Deceptively Simple

There was a time, back before I started playing bass, when video games were my biggest hobby. I'd spend hours getting lost in virtual worlds, wishing I was off adventuring instead of sitting in my bedroom.

I'm a little sad to say I don't really do that anymore. I'll go back and revisit some of my all-time favorites periodically, but otherwise, I do very little in the way of keeping up with the latest video game trends.

I have a hard time identifying exactly what caused me to lose interest in modern video gaming. For some reason, I feel the spirits of games just aren't what they used to be.

For me, this deficiency is most evident in the Final Fantasy series. The PlayStation era titles (VII, VIII, and IX) captured my imagination like nothing else. Literally hundreds of hours were spent immersed in these magical worlds. I loved it.

Still, while amazing for their time, these games do not feature high-definition graphics, ultra-realistic AI, or other technological innovations relative to today's standards.

But while they may lack the polish and shiny-ness of the latest Final Fantasy titles, they possess something the newer games do not, which I can only describe as a charming and memorable spirit.

When Final Fantasy X came out for the PlayStation 2, it was incredible. The graphics were gorgeous. The environments were tremendous. There was voice-acting!

But something was missing. It lacked the charm and immersion of earlier titles. It was as if the graphics were too good. I've still never finished the game, despite having tried to get through it numerous times. There's nothing tangibly wrong with Final Fantasy X; it's beautiful, and I'm sure it's the favorite of many FF fans. But for me, something just never clicked. It never made me care.

The reason I bring this up is that Rands tweeted this awesome video comparing the original Mega Man to Mega Man X).

The video's creator spends twenty minutes explaining the brilliance behind Mega Man X, including the way its intro level flawlessly teaches the player everything he/she needs to know without the use of blatant "here's how you play" tutorials.

Mega Man X is one of my favorite video games of all time, but even I struggle explaining its greatness. This video fascinates me because it elucidates all of the brilliance and charm of the game, which I always felt, but could never quite articulate.

The video reminds me of the Red Letter Media reviews of the Star Wars prequels in that it explains exactly why the game so good, which makes you love it even more.

When compared to today's epics, like Mass Effect and Skyrim, early video games seem straightforward and simplistic.

In some ways, that's true. But I would argue games like Mega Man are not simplistic, but deceptively simple. As the video illustrates, a tremendous amount of care was put into all aspects of Mega Man X, and it's still one of my favorite games as a result.

I haven't bought a new video game in a long time, but thanks to their charming simplicity and surprising depth, I'll always return to games like Mega Man. I consider myself lucky to have had it as a part of my childhood.

Sometimes, you just need to go right.

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