Friday, July 2, 2010

Question of the Week: Sea of Regret

A light week here at GM, so we figured we'd go out strong with a brand-new Question! Of the Week!

Into the garden of gaming a serpent has slithered, hissing soft susurrations of surplus savings. He calls himself "Steam Sale," but we all know his real name. He is the walkin' dude, the man with no land, R.F. Flagg, dressed only in black. And if Twitter is any indication, he has essentially forced half the people on the internet to buy at least one massive game that they have no real intention of playing.

Almost the entire Melodico staff has succumbed and purchased Civilization IV, which seems particularly quixotic since the game's no-doubt mind-bogglingly dense sequel is just around the corner. Kirk just bought the entire Tales of Monkey Island pack, even though he hasn't played Monkey Island 2 (long story) and its re-release is next week. All around the globe, each day brings new tales of wallet woes, screenshots of incredible, frankly admirable Steam libraries and general revelry in the damnable bargains that digital distribution makes possible.

But even if we never used Steam at all, we all have purchasing regrets of one kind or another. Hence this week's question: "What is your most regretted video game-related purchase?"

Dan: Yeah, mine is pretty easy. I regret buying the Nintendo Super Scope 6 for SNES. Talk about getting caught up in marketing hype. I was in sixth grade, I think, when I first said, “Wow, that looks cool!” but by the time I actually got my hands on it, I had grown just old enough to realize that the bazooka-shape device was designed to make the user look like a complete tool. Factor in the fact that one could only comfortably assume the bazooka-firing position for a few minutes, that Nintendo failed to support the thing with future titles, and that $60 in allowance money was like the preteen equivalent of three months’ rent, and I’d say that the Super Scope was easily my most regrettable piece of junk to date. But look at me, holding a grudge.

Annie: I like to think of them not so much as "regrets", but as "lessons learned", and there have been myriad lessons learned. However, one that really sticks out as making me want to pluck my own eyeballs is Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s. I was perhaps too excited for this. I'd spent about a month prior to its release in a cabin out in the middle of nowhere, playing a knock-off controller/console with a bunch of poorly pirated NES games, and all I could think about was how TOTALLY AWESOME I remembered the first two Guitar Hero games being.

I dunno if it was the inflated memories, or the fact that pretty much any song I actually liked was a lame WaveGroup version except for "Electric Eye" by Judas Priest, but after a handful of plays, the wind went right out of my sails. To be fair, if I saw a bunch of random dudes in a cover band play most of these songs, I'd probably think it was okay, and WaveGroup has apparently won quite a few awards for their audio post-production, which is not an easy thing to do well. But when you're trying to play fake guitar and screech along to Iron Maiden's "Wratchchild" in your living room, none but the original master will do.

David: I am really good at making regrettable purchases. The biggest regret for me would be the Wii Fit balance board. Why did I get that again? Sitting down in front of my TV, I see my shelf of games calling out to me. Hmm, play or exercise? I will say this, my wife has used it for yoga and it worked pretty well for that. Just the same, we moved just over a year ago and we have yet to unpack it since we moved. If you do want to exercise, then sure, this could be a good thing. Also, if it gets a family to exercise together then I am not going to complain. I think that is great. For me though, it was a regrettable purchase. Maybe I will break it out again sometime, but for now it sits in the dark, probably next to some dumbbells I bought years ago.

Sam: Worst purchase ever? Tough call overall. I'd have to go with Alien 3 for the Sega Genesis. That game was just terrible in every possible way, it was hard to understand, gory, stupid, and was based on, at that time, the worst movie in the Alien series. I'd also go with "A Wii", because I bought it, got frustrated with the Zelda game it came with, watched it crash repeatedly playing "Red Steel" and basically tucked it in a corner and left it to watch while the Xbox 360 Elite and I did the dirty gamer dance. Then I gave it to my mom, and she bought a Wii Fit balance board, so David's in good company there...

Kirk: For me, it's gotta be the Virtual Boy. It was 1996 or 97, I think, and we were in Toronto or D.C. or someplace on a high school band trip. Somehow, we wound up in the game store (I believe it was Software, Etc.) at the mall near our hotel and saw that they were selling Virtual Boys for like $30 each, and games for $5. So clearly, this was long enough after the product launch that everyone had figured out what they were really worth... and you'd think that the low, low price would have tipped us off to the utter shittiness of the system, but no. Both my friend Andrew and I saw only opportunity. So, we each bought one of the giant red monsters and brought it back to our hotel room with us. I remember being impressed by the sheer quantity of stuff I'd gotten, and I quietly swore to myself that one way or another, I would make this thing into a valued part of my life.

And that's really my regret - not just buying it, but dedicating myself to actually playing it. I spent tons of time on the tennis game, as well as some sort of platforming adventure that I can't really remember other than that it involved traversing parallel rooms with three planes of platforms. It must've been  clear after all of fifteen minutes that this thing was a hunk of garbage, but I pressed onwards into the red-tinged gloom, ignoring neck pain, eye strain, headaches. I'm not sure when I finally faced the truth, but it took at least a few weeks. As far as I know, it's still in my closet back in Indiana, patiently awaiting some ironic Virtual Boy revival. I fear it's going to be waiting for some time yet.

But that's just us - we're sure there are some pretty shameful stories out there. (We think) we've got our new commenting rig and Facebook connect working properly, so lay 'em on us.

It's okay. We won't judge you.
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