A Question for the Readers #1: Living up to the Hype

Over the years, I’ve answered open questions on the blogs of others, and they’ve led to many interesting discussions. As I’ve tried out several new kinds of posts in 2018, I thought I might give this a spin myself. I will propose a question, and you can either answer it in the comments section or write your own post on the subject – it’s all up to you. Naturally, I’ll participate too by providing my own answer.

Whether a work receives universal retroactive praise or manages to achieve perfect scores across the board upon release, hype is something we’ve all had to deal with at one point or another when consuming media. More often than not, it also tends to factor into our feelings walking away from a work shortly after having experienced it.  For the very first question here on Extra Life, we will be focusing on the times in which the hype was only barely an exaggeration.

One of the most interesting experiences I’ve had with a video game and the hype surrounding it was provided by the famous 2015 indie game Undertale. However, I have to admit I was going into it with something of a sense of dread. Sometime after I heard of it, but before I actually played it myself, it made waves on GameFAQs when its fanbase proceeded to ensure that it would win a tournament to determine the greatest game ever made. On a site like GameFAQs, having such a recently made game win the distinction was unheard of, and many people who frequented the forums were outraged that such a thing could happen.

Moreover, I was slightly concerned when I learned that Earthbound and Mother 3 served as inspirations for the game. Though the former is a classic, the circumstances surrounding the latter’s nonappearance in the West made it less susceptible to critical scrutiny. Therefore, I went into it thinking that some of the more problematic aspects of Mother 3 would very much be present in Undertale as well. Fortunately, that never happened, as Toby Fox seemed to draw more inspiration from Earthbound while using the deconstructive aspects of Mother 3 to a far more effective degree than Shigesato Itoi did his own work. After some time passed upon completing it, I found myself agreeing with the people who voted it the greatest game ever made back in 2015 – as of this writing, it has a secure spot in my personal top ten.

With music being such a subjective medium, critics almost have to wait a decade or two to determine what’s good and what’s not. They didn’t think much of the Velvet Underground’s debut album until a decade later when all of the bands they did like cited them as an inspiration, for example. As such, I find what they’ve had to say about classic artists such as the Beatles and Black Sabbath is generally reputable to the extent that almost every time I discovered an older album, I found it lived up to the hype. Even the few times they didn’t, I still ended up enjoying them.

Film critics have on occasion promoted thoroughly mediocre works, but for the most part they’ve had a better batting average than their video game counterparts. What helps is that the current generation of critics doesn’t have nostalgia factoring into their judgement. If they insist a film made before they were born is still worth watching, you know that they’re not hyping it up because they were there when it was released. As a result, I usually find myself agreeing with their assessments. After mentioning it a few times throughout my reviews, I took it upon myself to finally watch Citizen Kane. Though I wouldn’t say is my absolute favorite, I enjoyed getting to experience it firsthand; it’s shot beautifully, has a great story, and features a very interesting framing device few others have attempted to create. Another one I can think of off the top of my head was Apocalypse Now, which has a powerful anti-war message, yet remembers to have an actual story with real characters – an art I feel a majority of modern satirists have lost.

Now it’s your turn.

Which works do you feel absolutely lived up to the hype surrounding it?

32 thoughts on “A Question for the Readers #1: Living up to the Hype

  1. This is tricky, as hype is somewhat subjective (or at least its impact on individuals). I’m going to pick a rather odd one, in the form of Call of Duty Modern Warfare. This isn’t to do with the media hype as much as the hype of the community surrounding it. I’d been off FPS games for a little while at the time of its release and so skipped over it. Then I started to overhear a lot of people at work talking about how great it was in terms of both single and multiplayer. The more I asked about it, the more impressive it sounded, especially for a console FPS. In the end I picked it up and had a great time with it. It’s likely that it’s the first console FPS that I really enjoyed, but I can’t be certain of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s truly sad what the series has become, but there’s no question that Modern Warfare is a classic. I myself decided to check it out back in 2009, as it was hyped a fair bit after it was released. A lot of people insisted it was one of the greatest first-person shooters of all time. Even knowing about the nuke scene beforehand, I was blown away by how great its single player campaign was. There is a lot more to the story than a series detractor would give it credit for, and though an aversion to the series is understandable, it is a game that lives up to the hype.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you like it so far! I’ve been having fun doing these shorter posts myself. As I said, you can either answer here or write a post on your blog; it’s completely up to you.


    • Oooh, like the post! Half-Life 2, yes, and Breath of the Wild. Mario Kart 8. The Velvet Underground and Nico (possibly not a game, I forget). I hope the Ori and Blind Forest sequel gets added here. Super Metroid. Aliens. The Official Garfield Magazine, issue 2, circa 1995.

      Many indie games I play have little hype, they often arrive, are brilliant, then the hype generates. That’s kind of novel in the games industry right now. Is it? I feel it is. Innit.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I agree with almost every single one of those games you mentioned. The only exception is Ori and the Blind Forest, and that’s by virtue of me having not played it yet. I promise I’ll get on that as soon as I can.

        Aliens – massively hyped and absolutely deserving of every bit of praise it gets and then some. Easily one of my all-time favorites along other classics such as Memento, Fargo, and Pulp Fiction.

        That’s what I like about this blogging sphere; we manage to give suggestions to others, and they get to experience it with minimal hype. I’ve led the charge on certain games myself. It’s awesome whenever you can get others to try the best you’ve experienced, isn’t it?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is probably going to sound disappointing but I’m not sure I’ve ever been fully impressed by the hype the media has created around something. On the other hand I have gotten myself hyped for releases and have been both pleasantly surprised and supremely disappointed. One example of my hyping a game up to myself and it succeeding in hitting my unfair expectations was Rock Band 2. It did everything I wanted in a plastic instrument band game and then some.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Considering how much the media hypes things, it would take an exceptionally great work to actually live up to it, so I fully understand your answer. I’ve never actually played a music-based game such as Rock Band (though I have played a few games that feature a mini-game akin to something like Guitar Hero), but if it was able to live up to your expectations, that’s super. When something’s the real deal, it’s a pleasant surprise every time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Citizen Kane also has a crater of a plot hole. Nobody was in the room with him. How could anyone have heard him say “Rosebud”?

    I think the hype period kicks off long before a game comes out. Sometimes it kicks off even before it ever gets announced. I’ve tried not to let myself get too excited over the years. Tempering expectations is something important. It doesn’t mean you stop being excited for the newest entry in your favorite long-running series. But it does keep you from expecting the “Best ever” when it may only be “Really good”. Still, there are times when something does live up to all of the hype surrounding it. Most recently for me, that would likely be Super Mario Odyssey. It was safe to assume it would be good. Nintendo isn’t likely going to pump out a Mario game with collision issues, broken clipping, and random crashes left, and right. But, not every entry gets the best reception. Galaxy 2, while very good, didn’t have the wow factor the first one had due to the similarities. But Odyssey gave every Mario fan of every era something they wanted, and a bunch of stuff they didn’t know they wanted. So it was definitely a 10 out of 10 game.

    Unreal Tournament 2004 was another one for me that blew me away. It gave us everything from the already pretty great UT2k3. But then improved performance, and added conquest modes, and vehicles to the arena shooter. Things that were getting popular due to Battlefield 1942. Normally, shoehorning something in for that sake doesn’t work at all. Players might just go “Why don’t I just fire up BF1942 then?” But UT2k4 implemented it in a way that made sense. The vehicles fit the universe, they were balanced well. You could still take one out on foot. Plus the conquest mode wasn’t just a matter of capping flags. It involved shutting down the enemy base’s power station’s shields by taking points on the map, before you could attack it. I spent the better part of 4 years in a UT clan, going over all of the games in the series. UT3 by contrast, tried to bridge the styles of both the original UT, and the 2K games while embracing the popular Gears Of War art style. It was a great game, but turned off a lot of the fan base. Some wanted something like a prettier UT others wanted a prettier UT2k4. The shift to GoW aesthetics turned people off too. But that’s another story for another day.

    Still, I try not to get overhyped for things. That’s a recipe for disappointment. Because there is no truly perfect game. Even the best ones have something you could complain about. At that point it’s nitpicking perhaps. But when it isn’t perfect, it doesn’t meet the unrealistic expectation, and you come away disappointed. Likewise you don’t want to get so cynical that you expect every new release to be hot garbage. Because that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. A really good title will be deemed craptacular, before you’ve even pressed a button. Sure, sometimes a trailer will be really, really bad, and leave a terrible impression. Case in point, Star Trek Beyond. Sure it isn’t a game. But that movie had the most awful trailer. The music, wire fighting, and fast cuts made for an advertisement that said “This was a generic action movie we just slapped the Star Trek name on!”. In fact, it was so bad Simon Pegg had to get out in front of it screaming “No, it’s a good Star Trek movie! We promise!” So I went into that movie expecting a subpar movie. Not “Worst Ever.” Not “Really great.” I came out pleasantly surprised. It had a good story, the action was there, but dialed back a little bit so it didn’t feel like the first reboot series movie. It dare I say, was the best of the new movies thus far. It didn’t rehash an old film, it didn’t have a bunch of inconsistencies that took me out of the movie.

    So I say, go ahead, and get excited. But keep it in check. Don’t expect everything to be garbage. But remember that even the best experiences include some issues. Sometimes so small that nobody notices, yet may keep a creator up all night because they didn’t get that texture just to their liking. Or that one piece of geometry that flickers way off in the background due to the way the engine calculated draw distance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I remember the butler, Raymond, mentioning that he was present during Kane’s death, so in all probability, he heard his last word himself.

      You’re right, Super Mario Odyssey managed to live up to the hype. I’m not sure if I like it quite as much as Galaxy 2, but it deserved the praise it got. After the past decade in which the press suddenly became the new Peter Molyneux, 2017 seemed to be the year when games got good enough to be hyping to that much. Even Sonic managed to be good in that year.

      Yeah, I myself barely engage with the promotional materials before a game comes out. I’m typically seeing things for the first time when I finally play it – the release day is usually the only piece of information I actively seek out. In extreme cases, I don’t even know what genre the game is in.

      I think that’s a major problem with independent gaming critics – they remind me of music critics nearing the end of the twentieth century in that they have a really bad habit of insisting the past was better in every way, and tend to approach newer efforts with an anomalously hostile attitude. It’s not the recipe for a particularly healthy critical circle. It doesn’t help that a lot of them wear their cynical attitude as a badge of honor. It would be like if psychologists proudly proclaimed that they didn’t care about their patients’ mental well-being.


  4. For me personally, Fantasy Life on 3DS answers this like a glove 🙂 It wasn’t particularly hyped in the West but I hyped myself months beforehand because the Overview Trailer basically showed me my perfect game. When it finally came out, I was overjoyed. It was exactly what the trailer promised and more 🙂 3 years later, my gamesave is over 150 hours. I still dabble in it from time to time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It certainly is an interesting premise for a game, being a life simulation set in a fantasy world. I think I remember a Harvest Moon-like game that has a similar premise.

      150 hours sure is impressive. I don’t think I’ve played a game for that long, though my Metal Gear Solid V playthrough took several months. I couldn’t trust the final hour count, though – a lot of it was spent having the game idle so R&D could be done faster. Either way, it was decent, but not one of the greatest games ever made as some critics suggested. Of one of the few games I’ve played for 100 hours in one save file, Persona 4 stands out as the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hype to me is quite the double edge, it might seem like it just elevates the perceived quality of a work, it also makes it subject to the highest degree of scrutiny, after all they might say that Citizen Kane is the greatest movie ever created but what exactly does the movie to earn such status? What are the qualities that make the movie? It can’t be good at comedy, drama, horror, suspense, and action at the same time, can it? Combining this lack of understanding along with persistent cynicism just turn even the most minimal perceived flaw into a complete experiece ruining mess.

    Last year when Zelda BotW came out and was subject to massive ammounts of praise, it didn’t take long for people to turn that accolades into its head and just made the utmost effort to highlight whatever they perceived as “wrong” even nearly a year later there is no shortage of videos and essays merely done to put the game under scrutiny and nothing else. Of course having played it myself I’m not about to say that BotW is completely immaculate or that some criticism (a very small amount though) are off the mark, however looking at what it set to achieve I can’t possibly say anything other that it was a complete success. It really comes down to setting expectation not just into a vague notion of perceived quality, but getting a solid idea of what it seeks to provide and how well it matches.

    But anyways, as for a work I think it lives up to the hype, to me it has to be Hiromu Arakawa’s Manga Fullmetal Alchemist, It trully deconstructs the Shonen genre without completely dismissing the aspects that make the genre engaging and so well liked, it is a story I find myself revisiting from time to time.


    • To be honest, I’ve found that hype doesn’t really factor into my final opinion that much. When playing The Last of Us, I did muse “Really? This is the game got perfect scores across the board?” a few times, but I honestly feel I would’ve drawn the same conclusion in my review even if I had no idea how much it was hyped. If anything, it’s actually far more common for my reaction to be something along the lines of “Wow! No wonder this is so popular” – as was the case with Breath of the Wild. It took some time to get used to its radically different gameplay, but once I did, I was thoroughly impressed. Some people didn’t like the new direction, and others derisively compared it to the tedious gameplay of Far Cry 4, but I believe that Nintendo managed to capture something few others have when creating an open-world game. Not only is it my favorite open-world game to date, it’s my third-favorite Zelda game.

      Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the very few anime I’ve actually watched, and it is indeed really good. I highly recommend it to anyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Bioshock, 100%. Even though I didn’t play it until years after all the hype died down, it’s now up there with my most memorable gaming experience of all-time. And I get it. I get why the hype that originally surrounding it was so prevalent and nearly unstoppable. It’s a masterpiece of a game. It’s well-crafted and thoughtfully written, while also being accessible (but not *too* accessible) and enjoyable. It has earned its pedestal, for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While I’ll admit that BioShock is a far cry from my favorite story-heavy game, I do like that it was one of the first mainstream releases to give that much of a care about the narrative. There were a few execution issues, but it was fun to play, and had plenty of great moments.


  7. Really nice idea you got there! 😀 I’m going just to give my answer by commenting because I already did a review about that video game in my blog since it’s in my Top 10! 😛 The game is…. Persona 5! To be honest I always try to not go to a game with hyper, but there are some times that you just can’t do it. It can be because of all the talking around ir, or it can be just because it’s the next installment of a series that you love. Well, for me I entered in Persona 5 with hyper from both sides and I’m happy to say, more than to live up it, it even went and trascended what I was expecting of the game (to be noticed that I didn’t see any kind of screenshots or gameplay because I wanted to experience the game fully, something I’m also doing for Final Fantasy 7 remake). To be honest it has been years since I experienced the enjoyment of playing a game like Persona 5 and after playing it went directly to my top 3 favorite games from all time 😀
    About Undertale, I still didn’t play it, only saw a playthrough of it… I still don’t understand the hype for the game to be honest, but maybe I need to really play instead of only seeing someone playing 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have played Persona 4 and I have Persona 5 on the backburner. What strikes me as incredible about Persona 5 is that it managed to win over people who normally don’t like JRPGs – that seems to suggest that there’s something really special about it. I will get to it before this year ends, however.

      I would agree – what makes Undertale so great can only really be comprehended by experiencing it firsthand.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’d like to write a longer post, but I will start with a comment here! I think one of either Mario Odyssey or Breath of the Wild would be likely candidates for meeting the hype they generated. Nintendo titles normally get a lot of love despite their flaws, but I think both of these titles are deserving.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Left 4 Dead, for me. Part of that is by virtue of the fact that I didn’t play it until years after it came out, and the dialogue about the game was pretty frank and honest on it. It’s not the type of game I would normally go for, but I did, and I enjoyed it just as much as the hype seemed to say. Just from the hype, though, it felt like I was already familiar with so much of the game right when I first picked it up, and that was an interesting experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Left 4 Dead is one of the few Valve games I haven’t gotten around to playing. A radically different take on the zombie apocalypse genre sounds like it would be fun to try out.

      A lot of people say that hype ruins expectations, but I’ve found in practice that it barely factors into what I think of it. There have been almost as many instances of me agreeing with the hype as there have been times where I didn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice definitely lives up to the hype. I mean, it wasn’t hyped a whole lot, but everyone I knew who played it said it was amazing and I’d love it… and I absolutely did love it. It was atmospheric, had a deep story, and dealt with unique themes I haven’t seen woven into a game in a way that was both poignant and sensitive. It lived up to its recommendations, for sure.

    A game that I don’t believe lives up to the vast amounts of hype surrounding it is (sorry) Chrono Trigger. I don’t really see it being “the best game everrr” as the interwebs seem to claim. It’s a solid game – a *good* game – and I can see how games after it built on its shoulders, but I went in expecting one of the most profound RPG experiences ever, and instead I got… a really good RPG. I mean, there are worse things, but still. There’s saying it’s a good, solid game, and significant as it informed RPGs that came after it, but to hear others talk about it makes it seem like a flawless experience, which… is a sort of tall order to fill.

    Liked by 1 person

      • A lot of what I’ve heard about Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice suggests I’d really enjoy it. It’s true I tend to be tough on story-heavy games, but it’s less because I think they’re a bad idea and more because they’re way more difficult to pull off than I think people give it credit for – it goes far beyond splicing movie clips in between bits of gameplay.

        Funnily enough, you ended up answering the next question I was about to ask. It will be formally posted today. When I originally reviewed Chrono Trigger, I gave it a 10/10. Though I still think the game is really, really good, I don’t think it’s quite worthy of the “Greatest Game of All Time” mantle these days. It’s less because of its own flaws and more because as an RPG, it has clearly been surpassed in the intervening years, whether it’s by having more advanced gameplay overall (Persona 4) or by having a more profound story that melds better with the medium (Planescape: Torment or Undertale). As much as I like it, it’s not quite in the same league as those titles.

        I have to admit that yours was one of the blogs from which I got the idea, though I decided to put a different spin on it by asking and answering the question across multiple mediums.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It really is a great game (at least in my opinion). I hope you get a chance to play it; I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

          Oops, sorry about that! It *is* a really, really good game! But I guess, for me, the “best game ever” should leave me feeling like I just had some profound experience, and… it was a fun experience, and I enjoyed it, and I really loved a lot of things about it, but… I’m okay not playing it again.

          Well, in that case, I completely and fully endorse this idea, then 🙂 I like your spin on it, too!

          Liked by 1 person

  11. The Last of Us is the best that comes to mind. I was super hyped on that game years before it released. When I finally got my hands on it, I was completely blown away. It exceeded my every expectation – from emotion-evoking storytelling to the surprisingly great multiplayer.

    As for music, I would have to say mbv by My Bloody Valentine. I started listening to the band at age 16 and immediately fell in love with Loveless. I never thought they’d release another album out of fear that it wouldn’t be nearly as good. My senior year of college came several years later and they delivered.

    Film is a tricky one. I guess I’d have to say Whiplash. All I heard about that film was how great it was when it came out. When I finally got around to watching it, I understood why. Probably one of my all-time favorite endings to a movie.


    • I’m going to have to be honest – The Last of Us is actually a game I considered answering for my next question. I fully accept the possibility that it didn’t really have anything to offer me by the time I got around to playing it. I could see somebody legitimately enjoying it, but I found it reveled too much in the annoying trends of its day for my liking. I’ll still pick up the sequel because I do want to give it a fair shot.

      My Bloody Valentine is an incredible band that hasn’t issued a single weak LP yet. Loveless is indeed one of my personal favorites as well. It was certainly not an easy act to follow, and while m b v doesn’t quite succeed in surpassing it, it was very much a worthy follow-up – easily one of the best albums of 2013.

      I somehow completely missed out on Whiplash. I’m going to put seeing it on my to-do list.


  12. Pingback: HYPED and not Hyped – LightningEllen's Release

  13. Pingback: Three-peat: Sunshine Blogger Award – AmbiGaming

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.