Hi, I’ve been thinking about the topic for a while and the answer is
actually quite simple.
A good game is really only good the first time you play through it,
and after you’ve finished it ends up resting in its game box / case
(or in the case of digital games, as an icon surrounded by countless
icons of other good games) and probably won’t be touched again for
months or years, if *ever*. Good games tend to seem amazing at first
but then deeply flawed once you look back on your experience. In some
cases, you *dread* playing some parts of them again because it’d feel
to be more of a chore to get through than actually fun.
All of the Mario and Zelda games from the N64-era on are “good games”.
I haven’t played Twilight Princess for years and Skyward Sword for
close to a year. I have Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, New
Super Mario Bros. Wii and New Super Mario Bros. 2 and yet I don’t feel
compelled to just put one of those in at anytime and start a new game.
I did enjoy all of these games, for the most part, but they’re just
A great game, on the other hand, never stops being fun no matter how
many times you play it. They are the games that you can replay over
and over and over again (even right after beating them) and never
truly get tired of. And not surprisingly, most of them (for me) are
older titles from the NES and SNES (and Game Boy) eras. The three
Super Mario Bros. games (and World), Mega Man 2 and 3 for the NES, A
Link to the Past, and the Donkey Kong Country series (but NOT Returns
for the Wii) are some of what I consider to be great games.
The older, console 2D Mario games just had, for lack of a better term,
*magic*. Even while I’m typing this I could stop right now and start a
new game of Super Mario Bros. 3 and spend hours playing trough the
entire game. The only “newer” game that can compare (which is over
seven years old now) is Resident Evil 4. I’ve never had as much fun
with a newer generation game than that one, and just like the Mario
games I could start a new game at any point and spend hours playing.
It’s a great game. Sadly, it seems Capcom went in the other
(Hollywood) direction with newer games, especially Resident Evil 6.
There are very few great games, but they’re the ones you always remember.
I agree completely.
One theory I have is that the ‘good’ games are over-intellectualized when they are being made. They try to come up with a ‘good’ story that is ‘high concept’ (haha) and ‘incredible game mechanics’ (that always come across as gimmicky). Since games are getting more and more expensive, there is too much risk so they are over-intellectualized to death.
It’s like the ‘great games’ speak not to our minds but to our hearts. It is like they connect to the more animal nature of Man. “One more try…” the person repeats over and over again.
A great game is like Tetris. Perhaps it is because it doesn’t allow us to think? We react, but we don’t really think. Combine that with powerful sound, musical, and kinetic effects (interaction with the controller), and it creates an almost hypnotic experience.