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.
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.
This post came about thanks to an argument with my partner over writing about videogames. Is there a way to speak about games that takes into account its uniqueness as a medium and doesn’t rely on ways of analysing films and books? Previously on this blog I’ve written about Ocarina of Time, and its links with The Arabian Nights and Disney’s Aladdin, but in doing so I was forced to ignore the gameplay of Ocarina of Time, which is by far the dominant way players experience the game. So how can we talk about games as games and not as anything else?
The first two Silent Hill games I see as two major milestones in gaming. Many critics, reviews and fans compare Silent Hill games to films: Jacob’s Ladder and David Lynch films are perhaps the most frequent examples. And they’re not wrong – there are definite links and influences being passed on. But at the same time no film can be seriously compared to Silent Hill (not even the Silent Hill films).