The sixth generation consoles are the Sega Dreamcast, Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo Gamecube. No mention of handhelds during this time such as the Game Boy Advance or N-Gage or PC gaming will be mentioned here. I have a complicated view of the sixth generation consoles. While I admit it was an important one and this generation was largely influenced by it, it’s easily my least favorite generation of consoles. Here’s eight reasons in no particular order why I dislike it so much.
The Fall of Sega
I’m a big fan of Sega but Sega really fell off the wagon after the Dreamcast was discontinued. After the critical successes of Jet Grind Radio, Shenmue and Phantasy Star Online, Sega started releasing titles like Astro Boy, Nightshade, and Sonic Riders. Shocking that the publisher behind Space Channel 5 could release something like Billy Hatcher. Some titles were good, like Virtua Fighter 4, Yakuza and the 2k sports series, but most of the titles coming from Sega after the Dreamcast for the remainder of the generation were just downright awful. I mean, Virtua Quest? Really? Shadow the Hedgehog? Are you freaking kidding me? Sega has recovered in quality in recent years but not financially and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried but they kind of brought this onto themselves.
The Fall of Fighting Games
Here’s something else that was brought onto itself. After about a decade of awesome titles, fighting games fell into a rut in the sixth generation. The last great fighting game was arguably Capcom vs SNK 2 for the PS2 and Xbox (the Gamecube version is an embarrassing disappointment). The rest of the generation was peppered with abysmal titles like Capcom Fighting Evolution, King of Fighters Maximum Impact and Bloody Roar. The few good fighting games we did get only managed to be good not great with titles like Tekken 5, SoulCalibur II, and Guilty Gear X2 #Reload. Otherwise the best fighting games were in collections of older games like Street Fighter Alpha 3 on the Street Fighter Alpha Anthology collection. Mortal Kombat did manage to make a comeback during this time with two great titles, Deadly Alliance and Deception but then fell off again with Armageddon and DC Universe in the following generation. Maybe fighting games were coming out too often in the late 90s and they were too similar but at least they played well and were fun. At least the genre has made a comeback now, although its already feels over saturated.
The Fall of Platform Titles
The sixth generation is when platformers stopped being the dominant genre in video games. Some say it was due to the rise of first person shooters and that’s true to some extent. The other reason however was because platformers became dull and imprecise. While I know there are fans of games like Jak and Daxter and Ratchet & Clank, compared to previous platformers like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, these games lack the polish and cohesion of those titles. I wrote an article about the imprecise mechanics in 3D platformers before so I’ll just paraphrase here. In 2D Mario games, you can time your jumps to the pixel and you know why you didn’t make a jump if you screw up. In 3D platformers, the rules don’t apply and you end up relying on buffer techniques like Clank’s Helicopter. The real problem with sixth gen platformers like Blinx, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger and Tak is the worlds, characters, gameplay and concepts are just dull and not well implemented. In Ratchet & Clank for example, why am I running around the first few worlds blowing up enemies? The story hasn’t been really explained yet. In Spyro, I know it’s that I’m rescuing dragons that were trapped in stone. In Ratchet, it’s because, hey free spaceship, I guess? Sly Cooper is the only series I truly consider great from the sixth generation and even it has it’s problems. This is probably why games like Jak 2 ended up dropping the platform genre all together and became a kiddy open world title instead.
Disappointing Nintendo Titles
Okay. Here me out. I’ve express my disappointment in Nintendo ever since the Nintendo 64 but more as a company rather than a developer. I love many Nintendo titles and there’s even titles I like for the GameCube from Nintendo. I adore Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door, Mario Kart Double Dash, and Super Smash Bros Melee and even though I don’t like the Metroid Prime series, I can respect what it does and accept its just not for me. Everything else for the most part however was extremely disappointing. Many of Gamecube entries in various franchise are more like a list of disappointing titles. Luigi’s Mansion is a sorry excuse for a launch title, The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker was pretty uninspired in its gameplay, which is strange considering how pretty the game’s controversial graphics look, 1080 Avalanche was just a prettier version of the N64 game, Wave Race Blue Storm had touchy controls, F-Zero GX was WAY too hard, and Kirby Air Ride was just embarrassingly easy. Then there’s Super Mario Sunshine, which wasn’t good. I could right a whole post on that game (and I probably will) but I’ll just say that I didn’t know a bad Mario game from Nintendo was possible before this game. Also, what was the deal with all the Mario sports games? There were good Nintendo games for the Gamecube and maybe there were hardly any bad games but there were a bunch of disappointing games.
I don’t like the GameCube controller. Never have. It’s literally a car wreck in your hands. The d-pad and c-stick are the wheels, the frame is the car cracked in half, the analog stick is the steering wheel bend forward and the buttons are various pieces in different sizes. The triggers are the car seats through upward, the A button is the gear changer turned upside down, the Y and X buttons are the broken rear view mirrors, and the Z button is a random piece of glass from the windshield. It only serves to play Nintendo games well and it doesn’t do anything that couldn’t comfortably be done on a more traditional controller.
Lack of Original Games
During the sixth generation of consoles, gaming went mainstream. Now this had good and bad connotations to the industry. On the positive side, gamers were no longer seen as social outcast who were into a niche market. On the negative side, developers started trying to appease the mainstream crowd which resulted in a focus on graphics and less on gameplay, something that continues today to an extent. As a result, games like Halo 2 were just not that good. Furthermore, everyone started to copy the example games like Halo and Grand Theft Auto set and we got less original titles. Sure we would get titles like Ico and Mark of Kri every once in a while but they were few and far between and they wouldn’t get the attention they deserved. Some have seen a healthy cult audience like Psychonauts and Beyond Good and Evil but most haven’t and it’s for reasons that affect both small and big budget titles.
Many games during the sixth generation were extremely unpolished. Even the best titles of this generation had problems with clipping, glitches, ugly graphics, stiff controls, repetitive gameplay, the list goes on. I love Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance but it has stiff controls. I like Tony Hawk’s Underground, but the game has ugly graphics. I enjoyed Ty the Tasmanian Tiger but that game gets real repetitive. Also, I know that the original PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn just had blocky character models but the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube character models are just strange. They lack weight to them most of the time and look more like sticks a lot of the time. There are exceptions, like Dante in Devil May Cry, but character models were rough in the sixth generation. Even the good games like Grand Theft Auto Vice City had severe control issues and weird glitches. There’s just not that many games during this generation that I would consider great. Today, games are better made due to games costing more to make so even bad games are fundamentally sound, unlike back in the sixth generation consoles.
I wonder for a long time what was that I hated most about this generation. It was only recently I realized it was games based on Animes. Anime saw a boost in popularity in the early 2000s thanks to shows like Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon in the late 90s. Shows like Full Metal Alchemist, Cowboy Bebop and Inuyasha were big on Cartoon Network on Toonami and Adult Swim. I don’t care for Anime but I don’t necessarily hate it either and have found a couple of Animes I actually like recently. However, games based on Anime is a perfect representation of everything I loathe about this generation. These games actually combine many of my previous complaints all in one. Uninspired cash-in titles, with a lack of polish and repetitive gameplay. The worst thing about them though is that they were EVERYWHERE! See, there was a surplus of Anime titles so game developers started picking up licenses like they were bundles of DVDs for five dollars and soon, Anime titles were the dominant game type only behind first person shooters. And every single one of them SUCKED! All of them were god awful abominations of game design with such soulless presentations and gameplay, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and Jack Skellington have more life in them. Orphen, Lupin the 3rd, and dot hack all got terrible games and I’m just glad its all over.
What do you dislike about the sixth generation of console? Let me know in the comments below and make sure your next visit to The Troll’s Cave is an unpleasant one.