Hold Me Back!
I canÃ‚'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 IÃ‚'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 gameÃ‚'s content.
First up was Voodoo Vince which I rented after receiving an enthusiastic recommendation from Gone GoldÃ‚'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 doesnÃ‚'t know a genre inside and out. Bill is fantastic and I value his opinion highly but IÃ‚'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 doesnÃ‚'t matter what youÃ‚'re collecting anymore; itÃ‚'s all rupees in the end.
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 Ã‚– 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 wouldnÃ‚'t hurt and it would save guys like Elysium (who like to throw hissy fits) a few broken controllers.
This kind of design decision isnÃ‚'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 Ã‚"games are supposed to be funÃ‚" for a while. After the second such level (involving sitting in a bucket which slides down a rope and collecting cloth while avoiding the Ã‚"touch me and start overÃ‚" blocks) I had enough and returned Vince to Blockbuster.
Looking on the shelf for a surefire hit that wouldnÃ‚'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. IÃ‚'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 donÃ‚'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?
Item hunting is not a genre, itÃ‚'s the crap that gets squeezed into games when developers donÃ‚'t care about giving you a compelling experience anymore. ItÃ‚'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 clichÃƒÂ©s what is there left to play?
To wrap up, IÃ‚'m going to back peddle a little bit. I can still enjoy simple games that donÃ‚'t try to break new ground and encourage you to bop enemies for colored beads. I donÃ‚'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 canÃ‚'t waste my time hunting for keys anymore. Eventually my avatar is going to have to realize that the gun heÃ‚'s been mowing hundreds of enemies down with can be used to blow the damn lock out.