When you have a command and mastery of a video game, it is possible to play from the beginning to the end of the game without your character “dying”. Of course, there is a learning curve involved with playing video games and, while you are trying to get to grips with a game there is every chance that you will “die” with frustrating regularity. This is why many of the traditional video games give a character three lives to start with, and offer more as the game goes on (if you play particularly well, it may be a lot more). They are a lot like an incentive system for video games.
The “power up” is something which does not feature in some of the more modern day games, in which a character doesn’t so much “die” as have their efforts brought to a halt at a certain point and have to restart from the last obstacle they cleared. This allows players with perseverance but no great amount of skill to advance further in the game than ordinarily they might. However, in the older games, “power ups” include: an extra life; greater speed or strength; invincibility; invisibility (to the other characters in the game); and more of the game’s “currency” – in some games you pick up coins and in others it may be something else.
While completing a video game is quite enough of a target in itself, the inclusion of these power-ups helps to buttress a player’s resolve to get as far into the game as possible – a series of mini-tests before the big one at the end.
Early cell phones or mobile phones came with pre-loaded games, of which the most familiar is probably “Snake”. The game, which simply featured a “snake” which you had to direct around a maze (effectively, a box in the middle of the screen which either had walls or didn’t, depending on your choice), was practically inexplicable to those who had never played it, and also maddeningly addictive. Since the advent of more developed cell phones, there have been ever more developed games to go with them.
While on those earlier cell phones you essentially had the game that was pre-loaded and either liked or lumped it, WAP phones have made it possible to download the games from the Internet, and install them on your phone for unlimited play. The more advanced the phone, the more advanced the game, although for the truly massive video games that have releases not unlike those of a Hollywood movie, mobile play will probably still be a pipe dream for a while yet.
The kind of game that really thrives on mobile play is a fairly simple one which involves basic movements in any one of four directions (up, down, left and right) – anything larger will usually require a more dedicated control system and will be much better played on a console with its own controller. However, there are certain games which really thrive when played on a phone – Quiz games are particularly good, especially as it is possible to download updates with new questions when you’ve exhausted the old ones.
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It is often said that video games are more similar to films than to the games of the past. While this is as much a reference to the increasingly realistic graphics and the more interactive relationship between your character and others than anything else, there is perhaps another reason behind it.
In the past, video games “happened” a certain way. You would play in one setting, kill a certain kind of enemy and work through to the end of that setting where you would have to kill a really big enemy, who might need to be hit fifty times or more before he’d go away. Then you would move to the next level, and repeat the process. This “multi-level” system would be very explicit in the game, with opening screens telling you which level you were on.
Now, there is a certain style of game which attracts the description “non-linear”. There are multiple settings, and you move between them as you see fit. To advance the storyline you have to complete certain tasks, but not necessarily in the same order every time. How you complete those tasks can dictate the future path of the game. Games now are very like films, and while we may not script them we certainly play a part in directing them.
Of course, you will still find multi-level games, which will never die out as long as one set of gamers exists that remembers the joys of PacMan and Donkey Kong. The difference is that the new titles are far more likely to be in the newer style.