The first game I ever played, at least as far as I can remember, was The Lion King on the Mega Drive. If you don’t remember it yourself, it was a two dimensional platformer featuring Simba and all of the other characters from the movies. I was very young, and I loved it because I loved The Lion King, but I don’t think I progressed very far through the game.
It was as hard as nails, I had to get my Dad to help with everything past the first level, but it was awesome and as fun as games should be. Video games can be many things – emotional, engaging, relatable, mind bending, thought provoking, smart or even dumb, but video games should always be a source of entertainment.
It’s a little like Quentin Tarantino’s movies. They’re often well-crafted pieces of work, and might win some prestigious awards, but they’re also a very good time to have; an escape from the real world. Movies aren’t always like that – sometimes they just remind you of atrocities the world has seen, and sometimes they’re purely made to win awards, but when it’s Tarantino, you know you’re entering a realm of enjoyment as you queue up for Djanglourious Fiction.
And likewise, whether it’s The Last of Us or Super Mario, these video games will provide an instant real-life get out clause which rockets you into a different world. They’re little holidays, in which you’re pretending to be someone else for a short amount of time. There’s an amazing spectrum of flavours, colours and gameplay structures, with everything from deep adventures to one-touch flappers.
Video games are awesome, and I think we forget that at times.
The industry as a whole is far too concerned about how these playthings look at the moment, rather than what they achieve in terms of entertainment. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when you’re focusing on Titanfall having a worse pixel density than a game on a different console, and it’s this which elicits a reaction rather than how it’s shaking up the first person formula or how cool it is to run up a wall, jump on a huge mech’s back and take it down, there’s definitely something amiss.
While visual aspects should definitely have their place in our minds, it feels like we forget about the gameplay itself. A bad texture can be jarring, but a shoddy jumping system ruins a platformer, just as an unbalanced gun can take the excitement from an online shooter, but an odd looking ragdoll effect will only cause momentary pain for your glitch-averse eyes.
I saw The LEGO Movie this week. I’m not talking about the game here, but the film itself, which provoked me to think of toys, games and other things created purely for entertainment, and how we should just try to enjoy them in that manner. Whether you’re engaging your imagination or leaving that up to the creators themselves, video games and certain forms of other media can truly provide a source of simple, escapist fun.
So I say that we should let these developers entertain you – even if their chosen system can’t squeeze out 4K resolution textures – after all, entertaining is all they’re really trying to do. Yes, if certain issues are genuinely detrimental to your enjoyment, then by all means complain, but ultimately look at what the package offers as a whole, and where the developer’s true focus lies.
Don’t get me wrong, I love reviewing games and analysing every aspect, including scrutinising the visuals, and I’ll continue to do just that, but sometimes I just like to have fun playing them too.
So grab your weapon, storm the gates, cross the platforms, solve the puzzle, unlock a door, kill an enemy, kill your friends, level up, sail the seas, explore the lands, complete a quest, score a goal, save the princess, defeat the boss, avenge Mufasa, cross the finish line.
Go be a hero, because that’s what games are for.