Game Design Choices That Eat Away At My Soul (Part 1)

It should go without saying that no game is perfect. Even the most gracefully crafted of games with excellent stories, splendid gameplay, and eargasmic soundtracks that gradually consume the precious hours in one’s life often contain that one major flaw in terms of design choices or mechanics that bugs the ever-living hell out of all sorts of gamers. These particular flaws may cause one to wonder “Why the hell does this mechanic even exist in this game?” and then go on to question the sanity of the developers (fighting game fans are all too familiar with this thanks to the various comeback mechanics being implemented into games nowadays *coughX-factorcough*). Oh yeah, and then there’s also the rage; you can never forget the delicious rage. 

With all of that said, let’s move onto some game design choices that make it difficult for me to sleep at night. 

#1: The amount of time it took to acquire three characters in Final Fantasy XIII 

As a fan of JRPGs (not necessarily Final Fantasy games because I was “That Kid with the Gamecube”), I really wanted to love this game. I really, truly did; however, being presented with such an awesome battle system a few hours into the game and then having that experience toned down for a large portion of the game was quite disappointing and really killed the experience for me. For those that do not know what I am talking about: the battle system in Final Fantasy XIII truly shone when three characters were involved since you could make all sorts of paradigm shift combinations and go about defeating enemies your own way. The unfortunate thing is that aside from one short section in the beginning of the game, you are only limited to using two characters for the sake of story telling and whatnot (though I shall not spoil that part). It wouldn’t be such an issue if it weren’t for the fact that you are limited to two characters for the first twenty or so hours of the game. You can only try to build up so much excitement for yourself in trying to get to that point before you just lose all enthusiasm and motivation to keep going.

Fortunately, however, once you do finally gain access to three characters to use in your party the battle system is an absolute blast and continues to remain so throughout the rest of the game (which you are already about halfway finished with at this particular point). On the plus side, Final Fantasy XIII-2 avoids this issue completely by allowing players to enslave monsters to fight alongside them in battle, which is a very very good thing.

#2: Repeating bosses and stages in Devil May Cry 4 

I am very sad to say that Devil May Cry 4 was my first and so far only DMC game (but that shall change once the collection releases later this year. . . curse being a Gamecube kid). The gameplay was absolutely astounding, though one major flaw that nearly killed the game for me was the fact that the stages and bosses repeated as you switched control from Nero to Dante in the game’s story mode. This just oozes of laziness on the part of the developers, and I was quite disappointed with the way things went down for I felt that everything could have been so much more fleshed out. When I look at Devil May Cry 3, I see nothing but hard work, bullet casings, and style, while with Devil May Cry 4 my vision is tainted with copy-pasta and the salt-induced tears cascading from my eyes. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed DMC 4 very much, but it’s slightly more difficult for me to get hype about completing a game when the developers seem to have lacked motivation in creating it.

Though I have no complaints about having to listen to Bael's theme twice per play through.

#3: The Whip in Super Castlevania

I can’t comment on this as much because I am super lame and never finished Super Castlevania, but this video made by Egoraptor basically says all that needs to be said:

#4: Team Aerial Combos in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 [Same old deal: 

I admit, when I first saw this mechanic in the early showings of Marvel vs Capcom 3, I believed that this would be swagtastic. However, after playing and watching how the game has progressed over time, I must say that TACs are quite a silly mechanic. Team aerial combos basically work like this: when you launch your opponent up into the air with a launcher attack you can either continue your fancy-pants combo normally, or you may hit the launcher button again along with a direction (up, down, or left/right) to tag out your current character with the next character on your roster. That character can then continue the combo and then go into a second TAC attempt if that is desired. If the opponent guesses correctly and presses the launcher button along with the corresponding directional button as well within 15-frames then the TAC is countered and the attacker is sent flying across the screen to reset positioning; the opponent only gets one guess so they cannot simply mash out of a TAC is they think one is coming.

This all sounds fair, right? Well of course fairness does not matter when it comes to Marvel, but rewards granted by a TAC in exchange for the risk factor are too skewed when you consider that TACs are basically guessing games. If you get an upwards exchange on an opponent, then subsequent hits will deal more damage (while still factoring in damage scaling). Down exchanges grant you a full bar of meter out of five bars (add this along with the meter you gain for getting hits in the first place), and side exchanges take away a full bar from the opponent. Obviously, all of these outcomes are very very bad for your opponent, though TACs are nowhere near “cheap” and do not settle games (in fact they are rarely seen in high-level play for the most part). The main gripe lies in the fact that TACs add in a guessing game in which the odds are 2/3 in the favor of the attacker, and if the attacker is countered they are completely safe. The only real losses are a slight loss in health and the losing of momentum.

I can’t fully hate on team aerial combos because of stuff like this, though (skip to 2:30, beware of NSFW language):

#5: Tripping in Super Smash Brothers: Brawl
Do I really even need to explain this?


Do you have any poor game design choices that you would like to acknowledge? Be sure to post them in the comments section below!

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