Saturday, February 23, 2008

Gaming pet peeves

I love games a whole lot, but there are just some things about them that really annoy me. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like this. Here are a few things that really tend to peeve me off with games.

Showing off moves/abilities unavailable to the player

I really hate it when trailers, cutscenes or promotional art pieces show off the main character doing things the player cannot do. For example, there are scenes in many of the Legend of Zelda games in which Link takes a running jump, but the player cannot spur such interactions.

And what about that promotional art? I was just playing a bit of Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure. I've learned that angering the local savages is never a good idea, as it always leads to Zack instantly being captured, and thusly ending the level. After I had enough of the game for the night, I flipped through the manual and saw art of Zack running from a savage while holding a treasure chest; Two things impossible to do in the game!

The trailers and commercials are often the worst, though. Ever see the latest commercial for Uncharted: Drake's Fortune? Nathan Drake (The main character) is sneaking up on a group of enemies when his walkie-talky goes off, alerting the foes. He looks at the device, glances up at the opposition and says "Think it's for you!". He tosses the walkie-talky at an enemy, whips out his gun and shoots them while they're reeling. As far as I know, there's no possible way to do this. I've never played the game, admittedly, but after some brief research I saw absolutely no mention of any such unique tactics. Maybe this happens in a cutscene, which is somewhat more forgivable than false advertising, but still a real annoyance for me. And this doesn't apply to just Uncharted, I'm just using it as an example.

Somewhat related to the above, it also really peeves me off when game commercials consist almost entirely (Or 100%) of cutscenes and pre-rendered clips. That really bugs me to no end. At least label the scenes as either actual game footage or not, like in the latest Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games DS commercial.

Invisible walls

I remember when I first got the Wing Cap in Super Mario 64. I was flying around, having a grand old time... And then I hit an invisible wall, and plummeted to the ground. Ever since then, I have hated these see-through barriers relentlessly. I prefer it when the developers take a more unique approach to fencing off the player. In Half-Life 2, straying too far from land results in you being attacked by ravenous fish. Swimming too far from shore in Jak 3 triggers an attack from a bizarre squid-like monster. In Battlefield 1942, leaving the mission area causes your player (Or vehicle) to lose health rapidly after a ten-second warning. More games need to instigate such measures, instead of resorting to the annoying and overdone invisible walls.

Rubber band technology

Ever get a huge lead in Mario Kart 64? Well, it didn't last for long, did it? Instead of letting you enjoy your massively advantageous position, the game juices up the speed of all the racers behind you, causing them to catch up in no time at all. I remember pulling off a huge shortcut at the beginning of Rainbow Road that cuts about a minute off my overall time, only to have my opponents catch up by the end of the lap.

It doesn't bug me much when the lead racer gets crappy items, leaving all the good stuff to those in lower positions. That's just fair, really. But dang it, speeding them up far beyond their usual threshold just isn't right.

Peripheral-dependent games being sold without said peripheral

You wouldn't believe how many times I've seen used copies of Odama sitting on the shelf at my local Rogers Video, only to notice that they don't even have the necessary microphone bundled in with them. Same deal with Mario Party 6 and 7. I know this is hardly the fault of the developer. It's the re-sellers' fault. But dammit, it still really boils my spuds.

Lack of checkpoints

I really, really, REALLY hate it when I get reeeeally far in a level of a game, only to die and restart back at the beginning of the stage. That just annoys me to no end. Working so hard, getting so close, only to fail at the last moment and end up back at square one. You know what would solve this? Checkpoints, people! Like in the old Sonic games from the Genesis/MegaDrive, little markers during the stage acting as restart points. That way if you die, you don't have to restart the whole level.

Another problem is when there's too few checkpoints too far apart. Recently I was playing Half-Life 2: Episode One, at a point where I had to make a timed jump, sprint past a hazard, gun down some enemies and reach a point beyond them, all without dying. Now, I think that's a bit much. In my opinion, there should have been a checkpoint after the hazard. It wouldn't have been quite as bad if I had a chance to heal in between (Thus lowering my chances of losing the gunfight), but that sadly wasn't a possibility.

Then again, there shouldn't be too many checkpoints, either... It's probably a hard balance to strike.

So then, I hope you enjoyed reading about some of the gaming-related pet peeves I have. Now it's your turn: What are some of your gaming pet peeves? Feel free to voice off in the comments section or in this forum thread.

The Duck Has Spoken.

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