Fine wine games

There is a cer­tain class of video game whose exis­tence I’ve been slow­ly dis­cov­er­ing over the last few years. Let’s call these fine wine games.

My idea of a fine wine game1 is one that is best expe­ri­enced a bit at a time. You know, enjoyed in mod­er­a­tion. The kind you only pick up and play every once in a while… because it’s just that good.

Does that sound counter‐intuitive? Why would you want to take it so slow­ly with some­thing so great? Well, here’s oth­er side of the coin: this sort of game also has an ele­ment of rar­i­ty, or scarci­ty to it. It’s not the sort of game that prints mon­ey, sell­ing mil­lions of copies, so the chances of a sequel being made aren’t very good.

So enjoy the game itself. Savor it as you go. Don’t cry because there won’t be a sequel; think of how lucky you are to play it in the first place! Wring every drop of enjoy­ment from the expe­ri­ence that you can.

Here are a few games you’ll find in my cask:

Zack & Wiki (Nin­ten­do Wii) The orig­i­nal fine wine game in my book. Crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed; sold quite poor­ly. Chance of sequel? Slim‐to‐none. Thus, I decid­ed that I’d only play Zack & Wiki spar­ing­ly.

With save dates as my basis, I’d esti­mate that I would pick it up every cou­ple of months, play for a day or two (enough time to strug­gle through my cur­rent lev­el feel­ing like the world’s biggest moron until final­ly feel­ing like the world’s great­est genius, which is what this game does to you). And then, back on the shelf it would go, to wait for the next time I’m in the mood for savory gam­ing great­ness.

Thus, despite hav­ing bought this game in 2008, I only com­plet­ed it this past week­end. $40 so very, very well spent.

Soul Bub­bles (Nin­ten­do DS) While I bought my copy from an Ama­zon Mar­ket­place sell­er, this game was released in the U.S. as a Toys R Us‐exclusive title. If this arti­fi­cial­ly lim­it­ed its audi­ence, that’s sim­ply unfor­tu­nate, because this is a beau­ti­ful game… one that I tend to for­get all about for months on end before redis­cov­er­ing it anew every time.

I’ve been tak­ing my time with Soul Bub­bles, and have more than half of it (read: years of enjoy­ment) left to go!

Mother/EarthBound series (Nin­ten­do NES/SNES/GBA) Enough has been writ­ten about this series of quirky, rather un‐RPG‐like RPGs, which have attract­ed a cult‐like fol­low­ing. Thus, I’ll offer only this quick assess­ment: the fact that English‐speaking gamers have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to play any of the three games should be enough to make a fan thank their lucky stars.

While it could be said that three games released over the course of fif­teen years effec­tive­ly nul­li­fies any sup­posed rar­i­ty… hey, you know what? Fuck you. Nin­ten­do trans­lat­ed Moth­er and then prompt­ly shelved the Eng­lish ver­sion, Moth­er 2 (Earth­Bound) received one stinker of a U.S. mar­ket­ing cam­paign, and the Eng­lish trans­la­tion of Moth­er 3 had to be under­tak­en by a team of incred­i­bly devot­ed fans.

Moth­er games in Eng­lish are some mighty fine wine.

Cave Sto­ry (Win­dows, Wii­Ware, et al.) Cave Sto­ry is the work of one ded­i­cat­ed ama­teur over the course of five years… work that was sim­ply giv­en away for free as a Win­dows game, and lat­er port­ed to a hand­ful of pop­u­lar plat­forms by fans.

I start­ed Cave Sto­ry a few times over the years, but the lack­lus­ter Lin­ux port kept putting me off of it; I knew I should wait for a good port to be avail­able for a plat­form I use. The Wii­Ware ver­sion was released a few months back, and the rest is his­to­ry. After years of antic­i­pa­tion, I swilled this one down in a decid­ed­ly non‐fine‐wine man­ner.

Whoops.

Whether games or oth­er media, what do you con­sid­er to be your fine wine?

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  1. Ini­tial­ly, the idea I had was that a game of this sort (it was Zack & Wiki that brought this to mind) would be enjoy­able to play quite lit­er­al­ly with a glass of wine, as this is the sort of game that would be best enjoyed at a relax­ing pace, in a chill atmos­phere. But last week­end, I instead start­ed think­ing of these games metaphor­i­cal­ly; the game itself is the wine. I liked that thought, and knew I had to write this post.

1 thought on “Fine wine games”

  1. This is a real­ly inter­est­ing top­ic I’ve been pon­der­ing for the past cou­ple days. Besides the exam­ples you pro­vid­ed, all with which I would agree, I would have to add the Pro­fes­sor Lay­ton games. Not only are they some­thing that I want to take slow­ly and savor, but I even gave up hope for a while that the sequel game would be trans­lat­ed to Eng­lish, so that in itself made the games more spe­cial.

    I know I have some more fine wine games I just can’t remem­ber at the moment, and this is fun to think back to games I’ve played and loved, so I will get back to you with some more. :)

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