Bonjour, readers! As most of the Lusipurr.com readership is no doubt aware by now, Final Fantasy XIII-2 has hit American shores, and many of the site staff have been marathoning the game since its release. Rather than share my thoughts on the game (SPOILERS: I like it), I have instead decided to discuss a topic that XIII-2 has made me think about: namely, game mechanics, or perhaps the better term would be game elements, that should no longer be a part of modern game-making. So, without further ado, I would like to share my own list of game mechanics and tropes that should fade away.
WORST OFFENDERS: Kingdom Hearts (PS2), Final Fantasy X (PS2)
Thankfully, this one seems to have mostly died out, so I will not spend much time on it. Unskippable cutscenes are a horrible and unnecessary part of any game and should not be tolerated, especially in games with long story sequences. Fortunately, game developers appear to have already caught onto this one, and most games with cutscenes anymore give players the option to skip them.
WORST OFFENDER: Megaman Battle Network series (GBA)
This one should be obvious, but far too many game developers still get it wrong. Tutorials be skippable, every time, no exceptions. Games should have tutorials, yes, but these should always be optional. If a game is good enough, then people will want to replay it, and there is no reason for gamers to be forced to sit through a tutorial for a game they already know how to play. Unskippable tutorials, fortunately, also are falling by the wayside, but they are still rear their ugly heads far too often in modern games.
Long Load Times in Games with No Hard Drive Installation Option
WORST OFFENDERS: Sonic the Hedgehog (PS3/360), Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3/360)
Admittedly, I am a bit more forgiving with this one, but load times are still pretty obnoxious. More console games need a hard drive installation option (as long as it is just that, an option, NOT mandatory) to cut down on load times. Nobody wants to sit and wait for a fifteen-second loading screen to be able to play a game. Though I do acknowledge that load times are an inevitable evil of the medium, it is still aggravating to see a game with long loading times and no option to install data to the hard drive in order to fix it.
WORST OFFENDERS: Spore (PC), every Ubisoft game made in the past few years
Plenty has been said on the subject in the past, but highly restrictive DRM needs to die off. It does not and will not stop piracy, and penalizing paying customers by asking for online passes or by restricting access to the game is insulting to gamers and encourages them to obtain games through less than legal means, end of story. Punishing the people who legitimately buy things is not an effective business model.
Reliance on Save Points, Especially in Portable Games
WORST OFFENDERS: Dragon Quest IX (DS), most other JRPGs
Can we, as a gaming culture, please, PLEASE move beyond save points as a mechanic? Restricting when or how often players can save, especially in portable games, is just asinine. Now I know that many readers out there will point out that most portable games have a “quicksave” feature allowing for one-time saves that exit players from the game, and I ask: Why? Why do we as gamers have to deal with quicksaving in games when a real, multi-use save function is an option? Save points are an outdated mechanic and they need to die off.
Random Battles that are Fully Random and Not Skippable and Cannot Be Dodged
WORST OFFENDERS: Most JRPGs
I love JRPGs, I really do, but this is another mechanic that needs to die. RPGs with random battles should give players the option to turn the battles off, either as a menu option or as an equipable item given to the player very early in the game. Or, even better, enemies should be visible on the field so that the player has the option of avoiding them entirely, or at least attempting to. Random battles were a mechanic that made sense in the early days of RPGs, but should no longer be a part of modern game design.
These six issues are the first ones that came to mind, but I am sure there are other mechanics or elements in games that should vanish. Am I perhaps being too harsh, and these things are simply a part of gaming that must be dealt with? Or am I right to complain like an old man about things over which I have no power? Let me know what your thoughts are, readers, and feel free to share any mechanics, tropes, or traditions you feel should be removed from video gaming!