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Psychonauts and the Bitter Older Gamer |

Why did all the cranky older gamers band together and nominate Psyhchonauts as their poster child in their crusade against the gaming tastes of the younger generation?

How am I sure that Psychonauts is terrible? I bought into the early hype and bought two copies as gifts for two separate groups of children in my family. None of the kids liked it. I’ve met tons of kids who love GTA, Halo, World of Warcraft, Wii games, or portable stuff. Those are what younger people play today. Even those who play platformers love Mario, Ratchet, Jak, and Sly, but I’ve never even heard of single younger gamer who enjoyed Psychonauts.

When I was a kid, everyone played adventure games like Sierra’s King’s Quest. Tim Schafer’s Monkey Island series and Day of the Tentacle were very popular favorites and I loved them and have great memories of them. But that was then and this is now. Kids don’t play those kinds of games any more.

Psychonauts has become like the Classical Music of video games. When I was young I remember hearing adult’s bemoan, “Why can’t kids play [what I did when I was young] and listen to [music I listened to a long time ago] instead of doing [whatever kids do today] and listen to [popular style of current music]”. Now the same kind of crusty, cranky, irrelevant attitude has come to games.

What’s worse is that, I’m someone who played and adored the LucasArts games like Monkey Island as a kid. If anyone should be prone to reminisce about a gaming era gone by, it should be me. But even I thought Psychonauts was terrible. It isn’t even nearly as good as the Ratchet & Clank’s and Super Marios of today, the quirky writing and art style was too forced and self-infatuated, and the game would have been completely ignored if not for the developer’s biography and a wave of bitter old-timer attitude.

vgchartz bemoaning the high praise of GTA and the low sales of Psychonauts
Popular reviewer, Yahtzee, nags everyone to play Psychonauts

  • Psychonauts is dreadful. I had my doubts, but tried desperately to ignore them when I picked the game up for a couple of quid a few months after it was released and was bitterly disappointed.

    Compared to the other under-rated classics on the PS2 (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Ico and Beyond Good and Evil), Psychonauts is a big bag of no fun.

  • XI

    I had never heard of Psychonauts before, and I played it on PC via Gametap. It actually caused me to go out and buy a gamepad for the first time in all my 20 years of PC gaming. Its not that the game is perfect, or without its occasional frustrations. It that its just so damn unconventional, funny, and creative. If you didn’t play through at least until “The Milkman Conspiracy” or “Goggolor” then you really don’t have a clue what you are talking about. Also, the difficulty is surprisingly high compared to most contemporary games like this, so maybe that is why you didn’t like it.

  • Jast3r Rogu3

    Overated game by nintendo fanbois that had no other games on their flop game cube, Jak & Dexter is miles better.

  • RD

    Psychonauts was flawed but I loved it. It was funny and had great art direction. One of the most creative games in the last decade.

    Philip: PoP Sands of Time has to be one of the most overrated games in the last decade. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good either. Same for the rest of the series.

    Jast3r Rogu3: It was never on the Gamecube.

  • I played Psychonauts on my ps2 and really enjoyed it. Sure the graphics are ugly and the sound isn’t superb. But the game is really funny, and the story is strange. It is definitely not a game for children, in my opinion. Not because of bad words, violence or sex, because it really doesn’t have any of that. I just don’t think the kids will get the humour. Oh, and the ugly graphics? That is a conscious design choice which adds to the strangeness of the game. And in a good way.

  • JimmyStewart

    Wow, I couldn’t really disagree more. I’d like to think I’m not a bitter older gamer, I’m in my late twenties and I tell myself that’s on the younger side of life. I did grow up playing Monkey Island and all the Lucas Arts graphic adventures (nothing could get me to suffer through any of the Sierra titles as a kid though).

    I picked up Psychonauts on the Xbox and loved every minute of it. Oddly enough so did most of my friends. The graphics were spot on and appealed to me immediately as did the game as a whole. It took a formula I usually find boring and entirely unappealing and turned it into something that actually prompted me to play it to completion. It’s one of the only platform games I’ve ever completed since the Sega Genesis days. Some of you are mentioning Daxter and R&C and while I appreciate those as being on the better side of platformers… those truly do seem tired and uninspired to me.

    I’d like to think I’m not bitter either. I currently own all consoles with the vast majority of my gaming done on my 360. I’m in love with GTA at the moment and I’m really enjoying Burnout as well. I am a big fan of most of what the “kids” are into now. Halo, Kingdom Hearts and God of War are some of my personal favs. On the PS3 I have most of the major releases that aren’t on the 360, Heavenly Sword, Uncharted, Resistance and R&C (though that was for my wife). I just love gaming. And to me Psychonauts was a breath of new life into a tired forumla I’ve yet to see reanimated in anyway since.

    So please, if you find yourself not enjoying a game that others obviously do, don’t make a post thinking that there must be something wrong with everyone else. Accept that you don’t get it and move on. Anecdotal evidence about your own personal experience does not mean that kids don’t like the game. I’ve given it to everyone I know including several nieces and nephews with no complaints. One in specific actually preferred it to Mario Galaxies. This doesn’t mean it’s a better game than Galaxies, nor does your example mean anything other than the people you know didn’t connect with this game. Obviously a lot of people did, and those who did connected with it in a powerful way. Perhaps you should spend more time investigating what you’re missing rather than assuming anyone is bitter and/or old.

    Sorry if this comes off like a rant. It’s a big pet peeve of mine that I find I do myself. For me, I really don’t get Splinter Cell. Sure at first I just thought the world was insane. But slowly I realized… they’re really enjoying a game that I can’t seem to get. That’s to their credit. We should always find the joy in life and everyone else REALLY seems to find joy in Splinter Cell. It’s me that’s missing out, not them. The same thing was true with GTA as well until GTA 4. I finally get it and man was I mission out. I just wish we could more time finding things to enjoy in life rather than complaining about the joys of others.

  • Darrin

    OK, from the comments, real people actually do like this game which surprises me.

    Jimmy, great point. Games are about fun, and we need less negativity, including that in this post. The over the top nagging and presumption of superiority of the vocal proponents game just rub me the wrong way, I guess.

  • Sporty

    I also loved Psychonauts.

    I think the controls were fine, game play had it’s charm and the comedy was unique.

    I also have an odd taste in games.

    I liked (not loved) MGS 1 and 2, not so much 3. Never got into Splinter Cell, even though I tried a few times to see what I was missing, seemed I was missing the fun factor when I played it, just wasn’t there for me. I hate Ridge Racer, Love Motorstorm, favorite genre is RPG but can’t stand Kingdom hearts or Star Ocean games, Loved Dark Cloud 1, but 2 I didn’t like. Loved Oblivian but was bored to death with Mass effect after forcing myself to play it for 10 hours. And Loved Quake 1-3 on PC, Resistance, and Half Life but couldn’t stand to play more then a few hours of any Halo, Doom 3 or Unreal game. And Assassin’s Creed was one of my favorite games last holiday season.

    So I can’t follow hype on games since most of the time I disagree.

    But with Psychonauts it wasn’t retro love due to Monkey Island, the only Lucas Arts game I was really really into before was Maniac Mansion. It was the game itself I liked. A lot of games become a chore to finish, but Psychonauts was one that collecting all the brains was fun and I didn’t want it to end.