Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Replay: What Games Have You Played Through More Than Once?

What makes a game replayable? What could possibly entice you to go back in and give a finished game another complete run from beginning to end? Well I'll tell you exactly why I've replayed a handful of games in my life, if you show me yours in the comments. Here's my list, as complete as I can remember it and excluding games that don't have something resembling a story arc (i.e. puzzle games, sports games, etc):
Playthroughs: 10+
Replay Appeal: Memorization, Mystery

This adventure game puts you in a castle filled with all sorts of things that will kill you instantly if you make a wrong move. Meaning there is a right way and a dead way to do things, and once you know the right way it makes you feel very cool to blaze through the game in 15 minutes or so. This desire to play through a game that requires specific, memorizable steps again "just because you can" is a desire I get with a lot of adventure games. There were also some elements of the game world that were never explained and that mystery kept the game on my mind.

Check out the rest of Albo's replay list after the jump...

Playthroughs: 3
Replay Appeal: Emotional Impact

This is still my favorite Zelda game, and I've played it through many times because of the strong emotional pull the story has. The opening is one of the best in gaming--on a dark and stormy night, Link awakes to find his uncle leaving the house, ready for battle. Link sneaks out after him, finds him mortally wounded, and takes up his sword. The bleak despair of the Dark World and small character touches like the Flute Boy in the Haunted Grove had such a strong emotional impact on me in my first play through that I feel compelled to relive those emotions in much the same way I'd watch a favorite movie a few times.

ANOTHER WORLD (1992, SNES / 2006, PC)
Playthroughs: 10+
Replay Appeal: Memorization, Cinematic Quality

This is a game of trial and error where most of the enemies and environmental obstacles run on strict scripts. Like Shadowgate, you press the button you're supposed to press or you die. So while the game could take you a very long time on your first playthrough, once you memorize the thing you'll be polishing it off in under ten minutes, which feels great. What this game brings to the table that Shadowgate doesn't is that it is truly a work of art. This game is a beautiful, evocative feat of design, and to play through it seamlessly is like watching a great animated short film. You can download a fantastic hi-res Windows version of this game from designer Eric Chahi's website.

Playthroughs: 2
Replay Appeal: Emotional Impact, Mystery

The dystopian future presented in this game has the same effect on me as Link to the Past's Dark World--I can't help but want to beat the game again just to satisfy a personal desire to overcome the despair of it all. There are also so many dark corners and mysterious characters and dangling plot strands that I can't help but think there's something I might discover on another playthrough.

DOOM 2 (1994, PC)
Playthroughs: 10+
Replay Appeal: Skill Building

The more you play a game like Doom, the better you get at it (duh!). After a few playthroughs you'll know where every monster is and be able to dodge a barrage of imp fireballs coming from all directions. And much like the aforementioned Memorization appeal, it feels awesome to be really good at something.

Playthroughs: 4-5
Replay Appeal: Memorization, Cinematic Quality

This kind of game was a rarity back in 1995: great writing, great animation, great voice acting... Knowing all the necessary steps and executing them flawlessly results in what essentially is a supremely satisfying little film that also happens to keep your fingers busy. The only kink in this being the motorcycle fight and destruction derby action sequences, but we can excuse these little adventure games their delusions of action grandeur.

Playthroughs: 2
Replay Appeal: Memorization, Cinematic Quality

This game falls under the same umbrella as the other adventure games I've mentioned that play out like little movies upon a memorized playthrough. Except this one practically is a movie, with full motion video (before it was a dirty word) and a truly epic scope. I've started it again recently, and while I can't claim it holds up technically, it's still a joy to remember all the right moves and relive the story of a reluctant New Orleans writer thrust into a world of Werewolves and Wagner in Germany.

GOLDENEYE 007 (1997, N64)
Playthroughs: 3-4
Replay Appeal: Skill Building, New Experience

Something this game introduced that I don't immediately recall from any previous game was that harder skill levels introduced additional mission objectives. Playing through the game again on a harder skill level no longer just meant tougher enemies, it now meant a significantly different level progression. That is irresistible to someone who finishes the game and is craving more action.

DEUS EX (2000, PC)
Playthroughs: 2
Replay Appeal: Emotional Impact, New Experience

Deus Ex is usually the first game that pops into my mind when I'm thinking about my favorites of all time. The main reason being the intense emotional manipulation that the story puts the player through. You begin the game as an agent of the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition, and carry out a few missions under their banner before realizing they may be the real bad guys in this global conflict. Which means you've been killing the good guys. And it's not like the game telegraphs this twist with shady bosses and questionable mission objectives--it makes sure you are a willing and eager soldier that doesn't think twice about what he's doing, until the rug is pulled out from under you and you're left feeling dirty, guilty, angry, and gullible. Whew, just thinking about it gives me goose bumps. This leads into another reason why I had to play it again... I didn't have to kill all those good guys. In fact, to beat the game you don't have to kill more than a few people, as there are many ways to approach every situation in the game and killing is almost always avoidable. Crazy for a FPS, right? But there a lot of choices to make during the game, and these choices can lead to entire subplots you missed the first time around. The impact your decisions have on the game world make it a prime choice for replaying just to try and see things you missed the first time around.

RESIDENT EVIL 4 (2005, GCN / 2007, Wii)
Playthroughs: 3
Why I Played It Again: New Experience

Surely I'm not the only one who began my second playthrough immediately after beating the game? The gimmick of letting you keep all of your gear and money from the first playthrough matched with the allure of new, extremely powerful weapons was all it took for me to start over. It's like I wanted revenge on all the parts of the game that frustrated me the first time through, as in "Let's see how this horde of zombies that killed me ten times last game likes a freaking unlimited rocket launcher up its ass!" Very cathartic. The whole time I was playing the game on the Cube I couldn't help thinking how cool it would be on Nintendo's recently announced "Revolution," so my third playthrough came when I couldn't resist picking it up for Wii. This playthrough held some of the same cathartic value as the unlimited rocket launcher, because the added accuracy of the Wiimote really made mincemeat outta those zombies.

Playthroughs: 2
Why I Played It Again: Fresh Meat, Skill Building

This is a really fun game for two players, so when I've got a friend just sitting around my place looking for some buttons to press... Loading up my VC save state for this game and introducing a new friend to it always provides some kicks. The game provides a hefty dose of challenge, but with unlimited continues you just keep hammering on it and eventually you eke through. It's an extremely rewarding game to overcome.

PORTAL (2007, PC)
Playthroughs: 3
Why I Played It Again: Emotional Impact, Mystery, Fresh Meat

I don't want to talk too much about why Portal is one of the best video games ever made, as that's a horse that's gotten a significant amount of beating around these parts. But suffice it to say, it's an extremely well-constructed emotional journey that has some of the best writing ever bestowed upon us lowly gamers. The little nooks and crannies with clues as to the true nature of the experience produce that all-important mystery that draws me back to explore further. And while I've only played the game through myself three times, I've sat down and watched other people play it another three or four times. Friends, family, anyone who will give the game a shot gets my rapt attention. Observing how someone else's mind handles the spatial puzzles is really interesting, especially when that person's a non-gamer.

And now, tell me what games you've given the double dip!


Bishop said...

I'd add Starfox 64. Similar to Bond in that you played through different areas when you chose to complete the "harder" missions and side quests.

Johnny said...

Super Mario Brothers
Super Mario Brothers 2
Super Mario Brothers 3
Super Mario World
Mario 64
Mario is Missing
The Legend of Zelda
Zelda: A Link to the Past
Zelda: Ocharina of Time
Kung Fu
Star Fox 64
Super Metriod
Chips Challenge
A bunch of online games

Yeah, I know, I'm low-tech.

Albo said...

Hah, you seriously completed Mario is Missing more than once? Couldn't get enough of that tasty edutainment?

gp said...

The Legend of Zelda
Zelda: A Link to the Past (brilliant game!)

I was too hardcore into Q2 CTF Multiplayer to even bother with single player games. :-)

Degan said...

I've probably played each of the zeldas post ocarina of time at least twice... and good call on star fox... i've beaten that game about 1000 times... AND i couldn't call myself the world's greatest Goldeneye player if i hadn't beaten that one a few dozen times... my claim to fame is once beating the dam on 00 agent without a single shot being fired at me until the last room where that's impossible.

I'd also like to add that i beat "sewer shark" for the sega cd a few times... i'm probably the only person in existence who can make that claim.

Taylor said...

I loved playing Dragon Warrior 3 every time for the ten plus times I beat it. I loved the level of complexity to that world, which to me was new for that time. You could play with different characters and there were so many cool weapons and armors to find that there was something a little new everytime I played. A similar PC game that came along later was Darklands.

But my favorite was Majora's Mask which was awesome to replay cause I just loved the concept so much.

This thread seems to be about console games but I feel like we can't have a discussion on replay without mentioning the Civilization series.

AHR said...

I'm a huge fan of old LucasArts adventures games. I've played Day of the Tentacle three or four times, and while that may not seem like many, my replays tend to be the opposite of speed runs. I usually only replay games for the writing, and try to squeeze out hidden dialogue by trying to initiate every possible scenario. This yielded some fun results in DOTT...

USE FORK-ON CAT: "He's not even cooked!"
USE SCALPEL-ON ANATOMY CHART: "It wouldn't be as fun as the real thing."
USE SCALPEL-ON BOXING GLOVE: "I have no time for petty revenge. That will all come later."

I also must have played through Rebel Assault II at least six times, but god knows why, that was one shitty game. Most of the flight and shooting sequences took place on a strict track, but maybe it was this mind numbing aspect that made it so enjoyable. That and awesome cut-scenes.

André Callot, GET-UP said...

I second the LucasArts plug. My favorite was Sam & Max Hit the Road. A quote:

Sam: Percent sign, ampersand, dollar sign.
Max: And colon, semicolon too!
Psychic: What are you [bleep]ing doing?
Sam: Swearing in longhand, asterisk-mouth.

mxxiestorc said...

Final Fantasy 1 using different teams...ever beat it w/ 4 thieves or 4 White mages? you can up the difficulty level 10 times by giving yourself a useless team.

Final Fantasy tactics, because it's the most beautiful game in the world (story, graphics, gameplay, etc.). Like FF1 you can play a million different team combos. ever had a maxed out samurai that can teleport?

Mario's big n' pretty. It's also so easy that your GF or little sister can play w/you. Assuming your GF sucks at video games.

General Chaos for Sega. Great 2 players simultaneous. Beat it w/ each of your buddies and share the lovin'.

Arcade button smashers. Again, beat em w/ a friend...F-ED up. Captain America and the Avengers for SEga (it's fun cause you can shield for your partner while he shoots behind you, except Vision, who turns intangible. Which is funny cause you can tell your newbie friend that you're gonna block for him, and then he gets shot.) TMNT 2 and Turtles in time (again,you can lie to your friends about where the traps are and laugh when a bigass sign falls on their head)

River City Ransom. F-in classic. 2-player takes a S-load of communication that you inevitably DO NOT HAVE. By the end you're using hand signs to cue your partner that you need to wash your ass in the sauna. Oh, and you can lift your downed partner over your head like a BB bat and smack badguys.

Link to the past, Mario 2, Starfox SNES, Starfox 64, Goldeneye (where I beat the Damn stage on 00 w/ my penis)