I am writing this post on what can be the most anticipated or most dreaded day of the year: Tax Day. If you don’t live in the United States (I’m assuming all countries handle taxes differently), here’s a bit of background. On Tax Day, you send in all the documentation about your income taxes, business holdings, tax exemptions, and any other tax-related nonsense to the government. The ridiculous amount of paperwork all works together to help you figure out if you’ve paid the correct amount of taxes for the year. If you’ve paid more into taxes than you should have, you get a refund. If you’ve paid less into taxes, you end up owing money.
I’m not an accountant and taxation is more of an art than a science, so as to how you might pay more or less than you’re supposed to, that’s above my pay grade. What I do know is that for those lucky enough to be looking forward to a tax refund, the refund check can potentially be the biggest payout you have the whole year. But while taxes are certainly a wonderful thing to get a refund on, there’s something else I’d like my money back for: video games.
Video games are notorious for not giving you your money’s worth when you want to get rid of them. You shell out $50 for one of these bad boys and GameStop gives you what – a nickel? Getting rid of them feels silly, but then again, maybe that nickel is worth not having an unplayed game just lying around your house. A video game you don’t enjoy can be one of the most frustrating investments you make, so today I thought I’d talk about five games that I’d just as soon get a refund for.
STORY OF SEASONS
Honestly, I could really expand this one to be “every farming sim I’ve bought since Harvest Moon: Magical Melody,” but I figure this game kind of sums up my entire problem with the genre. Farming sims NEVER END, and it drives me crazy. I’m the kind of guy who likes to reach the conclusion of a video game and to be able to definitively say that I have beaten it. When a game doesn’t really have a solid conclusion, I lose interest. This problem affects me with open world games too but at least in that case there’s generally a main story arc that I can finish in order to have sort-of beaten the game.
I’ve played through around an entire year of the “storyline” in Story of Seasons, and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Games in this genre typically have built-in annual events that supposedly change up the formula a bit, but most of these aren’t fun and I actually dread an interruption to my daily routine. Not that my daily routine is leading to much of anything, and my prospects for romance are dismal, so it’s not as if I’ve even got some good stuff going on in my personal virtual life. Progress happens at a snail’s pace because the game is supposed to last you for such a long time, but that’s not the play style that appeals to me.
The only two Harvest Moon games I really care for are the original and Magical Melody. Both have clear goals in mind – in the former you have two and a half years to make something of yourself, in the latter you have to collect 100 musical notes by accomplishing specific tasks. Magical Melody in particular appeals to the way I want to play this sort of game. I have the freedom to just live my life and do farm stuff on a normal basis, but I’m rewarded for going out of my way and I have a concrete goal to work towards that isn’t based on making the game last for a specific amount of time. If I work hard at meeting musical note goals, I can easily get 50 (the amount needed to “beat” the game) within an in-game year.
In games like Story of Seasons, though, you can’t work towards specific goals and achieve them within a reasonable amount of time. To make sure that the game can go on for a few years, everything happens at a slower pace. And I’m definitely not about that life. Games that last forever don’t do it for me, and even though a game of this style should theoretically allow you to get more than your money’s worth, I’d just as soon have the money.
SHADOW OF MORDOR
Shadow of Mordor is a game that I was very excited about picking up. The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite film series of all time, and I love the universe that Tolkien crafted. Games like this which explore that universe to a greater extent should be a perfect fit for me. And it’s not the Lord of the Rings aspect of this game that doesn’t appeal to me. No, my problem with Shadows of Mordor is with the games it takes inspiration from.
Shadows of Mordor takes heavy inspiration (mechanically speaking) from Assassin’s Creed and the Arkham series. From Assassin’s Creed we get the open game world with towers to climb and lots of microquests to accomplish. From Arkham we get the combat style and stealth elements. Now I enjoyed the early titles in both of these series, but both of these series suffer from a serious lack of innovation as time goes on, as well as a problem that isn’t entirely their fault – copying them is a popular thing to do. Heck, even Breath of the Wild had the whole “climb a tower to reveal a map” thing.
The point is, it didn’t take many hours of Shadows of Mordor before I felt like I was playing Arkham Assassin: Batman’s Creed, just dressed up in some edgy Aragorn cosplay. While the Nemesis system definitely added something to the experience, it wasn’t enough to drive me forward and I ended up getting tired of this game because I’ve played it seven times before. I just hope that the upcoming second game will have added something innovative to the formula, or I may not be the only player who gets bored with it.
MARIO KART 7
Speaking of tired formulas…I loved playing Mario Kart as a kid, and I have fond memories of racing my mother and trying desperately to figure out the secret to defeating her in a race. But there’s only so many times you can race karts with the same characters using the same items on barely-altered courses before you’re bored. And with Mario Kart 7, there’s another barrier – this game is for the 3DS.
“Wait a minute, Ian, what’s wrong with the 3DS?” Well nothing, really. I love the 3DS – in fact, I’d go so far as to describe it as my favorite gaming device. Or at the very least, in close competition with the N64 for that title. But the thing with the 3DS is that it isn’t exactly a solid fit for a game like Mario Kart. You don’t have the dedicated online capabilities of a full console in order to play with other people across the world effectively, and for true local multiplayer everyone playing needs to have their own 3DS and copy of the game. There is download play, but that locks out Grand Prix (the main game mode) and also forces everyone without the cartridge to play without character options or kart customization.
Because 3DS multiplayer isn’t as easy as all sitting down on the couch together and grabbing a controller, I’ve never really bothered with it and have focused almost exclusively on single-player experiences. As a result, I am confident that I could count the number of times I’ve booted up Mario Kart 7 on two hands. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad game – I just have never gotten much out of it, and would rather replace it with a single player game I’d like to experience.
DRAGON QUEST HEROES
This game is on the list for a bit of a different reason than the others. It has less to do with liking it or getting my money’s worth out of it and more to do with the timing. You see, Dragon Quest Heroes is a bit of an older game now, and there’s actually a second Dragon Quest Heroes that comes out in the west towards the end of this month. And at some point down the line, both games are going to be released together in a bundle for the Nintendo Switch.
Talk about bad timing! Here I am just now playing the first game, and a bit longer of a wait would have given me the opportunity to get both 1 and 2 together, probably both with all the DLC, for my shiny new console that I want games for. Besides the convenience of having both games together for one console, the added bonus of the Switch’s portability would make it so that I could play this game while traveling to visit family, or while my wife is playing Overwatch or Minecraft with her online friends. While trade-ins are certainly a thing, I’d love to have the full value of DQ Heroes 1 going towards the bundle rather than maybe 10% of its worth.
HEY YOU, PIKACHU!
Remember this game? Hey You, Pikachu! was supposed to be the “pinnacle” of game technology back in the day. This game let you TALK. TO PIKACHU. FOR REAL. All of your wildest Pokemon dreams could be realized with just a simple cartridge and a ridiculously expensive microphone peripheral that probably required your parents to take out a second mortgage. I mean, at the time it seemed expensive. Now you’re probably paying the same price just for the definitive edition of a new game, no peripherals included.
The pinnacle of game technology on the N64 wasn’t exactly pinnacular – pinntastic? Pinncredible? Let’s go with pinncredible. This microphone was trash without the can and Pikachu did not listen to a word you said. Most of this game was spent mindlessly screaming key words at your Poke-pal to get him to do the most basic of tasks like walk in the correct direction or stop getting distracted by useless crap. There wasn’t a huge variety of stuff to do, either, and this game ended up being little more than a costly tech demo.
While I personally did not pay for my copy of Hey You, Pikachu! back in the day, I’d love to have the money back, if for nothing else so I could give it back to my mom and stepdad. They could have used it for something way more practical – or gotten me two regular games that were actually good. You know, whichever. The whole experience makes me dread when my child wants whatever crazy new thing is coming out. How truly awful will it be a few years down the road? And how many limbs will I have to sell to pay for it?
Well folks, there you have it, the five games I’d refund if I had the opportunity. Now I turn the conversation to you, adventurers! What games would you gladly give away in return for their full price? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
The interactive blogging event of Sunday, April 23rd, is closer now than it was two days ago. Two days closer, in fact. And now, I’m going to offer a second hint to help you get an idea of what to expect. The first hint was pretty vague, and this one might be too, but together – are they still vague? That’s for you to decide, adventurers!
Who is that? And what does this mean? Be sure to come back Friday for the final hint, and definitely be here on Sunday to participate in what will be only the beginning of an interactive blogging adventure!