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.
- The player completes the entire scripted sequence of encounters programmed into a game and gets a screen with “The End” or “Congraturation” or something.
- 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!–GG