Keyboard Geniuses

Donkey Kong

Mistapen Identities

Highlights from the week’s comment threads.

By Matt Kodner • September 27, 2013

Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.

Will The Real Donkey Kong Please Stand Up

For this week’s Inventory, we assembled a list of video game villains who took a starring role in their own spin-offs. We accidentally reopened a dispute older than time itself: Is the character Cranky Kong, who appears in Donkey Kong Country, the Donkey Kong of the original arcade game? Or is Donkey Kong just Donkey Kong because, c’mon? (We went with the latter.) Greg Noe linked us to the raging nerdy debate happening over in Wikipedia’s editing bay:

This is probably the best, most relevant Wikipedia discussion ever: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3ACranky_Kong

Why don’t we take a cursory glance at the arguments being made, and see if we can’t get to the bottom of this. A Link To The Past thinks Cranky Kong is definitively not Donkey Kong:

Nintendo said that DK is DK, so CK =/= DK. This is not a case of someone losing authority on the series; Gene Roddenberry lost it and never got it back. Miyamoto willingly gave it to Rare for four games and then took it back.

But Nintenfreak wasn’t buying it and subscribed to the strict Cranky-As-Donkey theory:

When did Nintendo say that? I demand evidence for this most unfounded claim. Miyamoto can’t turn games into gold by whizzing on them, he’s not God. Rare created Donkey Kong the way it is today, and if it were not for their creations, Donkey Kong would be a bit player in cameo games. I don’t care what Nintendo says, fact of the matter is they gave Donkey Kong up for dead and Rare took it in, and treated it like a child. Nintendo can say whatever the hell it wants now that the custody battle is over, Rare’s Donkey Kong’s real father, and they are the bottom line.

Strong analogies there, but A Link To The Past got the final word:

Congratulations, for a DK fan, you certainly have NO ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF DONKEY KONG!

Looks like we may never know the true shape of the Kong family tree.

To Live And Die In Los Santos
Grand Theft Auto V

Anthony John Agnello found much to love about Grand Theft Auto V, the latest do-whatever-so-long-as-whatever-means-shooting-or-driving sandbox game from Rockstar North but felt it lacked some thematic heft. He did, however, applaud the game for successfully replicating the look and feel of Los Angeles (it’s set in a close approximation), and L.A. native Dmikester agreed:

GTA V has been an interesting experience for me given that I was born and raised in LA, and that I intimately know all of the areas and stereotypes they’re depicting. As an open world and as a representation of a real city, GTA V’s Los Santos is the most extraordinary of any game I’ve ever played. That doesn’t mean I love how it plays (though I’m enjoying it quite a lot, much more than say GTA IV), and it doesn’t mean the story is that great—though I do think the satirical writing is sharper here than it’s ever been in GTA. But it does mean that, pretty much unlike any open-world game before it, just driving around the world is, as Agnello says, an emotional rush.

There’s a unique feeling when you live and therefore drive in L.A. It’s the feeling of being in a city situated in basically a perfect place to live (beautiful weather, right along the water, in one of the most diverse states in the country) but that feels so huge and where everyone wants to mind their own business and be in their own cars and be kind of separated from everything around them. There’s an emptiness.

I feel that unique emptiness driving around Los Santos. I can drive into a neighborhood in the game and completely recognize it and feel the disconnect between the other neighborhoods. I can switch between Franklin and Michael, who live in areas of the city that couldn’t be more unrelated to each other, and know that in real life, it’s likely that these two people would never meet thanks to where they live.

The record-breaking Grand Theft Auto train has been chugging away for awhile now, and Kevin Johnson saw its history as representative of broader trends in game creation:

The GTA series is, now that I think about it, the perfect case study in the changing philosophy of gaming in the past 10 years. We wanted “open world,” so we go GTA 3. We wanted more options, so we got Vice City. We wanted full immersion, so we got San Andreas. We wanted full consequences, then we got GTA IV. And now we want silliness again, filtered through realism, so here’s GTA V. All this means is we don’t know what we want.

Sneaky Pen-And-Paper Sneak
Pathfinder RPG

In a For Our Consideration op-ed, Samantha Nelson dug into how Dungeons & Dragons game-changing (literally) fourth edition led to disillusioned fans, and then detailed the subsequent rise of a hotshot new competitor, Pathfinder. Spacemonkey Mafia voiced his thoughts on the new D&D and an interesting way to play through Pathfinder:

There are some good ideas in the fourth edition. The article mentions flexible, modular monsters. And classes are restructured to make characters more robust and versatile, especially at low levels, which alleviates one of D&D’s oldest problems: Your character does one thing, then either needs to go lie down for the day or stand idly in the background and hope no one notices them.
But the problem is it all comes at the expense of unloading the baked-in social dimensions of the rules. And sure, if you role-play, you can role-play any way you want, regardless of rules. But Pathfinder maintains the architecture for lying, sleuthing, romancing, convincing, frightening, encouraging, or otherwise engaging in the flexible and open-ended interactions that distinguishes pen-and-paper from a video game.

I’m running a Pathfinder campaign now where each character is a shitty combatant. They’re all schemers and liars and thinkers and bastards. It’s been fun to try and keep moving forward in a campaign without simply throwing them up against a random pile of ogres. I’m not always successful, but when I am and either myself or my players bullshit their way through some bizarre scenario, it’s so fun.

Elsewhere, Simon Jones brought up some potentially insensitive depictions of various ethnicities in Pathfinder, and one of the game’s creators, James L. Sutter, swung by to respond:

Diversity and equality are things we take very, very seriously at Paizo. For example, while it’s true that we have black shirtless dudes with spears, we *also* have black nobles, black pirates, black merchants, black spellcasters, black gunslingers, black deities…The two most powerful wizards currently in our world are black (with many more in the history). Our iconic paladin, Seelah, is a black woman who kicks ass in full plate.

It’s not just about skin color, though, nor even just gender, sexuality, as has been mentioned. We try to include as wide variety of characters both sympathetic and unsympathetic as possible, so that our equally varied audience can feel included and represented.

That’s not to say that we always succeed. We’ve grown really quickly, and sometimes problematic art or text slips through. But I can promise you that we’re always trying hard to do right by our audience in terms of inclusivity. And if there’s something you run across that feels wrong to you, please come on the messageboards at paizo.com and tell us! Part of being a responsible member of the gaming community is hanging out and listening to what people have to say, and all of us at Paizo are on there every day, taking part in the conversation.

Sports!
NBA 2K13

Hey, let’s talk about sports for a second! Drew Toal started up his Out This Week column by dishing on FIFA 14, the world’s most popular soccer game. He surmised that soccer hasn’t caught on in America because the sport doesn’t traffic in the same shenanigans as other more popular American sports, like basketball’s talent-filled super teams. When asked what exactly Drew was referring to, Roswulf swooped in to discuss the aforementioned superteam:

In American basketball, there is a hard ceiling on how much you can pay any individual player. This means that the best players in the league are vastly underpaid for the amount of value they add to a team. And since this is basketball, a sport with only five players on the court, having at least one of these superstar players is necessary for a team to be a contender.

When the best players in the league are no longer under contract with their team, any other team would be willing to pay them the same maximum salary. (Most teams can’t—it’s actually ludicrously complicated because of other salary cap rules). So the players are not choosing what new team they sign with on the basis of money. In at least one very high profile instance, a number of players got together and decided to go play for the same team in order to build a championship contender. This was the creation of the reigning champion Miami Heat, led by LeBron James and backed up by Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

The end result is that you get a European-football style superteam, but through player choice rather than owner wealth. For some reason this drives a lot of people crazy.

Passing The Ducktales
DuckTales NES

Anthony John Agnello switched gears from the ultra-violent GTA V to talk about the ultra-disappointing remake of Capcom’s Ducktales in a For Our Consideration op-ed. The remake eschewed the original’s exploration, and instead made every optional nook and cranny a required part of the game, which Anthony took issue with. Aklab also looked back to the glory days of technological limitations, and wondered how Zelda could have progressed differently:

How much of this forced exploration do you think is attributable to more complex game mechanics and graphics? Thinking back to my NES/SNES heyday, it was possible, if not practical, to literally scour every inch/screen of the game world. Now that the worlds are so much bigger and more detailed, though, you can’t really do that.

Could you imagine if the next Zelda iteration played like the original, as in just dropped you off and let you go anywhere? The map is no longer eight screens in each direction; it would take hours to figure out where to go. It would be different but it wouldn’t be much fun. Or at least it wouldn’t be Zelda.

Responding directly to Aklab, Needlehacksaw posited Dark Souls as the heir apparent to the original Zeldas throne:

In a way, you could say that this is what Dark Souls did. While there is a “natural” route most players will follow, guided along by challenges that are upon first encounter all but unbeatable, the game is generous in how it lets you explore the world. I have finished it, and there were whole regions I never even visited.

I’m pretty sure that I am not the first person to consider Dark Souls a true heir to the old Zelda games. They share many of the same qualities that Zelda lost along the way: a sense of wonder, of adventure, of exploring.

Elsewhere, Girard wondered why these newer, larger games lost that sense of adventure:

I remember in the early ’00s, when I was trying to analyze my disenchantment with games in general, I hit upon the idea that games at that point were too preoccupied with “resolution” in every sense of the word. Games were designed to be highly “resolved,” not leaving much for the player to resolve her or himself.

High visual resolution tended to abandon the more abstracted, interpretive aesthetics of earlier games which leveraged player imagination to interpret what was going on. High narrative resolution did likewise for story. The early Nintendo games, when adapted to higher-resolution media like film, TV, and comic books were all so weirdly varied and strange and imaginative as a result of this. It’s a weird thing to say, but there’s something sad about the fact that the Mario Bros. movie just couldn’t happen today. No one could ever look at a contemporary Mario game and have it conjure something that fucked up.

The issue discussed in this piece also hits upon that idea, I think. Call it too high “world resolution.” In games like the first Zelda, or Marios 1-3, where there were huge chunks of the game world that were completely optional, the world wasn’t presented as a solved puzzle you were just traversing, but as a landscape worth navigating in its own right, with weird loose ends and cul de sacs. Tim Rogers suspects that the first worrying steps toward the over-resolution of game worlds—and the subsequent minimizing of their mystery—started with the completion percentage in Super Mario World, which gave you a world full of secrets, but assured you that, yes, the world could be 100 percent completed. The world was resolved, a closed book which you were just leafing through.

Around that time Wind Waker came out, and it sidestepped the problem of high visual resolution with its simplified style, and it sidestepped the problem of high world resolution by having an expansive map to explore with several quadrants left completely optional. It managed to get me excited about contemporary video games at a time when I was pretty disenchanted with them.

That’s all folks! Thanks, everybody, for reading and commenting, and we’ll see you next week.

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150 Responses to “Mistapen Identities”

  1. Unexpected Dave says:

    No stud for me this week, but I did get a Like from Matt Kodner on this comment: http://gameological.com/2013/09/review-grand-theft-auto-v/#comment-1055414470

    I’ll take it.

  2. NakedSnake says:

    I just wanted to comment that this was an incredible week at the Gameological society. We had a big-ticket review, two interesting For Your Considerations, and learned Shadsy’s origin
    story
    as well as Aurora Boreanaz’s character arc. The conversation about GTAV was surprisingly civilized, while the villains-become-heroes Inventory was surprisingly contentious. Even then, all we got was a bunch of excellently strange insults to repeat. As a counterpoint, I’d like to call attention to this hilarious GTAV conversation that I was privileged enough to see at IGN:

    wjcb2004: i am probably 10 times smarter than you, just
    because of the fact that i know how to solve differential equations without using laplace transformations,  know what art is you below average intelligence piece of excrement
    trivolution [in response]: I have  four course degrees, four
    certificates from the government commending my assistance, an honor student and top of the class for three years and graduated with honors.  I have been to 14 nations, attended four international awarding.  Don’t talk about intelligence because I could program a system in 15 minutes.

    • stepped_pyramids says:

      “I have a laser gun! Pew pew!”

      “Well, I have a laser shield that blocks lasers!”

      “Well…. I have a gun that shoots nukes, and also lasers!”

      “My laser shield can reflect nukes — pow! — and blow you up!”

      “Nuh-uh!”

    • Unexpected Dave says:

      Solving differential equations without Laplace transforms is hoop-jumping bullshit.

      • Merve says:

        If it’s a simple linear, separable, or second-order equation, though, then solving it with Laplace transforms is hoop-jumping bullshit.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        I was doing some hoop-jumping bullshit at the park last weekend and some guy was saying to his buddy, “That guy’s solving differential equations without Laplace over there.”
         I was worried about getting beat up so I grabbed my hoop and took off.

    • mizerock says:

      We should ask this differential equation solving genius to resolve the whole Cranky Kong dilemna. Then we would know the True Answer, for sure, because wjcb2004 is clearly super-duper smart.

    • Carlton_Hungus says:

      Four international weddings?!  You people are just lying to yourselves if you’re not jealous of this globetrotting playboy!

    • Burger_Bob says:

       I could do it in 14… no, 13 minutes!

    • Drew Toal says:

      Well that’s the best thing I read on the Internet today.

    • NakedSnake says:

      I still can’t get over the faux-intellectual excellence of this insult: “know what art is you below average intelligence piece of excrement”. 

    • GaryX says:

      I don’t want to reinforce stereotypes and/or sound like an asshole, but man these two need to get some consensual experience with their desired sex’s genitalia PRONTO.

    • Matt Kodner says:

      that is unbelievable. Why can’t GS be more like that???

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        Some folks were doing there level best to try this week.

        • Unexpected Dave says:

          GS TOTALY IS THAT BAD YOUSE GUYS ARE JUST KIDDING YOURSELVES AND DON’T LOVE GAMES AND SHOULD BE FIRED AND PAY ME INSTEAD CAUSE I CAN GENERATE FOURIER SERIES IN 1.2 MINUTES

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          There was that one dude telling people to “go back to IGN,” but that was pretty tame. I don’t think i saw much worse than that in the GTA thread.

        • EmperorNortonI says:

          Things did get a little heated in the 4ed discussion, but the rhetoric was generally on topic.

    • Citric says:

      I initially thought Laplace conversions involved obscure SNES horror RPG Demon of Laplace, and wondered how that was involved in math. 

      Man, I have the most useful knowledge ever.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      Man, my comment on that Shadsy thread was probably my favorite of mine. Under-appreciated in its time. ;_;

  3. Fluka says:

    So Steam’s announcing a new controller is not as exciting as some of the rumored third announcements (Oculus Rift!  Half Life 3!!!?!).  But I find myself in the strange position of actually being kind of excited by a goddamn controller. It’s…like…a keyboard and mouse in controller form.  Haptic feedbackiness and precision, mouse-like movement control.  And it’s hackable.  

    Between this and the open-source, non-proprietariness of the proposed machines, they’ve basically addressed every single problem I have with console gaming.  Huh.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      I have to admit, that controller does seem pretty neat.  And since it’ll work with Steam anywhere, you can use it on your PC if it’s good enough.  Works for me!

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      I definitely want to demo one. My caveman brain is suspicious. It looks too new. But if it works, that would be super-rad.

      • Fluka says:

        If it works, it’ll be amazing. The last thing keeping me from gaming while lying down on my couch is that this is really hard to do with KB+M.  This could change everyyythiiiinngggg.

        • Merve says:

          Finally, Valve has solved the gamer’s eternal dilemma: how to game while riding a unicycle.

        • SamPlays says:

          Buuuuuut proooooobaaaably noooooooooot.

        • ProfFarnsworth says:

          No! @Merve2:disqus we just created TONS of new problems about this.  What about those people’s unicycles that run into crashing problems!

        • Merve says:

          @ProfesorFarnsworth:disqus: Multiplayer gaming becomes two games in one – the video game, and trying not to crash into other gamers’ unicycles!

        • ProfFarnsworth says:

          @Merve2:disqus I can see it now.  “Cycloid Platformers” will be all the rage.  There might even be expansions were you try and order things online and still remain on said unicycle!

    • rvb1023 says:

       I’m iffy on that controller. Modern controllers aren’t perfect but making a controller designed for playing PC specific games on the couch at the cost of playability of normal console games just seems weird. Unless games were designed specifically with this controller in mind it just feels like some sort of shambling mass of compromise.

      Certainly won’t be able to play action games on it, at least not comfortably. The mind reels trying to make Revengeance work on that thing.

      • Destroy Him My Robots says:

        Its use is clearly limited, but think of it like an arcade stick, a supplement. The challenge was creating a controller that suits their needs (FPS and DotA basically) and that’s what they came up with. I won’t need one, but it seems like a sound product to me.

      • Fluka says:

        Oh, sure, lots of standard games console games won’t work with a controller like this.  But many of those (esp action stuff) weren’t even on PC to begin with (or they were already badly ported).  I’m mostly interested in how it would translate the standard PC gaming control experience – precision aiming, good first person movement, maybe even tactics stuff that usually needs a mouse – into a sitting-on-the-couch type experience.  Example: any FPS, or the use of Portal 2 as their example on the announcement page.  Just as Xbox and PS controllers work well with some types of games, it’s good to have a controller designed to work well with others.  (That I don’t have to sit at a desk to use.)

        • Bakken Hood says:

          I’m still not convinced it can do the job of a KB&M any better than what already exists.  My 360 controller’s thumbsticks are already more sensitive than my thumbs are precise; I can’t imagine any thumb-based input device even approaching the precision of a mouse, no matter how sensitive the device itself.  I can see where *HERESY ALERT* Smartglass might make mouse-dependent games like RTS workable on a thumb-centric controller, but my gut tells me that they’re missing the mark here.

    • aklab says:

      I am really interested to see how well this handles kb+m games, but I’m actually more worried about how well it can handle traditional controller-oriented games. I already use a 360 controller to play a lot of PC games, and I can’t see this being better than a traditional controller for those games. You know?

    • stakkalee says:

      That’s really fascinating – the haptics in the two trackpads are going to be powerful enough to let the trackpads function as speakers.  This seems to be more than just a simple “keyboard+mouse in controller form.”  I’m interested to see where this goes.

    • The_Misanthrope says:

       From a cursory examination, the new controller looks like a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, but the current  popular default for controllers (two analogue joystick, a d-pad, 4 shoulder button, and 4 main buttons) has been kicking around for at least two console generations now, so maybe changing things up isn’t a bad idea.  The haptic feedback feature has the potential for a richer play-experience, but only if developers use it well (see also: motion controls).

  4. GaryX says:

    Kevin Johnson’s comment about GTA can also be applied to fan expectations/demands for The Legend of Zelda series.

  5. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Weekend Prompt!

    I’m playing the last dungeon in Skyward Sword. It has a neat structure where each square room is a little microcosm of all the environments you’ve traveled throughout the game. I like that, but maddeningly, the’ye all framed as one gigantic tile puzzle -the kind where you have to slide squares around to create the right pattern. I’ve hated those fucking things my entire life, and are the sort of one-off conceit reserved for final levels that remind my why most my games are only played 4/5th the way through.

    Which game’s last level is your worst?  

    • Citric says:

      Psychonauts, Meat Circus, screw that crap.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        Yup. There it is. Thread’s over.

      • aklab says:

        I played Psychonauts for the first time a few months ago. It took me several consecutive nights of playing to beat the Meat Circus — not because it was that hard necessarily, but so unfair-feeling. I’d get frustrated after trying the same jump for 15 minutes in a row and give up for the day. 

      • His_Space_Holiness says:

        Ugh, that cylindrical-mesh-grate bit during the timed portion. It haunts my dreams.

      • Kevin Johnson says:

        Huh. I found it more annoying than hard. You almost have to trick the game itself to beat it (fuck that latter), but it’s not impossible.

        The NES version of Tiny Toons Adventures… THAT last level is fucking hard.

      • Chalkdust says:

         Hey, it’s me!  The guy who never seemed to have any major issues with the Meat Circus, even after hearing endless others recounting their tales of woe.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

        I’m pretty sure this was actually adjusted in a patch to the PC version pretty recently, like a year or two ago maybe?

    • PaganPoet says:

      Truthfully, I’ve always hated the North Crater of Final Fantasy VII. The music is nice, but the area is dull, dull, dull. Every other Final Fantasy has a pretty memorable final dungeon, so why was this one so boring?

      • aklab says:

        You’re not alone. I’ve played through FF VII plenty of times, but only actually finished the final dungeon once. Every other time I park the airship right outside, save, and I’m done! 

      • Citric says:

        I hate it because I was playing on a borrowed copy of FFVII that was scratched. So, I could get far-ish into the North Crater, but I couldn’t get to the actual end, because it was scratched in a place that made it impossible to play. So I had to buy a copy in order to finish the game.

        Which isn’t a bad thing, FFVII is a good game, but I was a kid so I didn’t actually have enough money, and had to wait until my birthday, which was months away.

    • SamPlays says:

      Final boss fight in Vanquish. Overall, the game is fairly difficult (the first boss forces you to overcome the learning curve pretty quick) but the last battle, for me anyways, is ridiculously hard compared to everything else. I still can’t beat it, despite trying maybe 20 times, giving up and trying a couple more times two weeks later. Even after watching some guy on Youtube make it look super-easy, I still couldn’t imitate his success. Ditto for Killzone 2 now that I think about. Love those games but fuck those games.

      • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

        I’m not too far into Vanquish yet, I think I’ve only fought two or three bosses. So far it’s been very difficult, but not in a punishing way. It’s more like “I think I know what I did wrong” instead of the “how the hell do I do this right” that I have going in my xcom playthrough. That being said, I’m now not looking forward to that last boss, but I’m sure it’ll be a lot of fun getting there.

        • SamPlays says:

          I really enjoyed the game last year and have thought about playing it again. The difficulty is on par with Contra games but its completely fair. Don’t let me bias your experience at the end of te game – you might ace it the first try.

    • caspiancomic says:

      Virtue’s Last Reward comes to mind, since it’s one I beat recently. Final level spoilers follow:

      The final puzzle room, Q, involves re-visiting more challenging versions of puzzles from throughout the game. Most of them are actually not all that much more demanding, but the god damned dice rolling puzzle has become almost unsolvable. You need to manoeuvre six die of three different colours into a particular pattern, each die has to be displaying a certain number, and each die needs to be oriented to face in a certain direction. I tried to do this myself for almost an entire hour before getting frustrated and looking it up on GameFAQs. Every FAQ I checked basically just mentioned that this puzzle was some bullshit and recommended looking it up on Youtube. The first Youtube walkthrough I looked up couldn’t even solve the puzzle live, and instead jumped to the solution using editing tricks. Finally I found a Let’s Play where the guy had figured out how to complete the puzzle in the minimum number of moves, and I basically just copied his solution verbatim. All told that one puzzle probably took me one and three quarter hours, and it was only one of about five puzzles you’re expected to solve in that room.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

         Mother of god, that sounds terrible. While your example is particularly egregious, the re-doing stuff you’ve already done throughout the game school of final level design bothers me as well.
         Fighting all the bosses over is just attrition, and not fun for me. 

        • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

          I was actually thinking of the first Ninja Gaiden for xbox as a possible answer to this. It’s been years since I played it but I seem to recall having to fight all the bosses over again in a row at the end and I remember I was playing on the hard difficulty and it took a ridiculous amount of time. I very much agree with you about that idea not being much fun.

    • GaryX says:

      You must have hated the Ice Caverns in Zelda games.

      Can I count the ending of Bioshock as my worst last level? 

    • aklab says:

      This may be stretching the limits of the question, but any game where you can’t return from the last level. Bonus terrible-points if it happens with no warning and you save afterwards. Final Fantasy VIII comes to mind — suddenly you’re trapped and everywhere on the world map is blocked off! 

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        Weekend Prompt is door opening on possibility, not a door being shut. Allow it to take you where you want to go.
         Also, you’re right. Those are bullshit of the highest order.

      • GaryX says:

        I never played it, but I was told Fable 3 has more than one “no return” point.

      • Chalkdust says:

        Tales of Xillia politely informed me of the point of no return (“If you jump down here, you will not be able to get back up.  Proceed?  Yes/No”).  More of that please, game designers!

    • Roswulf says:

       This is an answer that shows off just how much I suck at video games, but Portal and Portal 2. My first go at Portal 2 I never beat the final level (I did come back about six months later, replayed the entire game and finished Wheatley off).

      The levels aren’t hard in an abstract sense, but they require a completely different mode of thinking than the rest of the game. No longer can you stand on a platform and plan ahead, now you need to fluidly navigate your way through an evolving landscape. And given I play on the world’s worst input device, an intermittently responsive laptop trackpad, relying on the ability to carefully aim my unwieldy gun, the whole thing was an infuriating disaster.

      • GaryX says:

        I could imagine that’s terrible on a trackpad, but those are precisely the points where those games become sublime for me (similarly, that moment of nirvana in GTA or similar games when I can weave in and out of traffic while absolutely flooring it). Well, that and the moment where Wheatley kills you.

      • Enkidum says:

        Oh, any FPS is borderline unplayable on a trackpad. I can definitely see that for the final levels of both Portals.

    • Carlton_Hungus says:

      I’d have to go with the last level from the original Earthworm Jim.  First having to helicopter-head down those basically insta-death spikes.  Then the platforming over those slipper balls (I don’t know what else to call them), with those bugs that will snip you in half.  I never had much trouble getting to that last level but I could probably beat it only a handful of times.

    • His_Space_Holiness says:

      I’ll go with the final battle in Dragon Age: Origins. I was already pissed enough that the game abruptly got rid of Morrigan out of nowhere (impregnate her or she leaves? WHAT THE HELL?), leaving me without the mage I’d been relying on the entire game up to that point. Then I’m running through the town to fight a mob of Darkspawn, I get spanked, and just decide not to try again. I’d already been pretty dissatisfied with the game — the gloomy, seemingly mean-spirited world, the choices that were nearly always between two equal-sized piles of shit, the irritatingly scarce health potions, the endless load screens — but that was it for me. I probably could have finished the game with some effort, but it just wasn’t fun enough to try. I discovered that I genuinely didn’t care if Ferelden got ravaged by the forces of evil anymore. It deserved it.

      • ProfFarnsworth says:

        I find that to be true for me whenever I play DA:O.  I really get frustrated by people being so dickish to me.  I wish that was an option.  Just let the whole world burn…or at least threaten it a couple of times.

    • stepped_pyramids says:

      The Ultima series had some hits and misses, but Doom/the Underworld in Ultima V is incredibly long, unforgiving, and (unlike the Abyss in Ultima IV) not very interesting. I tend to cheat through it. Good ending, though.

      Ultima VI doesn’t really have a final level, and both chapters of VII had pretty good ones.

      • EmperorNortonI says:

        It still burns that I was kept away from the final level of Serpent Isle by a goddamn CTD glitch in my save game.

    • Chum Joely says:

      Mass Effect 1, the fight against Saren (where he comes back to life under Sovereign’s control). Not because of the fight itself, but because I was playing on PS3, and there is a known glitch which made the game slow down and crash every single time, 40 times in a row, whenever I got to about the halfway point of the battle (judging by his health bar).

      So therefore I never technically finished the game, and therefore couldn’t import my character or any of her ME1 choices into ME2, and I know I’ve talked about this before and damn it I promised myself I wasn’t going to cry about this anymore but AAAARGH.

      Definitely Mass Effect 1.

    • Bakken Hood says:

      Dead Rising, Gears of War (quite possibly GoW 3 as well), and Borderlands ended with three of the dumbest, cheapest boss fights I’ve ever suffered through.  I cheated my way through the Borderlands finale and actually bailed on Dead Rising on account of its shitty boss, and that’s just not something I do.  (The bailing, not the cheating.  Not above cheating.)

      • Pgoodso says:

        I’m not with you on Gears, but yeah, in Borderlands, that particular boss negates over half the possible skill builds in the game (especially any that have to do with melee or close contact). The only character who could feasibly attack the Destroyer without changing anything in his builds was Mordecai, and even then it was still a slog that sucked up all your bullets. Not to mention the NO REWARD thing.

        There’s a similar problem with The Warrior in Borderlands 2, but it’s so obvious what you have to do with him (and so many opportunities to get a Second Wind flying and stomping around him) that it’s not that big a problem.

        • EmperorNortonI says:

          I beat the Destryoer with a friend in co-op, I believe he used SMG and I punched it a lot.  I can’t remember how I got close enough to punch it, but I did.  It was fun.

      • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

        With Dead Rising are you talking about the fist fight on the tank? Because that took me hours to beat and was incredibly frustrating. Also I’m pretty sure the last checkpoint before the fight involved a car chase that was a real pain and had to be replayed before you could try the fight again.

        • Bakken Hood says:

          Yeeeeeeep.  The demolition derby was easy, and I repeatedly demonstrated that I could win it, but I had to keep replaying the f&?king thing anyway to get to the asinine punching match.  God I hated that game.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

       the end of Sierre Madre (the New Vegas expansion –oh, I just remembered its officially called “Dead Money.”).  That whole expansion is a weak shooter that might as well be on rails and the only rpg elements are the rewards you get for patiently leveling up your character before you play the expansion.  But then at the very end this throw in some jumping, balancing, racing against a countdown type stuff.  All things that I hate in an RPG.  I love that stuff in a platformer, but the whole point of an RPG is that you build your character strategically.  You don’t have to be good at doing things manually because your character is good at that stuff. 

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Ares in God of War.  Take away all of my abilities and weapons and give me a shitty stone sword to play a game of Tug of War with health bars, where Ares still gets to hurt me when I block?  Screw you, game.

      • NakedSnake says:

        I think that the game took about 10 hrs to get to that final fight… and then it took me an additional 4 hours to beat that final fight. 

    • ProfFarnsworth says:

      I would have to say the Unpatched version of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: Sith Lords.  I could never understand what in the world it meant and why I would be fighting a bunch of “floating swords” according to my memory.  That memory is still so bitter that I only finished the game once and am still putting off playing the patched version.  (Although I hear that it is MUCH better).

      • Roswulf says:

         I only played the patched version, but the floating swords are still there, still kind of incoherent, and still not much fun to deal with.

    • EmperorNortonI says:

      The final mission in new X-Com was long and stupid.  I tried to play that game in as un-grindy as way as possible – get the alien invasion over with.  It was also my first play-through.

      By the time I opened up the alien mega-base, my squad was pretty good, but not spectacular.  Still, I got through that boringly long mission just fine, no deaths, until the last room.

      Mind control, kill teammate, kill teammate, game over.

      I’d never actually fought against an Elerian before.  I’d encountered exactly one, in the down command craft, and captured it before it had a chance to respond.

      Well, I thought.  Now what?  I thought for a bit.  I wasn’t on Ironman, but I had made a point of never saving in-mission.  So, I could re-do the whole damn level again in the hopes of figuring out a trick to deal with those damn mind-control bastards.  I could load up before the big reveal, and grind for a while to get psi-protection for at least one or two dudes.  Or I could say, fuck it, and delete the game.

      I deleted the game.

      The final level on Viewtiful Joe was also BS – fight ever boss again in order, with no health or power regens in between.  Blarg.

      • ProfFarnsworth says:

        That sucks.  I found that to be the problem with my run on XCOM as well.  I usually never did Ironman, but I seemed to forget to save enough that it didn’t matter.  Long missions were just too stressful/annoying to repeat if something went horribly wrong.

    • Flying_Turtle says:

      I could never get through the last level of Doom II without cheating. I often struggled with the timing on the rockets and the enemies would just kind of pile up after a while. I’ve seen it done, though, so whatever, good enough.

      • evanwaters says:

         You really have to both know exactly what you need to do and get to it very quickly, ignoring everything else. It takes a lot of savescumming, basically (but that’s what FPSes are for.)

    • Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

      I think I have to go with any game where defeating the final boss requires that you have either found all the hidden super special gear our leveled up super high. I still have never beat the end of Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Metroid Prime, Majoras Mask and probably several others. It’s also a probability I just suck at some of these games.

  6. aklab says:

    Aw, shucks! Now I can die happy! 

    • Unexpected Dave says:

      How is this only your first nod? You’ve been a mainstay of this site as long as I can recall!

      Maybe it’s because you’re always late.

      • aklab says:

        It’s true, I’ve been here since day one, but I’m always late to the party. Then I have to carefully read and like the first 100+ comments before I add anything. I am an inveterate semi-lurker!

  7. stakkalee says:

    Another fine week, with some fine comments to boot.  Our most commented article this week was Anthony John Agnello’s review of GTA V with 321 comments, but Samantha Nelson’s For Our Consideration on the current woes of Wizards of the Coast was a strong contender, garnering 311 comments of its own.  And now the Top 5 Most Liked (non-KG) comments:
    1) With 36 likes Mark Broesamle (@facebook-100000099034309:disqus) left this quite reasonable review of GTA V.
    2) @UnspeakableAxe:disqus gets 31 likes for their own meditation on the joys of GTA V.
    3) With 28 likes @ParacletePizza:disqus offers this unqualified praise.
    4) @HobbesMkii:disqus gets 23 likes for adding some creative touches to @ItsTheShadsy:disqus ‘s life story.
    5) Tied for fifth with 21 likes apiece, @DaveDalrymple:disqus has some kind words for Vice City and Peter Kovalsky (@facebook-1504237433:disqus) has some kind words for Paizo.
    Good stuff!  And now the plaid jackets!  We have 5 members getting their first taste of Soupy-love today – everyone give it up for @GregNoe:disqus, Simon Jones (@disqus_X4YE2qf8IB:disqus), @JamesLSutter:disqus, @aklab:disqus and @NeedleHacksaw:disqus!  As for our returning members, @DMikester:disqus and Kevin Johnson (@disqus_DbhlWklaoM:disqus) are both getting a second stud!  @Roswulf:disqus gets a third, @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus gets his 27th stud and the reigning champ @ParacletePizza:disqus gets his 32nd stud!
    For the Linkdump, have an article from The Verge by Andrew Webster about the artwork on those old Atari cartridges. Some really fascinating, informative stuff over there.  So that’s another week down.  As always, enjoy your gaming, and remember to keep it scintillating!

  8. SamPlays says:

    I’m sorry but that photo of Donkey Kong makes his genitals look like they’re all jacked up. I have no idea what’s going on down there. It’s confusing and upsetting.

  9. Girard says:

    The Mighty No. 9 folks just opened up the public voting on the design for the Roll analogue, ‘Call’.

    I’m honestly not sure which to pick. F is too Roll-y, G is too sexist, B & I are too cutesy, E looks like a weird ‘sexy stewardess’ robot designed for pedophiles, and D is awfully generic.

    A is all right, though she looks a bit ‘stereotypical nerd.’ C looks like she would be fun to play as in the potential co-op mode, but her design is awfully busy, and she almost looks more combat-ready than the protagonist, which could be problematic in terms of narrative. H seems like a nice, clean, simple design, but might be too ‘safe’ a choice.

    I’m leaning toward C, though it is a bit busy. It would be interesting for Call to be more of a legitimate equal to Beck than Roll was to Rock.

  10. Citric says:

    Anyone think there’s a chance of SNES games showing up on 3DS? I wanna play Super Metroid in bed, and emulation options on PSP are imperfect at best.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      I doubt they’ll put up SNES games on 3DS, as cool as that would be. I guess if you bought a WiiU you could use the screen controller in bed? I dunno.

      • Citric says:

        It would be somewhat silly to spend $300 to get ultra convenient Super Metroid. I mean, I’ve spent money in dumber ways, but still…

        It’s also weird that GBA stuff isn’t available to the general public yet. I thought that was going to be a given since they’ve already released some of it through that 3DS ambassador thingy.

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

       “I wanna play Super Metroid in bed” sounds like the name of a punk song.

  11. evanwaters says:

    Figures none of the comments with unambiguously positive statements about 4e made the cut.

    • ProfFarnsworth says:

      Eh? Wha? I may just be an old man, but what do you mean?  Does Soupy’s choice bother you?  Why?

      • evanwaters says:

        Well, the way I see it, the site publishes an article that may as well be a Paizo press release, a few people point out that 4e has its virtues as well, but the comment that they choose to promote is one that perpetuates the myth that Pathfinder has more “roleplaying” support than 4e because, I dunno, it has Craft skills.

        • Girard says:

          Maaaaaybe they didn’t pick any of the unabashedly pro-4e comments not out of some kind of secret dark Paizo agenda, but because this is a collection of the most entertaining and clever comments, and most of the enthusiastically pro-4e comments were being made by a particularly humorless and dickish commenter whose comments would be even less edifying outside of their original context?

        • evanwaters says:

           Yes, I can see how uncritically parroting the “Pathfinder lets you ROLEplay” line without any argumentative support is really clever.

        • Citric says:

          I am interrupting this argument to say your name is one letter off from the stage name of a drag queen I met once.

          That doesn’t have anything to do with D&D, and I don’t know anything about D&D, and it’s not an insult, but I love a weird coincidence.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      lousy SHILLS

      johnny boy

  12. dmikester says:

    Coming in late here, but ah, it feels lovely to get a second stud, especially after being gone for so long.  @disqus_DbhlWklaoM:disqus I guess we should go celebrate our second studliness somehow.  But yeah, echoing what @baneofpigs:disqus said, excellent week for GS. 

  13. JokersNuts says:

    In story cranky kong was originally ment to be the donkey kong of the 8bit era, the character specifically remarks on that fact multiple times in the game.

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