Despite the obnoxious mirroring of Gyme Pugaal‘s recent editorial of a similar name, this article is not at odds with his points which, incidentally, I entirely relate to. I agree that games should either have an “I’m Not An Idiot/Newbie” option off the top, or that tutorials or manuals should be available in the menus with a few friendly in-game reminders to direct confused gamers to the location of said material. I also agree that far too often, developers do not trust their stories enough to tell them at a more reasonable pace for gaming’s unique needs.
This article is also not about the disease I fabricated that finds me having a difficult time proceeding beyond the first five hours of a game.
Well, maybe it is a little bit about that, but with a different focus. Instead of focusing on the frustration and the negativity of my gaming ADD, I have recently come to appreciate the distinctly exciting feeling that starting a new game can give me. Perhaps recently completing a sizable game like Ni no Kuni has given me confidence that I am still able to finish games and am therefore now less neurotic about having so many games on the go. This peace of mind has shifted my focus to just how much I love the beginning of epic games sometimes. Sure, the aforementioned barrage of hand-holding and tutorials can be – at their most subtle – frustrating, there is also an irreplaceable and grand sense of excitement that comes alongside starting a new adventure.
I find this feeling is magnified upon replaying a game. While the sense of wonder and unknown from a first playthrough can never be recaptured, there is something to be said for when the player knows what is in store for the hero before the hero knows it himself. Skyward Sword is certainly guilty of being bloated on the front end with tutorials and exposition, but it is still a delight to dive back into. I feel endeared to Link as I see him before the inciting incident changes the world around him.
But it is not just story that makes me love to boot up the beginning of games. Dragon Quest IX is a game that – despite its attempts off the top to convince the player otherwise – is removed and distant from its story. It is also an entry in a series of which I have never truly completed a single game, despite dumping hundreds of hours into five different titles. In the face of all these facts, it is my favourite RPG series to start a new game with from a purely mechanical standpoint. I love the low level heroes and feeling of true adventure. I love the sense that my character really is starting from nothing. Leveling-up at the beginning of a Dragon Quest game is inexplicably more exciting for me than leveling-up at the beginning of any other RPG.
Perhaps it is because games are such time-consuming pieces that I have begun to embrace this habit. Movies are generally short enough to rewatch in one sitting, and books must be reread to truly re-experience the depth, beauty, and images of its words. Gaming is unique in that the first few hours has the potential to remind the player of the entire scope of the game provided he has played it before. Gameplay and art style is usually similar throughout, and therefore it is sometimes enough for me to just replay a few hours of a game to regain the feeling I had after completing it for the first time.
Once I let go of the nagging pressure to complete every game I start, even if I have completed it before, it becomes a joy to sometimes jump from game to game to remember why I loved them in the first place. And if I end up beating it again (like I am well on my way to with Skyward Sword), then so be it.
Not to imply that replaying the opening hours of any game is identical to replaying an entire game, but just that gaming might have an advantage when it comes to wanting to revisit a world compared to a medium like literature.
But what about you, LusiOpeners? What is your relationship with starting new games? Does the thought of level one characters make you cringe or swell with excitement? Does the thought of starting without your full arsenal of weapons or items annoy or inspire you? Let me know in the comments below!