Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
You see the trailer at E3. You love everything about it. The game is supposed to bring the franchise back to its roots while also staying fresh. You watch the trailers. You follow the reveals. You preorder your copy, You constantly check ZI for updates (shameless plug). You pick it up on launch day and you pop it in, and… you’re met with something that you weren’t promised. Something far from what you were hyped for.
No doubt this routine has popped up in your gaming life. It has in everyone’s. There’s always a few games that simply don’t live up to the hype. And then there’s the other scenario..
You hear about a game. It apparently comes out in a few weeks. Maybe you like the idea. Maybe you hate it. Either way, it fades away in your head and you don’t buy a copy. Fast forward a few years and you find yourself in Gamestop, and you see the game in a bargain bin. You think, “Eh, what the heck. It’s only fifteen dollars.” You place it on your shelf and pop it in a few days later. And you are beyond hooked. You cannot put your controller down.
Sometimes there is no hype, but you’re rewarded with a fantastic game. Video games often defy expectations, for better or for worse.
The Last Story looked amazing. You’ve got the creator of Final Fantasy running the entire show behind it. A campaign has been fighting for the game’s localization for months on end, seeing hope after the initial arrival of Xenoblade Chronicles. The game gets a special edition complete with artbook and soundtrack. I watched playthroughs and read the reviews. It was being flaunted like the Wii’s last great game, its last story, if you must. I popped the game into my Wii on launch day. I was hoping to be entertained for a few months, ideally tiding me over until Wii U. After two hours I ejected the game disc and booted up Xenoblade.
I had believed The Last Story to be on par with, if not better than, Monolith Soft’s juggernaut JRPG. Yet I was met with uninteresting characters, a bland story, and a familiar combat system. I wouldn’t call my experience with the game bad, but I certainly wouldn’t describe it as the amazing addition to my Wii library I was told it would be.
I have yet to finish The Last Story. However, I do plan to come back to it within the coming months. The itch for RPGs will eventually come back, as it always does, but until then I will be happy with the Wii U launch software. The Last Story is by no means a bad game, but it certainly didn’t live up to the hype.
A few years before The Last Story, I had a similar experience with a little game called Sonic Unleashed. I love Sonic. I loved the intro cutscene to the game. I loved the daytime levels. And then the sky grew dark and I turned off my Wii. I was disappointed in the game. I did finish it, and I took away some enjoyment, but the werehog grew tedious fast and the stretch to dawn was always a tough one.
I was expecting nothing from Sonic Colors after my mixed reaction to Unleashed. I skipped the game’s launch, believing it to be within the same tier as its predecessor. I promised myself I would pick it up, but it certainly wasn’t worth the fifty dollars. Unlike most promises I make to myself, I did keep this one. I bought Colors and played it, amazed at the sheer polish that met me. The levels were imaginative and the gameplay was fun. The cast was smaller, and the story was more focused. The power-ups were interesting, and there was no love story nor nighttime transformation. It was everything I’ve ever wanted from a 3D Sonic game, and I still love to play it to this very day.
Games go beyond your expectations. Games fail to live up to the hype. What are some of your experiences with these two scenarios? What game had you been looking forward to months, or even years, that simply failed to keep you entertained? What game did you pick up out of sheer curiosity that you still love to play? What game turned out to be something you didn’t expect? Share your experiences in the comments below.