April 24, 2023

Chasing the Dragon: Games With No Equal

Chasing the Dragon: Games With No Equal

Every so often a game comes along that changes how you see video games. Your experience is like nothing you've ever played before, leaves you speechless, and makes you crave for more. But sometimes, there is no more. A sequel might not hit the same. A remake might lose the magic. A studio might go defunct before creating a follow-up.

This feeling of wanting to recapture that magic of a game you've played is colloquially called Chasing the Dragon. In some cases, you may never actually catch that dragon. Here's a short list of my personal Dragons, games that came short of catching the dragon, and games that might be that dragon I've been trying to catch.



The Dragon: Destiny (2014)

The first Destiny consumed my life for a few months. I was hooked on exploring the worlds, discovering the game's lore, and chasing the fancy guns and armor! Even better, I had a college friend and random dude we met in the Crucible as a fire team to chill out and explore with most nights. Those first few months of Destiny 1 were magical to me.

The Wannabe Dragon: The Division (2016)

The Division was the first AAA kinda-MMO Looter-Shooter attempt at replicating Destiny's success. I played through the entire campaign and messed around in the dark zone a bit, but the magic just wasn't there. New York wasn't as exciting to explore as the various planets from Destiny. The lore wasn't as deep and complex. The loot wasn't as unique and fun.

The Potential Dragon: The Division: Heartland (2023? 2024?)

As much as The Division didn't provide me with the magic of the original Destiny, The Division: Heartland has a lot that's appealing to me. It's based in the Midwest! That's where I live! Its world has a more Sea of Thieves vibe than Destiny vibe. There hasn't really been a good AAA kinda-MMO Looter-Shooter in a while and I'm ready to open my heart up to any possibility.



The Dragon: Oxenfree (2016)

Oxenfree felt like a game that was created just for me. The combo of sci-fi shenanigans, an interesting dialogue system, fourth wall breaks, and catchy creepy music hit every perfect note in my brain. Best of all, the game featured a fakeout-New Game+ that tied up all loose ends and gave a satisfying ending to the characters' journeys. It provided an experience I've never found since.

The Wannabe Dragon: Night in the Woods (2017)

In every way that Oxenfree gave my brain all the happy chemicals, Night in the Woods did the opposite. For whatever reason, nothing in the game hooked me or resonated with me. I wish I knew why, because I want to like it, but it just did absolutely nothing for me.

The Potential Dragon: Oxenfree II: Lost Signals (2023)

Well, they're somehow making a sequel. After announcing an initial release window of 2021, the game has had multiple delays and the studio was bought up by Netflix. To say that I'm hesitant to see what the final product will be is an understatement. But if any game is going to provide me with the magic of Oxenfree, it's the sequel.



The Dragon: Guitar Hero/Rock Band (the 2000's and 2010's)

If you lump all of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games into one series, it would almost certainly be my most played video game series. I owned three guitars, two drum sets, two microphones, and far too many games from each series. I don't even like Def Leppard, but I bought and played the Def Leppard Rock Band disc! I bought a Playstation 2 solely to play Rock Band. I LOVE strumming a plastic bar while pressing plastic buttons to the tune of rock songs.

The Wannabe Dragon: Spin Rhythm XD (Full Release 2023)

Spin Rhythm XD is a fine rhythm game. In a sea of "tap to the beat" Guitar Hero knockoffs, Spin Rhythm XD is truly unique in its controls and play style. The flow you get into while spinning and tapping to songs is very enjoyable, but the playlist is mostly electronic-type music from artists I've never heard of. 

The Potential Dragon: Rocksmith+ (2022)

THIS GAME IS OUT?? I genuinely had no idea this game had been released already. This is awkward. Uh, anyways… Rocksmith is like Guitar Hero, but you play a real guitar instead of a plastic one. Ubisoft is taking a real leap with this game by providing hundreds, if not thousands, of real songs to learn and play to. The only downside (or upside depending on your preference) is that the game requires a monthly subscription. I would at least consider buying a guitar for this game.



The Dragon: MVP Baseball 2005 (2005)

I'm a baseball NUT, a complete PSYCHO for baseball. I say things like "oof, bad cut on that changeup. Come on, Polanco." No video game has captured the second to second baseball gameplay quite like MVP Baseball 2005 did. I'm not going to list all the mechanics, but the developers just understood what makes baseball fun and enjoyable and dumped it into a video game.

The Wannabe Dragon: MLB: The Show (All of them)

There's no denying that MLB: The Show is the best baseball video game franchise out there, and has been for over a decade. But the game takes itself so dang seriously! The menus, the UI, the mechanics, it all says "baseball is a serious sport for serious people". It's got no heart! As the years go on, they add more and more dumb microtransactions and abandon their traditional Franchise and Road to the Show modes, too.

The Potential Dragon: Nothing (Never)

Baseball video games are in a bad place right now! Sure there are alternatives of varying quality to MLB: The Show like Super Mega Baseball or Out of the Park Baseball for the REAL freaks, but no one wants to take a shot at the king. Unlike the late 2000s, to early 2010s, there's nothing legally stopping EA from making a baseball game again. With EA diving back into the college football series after a decade without, there's always going to be that glimmer of hope that EA takes another swing at a baseball game.