Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How to Break a Game

A while ago I found a little game called Clive Barker's Jericho. At first it seemed to be pretty cool. It starts out with an amazing intro, and it goes downhill from there. I start out in a plane with my teammates and I am given a briefing. We than get out of the plane and in to some desert. After that,there's a small tutorial, which is pretty helpful and not at all jarring, since it introduces a few things we might need to know. Once that's done, I follow my team into some ruins, and promptly fall down a hole. I'm instructed to hit the right movement key. I think "Shit, not one of these again". It's a timed-press sequence. I grab on to the right ledge, than the left one, than the right one above the first one. After that, I grab on to my teammate's hand. I fall. I start the sequence over. I must have tried this fifty times, and I didn't get right once. That is not part of a good game. It isn't fun, it isn't challenging, all it does is piss me off.

Why do people insist on puttting these kinds of things in games? Jericho seemed like a great game, but it all went to Hell as soon as that sequence started, and prevented me from playing an otherwise good game. Here's a general rule of thumb; if it isn't fun, don't put it in the game. I'm not specifically talking about the timed-button-press stuff, though. God of War proved that it can be done right. For example, there's a minigame in Super Mario Galaxy where you have to destroy some trash with bob-ombs. The trouble is that you have a time limit of thirty seconds to destroy the trash, and bob-ombs take five seconds to explode. Not to mention that it takes a bit to aim and fire the things. All in all, it ain't fun.

As I said earlier, if it isn't fun, don't put it in the game. Fortunately in SMG's case the minigame was optional, and therefore avoidable. I hope someone takes note of this, and that we'll never have to see another of those damn minigames again.

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