This is a good thing. Sort of. While the whole “enduring visceral pain” thing isn’t a whole lot of fun, it does give us a reason to move on, to finally find the game that gets it all right. That might lead to a lot of heartbreak in the end, as no game will ever be able to be all things. Even Half-Life II, which the preview coverage tells us will revolutionize society quicker than Jesus on a Segway. Yes, the game will probably be some kind of landmark achievement, the best thing about an alien invasion of Earth since H.G. Wells wrote that book about the Martians and measles. But you just know that some twit in his basement is going to crank out newsgroup screeds about the absence of headcrabs. Or Tom Chick is going to give it the Deus Ex treatment.
There’s something about the chase that’s entertaining all in itself. I’ll never be fully satisfied with any game. Even Thief, which I still replay at least twice a year and plan to preserve forever, has really dumb guards and labyrinthine level design. Or Jedi Knight, another classic that gets hauled off the shelf a couple of times a year despite the full-motion-video cutscenes starring a guy with a spray-on beard. Or even Ms. Pac Man, since the pink map at the end remains too hard for me two decades after the fact, thanks to those damned closed-off sections with the power pills.
You could even say that these bad qualities, and the bad games in general, make us able to really appreciate the good points in the good games. But I won’t. I won’t kid anyone. I’ll never go so far as to forgive the people who made Mistmare and Valhalla Chronicles. I’m already working on plans for revenge, although the developers probably shouldn’t worry too much because they’re at the back of the line behind a couple of ex-girlfriends, an ex-fiancee, the fat tyrant who ran the newspaper I worked at in 1988, and at least two former members of Deep Purple.
Still, there’s little room in me for real regret. That crying jag got the angst out of me for a little while, and besides, I’m sure that I’ll review another “worst game ever” at some distant point in the future. Like maybe Labor Day.