I was a tad late to the whole “music games” genre, and was only introduced to it at Guitar Hero 2 on the PS2 because a friend happened to own it and loaded it up one morning after I’d spent the night. Immediately I got into it and since then have played Guitar Hero 2 on my 360, along with Lego Rock Band and Rock Band 1. I don’t play them very often, or have played very many, but I do enjoy them, and I enjoy them for a number of reasons. First off, they’re mindless entertainment and while it takes some skill with memorization to get all the buttons down, it’s also an extremely easy game to just sit there and enjoy it and not worry about any super deep plot or anything. It all harkens back to my love for what’re now called “casual games”, or what my generation called, “games”.
But there is too much of a good thing.
Guitar Hero was cool because it was new and different and you only had 1 thing to play on-the guitar. With the introduction of Rock Band, it walked this fine line between “Oh awesome, more instruments!” and “ugh, why…more instruments?”. It’s a hard balance. On one hand, I’m extremely happy that there was an evolution and a push for more instruments but on the other hand it kind of took away the novelty that the original genre had to begin with. Not to mention when it flooded the market, it oversaturated itself to the point where Gamestop refused to sell an Aerosmith version because “there were too many titles on the shelves already.” This is a problem. And this is a problem a lot of unique games run into, and why I think we as a gaming community have decided to ultimately favor 3 genres:
That’s REALLY all that’s out there. There’s the occasional standalone title that’s kind of a throw back to old adventure games, like Uncharted or Tomb Raider or Alan Wake that don’t really fall into one of those 3 categories, but overall, we play GTA or COD or Skyrim. We play these franchised titles that only fall into those genres because change is scary, and if you piss off gamers they’ll send you death threats, which-for the record-is absolutely unacceptable and SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED. You make me sad, gaming community. Get your shit together. An ending to a game does not warrant threatening someones family. The hell is wrong with you people. Angry girl rant aside, this is why I think we don’t see a lot of other genres popping out. People are afraid to venture out and try new things. It’s the entire “familiarity” technique. It’s why so many movies are either sequels, remakes or film versions of a book we’ve read or know of. Because from a marketing perspective:
A.) Why try and pour money into starting a franchise you aren’t sure will stick around long enough to become a franchise when you can instead…
B.) …make more money off stuff people are already familiar with and feel safe about playing/seeing.
It makes sense, financially, as sad as it is. It is sad because I personally would like to see some new stuff come into the market, but it appears to me that innovation is the kiss of death. Look at every new version of Halo. People say everything they add that’s new sucks and the old ones were better because the new ones have been innovated. Let me tell you, every Halo game IS ABSOLUTELY FINE. Even Halo 4-which relied far too much on outside media like books and whatnot to even comprehend the majority of its plot, which is a whole other rant entirely-is a perfectly fine game. Stuff needs to change or it becomes stale and you become bored and you move on, and if the audience moves on, they lose money. It’s a real 50/50 game we’re playing.
I stand by the Rock Band/Guitar Hero games simply because they’re fun and they’re different. Are they great? Not at all. Hell, they’re not even that well made or play all that well, but they’re simply more fun at times because it’s not something I’ve played a bajillion times before with a different title.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a gig in Cleveland tonight and the makeup lady needs me.
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