly, such as in short segments or in the case of The Last Express few frames of animation per second.  The lowest I've heard a cartoon can get away with, regarding FPS, is somewhere between six and twelve.  The Last Express mostly gets by with two to three, with only a few scenes having more.  The overall effect is like watching a rapid slideshow, which some claim is evocative of the timeperoid.  For me though, it's practically unbearable to watch for more than a few minutes at a time.

I played though the entirety of the original Prince of Persia on my Apple IIc, and a decent chunk of the sequel, The Shadow and the Flame.  I also played all of The Sands of Time, but that's as far as I got into the reboot series.  I've always had a desire to go back and play the 2008 cell shaded entry though.  My understanding is it had a somewhat controversial release due to the fact that the player character couldn't die in a fall.  Rather, a helpful spirit named Elika would come to the rescue and drop the player off at the nearest safe point.  Personally, I don't see the problem with this because if the titular prince dies then the player has to reload from a previous save or their last checkpoint anyway.  So why not simply streamline the whole process and have the game do it automatically?  To me the entire thing is a non-issue unless you really enjoy watching people fall to their death...for some weird reason.  What is a problem though is the DLC for this game.  Specifically, if you want to see the real ending, you have to pay extra for it.  Worse still, the DLC is only available on consoles, and not the PC version.  Truly, Ubisoft has gone out of their way to make enjoying the complete Prince of Persia as difficult as possible...and since I no longer have a working PS3 I think I'll just have to pass on this one.

I've played the original Front Mission and Front Mission 3, but never the second mainline entry in the franchise.  It's a shame because Front Mission 2 is generally regarded as superior to both its predecessor and its sequel.  In large part this is due to the "honor system" found exclusively in the second game, which encourages teamwork and synergy between the various characters that make up the player's team.  Speaking of characters, the main one is a Bengali which is a rare choice of ethnicity when it comes to video game protagonists.  There's also an openly gay secondary character, something practically unheard of back when the game came out in 1997.  Sadly, Front Mission 2 was never released overseas.  One of the development leads claimed it had certain story elements that would have been viewed as faux pas by western audiences.  Odd reasoning considering that kind of thing didn't prevent Metal Gear from becoming a popular IP outside of Japan.  There is a fan translation available on the internet, but getting the game itself to run, especially with all the region locking that went on back then, sounds like a real pain.  Plus, I'm sure I don't have the patience to sit through the notoriously long load times Front Mission 2 is known for.

So, there you have it.  Those are three great games I will never play; not because it would be impossible, but rather because I can't justify the time/money/effort required to myself.  Call me lazy.  Call me picky.  Call me ignorant...or maybe the root of it is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to games to please excuse me while I dive into more Hollow Knight, Doom 3, Dark Souls 3, Shadow of Mordor, Cultist Simulator and Dragon Quest Builders.

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