Sunday, August 10, 2008

15 Years of Progress

I wanted to take full advantage of my last few days of summer, so I've been playing some video games. I just recently beat God of War, and it wasn't until after I finished it that I realized exactly what made me like the game. For the uninitiated, God of War is a game set in ancient Greece in which you take the role of a spartan warrior and kill essentially everything in Greek mythology. It has the vaguest hint of a story, but it doesn't let this get in the way of the main focus, which is the battles.

The first boss in God of War is a hydra, which you first encounter inside a wrecked ship. See the attached video: here .

I woke up the other morning and was lying in bed when it occurred to me that this boss was essentially the same one I fought years ago in a nintendo game called StarTropics. Video footage can be found here: here .

The more I thought about it, the more similarities I noticed. The weapons are essentially the same - Mike in StarTropics uses a yo-yo (yes, a yo-yo), and Kratos in God of War has knives on magic chains that make them act essentially like really dangerous yo-yos. The gameplay is the same: run around caves and ancient temples, fight monsters, collect powerups that incrementally level up your weapons and abilities, solve puzzles occasionally, and fight big monster bosses. Add Greek mythology and lots of blood to StarTropics, and you'd have the 8-bit God of War.

Maybe it's just that I haven't seriously played any console games since the SNES, but there were just so many similarities that it felt a little weird to me. I'm sure these are just standard gameplay techniques that have been upgraded to fit the technology of newer consoles. Still, to realize that I'd just played a new game with the gameplay of something fifteen years old made me wonder exactly how much innovation there's been that wasn't simply cosmetic.

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