Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 22, 2016

Email: Bait and switch games

There’s nothing that irritates me more in gaming than games that
promise something but then give something else entirely, usually the
developer “vision”.

I played Metroid Fusion for the first time recently, by getting it
through My Nintendo for “free” (gold coins that I had no other use
for). When you first load up the game, you actually get the words
METROID 4 on the screen, and the graphics style and mapping system is
almost directly taken from Super Metroid. It’s presented as being a
sequel to that game, so naturally you’ll figure that it’ll be just as

It doesn’t take long until you realize that you’re very, very wrong.
The game is a precursor to Other M in many ways:

– Samus droning on and on about her feelings, past and other things
nobody cares about
– The game being extremely linear, so much that it will often lock all
the doors except the place you’re “supposed” to go. This is not
– Adam, Samus’s ex-CO/possible lover, who despite being dead and an AI
directly orders Samus around for most of the game. He’s the one
constantly locking/unlocking all the doors

I beat it with 100% of the items, and I’ll probably never play it again.

Every Zelda game since Ocarina of Time has been bait and switch as
well. We’ve been promised “the best Zelda ever” and each and every
damn time it’s been anything but, and gradually has gotten worse.
Skyward Sword has been the worst offender.

I’m really worried about Breath of the Wild. Even though what we’ve
been shown is “cool” so far, I get the eerie feeling it’s all a
smokescreen and the final game will end up being the same Aonuma crap
we’ve been getting for close to two decades.

One of the recent trailers shows the Koroks (tiny plant/leaf people).
Which game did they come from? Wind Waker. Now yes, that’s only one
thing, but if we keep seeing more and more references, the final game
will end up being Aonuma World and probably nothing like the E3 demo
(which, I think now, was carefully crafted to avoid showing most of
these things… bait and switch).


You are right about Metroid Fusion. I played the game once and never touched it again (nor have any interest in doing so). However, I have replayed Super Metroid and original Metroid many times.

The Koroks do not matter. Zelda Breath of the Wild may be Aonuma-World at the end, but it is more probable that it will not be. I am pleased that they are getting The Big Picture right for what a Zelda game ought to be: an open RPG.

In the prior post, I had Warren Spector do an interview. He said that during the making of Ultima 6, he had a tester get stuck with a barred door (many small openings but a human cannot pass). The lever is on the other side. You need the spell telekinesis to use the lever to open the door. Spector laughed at the tester’s frustration since he didn’t have the spell. “Looks like you are going to be stuck! Ha! Ha!” But the tester used Sherry the Mouse, a member of your party, to go through the door’s small openings and use the lever thus opening the door in a way the designer never intended. In this classic RPG, there was a ‘puzzle’, yes, but there were many solutions to it.

And that is the point of video games.

Super Mario Brothers has many ways to get through a level. You can confront enemies, or you can avoid them. You can go through warp pipes or warp zones. You can run and jump on platforms or stay on the ground. Even Super Mario Brothers offers a multi-faceted way to play the game. Aonuma design sucks because it is single-dimension. A puzzle is presented and there is only one solution. When the gamer says, “I like the old Zeldas were you can do dungeons out of order.” What the gamer is actually saying is: “I prefer a multi-faceted gameplay world.” The point is not the dungeon orders, the point is the multi-faceted nature of the game.

The game that does the multi-faceted nature the best that I can think of is Minecraft. There are ‘puzzles’ in Minecraft. There is a cliff up high you want to reach. How do you get there? You could build a ladder. You could dig a stairway. You could jump up and keep putting blocks beneath you. The point is that it is multi-faceted. You have a choice.

Video games are not worth playing if players do not have choice. After all, what is the purpose of the INPUT if the game isn’t multi-faceted?

Take PONG.

PONG is fun because of one thing: where you hit the ball on your paddle determines its arc and trajectory. Without it, the game collapses.

Tetris also works because it is multi-faceted. Where do you put the block? There are choices! There is not just one way to do it!

I have been a Nintendo consumer for many decades. I watch with amusement and horror that Nintendo still asks why certain games are fun and why certain games are not fun. The game must be multi-faceted. Without it, there is no game.

What is genius is that there is a ramification from the multi-faceted nature. In Tetris, there is a ramification for where you place the block. The ‘floor’ is now different because you placed a block in that location. In Minecraft, there are ramifications everywhere. In RPGs, the ramification might be more experience or a goody prize. The stronger enemies give better experience.

Look how story is done in gaming as well. Good stories in games inspire the player’s imagination. Bad stories in games limit the player’s imagination.

Metroid inspires the player’s imagination.

But games like Other M limits the player’s imagination.

In Lord of the Rings, Tolkien constantly refers to old histories and legends giving the universe a larger breadth than it actually does. He is inspiring the imagination.

It is basic seduction. A woman dressing modestly inspires imagination while a naked woman does not. The naked woman may be what the man ‘asks’ for, but he responds stronger to the modest woman and fast gets bored to the naked woman. Imagination is the soul of many things. Shakespeare ended his plays by having the Tempest say at its conclusion: “We are the stuff that dreams are made on.” That dreams are made on. Indeed, we are just ‘stuff’. But it is the dreaming that matters.

What is life without a multi-faceted nature? It is a life of someone telling you to do one thing and then another. It is a life of a slave. A life with a multi-faceted nature is freedom. When people say they want games with freedom, they do not desire to ‘go everywhere’ so much as a multi-faceted game. The first Zelda game is multi-faceted in ways that Aonuma games are not.

Has Nintendo realized this for Breath of the Wild? From what I have seen, they have. “But what about what you haven’t seen?” I don’t know. I haven’t seen it yet!

I could tell Skyward Sword and the DS Zeldas were bad from the beginning. Breath of the Wild, however, seems different. We’ll see how it turns out. If Breath of the Wild is successful, it will destroy Aonuma Zelda forever.



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