I don’t think I ever played New Super Mario Bros. Wii U past the second boss, didn’t play past the tutorial in Rainbow Six Siege. Life is short, I’ve got too many games to play, and sometimes I just need to bail early. Same with you?
As a kid and as a college student, I squeezed everything I could out of a game. I got every star in Mario 64 and cleared every difficulty level of Perfect Dark. As I got older and got access to more games, I cut back on being exhaustive. Just getting to the end of a single player game became enough for me. These days, with my curiosity driving me to buy so many games, I’ve got more to play than I have time to play.
So I’m trying to be realistic - and ruthless - about what I just decide not to play.
Over the weekend, I did a sweep of my Switch, which is dusty with games I’ve bought, downloaded and never started. I felt a little bad about it, but I needed to shorten my mental to-play list (and clear some space on my SD card). It was brisk:
Mum Hid My Game - Cute, silly puzzle game about finding hidden game systems. Played 11 levels (of 50?) and quit.
Swim Out - Puzzle game about swimming. It’s nice but I want to play other stuff more. Bailed on the third puzzle.
Cluster Truck - First-person platformer about running and jumping across moving trucks. Great concept but… I was more in a Bad North mood, and an I-should-start-Golf-Story mood and an I-really-should-finish-the-new-Doom-someday mood. Bailed after the second mission.
Hey, at least the well-meaning developers got my money, right? Oh… I’m already feeling guilty and thinking about redownloading them.
It’s possible to bail on a game because you just don’t like it. I loved Punch-Out back in the day but hated Super Punch-Out and took it back to the store for a refund after a couple of fights.
It’s also possible to bail on a game even if you like it. Far Cry 5 is fun enough, but after clearing the southwest region, I haven’t felt the urge to play more. The Last Guardian seems cool, but I left the opening cave a year or two ago and have never played further.
Some people bail because they’re busy, or because sometimes a little excellence goes a long way. Many years ago when Shadow of the Colossus was all the rage, I was talking to some famous game designers about it.
They raved about it, so I asked them their thoughts about one of the last of the game’s 16 boss battles. They didn’t know about it. They loved the game, but had never played past the game’s fifth enemy encounter.
Yesterday, I saw some of my colleagues talking about how quickly they had bailed on Destiny 2. Didn’t get past the chickens in the Farm, one of them said. That sounded early, but I haven’t even started that game yet. It got me wondering which big game I’ve bailed on faster than any others. I’m not sure. What’s yours?