Wait, what’s going on here? What happened to the annual summer gaming drought? All of a sudden, just in the month of June, I’ve amassed a backlog of games I need to get my hands on and play. That’s my November tradition, dammit!
Infamous, Prototype, Ghostbusters, and Red Faction: Guerrilla have all popped onto my radar in a big way. I followed one friend’s adventure in nabbing Ghostbusters over Twitter. Jason Wilson turned me on to Guerrilla’s sledgehammer-happy ways (and Area 5‘s Matt Chandronait recommended it first out of the four). My buds on the Player One Podcast can’t stop talking about Infamous.
So how come when I finally got my hands on one of these games on Friday — not working in an editorial office means these games aren’t so readily available (I know…boo-hoo) — a day later I put it aside?
Not only that, I even told my girlfriend on Friday that I planned to play Infamous, which Shoe lent to me, late into each night. So, naturally, I stayed up till 2 or 3 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday playing…Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link on my Wii!?
I started off well, turning on Infamous as soon as I got it. And I liked it just fine, but I think the hype had me expecting too much. By most accounts, friends and colleagues declared Infamous the winner in the open-world, superhero-y game showdown versus Prototype. And hearing I love Sly Cooper (which comes from the same developer as Infamous), people assured me Infamous would blow me away.
Like I said, it’s good, but I wanted it to grab me instantly. Instead, I died a little too often, resulting in frustrating restarts. I kept having problems with the camera, and only now do I feel comfortable with it (vertical controls inverted, horizontal controls normal). Finally, at least early on, I wasn’t finding Cole to feel all that super. I loved scaling up buildings, but his attacks themselves felt ineffective against even low-level enemies.
Taking a break from that, I asked my girlfriend what she wanted to play, and somehow we came up with Bubble Bobble on the Virtual Console. 100 levels later, we had our fill of saccharine entertainment, at which point I decided to spent my last $5, and Zelda 2 was the game.
And so it was Zelda 2 that dominated my Saturday and Sunday nights, as I played deep into each morning. It’s been years since I’ve played the game, but it immediately sucked me in, be it from its hypnotic over-world music (arguably the best ever), the simple yet deep block-and-strike combat, or the bizarre conversations you have with the townsfolk. Also appreciated: It doesn’t take a lot of time to make good progress and stumble upon numerous secrets.
So what led to my Zelda furlough, while Infamous anxiously waited? Perhaps I just needed a palate cleanser — after seeing so many high-def games at E3, my eyes probably begged for that 8-bit relief. Or maybe I just needed something familiar as I worked on big plans for the end of the summer. But the old-school charms remind me of how my former roommate, Shane Bettenhausen, would replay this game every year or two, and I may have to start a similar tradition.
Everything got straightened out — so to speak — by the end. I got back into Infamous last night and enjoyed it a lot more. My expectations were in check, I knew what I had to do more instinctively, and I had a lot of fun just collecting blast shards and handling the occasional mission.
Did too much word-of-mouth hype set me up for disappointment initially? I don’t know, but I’m glad I’m past that. And it’s a good thing, since I still have a lot of games to check out. Hell, I’m hearing great things about Tiger Woods 10, and The Bigs 2 comes out next week.
Sometimes the hardest part of this hobby is simply catching a break.