The Grind

Posted August 3, 2014

Looking at my currently playing list, I realized I had 15 games in progress, which is kind of ridiculous. Having a game or so per console is nice in that there’s always something different to play. Tired of a platformer, I turn to a shmup, and vice versa (though that’s about it as far as my genre spectrum spans). Moving between an early-2000s Cave danmaku and a late-80s Toaplan shmup is refreshing. The problem is by time I return to a game I’ve lost focus and momentum. Take Monster World IV (please!) — I’d let weeks go by, then realize I had no idea where I was or what I needed to do.

Which brings up the entangled topic of whether to game for fun or to game for realz. For me this mostly relates to shmups. Do I credit my way through Mushihimesama Futari, enjoying all the levels now? I’d guess most players do, but the ones who don’t, and only allow themselves one credit, consider this the only way to shmup. I support that, at least intellectually. In reality, I’m just not very good. I’ve never 1cc’d a game, maybe because I haven’t really tried, but my suckage can’t be overlooked. Why I’ve chosen to obsess over such a painfully onerous class of game I’ve no idea, other than perhaps the obvious sadomasochistic undertones. It would take me two or three times as many hours as other players to 1cc most of the games I play. What a sweet satisfaction that would be. And what a colossal amount of time it would take, given some players put in hundreds of hours per game.

And yet I can’t deny the icky compulsion to continue, the cheat of cheats, the ’90s arcade invention based on greed which likely had a hand in their self-immolation. This doesn’t mean I play through to the end and then stick it on the shelf. The tug of wanting to understand the game doesn’t pass after a few playthroughs. The history of the game and its developer, the obscured mechanics, hardware limitations, programmer’s predispositions — these details add great value to the game play. Just as playing through the levels repeatedly, and chipping away at the credits it takes to do so, is firmly satisfying.

Where does this leave me? I’m not sure. Do I pull the majority of these out of rotation and focus on two or three games? Honestly that sounds kind of boring. For now I did thin out the list, making note of games to return to later (yes, the current sidebar is the thinned out version). As an experiment, I’ve picked a couple of easy ones to try and 1cc, Deathsmiles and the first Metal Slug. I’ve improved, but it’s not the cakewalk I read and hear about from others. There seems to be a part of me that uncontrollably veers my characters directly into the enemy’s fire, so that may need some work.

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