No Man’s Sky, Ocarina of Time, and Originality

Like Noah, I’m back at college too. It is common among my collegiate peers to find something to do to relieve the stress of homework assignments, upcoming exams, and having to balance that with relationships, jobs, and getting to class on time.

Or it’s just me. I don’t know.

One of my means of stress relief is to sit down and play video games. Currently, I’m on my first playthrough of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the next in a long line of Zelda games I want to play.

The game I’ve been hearing a lot about lately, probably because it’s the biggest release of this month, is No Man’s Sky, the procedurally-generated game of space exploration and…that’s it. Space exploration. (I say “biggest” using pre-Deus Ex: Mankind Divided information.)

I’ve mentioned this already; I don’t have a console that can run No Man’s Sky. I have a Wii U and a computer with a 2 GHz processor. Although this is probably for the best. When the trailers dropped for No Man’s Sky, I basically ignored them. When I found out what the gimmick was, I effectively said, “Oh, that’s cool,” and moved on. I didn’t take interest in the game until the metaphorical hype train blew past.

So, what can we learn from No Man’s Sky?

The thing I gathered from No Man’s Sky is that it’s an art game, created mainly for the purpose of looking pretty. While I see nothing wrong with that, it’s typically not the reason why I buy video games. I buy them for stress relief, not multi-colored, psychedelic stress inducement.

Another problem, which may be the core one, is that it was trying to be something new and original. While I see nothing wrong with trying to be original, I know that there’s a difference between that and being original in a good way. More often than not, the good original games are the ones that actually borrow the most from existing games. Take Ocarina of Time for example. It’s a good game and very original, but it borrows puzzle mechanics, items, and themes from previous Legend of Zelda games and the 3D action-adventure concept of Super Mario 64.

It’s probably because of this originality complex that we get so many games that are sequels, prequels, and reboots. It’s not that coming up with an original story and game is too hard. It’s that the original story and game they came up with ten years ago still works, they just added robots this time around.

I guess, at the end of the day, be content with the things that you have and the things the game developers release. You can keep No Man’s Sky; I’m trying to figure out how to get the great Jabu-Jabu to eat me so I can free the Zora princess.


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