The Angry Gamer 08.07.03: Too Short A Season

It’s time once again for my weekly bitchfest. Today’s topic? Casual gamers who complain about games being too “short.”

Come on, we’ve all seen it; you’ll be poking around your friendly neighborhood game shop, minding your own business while drooling over copies of Ikaruga, and you’ll overhear some little kid talking to the clerk:

“Hey, how long is [random action game]?”
“Hmmm…I’m not sure, but I’ve heard about two hours or so.”
“Only two hours?! That’s stupid! [insert possible babble/expletives here]” (And the kid runs to put the game back.)

ONLY two hours? Gimme a break. I mean, if it’s an RPG, then 20+ hours would make sense. A Zelda game can be long, because even though it’s an adventure game, it’s similar to an RPG in terms of design. But for action games…they shouldn’t take hours upon hours! These kids are possibly passing up great games, based on no other than factor than timespan.

If I’m playing a game like Gungrave, I don’t want to be stuck in front of the tube for 20 hours. An action game should be fast-paced. This isn’t to say you should be able to beat it within an hour of purchasing it; you can keep the difficulty up without stretching the game over a reasonable time limit. I mentioned Ikaruga before; that game can easily be completed in 3 hours, or even less, but it’s tough enough that you’re not going to be able to achieve that right away. Another example is the NES classic Contra; I’d team up with a friend and complete that game in 17 minutes. Yes, seventeen minutes. Does that make the game any less fun or exciting? Of course not!

Back in the arcade days, the time limit was variable; the game’s length was directly in proportion to your stack of quarters. Or, in the case of a fighting game, it was determined by your skill level; another punk could walk about and hand your ass to you, and that would end your game rather quickly. Does that mean the game itself isn’t entertaining? No way.

My final word? These kids bitching about games being “too short” need a reality check. Most of them just don’t realize that a long game doesn’t necessarily equal a good one (we’ve all played RPGs that bore the shit out of us after only a few hours).