August 16, 2011

Top Ten Video Game Anomalies

So this is a countdown of the ten things in video games that I find to be strange and unnatural or just down right annoying as heck!  Aside from that and the fact that all video games are complete fantasy, except sports games apparently, this list is really just for fun and is in no way serious, so if you don't agree then tough cookies!

10.  Glitch'o'Rama
  •  Making a video game takes a lot of people, and people aren't perfect so, we get to experience the frustration of bad game coding, or just pure negligence from game developers.  So... pretty much every game that comes out has a few glitches these days, like getting stuck in a wall, or the ground, or being unable move or use a certain item, perhaps dying for no reason.  Sometimes they are flat out crazy, like being flung around the map in a multiplayer game or having generic characters duplicate on you ad nauseam.  But some games are so bogged down by glitches that they become nearly impossible to play.  I've heard of games like that, and one particularly comes to mind; Hellgate: London.  A friend of mine said that even after patches and fixes were doled out by the developer the game suffered from horrible glitches that made the game difficult to play.  Such as; failure to load textures in a level, making it impossible to tell foe from a common wall!  Another game that comes to mind, that I have played, is Oblivion for the PC which is still mega-glitchy today, and it's now over five years old.  It is, however, still playable but only barely thanks to the highly dedicated Mod community on the web.  I'd put Fallout 3 in the same boat, but it's only three years old and was a lot better over all.  
  • There are other games out there with good glitches, like being able to duplicate items infinitely in Icewind Dale by using the character arbitration menu mid game, or being able to go through walls in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night by using the Sword Brothers spell at a specific point, or completely bypassing a section of the game by wall jumping like in Super Metroid (well, that's more of trick).  These are glitches that I'm okay with because they give character to a game.
9.  Midair Antics (jumping physics extraordinaire)
  •  Have you ever tried to change your direction in midair?  It's very difficult, nigh unto impossible!  So how does Mario do it?  How does any video game character do it?  There's also the issue of a double jump ability, if there is no specific magical item or ability that grants this extraordinary feat then how does one do it?  Samus has jets attached to her suit, Sonic was able to get a power up that let him jump twice, Alucard got a relic which made his cape sprout wings in order to jump twice.  If it can't be explained then why let it happen? It's just weird and breaks the game.  But I understand that a game would be less fun if you couldn't do it.  The opposite is characters that cannot jump (Bionic Commando), or can only jump in certain circumstances i.e. Link in Legend of Zelda games. 
  • Also, there is the nagging issue of falling, when does falling constitute damage, or no damage.  Obviously some characters are able to absorb the damage.  Until recently Mario was able to fall from any height, but now it seems that if you fall more that two stories, it's going to hurt really bad.  Samus is still able to fall from mind boggling heights with nary a fractured ankle.  But who wants realism anyway?
8.  Stop Knowing What I'm Doing All the Time!
  •  Now onto some RPGs.  So, your a thief, in a great big city.  What do you do?  Break into some houses and steal crap! Am I right?  Well not so fast, despite nobody being in the room, you will alert the guards, even though they are nowhere to be seen outside the house.  This is an annoying feature of Baldur's Gate and many other Fantasy RPGs.  That's not all, in Bethesda's Elderscrolls series (morrowind and oblivion) even if you are invisible people will catch you stealing from them, or taking things from boxes, treasure chests, and crates etc. Plus, if you had previously committed a crime without being caught and approach a guard, you will be arrested.  
  • Even in the new Fallout series this same kind of crap happens.  I got the Chinese Stealth armor which basically renders me invisible when sneaking... no no no, if there's a scripted event the NPC involved will automatically center on you and engage you in a conversation!  Or if you are crouched next to an enemy and aim your gun at them they say something to the effect that they know you are there pointing a gun at their head.  This is due to the game developer forcing you to play how they intended, and it breaks the expectations of gamers.  I really hate it.  Thankfully there are mods that fix broken crap like telepathic guards and enemies.
7.  Break, Enter, Steal, aaaaaaaaaaand nobody cares?!
  •  Final Fantasy.  Ever played one? Well, if you haven't I suggest playing Final Fantasy III for the SNES (or VI for GBA/DS whatever) and nothing else because it is the best, and everything else sucks especially Final Fantasy XIII.  Anyway, in games like Final Fantasy it's perfectly normal to waltz right into town, go into someones home and take their stuff.  Don't worry about telepathic guards because they don't exist, along with basic AI.  This anomaly is mostly present in JRPGs but I've seen it crop up in some prominent Western RPGs, such as Dragon Age and the Deus Ex games.  Apparently, it's okay to take what you need when you are a hero, however, it makes them look like selfish jerks to me.  The game should make you leave something behind, like money, or a note saying "Hey!  Warrior of light here, just borrowing your awesome sword for a bit.  We'll return it after we slay the evil that plagues this land. Toodles!"  This would be much more understandable to the denizens of fantasy worlds who come home and see their place ransacked by meddlesome heroes.
6.  A Watery Grave
  •  Water has been a constant hazard in video games for years, and has been a sore thorn in my side to boot!  It made sense in some sidescrollers that falling in the water equaled death, however I don't understand it in 3D games.  You should be able to swim if you have full range of movement!  I understand that if your character is heavily armored you shouldn't be able to swim very well, but other than that why would you die from regular H2O unless you're a vampire.  
  • This issue has steadily been done away with in most games of today, in fact, water has been practically taken out of most games altogether!  GTA III and GTA Vice City, are two games that punished you for landing in the drink.  It frustrated the crap outta me until I started using the unlimited health code.  Ha!  Same went for Mercenaries on the Xbox, but that was a way better game.
5.  Killer Screen Edge Nightmare Extravaganza!
  •  To me this anomaly is just there to annoy players.  I'll accept the following as ways to fail in a video game, time limits, rising lava, and occasionally rising water, but the edge of a screen... killing you?!  Not okay.  If you've played any old school NES games, chances are you have encountered this hazard.  The screen moves slowly upward so that you have to scramble to get to the top of the level.  Ninja Gaiden, Mario, Battletoads, and many other games have used this feature to great effect, as in the effect is pissing you off to no avail.  I'm glad that most games of today have eliminated this antiquated pitfall and have opted for more creative ways in which you can die.
4.  Invisible Walls...How I Loathe Thee!
  •  This is mostly an issue in modern 3D games, especially FPS games.  I'm going to use Fallout New Vegas to broach this issue.  If you've played any imersive 3D sandbox game you've come to expect that almost anywhere in the game is accessible, not so.  In Fallout New Vegas this is especially not so.  Time after time I have come upon invisible walls that impede my progress.  I think to myself; "It would be easier to get to the other side if I could traverse this mountain." but as soon as I get towards the top I'm stopped by an invisible wall.  This happens in more linear games too, like the newer Legend of Zelda series.  
  • The confines of game worlds have grown larger, just not large enough.  In order to afford total freedom to players every bit of surface must be coded properly to allow a character to walk upon it.  Sometimes a game company or publisher rushes the development, so they have to gloss over these parts and insert invisible walls.  That annoys me, and shows me that they were either lazy, or just didn't want players to have the freedom they deserve.  Again, this falls into the idea that games have to be played the way that developers designed them to be played.  Still, there is a silver lining on those dreary clouds of confinement.  Thanks to the Mod community, this idiocy has been done away with.  Hooray! (sorry console gamers)
3.  I've Got Deep Pockets
  •  Ever wonder why you can hold so many items the average RPG?  It makes sense in D&D games, you are told you can hold only so much from the beginning based on your stats, and then you need a pack of some sort, or a magical bag of holding in order to carry stuff around.  But in some games, such as; Chrono Trigger, Fallout, Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, and Pokemon, you can hold a lot, sometimes up to 99 or more of one item, and it's never explained how it's possible!  It's like you have access to a singularity hole in your pocket into which you stuff things and are somehow able to keep an inventory of with a neat little screen.  
  • I think that Inventory limitation is great, if done right.  Resident Evil did this poorly up until their fourth game, Deus Ex had a pretty good limitation, but it suffered a bit when you really wanted to have a certain item but didn't have the room.  Dragon Age has handled it very well, in that you can only carry a specific slot amount of items, and only until you find more backpacks does it expand any further.  Baldurs Gate and Icewind Dale games afforded players to have 16 slots per character and a weight limit based on strength (because they're based on D&D rules).  The Fallout series of games does limit how much you can carry based on strength, but you can still carry a huge amount of crap, and unfortunately the menu system gets bogged down because of this.
2.  The Turkey in the Wall Dilemma
  • This is really weird to me.  So I'll start with a hypothetical question; Say you were fighting on the streets and came upon a trashcan, hit it and break it open to find a whole pizza intact, in its box, would you then go on to consume it to regain health?  No, you wouldn't, but the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would.  I never thought that was weird when I was a kid, but now it's downright gross to think about.  The same goes for the Castlevania series.  You break open a wall and find a whole turkey just sitting there.  Hmm, looks tasty, yum! Regain health! What!?  How long has that been sitting there?  Because last time I checked, Dracula only rises once every century, sometimes in less time than that, but definitely long enough for a wall encased hunk of meat to rot and decay into nothingness.  And why has Dracula hid weapons that his enemies can use against him in the candles and torches throughout the castle?  Does he want to die...again?
  • The mere thought of food being able to hold magical medicinal powers beyond curing hunger is preposterous.  Some games are fully aware of this, and change how food works so that when you eat something it doesn't heal you but restores fatigue, or they just don't have food in the game at all.  Also, if you eat and drink food stuff as a video game character, wouldn't you eventually need to go to the restroom?  How the heck do you not take a huge dump a few hours after downing a whole turkey anyway?!  It's questions like these that I'd rather not answer, and apparently you don't need to as a video game character because that would just be silly.  Right?
1.  Epidermis Injurious
  • This just boggles my mind, but it's in so many games it's just become the norm.  It all started with Mario, probably (or perhaps Dig Dug or Pacman?).  You get touched by an enemy and then you die or get shrunk and lose your power up.  Why?  Is it that he/she's violently allergic?  Do they have some sort of instant death neuro-toxin on the surface of their skin?  Or is it that their skin is bubbling with the heat of molten magma?  Whatever the case is, it just happens.  This makes sense if you are in a space ship or some sort of jet fighter and collide with something, but Samus gets hurt by just about anything that touches her suit, and Mario gets killed by just about anything that looks remotely harmless.  
  • I say, unless it physically hits you with an attack you shouldn't get hurt by it.  I don't walk into another person and explode, no I apologize and move on.  I don't want games to be that realistic, but they could at least explain why.  Obviously, games like Mario thrive on the fact that if you don't stomp on it, and instead get too close to it, you will get hurt and possibly die.  The same goes for Samus in the Metroid games, sort of.  Still, it's really weird, and annoying but its the way we've played for years.

1 comment:

  1. Good article. These are things I’ve always noticed and wondered about myself too.
    My thoughts on your list:
    10. I remember my cousin and I found a glitch in Mario Kart 64 on the DK Jungle level that has the ferry. If you would run into a wall the right way, you would drive into a blank black area and then fall into some water. They included that level on the Wii version. And the first time I played that level I went right for that glitch.. but they fixed it. Sad face 
    9. *shrugs*
    8. Have you ever noticed in Infamous that you could be quietly climbing up the side of a building and before you get to the top, bad guys 5 buildings away on the opposite side are already shooting at you? What gives man?!
    6. As a kid I could not figure out why in some levels Mario (and Sonic) could swim and in others he would sink instantly and die
    5. What every video game character fears… not being the center of attention? To the point at which they die?
    4. ugh… invisible walls… and slightly steep hills that you can’t walk up.
    3. You forgot to mention that Mario keeps entire stars in his hat.
    2. I actually remember a pc game that I used to play back when I was a little kid. It had a hunger bar and a thirst bar. Also every once in a while, the character would stop what he was doing and squat and you would hear a fart like sound and then you could continue playing. It was bizarre.
    1. I have wondered what it would be like to play a game that has a realistic health system. Take a high fall, your legs are broken and you’re gonna have to crawl to the hospital and have the game fast forward 6 – 9 months. Get sliced by a sword across your stomach and you gotta run to the infirmary while holding your guts in and you have 5 mins before you faint of blood loss. I think if a game was like that, it should give you an option to go back and try again without getting hurt or just deal with it. An example of why you would ever want to deal with it is like if you got mortally wounded but at least you killed the boss… I don’t know. Probably people wouldn’t like that kind of a game..