Friday, April 23, 2010

The essence of gaming


I wrote a tweet earlier today where I said: New Super Mario Bros is really the Dragon Quest of the platform genre. This was a thought that struck me while playing NSMB. Since I feel unable to fully explain what I mean by this within the 140 word limit on Twitter I thought I would elaborate on it here. So if you want an explanation, keep reading.

The more I think about it the two New Super Mario Bros games and the more recent Dragon Quest Games are really a lot alike. I am also starting to think maybe this is why they are so both insanely successful in Japan.

They both offer what is basically the same gameplay as their more then 20 year old predecessors with very few updates. And since both series more or less defined their respective genres you get a very distilled quintessential gameplay experience. If you play NSMB you are playing the textbook example of a platformer, if you play Dragon Quest you are playing the textbook example of a Japanese role playing game. This makes them very attractive to gamers wishing to re-experience their childhood or get back to the basics of gaming. But it also has the downside of making them feel somewhat bland and not very exciting.

They both take the very fundamentals of their respective genres, shaving off everything but the most necessary mechanics and deliver an extremely high quality experience. But again more or less the very same gameplay experience you have had many many times before.

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