The original Playstation might be the last truly great traditional video game system. I write “traditional” because let’s face facts – current video game systems are so advanced that they aren’t even on the same level as systems of the past. Downloadable content has completely changed our concept of what a video game system could be because we’ve opened the world up to media that is without physical form. The Playstation 3 is so much more than just a video game system because one can stream movies through Netflix or watch television through Hulu. Video game systems today serve multiple functions beyond simple gaming and while I love my PS3, the original Playstation was the last system that really had all of the perfect elements of a video game system and Silent Bomber is one of the reasons why.
I was upset by the demise of the movie/video game rental industry not because I rented games all that often, but that I had fond memories of renting games as a kid. I still remember being excited to go to Video Tonite (my locally owned video rental store) and being told I could pick out two Sega Genesis games for the weekend.
The video rental industry had a different mindset that gaming today. Back then, there were games that really weren’t worth buying, but you knew they were good games to rent. The Genesis almost seems like a rental system today. Even games that I owned and loved back then just feel like great rentals today. Understand that this isn’t meant to be an insult because being a perfectly rental game is sort of like being a one-hit wonder in music . . . at least it’s better than being forgettable.
I’ve talked about some PSX games in the past, and it’s funny because the games I’ve discussed in the past are games that I rented. I’ve shared my love for Destrega, my loathing (but secret love for) Tobal No. 1, and the confusing mess that was Ehrgeiz and even my first experience with Final Fantasy Tactics was due to renting the game (a game worth owning, but I rented it at least six times before I found it to purchase).
The renting mentality was beautiful because it was so innocent. There weren’t really any reviews to let someone know that a game was either good or bad, so bad games were typically just labeled as “really hard” rather than “broken and crappy.” It’s funny to think about how our locus for quality has changed now that online review sites have exerted their control over what we buy.
Silent Bomber is another one of those games that was absolutely perfect . . . as a rental. It filled up a weekend with fast-paced action and gameplay that was different than anything I had ever played before. It feels like an arcade game, but instead of shooting enemies, the character plants bombs or shoots them onto enemies. Some bombs can have special effects like: napalm (continuous damage to bilogical enemies), gravity (groups enemies together), and paralysis. What impressed me most as a kid was how fast the game was. Even watching it today, it still seems like a fast-paced game.
This was the kind of game that required players to be constantly on the move. Run and gun gameplay just so happens to be one of my favorite genres and this one went a step further by adding RPG elements where players could upgrade their bombs, and the range they could be fired after finding money to do so. Also, in a sense, it reminds me of Robotron because both games require good peripheral vision to ensure survival.
Silent Bomber is on the PSN for download and while part of me wants to buy it, I can’t help but worry that it isn’t the same. After all, a rented game has a sense of specialness to it that a digital download can never have. Renting a game for the weekend was special because my parents wanted me have a little something to make me happy and though it wasn’t really MINE because I didn’t own it, it was still special because it was only for a short while. And while I try my best to tell myself how foolish it is to think that something only exists if one can hold it, I can’t help but feeling cheated out of my money by downloading something that only exists on the harddrive of my PS3. I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but I think this mentality is what really defines the idea of the last traditional video game systems. They were created for the singular reason of playing a game, not to watch movies or get onto the internet.
I feel like an old man now and I’m talking about Playstation games. Is this what the future has in store for me and my generation? Is this what old people will be like in the future and if so, does that mean I’m getting old before my time?
I can’t believe how dark this post has turned out.