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Same Game, Different Day

Where's the innovation?

By James Stevenson     May 23, 2003

The Master Chief stands ready in this screenshot from HALO 2
© Bungie Studios

Last week I was in Los Angeles for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, checking out the newest and latest videogames that will be gracing your console over the next year or so. But as I walked around the showfloor, I wasn't really seeing a lot of innovation, nothing really stood out to me as something new and exciting, something I hadn't seen before.

Sure, there were some incredible looking games. HALO 2, HALF-LIFE 2, and DOOM III all looked stunning, but at the same time, they were just technical improvements of the first-person shooter genre, and all continuations of other games. METAL GEAR SOLID 3 takes the game out into the woods, but it was just a video, and I'm still not convinced of its greatness. As you walked around the showfloor, there were quite a few different role-playing games, massively-multiplayer online role-playing games, first-person shooters and platformers.

The biggest problem is that not much of this is new, developers seem content to slap in a few new features and then sell you the product again. Take EA's booth for example. THE RETURN OF THE KING is basically THE TWO TOWERS with new levels, characters and two-player cooperative play (ok, I am looking forward to the lattermost aspect). There was another James Bond game, another SSX, another NEED FOR SPEED, another HARRY POTTER, and all of the sports titles are getting slightly tweaked.

But it just doesn't excite me anymore. I've been playing these games for a few years now, and I'm ready for some new experiences! I want something I haven't played before. I want cool stuff like SAMBA DE AMIGO, SPACE CHANNEL 5, SEAMAN, PIKMIN, or

The Master Chief stands ready in this screenshot from HALO 2

STEEL BATTALLION. It doesn't need to have an expensive peripheral, but I want a new gaming experience, not something I've played before.

The one booth that I thought showed some promise in this respect was Nintendo's. The Big N was showing off a lot of titles that featured Connectivity between the Game Boy Advance and the GameCube, including FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES, PAC-MAN FOR NINTENDO GAMECUBE, and LEGEND OF ZELDA FOUR SWORDS FOR NINTENDO GAMECUBE. All of these games will require you and some buddies to hook up your Game Boy Advances to a GameCube, but all look to be some of the most enjoyable gaming experiences in quite some time.

Maybe I'm just jaded. Maybe I just like playing games that I haven't ever experienced, and am really looking forward to titles like FABLE, B.C., FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES, and SYPHON FILTER: THE OMEGA STRAIN (with its online cooperative play). Maybe I just bash on franchises too much, and am somewhat hypocritical because I'll still be first in line for the next MARIO game. Maybe I just can't make up my damn mind between innovation or tried and true, and the industry is in the same place.


FFXII will be released late this year or early next in Japan... SPLINTER CELL: PANDORA TOMORROW has been announced and will include online multiplayer missions... While RED DEAD REVOLVER was not shown at E3 it has not been canceled... yet... Sega announced its first profit in 5 years...


Struggling to pick a game this week, but I'll go with WARIOWARE INC. MEGA MICROGAME$. It's a


Game Boy Advance game that has you play through collections of 3-5 second mini games, some of which are original and others are drawn from classic gaming references. Should be fun, and great for those with ADD.

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