Video games

How far do you follow a gaming series?

Somewhere along the course of our gaming lives we settle upon our preferred genre or type of games – usually through years of experimentation and trial and error.

An endless line of sequels can take their toll on a series though, as developers begin to struggle with the finite balance between introducing enough new concepts without alienating the original fans – how far would you follow your favourite gaming series?

Saying goodbye to an old friend

I’ve talked about my history with the Sonic series before. I was raised with Sega games and continue to take a decent albeit passive interest in the latest Sonic games. Sonic Generations provided an interesting challenge to the old-school Sega acolyte in me – as I had all but given up on the series if I am perfectly honest, I did not expect Generations to amount to much, I certainly did not expect it to be the first new Sonic game I have enjoyed immensely in nearly 10 years. This was in part due its carefully crafted experience, appealing to the Sonic fan of all with illustrious recreations of classic Sonic levels, but also with breathtaking orchestral renditions of retro Sonic tunes.

What is telling however is that as enjoyable as Sonic Generations is, I feel it is the perfect moment for me to outgrow Sonic, to enjoy the company of the series one final time and bow out on a high. While Sonic Generations is obviously enjoyable, it is a momentary sidestep – and perhaps not completely indicative of the direction Sonic (and friends) will take now. That said it is a journey I no longer feel I have to be a part of, I finally appreciate that I am no longer the target audience for Sonic’s Adventures. Most of the pleasure of its gameplay and experience come from looking back and not forward, and nostalgia will only coast a series so far – no matter how gracefully done.

I am however eternally grateful to Sega for giving me one last chance to put my affinity with the Sonic series in order before they turn to the next page in his story.

A step back and a step forward

If Sonic was the game of my childhood, then series such as Final Fantasy were the gaming backbone of my adolescence. Final Fantasy 7 was a defining moment in my gaming life – proving that video games was something that was going to serve me long term. Later on in the franchise – by about entry 10, I started to doubt that Final Fantasy was still for me. This was confirmed to me by the production of Final Fantasy 13, it was no longer about the games “becoming worse” or moving in a slightly different direction, and more about the genre as a whole no longer tapping into my ever burgeoning tastes.

I had over a great many years of play decided upon the genres and gameplay elements that I preferred, falling out of love with Final Fantasy was less about that game serving my interests and more about another set of games – namely Western, and other action RPGs (such as Demon’s Souls) becoming my preferred way to play.

I don’t think we ever fall out of fancy with a particular franchise, there’s a decent correlation between our age, the growing audience of the series and our interests diverging elsewhere. Another more frequent complaint about a gaming series is that is no longer attempts to revolutionise in the same way it once did. Zelda is a great example of this (and I am often guilty of the same complaints!). The Zelda games that I have enjoyed and in turn have challenged me the most (Wind Waker and Majora’s Mask) have arguably also taken the most risks with their creative design.

A new disciple

Ten years was a long period to wait for my Sonic conclusion. While I end one affiliation with a series, I am happy to admit that there are many more new franchises who have sprouted into the space that Sonic once occupied. Funnily enough I find myself more willing to experiment with games as I get older, retrying series that I once avoided, or dabbling with new things. This it how I fell into the Monster Hunter series. The “difficult” persona of the game had previously put me off in the past, but when I was bereaved a couple of years back I found myself wanting a really engaging challenge to fill up my mind and take it away from the present. I did not expect to still be playing the game nearly three years later – happily for completely different reasons. It served its immediate purpose and quickly created another one.

My gamble had started a new fascination, this is my favourite way into a new series.

3 replies on “How far do you follow a gaming series?”

My hope is that they can now move on with Sonic and not feel the need to try to appeal to both sets of fans. Generations did a decent job of bridging those gaps, but it’s done and they should move on. I would really like to see them make some good games in the franchise, even if those games are targeted towards my ten year old nephew and not myself.

After all, he’s the one that, while we played Generations together exclaimed, “Shadow? He’s my favorite!”

Yeah I completely agree with everything you’ve said Jonah, Generations was as much about realising Sonic wasn’t about “me” anymore, that it was clearly pressing the buttons for someone else.

I truly wish the Sonic series well, it’s given me many happy memories and experiences, but it simply not designed for me anymore – and for the first time in a long time that’s not a complaint.

This year will be one to watch and see how the games from my youth will fare. Time to give up on the game franchise that used to be Tomb Raider? It is early days yet but to me it looks like a hashed clone of other popular adventure games with a Tomb Raider skin on it. Resident Evil Revelations and Operation RC? I remember when it used to be about zombies and not generic shooty men or wibbly wobbly shiny teeth freaks.

We’ll see though.

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