Game Length Supremacists

I hate Game Length Supremacists. Don’t you? Check this out, from RPGamer’s review of Persona 4 on Playstation 2:

Persona 4 is also slightly shorter than Persona 3, but still manages to last a whopping eighty hours, far more than most RPGs.

The reviewer comes across as a baffling mixture of disappointed and impressed that Persona 4 is slightly shorter than its predecessor. Is the reviewer on drugs?! Let’s get this straight: Persona 3 is too long. I’ve put about 50 hours into that game and there are no signs that it will end any time soon. It’s a fine game otherwise but jeez. I just picked up Persona 4 the other day, mostly with the idea in mind that it will motivate me to go back and complete Persona 3. And now I read this?!

It’s the Game Length Supremacists who have caused this tragic state of affairs. What sort of normal human being is supposed to be able to complete and throughout that time appreciate an 80 hour long game?? I don’t want to have to take a two week holiday to complete a mother-fluffin’ videogame! Game length supremacists always place RPGs on a pedestal as the height of game design and execution, but on what basis…? Their length, of course! It’s these swashbuckling idiots who are so in love with one genre that they willing to throw out the pirate baby with the salty bathwater! 2D shmups and other arcade-derived genres have no legitimate place in the videogame landscape or vocabulary because of their “short length”, according to these biddling twods!

So I propose that a new movement be started. Rise up, rise up, Game Length Radicals! Defeat those BS hierarchies when they cross your path, and oppose injustice! Always be truthful: “Every game has its own shelf life. No game can sustain its players indefinitely without resolution of some kind.”

Chrono Trigger – 20 hours. And the game even includes the option of facing the final boss and beating the game at any time after around the 5 hour mark. One of the best RPGs, heck, videogames, ever. And with all my keyboard-clacking about Silent Hill, I never complained once that the first game “only” took around 5 hours to beat, and a similar amount with Silent Hill 2. I never complained because neither game outstays its welcome. In fact, both games are pitched perfectly length-wise.

chrono trigger

Stick this in your pipe and smoke it, supremacists!

Wield your best examples with strength and goodwill and never be defeated by the Game Length Supremacists! Seize your place among the righteous, join the Game Length Radicals: a movement for the ages.

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6 comments

  1. Reset Tears

    Ah, the debates for how long a good game should be. Ultimately I simply feel that this situation is no different from, say, a book. How long should a good book be? Not too long, not too short–am I right? In other words, the length just needs to fit the story–or, in this case, the video game. Recently I played through (and blogged about) Ghost Trick for the DS. Spectacular game. It’s not a very long game, and really there’s no replay value at all. But I don’t think that matters. Perhaps it’s a big deal for some people who really want to make every cent count for as much game time as humanly possible–but at that point you’re like that crazy grand-uncle of yours who, while on vacation, stays up the entire night at the motel because he wants to make the most of the money he spent on the room.
    I might be a bit biased though, because I pretty much *always* spend much longer on a regular playthrough of a game than most anyone else I’ve ever run across. If it says 20 hours of gameplay on the box, I’ll spend at least 35. If it says 80 hours, I’ve got 120 hours to tide me over. Yeah, that was my case with Persona 4–but hey, I never grew bored of it. If anything, I liked that game more and more as it went on, and I look forward to a second playthrough with the Golden version on the Vita. Luckily they added a bunch of new content to that one, but even if they hadn’t, the original game had a whole lot of stuff I had to pass on since there’s a million choices you make along the way.
    On the flip side, your example of Silent Hill 2 is a great one. Not a very long game, but it didn’t need to be. No part of it felt too rushed or too plodding, and the story was satisfyingly conclusive by the end. (It definitely took me much more than 5 hours to beat though… I really struggled with some of those puzzles. [DROP THE CANNED JUICE DOWN THE GARBAGE CHUTE?!?!])

    • veryverygaming

      Well there you have it. All my revolutionary spirit is actually just me hating those miserly great uncles who want to get their money’s worth, to the point where they’d sacrifice their own children to get a 10% discount on socks.

      I got stuck at that exact same point too in SH2, that damn garbage chute. I also got stuck in the apartments again with the coins puzzle… very annoying. Off-topic: if you really hate puzzles, there’s always Silent Hill 4, which has no riddles in it at all and only one or two simple puzzles. It also has no bosses, which makes for a much drier and less varied experience than the first two Silent Hill games.

      On-topic: I’m fairly impatient with games, and I have no compunction whatsoever about using GameFAQs when I inevitably get stuck (and often I use it even when I’m not stuck). So I tend to complete things in under the marketed hour total. Actually, when you think about it, the very idea of marketing the length of the game is precisely what I’m arguing against in this post. It’s definitely useful to have some idea of how long a game is before you play it, I just think that equating game length with value for money is a recipe for bad games. Have you ever played Zelda: Twilight Princess on Gamecube/Wii?? It took me 60 hours to beat that game, and a big portion of it was complete fluff, a trying combination of tutorial-level challenges and tacked on arbitrary fetch quests. But that complete fluff was absolutely necessary for the PR people to create the “longest Zelda game ever” distinction. Ugh.

      Persona is an interesting one because its gameplay is well suited to a longer game time. It’s quite relaxing for the most part, and easy to drop in and out of. I will return to it… and Persona 4 too, I’ll start, with any luck. With the stuff they added to Golden, what sort of playtime are you looking at with it on Vita? 150 hours?

      • Reset Tears

        I haven’t played through any SH games other than SH2 yet; I own the third one and have been meaning to get around to it for a while. (Was hoping to finish Fatal Frame first, but that game is a BEAST.) I’ve heard the fourth one was actually it’s own game, but at some point was changed to be a Silent Hill game, which I guess explains why people say it feels quite different. I imagine I might pick it up some time, though it’s not high on my survival horror list.

        I haven’t played Zelda Twilight Princess (I’m not a Zelda fan I’ll have to admit), but I get what you mean by games including a bunch of fluff to add more hours to their games. I remember trying to play a game called Infamous on a friend’s PS3, and half the time I wanted to groan “Why am I doing this again?” since it was stuffed with so many banal missions I didn’t care about. I imagine this is a side effect of modern-day console games requiring 8 trillion dollars and 480,000 man hours to design the protagonist’s shoelaces–it just takes too much effort to make a long game that’s full of actual new content each hour of the way.

        Persona 4 is overall pretty good in this regard IMO, since it’s set up to have variety of what you do from day to day. It does technically have the option of going through past dungeons a second time for the sake of leveling up more, collecting things for missions, and earning special weapons–but the key word here is option, I think. You have complete control of what you do from day to day in the game, so you can just cruise along without revisiting dungeons if you wish. And if you don’t want to worry about leveling up in general you can play the game on its easy setting. The Vita version actually goes the extra mile and includes a “very easy” setting, for those who just want to plow through the story. I imagine I might go with that option when I tackle P4 Golden, since I’ve already gone through the experience of playing P4 already. I mainly just want to experience all the new content, as well as all the stuff I missed out on in my first run (e.g. various social links and missions I couldn’t play through due to in-game time constraints). As such I imagine my Golden playthough will be shorter than my P4 one though, though the fact I’ll know what to do at each point in the game should speed things up as well.

  2. Pingback: Gamers Going Their Own Way (GGTOW) guide to videogames | Very Very Gaming
    • veryverygaming

      It’s obvious that I wrote this post before I played Xenoblade 😛 But still, as a general rule, genuinely loving a game goes hand in hand with being able to replay it without the need for a vast time investment.

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