Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gaming Thread: Gimmicks

Another general gaming thread over here. I always love it when a game has some innovative mechanic, clever application of an idea, and so forth. It's kind of hard to define exactly what I mean. Some examples:

Bionic Commando: I picked up BC Rearmed for PS3 today, which is essentially a 3D remake with some tweaks. (Love the dialogue they've put in, making fun of some of the silly bits from the original.) Currently having trouble at the Albatross, but I'll get it. Though I quickly gave up with frustration as a kid, I came back to the game and fell in love with the grappling mechanic. Jumping? Who needs jumping when you can fly through the air with the greatest of ease on the flying trapeze?

Metroidvanias: Just the general category, and specifically the 2D Metroids. Picking up new abilities opens up new areas you can explore. There's also so many ways you can do it wrong. I gave up on Metroid Prime: Hunters for DS when it became clear the only new way to open up areas was being able to blast different colored forcefields. They got it down exactly right in the 2Ds. I can only hope Nintendo gets the sense to make a "2 1/2D" Metroid: 2D style, 3D graphics.

Final Fantasy's Job System: FFV and Tactics hold a special place in my heart for the mechanics of building your teams. Didn't quite catch on with FFTA with learning skills from equipment. Job Points are enough for me.

Okami: Absolutely loved that game, including the Celestial Brush mechanic. Did a replay in one instance where I ended up dumping just about all my early praise into ink so that I could use it quickly and regularly. Now that I've finally got a PS2 card reader, I can do that new game + where I left off. Suppose I might actually need to use some healing items if they up the difficulty in it.

ChuChu Rocket: Nice puzzle game. Very simple mechanics. Very devious in spots.

Armored Core: I know this series isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I love the level of customization available. They got a bit overdone with heat management after Nexus, but they got rid of the whole thing in AC4. Always nice when I have a game where optimizing means more than just buying the biggest, most expensive gun. I often end up making relatively unflashy models and doing well with them.

Katamari Damacy: Na-naaaaa-nana-nana-na-na Katamari Damacyyyyy-y. Liked the dual joystick controls and loved the simplicity of the concept. Kind of made it hard to build on in sequels beyond adding new levels and more stuff to roll up, but it's still a fun game.


Anonymous said...

The first thing I have to say is: PLAY PORTAL if you haven't already. The second is yes, I know you already heard that a thousand times already. I stand by it.

Don't judge the entire Prime series based on Hunters. That game's entire single player mode was more or less an afterthought with the multiplayer the main focus. That said, the multiplayer wasn't that good either.

The real Prime games, by which I mean the trilogy for Gamecube/Wii are really good. Prime 1 has some backtracking near the end, but it captures the essence of the 2D games perfectly. You can even sequence break by doing things like finding the double jump boots near the start. The second one adds in a "real" space jump, though the "twin worlds" idea wasn't really done as well as they could have. The third one I haven't yet completed as I got into Twilight Princess at the time and just haven't gone back to it, but I highly recommend the first two.

My own tastes when it comes to 2D games is for them to use 2D graphics. The hand drawn nature looks "better" to me than low polygon counts on the current portable systems. I liked the look of Kirby Canvas Curse more than Kirby 64, for example.

FFTA was a really fun game, and so was the first Tactics. It's hard for me to say what I like more. Certainly I prefer the story of Tactics but TA had a lot of charm to it.

Okami being ported to Wii seemed like a perfect fit, and they did allow Wii controls to do the brush strokes, but unfortunatly from what I've read the group that ported it was seperate from Clover and they had to recreate most of the assets, and left out a few things entirely like the original ending credits in favor of a more standard fare. With a mixed opinion of the port job I prefer to stick with the copy I already own.

Katamari Damacy is awesome. The online version on XBox 360 is nice too, though I think they are running the previously original concept into the ground at this point. I also love the "animutation" style opening sequences.

Speaking of the 360 version there, there's this terrible habbit a lot of games with downloadable content for sale have that really needs to stop. That is, selling unlock codes for content already on the disk I payed for. I find that sort of thing extortionism. You can generally tell just from the fact that it's an 8 KB download that it is just an unlock code. Then there's the issue of a lot of this stuff maybe not being ON the disk but being available on release day, telling you they COULD have stuck it on the disk, but didn't because they wanted to charge you again. That's pretty close to the same thing.

At some point this needs to stop. The legitimate use of downloadable content is to provide stuff that genuinely couldn't be included in the product, or wasn't thought of at the time, at a later date.

Well sorry there, a bit of a side note. Back on topic, PLAY PORTAL.

Bronze Dog said...


1) I've played Portal, and made a few related jokes and references in some posts, here. It was awesome.

2) I've got the rest of the Prime series and enjoyed it. Although I still favor the classic 2D format, they did a good job adapting it to 1st person.

Anonymous said...

The third one I haven't yet completed as I got into Twilight Princess at the time and just haven't gone back to it, but I highly recommend the first two.

The first Seed boss drove me to abandon Prime 3 for several months before I went back and got lucky enought to beat it. But the rest of it (so far) hasn't been "Hope You Get Lucky" hard - Ridley actually felt like it was acheivable with skill rather than blind button-mashing luck.

And I'm getting a hankering for a Zelda fix - maybe I should go replay Twilight Princess. Then again, I've not played Okami yet.

Bronze Dog said...

I heartily recommend Okami. There's a reason I've started taking up saying 'Oh my dear Ammy!'

King of Ferrets said...

Me too. Okami is FTW; I was planning to start replaying it soon.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit late to the party (catching up on blogs I had to skip due to lack of time, though that's certainly not a reflection on the quality here!), but I loved the Gravity Gun (sorry, Zero-Point Energy Field Manipulator) in HL2. Once I got my hands on it, I used it almost exclusively. The best part was that they obviously thought of it when designing levels. For example, Ravenholm has saw blades laying all over the place.

The scan visor in Metroid Prime was neat (heck, all of the visors were neat, though heat vision is hardly unique). I found myself using it to scan all sorts of things, even if I had a pretty good idea of what it was going to tell me (and trying to scan 100% of the research items didn't seem like a chore at all, especially not when compared to the requirements for 100% in other games).

The job system in FFT is amazing (though not well balanced, IMO).

Okami and Katamari Damacy: I picked up both of these games on little more than BD's general recommendation for them; both are awesome. Okami, much more so than HL2, made full use of their gimmick. You use the brush for everything.

I haven't played Portal yet, but I have played Narbacular Drop, so I have a decent idea of what it's probably like. That was definitely a fun gimmick.

Zelda has had a few gimmicks that worked pretty well, such as the titular ocarina in OoT. Most of the other accessories (in all of the games), on the other hand, were basically a one hit wonder. Once you were done with the dungeon they came in, you rarely used them again. Honestly, does anyone remember that LttP had a fire rod?

Bronze Dog said...

Well, glad someone approves of my recommendations.

I remember the fire rod mostly because there's always a fire something. But I know the point so well: New items deserve to remain useful. One really cool one I thought was the Spinner from Twilight Princess. Got a D&D character who's trying to make a transportation system on the concept, including a train powered by some.

Anonymous said...

Been away from here for some time. Sorry there! I remember you mentioning Portal many times now that I think about it. My mistake!

I totally agree about "cool items should stay useful". If an item is used once like that, it becomes nothing more than a very shiny key.

I thought of the top first thing when I was reading that and then you bring it up. One other thing. That top had more potential than only sticking to "top tracks". I'd have loved it if it could actually grip and "ride along" the bodies of huge bosses, but then again Shadow of the Collosus is pretty much engrained in my brain as the perfect development of the "dungeon man" style boss.