Games That Expanded My Horizons

With money and time as an finite resource, it’s very easy to stay in a comfort zone with the video games you play. But sometimes, you get rewarded for escaping your imaginary box. Despite my previous negative response to art games like Journey and The Unfinished Swan, trying out Gris on the strength of a recommendation from Kris and Rachel from Double Jump proved to be a worthwhile endeavour.

Here are a few more games that I’ve played that expanded my horizons in ways I wasn’t expecting.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3

But wait, I thought you liked fighting games already? Yes and no. I’ve always been a huge fan of Street Fighter, but other games in the genre have been hit-and-miss. During my early days of Street Fighter IV when I was just starting to get serious, I truly believed that I couldn’t grasp other games in the genre due to how different they were.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is not inherently designed to be a gateway game, but playing that game gave me a greater appreciation for the fighting game genre as a whole. Besides being a wild and frenetic fighter, garnering some success in it proved to me that my skills can transfer between games. From this point forward, I took a keen interest in the scene, dipping my toes in almost every major fighting game out there, while also trying my hand at more niche titles.

Advance Wars

Advance Wars

Advance Wars was the first strategy game I’d ever played. At the time when I bought it on launch day, the game didn’t even look that appealing for me. However, as a highly-impressionable teen gamer, I had to check out this game got a whopping 9.9 out of 10 by IGN. You shouldn’t always follow review scores as gospel, but IGN was right on this one. Advance Wars was a brilliant strategy game that opened the door for me to enjoy games like Fire Emblem and XCOM.

Heavy Rain

Just before Telltale’s The Walking Dead blew the doors wide open for the modern adventure game, Heavy Rain slid into my PS3 and blew my mind. While it still had some of the adventure game obtuseness that had bothered me about the genre for quite some time, it placed the focus on its mature story and the impact your decisions would have on the narrative. This new take on storytelling in games is the reason I played the aforementioned Walking Dead games, Telltale Batman, and Life is Strange.

Guitar Hero

Before Guitar Hero, I saw rhythm games as just Dance Dance Revolution. It seemed nothing like dancing to me, and I also have two left feet. While holding a plastic guitar will never make someone think you’re actually Eddie Van Halen, Guitar Hero was close enough to the guitar playing experience to make me feel like I was a rock star. Not long after this, I jumped over to Rock Band, where I bought hundreds of DLC songs, rocking out to the sounds of great music and an empty bank account.

What games helped you expand your horizons?

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13 thoughts on “Games That Expanded My Horizons

  1. Kris P. April 29, 2019 / 7:44 AM

    I’m still thrilled that you enjoyed Gris! It’s always good to try out different games, which may be a reason why I’m getting more and more interested in the indie game scene.

    Advance Wars was always a game I would like to try, considering my interest in Fire Emblem. On that note, Into the Breach is still on my radar, but I have yet to actually make that purchase. Strategy games are a fun genre to me, mostly because I took the plunge eons ago on Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones.

    I think I remember Guitar Hero, too! We never had it, but friends of ours did. It was fun to watch, as Rachel and I didn’t try it ourselves too often. Our hands were physically too small to reach all of the buttons on the plastic guitar, haha!

    • Jett April 29, 2019 / 9:04 AM

      Between Gris and Paper Mario, you and Rachel have played a big role in discovering games I may have missed. Thank you for the recommendations! Please send more recos and I’ll shuffle my queue accordingly 🙂

      I used to have a stigma against indie games. I saw them as something “lesser” than releases from major publishers. But in the advent of digital distribution along with the best indie games being as good as anything from a major publisher, I no longer hold their size or independence against them. Hope your indie game adventures lead you to more wonderful games! And make sure to let me know which ones are worth playing!

      Though aspects of Advance Wars haven’t aged well, it still serves as an interesting historical piece with its share of fun moments today. I believe it was the first strategy game that Nintendo released internationally. If that game wasn’t as successful as it was, we may never have gotten Fire Emblem on this side of the ocean.

      Curious to see your thoughts someday on Into the Breach! I think the strategy parts of it are brilliant, but I wonder if that game’s approach to storytelling will hold up to your scrutiny.

      If it weren’t a logisitical and copyright nightmare, watching you two stream Rock Band would be awesome! At the very least, we can add jamming together in Rock Band on the ever-growing list of things to do together IRL someday.


  2. Kariyanine April 29, 2019 / 12:54 PM

    “Guitar Hero was close enough to the guitar playing experience to make me feel like I was a rock star.”

    making you feel like a guitar player, playing those songs was something that Guitar Hero and Rock Band did amazingly well. Even on the easiest settings (or with no fail mode on) it gave the simulation of you playing with a band on a stage. Too bad that Activision and Harmonix really beat the horse so frequently that it killed the genre because they both had something special there. By the time they realized it could be a platform, they had already killed it. (Rock Band 4: Rivals and Guitar Hero Live are both exceptional games but way past the genre’s expiration date.)

    • Jett April 29, 2019 / 12:58 PM

      You’re absolutely right. In their thirst to immediately cash in while one-upping the competition, EA and Activision drove the entire music genre into the ground. While it may not have kept its supernova momentum forever, this should have been more sustainable than it was.

  3. Hannie April 29, 2019 / 2:05 PM

    I loved Dance Dance Revolution and it’s probably the reason that I became a band geek in high school. Sure, it wasn’t at all like dancing, but if the music is fun and the colors are vibrant, I don’t really care, either. Plus, let’s be honest, I probably dance about the same in DDR as I do in real life, so I guess it does properly simulate dancing very poorly.

    • Jett April 29, 2019 / 2:08 PM

      Glad to see video games make a positive influence on your real life! What instrument(s) did you play?

      DDR was not my cup of tea, but my brother was really into it. He owned multiple mats for different consoles, including a more sturdy one that was either hard foam or plastic.

      Was your dancing video game interest just in DDR? Or did it spread to other games like Just Dance or Dance Central?

      • Hannie April 29, 2019 / 3:13 PM

        I played clarinet and a little piano, and I never ventured beyond DDR. The JPOP and Europop-centric soundtrack was 95% of why I loved the franchise so much, so the other series never appealed to me as much.

      • Jett April 29, 2019 / 3:34 PM

        The DDR soundtracks are definitely a unique selling point to those games. DDR-style music is not my cup of tea, but I don’t think you could just drop Western music in there and have it work the same. Maybe it’s just my preconceived notion on how DDR has existed to-date that make that style of play synonymous with that style of music. Guitar Hero was basically just Guitar Freaks with Western music and that set the world on fire, so who knows…

        Any chance we’ll see you play clarinet or piano on your YouTube channel? A DDR clarinet or piano cover perhaps?

      • Hannie April 29, 2019 / 3:48 PM

        Hahaha probably not, given that I’ve done neither of those activities in a reeeeaaally long time.

      • Jett April 29, 2019 / 3:52 PM

        “Next time on the Hannie Corner…watch me get good again at clarinet and piano! Jett sent in a request to see me play Mary Had a Little Lamb, so come back next time for that! Like, share, and subscribe! Byeeee!” 😉

  4. Ammers May 5, 2019 / 3:09 PM

    Gris was sooooo amazing. I recently finished a longer form review on it. That game put me right on the feels-bus and didn’t let me off until the end. Got chills from the music+visuals over and over. That melancholy organ soundtrack was well done.

    • Jett May 5, 2019 / 3:11 PM

      The soundtrack stayed in my rotation well after the game ended!

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