View Full Version : It was a very good year...

01-11-2008, 11:50 PM
I've been hearing this a lot about 2007. People have been quick to exclaim that this was the best year for video games in a long, long time, and looking back, I'm inclined to agree. After some contemplation, I would even go so far as to say that the past two and a half years were exceptional for video game fans, especially when compared to the three that came before them.

When the Dreamcast was taken off the market by Sega in late 2001, I took it as a personal defeat. It meant the Playstation 2 would be the dominant console of that generation, and that unique niche titles would be ignored in favor of software designed for the mass market.

Sure enough, when Grand Theft Auto 3 exploded in popularity, we saw dozens of knock-offs, all hoping to grab a little of that lucrative sandbox market for themselves. Realism became a top priority for developers, with the bright colors and wonderfully inscrutable "video game logic" of the past replaced with dark skies, gritty textures, and controversial subjects. Madden became less of a game and more of a yearly ritual, with gamers flocking to purchase the latest installment the moment it was released. Old-school was old-hat, and rival consoles received little notice in the face of the Playstation juggernaut.

All of this turned a hobby I loved into alien and inhospitable territory. For three years, I felt like there wasn't anything available for me; that there wasn't anyone looking out for the interests of a gamer who had held a joystick since he was four but was thinking about letting it slip from his grasp. Games just weren't fun for me anymore, and it remained that way for a solid three years, with the Game Boy Advance and the occasional niche title like Katamari Damacy offering the only respite from the monotony of first-person shooters and racing games that sacrificed entertainment for realism.

That all seemed to change in the spring of 2005. Games like Psychonauts dared to buck the system, offering old-school platforming with a subversive sense of humor. The Nintendo DS, once unsteady in a market hostile to new ideas, was finally finding its footing and proving its worth to a skeptical audience. The PSP, which was supposed to extend Sony's industry domination to the handheld market, found itself ill-equipped to outsell its more budget-conscious competitors. Microsoft started work on a cutting-edge console known as the Xbox 360.

Two and a half years later, the industry seems to have been entirely revitalized. Companies are more daring, taking chances on ideas like Brain Age and Trauma Center that they wouldn't have touched in 2003. The Playstation line finally has strong competition in the form of the Wii and Xbox 360. And there are video games for nearly every taste, rather than an endless stream of gritty titles targeting a single, narrow audience. For the first time in a long time, I feel like video games are back on the right track... and I believe just as strongly that Nintendo's "disruption" strategies and a market filled with viable competitors, rather than just one dominant console, are the reason why.

01-12-2008, 01:57 AM
I have to at least somewhat agree, my 360 and DS are accumulating rather large collections. Much faster then my last gen systems. This may have to do with increased income, but it also has a lot to do with more compelling software. PS3 and Wii are getting there (though I've yet to take the plunge on a PS3). Overall the shakeup seems to have helped things a lot.

01-12-2008, 08:32 AM
2007 was a very good year for videogames.

It was also one of the arguably best years for music during this decade. I'm compiling a "best of 2007" mix for a friend and it's 2 full CDs worth of one track from each great album from last year, and I already had to leave a few bands off. But I digress!!

2007 could only have been more momentous if MGS4 and Smash Bros. were released.

01-12-2008, 10:30 AM
I agree too, but I wouldn't call the past years "alien and inhospitable territory" myself. There were a lot of bad titles, and actually me and some of my friends feared for another "crash of videogames", but there were enough good titles, even if those were just a few, to keep the boat afloat.

It's true that most of my favorite games from the past generation are Dreamcast titles, and I too felt the death of that system as a personal defeat. Back then, I was just too angry with people because they couldn't see beyond the hype of the PS2. The hype, not the actual system. Those morons.

But, like I said, there were good titles, even if their proportion in the market (which had extended by the time) was thinner. And, like always, some of the best titles came just at the dusk of their own generation.

Regarding 2007, I do agree it was a great year. While I never felt terribly abandoned by videogames for the past years, 2007 was the year in which my commitment with videogames, so to speak, renewed. Like some have stated before, it was the year in which I changed my usual japan-only approach to a more open minded approach, both because I needed to broaden my horizons and because western games themselves have been evolving into truly amazing products. Now, I do not have a policy of western-only games or eastern-only games, but a policy of "get that good game from wherever it comes", and I got that from 2007 and personal revelations like BioShock, Mass Effect and Halo (I didn't play any Halo until 2007).