A Wonderful Moment: In Defense of Short Games
Recently, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was released for Xbox 360 and PS3. Revengeance was made by Platinum Games, a company best known for its work on games like Bayonetta and earlier games like God Hand and and Viewitful Joe. Chances are, if you’ve seen a crazy, stylish action game hit the market in recent years, these guys had a hand in it.
MGR has been getting fairly good review across the board, but people online are complaining about a certain flaw: the game’s length. MGR is not a long game and can be beaten in about 5-8 hours, short for this generation; but boy, looking at some of the hate the game gets, you would’ve thought there was a puppy beating sequence.
Many detractors feel that paying $60 for a 5-hour game is a tragedy, and that, in this day and age, games should be 8-10 hours at least to justify the purchasing price. Without that, the game might as well be hot garbage. The argument usually goes: if games back in the day took forever to complete, how can publishers and developers today justify releasing such short work?
There are a couple problems with this argument; one is that not everyone beats every game that they buy. It can be a big commitment to jump into a game and actually ride it out to completion. Hell, I even dedicated the month of February to clearing out some of my backlog, and I still have games for days! Unless a game can really hook me, it’s difficult for me to see it to the end.
With a shorter game there’s less worry about slogging through boring or lame sections. I recently beat Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, and that was an action game that topped off at 12 hours. Was it a good game? Absolutely! Did I get sick of it near then end? Absolutely! There are only so many ways to murder vampires before it gets repetitive, and LoS hit that point 6 hours in.
And that’s what I really enjoy about Platinum’s games: they don’t overstay their welcome. They give you crazy action in select bursts, some half-assed insane plot, and let you go nuts. By the time the credits roll, it’s been an action-filled roller coaster from start to finish, comprised of parts that don’t drag because they always introduce something new. I have yet to play MGR, but I can bet that it’s going to be good times.
The other argument about how games were longer when we were kids: well, those games were longer because we were kids. And we were idiots.
Developers had to make up for limited technology by making their games exceedingly hard, and because of limited space on cartridges, most games topped off at 2-3 hours anyway. It took you 60 hours as a kid to beat Super Mario 64? That’s because you couldn’t remember the shortcut to beating the penguin on Cool, Cool, Mountain. Want to feel dumb? Look up some speed runs on YouTube, or if you want to lose several hours of your life, watch Game Center CX.
Believe it or not, games back in the day cost about the same, or even more that they do today. Yes, there were some glorious games that you would play again and again, but let’s be honest: if you had the game playing abilities you had when you were a kid and you spent $65 dollars on Bubsy, wouldn’t you be pissed? I feel that gamers today feel too entitled for a lasting experience to justify the money they spent rather than just enjoying an amazing, leisure experience.
A great video game should be like a really good sneeze: quick, efficient, and leaves you feeling refreshed and happy. It shouldn’t leave a snotty mess to clean up.
When not watching Japanese comedians struggle to beat classic video games, Ben Christ writes about video games and sports for Hobbeslives.com