Mike Matei and Inspector Gadget

The Stretch of Mike Matei’s Imagination

I’ve been beating a ton of classic games lately. Or have I?

According to Mike Matei, I have not. “Not by any stretch of the imagination.” Well, I don’t know how stretchy an imagination can get, but I know I have finally finished Blaster Master, Zelda II and Ninja Gaiden after around 30 years’ worth of attempts.

I finally saw how Ryu Hayabusa’s first adventure wraps up. I finally helped Jason rescue his frog Fred. And, given the amount of time I have in my busy life, I’m not sure I could have done it at all without the Nintendo Switch Online rewind feature. But to Mike Matei’s point, maybe I didn’t “beat” them. But I definitely “finished” them.

So what’s the difference? And what difference does it make?

The way I see it, there are two aspects to “beating” a game. They are as follows.

  1. The player completes the entire scripted sequence of encounters programmed into a game and gets a screen with “The End” or “Congraturation” or something.
  2. The player enjoys the mental satisfaction of having tested and mastered their manual dexterity, mental fortitude and, often, their memorization skills to a the conclusion described above.

In other words, you “finish” the game by getting to the Congraturation screen, but you “beat” the game by doing it without help.

So Mike is saying that you can accomplish Number One with the Nintendo Switch Online rewind feature. And that’s cool. You finished the game, and maybe you had fun doing it. But by his definition, you did not “beat” it.

Not to take a side in the debate, but if you boil the whole problem down to a matter of semantics, we could possibly agree that, yeah I beat the game but I didn’t Matei-beat it. I think it’s fair to say that there’s a difference between casually finishing a game with save states, rewind, Game Genie, Konami codes or whatever, and finishing the game as the developers intended, in a competitive way that might impress your YouTube subscribers.

The bigger problem, and the reason his tweet became so radioactive, was his choice of language in rudely making a gatekeeper blanket statement. Nobody likes a gatekeeper, and this particular gate doesn’t really need to be kept. Just let people enjoy things.

Below you’ll see that Mike Matei made some (weak) attempt to clarify what he meant, but it didn’t really address what had people so upset. He missed the point.

The internet is so weird. Twitter folk make rudely-worded gatekeeper statements about all kinds of stuff every day. But I suppose a lot of people have been enjoying the Switch rewind feature and felt personally attacked.

It didn’t help Mike’s case either that gamers with disabilities like Drew Nachreiner can get more enjoyment out of their games thanks to the ability to rewind. For Drew, the feature is about accessibility and fairness.

At any rate, it’s not for Mike Matei to tell us what “beating a game” is or is not. A lot of us have kids and families and don’t have the hours to sink into memorizing a game like Ninja Gaiden to the point where we can beat it blindfolded. We’ve got stuff to do, Mike.

All that matters to me is that I’ve finally completed some of my all-time favorite games after decades of trying.

What are your thoughts? Is rewinding a legit way to “beat” a game? Comment here or tweet at me!


5 thoughts on “The Stretch of Mike Matei’s Imagination

  1. hyp3rblue says:

    So, I’m not sure there’s a difference between “beating” a game and “finishing” it. It’s the same thing in my book. If anything, there are different categories of beating a game:
    Beating it without cheats or tool assist,
    Beating it without guides,
    Beating it with a guide,
    Beating it with cheats,
    Beating it with tool assist,
    And any other combination of scenarios.
    There’s nothing wrong with any of those options in my book, as long as you’re having fun. 👍

    1. I dunno, it kind of makes sense to distinguish between beating a game as the devs intended, and beating it with assistance. I doesn’t matter to you or a lot of people, but for the sake of folks like Mike, who might lose their minds, I’m okay with saying I “finished” a game. But maybe I’m too nice for the internet?

  2. There seems to be a bit of a disconnect with the arguing sides over Mike’s stupid tweet. Most would agree that it may be more impressive to beat/finish an old game without using something like rewind, but a blanket statement like that comes off as sounding like an utter asshole. He did not help himself by following this up with comments about people just “wanting things handed to them on a silver platter” or the “accessibility options aka cheats”. I’d like to give Mike credit that he just doesn’t realize at times how he comes off when he says stuff like this, but he kinda asked for pushback on something like this.

    I might not brag about only being able to beat Mega Man using rewind, but even with rewinding the game you still have to MAKE THE JUMP to progress. It doesn’t make the platforming sections or boss fights any easier, you just are able to retry them instantly.

    1. I agree with you. It’s impressive to have a game so well memorized that you can do it from the OG cartridge without much fuss. But memorization is all it is. Rewinding just saves me from having to invest hours of grinding back to the level where I died last time. I still have to fight the bosses over and over before I learn their moves and defeat them.

      1. Pattern recognition and timing were the keys to most of those older games. Those moving block sections in Mega Man took a few tries but once you had the pattern memorized it became a lot easier – after INVESTING the TIME. 🎮

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