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Power Member - Level 9
I remember back in the old days (Not the pre-NES days mind you), the feeling of not knowing anything about a game unless you happened to have a friend who owned a copy, you played it yourself or unless you were subscribed to the bias publications that Nintendo and Sega put out.
Now I was a bit late for the Atari craze and everything that came before it, and living in a PAL region in the 90s meant that SEGA was a very big household name, more than Nintendo was, but the trends were pretty similar. You had your games that were more popular than others, and bad games which were still seen as being enjoyable in their own right.
When you walked into an electronic or toy store as a kid, you were either looking at the new toys based off a popular TV show, or were looking at the video games. All those attractive cover arts on display, and promises of excitement and great times within the cartridge. If you knew anything about the game on display, chances were you saw it in the latest issue of a magazine or you knew someone who was talking about it. There was no other way to find information, and you had to trust that what was available was actually true and not overhyped.
There were alot of great games, like Super Mario brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, Phantasy Star, Alex Kidd and the like, but there were also alot of stinkers, but it was rare to hear people complaining about them. I remember an article in a really old gaming magazine which talked about the NES version of Dragon's Lair, and explaining how you were bringing Dirk the Daring's arcade experience into your own home. For anyone who has played this game, you know that it was nothing like the original. It was watered down into a frustrating side-scrolling adventure game, but nowhere as good as say Wonder Boy: Dragon's Trap. But I knew a few kids who had this game, and they never went as far as to say it was a bad game at all, just that they preferred other games on the system.
And this was a trend for a few games here. Altered Beast on the Genesis/Megadrive? Not nearly as good as the arcade game either, but everyone I knew who owned it loved it to death. And then there were other games such as Unirally, Bubsy the Bobcat, Ecco the Dolphin and Clay Fighter which seemed to be acceptable games, despite the fact that they had many faults. Over in the U.S I know there was also a big amount of competition between Sega and Nintendo thanks to the aggressive marketing campaigns which had some of your "Mario Sucks because Sonic is better" arguments, but that was like saying Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sucked because they liked Biker Mice from Mars. Just kids trying to one up eachother. Now this was largely skipped in my neck of the woods since advertisements had to focus on their own product and were not allowed to talk down the competition, so we didn't have the console bashing quite like the States did.
But let us jump forward a bit to the PS2/Gamecube era. It seems that by this time, the internet was a viable source for gaming information around most of the world, and you could obtain lots of game information for games that weren't even localized out of their home-country yet. You could see lots of articles which showed game reviews, without needing to subscribe to a bias one-sided magazine, and even the everyday gamer (YOU) could post your thoughts on a game in a public space for others to read. A thing like this is great right? No more needing to buy a game before finding out whether it was good or not. No more needing to go down the street to see if that one kid you knew would let you play his copy of Ape Escape 2 or Luigi's Mansion. Heck, you could just ask someone online what they thought and get lots of people jumping in giving their well thought out (and often stupid) opinions on the matter.
Over time, this has resulted in the birth of what I like to consider to be un-educated & spoiled gamers. If I was to go on a gaming forum like gamefaqs and ask "Is Bubsy the bobcat any good?", I am sure that over 80% of the responses will be from people who will hate on the game. Of those responses, I'd say a 1/4 of them were from people who hate it based on the words of others, or due to the fact that they spent maybe 10 minutes on it before giving up. Whereas even though I knew people who didn't enjoy the game when it was new, they would still sit down and play it with you if you were at their house and could still have fun. This is the dis/advantage of having access to lots of information on various games, without needing to experience it for yourself.Now Bubsy was a very flawed platformer (one which I still loved), and it is quite old now, so lets move onto something that was made in more recent years. If I was to ask someone about Resident Evil 5, the results would be similar to Bubsy, but with some other things to consider. You will have people who will dislike the game based on the fact that it wasn't what they personally thought it should be, who hate it based on the fact that it came after Resident Evil 4, people who will dislike it because they read an unfavorable review on a gaming site (and game reviewers know best) and people who don't like it because it is a 'dying franchise' or 'doesn't add anything new to the genre. Heck, I have even heard people complain about it because they think there are enough games which involve you shooting things. Again, this isn't a game without it's flaws, but it's a game that can be liked on it's own merits. I enjoyed it because I went in with an open mind, disregarded what others had to say, and understood that it wasn't Resident Evil 1, 2 or 3. I have a good friend who loves Zombie games (even plays the Zombie CoD campaign) and declined to borrow my copy of Resident Evil 5 because he "heard it wasn't as good as the first game". When I asked him what his favorite Resident Evil game was, he said he hasn't played any and has only watched the theatrical movies. My mind boggled at this logic.
It seems as though when we had less access to information on games, we were more willing to look past faults and judge a game based on what that game was. Now there were some genuine stinkers which didn't deserve to be top of the class, but there will also have been people who liked those games, like I did with Bubsy. With gaming information almost everywhere now, it seems to have spoiled the way alot of people see games and made gamers more prone to becoming cynical and unwilling to consider a different perspective. When I can walk down to the local Gamestop, pull out my iPhone and read an online review on that game on the shelf that caught my eye, why should I take the risk of getting a game I might not want to platinum over the weekend? The other people who talk about that game clearly have great points which mirror those I would have come up with, so it saves me time and means I can instead look at the next AAA title to see if that one entertained anybody online so that I can take that as a surefire way to know that it'd entertain me also.
I suppose the open-minded gamer of yesteryear who could enjoy almost anything is just a dying breed that will be replaced with the new-age gamers who lock onto only 1st party AAA titles or makes all their decisions based on whether the internet prefers one gaming console, or the other gaming console on the market.
Edit: I decided to change the title slightly to clear it up.