Siliconera Speaks Up: Game Breakers

By Louise Yang . August 2, 2009 . 8:32am


What makes or breaks a game for you? Music, graphics, plot, or characters? Something else? Try to choose only one.


Louise: I’d like to make a distinction between graphics and art design. I think of graphics as the technical aspect of what we see in games and art design as the (hopefully) cohesive layer that holds the visuals together. I’m not a slave to graphics and would happily play a low-res sprite-based game like Cave Story, but if it has bad art design, it becomes a chore.


Games are primarily a visual medium for me. I like to play things that are aesthetically pleasing. It doesn’t even have to blow my mind away like all the shiny textures in Bioshock. If the color palette works, the character design is consistent, and the world is pretty, I end up playing the game for longer. No one wants to come home from a long day at work and look at something ugly.


Jenni: For me the plot is a huge part of why I play the games I play. I enjoy games where there’s rich storyline, character development and perhaps even a means to influence the plot through your actions. I love the worlds and mythology that games like Final Fantasy, Silent Hill, Harvest Moon, Tales of and other RPGs, strategic RPGs, simulations and visual novels present. If the writing and situation created is vivid enough, it can mask a game’s other failings.


Graphics, music and sometimes even control schemes don’t really mean as much to me. A really horrid and convoluted control scheme could keep me from playing if the story is also bad. I can be pretty forgiving when it comes to graphics, and since I tend to play portable games I almost always have the sound off so that isn’t a huge issue either.


Laura: I’ll have to say that I largely agree with what Jenni says. I can suffer through almost any horrible graphics, music, and control scheme, and I’ve done it too, so long I have at least one character I care for. As such, I think I’ll have to say that for me, the characters are what determines if the game is worth playing. I mean, even if the plot is the most cliched thing you’ve ever seen, I will still play through the game if I like at least one character, just to see what happens to him/her. I mean, some may agree and some may disagree, but from what I’ve heard from others, Wild Arms 3 isn’t the most original game around. But I played through almost all of it because of Jet and Clive. (Note that these guys are also considered cliche, but hey, whatever I like =D)


Not to say I don’t care about plot, though. That’s a really close second. Oftentimes I won’t play a game because it has no plot. However, it’s just that the characters really matter to me when I play a game. I’ve played through games with essentially no plot but really interesting characters (Guilty Gear). After plot might be art / character design, but I’ve never really had a game where that’s been an issue… It’ll just take me a really really long time to get fired up enough to even start the game.


Spencer: I don’t know if I’m going to explain this right, but flow. I want a reason to keep playing, a dangling carrot in front of me to keep going. Of course, this varies by genre. In a NES style platformer, it comes from being close to beating a level. Each time you repeat a stage you get a little bit better until you finally beat it and feel like you achieved something. In a RPG I want the plot to grab me so I keep playing, I can tolerate a reasonable amount of grinding and fetching herbs for sick pets as long as the plot is gripping and progressing.


Too much repetition or a story that’s spiraling nowhere disrupts the flow and can break a game for me.


Ishaan: It’s usually story for me. It doesn’t even have to be the most amazing story either…even a quirky, interesting narrative can hold my attention, like in World of Goo. It’s sad, but I’ve had to pass on so many DS RPGs because their stories or character development simply don’t hold up. It’s a little frustrating because the system is clearly capable of PS1-like RPGs…so how come we don’t get stories equivalent to those games?


What breaks a game for me is music. Even if a game doesn’t have a good story — and let’s face it, not every game needs one — I rely on good music to keep me playing. Here’s a funny story: I played Final Fantasy VII for the first time after watching Advent Children. Needless to say I wasn’t blown away by the graphics. Fortunately, Uematsu’s superb soundtrack kept me playing for about three hours, which was enough time for the game to impress me overall and get me hooked.

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  • ShadowYuri

    For me, everything revolves around characters (in a RPG, at least). Even if the story is linear and by no way original, if I can feel the protagonists’ emotions, well, I’ll enjoy the game. I’ve recently beaten the two Lunar on PS1, and these show a world that feels so “alive”, that I’ve been able to understand some characters, and I loved them (Jessica, Kyle; and Jean too).

    What breaks the game for me, like Spencer, is when there is nearly nothing to keep the player interested. For example, I was playing Crimson Gem Saga, and the games feels so… lost, sometimes. We accomplish quests, with a lot of “detours”. The gameplay is also very repetitive… This can be what I don’t like about certain games. However, I still have the will to go on, but really, I can’t put my finger as to why, although this is by no mean for the story.

    • Especially for RPGs, the characters have to be interesting. I don’t demand that they’re easy to relate to, but in some cases voice acting and localization styles could really influence my curiosity. I have to agree with keeping interest also because a feature like Devil Survivor’s many dialogue choices are really satisfying.

  • malek86

    It’s probably music for me. Bad graphics I don’t care, bad plot can be ignored, bad design I’ll get used to, bad characters I can always hope they’ll die during the story. But bad music? I’d have to mute the game, and try playing a mute RPG. No thanks. Another example, JSRF was pretty good by itself already, but i wouldn’t have spent 100 hours on it, if I weren’t also playing so I could listen to the awesome soundtrack.

    If we change genre though, things might be different. For example, I don’t really care much about music in a FPS, and design becomes more important.

    • I as well. I refuse to play an RPG with horrible music because it has to keep me hooked from the beginning. If there’s nothing else to keep me motivated the soundtrack has to be the next best thing, or I won’t last a couple hours. Wouldn’t have enjoyed Persona 4 as greatly without the upbeat tunes. (Not intentionally throwing the game into every other comment I make, but it’s relevant) Koichi Sugiyama’s U.S. Dragon Quest VIII OST is also a wonderful example of making me feel immersed in the atmosphere.

      I definitely agree that in other genres the music isn’t the top priority, though.

    • That’s funny! While I’m more lenient with music, I will turn voices off if the dubbing is extremely bad. It’s just too distracting to play a game with bad voice acting.

      • I agree. Even in Persona 4 with enjoyable voice acting I skipped many of the lines because I read faster than they were performed (I felt a little guilty). Haven’t played a game recently with bad dubbing, though. Anything worth checking out for laughs?

  • Jirin

    This is a tough topic for me because what I really need to keep me interested is just one thing to keep me playing. It could be plot, it could be a great combat system. It’s probably not graphics because graphics are frosting to me.

    The one thing that really makes me hate a game though is being too kiddy or treating me like an idiot. Like, one thing that really killed SMT: Devil Summoner 2 for me is that they give you a recap every fifteen minutes as if you’re too dumb to remember the plot. The baby nicknames made Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of The New World pretty much unplayable for me. Heck, I started playing RPGs when I was like nine or ten with FFIV and Secret of Mana. They weren’t the most grownup games in the world but they gave you more credit for your intelligence than a lot of newer games. They at least expected you to have the mental capacity to *remember the plot*.

    • Jirin

      I just realized I didn’t finish my thought there.

      And in games like FFIV and Secret of Mana, the plot isn’t completely adult, but at least adults act like children might expect adults to act. If I played Dawn Of The New World when I was ten, I would have thought it was too kiddy even then.

      • Huh, I haven’t played TOS2 (yet? Still debating on whether to even try). Why do you say the plot is “kiddy”? (other than the nicknames part.)

        • Jirin

          The central plot itself isn’t what’s kiddy so much as the writing. Like, near the beginning: Emil “I’m afraid. No, wait! Some stranger I just met told me I have to be brave! I guess I’m brave now!” The logic pretty much all the characters use to guide their actions is akin to the logic of a six year old, just kind of reacting to everything emotionally instead of thinking anything through.

          Then it also ticked me off that they took a world that already had elemental spirits and made up a whole new group of elemental spirits. I hate it when games just have you travel around the world collecting ‘Elemental somethings’ for the whole game. That’s just plain lazy.

    • I’m the same way. I can’t stand it when games are too repetitive with instructions like I’m some idiot who can’t remember what was said five minutes ago.

  • Aoshi00

    I’m not sure if one factor could be applied to different genres.. I would have to say it’s characters for me as well, that I care about them enough to find out what happens to them. Like Lost Odyssey, the heart wrenching novellas written about Kaim’s past was interesting and I like his new friends. To this day I still agree w/ what Togashi Yoshihiro (artist of Yu Yu Hakusho, Hunter x Hunter) said about creating manga, that once you have good characters that’s gripping to readers, story comes automatically. I could live w/ some repetitiveness if the character is interesting, like Desmond in Assassin’s Creed and we all know how repetetive that game was.. but w/o good characters, like Madworld which is just a quriky blood fest, the repetitiveness is hard to swallow, why should I keep playing?

    The game needs to be “fun”, I’ve got enough going on in real life already and don’t want to drudge thru dungeons or level grind, that’s why you would never find me playing MMO like Warcrack (sry, FF “14”), and kind of explains my dwindling interest in RPGs.

    @Ishaan – dang, I thought I was late in playing FF7, I didn’t play it a couple of years after its release (long spoiled of Aerith’s death) since I put off gaming for a couple of years then. I don’t think I’ve ever known another person who plays FF7 after watching Advent Children, that must be a strange experience.

    • You know what? The crappiness of Advent Children actually made FFVII seem a whoooole lot better. I couldn’t make any sense of Advent Children at all when I watched it, so it didn’t ruin the characters for me or anything.

      Then, when I played FFVII, everything — graphics aside — blew me away. It had great music, it had great battles, it had one of my favourite overworlds of any game ever, and yes, I do think it did some great things with story. I mean, do you remember how exhilarating it felt to chase the freaking Ruby weapon all over the world? God damn.

      • Am I the only one who wasn’t really bothered by FF7: AC?

        I still find the graphics nostalgically cute. I mean, I see them and I go LEGO HANDS!!!

        No, I don’t remember how exhilirating it was to chase the Ruby Weapon. That was because the Ruby Weapon kept on killing me in about 2 min flat. It was a sad time that I actually tried to fight that thing >_> Emerald Weapon was even worse, lol. I should just stay away from optional bosses in general.

        • Square could just re-release FFVII with new backgrounds an the same character models as Lego Final Fantasy VII.

          I was pretty high-leveled when I chased down both those. My two favourite moments in VII were encountering that giant Cobra in the quicksand or whatever for the first time and chasing down the Weapons. :D

          • Cobra? The Midgar Zolom, haha. I had to fight that thing to get the Beta Enemy Skill.

            Haha, Lego FF7. The sad thing is, you know it’d do well. Not to mention, you know there wouldn’t be TOO big a change in graphics from old FF7 XD

            Fave moments? Raising chocobos I guess… I don’t think it was the actual process so much as the results. Made me feel so proud of the little birds. Least fave moment? Realizing that I accidentally screwed mastering my Enemy Skill materia by one skill. Apparently Pandora’s Box is only used once, and it went on to the only Skill materia I had that DIDN’T know Trine. Another sucky thing was that I saved the game after the point where you couldn’t return in the Crater, so I was kind of stuck and could only go forward. Sadness. No more training / leveling up materia =(

            Wow, this turned into an FF7 rant.

          • I can’t believe you actually remember all of that. My memory of VII is so blurry…I can’t even remember what my team was. I think Cloud, Vincent and Tifa…

          • Bah, this is in response to Ishaan’s comment.

            The reason I remember FF7 (and FF8) so well isn’t actually because I was a big fan of the games, at least, not originally. It was because I had read the guidebooks for fun over and over again XD It got to the point where I could name an enemy as long as I know what it looks like and the place where it appears, so long as it doesn’t have a whole string of numbers after its name (like X-ATM 9-something-something in FF8).

      • Aoshi00

        Of course AC’s story is nothing to write home about, it’s basically nothing more than fanservice for old fans and a way for S-E to showcase its CG movie making capability. What I don’t understand is why did you want to watch AC before playing the original game, it’s like you go straight to Crisis Core. The movie doesn’t even make sense for fans who’ve played the game. Advent Children Complete was improved a lot though, since they elaborate on who Denzel was and why he’s so important to Cloud.

        No doubt FF7 was a milestone for RPGs and revolutionary in more than one way, hence the whole compilation to fill in the backstories to milk the series. I was never really into the Lego thing, after playing Crisis Core, I hope at least they would remake FF7 w/ graphics as good as that. But if they are ever doing a remake, that’s no point not to go all out and make it w/ ACC/FF13 graphics.

        • Oh, so the new contents in ACC isn’t just pretty graphics?

          • Aoshi00

            No way, they actually fleshed out the whole Denzel thing. In the original movie, I hated him because he was just a kid w/ no purpose. But in the extended cut, he really has a story and personality to justify his existence. The kid has also grown up a bit and did better voice acting too.

        • @Aoshi: My GF at the time was watching it, so I figured I’d watch it with her. I was kind of impressed by how much unrealized potential there was in the story, so I decided to check VII out after that. :P

          @Terra: Pretty impressive, considering it comes free with the FFXIII demo.

          Edit: @Aoshi again: Do you really think they’d be able to recapture the charm of FFVII with AC/CC like graphics though? Part of what I loved about it was the terrible — enthusiastic, but terrible — dialogue and the little lego chibis. I don’t know if making it even more depressing and taking away from some of the lightheartedness would work out.

          • Aoshi00

            Well, I’m sure people have their reasons, it just seems slightly odd to me you waited over 10 plus years to revisit such a prominent installment within the FF series.

          • I’m still planning to play the older FF’s, the ones before 7 XDDDD Those are even older XD

          • Aoshi00

            FF1-6 are different than FF7 as the original post said, because they’re 2-D and don’t feel antiquated, relatively compared to 3D (3D graphics don’t stand the test of time). I could still play the Dragonball or Romance of the 3 Kingdoms NES RPGs, except I cannot do leveling right now.

          • Mm, I remember the swears from Barret and Cid. I love how it’s just kind of censored out with $*&#*[email protected]#& instead of just kept out. That was hilarious.

          • Naw, as I recall during a conversation with you in the past, part of the beauty of FF7 was the juxtaposition of seriousness and random carefreeness. Like, “we’re all gonna die from WEAPONs!!” and “Hey, let’s go breed Chocobos!” together. They really don’t fit…they really don’t. I wonder what Cloud was thinking when he was having birds mate each other while the world was dying. “I can’t help what I’m doing! Don’t look at me like I’m insane for wanting to breed Chocobos! …It’s all the player’s fault *glare*”

          • Aoshi00

            Part of the charm was certainly due to the super deformed-ness, like the SNES days, that’s why the characters from all the old RPGs felt endearing to us. The profile mugshot is a pensive gothic Amano illustration, while the character is a simple sprite flapping his arms and kicking his legs, Barret’s “#$#&”, etc. I’m not saying they need to re-create the SD cuteness w/ a HD remake, if that’s their intention there is no point for a remake at al.

            What I am saying is since now game graphics are capable to be so much more, as S-E demonstrated and teased us w/ the PS3 tech demo train scene (also in the end of Crisis Core), they should make one that looks as good as possible. It doesn’t need to be cute, it could be another more serious direction, like Crisis Core, which is a damn good prequel, even though the Gackt voiced and modeled Genesis felt like a Sephiroth prototype re-hash.

          • Gah, Crisis Core. I felt like someone decided to take values and embody them in characters, ending up with the most 2D characters I’ve seen in a looong long time.

            But yea, FF7 in Crisis Core graphics (which is essentially KH graphics, if you compare it)… That’d be interesting.

          • You know, for all the art Amano has done for FF, not once has it transitioned into the actual game while keeping in line with the original vision. I think Dissidia might be the first example ever of that…Terra looks a lot like Amano’s concept of her.

            I’d really like to see an FF where they actually try to stay true to his concepts.

          • Aoshi00

            Yeah, but I think that’s a pretty high order, and there’s where Nomura comes in after FF6. Even Dissidia is the Nomura version of Amano characters. Guess it could be done today, but Amano’s painting is just too artsy for actual game graphics. It’s funny he’s only doing the logos now, even FF14 an online game, come on..

          • It’s possible, though. I mean, there are some artsy games out there, like Shadow of the Colossus and Okami. Amano would take a great deal of creativity to work out, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

  • M’iau M’iaut

    Another vote here for characters and control being killers. For characters, I need to look no further than SO4. Here’s a game that I was so desiring and I can’t find myself able to work through because the people I am portraying I care nothing about. That’s saying a lot as blue-haired catgirls and little magical girls SHOULD have a ‘recommended daily allowance’ tied to them. I won’t even go into the complete cardboard cookie leads. Eternal Sonata is another game I should have adored (Aya Hirano plays Polka for goodness sake!) but didn’t — I cry about how far Tri-Ace and related teams have slipped….

    The first Magna Carta showcases controls that ruin. Again, you have wonderful art and design and a story that tries to be interesting…..but when it is damn near impossible to beat the TRAINING matches because of the cockemamey button scheme, you just choose to give up.

    • Control certainly puts a hamper if they’re bad. I mean, after all, unlike anime or movies, a part of games is the “fun and interactive” factor. Bad controls certainly decrease that by a lot.

      Oh, don’t worry about dying in training matches. I almost died during the tutorial in the Disgaea game (first one), and I DID die in the third or so tutorial match in Demon Summoner 2.

      Would you say that the bad characters were just … flat? Or did they just have bad characteristics that made you not want to care?

  • xemnas

    Depends on the genre

    Fighting – Music
    RPGs- Voice Work
    Sports Games – Customization
    Action games – Repetitiveness

    • That’s weird that music is so important in a fighting games. I’d rather have good controls and balanced characters. I hate most of the music in SF4, but I keep playing it because the controls actually are not too bad!

  • Controls.

    I can tolerate a reasonable amount of strange controls, every battle system or control scheme takes some time to get used to after all. But when the controls keep frustrating me it is no longer fun to play. One example in my case is Tales of Legendia, I simply couldn’t get used to the battle system. Even though I thought the story was very interesting, and I would like to get further in it, the battles broke the game for me and I never finished it.

    Horrible voices can be annoying too, but sound can usually be muted. Although that often takes a lot of the fun out of the game.

    • Ooh, I forgot about voice acting. I mean, I’m someone who has always viewed dub in a slightly biased view, so sometimes I’m like “bah, it’s to be expected” (although recently, even I have to say they’re doing pretty well most of the time in dubs). But still, there are some times when I’m just like “whyyyyy do you do this to us~~~” when I’m playing a game with bad voice acting.

      Mute is a fun thing for those cases, but then I can’t hear the music. Sigh, can’t have everything =(

    • Oh! This reminded me of another thing that’s a game breaker for me. BAD CAMERA ANGLES. I refuse to play a lot of third person action games because I *hate* when the camera gets stuck behind something and you can’t even see what’s going on. Or I die because of a wild camera angle.

  • If I had to choose one, hmm. I can tolerate ho-hum stories if the gameplay is solid. Most everything has a trade off like that (bad controls, but good story… bad story, good gameplay… bad gameplay, good story… etc), but there’s one that doesn’t have a trade off for me to consider in my mind. Yes, graphics.

    Particularly 3-D graphics. They age SO fast and it becomes increasingly difficult to go back to a nostalgic classic and still enjoy it. 2-D games never matter; they’re ageless and always pleasant to look at in my eyes. 3-D games suffer horribly, especially now that I have an HDTV, stuff like Legend of Legaia and Final Fantasy 8 look… well… bad. Yet, things like Suikoden still look awesome.

    This doesn’t mean old 3-D graphics “break” a game for me, but they are the main factor detracting from my level of enjoyment and it’s rather moot for “new” games. But think about it – a game like Final Fantasy Tactics looks great, even today. Play a 3-D game released around the same time (Threads of Fate, perhaps). Tell me which has aged worse, looks older, etc. It’s a sad fact, but like I said, it’s not breaking the game, really. 3-D has less of a lasting appeal overall since it constantly changes and improves.

    • Haha, 2D graphics! I swear, to me, Suikoden 2 graphics are still the best graphics. Ever. Beats most 3d games too!

      I think the thing with 3d was that people actually had to improve to do well in it. I mean, FF8 and onwards still look fine. Fuzzy, but fine. FF7…err…that’s a bit harder to say, but it wasn’t the worst by any means. But that’s Square. You go to other games at that same point in time and it’s just like “…O-o;;”

      Whereas with 2d, people have been doing that for a long long time and they know how to do it.

    • Aoshi00

      That’s very true for 3D graphics. There are classics that I missed back in the days and think of giving them a try, but they would just look so horrible and turn me off that I can’t play more than 1 minute. Golden Eye for N64 was great if you played in back in the 90’s, but what if you haven’t played the game and try it in 2009 (after Splinter Cell Conviction and Uncharted), it looks like crap and just unbearable. I imagine FF7 is still okay because of the pre-rendered background plus the characters are super deformed to begin w/, whereas FF8 looks quite bad w/ its Sims-like characters w/ scary mannequin expression.

      I know people say Flower, Sun, and Rain’s story trumps everything else, but it’s plain ugly to me, the face has what, 5 polygons?

      • You think FF8 looked bad? I think it looks really good, considering… I mean, the 3D is fuzzy, but the FMVs are still beautiful. I think the “mannequin expression” might be Squall’s fault.

        Haha, FSR graphics are dear to me XD I think it kind of fits the story, even if Mondo DOES have elf ears and no one looks like their avatars.

      • There’s certain games where bad graphics help though. I know NickyD is a fan of Nightmare Creatures, too, and that was one where I felt the bad graphics and the fog actually made it a LOT creepier. I don’t know if NC would be as creepy today. The same goes for older Tomb Raider games…some of the areas in 3 really creeped me out.

        Aoshi breaks my heart with the FSR dissing. :(

        • Aoshi00

          lol, I’m sry man, I know you love the game to death. I didn’t mean to keep bringing it up as an example, but you get the idea, I get bugged by really ugly graphics.. I’m superficial :(…

          @Laura — yes, personally I think FF8 looks bad because it was trying to look realistic and in proportion while the Playstation was barely capable of that. While FF7 & 9 still look okay these days because the characters are SD, even if they’re filled w/ jaggies. Every time I see Squall makes a summon, I still remember those kids playing the game in one of the Charlie’s Angels movie, against Tetris music or something.

          • Haha, it’s cool. To each their own. I could never finish Xenogears for the same reason. Just looked butt-ugly to me, and this is when I was going through my exclusively-JRPG gaming phase. :/

          • Ouch, Xenogears. I still have to trudge it. As I said, it isn’t a BREAKER for me, but bad graphics can really drag things down.

            (oh look, we’re almost BACK ON TOPIC! o/ )

  • Characters, or rather, personalty of the whole game. Looking back at my all time favorites, while I do enjoy solid gameplay and most games depend on them to at least merit some value, it’s always the characters that give me that memorable experience.
    How they interact with each other and situations that can tie into gameplay or settings or plot, etc. The things I had to sit through to get to Jigglypuff, Rebecca Chambers, Ledgem, the family in Incredible Crisis and others – that’s my juicy carrot up my pie-hole. So, I guess overall presentation ultimately.
    I think the Phoenix Wright/Ace Attorney series fits into this slot as well. While the gameplay is interesting enough I’m really looking to see what snarky thing the characters say next. That’s my maker.

    As for breaker; boringness. No life or inspiration in mind when the game was made or while playing it. Forgettable.
    Also, games like in The Sims were you could actually be learning how to repair your sink when it busts instead of your Sim living your life for you. I’m not sure if there’s a word or term for it, but I’d call it ‘Sim paralysis’.

    • Aoshi00

      I was about the say the same thing, for any classic anime or games, 10 or 20 years later what do people remember about them, most likely the memorable characters. Of course this has to do w/ age as well, as we should be able to relate to characters easier when we were kids or in college, whereas for full grown adults it just takes more to impress us. That’s why you hear people say “emo this emo that” now.

      Phoenix Wright trilogy and Gyakuten Kenji are fun due to Phoenix, Edgeworth, Gumshow, etc, while Apollo Justice, not bad, but ultimately forgettable as characters were less interesting. I say dump him for Gyakuten Saiban 5.

      • Mm, so you’re saying “emo” is partially a catagorization resulting from age?

        Well, part of it’s the characters, and part of it’s the way the characters react to the plot and events and whatnot. Like, I remember Luke from Tales of the Abyss (one of my fave charas since I’ve played that game…) for both his personality and the way he tries to take everything into his hands. Man, Tower of Rem =|

        • Aoshi00

          Personally I think that term is just stupid, kids use it and jaded gamers who grew tired of “JRPGs” also use it. To them everyone is freaking “emo”. Like the new FF13 character Hope. What do people expect, it’s supposed to be a dramatic story, the kid’s mom got killed, he cries, he’s emo. So do we want a Marcus Fenix in Final Fantasy.

          Well, for us who’ve gamed for so long and aren’t so young anymore (I’m turning 30 this month), I guess it’s harder to really get immersed in an RPG story. When I was a teenager and perhaps up until college when I could devote my entire self to gaming, I could easily be absorbed and caught up in the story and think it’s the greatest thing since slice bread. Not to say that I’m jaded and dismiss things quickly. Since I still appreciate many types of games, but my taste has grown wider than JRPGs compared to before. Don’t know if I make any sense.

          • That’s true! I mean, people apply “emo” to angst, but oftentimes, in games the characters really do have a reason to be angsty. Of course, this doesn’t mean we have to LIKE them, it just means that they’re kind of justified.

            Mm, is it because of no time to be spent on RPGs? They are getting longer and longer nowadays. My taste has gotten a lot wider too (I never would’ve tried Resident Evil 4 in the past), but I still look for the same things, and I actually expanded my range because my tastes haven’t changed XD

          • I think there’s definitely a distinction between “emo” and tragic. People says Minato from Persona 3 looks “emo,” so what…now emo is based on your hairstyle?

            Not once in the game does Minato act even remotely emo…in fact — and Laura and I discuss this endlessly — Minato meets his destiny and his chosen role head on, and not once complains about it.

            P.S: Happy birthday, Ojii-san. ;)

          • You’re only less than ten years younger than him.

            Erm, he doesn’t act emo, but I think it’s also better if you find an example who’s not a silent protag. Not to mention I kind of believe that his angsting happens off-screen. Who wouldn’t be a bit conflicted over something like that?

            Well, emo hairstyle is generally long bangs over the eyes, or a darkish color like blue or silver (as opposed to bright like gold or red). Not to say there aren’t any, but still.

          • Aoshi00

            Thanks. But still oji-san, or onii-san, but not ojii-san.. Man, I made fun of my colleague of her big 3-0 a couple of years back (that was mean since she’s a gal), now it’s fnally my turn. Well, I know it’s just a number, but got to do more to fight back decreased metabolism :(… anyway, emo is just a stupid term no matter how one spins it.

          • Aoshi’s avatar looks like he just realized he’s a clone of another panda and his forest burned down when he was a child and had his memories erased following the incident. (Psst…he’s emo.)

            And remember, age is in the mind! :)

          • Hey, that panda is the cuted thing since dragons. I can stare into that face for a long long time and still stare.

            Emo is really just a catagorization / stereotype. It’s not something people have to care about, nor does it necessarily exist. People, sigh. They complain when characters are too contemplative/sad, and they complain when charas are too happy. Hard to please the crowd.

          • Aoshi00

            lol, that’s funny man. I got a thing for panda (bought a copy of National Geographics DS game but haven’t played it yet), I guess emo doesn’t sound so bad in this context.

            I keep telling myself that, gotta think young, just too much dang responsibilities that’s called our mundane real life.

          • Replying here since the rest of the damn thread is exhausted. That Natgeo Panda game actually is really cool. I thought I was the only one that ever bothered to look into it. :)

          • Aoshi00

            Yeah, I never did get Nintendogs, but panda is special to me so I thought I would give it a try (it was the nickname for my ex-gf, gave her a copy too, emo-cries..), I need to watch that special DVD too, but it probably doesn’t have anything I don’t know since I watched all the Discoveries programs.

            Back to Gyakuten Kenji, Francizka is on a whipping-frenzy (but cute)! Back to topic, “characters” are important!

          • Wow. That’s…actually my current gf’s nickname. Not kidding.

  • vall03

    theres only one thing that can make or break for me, its difficulty. I dont know it much or understand myself either. As a big fan of RPGs, Im very tolerant of the story and plot, although most of the time all I can just say is “huh?”, I always end up enjoying all of them and always keep me interested no matter what. Also, theres always these comments about “annoying characters” but I dont find them like that at all. No matter how stupid a character might look or sound based on his attitude, its still nothing for me. Music and graphics is also not a game breaker for me. Although I have always have high expectations for music, I never encountered any game that I didnt enjoy the music. Graphics is also not a game breaker for me and its something that I dont care about most of the time. As for gameplay, theres always this “repetitive” stuff people always keep saying but its not for me. One case is Odin Sphere, when I started reading reviews and forums about it after I beat it, and all I can say is “Odin Sphere was repetitive? I never knew it was repetitive!” until I read about people commenting like that.

    Now, its a long post but the reason why difficulty is a game breaker for me is because of my own abilities. I never really liked to compete so multiplayer games are not really my forte outside of occasional friends inviting me. So Im used to playing by myself. I will always choose Easy difficulty. Some might find this stupid but I always enjoy defeating enemies in one blow and I find it fun. In case of action games, since I dont have fast reflexes or reaction times, I want something with easy access to healing items and easy to predict enemies. An example would be God Hand, almost all things are good about it except the difficulty. It took me 4 tries to defeat the mini-boss and 7 times to defeat the boss of the 1st Stage and it took me almost 5 hours to complete it and I was already playing at the easiest difficulty! So there, this is really not my full idea but these are just some thoughts about what could break a game for me.

    • Aoshi00

      That’s a really good reason. I’m like that too, I would first choose “normal” difficulty (just don’t want to feel like an amateur, unless it’s ninja gaiden) and if things get too tough then I’d go “easy”. Nothing feels worse than wanting to play the game but it’s just too dang hard that one hit a road block and can’t progress along.

      • I remember in Kingdom Hearts 2, I was like “damn, this was too easy,” after I finished, so when I played FF7: CC, I was like “hey, this is Square too! Thus, if I choose normal, it’ll be too easy like it was in KH2! Thus, I shall choose HARD mode!”

        …Never again, will I do that. In the time it took me to replay the game in normal afterwards, I was only about 40% done with missions and had gotten stuck. Not to mention normal enemies took me 30 min. APIECE.

        • But but but you had so much FUN fighting Sephiroth in KH2!

          • My greatest regret was not saving after that point.

            @vall03: Yeah, as I stated in another comment, the interactive part of a game is a factor that is unique to games alone. If that is bad, then it does take out a lot of the motivation to playing that game, even if the game has great story / characters. This holds for both controls and difficulty levels. A too hard difficulty level will just discourage players from playing if it’s the only choice available.

  • thaKingRocka

    In my ACTION games, there has to be a sense of gratification. SF2 remains an all time favorite possibly because it feels so damn gratifying when you hit someone. SF4 did a decent job recreating this, but the muddier sounds of the CPS1 will always work better for me than anything they’ve got going today or even the CPS2. SF2’s combat is a perfect combination of graphic & sound design, and the momentary hit stun makes you feel like you’ve actually done damage.

    In FPSs, only the Call of Duty series really seems to recognize this design element. From the satisfying thunk of a bullet connecting to the visual indication with an X, they really understand what some gamers need to keep them shooting opponents two years after release. I tried playing FEAR on 360, and I couldn’t tell if I’d hit the enemies or not. What’s the point of playing if there is no immediate indication that I’m having an effect on the game world and its characters?

    3D games, too often, just don’t capture that sense of gravity or influence over the environment that 2D games consistently afforded us back in the day. This is partly why I walked away from nearly every 3D fighter I ever played. I still do play them all, but none have ever approached anything that feels as good as an SF2 jumping fierce, standing fierce, sonic boom into fierce backhand. I think all developers should do that Guile combo over and over again to learn what gratifying game play feels like.

    Even in many 2D fighting games, there are false combos of 10+. How could it possibly be gratifying to pull of a 10-hit combo when you input only one motion and it does only 15% damage? This needs to go. MvC2 is probably the worst offender, and I sometimes think people may be drawn to it because of its false sense of accomplishment. I seriously think even Guile’s 4-hit combo is one hit more than any combo should be allowed to be. It just feels too good to give up.

    When it comes to PLOT, the deal breaker for me is philosophy. Existentialist and metacognitive themes may be implicit without any complaint from me, but the moment they cross over to explicit, I’m done. MGS is a crap-smattering of vapid meanderings that would be scoffed at in even a college freshman lit class, and someone needs to be there with a ruler to slap Kojima’s hand when he’s writing all sorts of inane tripe regarding the philosophy of … well, everything. Maybe they should just take him off the series entirely. He can go off to have a beer with George Lucas while someone else takes over and makes things coherent and enjoyable again.

    • thaKingRocka

      Oh, and one more thing – performance issues. If you’re developing a game for a console, there is no excuse for a drop in framerate. I’d prefer 60fps, but 30fps is fine. However, if your 30fps game drops below that mark, I will regard it as substandard junk in need of more optimization time. A console is a computer with standardized parts. Everybody has the same machine. If you don’t take the time to make a game play smoothly on it, then you just shouldn’t bother. I am currently really pissed off that Ninga Gaiden II has slowdown at all. It hasn’t affected any battles yet,but even so, it’s very unlike Team Ninja.

      In all these Unreal Engine 3 games, despite the hardware relief that is its seeming monochromaticity, there is the problem of slow-to-load textures. Make the gamer wait an extra 3 seconds while your game loads the textures rather than subjecting us to textureless polygons while the next chapter opens, damn it. If smoke effects are causing slowdown, cut them, reduce the volume, or reduce the detail in the sky. CliffyB is lucky that Gears is so damned good. Otherwise, I would have walked away at having seen that apparent laziness.

      • Aoshi00

        UE3 is a mess in the latest batch of JRPGs. Like you, I’m not bothered by the texture loading in Gears at all, since most of the time you’re so caught up in the action and it’s only at the beginning of a match. But Last Remnant every time you exit a room, things takes seconds to pop up on the screen bit by bit, really takes you of the game world.

        Ditto on the Guile combo, every punch you landed was really in someone’s face, ah, the days when coins are on the glass of the arcade cabinet.. I’m by no means a good fighter, but I certainly remember that satisfaction.

  • MadMirko

    (Game) Mechanics make a game for me.

    I suffer through a shitty plot, I look at ugly art, I listen to painful music and so on, IF the game provides me with an interesting “world” I can lose myself in. That world is made up of rules that need to be consistent and interesting. It will have to provide a challenge that is not based on endurance (= grinding) but on a proper understanding and application of the core elements that make up the game (what people usually call strategy).

    SMT, Etrian Odyssey, Fire Emblem and Advance Wars immediately come to mind. Even though those are among my favorite games / series, I wouldn’t like any of them if the game systems were not as good as they are.

    • Yay, new thread to talk in!

      Agree with “world” completely. I need something I can lose myself in. It’s the problem I have with most RPGs on DS…I just cannot bring myself to believe in those worlds. I believe the FFIV remake has come closest to doing this for me on DS.

      Mechanics…I think a game that does what you’re talking about really well is Soul Reaver, with you switching in and out of the two different dimensions. It’s challenging, it makes you think about the puzzles, it’s effective use of the hardware it was on. I still think it’s one of the best games I’ve ever played.

      • MadMirko

        Get off my lawn! ;)

        Another good example is Dwarf Fortress on the PC. It puts you in the boots of the leader of a small expedition of dwarves, tasked with creating a new colony in some forlorn wilderness. Your personal version of the game has a persistent world and sometimes you’ll hear of legends and incidents in different parts of the world, and you’ll realize that they are about one of your previous attempts, that famous hero being your most experienced fighter who died in an epic battle against wild elephants (no, I’m not kidding).

        You can even switch the gameplay type from simulation to rogue like and explore the world with a single hero. It might be you find the abandoned ruins of a previous fort, now complete with monster settlements and the treasures you made back then.

        The game is presented in ASCII, controlled with the keyboard all in the most ancient ways possible. Still, the game is incredibly immersive because of its attention to detail and the feeling that you could have lived through your last disaster if only you had been smarter about things. The rules are clear, they are complex and challenging to understand. Even when you finally know why you failed, you still have to figure out how to succeed (for example how to not drown your dwarves by flooding the entire fort when you try to get a farm going in the fertile flood soil of an underground river).

        It’s not just about complexity, though. A game with simple mechanics can evoke the same feeling, which probably relates to Spencer’s “flow”, of moving inside the restrictions of the game without feeling forced and constricted. I’d say Icaruga is one of those, which can be an almost meditative experience.

        • “that famous hero being your most experienced fighter who died in an epic battle against wild elephants (no, I’m not kidding).”

          That sounds AWESOME!

          Bit. Trip Beat feels almost meditative, too. Once you get in the flow, it feels so incredible and satisfying. And I <3 the music.

    • A lot of the RPGs I play have a world that I’m satisfied and can immerse myself into. Suikoden, Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy, Suikoden, Fire Emblem, Radiata Stories, … … …

      On a completely different note, having a consistent world is one of the most important parts of the fantasy genre in general. It’s one of the reasons I’ve taken so long to work on my original story XDD

      • MadMirko

        It’s true, and probably no wonder that the games I love most are set in another world, be that a fantasy setting or a what-if-reality. I consider my gaming time well spent if it feels like a mini-vacation, away from myself and the world I live in. Nothing wrong with being me, mind, but it’s nice to have a change of scenery.

        • Mm, escapism, eh? =P

          For me, it’s like an excursion too, although it’s not really to get away from myself so much as learning more about other people.

      • Jirin

        I agree that immersiveness is a big plus for an RPG.

        That’s why I love Mass Effect but hate Bioshock, love Xenogears and hate Xenosaga. There’s such a huge difference in the amount you believe the setting and get swept up in the drama, it can really get you through the boring parts.

        • Oh? I found Xenosaga more interesting than Xenogears. Then again, that might’ve been because I started with one, not to mention gears is kind of … outdated in graphics.

          On a note to your other thread, the solidness of the world is an important part. Since TOS2 was kind of adding new things seemingly randomly without any precursor, it sounds like that solidness became a bit more shaky.

          • Jirin

            I started with NES, so outdated graphics don’t bother me. I still have it in my closet and I plug it in and play all my old faves sometimes.

            I find the characters of Xenogears more believable and identifiable, and I find their approach to building up mysteries like that of Lost. They dangle a whole lot of mysterious cheese in front of you then explain it 40 hours later, so your second time through you catch a lot of things you missed. Xenosaga’s characters come off as too shrill and over the top, and Kos-Mos saves everyone by pulling a magic super-beam out of her butt a few too many times.

            Plus Xenosaga in my opinion has one of the least immersive worlds ever. The ‘segment address’ and the ‘global samaritan campaign’ are the two biggest examples, and I don’t really buy that a giant warship would use Domino Rally as it’s self destruct mechanism. I also don’t like the way Saga handled giant robots, and I think Xenogears did such a better job on atmosphere. The only problem with Xenogears is that they were forced to rush disc two and it just turned into a lot of long winded exposition.

  • d00msmith

    For me – it all comes down to one thing. Style.

  • I’m starting to dislike Missions in games, I’ll attempt them but overall I find lots of them filler and annoying. I wouldn’t want to play a mission-full game all the time. RPG ones usually get on my good side a little more.

    For rpgs I would say characters. I wouldn’t want to play a 40+ hour game with people I don’t care about.

    In general otherwise:
    Game design
    Art Direction
    Loading times

    Oddly enough I don’t mind game length.

    • Missions? Required or not? FF7:CC has soo many missions and it was what basically prevented me from finishing the game in 10 hours and instead made me spend about 30hrs on it. And even then I only did about 60% of the missions on Normal Mode (I had a freaky time with Hard Mode…).

      Any preferences for plot?

      Haha, I thought I was one of the few (along with Louise) who cared about art direction XDD

      • Ah, Required ones really. I don’t have a problem if the plot calls for it but I don’t really want to see out-of-the-blue time limits and “don’t take damage, kill x amount of enemies, defeat them without “certain attack”, race them to the goal” kind of thing. Maybe I’m just spoiled with level -> boss design of the old days.
        Optional though, is fine because I can tackle them when I feel like it. But the rewards need to be better than some concept art/music.

        If RPGs have missions that are required I usually prefer it to be a non-existent plot. Lately I haven’t found too much frustration, last of what i played was Mana Khemia which has missions and item fetching. The story is hardly “there” for most of the game as it’s more character development so it’s fine for me.

        Preferences for plot? Well I don’t mind cliches really, as if I have characters I like I’ll play it more.
        I love more supernatural themes. Fantasy is a second. I usually really picky with plot if it relates to army and war, or really sci-fi/space opera stuff. I find them boring. The only real army related series I like is Metal Slug because it’s wacky.

    • Jirin

      Missions, I don’t mind. When those missions involve fighting the same weak enemies over and over hoping for rare item drops, just freaking no.

  • sorceo

    I would say that control is the biggest “make or break” element of a game for me. Bad control can make a game stupidly frustrating in all genres. Unnecessary “level barriers,” inability to climb over minor increases in elevation because of a lack of jumping or auto-jumping, poorly implemented item management systems, when random NPCs stand in the way and you can’t go through them and you have to wait for them to get out of the way, anything that moves clunkily, etc.Any flawed gameplay mechanics can really destroy the experience. Stupid characters can really ruin a game, especially stupid AI characters on your side. When your allies can’t heal you fast enough, but they’ll save their bacon when they get one minor nick from the enemy is annoying, especially in games where the protagonist’s life is the most important. Music and sounds are a small second on this. For example, the battle voice acting in Shining Force Neo cannot be turned off, and I don’t like hearing Meryl shouting “HOT STUFF COMING YOUR WAY!” every waking moment. It doesn’t matter if a game has non-next gen graphics. It barely matters if the characters are cliché. A good plot is nice, but I’d rather have a game with a hackneyed plot, stupid characters, previous gen graphics and sounds, and awesome control than a game with next-gen graphics, music done by an orchestra, a wonderful plot, good characters, but horrendous control.

  • plot and characters are everything a game must hit my heart to makes me passionate

  • Josh

    I like good games.

  • Doc

    I think of games as having 2 basic elements: aesthetics and gameplay. A great game needs to be great in both. A game with great gameplay but bad aesthetics can still be satisfying. But a game with poor gameplay is pretty much hopeless, even if the aesthetics are good.

    • Ah, but the question is which matters more =P

      But you’re right. Really, I think of games as a sort of art form (sounds pretentious, doesn’t it) with interactive included as a factor, so even though most ppl are like “game controls suck!” I still like to give the game a shot.

  • Why I choose to get a game? Gameplay.

    Watching how they throw people around in Disgaea 3 with ease or watching Luca and Croche sing a duet or seeing Noel whip people in the face with her guns.

    So simply gameplay. If I find a game that has what looks to be good gameplay then I will probably buy it. If I can´t find any good gameplay then I might get curious about characters. But above all is the gameplay.

    If it looks fun to play then it probably is. Mana Khemia was a great example where a gameplay movie sold the game for me.

    As for what brakes a game for me? When a single occurance of a element in a game makes me hate the whole game. Halo was fun and dandy untill the last stage, then it got so damn irritating. The carride on the last stage broke a otherwise nice game. The warthog is useless to controll and you want to know how to controll it since one misstake and you basically have to start over.

    The reason I don´t play most if all MMORPG is that there are so few enemies. Kill thousands and thousands of the same enemy gets boring after a while.

    If I have to choose only of those then it´s the one occurance of a so stupid thing it brakes the whole game.

    Above is true for ordinary games. When it comes to visual novels then what makes me buy the game is story. I want/need a great story to get it.

    If I can´t know about the story then it´s graphics. If I´m going to spend so much time on it then it has to be pleasant on the eyes :p

    Game breaker for this kind of games? The game is all about rape and nothing more. Then I don´t want to hear or see it.

    For a bit of topic thought: Am I able to make some kind of spoiler tag here?

    edit – Had to insert what breakes a game for me

    edit 2 – Had to insert a bit more since what I wrote was only about “ordinary” games and not visual novels.

  • indurrago

    Forgive me being out of topic but I can’t really say what specifically breaks a game for me since games have so much variety and I have different expectations for different genres and series(alot of the time I just get bored and forget about a game). But what I can say for certain is what brings me back to a game. For me its music and I have Yasunori Mitsuda and Nobuo Uematsu. Gameplay, story, characters, etc would be the initial hook for me but its really the music that brings me back to those old games I used to spend hundreds of hours on. I agree with Ishann that most games don’t have amazing stories and many don’t need them to be enjoyable. Although the sad truth is many games don’t come with a sound test so I end up looking and listening to them from online sources. And, while the games themselves become dusty and worn out, it’s the music that will be remembered by fans and continue to inspire them, old and new. Lastly, I’m thankful the songs are finally get the recognition that they deserve with actual concerts dedicated to them(and the fans), and playing their songs.

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