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The Game Guy
By Mark H. Walker
When is Piracy Not?
I chose my words carefully when reviewing games. A couple dozen people
have poured a quite a bit of their time into the ROM Iím looking at. I
value that effort, and wonít unnecessarily devalue their livelihood. By
the same token I never copy ROMs for friends. Itís stealing. Piracy is
the word du jour, but stealing is more to the point. But when is piracy
Is it piracy to copy your own game in order to play it on more
than one computer? Say a PC and traveling laptop. Is it piracy to copy
ROMs to play multiplayer on the ownerís personal LAN? Is it fair for game
companies to tell you how, when, and where you can play that new fifty-dollar
game? I think not.
Yet, as of late Iíve run through spat of games that require their
ROM in the CD-ROM drive to play both single and multiplayer. Last time
I gamed, multiplayer requires, well... multiple players. And if I want
those multiple players to be my daughters on my LAN, thatís my business.
Yet many publishers donít think so. ďYou want LAN multiplayer?Ē they say.
ďBuy two games.Ē Again, I think not.
Games should come with both a full install multiplayer option and a
code that allows limited ROM burning in order to play single player on
more than one computer. Yeah, I guess if the game owner wants to cross
the country, installing games on hard drives from Boise to Baton Rouge,
the publisher will lose money. On the other hand, think of the good will
publishers will generate by sharing their multiplayer suites. It might
just generate enough good will to make them money.
Thereís no Halloween party at my youngest daughterís school this year.
Right-wing religious groups Ėignoring the historical facts behind All Hallows
Eve- have declared the holiday dark, evil, un-Christian. I was stunned,
but my informal survey revealed only a miniscule number of parents were
actually against the party. The vast majority of us feel that a holiday
centered on candy and goofy costumes canít be all bad. Nevertheless, the
I fear the same is true in computer gaming. The gaming news in
inundated with press releases extolling the next great massively multiplayer
game. Yet only a small fraction (less the 20%) of gamers spend more time
gaming online than off. Reviewers hail the length of biblically proportioned
games such as Baldurís Gate, yet as the gaming community matures, marries,
and has kids, they will have less and less time for gaming, and hence long
games. The press harps on replay ability, but with the volume of yearly
releases no one has time to replay a gameís opening FMA, let alone the
The industry needs to take a hard look at its audience. Despite
each yearís influx of young gamers, the community is aging. Many older
gamers lack the time for MMORPGs, heinously long campaigns/quests, or give
a damn about replying a finished game. Publishers, stop pouring your money
into the minority before the majority wises up and moves on.
Feels like Diablo, and plays like Crusader: No Remorse... Jowood Publishingís
Zax: Alien Hunter lets gamers go on a three-quarter isometric alien
bashing rampage. Reflexive Entertainment (the gameís developer) has
hit gamers dead center with this one. Seemingly eschewing any attempt at
originality or creativity, Reflexive drew from all that had come before
and created a simple-donít-think-just-shoot good time.
There are plenty of weapons, a few simple puzzles to solve, some game
influencing decisions, and a simple story. Most of all there is the type
of almost-brainless fun so lacking from todayís games. Want to relax?
Perhaps take out the dayís frustrations on some poor robotic aliens? Then
this is the game for you.
SSIís Pool of Radiance flies in the face of the current crop of real-time
role-playing games. So does my opinion. I like it. Granted, Iím playing
the patched version, and Iím only a few hours into the quest, but this
is great stuff for turn-based gamers. Finally, we have a game that allows
gamers to appreciate the breadth and depth of AD&D rules. Rumor has
it that the quest gets tedious, and the coding temperamental, but so far
so good. If you prefer the cerebral pace of turn-based combat to the click
frenzy of real-time role playing you might just like Pool of Radiance.
The Last Word
One more minority opinion... We donít need God to bless America. We
need God to bless the entire planet. Restore reason to our collective conscience
before there is no collective conscience left.
© Mark H. Walker, LLC 2001
Mark H. Walker is a veteran interactive entertainment journalist who has written over 40 books including his recently released Video Games Almanac and The Parentís Guide to PlayStation Games.
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