ZX Rambles - 10: Completion ratio
Pick up any console magazine these days and
it seems the first thing you'll find is someone moaning on about
how easy/hard/short/long games are these days and how many they've
finished as a result. And then they go trade them in or leave
them gathering dust, never to be popped in to the drive again
because the challenge is gone and they are on to the next thrill.
But what does finished actually mean? I've only had my Gamecube
for six months or so, and don't exactly devote the time to it
that I used to spend huddled over the rubber keyboard, and I would
never claim to be particularly skilled as a games player, but
even I've seen the ending sequences of a couple of titles. But
finished them, that I haven't managed.
Let us look a the evidence. First there was
Pikmin. Yes, I played through all 30 days, but poor control in
fights and general lack of intelligence on my part meant I didn't
have enough ship parts to get home. Heck, I never even got to
the "final trial" stage. Cue ending one of three. Part
of me wants to play it through again and do better with a bit
of pre-knowledge, part of me can't face the slog. I have also
seen the (an?) ending to Timesplitters 2. But have only played
through all the levels on Easy, and there are stacks more bits
to tinker with and unlock in the arcade and challenge sections.
So have I finished with the game? I don't think so.
And then there are a bunch of other titles I'm
somewhere in the depths of. Or in the case of Burnout still at
the bloody start. Perhaps I'm getting old and my reflexes aren't
what they used to be. Perhaps my mind expects puzzles to be different
from the reality. Perhaps I shouldn't get so sick of trying the
same section over and over again, getting one step further, dodging
one more tie fighter, falling off a different platform. Perhaps
if I dedicated all my spare time to them one at a time I would
crack the system and hone my skills, but life ain't like that
But it got me wondering. Have I always been
this bad at games? What was my completion ratio like in the past?
We'll gloss over the PC, MD and ST collections and dive back in
to the Speccy zone...
First up were the games that didn't actually
have an end to speak of. They just got faster or harder or looped
round to the begining again. Some of those I guess I could claim
to have finished by virtue of getting back to the start or having
seen every level. Stand up Penetrator, Manic Miner, Jetpac and
your friends. But that was often through luck, sometimes skill
and I can't recall much sense of finality. Even Split Personalities
did nothing to reward completing the final celebrity other than
throwing you back to the start with more bombs and less time.
Add to those the ones that you could easily
see all of but then come back to in order to try a bit harder,
score a few points more or so forth. All those sports games -
Daley Thompson's Decathlon, Hyper Sports, Winter Games. Did crossing
the line in the last event (if the joystick could withstand the
1500m of course) mean you had finished the game? Not when there
was the chance to shave another fraction of a second off the hurdles
or add a few inches to a long jump. Skill with the stick or speed
on the keys were where it was at here, replay value was guaranteed
and the medal ceremony at the end was an afterthought.
Of course most of the games we had we never
progressed very far with. Perhaps there were levels beyond what
we had seen. There might have been new screens to explore or challenges
to beat, but frankly we weren't up to the challenge. The list
of games we never got to see anything approaching the end of goes
on and on: Green Beret, Batty, Gauntlet, Spy Hunter, Stainless
Steel, Codename MAT, Glass (played that for hours non-stop and
still there was always more to come when it was time to stop for
tea), Scuba Dive, Harrier Attack, Thanatos, Lunar Jetman (was
there an end to that one? Again we payed for days, saw lots of
new aliens turning up every couple of levels but still no end
was in sight), Transformers, Gunfright, Arkanoid, Sweevo's World,
Fat Worm Blows A Sparky, The Hobbit (bloody Elf King and his dungeon),
Ship Of Doom, Maziacs, Trapdoor, Timegate. I'll stop there before
this turns into a list with no plot.
Some games I got this close to completeing but
failed at the final moment. Atic Attack - I had all three pieces
of the Golden Key of ACG but died in the room next to the exit.
Knight Lore - I had the last ingredient for the potion but night
fell, I turned in to the wulf and got attacked. Highway Encounter
- lost my last mobile dustbin in sight of the finish line. Starion
- just too many anagrams to piece together before lunch.
I did finish Saboteur a couple of times though.
But with all of them, every single one, I tried
and tried again. Never did a game go to the back of the drawer,
banished from the light of day. OK, so there wasn't the same second
hand market we have now, but never did I try to offload a title
on to a friend or unsuspecting boot-sale customer. Even the ones
where you could have lost all your lives twice in the time it
took to load off the tape in the first place. Somehow it didn't
matter that we hadn't finished the task before us, the goal wasn't
the goal so to speak. Playing was the point and damnit, playing
Isn't it still meant to be that way?
I'll get back on track next time. Derby awaits.
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