Modern Platform Games Show Me Issues With Being An Aging Gamer.

I had a great and slightly blood-pressure raising round of gaming this week. Finally I was feeling better after being ill for a week and a bit so it was time to start my New Year's Resolution to stop drinking soda pop. One week out and I seem to be doing it. I drank a LOT of diet pop for the caffeine and dislike hot beverages, so tea with ice seems to fit the bill nicely for caffeine.

I finished off Crysis 3 last week and I thought it was a hell of a lot of fun. It isn't perfect, it has some issues with balance (mainly you are too powerful) but the levels were very well designed, the story was interesting enough to make me want to see more of it, and the gameplay was excellent. Particularly the two bosses at the end were a great time and the last area of the game was exceptionally gorgeous. It wasn't any Metro: Last Light, but Crysis 3 definitely stands up next to the best of the best in terms of visual fidelity.

My only real complaint with the game was the bow. I like bows and I am fine not having aiming reticles on-screen. Generally I prefer to look down sights than have a reticule. However, the bow in Crysis 3 didn't give me a good way to aim. You don't look down the bow even when in "aiming mode" so you just end up guessing what is the center of the screen and judging the arrow trajectory. It isn't terrible since the bow is super-powerful and I did end up using it on larger baddies (lots of time at almost point blank range), but in general I ignored the bow and that's usually my go-to weapon if offered.

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After finishing Crysis 3 I was a in a bit of a gaming limbo. My wife and I had to finish up True Blood Season 5 and then we were going to move on to Mass Effect. This would be the first time for either of us at Mass Effect. Since my wife can sometimes get motion sickness from watching games when I control them with a mouse and I only have Mass Effect on PC (uses a mouse), I wasn't sure if she would stick with the game. I didn't want to have anything big on the go if Mass Effect was in my solo future, so I wasn't sure what to play that would be relatively quick. (this all ended up being a needless worry as we've put off Mass Effect in favour of Deadwood on BD).

Rathorial posted last week that he polished off Guacamelee and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger and that he enjoyed both games and more importantly, they were both fairly short. Since I just came off Crysis 3 I thought the platform game would be a better fit than another first person shooter, so I decided on Guacamelee.

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What Rath failed to pass along was that Guacamelee is REALLY tough!

Guacamelee is an amazing game. It is really a superb Metroidvania game with tight gameplay and smart world design. The art style, story, and fantastic soundtrack really round out the package to make it one of the better Metroidvania games I've played in a long time. There are also many send-ups to other video games and geek culture that keep me laughing.

It is tough though. There is some pretty insane comboing of moves to traverse the platforming and more than once I had to put the game down and actually walk away (usually with a profanity laden diatribe against the developers).

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It is addicting though, so I kept coming back. I think I'm almost done , but it has been one of the hardest games I've played in a while.

I love hard games and coming from the dawn of video games I'm certainly no stranger to punishing games that require lightning fast reflexes. Guacamelee isn't even as hard as many Genesis games when you factor in many older games had lives, continues and didn't have as forgiving checkpoints. However, in an age where I always want games to be harder than they are, Guacamelee reminds me to be careful of what I wish for.

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Sadly though, I think part of the problem is with me. I'll be 44 this year. I don't feel at all old but I have some grey in my thinning hair, and lines around my eye. My knees hurt more and more every year and my memory seems to need a little more prodding lately. But I feel young and remain open to all new experiences and I think that has a lot to do with our perceptions of age. It also helps that I had a child later in life, so having a 7 year old around keeps me maybe a little more current.

However, I can't escape noticing that my reflexes in gaming are not what they once were. I am a pretty good gamer when it comes to reflexes and I've always been near the top of my peer groups in terms of gaming prowess. However, lately I've noticed that what my brain wants and what my hands can do is no longer as seamless as it once was.

I complained about the end of Rayman: Origins being hard in a previous weekend post and I think it has been the modern platform games that really show me my increasing human lag. Guacamelee has pretty much confirmed that things aren't as synaptically snappy as the days of old.

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To be fair, I'd imagine Guacamelee would give lots of gamers a run for their money, especially if going for all the secrets. There are lots of sections that require very precise timing that would likely challenge most people and this is great because many modern games fail at providing a challenge anymore.

But it is when you can visualize the series of button and stick movements to reach your goal and your body just can't do it any more that you know things have slowed a little in your body. It is a bit of a sad moment for a gamer when your body hits a wall like that.

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I'm not complaining (well, maybe a little), I'm relatively healthy, my eyesight and hearing are alright (though I definitely need to look into some reading glasses) and I don't have any signs of the crippling arthritis of the hands that plagues my mother's family line. I'm extremely thankful that I haven't developed any health issues that affect my favourite pastime.

I often joke, when people ask me why I don't play RPGs, that I'm just keeping them in waiting for when I have a stroke and lose the ability to handle controllers properly. Maybe it will actually just be old age that drives me to the strategy and rpg games that I tend to pass over for the more twitch-based shooters and platform games. Nothing against those types of games, but for me personally, gaming is at its most fun when it involves reflex based input.

I'm not giving up though. Maybe I won't have a look at Super Meat Boy, but hopefully as my skills degrade overtime my son will be able to help his old man with the sticky bits.

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So, Guacamelee for me this weekend and if that finishes up (or finishes me up) I think I might finally give Journey a shot on PS3. pocoGRANDES made a compelling argument for it in the latest Tay: Open Forum.

So, what are all you whipper-snappers playing this weekend?