Hold Me Back!

I canÂ't take it anymore.

If I have to hunt down one more item so that I can open a door, get a key from a lazy NPC, kick-start a generator or crank a wheel IÂ'm going to lose it. Disguising a treasure hunt as gameplay is slowly killing my taste for console games. Two games in particular have made me realize just how tired I am of the crutches developers use when trying to fill out their gameÂ's content.

First up was Voodoo Vince which I rented after receiving an enthusiastic recommendation from Gone GoldÂ's Bill Harris. Despite the average reviews he said the game was stylish, funny and a lot of fun to play even though he never really indulges in 3D platformers all that often. I should know better than to take advice from someone who doesnÂ't know a genre inside and out. Bill is fantastic and I value his opinion highly but IÂ've played Voodoo Vince with a different wrapper countless times. Sly Cooper, Mario 64, Jak and Dextor, Super Mario Sunshine, Starfox Adventures and the list goes on. All solid games and quite nice when taken alone but after a while it just doesnÂ't matter what youÂ're collecting anymore; itÂ's all rupees in the end.

I only LOOK different.

Voodoo Vince makes some of those classic mistakes that drive you absolutely batty. One area has you carrying a heavy and explosive tube to the top of the level while making sure not to touch the fire streaming out the pipes or landing too hard when stepping off small edges. If you fall too far or touch the fire you have to run down to the beginning and start all over again. A challenge is fine but when it takes roughly five – ten minutes of climbing without slipping up once to get to the top things start to get kind of silly. Think about it, every time you make one small mistake you have to repeat the dreadful process over again. A save point half-way up the level wouldnÂ't hurt and it would save guys like Elysium (who like to throw hissy fits) a few broken controllers.

This kind of design decision isnÂ't special, nearly every platform game has a level like this where the only way to get through is pure stubbornness and a total willingness to put aside the idea that Â"games are supposed to be funÂ" for a while. After the second such level (involving sitting in a bucket which slides down a rope and collecting cloth while avoiding the Â"touch me and start overÂ" blocks) I had enough and returned Vince to Blockbuster.

Looking on the shelf for a surefire hit that wouldnÂ't fail to entertain my eyes lit up on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds for the Xbox. Reviews were solid, most of the original actors do the voice work and I enjoyed the last Buffy game so why not! Like a nerd fondly looking back on his high school days and glossing over the countless times he was on the receiving end of a swirley I kind of forgot that the last Buffy was rife with item hunts and find-switch-to-open-door puzzles. I may be mistaken but Chaos Bleeds seems even worse so far. IÂ've had to hunt for keys, fuse boxes, sundial pieces and levers to progress in the game all within the first hour of playing. I donÂ't recall many Buffy episodes where the slayer had to kick in vases looking for a key to operate a fork lift. Come to that, why would the fork lift operator hide a key inside an urn locked in a crypt with a secret door that opens when you twist a conveniently placed eagle head statue anyways?

Has anyone seen my keys?

Item hunting is not a genre, itÂ's the crap that gets squeezed into games when developers donÂ't care about giving you a compelling experience anymore. ItÂ's getting near impossible to suffer through these lazy design decisions with the hopes that something innovative or different may make playing the game worthwhile. If you stop playing games that offer nothing new and stick with tedious clichés what is there left to play?

To wrap up, IÂ'm going to back peddle a little bit. I can still enjoy simple games that donÂ't try to break new ground and encourage you to bop enemies for colored beads. I donÂ't mind running the same experiences again so long as the game can avoid the annoying, lazy and infuriating design decisions that have been made countless times in the past. Maybe my threshold for inanity is getting lower as I get older but I just canÂ't waste my time hunting for keys anymore. Eventually my avatar is going to have to realize that the gun heÂ's been mowing hundreds of enemies down with can be used to blow the damn lock out.

- Certis


Did you play the first buffy? It was much better. I "read between the lines" on reviews for chaos bleeds and saw that one for what it was.

Most of the time it seems those dumb time consuming things are thrown into games just to extend it's length, because the publishers are worried it can be beaten in a single rental.

Unless the game is dreadfully short, I think it's a mistake to frustrate your players. It seems crazy to think that anyone WOULDN'T think it's a mistake to frustrate your players.

Hmm.... Maybe their testers are so good at the game they don't even notice how rough it is???

I think it's like you said, they don't want you to rent it once and beat it. It's trying to milk you for money without stopping to think "Hey, maybe this makes the whole thing not worth it". Some developers really need some perspective on things like that.

What the hell is a swirley?

Where you dunk some kid's head in the toilet and flush repeatedly. Thier hair ends up in a swirly shape.

A swirley: when someone (probably bigger and stronger than you) or someones force your head into a toilet and then flush.  As in,

There was very little I could do when Lou Ferrigno decided to give me a swirley.

>>>Item hunting is not a genre, it's the crap that gets squeezed into games when developers don't care about giving you a compelling experience anymore.<<<

This should be gospel to game designers. 

And, honestly, I only break controllers with Madden.  No one else does it for me like him.

- Elysium

I did enjoy the first Buffy game, it was pretty cool. The new one, however, sucks.

I got stuck on the first board because I hadn't opened one of the crypts where the first sundial pieces was. Then I got stuck on the second board for some reason, I think because a keycard was hiding somewhere and I had walked past it. Then I got stuck on the third board because I was dicking around in the basement where I thought I was supposed to be, rather than the basement I was supposed to get to by standing on the different colored tile in the back alley. Then I got stuck on that same board when I couldn't get that f*cknob Giles out because he wouldn't f*cking follow me through the f*cking doors and then he'd f*cking die because he's a f*cking loser.

Goddammit I hate that game. So I sent it back, and it made me like GameFly a heck of a lot more.

I gave up platforms years ago because I just got fed up with these same issues.  My biggest gripe is save points.  Gamers should be able to save multiple games any god-damned place they want.  Save points only serve to make crappy games longer by making you repeat certain sections again and again and again.  I have better things to do with my time.

Is it me?  Or do the models in the screenshot look nothing like the characters from the show?  (except for generic hair color) The first one didnt have that problem as I recall.

Never heard it call that, interesting.

Certis, the other day I was playing DR Muto and felt the exact same way. However the whole game is like those really bad platformer levels that you speak of.

I sort of remember Dr Muto, there was a bit of buzz around it and then it was released and *poof* nothing.