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   PlanetDreamcast | Community | Mailbag | 3/29/01
    Community - Mailbag

3/29/01 - Lag Ball, Dead Games, and Dreamcast Delays
- by Mr. Domino

The following responces concern themselves with the editorial piece, No Game Lives Forever. Readers looking for letters by "people just asking about games" can skip this section.

From: moroboshi
Subject: Games that live forever

I found your article about games eventually "dying" to be fairly interesting. Here are my thoughts.

It's clear that as time goes on, the public's view of quality gaming has changed. I am a child of the 80's, and as such have a fond love of mindless shooters and action games. As such, I have begun to feel as though I have been left behind in the new wave of console gaming. Now, a game is not successful if it doesn't have a plot (meaning 10 hours of FMV), 2D graphics are the kiss of death, and fun seems to have taken a backseat to production values.
The saddest indicator of this trend was the release of Gunbird 2. Being addicted to vertical shooters, I bought it instantly and loved it. But the critics responded with a resounding thumbs down. First, they complained that there are only seven levels, and then they complained that the game was too hard. Finally, they insulted the 2D graphics as old fashioned. Does anyone remember Contra? Everyone loved that game. If it were released for the first time today, it would be considered garbage: "There's only 8 levels, and I can't beat it the first time through!
What? You mean we're supposed to just play for the fun of it? Where's the plot? It only comes on ONE disc? What about the unlockable mini-games and extras? Where are the polygons?" Isn't it fun to just pick a game up, blast for a few minutes (or hours), feel better, and go on with your life?
Games die because tastes change. My favorite games will never die for me. I can still play Super C and Thunder Force 3 until the cows come home, but I beat a game like Resident Evil then shelve it forever. For today's gamers, I'm sure that Final Fantasy IX or Skies of Arcadia will never get old, but they would be unable to enjoy the simple entertainment provided by Gunstar Heroes. It's sad to me that people I talk to now haven't even heard of Contra. At 19, I'm actually beginning to feel old.

Yeah, I know that feeling. Games move at such a frantic pace and are largely thought of as a "play and toss" medium. While people will eagerly watch older movies or listen to music, it's far more difficult to find them playing old games. Of course, I think a lot of gamers do feed that mentality -- as soon as a good game comes out, we start petioning for a sequel, and once the sequel hits we forget about enjoying the original. Granted, that's too large a generalization, but it happens fairly often.

From: Robert Gray
Subject: Mr. Domino: No Game Lives Forever

I'd just like you to know, that us "New Gamers" still play those old classics. Although I am 14 years old, I still find time to run M.A.M.E. to play those such classic games. The reason most new gamers will not take the time to enjoy these classics, and probably find something to love about these games, is because of the graphics. These new gamers, ever since the PlayStations release (in my opinion), have been fixated on the fact that games that look incredible are great games. This is not true, of course. If these gamers would look past the pretty graphics and look at the gameplay, maybe they would go back and play those ingenious games of the past. I still enjoy a good game of Pong (not a stupid remake, but an emulation of the orginal). The games of today or becoming to involved to be named classics. The games that don't die (or last a LONG time) are usually the simplest of games that are truly addicting. These are the games that steal our quarters in the arcades. My favorite game of all time was Galaga. Now, you see people still trying to make games just like it with pretty graphics, and they usually fail. Anyways, I'm just rambling, so goodnight, and I hope I've answered your question, and given you some insight about use "new gamers".


That's nice to know. :^) Maybe there are more people willing to give old games a chance than I thought. I do think a lot of that has to do with emulators being widely available and free. I'd be curious how many people actually buy those classic game compilations companies put out. Perhaps that would be a sign of whether or not people see them as real, enjoyable games or just fun free diversions.

From: Stephen Martin
Subject: What will I be playing in a decade?

One word, Paperboy.


Shouldn't you have saved you "A" material for the Academy Awards? Paperboy is a nice game, but I can't see it as a "true classic." Paperboy is basically the Candyland of video games -- a fairly popular game which refuses to die.

From: Jeremy Voss
Subject: re: no game lives forever

This is a pretty tricky question to answer. I'd compare it to re-reading a favorite book, as the experience of getting sucked into a game feels a lot like getting sucked into the world of a book. A lot of it has to do with the kind of game you're talking about... I play (and will continue to play) Virtua Tennis and THPS2 until my DC explodes; I'm not so sure I'll need Sonic as much. I still think Rayman2 is fantastic, and I've played it through a couple times just because it's engrossing and really fun. I can't really say the same about, say, Ecco, or RE:CV. I'm currently playing Skies of Arcadia for the first time (it's also my first RPG) - I'm loving the overall experience and would like to play it again, I'm sure, although the incessant random battles drive me a little crazy.

On a somewhat related note, even though I haven't picked up Soul Reaver 1 since I bought it, I was eagerly anticipating SR2. Eidos' decision to cancel the DC version is a travesty and a slap in the face to the millions of fans who already have a DC and were planning on buying the game anyway. They may lose a few dollars by releasing it for the DC, but when you consider how much money they've already spent MAKING it for the DC... it just blows my mind. There's a petition somewhere on the net to try to get Eidos to reconsider; in just a few hours, there were already 5000 names on it. Let's see... 5000 people x $50... obviously, Edios wouldn't get ALL of the resulting $250,000 but they'd certainly get enough to recoup their development costs.
****END RANT***

Games that last forever tend to be the ones that focus on the pure gaming experience. Half-Life (will this ever show up?) is a great example of this because the gameplay is totally engrossing and feels different every time you play it. Virtua Tennis is just a flat-out fun game that's great with or without another person. All things being equal, though, the general quality of the DC titles are so good that I'm sure I'll be playing at least some of them (NBA2K1, Crazi Taxi, Shenmue, Soul Caliber, etc.)long after the Gamecube, X-Box, and (shudder) PS2 have gone the way of the Saturn.

- Jeremy Voss

I pretty feel the same about the above mentioned games. I still have yet to play through Ecco, and while I enjoy playing through it every so often, it's not a game I think of as replayable. I think Virtua Tennis is without a doubt the best Dreamcast multiplayer game, and Tony Hawk 2 the best single player. I'd be happy if I had those two games alone. Still, will anyone be as eager to play them once their respective sequels come out? I know I don't touch the first Tony Hawk, but a lot of that is due to the great improvements made with the sequel make the first seem like such an inferior game. Of course, with some updates the games are still the same essentially, so I don't really as though I'm abandoning a great old game for something else.

As far as your Soul Reaver rant, you must realize that Edios doesn't make a whole $50 on each game sold. I don't think it was necessary to cancel it either, but I do want to make that clarification. Also, Internet petitions mean squat. I've yet to see an Internet petition affect a game release, and it'll likely never happen. Too easy to stuff ballots and are far from reliable. How many of those 5,000 people would be willing to pay for the game up front to really convince the company to put the game out?

From: Fox Tom
Subject: Game Exstinction...

I predict much like the rumours/hype atm games will diminish and become more complex taking much more time to produce and far much more planning and production than at the moment (its damn long enough as it is!) Games are not as big as they use to be, working themselves into a small notch of entertainment. I love my games and do not want to see them go, but fate predicts (as well as good market officals and insides information) that games are going, classics turning into aging pieces of arcahic technology, there will be hard core gamers out and for a while some company reproducing old games cheaper.. But for the moment i collect and embrace old games and relive days of yore!
There could be another revolutionary turn point in gaming.. maybe due to the likes of the NUON technology in side DVD players.. hell.. majorly interactive games could appear. Lets hope and pray for new ways of keeping hte market fresh and hold onto old classics to remeber the past and how gaming grew up!

Dedicated to the games, liking the technology and loving the time spent with my virtual worlds and friends

P.S. keep up the good work in the states, which UK had as much access to old games and more variety of games =P

"Days of yore?" Keeping the market fresh is probably the largest game crisis at the moment. Developers are by and large just rehashing the same tired ideas. There was a time when the gaming mainstream actually embraced new games. Q*bert was adopted by arcades precisely because it was a new concept. Nowadays companies' focus is too focused on revenues to be willing to take such chances on unique games. That's why I love Sega as a company. The only other company which comes to mind which consistently puts out unique, quality software is ArtDink.

From: SatsuiNoHadouNiMezameta Saad
Subject: No Game Lives Forever


This is basically a reply to your article "No Game Lives Forever". Please do not list my email address...

I kind of agree with what you said, that Videogames haven't been around long enough to be considered a classic, unless "forever" is about twenty years long. However, you can't exactly predict which games will remain popular and which games won't. Who knows?? Maybe some old and obscure game will become immensely popular out of the blue...

Oddly enough, I had recently pulled the ol' SEGA CD out of it's ... er... "resting place" and played a couple of games, like Sonic CD, Lords of Thunder, Popful Mail (one of my FAVORITE RPGs of all time) and a couple of other games... I still play my SNES and Genesis games, and once in a while, I'll even play an NES game, should I get the NES to work.

Sure, it's not like I'm playing the game for the first time (and this goes for the Playstation, PC and Dreamcast games as well), and sure, it's partially a nostalgia thing; but have these games, which I enjoy playing, become an unenjoyable chore, something I'm forced to do in an attempt to remember my gaming days of yore? No. Oh sure, the plot twists doesn't seem that twisted anymore, and the Bosses have become either easier or harder (depending on which game I play) but hey, it's still fun.

I'll admit, chances are, console specific retrogaming might be a generational thing; people who grew up with an Atari 2600 will still play Atari 2600; so far....

In 3D games, however, the biggest innovations seem to have often been made in the area of graphics rather than in terms of game play. More speciflcally, the innovations seem to have been in the area of Graphics Processing. Just look at the transition from the 3D graphics from the Playstation to the N64 to the Dreamcast to the Playstation 2.

Chances are that the future of retrogaming lies not in just recreating the original experience, but rather, in "updating" the old games for a new generation. A good example of this would be the Resident Evil "Re-release" on the Dreamcast. Not that there's anything wrong with that. RE 2 and RE 3 are good games, and perhaps in the future, there will be "Re-re-re-release" of these games on Playstation 3 or whatever, with the mandatory graphical updates.

The re-play value of a game lies in it gameplay. Granted, the re-play value of Pac-Man, or Ms. Pac-Man might no longer be what it was when these games first came out; but can you say the same for Contra III? Or the Sonic The Hedgehog games (the 2D, 16-Bit series)? Or even Super Metroid??

Actually, chances are, if you asked the readers, you would get a list that is way too long, but my point is this: People play old games for their gameplay. Newbies don't play "Classic" games because they are not introduced to the older games the way the older gamers got introduced to the older games... besides, there is no support by the companies either, (aside from a select few instances, like that 12 in 1 Collection for the Dreamcast, or the 6 in 1 Atari classics for various consoles; and those "Collections" only provide access to a few games)... hey, that could be a topic of discussion, would you like to see the Videogame companies publish a Mother-of-All-Collection type thing, for example the "Every SEGA Genesis Game Ever Made" CD, or the "Every NES Game Ever Made" CD??

I guess waht I'm trying to say is that retrogaming has the potential to survive if properly supported. Emulation might be the much needed support, given the fact that you can either spend $40 for a new game $20 for a used one or $5 if you choose to pirate it (not that I condone piracy, that's how companies go out of business...) or you can create your own library of old games for free. Sure, the good games will still be played, and the crap will be headed towards the recycling bin (if you have windows 9.X or higher, I really don't know what happens with the other OS), but there are very FEW good 2D sidescrolling Shooters/Action/Platform games which has been faithfully recreated in 3D. But still,, no one can predict the future....


Gee that was a long letter, but you're right. The focus nowadays in this 3-D age is strictly on the graphics engine -- how many polygons it can push and what effects it uses. Sure, there was a fair bit of that in the old days with people drooling over sprite size, color, and parallax, but graphics were almost always secondary toward an interesting gameplay concept.

From: Cyber Claw
Subject: Game life span

Do you know Crazy Taxi? This game is awnsomely fun. I've been playing since its release and still play 1 or 2 hours per day. The sequel seems to loose some good things like on-line play and it seems to get some odd "out of the game" thngs like jumps. These jumps will seem extremelly odd to me and unrealistic and in my opinion loosing some of the fun. Anyway I think that even when CT2 comes out I'll be still playing CT1 since is much better (I may change my opinion when it comes out but...)
Anyway I think that DC as all time classics like any other system does. Tetris has spawned in almost every console or gaming system. This games will live forever but some will be more recalled than other. I still play tetris in my GameBoy. I think that games hsould be let to die and given an graphical and GamePlay uplift but without making no extremly big changes so that we still feel the first game. (very good ex. Worms. They evolved in graphics, more weapons and it is still fun to play) Will some games live forever? Yes if game producers let them.

[email protected] <-(u can put it up)

PS- Sorry for the bad spelling and stupid ideas. ;)

Crazy Taxi is a great modern classic I think. It's very replayable and can be enjoyed well into the future. I don't think the Crazy Jump will ruin the formula much if at all. After all, you can kinda Crazy Jump in the first game, though it's more due to improper Crazy Drifting than an actual, useful move. The various GameBoy systems will probably be the last place for a constant flow of 2-D and/or gameplay centered games.

From: Goth4Christ18
Subject: [no subject]

I've been thinking about the same thing! I LOVE Ninja Gaiden from NES, and you can't forget Contra 3 from SNES. I've been worried lately that games like those that are really fun are gonna die. They don't make these old games or systems anymore so eventially they may die. I'd like to reduplicate these games and make them playable on the new systems. The only thing that changes is the graphics and the music and sound quality. Nothing else, such as 3D scrolling and stuff, but the exact game on a better system.

I'd like to have a career in making video games. If I do get a job like that, that's what I'm gonna try to do: make the old games replayable on the new systems, and not "spruce" them up in any way except the graphics and sound quality. They people that don't like them, don't buy them, but the one's that want to will, AND the people that probably never heard of them or never had a chance to play them will.
-Jereme Kennington

Of course, the games will still get blasted by most of the modern gaming media for being possible on an older system.

From: Rich Bennett
Subject: Classics

For me, the classic games are the ones whose gameplay and style live on long after the game itself is abandoned.

Doom, for one, fits into this category. Even though the game itself looks quite timid now, the style of play lives on in games like Quake III and Unreal. Same with Super Mario Bros. Without it, games like Rayman 2 might not be here. And the original John Madden Football from EA Sports is a classic. It wasn't the first football video game, but damn if everyone didn't try to copy its style.

So what Dreamcast games fit this bill?

There are a few that come to mind. Jet Grind Radio is pretty amazing, even though not everyone shares this point of view. I think Crazy Taxi will fit into the category of "classic" quite easily. Also, NFL2K (and NFL2K1) are classic in that they really have set the standard for what will follow. I don't know anyone who owns NFL Blitz who still plays it. Shenmue might fit, just with the huge level of complexity that it has brought into that kind of gaming (although it's not my cup of Long Island iced tea).

Finally, guessing what will be a "classic" is really a tale for time to tell. I can't have imagined back in the day that I would have pegged QBert to be a classic, but I do now.

Fearless Freep

Hey! I still play NFL Blitz! :^) It's the Tecmo Super Bowl of the 00's! I agree with Crazy Taxi as mentioned elsewhere, and I could see NFL2K1 being the new Madden as far as football design goes. Of course, sports gamers seem to be more ready to pick up the latest version of an existing game regardless of whether it is improved or not. Sure, people hail Madden as the one which started the video game football revolution and rightly so, but the series has really tanked over the years yet fans still cling to the name.

From: Ziko Baroud
Subject: HAHA (sensless respond on "No Game Lives Forever ")

i just Got Landwalker on Emu yesterday, i couldn't really figure out how to walk so i stopped playing after visiting that moogle clone(wierd bear) village.

I forget to walk sometimes myself. You do realize that the introduction is automated like a cinema and not player controlled, right?

From: Savvas P. Savvaoglou


Well, my friend, maybe you are right in the most of your writtings, but you don't seem to get to the real causes of it. The problem is the huge quantities of games, as it happens with all comercialized forms of art which of course is also videogames, like music, cinema etc. You see, it's not wise to treat art like fast-foods, we don't live to consume,as they want us to do, we live to create and think and LIVE. That's why I'm sick of buing games and never finishing them, never really love them, addict to them as I used to. They don't let anything, they don't give a chance to a game to become a classic, if you know what I mean. And you know pac-man is still a classic and will always be, bebause it had the chance to do so. The world now is too tough for innovative games and for the really harcore gamers. As I have told to some friends the other day, ''keep playing till year 2010 the likes of F(L)IFA 2010, Tomb Raider 3.333 and so on, while I"ll be playing with my kids the DREAMCAST's really classic extremely interesting games". The hype and trends never meant anything to me and up to now that I'm 32 and till the end I hope. My shore and aking arm and wrist (from the joystick I mean) can assure you. Finally it' s up to us the gamers to create our classics.We kicked our chances though 2 times in the past (saturn, dreamcast). I don't know if we are going to have a third chance. And unfortunately my PC is already to old for the "new" games.

A mad,angry
Savvas from Greece.

Funny how most of the games I consider modern classics are on Sega systems. I won't say that other systems lack good games -- far from it. Still, I do think the Dreamcast has an incredible amount of consistently enjoyable games.

From: Brian King
Subject: Re: Classic Games

Dear Mr. Domino and PDC,

Thanks for the well-thought out editorial on so-called classic games and the lifespan of video games. I wanted to add my own thoughts on the matter if you don't mind.

Although video games seem to age less gracefully than say-movies or music albums-I think there are some true classics that many people seem to play and enjoy, regardless of their age or background (though as you say, it really is a bit too early to tell for sure). Games like Tetris, Break-out, and Pacman all derive their popularity from simple gameplay and above all-accessibility. I think accessibility was key to the arcade boom of the late 70's-early 80's, when gameplay was king.

Now that video game creators have a larger "toolbox" to work with (better graphics, complex AI, etc) it seems that good gameplay has lost its priority as the number one seller. We all ooohed and aaahed for the digitized graphics and flashy violence of Mortal Kombat, but after a few years, people started to realize that there wasn't much behind those graphics. This is one reason why video games die.

So how do you make a truly "classic" game? I won't pretend like I know the whole answer, but it seems like simple, addictive gameplay and easy accessibility are key. Just my thoughts...


I agree. :^)

That's it for this Mailbag. Have a burning question? First extinguish the damn thing (get it!?), and then send it to this handy address.

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