I’m back in the proverbial video game theology saddle and today I’m writing about disappointment. Now the inspiration for writing about such a subject comes from the implementation project at my work. The planned go-live date was pushed back several weeks after the staff training. Where did things go wrong? First, the software vendor over simplified their software during the sales pitch and demonstration. They said our staff would be able to be trained in the software in thirty minutes. We were not so naive as to believe that a thirty minute training would be enough but we did think we could do it in two hours. Second, the software vendor under-delivered during the implementation. There were several key moments in which they said “no problem” during the phone calls with management, but eventually confessed that they could not do it. Third, my department perhaps underestimated the complexity of the work that is done by other departments. There were times when it wasn’t the software’s fault, but our own organization for sometimes over-complicating simple tasks. I have to admit that many of the complications are related to county and state regulations that require us to document tasks in order for us to get paid. There were lessons learned all around.
There. I had to get that out in order to focus on something far more entertaining. Where have I felt that feeling of being let down before? Oh yes, in the world of video games! I have a short list of a few video games that were a disappointment to me. I’m going in chronological order.
Ricochet Pong – We all owe a lot to Pong. Pong made video games popular. It was fun to play in an arcade against a friend. We were playing a game on a TV screen. It was a marvel. In the late seventies, they developed a way to play Pong at home. There was a mad rush to the market of a variety of Pong clones.
On Christmas, my brothers and I were given a Pong system called Ricochet. The box itself claimed to be the end of electronic TV boredom – because it wasn’t just Pong in black and white, but Pong in COLOR. In reality, it was just Pong in color. It was my first step into the world of video game disappointment.
Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 – I believe I have mentioned that when I was a kid, I did not have an Atari. However, I made sure that I had a friend who did! His name was Robbie Foster and he really was a great friend to me. We played outside a lot back then, but there was no joy greater than sitting in front of his TV playing those Atari games. There was so much hype about Pac-Man coming to the Atari. The arcade game was fun, colorful, addicting, and had great sound effects.
The game that came on the Atari cartridge was none of those things. It was not colorful. Pac-Man did NOT look or act like Pac-Man. The game was one great flicker as the system tried to process the graphics. The sound effect of Pac-Man eating dots was a metallic “BEH” sound. It was a game you played a few times, you tried to like it, then you tried to forget it.
Space Shuttle Project for the NES – This was one of my first Nintendo Entertainment System game cartridges. To be fair, this was not a terrible game. When I went searching on the internet for screen shots, I discovered the game did not look that bad for it’s time. Why was it such a disappointment? In retrospect, I think it was because I was so excited about owning a NES but I was unable to afford the higher end games. I put a lot of hope into this game.
The box art and description gave me the feeling of a simulation rather than a game. I thought I might feel like I was piloting the space shuttle. Instead I was playing a bunch of mini games, puzzle games, and quick time events. It wasn’t bad, just disappointing.
Nights: Journey of Dreams for the Wii – I bought this game new as a Christmas present for my son. I had recently re-subscribed to Nintendo Power after purchasing a Wii and I read a glowing review of this game in the magazine. If I remember correctly it received either a 9 or a 10. The review painted this game as beautifully rendered with addictive game play elements. When we played it on Christmas morning, it was beautiful but incredibly boring. It was a flying game that was on rails. Where’s the freedom of flying when you are on rails? Oh but Ted, you get to do LOOPS! What a waste of money. I learned then never to trust a game review in a magazine sponsored by the game company. Nintendo Power gave that game too high of a score because they wanted to sell their system. This was also when I started to realize that I typically don’t enjoy games made by Sega.
That’s all I can think up at 5:00 am. It feels good to be writing again on my blog. Thanks to all for being patient as I focused on my job!