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Those dog days of summer are upon us again, a.k.a it's time for many of us to get buried in a video-game in the cool indoors. What does it take for us to get lost in a great title for more than one sitting? For that matter, what are the factors that gets us lost for days, weeks, or years of good memories? For me, it's many of the same things that I always ask of my games. All of them juiced up on steroids though, lots of games have become staples in my gaming diet that've become something more to me than I can enjoy for just one go round. Game Informer's staff is talking about all of their longest gaming memories, so I thought I'd join in the fun and take a look at what best immerses me in my longest game play-throughs.
I suppose I'm late getting this blog up in time for deadline and bare with me if my words feel rushed. Nevertheless, I hope still express how I feel about my longest gaming experiences in this decidedly long blog.
Exploring the World:
For any that have this 31/31 up 'til now, you'll know that I'm an open-world enthusiast. The bigger the world the better has always been my gaming motto. That's not to say I'm privy to just any big world; rather, I'm appreciate exploring the best and brightest. Sometimes it's aesthetics that draw me. Soaring mountains or expansive city horizons always seem to invite me with their beautiful views. Other aspects go deeper to make me crave uncovering all of their secrets and histories buried in them. Games like Xenoblade Chronicles did both of those for me in ways I've yet seen matched. Though I've only gotten half-way through it [something I'll have to rectify], it's world's already kept me 45+ hrs. searching every corner for hidden enemies and gorgeous views just to wonder how and why worlds of this scope exist and who lives in them. Games like Assassin's Creed, Arkham City, and Bioshock Infinite have me reaching down their throats to stare at and uncover just as many secrets. Even Chibi-Robo impressed me with its size and cute collectibles. The closer I feel to a game world's connectivity, the happier I am to lose myself in it.
An Addictive Gameplay:
It should go without saying that a great game can't be played long without great gameplay, but a truly addictive one makes a game all the more worthy to be played incessantly. Series like Tekken and New Super Mario Bros. always have me thrilled to beat enemies even while limited to a side-scrolling stage just thanks to how much strategy there truly is. Dodging an incoming Bullet Bill last second or a sudden grab from a surprisingly frightening sumo wrestler's a stressful adrenaline rush that I appreciate playing over and over again. Other gameplay elements give a sense of power. Fire Emblem and Pikmin invoke that same sense of mad rush to choose to either protect your allies or use them as cannon fodder to get your master plan across. Need for Speed has me essentially traversing the same race course over and over again, but smashing up my rival's such a bully move that it keeps me coming back to experience it all over again. In short, gameplay that's had me worried and thrilled about my action's always had my attention and I hope it's something that games keep.
Getting to be a Completionist Freak:
I will say this: I'm an obsessive collector when it comes to gaming. I tend to sit on as many Bells as I can in Animal Crossing and made the effort to collect darn near every Star Coin in New Super Mario 3D Land. Whether its the delight of watching millions of studs rain down in one of Traveller's Tales Lego games or merely collecting every trophy in a game, I like the sense of indulging in my control-freak nature and amassing the most of what I can get out of a game. I admit that sometimes its an empty experience if the objects are there just for the sake of collection. The flags and feathers in Assassin's Creed I had no true purpose outside of bragging rights. Others like Infamous's blast shards or the Riddler's trophies served as a true reward for players, giving them extra in-game power and some fun easter egg series trivia. Maybe it's just the knowledge that I've mastered a game that's compelling. Or maybe I'm just an oddball. Regardless, if super trophies/achievements are introduced this next-gen, I'll probably go crazy with competitiveness all over again. . . and love games for it.
Unlocking my Creativity:
Most times I'm perfectly happy to play what's offered to me in a game. When certain games offer you the chance to make your own world, I'm in for the long haul. Little Big Planet and Civilization kept me up many nights tweaking the perfect little world of my own to invent and making me feel like a king over my creations is probably something that games haven't done more often than they should. The idea's not implemented well all the time of course. I will say that Infamous 2's user-generated content was terrible and we all know about the technical difficulties of Sim City. Yet having the burning decisions to make peace or war with my human or CPU neighbors or crafting a tribute [if not pathetic one] to a Metal Gear Solid's Shadow Moses Island made me lose myself in something unique. Games like these are great for never truly ending: they only end when you tell them too.
Hang'in with Friends/Family:
It's perplexing to me how many games I've logged the most time into yet never feel attached to in any way, or at least technically. Titles like Wii Party and Wii Music are games that I'd never pick up off the shelf and rush home to play myself, so why does my Wii say I've logged in close to 40+ hrs. in them? I suppose that factors into the people I've played them with. While playing otherwise mundane frisbee games with cartoon dogs and waggling my Wii mote to "Yankee Doodle" would never be on the top of my to-play list, I always enjoyed the times I'd laugh and fool around with my family and others. I love the friendly competition of Mario Kart's rides on the couch against my brother and Nintendo Land made a simple game of tag in the mud in a Toad suit more fun than it'd seem in real life. If nothing else, Nintendo is still king over wholesome group entertainment that doesn't rely on high-tech voice chat or shooters. They made the most simplistic games amusing with a crowd and I won't regret my time with them.
Experiencing a Story:
Most of all, a game's story will carry me through a game the longest of anything. I probably have cared about this gaming generation's storytelling abilities more than most, maybe to a fault. The evolution of games like Mass Effect's capable choice-making to guide the characters the way you want to shape them drive me to play a game over and over again just as much as Final Fantasy XIII's lack thereof made me apathetic to my aftertaste of it. Stories, light and dark, funny or dead serious, have led me to log in who knows how many more hrs. then I anticipated. The humor riddled Paper Mario RPGs had me laughing all the way to the end just to see what outrageous thing happened next and I've beaten them 3-4 times to hear Bowser's jokes again alone. Final Fantasy VII and Twilight Princess kept me playing for weeks with their haunting atmospheres in my head. Not all games need plot. Some are just fun for doing ridiculous things for no apparent reason at all. Yet sometimes I love purpose behind them and some emotion to tell me why there's hope or reason or comedy flavoring my scene. I guess games are like life that way. We all have our stories to tell.
So what addicts you to play a game? Is there a game I should've mentioned? Have a blogging suggestion for me? All of those questions and more are welcome on the Inquisitive Blogger. Peace out and game on.
Up Next on the Inquisitive Blogger: Do Games Need a Woman's Touch?