News Article

Masahiro Sakurai: Stories in Video Games Can be "Irksome"

Posted by Andy Green

"I just want the game to let me play"

With the rise of technology over the years video games have established themselves as one of the biggest storytelling mediums out there. Stories used to be as basic as climbing a tower to save a damsel in distress, but as time has worn on they've become full cinematic experiences - even if we are still rescuing princesses from the clutches of giant apes and lizards.

One person that hasn't been a big fan of this trend is Kid Icarus: Uprising and Super Smash Bros. Brawl producer Masahiro Sakurai. In this week's Famitsu magazine he wrote:

As a player, as someone who's been playing games for a long time, the stories that get told in video games are honestly irksome to me pretty often.

For example, games that take forever to get through the intro and won't let you start playing, or games that go through the trouble of being fully voiced and wind up having their tempo all messed up as a result. I just want to enjoy the game and I think I'm just intolerant of aspects that block that enjoyment. I can enjoy a story in any other form of media; I just want the game to let me play it already.

Sakurai cited RPGs, which often feature an in depth story in today's era, saying that from a gamer's standpoint, when a character that you spent the game raising dies or leaves your party for the sake of the story, it's "dreadful" and "totally unreasonable".

In games where you're fighting against enemies, you're playing from the perspective of the hero, and you're being asked to basically win every time. If players wind up in a predicament because of what the story calls for, that's like penalizing them even though they made no mistake.

The irked designer says it leads to a game that's lacking in actual gameplay. He admitted that it is sometimes necessary for games to put story-oriented obstacles in a player's way, but he says that striking a balance is key to creating a good gaming experience. Creating a balance is something he struggled with himself in the making of Kid Icarus: Uprising, where he ended up writing the whole script himself.

He revealed that he developed the story to take advantage of the game itself, with all characters having their own personalities shaped by their individual roles in the title. This allowed him to make the dialogue match the developments encountered in the game.

If I had had someone else write the story, I'd either have to keep explaining things to the writer whenever anything changed in-game, or I'd have to partition it away from the game and lose on that consistency. Especially with a game like Kid Icarus [Uprising], which features air battles where the gameplay, dialogue, and music needed to fully mesh with each other, it was vital that the story and game were one and the same and could easily be fine-tuned.

Sakurai clearly feels stories in games could benefit from designers thinking about how the story actually relates to the game, and vice versa. He finished off by saying:

A game's story absolutely needs to match the content and the gameplay. In an ideal world, we could take advantage of this to provide new story developments that you'll never be able to see in other media.

Do you agree with Masahiro Sakurai? What are your thoughts on stories in video games? Let us know in the comments below.

[via polygon.com, famitsu.com]

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User Comments (79)

spoonshiro

#1

spoonshiro said:

I think he hit it pretty much on the head. I enjoy a good story, but it shouldn't come at the expense of making the game enjoyable and immersive.

Salnax

#2

Salnax said:

I can see his point. At least in KI:U, any player with at least basic skills could jump into the game and start playing, paying as much or little attention to the dialogue as they want. The story of KI:U was great, but when replaying it, it was nice to never be required to slow down for the plot to get ahead.

Lunapplebloom

#3

Lunapplebloom said:

I think he gets it about right.

While I do enjoy cinematic games at times, it should never come at the expense of the gameplay. One of the things to Kid Icarus: Uprisings success, was how fun it was to play, while having a great plot to go with it that never felt unnecessary. As he said, it all meshed together.

Still want a sequel in some form or another though hopefully, but Smash Bros. will make up for it.

Jellitoe

#4

Jellitoe said:

They did a Wonderful job of telling a story while you play with Kid Icarus. He at least has backed up so far what he says.

genoboost

#5

genoboost said:

I definitely agree a lot with Sakurai, which makes a lot of sense since I think Kid Icarus had one of the most surprising and interesting storylines in a game in recent memory. I don't have a lot of time to play games these days so I definitely have the same 'just let me start playing!' attitude Sakurai mentions.

Dodger

#6

Dodger said:

Hmm. I don't completely disagree with the part where he says game intros shouldn't take forever coughokamicough but I do see gaming as an art form because it is 1, created by humans for the sake of pleasure, not survival and 2, is capable of sending a message. I would say that settles it for me, if the Smithsonian saying it is art doesn't already. Not every game needs to send a message or tell a story, but if I didn't know better then it would sound like he was trying to knock games that do in favor of mindless fun.

I don't need every game to have a simple story. If I played games for the sake of escapism then maybe I would agree with him. I don't. I do enjoy relaxing, but I play games to see what the developers have made. The story they want to tell, the music they want me to hear and the world they want me to see, I like seeing that.

Nintendo fans often chant their motto, "Gameplay above graphics", to defend themselves from those that say that brown deserts and headshots in HD are better then anything pretty on a playstation 2 but it has been misused to defend ugly games from those that say that the game is ugly. That really takes away from a game while Okami, for example, is one of my favorite games because it is so unbelievably beautiful. One of the many reasons Galaxy is above the hordes of average, boring Super Mario games is because of the incredible soundtrack and the shiny, colorful graphics.

Since when are character deaths totally unreasonable, by the way? I can't even begin to comprehend that word choice. Sad, yes. Unreasonable, no. People die. In real life, in books, in movies and in games. Loss is such a huge part of life that I see no problem with a story representing it.

Kid Icarus had a good story. The plot never did get in the way but I don't need every game to be like that. After missing a line in Skyrim for the millionth time because everybody was talking at once and the captioning didn't pick it up, I'm fine with text based dialog again. Maybe it is just me, but I'm fine without voice acting because I apply my own voices without thinking. Maybe it is because I read books.

Peach64

#9

Peach64 said:

I can understand the point of view. It's actually a view that's sort of accepted by the mainstream too who just play Call of Duty, and FIFA or Madden. That's all they want to do too, is play.

For me though, you can't beat an epic story.

TheXboxHero

#10

TheXboxHero said:

I definately agree with this article, but sometimes the story telling can be super interesting in games like Kid Icarus: Uprising, Fire Emblem: Awakening, and Bastion. Those narrations and stories are so much fun to listen to though, but overall it can be ''irksome'' to be listening to story-telling instead of playing the actual game.

DreamyViridi

#11

DreamyViridi said:

For Uprising, the story was happening while you were playing; so yeah, I can see what Sakurai is talking about. Long unskippable cutscenes can de-value the game experience, even if they're entertain to watch.

eviLaTtenDant

#13

eviLaTtenDant said:

The story elements in KI:U were good. They just didn't come together all that well imo.
In the end it just stops without any true climax throughout the whole game. Except for Medusa. Or maybe it's the way in which it's presented or that the characters still feel shallow to me, idk.
So while i agree that the story shouldn't disrupt the flow of a game it doesn't mean that it has to be all about friendship and being a hero. I'd rather have the main character dying than a clichéd, shallow story.
Don't stop pushing the boundaries of story in games, gaming shouldn't give up on triggering deeper emotions that go beyond just feeling the gameplay.

Fights you cannot win in RPG's as well as the beginning and last parts of Super Metroid are some of my absolute favourites in gaming. So mostly i'd say i disagree here.

Adam

#14

Adam said:

Dodger, what he is saying is it doesn't make sense for a character you control to die through no fault of your own. At this point, you are throwing game play out the window and ignoring the fact that one of your heroes has been unstoppable all game.

Imagine if in your favorite TV show one of the main characters was played by a great actor and portrayed the character one way, but midseason he is replaced by someone who isn't up to snuff, comes across as a weakling, and is subsequently killed off. You would lose all sense of continuity for reasons beyond the scope of the show.

In a game, you are the actor until the cut scenes, at which point, no matter how good or bad you have done, the game's writer changes how you are portrayed entirely and can have you killed off in ways that don't fit your performance with that character.

I can't think of any time this has happened outside of RPGs where you control several characters, but I can see what he means though it has never occurred for me.

I liked how the story worked in both Brawl and Kid Icarus and am not a fan of overwrought stories in games for similar reasons, if not exactly the same.

Einherjar

#15

Einherjar said:

He made some really good pints there. Kid Icarus hat a pretty good story although it mostly consisted of "off screen" dialogues and to me, that was a perfect match. No overdone and lenghy cinematicsm just a few cutscenes here and there.

Bulbousaur

#16

Bulbousaur said:

I agree. A few months ago I started playing Final Fantasy IX, but I simply couldn't stand playing for 6 hours having basically gotten what felt like nowhere. Stories can be good in games, but they shouldn't interfere with gameplay by having hours of exposition.

I really like how the story was handled in Kid Icarus Uprising. While I do wish they gave an option to turn voice acting off for multiple playthroughs of levels. having everything explained to you while actually playing was a really good idea.

AtomicToaster

#18

AtomicToaster said:

Kid Icarus was an awesome game and the story meshes with the levels in the title extremely well IMO although some find the game too chatty. I liked it however. Trouble with games trying to be movies is that movies are movies it cost a lot less to buy a big blockbuster than it costs to play Uncharted.... or any other short movie like experience... the movie probably has a better story, better cinematagrophy, etc. than the game. I'm just saying trying to make games a similar experience hurts games because you get a better experience from movies and it's cheaper! Does that mean no in game cut scenes? No, just realize your a video game and not trying to replace the movie going experience!

catsrnice

#19

catsrnice said:

If story causes you to be handicapped then roll with it, it's part of the game. I loved the parts in Superstar Saga where the 2 bros got separated for whatever reason and you could only play as one. If that's what he's complaining about then I don't agree.

RikuzeYre

#20

RikuzeYre said:

Its funny how the comments are so different here than on Siliconera, you guys report the same news and yet the portrayal and the responses are different I find it funny. Also shows just how much people understand English and meaning, so many things being communicated XD

What Sakurai is referring to is the disconnection between story and game play and how that effects the player being immersed into the game. One game that comes to mind is Xenogears, lets forget the cutscenes for a moment and just focus on how the story feels separate from the gameplay, and its constantly juggling between the two besides sticking 45 minute long cutscnes every so often

AtomicToaster

#21

AtomicToaster said:

He's talking about stuff lie the Arieth thing where she dies and there's no way for you as the hero to bring her back. So you spent all the time leveling her and then they kill her off and a phoenix down won't work! That doesn't change the gameplay, you just lose a character in a way that wasn't based on your choices. Something like a plot twist in a game that changes the gameplay, like losing your brother, or having your water gun taken away actually does work and weaves itself into the experience!

theblackdragonAdmin

#22

theblackdragon said:

I don't mind the epic FMV'd stories or suddenly being handicapped, provided the story is engrossing enough to keep me hooked. losing a character or certain abilities is merely another challenge for me to overcome IMO, and a good story will have a valid reason for throwing these obstacles in our path.

To be honest, what really turns me off about RPGs is having to trek all over creation all the time. It's a waste of time if you're not in the mood to grind your characters or if you're already overleveled. That was a huge turn-off in terms of Tales of the Abyss (sorry, Smexi D: ), having to figure out where the hell I was all the time and also where i was supposed to go in order to continue the story. It was a pretty good story and a decent game otherwise. Xenoblade was probably some of the most fun I've ever had mainly because i could go and goof off and mess around with sidequests all i wanted, and when i got bored with that and needed to go back somewhere to continue the story, all I had to do (usually) was warp there. Easy as pie, and yet the game was still quite challenging. You don't need cheap random encounters to inflate the difficulty level.

edit: wow, i can't believe people are still pissed that Aeris dies. really?

machomuu

#23

machomuu said:

I really think it should depend on the game. For instance, Metal Gear Solid, one of my favorite game series, prides itself in its cutscenes (heck, 4 was like a movie). It has a big story, and that is a large part of what makes the games popular. If they were to try to weave the story into the gameplay...well, it would probably end with the story being much smaller and much less ambitious than it was meant to be, and Metal Gear would not be nearly as convoluted and interesting as a result.

I see what he's saying about there being a necessary amount of gameplay and story, but there are games that thrive on how their narrative is presented (ie Metal Gear, Kingdom Hearts, Uncharted, etc.). There are other games that can bore you with a lot of talking that can be woven into the gameplay somehow, or can be spread out so that you're not spending unnecessarily long amounts of time reading text or listening to dialog, and in that sense I agree with Sakurai; however, I don't think a game should ever sacrifice it's narrative for the sake of gameplay (and vice versa). If it is the creators vision to make a game that puts an emphasis on narrative (or an emphasis on gameplay), I say so be it.

I think this applies to character deaths, too. I like it when characters die, especially when I'm emotionally invested in them. It doesn't make the majority of gamers mad at the developers, it makes them emotionally react to the game and create feelings towards whatever caused their death. I know that we put time and effort into developing that character, but it is through that time and effort that we create bonds with the characters that make the deaths all that more powerful and the story all the more engaging.

triforcepower73

#24

triforcepower73 said:

I really like this guy! He's a great developer and both ssbb and Kid Icarus are so much fun. He has a great design philosophy.

skjia

#25

skjia said:

Thank you. I agree that at times cut scenes, especially slow ones ruin the pace of a game and you end up tapping the A button repeatedly trying to skip it but story can still be important.
And when a character you've put grown with dies, that's usually a pretty bold move in story telling and works even better in video games since you've put effort into it. Yeah maybe it sucks that they died through no fault of your own but I'm pretty sure most people we know in real that have died die through no fault of our own. It's real life and it's that feeling of loss that makes people upset. And that's kind of he point.
Not all games need story but not all games don't need a story. Saying one is better than another is pointless because, like all entertainment, there's variety and there should be.
I love the Mario games but sometimes I want to play an epic tale with a crazy story that pulls me in. And sometimes I don't lol.

kkslider5552000

#26

kkslider5552000 said:

I think he's talking more about from a developer standpoint. With certain exceptions, trying to make a full game with a full story already in mind sounds like an insane task. You'd have to constantly work around everything in your game to make it match, and while I can forgive it at times, it is annoying when your characters fail at stuff even a novice player would find easy to not fail at. Or worse, when most of the really cool parts of your game aren't gameplay at all.

I'm not that annoyed by this stuff as some people might be, but I agree that gameplay should often be as close to the story as possible and vice-versa.

Sp00n

#27

Sp00n said:

One of the best methods of video game story telling is in Metroid Prime, which lets you immerse yourself in this world and discover as much about the story as you want. I think it's truly wonderful.

That said, the only time a story has ever been a hook for me in buying a game was Starcraft II, because the originals had managed to tell such an amazing space war story, but then Starcraft II was rubbish, chiefly because it followed to many story conventions of modern gaming.

Robo-goose

#28

Robo-goose said:

Makes it a little ironic that I wanted there to be more time in Kid Icarus: Uprising after every level to focus on story telling.
Not a ton of time, just more than the usual ten-fifteen seconds. I remember starting a lot of levels specifically because I felt something was missing from the end of the level before.
Though that bugged me, it definitely didn't turn me away from the game. I enjoyed every second I spent playing KI:U.

I love the Fire Emblem series to death with one of the main reasons for this being the story telling. I feel a little empty inside after a chapter in Fire Emblem: Awakening for the same reason as in Kid Icarus: Uprising.
In spite of that, these two games are definitely my GOTYs for their respective years.

DerpSandwich

#32

DerpSandwich said:

While I do agree that a story needs to be interesting and be told naturally without hurting the rest of the game, I think it's a really important part of the medium. I'm of the opinion that you can have a great game without much of a story, but the greatest games (the ones we can call "true art" or "masterpieces") have really fantastic ones.

I'd personally rather sit through a little story that I don't care so much about than play a game that has been stripped of it unfairly. This is one of the reasons I was so disappointed with Super Mario Galaxy 2. They keep dumbing down the story because they think the gameplay is what matters the most, but I find that I care less about the gameplay when it's not backed by a good story. In this case the whole thing was less charming and epic, so ultimately less enjoyable for me.

Shanksta

#33

Shanksta said:

I agree for the most part, but I think that some games that have ridiculously long cutscenes are great. Metal Gear Solid in particular, those games had many cutscenes and I think the last one in Guns of the Patriots clocked at 90 minutes or something. When I watched it, it was great for me and didn't seem cumbersome.

Then there are games where I wish there were more cutscenes like Fire Emblem: Awakening. I understand with that game that the pre-rendered portions don't show your customized character because then they would have to do one for every different configuration. Or not have it be pre-rendered which I think looks amazing. Still a lot of the time I end up wanting more. Awakening is still a fantastic game though.

I guess my point is that there is no clear cut-down-the-middle for this argument and each side has great examples of each. (I did like the story being tied into the gameplay for Kid Icarus through the dialogue as well)

Rect_Pola

#34

Rect_Pola said:

I enjoy a good plot, but the price of damaging the game is a common curse that's been rolled over by many voices in the industry and journalism. Developers fail to take the perspective of the gamer being part of the story into account.

Haxonberik

#35

Haxonberik said:

He has a good point, but I dont think that characters dying or going off team on an RPG are a bad thing as much as the game has a way to balance the remainder. I would give examples, but Im not spoiling any games for you guys. But yes, I started playing MGS3 a while ago and it took me an hour to start playing after the cutscenes.

Expa0

#36

Expa0 said:

I agree, this is especially relevant with Pokemon. I just want to catch a teamful of pokemon, convert other people's pokemon to exp, collect 8 (or more) badges whilst dealing with a silly evil gangster team and finally defeating Elite four and the champion. I don't care whether or not what I'm doing is philosophically correct or not.

DestinyMan

#37

DestinyMan said:

I think he has a good point. Story in a video game can be nice if it fits, and Sakurai and his team did an excellant job with Kid Icarus Uprising's story and gameplay. Everything in the game runs very smoothly, with the dialogue, battles, and platforming working seamlessly.

I-U

#39

I-U said:

While I do agree with him, Kid Icarus Uprising did not turn out to be well meshed together at all. The story detracts from the music and the gameplay.

SteveW

#40

SteveW said:

Exactly! there are very few games that I have ever played that had an interesting story, most of the times the cutscenes drive me crazy!

TheCrimsonSquid

#42

TheCrimsonSquid said:

But... Whats a game without a enjoyable story? There needs to be more than just gameplay to keep someone engaged, and some sort of ultimate payoff that ties up all the loose ends. Sure, Gameplay is Important, but you can only kidnap a Princess so many times before it gets stale.

gazamataz

#43

gazamataz said:

kid icarus was the best example of story and gameplay working together that i've ever played.i have no doubt in my mind that masahiro sakurai will one day make a game to top all others.he just gets it.he makes games that you can play all year.proper fun games.a lot of crap games need a story to keep you playing.so do a lot of good games.this man is genius.

sonicriders

#44

sonicriders said:

@TheCrimsonSquid Even if you are just kidnapping a princess, it doesn't make much difference. There's a difference between using the same story concepts over and over again and actually doing the same story the same way over and over again. For example, the story in all of the New Super Mario Bros. games are pretty lame, but the story for Super Mario Galaxy was very enjoyable, even if it was just rescuing a princess, it had a bit more to it.

In my opinion, some games benefit from story and some don't. New Super Mario Bros. has a lame story, but so what? The point is, it's not really supposed to, however, I think if they came up with a new way of telling the story, or even a new story for that series, it would give it a much needed boost in interest. the original Marios were cool because you were on an all out quest throughout a massive kingdom to rescue the princess from the evil clutches of Bowser. It was an adventure! Now it's a meme. Spruce it up a bit, Nintendo!

1080ike

#45

1080ike said:

This man hits the nail on the head. I really hate it when reviewers dock points from a score just for having a bad/no story. Even in games that don't need it, like Metal Slug.

edcomics

#46

edcomics said:

What he's saying sounds good, but it's the same complaint I had when playing Kid Icarus: Uprising!

Perhaps it's just certain types of stories the guy is complaining about, because Uprising was full of moments that cut off the action, or held you back from taking action until the story and script allowed you to finally gain control over Pitt.

The tricky thing is that different people experience these games at different points in their lives. Someone who's played games for 20+ years may get tired of certain trends, while newer gamers will be totally enthralled. Gamers can be fickle, too. Not everyone enjoys all types of games all the time. Moods change. Tastes change.

Sakurai's main point is valid, though. Too often the player is restricted from just playing the game.

Gamesake

#47

Gamesake said:

Even the best of video game stories never amount to much more than a bad movie experience. Whether or not the game itself is any fun to play is what ultimately matters. It is a game after all. Of course if you've created a boring game, loading it with cut scenes to distract the players couldn't hurt.

Zombie_Barioth

#48

Zombie_Barioth said:

Personally, I think it really depends on what sort of game your playing. For a really cinematic game like Uncharted or Metal Gear long cut-scenes are ok, but for anything Nintendo or a western RPG where the story mostly comes from reading between the line its not.

As for character death its usually JRPGs that have scripted deaths that come out of nowhere, and boss fights where the outcome is the same no matter what. Those are what get on my nerves. Thats what I like about the way its done in Fire Emblem, the characters die but none of the in-game deaths actually impact or even involve the story.

WiiLovePeace

#49

WiiLovePeace said:

Personally what he finds unappealing about video games with huge stories is the thing I find most appealing about them haha. I love watching the intro cutscenes, I love it when the story throws a twist at me & I now lost a few characters I once loved (hence I always level everyone up equally in RPGs, just in case). I just love being entertained, that doesn't mean I have to be constantly pressing buttons, watching cut-scenes is greatly entertaining to me.

But saying that I'd love to see Sakurai make an RPG that fulfils his own personal tastes (obviously after Smash Bros. is finished). Where story is dictated by player action & no cutscenes to be seen. Sounds fun to play haha :D

shredmeister

#50

shredmeister said:

Thumbs up to Masahiro Sakurai's opinion. I hate when the story line slows down the gameplay. Some games have story lines that are actually longer than the gameplay, even when trying to skip through.

MagicEmperor

#51

MagicEmperor said:

I don't think this applies to every game. Some games require more story than gameplay, and others vice versa. The one statement I disagree with the most is about losing a character or battle in RPG when the story calls for it. I think, if done right, it can make the game feel even more immersive, because now you have a problem you must eventually overcome, and you'll feel better. I think it's subjective, really. Still, Sakurai has some good points.

@AJere Haha! I hate Other M[istake] with every fiber of my being, so I hope Sakurai does, too. :P

BlatantlyHeroic

#52

BlatantlyHeroic said:

I disagree with his opinion. I understand his standpoint, but I love long stories when playing games and cut-scenes are awesome as well. I also love twists.

Dodger

#53

Dodger said:

Video game stories certainly aren't as great as they could be. I'm don't think they should stay where they are. I just don't think the answer is to go backwards, dropping the story for even more block puzzles and battles against grunts. Even the best video games stories are still kinda clunky at times. Keep moving game stories forwards. Find new ways to tell a story that couldn't be done before.

Movies proved that they could do things theater couldn't using the camera and editing magic. Games have so much potential to prove they can do more then any other art form, if they have people who care about making something different making them. I hope Kickstarter will provide an opportunity for games that a publisher would never accept because they are different. Different doesn't always make money, but sometimes it does. I would point to Portal or Minecraft as examples.

I was pleased to see Bastion mentioned. The story isn't incredibly memorable, but at least it was attempting to tell a story in a different way (a goal in which it succeeded). I would love to see more games like that.

Squid

#54

Squid said:

Ah, so that's why the story in Kid Icarus was rather jumpy and inconsistent.

Also, couldn't he explain why Brawl's Adventure Mode story is basically the opposite of what he said?

GoombaJMR

#56

GoombaJMR said:

I somewhat agree with him, but for games like Fire Emblem Awakening, the game wouldn't be so good if there wasn't such a...moving incredible story. The story in the game makes you want to play the next chapter, and it's rather addictive...do you guys get what I mean? Stories in games can be a good thing...as Paper Mario TTYD and SPM had pretty good stories and wonderful gameplay, SS is the kind of game where nintendo did sort of what this guy wanted, an environment where he could play whenever with not much story. Guess how good SS was....>.>

The-Chosen-one

#57

The-Chosen-one said:

in smashbros brawl, i loved the cutscenes in the subspace story mode. it tells a beautifull story for every nintendo character in a dramatic way where even the villains have to work together to beat tabuu, stories like that i love it! and i know the next ssb will blow us away,

Lalivero

#58

Lalivero said:

I can see where he is coming from, but some games are perfect for being stories. Take the Golden Sun series, one known for excessive talking and a lot of story - it just does that so well imo and makes it arguably my favorite.

Don't take that the wrong way though. The games, especially The Lost Age, have a freakin' HUGE amount of freedom and side quests, etc. and that's big considering the fact that the first two were GBA games. Without the stories though...let's not start talking crazy now!

FubumblR

#59

FubumblR said:

I can see what he means, even though I love FFXIII I often was irked by the frequency of interruptions while you're still on Cocoon. I swear, it felt like every 5-10 minutes there was an interruption in gameplay.

I don't think I've sighed that much while playing a game in my life.

Drawdler

#60

Drawdler said:

Video games are video games. Not books.
I think that in this day and age, too many developers try to set their creations apart by putting big stories in their games- but not actually making them interesting to play, or giving them plain not great stories. May as well go and make a movie.
There are places for cinematic and story-heavy games, but I don't think that many games have struck the proper balances of them while providing an actually interesting story and good gameplay as well.
It's one of the reasons that I love Nintendo- they just do what they do well: make a good old fashioned game. I don't get interrupted by cutscenes every level in their games, and when I do, they're entertaining to watch and don't feel disruptive anyway.

eviLaTtenDant

#61

eviLaTtenDant said:

I should also add that i really like KI:U's characters. I just wish they were a bit more fleshed out.Except for Palutena, Pit, Medusa and Hades of course.

Bass_X0

#62

Bass_X0 said:

Story in video games is fine as long as its skippable.

Super Paper Mario was one of the worst games I played due to unskippable intro and boring story. The gameplay didn't exactly wow me either. I gave up after getting lost in the space zone maze. Long featureless corridors don't make for a fun game.

As far as RPGs go, a character permamently dying or leaving because of the story is to be expected. However, the player should be rewarded once they do so. When Galuf dies in Final Fantasy V, all his skills and abilities are transferred over to new character Krile. So it wasn't a waste of time building Galuf up. Not many RPGs do that.

Players have to enjoy the story for a story-driven game to work. They have to want to keep playing to see more of the story. Otherwise the game may as well be the same as Zelda 1. Just you in an open world and dungeons to find until you beat the last one.

Grodus

#63

Grodus said:

I see where he's coming from, but I personally disagree. Its part of the game. Just like games where places you can go have enemy's for when you are much stronger, or need a special attack you get late in the game, or whatever else and they can easily kill you, the story line affecting your character/party/villain or whatever else is part of the game. And please don't say "but you can run away from the overly powerful enemy's" because you only do that (go to them) if its your first time through or you're trying to speed run.

EDIT: I should probably add that in my example, I'm assuming this is your first time through and you don't know the enemy's are too powerful, so It isn't like a "Well, you went to them, so its your fault!" kinda thing.

TKOWL

#64

TKOWL said:

Maybe this explains why the Subspace Emissary's story was so confusing and without any voice acting.

1958Fury

#68

1958Fury said:

Back in the 8-bit days, I loved the story scenes. Sometimes it was the best chance for the programmers to show off what cool graphics they could make with limited resources. The NES Ninja Gai Den series was particularly impressive. But now that they can do pretty much anything with CGI, it's no longer impressive. And lets face it, very few of these stories are well-written enough to compete with actual movies. When I want to watch a movie, I'll watch a movie. But when I want to play a game, just let me play the game.

mookysam

#69

mookysam said:

Story doesn't need to be a focus in many games, but in others, it is important. RPGs immediately spring to mind, but there are shooters, performers, action games and even puzzle games where story is an important component of the overall experience and one that improves them. Good stories can help create immersion and allow the player to emotionally invest in the game world.

There are many ways to tell a story in games. Straight up plot and narative - which is important as it helps to build structure. Art and music. Emergent gameplay. Even level design... Some games are very cinematic whilst others are more subtle in how they communicate their story.

Psylumin

#70

Psylumin said:

I do agree, and I think a good example would be the new Fire Emblem that I am currently playing.
It has a grand story, and even though it takes time to tell itself, the actual gameplay is never lost. Short 2 minute sequences before and after playing 20-30 minute battles explain what is going on, giving us a ratio of 90% gameplay with 10% story.

Perfect in my books. Granted, Kid Icarus does it 'better', though its approach to storytelling confused me because I could not pay attention to both story and action at the same time.

Either way, its a great topic to discuss!

Rekiotsu

#71

Rekiotsu said:

Frankly, I don't understand him and I think he is wrong. Stories are the main reason why I play video games and without them I wouldn't be playing video games nearly as much. For me the compination of good story and "good enough" gameplay is the thing why I like games more than movies and books.
But I know that people like different things and this is just how I like it.

Bass_X0

#72

Bass_X0 said:

Video games are video games. Not books.

Nope. They can be both.

If players wind up in a predicament because of what the story calls for, that's like penalizing them even though they made no mistake.

I'm glad Sakurai doesn't produce the Ace Attorney games. Phoenix is constantly criticised in the game and finding himself in predicaments despite the player performing perfectly. Heck, Sakurai would just remove that irksome story from AA.

ouroborous

#74

ouroborous said:

i too hate games that take forever with the story, most of the time i just want to see if i like the graphics and the gameplay because after all that is really what matters. the whole ENDLESS talking during Kid Icarus Uprising was really annoying.

AcesHigh

#75

AcesHigh said:

I agree 110%! And I have agreed with this all these years as well. Everyone in the media is always waxing profetic about the artsy need for strong stories and strong characters, while they consume their online multiplayer frag-fests at a rabid pace. They either don't even know what they want or they just want to sound intelligent.

Sorry to say to those who need to fill a space with 250 words or less but stories did not deliver classic games like SMB, Donkey Kong or even Metroid, Castlevania or Mega Man. In fact, it's when story is injected into these timeless masterpieces (Metroid Other M?) that it ruins the experience. If anything, the story was peripheral to game play. And it's as it should be. I'm happy to have a story give me a reason to open the next door or to find the next NPC to unlock the next part of the game. But don't stop me from the action to read loads of text that I don't care about. I don't need to cry at my video games. I don't even do that to the movies I watch. If I want to turn my brain on to appreciate a story I'll pop a movie in. But when I game, I want to exercise my imagination and reflexes. I find that a story puts me on rails and gets in the way of my "fun". thank goodness there are developers like Shiggy and Sakurai (And most at Nintendo in general) who still know the keys of making a good game: Gameplay FIRST, all else after. This is why Nintendo games are head and shoulders above any other publishers on the market today - especially 1st parties from their competition.

Wamtu

#76

Wamtu said:

@AcesHigh: It wasn't that Metroid: Other M had a story that made it terrible...it was the fact that it had a horrible story is what made it terrible!

Please realize that your opinion is subjective. I personally enjoy a game most when there are engaging characters and even better when there's an engaging story! It gives me more incentive to stick with a game. Some games with no plot I get, play a little, and even if I think "Hey! This is really fun!" I'll most likely forget about it and never play it again. A recent example of story providing incentive for me would be Psychonauts. Sure, it had great gameplay (that's a must; if gameplay's bad, a good story would just make it worse when it becomes a chore to see how it ends), but its story and characters were some of the main reasons I stuck with that game so well, while Skyward Sword honestly had annoying characters and a boring plot. I was bored to tears (not literally, but almost)! I don't think I will ever finish that game...

Certainly not all games need to put emphasise on plot. But when you can put a good plot that goes well with the game, it could be an excellent driving force for players like me. Certainly, the early video games didn't have much for a plot. That doesn't mean it's a strength. They also weren't 3D, had very low graphics, and very limited computing power, meaning they couldn't do as much.

DarkKirby

#77

DarkKirby said:

Obviously, a game's gameplay should work well with the story, but I am of the opposite opinion that story gets "in the way" of gameplay. Obviously, there exists people who dislike stories in games and just want to "get to the action", but there are many people who enjoy a story and it certainly is not "all about the action". For me, I'm not always playing a game just to press buttons, often, I want to experience another world. Why were so many people upset about Sticker Star? Because a game series that was famous for it's enjoyable story and characters became a generic story-less "go from A to B because we say so" game.

Sakurai, I am thankful for Kirby, but neither Kirby or Smash Bros. are fine examples of storytelling in games. They are fine games in their own right, but not for story telling. This includes Brawl.

AcesHigh

#78

AcesHigh said:

@ Wamtu, yes, my opinion is exactly that. My opinion and I like it. You have yours as well which is good for you. Yes, the Other M story was terrible - again - which is why it didn't need to be in the game in the first place. Besides, my point was not that games sholdn't have a story. Not at all. It's just that the story shouldn't be bigger than the game - or get in the way of it. Read my post again. The original Metroid and Super Metroid had a very cursory story. And how many times will Mario rescue the Princess? The only thing that's making Mario stale is that they are recycling graphics and gameplay. And there, they are breaking their own rules and need to improve. That's why the Galaxy series was so fresh! It was a brand new game and gameplay. Certainly no one cares about the story. Or at least the story was so minimal that it didn't overpower the game itself.

I think Sakurai's point is that games need good gameplay first and foremost. The trend these days is for the story to come fist and gameplay (game CONCEPT) and game itself to come second. It think we all respect Shiggy here, don't we? Well it is HIS mantra that steers all his teams' projects and his first question to his developers on a pitch is what is the GAME? Don't sell me on the story - sell me on the game! Look it up!

Wamtu

#79

Wamtu said:

@AcesHigh Alright! I'm sorry I misunderstood. I interpreted it as you writing off storytelling in games completely unimportant and optional, and any game with a huge emphasis on it is doomed to be terrible. If my interpretation was wrong, I apologize. Really. I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions.

Let me reiterate, simpler and more appropriately. I think you could sell a game on its story, and it could be a good game that many people would enjoy. But other people won't care two cents for the plot. That doesn't mean the company is terrible for promoting the story. It's part of the GAME like everything else in it. The problem comes when it gets treated seperately...

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