Let’s discuss that one game that just wasn’t meant for you…
I was originally going to post my first impressions of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword this week, but I realized halfway through that it felt more like a rant on the Zelda franchise as a whole rather than actual first impressions on the game, so I decided against it. Instead, I’d like to bring up a different but related topic: some games, like Zelda for example, are universally praised by fans and critics alike… so why do I hate them?
Okay, “hate” is a strong word and I definitely do not “hate” Zelda. I can appreciate Zelda games for what they are. In fact, there are moments in Skyward Sword that I feel make the game shine, despite what I said earlier. But a couple of recurring nuances within the Zelda franchise never fail to bother me, things like the way the games are structured, the way Link is controlled, the games’ constant failure to remind me what to do, et cetera. Now, it’s not as if I think Zelda games should be universally panned, but the specific issues that I have with these games are enough for me to not enjoy it as much as I’d hoped.
Another game that I’d put into this same category is Kirby’s Epic Yarn. There are a lot of people out there that would tell you that Epic Yarn is the best Kirby ever created. They’d go on and on about the gorgeous graphical style and the lighthearted charm the game carries with it and all about all the tiny little details that makes the game so great. But to me, the lack of true 360-degree control killed the experience for me; the Wii’s d-pad was just so inaccurate and the game felt so slow that I just had to stop playing it. But when I voice my concern to other people, it seems that they don’t experience the same problems I do.
Now, I understand that this is completely normal. There are some games out there that are just not for me, and I can confidently say that 3D Zeldas fall into that category. There are, undoubtedly, different games that will fall under this category for you, whether it be because of couple of small, bothersome issues or a single design flaw that you just can’t stand. Whatever it is, these games just don’t seem to bring you the enjoyment and satisfaction that most other people seem to be experiencing. These games are obviously not for you, even if you’re in the minority there.
Then the question arises as to what game reviewers should do about this problem, a problem that’s inherent in every gamer whether you like it or not. No matter how hard you try, there will always be games that aren’t meant for you. So what if I was tasked to review a Zelda game? What is someone assigned to me Kirby’s Epic Yarn to review?
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is my favorite game of all time. Naturally, I was extremely excited for its sequel, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time. Unfortunately, I ended up being very disappointed in it. Yet if you look on Metacritic, only two reviewers scored the game below an 80%. I’d personally give it a 6/10 for what it is, but the flaws that I saw – the confusing battle system, the lack of exploration, deadpan level design, and terrible boss battles – just killed the experience for me. Obviously, I was in the minority camp here, but imagine if back in 2005 Craig Harris gave it a 6/10 on IGN. Can you imagine the amount of backlash he would get?
This topic can even go the other way. Perhaps there are some games that you love but everyone else hates. The War Z, that controversial Steam game that got released then unreleased a few months back still has its ardent supporters, despite resting at 22% on Metacritic. RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 is one of my favorite games of all time, yet it sits, appallingly, at 74%.
There will always be unpopular opinions, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Some games are simply not for us, and next time we read a review we disagree with, it’s important to keep that in mind. Yes, I’m finding it difficult to play though Trine 2 right now, but I can understand why others adore it so much. And as much as I love New Super Mario Bros. Wii, I can totally see why so many other people think otherwise. I may not agree with every review, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong, nor does it mean I’m right. Most importantly, it doesn’t make me (or the reviewer, for that matter) any less of a gamer than anyone else.
So how about you guys? Was there ever game you hated that everyone else loved?