No pro football until September! I’ll have to distract myself with video games.

There is a new Yu-Gi-Oh! game out for the Nintendo DS (Spirit Caller). I might get it but I’m not sure. I have other Yu-Gi-Oh! games and the card battle genre is one that I enjoy. The genre started with Magic: The Gathering and involves picking out 40-60 cards from a vast library of different cards (1400 in the new Yu-Gi-Oh! game) and then building a deck out of them to “fight” other people and their decks. The strategy comes from deciding what tact you want to take and trying to figure out just which cards to put in your deck to stay on the winning course. Fun stuff.

The problem with these card battle video games is that collecting the virtual cards is always part of the game. That makes for a very big drawback. You are basically crippled at the beginning of the game. Your choices are few, your deck is weak, and the games you play are usually uninteresting. It takes a lot of slogging through the mire to get enough cards to build a deck that is interesting to use. I’ve played a lot of Yu-Gi-Oh! and I’m not a beginner’s deck guy anymore. But that’s where a new game always starts. With a beginner’s deck.

These days I find a similar problem in a lot of different genres of video games. In most racing games you used to pick a good car and race. Now you have to pick a crappy car, race, win some races, and then upgrade your car until it’s finally okay. Only then do you get to race with a good car. The game starts out crappy by design. How crazy is that? But it’s the norm now. People even expect it.

Games used to be wide open but now you have to unlock things. Instead of giving a player a lot of choices right from the start you have to “earn” them. It even gives players a sense of satisfaction as they earn special items. Not me though. Don’t give me a watered down game that only gets good later on. I won’t stick around for later on.

I don’t mind power ups and new weapons in shooters. If the game is well done and the base weapons are good then the new weapons just add spice. You can always go back to the base weapons and have fun. The games I don’t like are the ones in which once you upgrade your weapon you never go back because the original was crappy to begin with.

I’ve quit playing a lot of games only to have someone tell me, “Well it gets good later”. I want it good now. Not later. I paid for the game and I want my choices in front of me from the beginning. I don’t want to unlock hidden character, powers, and costumes. If the game is good I’ll play it. If it’s not then the promise of a “reward” of secret game play isn’t going to keep me from turning it off. Put your best foot forward.

A game series that I have always enjoyed is SSX snowboarding. It’s exciting and fast paced with great sound and visuals. As a racing game it’s top notch. I just don’t like using the crappy snowboards at the beginning. I never bought SSX On Tour (the last one) because I didn’t want to start at the beginning again. I’ve had it with games that withhold the good stuff from me.

That’s why I’m undecided if I want the new YU-Gi-Oh! game. I know it’ll be good. But only after playing for enough hours to get interesting cards. The last Yu-Gi-Oh! game I bought sat around for six months before I felt like starting it. I played the hell out of it eventually but good from the go it is not. Like so many other games.