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Size Matters

Vol. 2, Issue 5 
December 9, 1999 
 
 

So maybe we don’t want longer games after all. Maybe what we want is a higher ideas-to-length ratio (now there’s a scientific measurement). Alas, matters aren’t helped by those whiners on the newsgroups who start complaining as soon as they finish a highly anticipated game. Worst of all was the release of N64 Zelda last year, when people came online a few days after it came out complaining that they had already completely finished it! What’s wrong with these people? How can you finish Zelda that quickly without the aid of a FAQ? More importantly, how enjoyable is it to play through a game that fast? Surely you just spend your time sitting there, thinking with a steely determination “Must... finish... the... game...”. Sounds like a punishment rather than recreation to me. Fact is, if you finished Zelda in two days, you never took the time to just wander and find things yourself – you raced through largely (or completely) neglecting the little touches that made the game so special. To all those “true gamerz” out there who pride themselves on whipping through the latest game, trusty FAQ in hand, I can only say: “Loser. If you don’t give yourself the time to get stuck, to find new things yourself, to revel in the puzzles, then you might as well be watching a video or playing a barely-interactive FMV-fest like Voyeur”. Eugh.

Of course, as soon as Rare’s Jet Force Gemini came out people were moaning about it being too long: looks like there’s no pleasing some people! In something approaching a conclusion, let me quickly summarise by listing a few games that I think are either “too long” or, alternately, about right in their ideas-to-length ratio...

Games that are too long:

  • Soul Reaver
  • Final Fantasy VIII
  • Body Harvest
  • Turok 2
  • Driver

Games that are “about right”

I was trying to think of “Games that are too short”, but I couldn’t come up with many. I was tempted to put down Zelda: A Link to the Past (on SNES) but only because it’s perfection (and I can always do with more gaming perfection, thanks). Another candidate would be Terminator 2 on the original Gameboy (which was ridiculously short - less than 5 minutes if you knew what you were doing), but seeing as the end came as a welcome relief rather than a bitter disappointment it probably doesn’t count either. There’s also a fair few games where the concept of “length” doesn’t really figure – Tetris and other puzzlers come to mind, as well as a number of deathmatch titles.

Maybe I’m just crap at games. Or maybe I’m coming from the point of view of someone who has always played a lot of games and has less time to play them (damn full-time job etc). There is cetainly a small part of me that always wants to get through the latest hot title and move onto the next one, but thankfully I’m able to stop it from taking over me and ruining the game experience. A certain amount of wanderlust is, after all, perfectly natural in the gaming world – it fuels our demand for (bigger, faster, stronger) consoles that run, er, beat-em ups with ever-increasing polygon counts and racers with increasingly pretty screenshots (GT 2000 – mmmm). But while I think that we see a large number of interesting new games arrive every week, I’m also finding it increasingly difficult to give most titles the time they deserve – or at least, the time they think they deserve. Anyone want to buy a (barely) used copy of Final Fantasy VIII?

- Nick Ferguson uses “I” more times per column inch than any other loonygames correspondant

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Credits: Illustration © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Pad Happy is © 1999 Niick Ferguson. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited, so watch it - we know kung fu, gaijin.