No more surprises
Pokemon Blue may in fact be one of the most influential games of my childhood. It is a series that has worked hard to create a massive world of its own inhabited by fascinating creatures known as Pokemon. As a trainer, you are tasked to find and catch as many of them as possible. Why? For research of course! There was always this amazing feeling that came with finding a new Pokemon and figuring them out. Some, like Abra and Magikarp, seemed pretty useless at first, but through evolution showed how much potential they held. I always looked forward to what my pocket monster would evolve into, or if they would evolve at all. That’s just part of the surprise, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.
Like pocket monsters themselves, the series and its fans evolve with time. It is far easier for us to access information on not just Pokemon, but all of our favorite games due to the growing influence of the Internet. With the knowledge it holds we no longer have to buy games based on the best boxart on the shelf. Videos, written reviews, pictures, and several means of research are at our disposal. This is great because we no longer have to waste money on items we’ll just use as coasters two weeks later, but so much has been lost because of it.
When Pokemon White came out I didn’t have to wait several months for the US release if I wanted to know about all of the knew Pokemon. I had the internet, and with it my curiosity was easily sated. When the game was finally in my hands that meal came back to haunt me. The game no longer felt the same after knowing about all the Pokemon I would encounter on my journey. The game didn’t feel the same after I already picked favorites among the new cast whilst dismissing the uglier ones out of the bunch. That information spoiled me rotten and I was paying for it.
That was my fault, but isn’t always my fault. Marketing for huge, mainstream games also has a part in spoiling the fun these days. Shadows of the Damned was probably one of my anticipated games of 2011 after I saw the amazing TGS trailer. The all star team of Goichi Suda, Akira Yamaoka, and Shinji Mikami was behind it with EA publishing so I was positive that it was going to be a great game. It was a great game too, but not the one I wanted. When I finally played it I loved it, but felt cheated because I had already seen so much. Even after finishing the game there was nothing new to see aside from more of the same in a slightly different coat of paint in the form of higher difficulties.
The obvious solution is to avoid trailers, news or anything to do with the game, but it is never that easy when tackling one of your most hyped games for next year. How can you possibly avoid the buzz around gaming news websites? How can you go into a game blind without any preconceived notion? Simple. Go old school and buy a cool looking game on a whim that you’ve heard good things about here and there. That is exactly what I did recently when I took on the role of the true dragonborn with Breath of Fire IV. I barely knew anything about the game aside from the fact that it was a great JRPG from Capcom and the little information I gathered from a half-minute trailer. I didn’t even know the game was about dragons; the creatures in the trailers didn’t look remotely like your modern fire-breathing, Skyrimian beast! Then there are the people. The game was filled with anthromorphs and half breeds! That’s not a bad thing though! The interesting design choices characterized the game and made it different. They did nothing but put the game in a positive light. I was in bliss again, and things felt new for a change.
This enjoyment was not set in stone though, as there was always a chance that I would’ve disliked or hated Breath of Fire IV. Buying a product with little information before hand is like walking into a castle. You don’t know if your path will be littered with traps or servants waiting to serve you. That’s the risk when you take a step into the unknown.
These days that feeling of discovering a brave new world is all but dead. In today’s mainstream gaming industry it is necessary to show as much of a game as possible so sales are ensured. A trailer and some words isn’t enough, now we get several press releases oozing with information. Were not left to discover the secrets of unlockable modes or secret characters anymore. Why keep those a secret when they could be major selling points? Why shouldn’t we talk about this unorthodox multiplayer mode in depth? Why not spoil this fun fact about the story? The answer is why not, there is no reason not to. It may sound so, but it isn’t all bad. The unseen world of new-found secrets has all but vanished; in exchange we have the power to make more intelligent decisions. We have so much knowledge at our disposal, it is a power that you could even say corrupts us. Sometimes were fine with it, but other times it spoils what we were craving the whole time. We never realize this fact until we possess the very game we’ve coveted for what seems like aeons.