Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Musi(c.)PSX: Run On (1998)

Sony's Playstation console was first released in Japan in December of 1994.
A year later, it spread across the globe, leading to it's eventual assimilation into modern living. The console was officially discontinued by Sony in 2006, but began a process of phasing out with the 2000 release of the Playstation2. Known in it's early years colloquially as the PSX, the console was characterised by a slick attitude that met modern gamers on varying levels, boasting releases like Wipeout, which fused electronic music culture with the gaming experience. This post is a celebration of that time. Music circa (c.) the PSX

Moby - Run On (1998)

The second-single from Moby's stand-out 1998 album, Play, continues the unifying them of sampling folk and gospel, borrowing vocals from the Bill Landford and the Landfordaires recording of God's Gonna Cut You Down to reinvent it as Run On. The relatively simple track picks up the pace, giving the finger wagging religious warning an effective and infectious dance beat reprise in a string of exciting remixes.

This electronic edict of sampling sat well alongside the gaming console that, as described in previous posts, made everything old, new again. It's examples like the expansion of humble platformers into 3D explorational adventure games that's made romanticizing the era so easy, even if Sony can hardly claim exclusive ownership of the refreshing paradigm shift.

I felt compelled to deviate from the intended Saturday Night Slam Masters follow-up [RE: AdVantage Point: WWF Royal Rumble] in light of the crop of titles being promised by vendors at this year's E3.

It strikes me as slightly concerning that, while reconfirming their long history as the #1 choice for morons [No, no. An attachable finger-zapper clearly indicates of a demographic of geniuses...], Nintendo are simultaneously looking like the most interesting vendor at this year's expo.

Microsoft are giving it the ol' college try with Project Natal and a string of cross platform acquisitions (ie; Metal Gear), but then, the glut of familiarity, particularly much shorter sequels in series that seem to blend together, is a big part of my problem.

Several years into the cycle of this generation's consoles, I'm still not particularly disappointed with the fact that I don't yet own one. From the outside looking in, it's been difficult to feel any sense of attachment or interest in any of the available options! I've been around the block long enough to be savvy to the Wii's inevitable syndrome of short-lived novelty and limited catalogue; spent too much time imagining a future where games take full advantage of story and design to have any appreciation for the Xbox 360 and it's many Personal Console shooting games; and still like gaming enough to be dissatisfied with the PS3 and it's small handful of unique titles. E3 2009 has done little to change this.

I don't know what it is that I'm looking for.
While I desperately seek a balance between the simplistic conventions of gaming and a greater sense of creative story-driven direction, I look to titles like Pixeljunk Eden, WipeoutHD, and Little Big Planet as positives of this generation. While I bemoan the vast array of franchise sequels on show at E3; I'm holding out hope that there might yet be a Twisted Metal announcement soon and was excitied to see Force Mode return in Tekken 6. While I still seem to have an affinity for Sony, I could just as easily see myself buying Mirror's Edge and Street Fighter IV for 360, if I had any inclination to put that kind of money down.

As soon as I begin to entertain the horrifying thought that I might actually be in danger of growing up, I look at the variety of games from the past that I continue to play, and wish to play, and realise that it can't be something as simple, internal, and frankly implausible, as a variation of maturity. Could it be that I'm just thinking about it wrong, discounting the above mentioned titles in some misguided attempt to have an opinion?

No. Sorry, babe.
In this relationship breakdown, it's definitely you, not me.

I think what really bothers me is the perception of variety.
Where during the PlayStation cycle I was excited to learn about, and play, a multitude of unpredictable releases doing unpredictable things - this generation has none of that mystery.
With only a handful of exceptions, titles feel incredibly derivative and/or predictable as they extrapolate the present from the past in ways that are distinctly unremarkable and uninventive. Sure, there are diamonds in this rough, and plastic distractions in a variety of shapes and vibration settings, but they're hardly new.

I feel I'm a disconnected gamer, neither hardcore, nor casual.
Where E3 once brought packages of excitement and anticipation, there are only a few glimmers to interrupt the disappointment in what this generation has come to accept. Fortunately, far off in the distance, there might be a prospect for change. Project Natal suggests that much, at least, even if it's a little too vague to start celebrations just yet.

Woe for the days of the PSX, when irrelevance was nary a thought to ponder.
When games felt plentiful and ran free. A time I miss, to be sure.

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