Varying benefits

People who have been involved in gaming since its infancy have sometimes become upset at what they perceive as the dumbing down of games, making them easier in order to attract more players and make more money as a result.  Today I'll be addressing one such system: varying benefits.  How long this has been going on, I have no idea, but I first noticed it with the Metroid Prime series.

Those of you who know me know that I suffer from Red Mage syndrome, aka hoarding.  I like to have access to as much as possible in the largest quantities possible.  This includes health management.  Often as I played Metroid Prime, I got frustrated that I wasn't finding any health to get myself up to maximum.  I'd end up toiling back & forth many times to get myself ready for what I perceive to be a big challenge with the next room.  What I didn't know is that the game will adjust the chances of receiving health and other items based on how well-stocked you already are.  If you're close to maximum health, it won't really give you much more.  If your brainwaves are as flat as that soda you left out last month, I hope you like the taste of medicine because that's all you're getting a lifetime supply.  This is shown rather easily because at a high level of health, anything you get is probably going to just give +10 bonuses colored purple, while when you're weak, you get the big 100 bonuses colored yellow.
Come to think of it, this might be why I'm so gun-shy about using missiles, because I interpret the lack of missile availability to mean they're rare enough I should use them sparingly.  I did not have this luxury when Metroid Prime 2 came out.  Unlike all other Metroid games where your beam ammo was infinite, this required ammunition for 3 out of 4 beam weapons.  These weapons played a dominant role in the game, as it focused on a light/dark dichotomy with each side being weak to the other.  Use one kind of beam, ammunition for the other would come up.  You technically didn't even need ammo, but because you'd have to charge for a single shot if you didn't have anything, you were far better off keeping yourself well-stocked.  It becomes very apparent as you burn through one type of ammo that, as you restock, you get that ammunition in abundance.
Honestly, I don't know how to feel about this kind of system.  I'm sure less skilled players enjoy this feature (assuming they even know it exists), but I kinda feel the way I get when I hear the explanation of a magical illusion.  I feel a little bit cheated knowing that the lady did not actually get sawed in half.  In terms of design, this definitely ensures that people of all skill levels will enjoy the game equally well.  It doesn't really give much motivation to get better, though.  I suppose it means that my lack of faith is my weakness.  If I micromanage, I'll be very well off when I get dumped someplace lacking any significant support meant as an endurance run.  However, if I have faith that the developer will always be supporting me within the game, then I get to experience the overall thing in a very exciting way.  Maybe it's because I'm used to minimal consumption of resources in real life, but allowing the idea that I don't really have any limits is something that would take plenty of getting used to.
Maybe this is also one reason why I tend to stay away from single-player games.


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