Friday, 5 June 2009

Games from the Past

For some reason reader i was compelled to seek out some really old games I had never played before. I suppose I do this simply because my mind will consider them new because I haven't played them before.

This time I came across a wide selection of good old fashioned beat-the-hell-out-of-everything games. You know, games like Golden Axe.

Ah, those were the days weren't they? 2-d gameplay but on a 3d landscape. You try to hit an oncoming enemy only to learn hes not exactly level with you, then he punches you in the face. Indeed there's no denying that these games were hard, after all they were designed to make you put in more coins, yet no matter how much money you poured into them it would never be enough.

I don't actually know what makes these games so addicted, their cruel, they cheat, and they laugh at your obvious lack of skill... Huh, maybe that's it? Whatever it is they had the pattern for it and all other games of the same genre had it as well. Some were better then others.

Some were f***ing amazing.

I wont name any here dear reader or how I got them, but I played two that were hands down awesome. One of them was your usual giant robot affair. Now usually you can just draw up some robots and make the combat like double dragon but with lasers, but not the one I played reader. No, the one I played would take your giant robot, tear its limbs off, and then tear its own limbs off to make use of your ones. What?

If that was a bit confusing just imagine this: Your a giant robot with a fist and you eye a robot with a horrible giant drill weapon... Man you think, wouldn't it be nice to tear him to pieces then use that drill yourself? This game says Hell Yeah! You could do the same for your gun and legs as well. At the end of the game I had beam saber arm, blade like spider legs and a big ass flame thrower. That was just what I had kept, there was a wide selection of different death tools and it was great fun just tearing into robots just to get there weapons. It made me wonder why the hell no one has tried to redo this idea? Its awesome.
Another thing I noticed that set this game apart from the usual affair was the fact that every melee weapon had like four combos (Two different attacks for the legs). In games like this you had only one combo, and they were special if it had two, yet here this game was tearing robots up in dozens of ways. Stuff like this makes you take a serious look at our games today and sigh with regret.
Onto the other game and a point about both of them. The second game was a dungeon and dragons one and before i go off ranting again I have to say, considering its just a beat em up they stayed quite close to their source material (If you know the spells and monsters of DnD you'd be surprised how much they kept in for just this little game). This one was good fun but brutal. I picked the mage character so i was throwing magic everywhere and it was alot of fun.
Now onto the point i wish to make. I had no idea how to play either of these games. They come with no tutorial or manual so its up to you to work out what the hell the jump button is in the first place. Now in a basic retro game this isn't a problem, A to attack B to jump etc, but these two games were a whole different bag. They only had about 3-4 buttons each (Not including directions) and yet there was still so much you could do. In the robot one it literally took me until the final boss to work out how the hell the jump powers worked, and in the DnD one it took me like three levels to work out how to block.

Was it frustrating? Not really. Was it rewarding? Yes.

I've found that I like to discover hidden things all on my own. Even if its for the most basic game play elements it feels so good to find out how to make it work with no help at all. I feel alot of games today are missing out by telling the player everything about their game, even before the game comes out. When I play prototype and my hands become hammers I wont be surprised I'll just think "Oh, I've got that power now".

A recent defining moment for me about hidden gameplay was while I was playing Kingdom Hearts 2. It was during an early boss fight and I was thinking "Well time to do some damage, best transform" (If you don't know, in KH2 you can transform into different more powerful types, e.g. magic power or combat power). Now I had gone through all the tutorials about this power, tried them out a bit and generally had a good idea how they worked before getting into any big fights. So imagine my surprise when I went to turn into this:

And came out as this:

It went a something like this:

"Holy crap! What the hell is this?! Urr.. Attack! Holy shit that's amazing! How am I doing this?! Oh I won... it ran out.... how the hell do I do that again?!"

When really cool stuff in a game takes you by surprise, that is an awesome game.
Edit: I recently found out that if you played with three people on the giant robot one, when you reached a boss they would combine into a super robot... Why do games today not do this?! Garrr!

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