5 Criteria For Great Games/Systems
For a while now, I’ve been trying to figure out what are the determining factors of a great game, and by extension a great game system. It doesn’t take much self-reflection to realize my favorite systems are the VCS, NES, and Wii. Many of their games satisfy one of the following criteria. Numbers 1-4 are pretty essential for me, but when a game also includes number 5, I’m hooked. With the Atari Box supposedly on the way, I hope it can also muster plenty of games that fit into this list.
1. Simple. The game needs to be easy to learn and play. There’s a balancing act the game programming has to perform here, because you don’t want the game to be easy or boring. Going along with this theme, I really enjoy single-screen games and tend to avoid 3-D worlds.
2. Fast. This does not necessarily apply to the game’s pace. Fast means I press the start button and the action starts. I didn’t turn on my game system to watch a movie. This also applies to duration. I should be able to enjoy a round even if I only have a few minutes to spare.
3. Fun. The game should be challenging, but not overly frustrating.
4. Concept. The game should be an original idea or a creative twist on an old one.
5. Ingenuity. The game should match the technology of the system and make creative use of its capabilities. The VCS and NES did this by designing games that maximized the limitations of the system. The Wii and mobile games do this through maximizing the systems’ unique player interaction. I really appreciate VCS paddle games, since it is not a common type of controller.
I would say every game in "Racing the Beam" meets all these criteria. The most famous NES games meet them too. In general, WiiWare games did well on these too.
A game doesn't need to score high in every one of these criteria for me to enjoy it, but that definitely would increase its chances. Now I doubt many serious gamers would share my tastes on this. However I think this list could be a useful framework for what the general public would embrace. I know expectations are low for the Atari Box, but the company would do well to keep this list in mind.