The Problem With Casual Gaming

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Guitar Hero Fun

Casual games tend to get a lot of shit from hardcore gamers.

Games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band have spawned the aptly named “Guitar Heroes”–players who associate themselves as gamers because they are able to mash colored buttons and strum in sequence. Don’t get me wrong, I like Guitar Hero and a cavalcade of other casual games, but just because you can get 100% on “Through the Fire and Flames” on expert mode doesn’t make you a gamer. It means you’re better off as a guitarist.

I personally don’t find anything wrong with games like those. Still, I tend to give Nintendo a lot of shit due to their stance on the casual gaming scene, pandering more to the wide variety of gamers while not really giving much to the loyal gamers who have been around from the beginning.

It’s a good business strategy, but where does it leave those of us that want a challenge? Cooking Mama may be interesting for bored housewives (casual gaming’s key demographic) but I look to video games to release stress and help take me away from the rigors of every day life. Why the hell would I want to release stress by doing household chores? What’s next? The Lawn-Mowing Daddy

A week ago, I attended a secret Nintendo event known as “World 1-2,” named after the second stage of Super Mario Bros., the one with the cool melody that everybody and their mother remembers. But when the name was announced, I noticed a lot of confused looks and it seemed as though my friends and I were one of the very few that actually understood the reference.  Where did these people come from? These were the so-called hardcore Nintendo fans that were invited to the event? The event itself was great and Nintendo really did a good job a catering to fans but, to be honest, I saw a lot of Guitar Heroes there.

Where were the gamers that knew about all the secret warp pipes in Super Mario Bros.? How many there could attest to beating all the special stages in Super Mario World? How many gamers there could correctly pronounce Ryu’s Hurricane Kick from the Street Fighter series (it’s Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, by the way)? I grew up a hardcore gamer and I consider myself very open minded when it comes to trying new things, so I have nothing against casual games themselves. I own Guitar Hero II, Rock Band 1 and 2, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and its sequels, Elite Beat Agents, etc. Casual games are fun. But I also like to rack up headshots with my Battle Rifle in Halo, split enemies in half with my Lancer in Gears of War, spamming down-smash with Peach in Super Smash Bros. Melee, wracking up SSS combos in DMC3 on Hard Mode, I could go on.

So why am I so riled up? I mean, there really is nothing wrong with casual games, is there?

No, there isn’t. Casual games are a great way to introduce people to video games. It’s the casual gamers and companies that ignore their hardcore fans who annoy me. The Guitar Heroes of the world. The people who think that because they can play Timmy and The Lords of the Underworld perfectly on Expert Mode, they should be revered as some sort of gaming god.

Some gaming gods.

I’ve met those types of people. Mr. “I’m so good at Guitar Hero” with snobby attitudes as a result. But when those so-called gamers sit down and play a challenging game and find themselves unable to get through it, you can bet that they’ll be the first ones to smash their controllers in a fit of frustrated rage. Beat Metal Gear 1 and 2 for the old MSX2 system (not the Solid series) before coming to me and saying you’re the king of all gamers. Play Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels, the original version of Super Mario Bros. 2, which was so hard, Nintendo opted to release a game that was a little more “user-friendly” here in the states. You’ll be tearing out your hair 10 minutes into the game, I bet.

Casual gamers are exactly why casual games have a bad reputation. And, I’m sorry to say this, but Nintendo is just as idiotic while they pander to these non-gamers. Super Smash Bros. Melee was an intense game and required a lot of strategy. Brawl is so watered down, you might as well just draw cards to see who wins since it doesn’t take any skill to beat someone. Casual gamers, you can keep your Cooking Mamas and your Rock Bands, mashing buttons to your hearts’ content.

I may not be the best gamer, but at least I rise to a challenge. I get frustrated, just like any one else but you can bet that I’ll sit myself down and try again not long after. To you true hardcore gamers out there: I salute you for your dedication. Those of you that waited in line for days for a PS2, those of you that have helped the industry thrive. I’ll be the first one to admit that the number of crappy games outweighs the number of good games but it’s the hardcore gamers that make many developers want to strive for perfection. If you like casual games, don’t take this the wrong way. I like casual games too, but if I had to choose, I’d be hardcore all the way.