Thursday, August 9, 2007

Video Game Review: Irrationality to follow.

I'm back with a semi-review, and for once I have nothing mean to say. Rather, I wanted to talk for a moment about a particular aspect of many games: the irrationally unlocked secret. As far as I can tell the first example of this was a rumored secret in Final Fantasy where if you clicked on flower pots it would unlock a powerful weapon in a hidden dungeon. It wasn't true, of course, but it started a trend.

So many games had insane secrets like this. In the NES days a lot of games had hidden areas that you could only enter by walking into random walls and which contained hidden messages from the game's designers. (Fun Fact: This trend started because back in the early NES days video games were still thought of as pointless time-wasters and so it was considered in bad taste for programmers to put any sort of credit on their work. Editors would often even go so far as to remove credit sequences from games. That practice changed, obviously, and many games just used it to provide fun and unique messages or as a throwback to that time.)

The Guardian Legend took the idiotic secret to a whole new level by programming their game so that at one point you can only proceed with the game by mindlessly walking into and out of an unnamed room something like 20 times.

Even today games like Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin contain insane secrets. In PoR, the secret is that if you kill 1,000 of the Old Axe Armor enemies you unlock a special mode where you can play as one. I actually kind of wonder how people found out about this, given the Old Axe Armor is a rare enemy. Most likely Konami released the information themselves, but I like to think it was just some bored kid who decided to kill 1,000 of every enemy just to see what would happen.

I actually kind of like these secrets because they force you, even if just for a little bit, to be retarded and do things no sane person should do in exchange for prizes. It's kind of like being on your very own mini reality show, only with crappier prizes. I would say with less human interaction but no one willing to humiliate themselves on national TV like that still deserves to be called human.

Hmm. So much for not saying anything mean.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can think of an earlier one.

In Earthbound, you have to stand under a waterfall for 3 minutes to progress in the game. Sure, there's a hint that you have to do this, but it isn't exactly clear that you have to do this for 3, real world minutes, and it also implies that you have to know a password...which you don't. You just stand there for 3 minutes.

I think my favorite example of this though is Totaka's Song.