Single axis of favorites (or, why I don’t like making “favorite ___” lists)

Many of us, at some point, have been asked what’s our favorite song, favorite musician, favorite game, favorite film. etc. Or a list of favorites in a particular category, which is an extension of that concept.

I don’t like to list what my favorite whatever is, because it would require me to put things I like on a single axis of quality.

Let’s take games for example. Two of my favorite games are Ketsui and Gradius Gaiden; if you made me compile a top 5 shmups list at gunpoint, they would be in that list. I love the former because playing it competitively encourages fun but risky point-blank attacks, but won’t cripple the player completely just because they died or fired a bomb (unless they were going for the ura loop), and the latter because it provides a wonderful selection of ships that are all balanced yet stand out on their own and a vibrant, diverse collection of stages. But that doesn’t mean these two games are better than everything else in every way; no one game is going to be perfect. Another game I play, Eschatos, is something I wouldn’t consider one of my favorites because of a few qualities that make playing it seriously a bit of a joke, but its wave-based stage progression and emphasis on speedkilling in Original and Time Attack modes are two things I really like because they don’t show up enough in 2D shooters. Every game is different, and even if I don’t get as much enjoyment out of one game over another, I can still find some things to appreciate in the game I enjoy less.

Another example would be music. For the most part I have no single favorite song or favorite musician, or even favorite genre. It’s hard to call a single song my favorite, or even a small collection of songs my favorites because what I enjoy listening to depends on my mood and what context I’m in. For example, eurobeat and trance sound better for driving on a highway, but when I’m driving around the suburbs at around 11 PM coming home, my musical mood may shift more towards Asian pop or chillout. Doing repetitive tasks? Game music, particularly music from 2D shooters, often keeps me going. Studying, or doing something that requires me to think? Ambient music, or no music at all. I think of my enjoyment of music as something that’s multidimensional, not just "this is my favorite track, this is my second favorite track, etc."

Because of this way of thinking about the things I enjoy, for me to put down a favorite _____ would not only disregard the individual merits of each item, but would also take a lot of time because I’d have to spend a lot of time mentally processing which items I enjoy overall before coming to my conclusions, to the point where I’ll just say "I like thing A, thing B, and thing C, among other things I also enjoy".

Some can easily state what their favorites are down to single all-time favorite items in each category. But I don’t have a mindset like that.

This blog post…it looks like osu!.

So I’m on Facebook around 3:00 and I’m browsing posts from my music game acquaintances and friends when I see this:

this image looks like osu

Ah, osu!, the Osu! Tatakae! OuendanElite Beat Agents simulator that have a number of fellow otogamers in a bunch.

I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of osu! myself. There’s almost zero original songs, the game is ass to play without a touchscreen or a tablet, and the game takes the godawful combo-oriented scoring system of OTO/EBA and makes it even worse with modifier multipliers. (Want to top the leaderboards? Double the song speed, among other things!)

But at the same time, there’s a few problems with the outrage I see over someone playing the “looks like <game one is more familiar with>” card.

It’s kinda standard fare when osu! is such a popular game and not something I’d get worked up over tbh, even if I’m a bit contemptful of osu!. I mean hey, people who use comparisons when looking at media that reminds them of other works are pretty common; playing Touhou for the first time reminded me of DoDonPachiO2Jam looked an awful lot like beatmania IIDX to me at first glance, and it’s hard not to look at falling block games and instantly go “oh, looks like Tetris” (despite the specific mechanics and strategies of, say, Puyo Puyo or Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo being completely different from that of Tetris). We draw such comparisons because we want to put new experiences in terms and quantizations that we can understand.

Many people (at least those whose initial exposure wasn’t to rhythm game superplays, often with sensationalist titles like “Crazy Japanese Speed Game!”) are first exposed to rhythm games through StepMania or osu! because of availability and ease of access; they can be loaded with simfiles of familiar songs, they’re on PC rather just on a specific less-universal platform, and most importantly, are free(-ish). Sure, games with high content-to-price ratios like Cytus ($2 for 100+ songs with two charts each) and Tone Sphere ($2 for 40-ish songs with 2-4 charts each) exist, but not everybody has a smartphone or tablet, and even if they did, some people, especially minors, don’t have their own card for conducting online transactions with; I received my first payment card at the age of 17 in 2006 and until then had been playing Albat–I mean, PangYa and O2Jam for a few months, with no way of purchasing things that require real money until my card arrived. It’s not fair to look down on people for choosing a game because it’s a lot more affordable especially if living circumstances prevent them from buying other games. One of my friends freaked out after discovering that 4-song music packs for jubeat plus and REFLEC BEAT + were $4 each, and I don’t know how many people who don’t already like BEMANI are willing to put down, say, $100 to have 100 songs. (There are ways to get these songs For Free, but that steps into territory I kinda don’t wanna touch in public.)

So while it is kinda annoying to see the osu! comparison when I introduce people to other rhythm games, given my dislike of Everyone’s Favorite circle-clicking game, when a game like osu! is very popular and very accessible, it’s inevitable that the comparison will pop up.

Pop culture, everyone.

Update (7:25)

Okay, so a friend of mine provided some context to the above paraphrasing. Apparently, the original complaint is over osu! players who look at other music games and ask “is this osu?”  That makes more sense as to why people are irritated, as comparing osu! and IIDX (for example) is like comparing Tetris to Puzzle & Dragons. I saw this image without knowing the full context, which said image doesn’t allude to, though my points still apply when people do comment in the form of “looks like _____.”

the creator of this image is indonesian lol. i think it actually meant “is this osu?” (context being an osu player’s comment when they see another game)

indonesians are bad at translating with context o<-< people take things quite literally here