I’ve been playing Hopoo Games’s Deadbolt lately and thorougly enjoying it. I just barely beat Capter 2 Level 1, and 2:2, to me, looks almost impossibly difficult (ended up beating it while writing this. –ð). Attempting this level is certainly going to result in me being gunmurdered by vampires many, many times (it did. –ð), and yet, I’m excited for it. Why do we like hard games? What is driving me to persist through failure after failure? I think it has something to do with the way games structure their challenges, and the ways in which human beings pursue self-development.
Voices in video games are something we take as a given now, but they were much more of a special thing back when storage space was a carefully-managed commodity. The voice clips in games like Altered Beast may seem hokey today, but their clarity and frequency was impressive at the time (if, yes, still pretty hokey in their delivery). Thus, Psycho Soldier, released for arcades in 1986 by SNK, is of some historical significance for being one of the first video games to feature a fully voiced song that plays during gameplay:
Welcome to Xed (Crossed) by Design, a new article series in which I’ll be examining a game feature that two different creative mediums have in common. In this inaugural post, I’ll be looking at the dynamics of puzzles and player interaction in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and table-top roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons.
Here I’m going to make a case that we can study Breath of the Wild to learn how to make better puzzles and encounters in table-top roleplaying games.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Kirby is one of my favorite long-running game series. It may not carry the gravitas of some of Nintendo’s A-listers, but its core platformers are consistently fluffy fun, and the weird spin-offs are often great and always interesting. The Kirby series has also produced tons of wonderful music over the years, and not just the energetic sugar-pop you’d expect. So, in honor of the pink puff’s big birthday, here’s a few of my favorite tunes from throughout the main series.
30 Years of Games Manage to Justify the Amnesiac Hero Trope
Y’know, I would be astounded to find out that I was the only person who is quite over amnesia-based plots in shows and video games. For those who need a refresher (cuz you forgot? Cuz amnesia? Do you get it) here’s the TV Tropes page for the Amnesiac Hero. As you might know, the latest Legend of Zelda game, Breath of the Wild, has the non-titular hero Link awakening to find he’s lost all of his memories– he has no idea why he woke up in a tank full of glowing goo wearing nothing but some stylin’ boxer-briefs. And only recently, after about 50 hours of gameplay, I feel like I’m actually able to appreciate the Amnesiac Hero trope, maybe for one last time.
Breath of the Wild, and Zelda games in general, are games in which there is a skill disparity between the canonical character and the player controlling them.
Legend of Zelda games are narrative-structured games; the story is the organizing device and the driving force behind all the elements the player encounters in the game. And unless you’re reading a choose-your-own-adventure book, there aren’t many narratives outside of video games in which the protagonist encounters a bunch of anticlimactic demises (and spontaneous resurrections unmentioned by the narrative) before striding confidently into the final showdown. If any Zelda game were a book, Link would go from his bed to the steps of Ganon’s fortress without a single “game over”.
So how do we rationalize the two narrative realities, the “perfect run” that represents the canonical course of events, and the multitude of hours we spend watching our character ragdoll from an explosion we can’t pretend we didn’t see coming?
I don’t have a good answer, but this train of thought came to me with the image of Zelda sitting tight in Hyrule Castle for a century, waiting for Link to get out of his regen tank, and fully assuming he’s going to surpass every single difficulty and trial along the way to get to her… i.e. not expecting the news that her most trusted and capable knight has perished after accidentally dropping a five-ton iron ball on their head once they were done utilizing it in a physics puzzle.
The conclusion I’ve reached is that the “canon-narrative” version of Link is the one who makes it from cryochamber to castle without a single game over; but who then are all the versions of Link that die tragic/stupid deaths from our own lack of skill? Aren’t they, in a way, more representative of us as players, as we spend way more time embodying them than the one time we get it all right?
There are many other video games that unite the narrative with the player experience by utilizing the “growth of a hero” narrative; you start shitty and git gud over the course of the game, just as you the player learn the controls, strategy, and in-game systems. I wonder what games out there effectively incorporate the meta-reality of game-overs? (Besides Undertale of course, y’all calm down).
(Edited by Chocomarsh)