I am currently limited in mobility due to throwing out my back performing activities far too trivial to warrant the days of pain afterward. (Someday, I am going to throw out my back Rescuing Orphans From Doom or something and then I will be happier, right?)
It seemed like a perfect opportunity to spend some time with my DS, a console I have neglected recently. So I popped in a recently purchased copy of Spirit Tracks, wriggled carefully into a comfortable position …
… and spend a half hour or so grumbling about how it was just a retread of Link to the Past, before putting it down and taking a nap.
Yet one could level the same criticism against Phantom Hourglass, and I enjoyed the hell out of that game.
Another story: Prior to back tweaking, some friends managed to convince me to pick up a starter of the latest release of Legend of the Five Rings, a collectable card game that I used to play, and haven’t touched in years.
The game was still the same old game. The designers were on another iteration of their card frames, which looked very nice, though it was sometimes hard to tell card types apart at a glance, but the game hadn’t necessarily changed in any fundamental way.
Yet I had a blast, going through all the same old motions, fighting the same old battles with the same old opponents.
I think that problem is that it isn’t enough for a game (or any other result of human creativity), to be good, it also has to hit you at the right time. There are several theoretically excellent games that have come to me when I just wasn’t in the mood (Okami is the biggest example, and possibly Braid, though my beefs with that game may run deeper than mood). And there are retreads like Mega Man 9 that hit me exactly when I wanted what they offered.
It seems that timing trumps art, which is a gloomy thought for a writer to have; it really argues for the importance of market research, a discipline that I look upon with deep suspicion.