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Great Games vs. Memorable Games

For some there is no distinction between the two. For me, there definitely is.

Back in 2005, Capcom came out with a great game.  It was a little-known title called Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening (yes, I'm being sarcastic when I say "little-known").  I had played the first Devil May Cry sometime in 2002 and I thought it was pretty good.  I particularly enjoyed the cool-looking combos that the player could perform - especially the sword uppercut followed by blasts from Ebony & Ivory while floating in the air. 

The third game in the series expanded on the combo system with more weapons and more ways to slice and dice your foes.  I bought the Special Edition version of the game in 2006 and loved it.  I played it for around 18 hours (good gameplay time for a game that cost only $20) and was very satisfied.

And then I traded it in at my local Gamestop.

Most would think that I'm absolutely crazy for doing so.  The game is arguably the best in the series (perhaps better than Devil May Cry 4 and certainly better than Devil May Cry 2) and the special edition offers more in terms of gameplay (though Vergil's scenario was a disappointment; it's the same damned game!). 

But what about the plot?  The character development?  Well, they were...okay, I guess.  I found Dante to be pretty damned annoying - there's a fine line between cocky and pretentious.  Lady (or Mary, whatever) was okay, but the game doesn't really develop her much; I don't think it even mentions where she is during the events of the first and second game. 

Funnily enough, I found Vergil to be more interesting as a character (the after-credits cutscene you get if you destroy 100 or more enemies during the brawl that happens during the credits was pretty nice, namely because it links Vergil to the first game).  The main villain...I can't even remember his name.  

Of course, many would argue that you simply don't need "that crap" for the game to be great.  And they're right; you don't necessarily need those to be great.  But to be memorable - that is, to be spoken about years later, to be debated about, to generate forums and good discussions - you do need that crap. 

And while it just sounds so obvious, there are lots of games that still are lacking in these departments - especially today's games, where a lot of emphasis is put on the way it looks and sounds and how good the multiplayer mode is (which will be part of a separate rant).

So what sorts of games am I talking about?  Well, I'll start with the obvious: Metal Gear Solid.  The series is quite possibly the best example of what I like to call "motivative gameplay".  The cutscenes in these games as well as some of the Codec conversations (which are necessary - another topic for discussion) sometimes contain elements that really make you want to continue playing through the games, such as the conversations with/about Naomi, the mysteries behind the sudden deaths of Decoy Octopus and Baker, the mysteries involving Raiden and Rose (and Campbell), the Boss's reasons for defecting...I could go on and on.  The gameplay is great, sure, but if the games were created without the motivative elements it'd be a mediocre series at best.

I could add quite a few games to the list.  I'm a picky gamer, so you won't see tons of games on my list of games that I've beaten.  I don't play for the sake of completion; I play for the whole experience.  Most of the games on my "memorable" list are RPGs.  Now, I'll agree with anyone that RPGs have lots of cliches.  But out of the many that come out there are quite a few that stay in your mind long after you beat them.  Final Fantasy Tactics.  Xenogears.  Xenosaga.  Breath of Fire III.  Shadow Hearts II.  Persona 3.  Persona 4.  And so on and so forth. 

If I had the time, I'd replay these games every single year.  They all have gameplay that isn't frustrating.  I prefer games with slower, less button-mashy gameplay.  Something that requires at least a small amount of strategy and thought.  And they all have fantastic dialogue, narration, plot, overall story, and cutscenes.  They also have excellent build-ups to the main plot. 

One of my favorite RPGs, Suikoden V, has a build-up that takes hours worth of dialogue, exploration, cutscenes, and simple battles.  But it's the best build-up I've ever experienced.  By the time the main thrust of the plot gets going (that is, the success of the Godwin coup, making the lead character - the Prince - flee from the capital along with his aunt and bodyguard) I'm so ready to build my army and take them down.  My motivation level is insanely high after that point, and it wouldn't have been if the scenario director simply had a few battles and an immediate thrust into the main plot.

It is my opinion that games are the ultimate art form, because they provide for both player- and artist-created emotion.  But you'll have to come out with the whole package if you want me to talk about your game and support your franchise years after I've finished playing.  Otherwise, you'll have to go to my local Gamestop if you want to find its location.

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