Dragon Quest slime controller for PS2  

Game Factors

As I accumulate more and more games I feel the need to take notes about games I've played or tried out, as a guide to selecting what to play or replay next, and just perhaps as a way to goad developers into making games that I like to play, that I am capable of playing, and that don't hurt (too much) to play. Also, I'm seriously OCD and have way too much time on my hands.

This is an unapologetically idiosyncratic list.

Updated: February 2014.

  Risa stats, by Lisa Lees.

There is a rant about things that make games difficult further down the page.

Factors

I. Platform, Publisher, Type, Rating, Media
I play mostly using a Sony Playstation 2, sometimes a PS3 or PSP, and rarely on anything else. At this point in time, many games that were made or ported to one Playstation platform have been made available via PSN to be played on the PSP, PS3 and I assume the PS4. If the game hasn't been redesigned, this affects the controls that are used, and can lead to awkward combinations on platforms with fewer or radically different controllers.
I broadly classify games into First Person, Visual Novel, RPG and Other. I rarely play anything rated above Teen.
II. Party, Battle, AI, Encounters, Boss battles, Retrying
How many Player Characters there are, how many can be in a combat party, what restrictions there are, and so on.
Most games have battles, and this is one of the most important factors in whether I can play a game and how much it hurts. I classify battles as None, Individual, Party; Turn-based, Realtime and Tactics. Some games use a combination: Trails in the Sky FC, for example, has individual turn-based battles with a tactical component.
Realtime battles depend on an AI to control the characters that the player is not directly controlling. (Some games allow more than one character to be controlled in realtime battles, but there's no way I can do that.) How good and how configurable the AI is can really affect gameplay.
If there are random encounters, is there some way to decrease the frequency or avoid them altogether?
How hard and long are boss battles, especially the obligatory final marathon boss battle?
Can battles be retried following a game over? If so, do they become easier?
III. Controls, Camera, Saving, Pausing
How are the controls used and how configurable are they? Can buttons be remapped, functions such as run/walk toggled, and so on? If the camera can be moved, is there a default that is usable so that the camera is not required to be moved frequently?
What are the restrictions on saving the game? What are the restrictions on pausing the game?
IV. Physical feats, Handholding, Freedom, Overall difficulty
Does one have to jump, slide, walk on fragile ridges, outrun robots, play a dragon-bone flute, or do anything against the clock?
How's the in-game help available to figure out what one is supposed to be doing? What are the constraints on free exploration, returning to dungeons, choosing when to do what? Are you ever free to just explore the world and, if so, is there any reward for doing so?
Taking into account all the physical aspects of playing the game, how difficult is it, i.e., how much is it going to hurt, and is it even possible to play the whole thing?
V. Story, Characters, Stereotypes, Sexism, Frustration, Extras
Nothing in this factor affects the physical playability of a game, but I don't play games to exercise my hands; I play for the story and the characters. All the games I play are playable stories. If I don't like the characters or the story, I won't play the game.
So, how's the story? Does it make sense? Does it motivate whatever restrictions there are on the use of characters?
And how believable are the characters, do they develop, what choices do they have? Do any likable characters get killed or sent off to limbo halfway through the game? How stereotyped are the characters? How blatant is the sexism and fan service?
Does the game do anything really stupid or frustrating, such as removing characters after the beginning and reintroducing them at level one halfway through the game? Is there an impossible to figure out item creation scheme? Are there gotchas like battles you cannot win, unforeseeable ways to loose important items, or whatever?
Many games have optional areas and/or in-game games. I rarely make use of these, but sometimes they warrant mention. On the other hand, required in-game games are often a pain.
VI. Animation, Sound, Music
What's the animation style? Is sound adjustable? Is a Japanese voice track available? How's the music? These things don't directly affect physical playability, but they certain affect one's willingness to put up with other problems.
VII. Length, Ending, Replayability
The better a game is, in terms of characters and story, the longer I want it to be. If there are multiple endings, how clear is it what influences them? Do I want to play this game again?
I almost never make use of post-game content, but sometimes it warrants mention.
VIII. Strategy Guide, Walkthroughs
I always buy strategy guides if possible. If they don't exist in English, I buy them in Japanese (and I can read Japanese well enough to make use of them). Failing that, is there a decent walkthrough available online that I can use for sticky parts?

Rant

I don't expect rhythm games, fighting games, or first-person shooters to be easy for someone with limited use of their hands to play. Gurumin kills my hands, but I accept that it couldn't be any other way, and deal with it. I have not yet managed to make it through Parasite Eve 2, which irks me, but I haven't quite given up yet. [I did eventually do it!] However, most of what I buy and try to play are story-centric RPGs, and I see no reason why these have to be so physically difficult to play in some cases.

Things do seem to slowly be improving, but more games can do more things to make gameplay easier, less painful and more fun for people like me:

I'll conclude this rant with a plea for, if not more female main characters, at least the ability to choose any character to head the party and display on the map. Why any game from the PS2 era on has these restrictions I just do not understand. Surely many people would prefer to see more of their favorite characters?

Of course, bottom line, thank you very much everyone who has worked so hard and long to create the games we all love to whinge about!

Return to my main gaming page.


Copyright © Lisa Lees www.lisalees.com lisa at lisalees.com