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   PlanetDreamcast | Community | Mailbag | 3/3/01
    Community - Mailbag

3/3/01 - Best Games, Locked Junk, and Foreign People
- by Mr. Domino

The following responces concern themselves with this week's editorial piece, Tony Hawk's Slave Driver.

From: Michael R. Miller
Subject: Re: Tony Hawk's Slave Driver

Although I understand your view on the sometimes repetitive tasks in a lot of modern games, such as Tony Hawk 2, I think you certainly exaggerated the extent that this is a problem. First and foremost, these are extra features in most games. Extra, as in addition to the already complete game. You expressed fervently that it was necessary to do all these things, when in actuality, you can complete any game I can think of without ever unlocking any of these features. You also inferred that you felt it necessary to complete these goals in a single period of time (over the weekend), when a lot of games include these features specifically to give gamers a reason to play the game over a longer period of time. If you're bored with the goals of a game, there is a simple solution: go play another game. Later, when your interest is rekindled, you can return to the game and still have something new to accomplish. The bottom line is that if you don't want to take advantage of the extras put into games, then don't, but it's certainly not something to complain about. -Mike Miller

Not so. While I don't really need, say, the disco cheat in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 to enjoy the game, the extra courses are desired since they allow for more gameplay opportunities. Just think: To get everything in THPS2, you need to play through the game's career mode 17 times. Seventeen times! That's a lot of work. Sure, cheats such as big head modes and the like are just disposable novelties, but there often are cheats which affect gameplay and can significantly enhance or add to the experience, ie. sim mode.

As far as the "vacation" of sorts, that's exactly what I did. I got the game right when it came out but got sick of having to play through the career mode, especially since all the characters pretty much play the same.

From: Matthias Smith
Subject: Mr. Domino's whining about Soul Calibur

Mr. Domino,

What I want to know is, can your cat defeat Soul Calibur on the highest difficulty level? Has your cat easily mastered each character's moves? Was your cat in any way challenged by the increasing difficulty of the quests in Mission Mode?

Perhaps you, assuredly a master gamer bored by the puerile offerings available to mere, puny, mortal game players, could have completed the whole of Soul Calibur in 30 minutes with one hand behind your back. But your cat? I think not.

I enjoyed the challenge of Mission Mode (and yes, I do occasionally go back to test myself against what I found to be insanely difficult missions). I enjoyed the challenge of increasing my skills at higher difficulty settings. But you must exist on a rarefied plane of gaming existence, with no more worlds left to conquer. How sad for you. Happily, I have a piece of advice which might assist you in your dilemma: buy a chess set and shut up.


Happy Soul Calibur Player

Chess is too complicated for my cat to play, so I've yet to pick up a board. I've tried playing chess on-line, but everyone I've played was drunk.

Soul Calibur's AI is too poor (granted, a common trait in most fighters) to make single player combat interesting. Enemies are too willing to just march into your attacks -- simple button-mashers at that.

Extra characters open up new gameplay possibilities and strategies (even if most of the hidden Soul Calibur cast are clones of the unlocked roster), which is why I hate the fact that they must be earned. The stages really make no difference -- they're just pretty backgrounds for the action. It's times when a game keeps options from the player to enhance the actual game itself which annoy me -- not the novelties or other useless junk, although I question the usefulness of that, too.

From: Paul Wade
Subject: Locking out stuff in games

I think locking out stuff in games really shouldn't be used like it is. I just bought Demolition Racer: No Exit (My first Demolition Racer game BTW) with the idea I'd be able to play 14 Tracks, and 16 Cars (as advertised on the case). Well come to find out you get like 5 cars and maybe that many tracks until you start toiling through the game to unlock stuff. So basically I have a suped up DEMO version of a game I just paid 40 bucks for because I mostly only play against my friend and neither of us feels like laboring to unlock stuff. If I had known this from the start I wouldn't even have bought it. I'm going to have to start researching better before I buy games now :(


Yeah, that is kinda misleading. I don't expect to have to unlock tracks in a racer. While I suppose one could argue that this is no different than advancing through the levels in a game like Sonic the Hedgehog, I think that's a somewhat different case. Level advancement requires a different skill set per stage (ideally), but racing courses are just variations of the same theme.

From: M. Hari Nezumi
Subject: Lockouts etc.

I agree with the whole lockout thing having gone way too far. Here's a personal experience I had which has made me incredibly sour on everything. It's with that game of all games, Soul Calibur.

For some reason, every now and then, my Soul Calibur game file would get corrupted, and I'd have to start over. At the time I hadn't gotten much unlocked, though, so I'd never really pay it much mind, and I just figured that there was some silly bug which was causing things to go bad, so I'd always just resave my game a few times to be sure. I unlocked just about everything in the game, except for the various really-expensive posters, and probably some arenas (like I cared about those).

And then my brother played it. And he forgot to save it a couple extra times to be sure. And the savegame got wiped out.

And I was pissed.

On that note, why the hell do the savegame files get set with a no-copy bit? Are the game developers really so paranoid that we might, say, give our friends a backup of a save progress? Isn't it their own damn loss if they breeze through a game without even trying because they borrowed someone else's savegame? I mean, there are a lot of times when I just want to *back up* my savegame, just in case something happens - like a corrupted save file! For online games such as PSO I can understand why they'd not want copying to happen (though there's better ways to approach it than keying a savefile to a specific dreamcast), but for things like Soul Calibur or Sonic Adventure or Chu Chu Rocket or the like, it's just *stupid* to not let us make backups of our savegames! And of course, they all have workarounds as well (load the game off one VMU, save it to another), but that gets to be frustrating after a while.

Games like Jet Grind Radio where missions and the like are progressed through are just fine - they tell a story. In the case of unlocking characters in Sonic Adventure, that makes sense as well, since the different characters all tell their own version of a story, and the order of the stories becoming available are a part of that story. Chu Chu Rocket and Mr. Driller's puzzle and time attack mdoes, respectively, can at least make the claim that you're not unlocking new areas, you're progressing to the next (more difficult) level. But unlocking fighters and game modes in Soul Calibur is hardly equivalent - it'd be like needing to unlock two-player mode in Power Stones, and that's just plain Not Cool.

Magenta H. Nezumi

Yep, and that's a really good point about how Soul Calibur's save file is copy protected. It is work to have to re-open everything in the game. Of course you could probably download a save from the Internet to cheat through the locked-out items, but then you're stuck with someone else's high score data, which may be impossible for you to beat. I know I tried that with Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and I know I'll never see my name in the high score list as long as I want to avoid spending a couple of months of straight playing just to have access to everything. It's an unnecessary nuisance.

From: Techno-Kid
Subject: gameplay depth

Granted, that was a hell of a lot of stuff to do in Tony Hawk 2. But then you have to think, there are always those people so devoted to a game, so hopelessly in love with it, they'll do any and everything to it to prove to themselves they're the best.

There are people who have played Street Fighter Alpha 3 for hours on hours, totalling up to WEEKS of just sitting in front of the TV and mashing the buttons, just to beat the game on the hardest difficulty setting while getting a perfect on every single round. A stupid goal? I'd say so. Is it worth it? To them, apparently. But what if there WAS some kind of super reward waiting for them at the end of all that? What if it WASN'T as big a waste of time as it seems? It would be nice of the game developers to see that someone might go through and do everything possible the best way possible...and that currently their only reward is a larger score, if that.

Tony Hawk 2 is great in that once you do everything, once you dedicate your life to it and become the greatest skater the world has ever seen, and once you find and achieve every goal there is to be had, you ARE rewarded for it. It would have been nice if there weren't so damn many hard things to do to get most of the secrets though...maybe a tier of secrets for the begginers, and then a tier for the hardcore gamers, would work better in the long run.

Your point about Soul Caliber is well made, though. But cheesy AI tends to be a rule for fighting games, not an exception. Even the Tekken series has its dumb quirks, and DOA2's AI does super hard, unbelievably complex combos one minute, and then the next minute gets totally thrashed by a move a human player would've not only seen a mile away, but countered. DOA2 admittedly has some of the best fighting mechanics around, but I lost interest somewhat quickly because it had nothing special waiting for me after I beat it. I still play it with friends, though.

As a counter to having super hard easter eggs though, knowing there's a secret you can't achieve because you're not good enough to get it is somewhat of a bummer. I know that if I had to play through THPS2 without ever bailing, getting every goal in the first run through the map, in mirror mode, just to get the best secret, I'd be in tears. Even if it that's possible, I'd still be in tears. But maybe that would make it all the better when I finally DID it. And if the secret was really, REALLY awesome, ya know? :)

Rob Thompson

Nah. :^) I'd sooner shoot myself. :^) Remember Death Tank Zwei from Duke Nuke'm on Saturn? That would have been a really nice prize for blowing up every toilet, but thankfully the developers included a code for it to unlock without having to go through the game. The focus shouldn't be on the prize but the journey to get there. If the game really is that good, then the enjoyment should come solely from playing it. Playing to better my high score is fun; playing again and again to meet some tedious, predefined goal is work.

From: Weier, Alan


You are totally right. Either game makers are getting extremely lazy or they make a so so game and put the extras in to make you play it. It's about time someone finally said so and am glad i read your editorial. This is why i get a gameshark. I bought my ps2 a month ago and i got a gameshark right when it came out for it. I feel i shouldn't have to play the whole game to unlock a new car, skateboard,or costume. It should all be there when i start. It is the same thing with Tekken tag for the ps2. I popped in my gameshark put in my cheat to get all characters and bam was playing all the cool characters i don't have the time and or patience to unlock. Now i don't work for gameshark or anything but i was glad i made the purchase. But i will say one thing. The gameshark for the PC is useless. There are very few codes and most are just programmer cheats that are already on the web. I thank you for saying what needed to be said. Now if you could do an editorial on the huge amount of shovelware we are getting i would be thrilled. Even console games are bug ridden now.

Thanks again.

Console games have always had the odd bug here or there, though. Remember the minus worlds in Super Mario Bros.? I think a lot of it has to do with the open ended nature of 3-D games means there's a lot more variables to check compared to the 16-bit and earlier years where all action was confined to a limited 2-D plane. The only really bad bug I've heard of is the one in Fur Fighters which prevents the player from progressing to the end. It's still a great game and all, but I know I'd be really mad if I encountered the bug and had to play through all of the prior levels all over again.

From: John Rosser
Subject: RE:Tony Hawk's Slave Driver

I like the locking out system for games like this. While it doesn't add depth per se, it adds a sort of progression to an otherwise open-ended title. This helps ensure that the player will not miss anything. This is of course, assuming that the player doesn't want to miss anything. If the player doesn't care, and while I can't speak for the other games, I know THPS2 had codes out there almost immediately that unlock EVERYTHING. However it could not logically work the other way, i.e. a code to lock everything. As long as the reward matches the effort (unfortunately it doesn't always)the current system is preferable to ensure that the player has the option to enjoy every level/mode/option/map that the people who created the game intended.

Ballgame out

Perhaps. Still, would you even consider buying a fighting game if only two characters were selectable, and the hidden fighters were unlocked on a clock-based system, one per week? I think everyone has his or her own limits on what he or she expects and is willing to accept when buying a game. As another reader mentioned in an earlier letter, it's almost as though you're buying a demo and not the full game.

From: The Suiks
Subject: On the subject of locked items.

I partialy have to agree with you on the subject of things being hidden in games. Certain things are great because it seems to reward you for a job well done. Such as getting new things after passing the game. But some things just get annoying trying to get them, especially if it's a certain part of the game that I didn't enjoy. Some of the more annoying ones I've found was in Pokemon G/S (yes I play it and I don't care what you say, you've probably played it to, hehe) when trying to find the three legendary dogs that run around the landscape, this can get very tiresome. There still is fun to getting some of these hidden things, but when they make them so hard to do you almost have a stroke, it isn't.

--Hawk Talon

(snicker) Kids. :p I'm still playing through Yellow, and I intend on finishing it before I start either of the new ones (too many unfinished games as it is). It depends on the challenge -- sometimes I can look at it as a challenge I need to overcome to prove I can do it (MDK2) while others can get so frustrating that I find I no longer have fun playing the game (Metropolis Street Racer). I hated having to get rid of MSR, but I just could not make any progress no matter how well I raced. A shame, too, because it is a nice enough game, but I'm not going to fight a game engine which doesn't want me to play it through. :^)

From: Teemu Polvi
Subject: Tony Hawk's Slave Driver

Tony Hawk's Slave Driver editorial by Mr.Domino had quite good message indeed.. This reminds me of those sonic extra bonus levels that my brothers played with saturns Sonic Jam.

The only goal was to turn all blue balls to red and possibly collect all rings. If you finished the level you got to the next one. If you collected the rings you got 10 levels forward. They never finished it since there was really much of the levels and the only meaning was to get some more. I think there were 1000 levels or so and the same music in all of them..

This wasn't actually cheap way to gain more game lenght, because Sonic games have allways been great by their own, but another exsample on what people are willing to do to "get the next one".
Also: Who had all the time to do all those levels..

Teemu P. Finland

I really wonder what the demographics of these replies are. I mean, I know I'm pretty busy, so I want to enjoy the time I do get to play games. Perhaps those with more time to play on their hands are the ones more ready to accept having the game locked out from them?

From: Nuclear42
Subject: You're absolutely right!

You have the correct idea in your editorial about having to unlock stuff in games. It's a disgusting trend amongst all the current games. A particular offender of this is Capcom. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was bad, but personally I feel that Capcom vs. SNK is as bad, if not worse. Assuming you get 400 points per game, it will take you 102 hours (!) to unlock everything. That is way too many times to have to beat the game. I mean, how many times can you beat M. Bison? But that's assuming you can fulfil the conditions to unlock everything. Just getting the ability to unlock Morrigan is a chore. I mean, beat the game with every Capcom character on the Capcom groove, then buy the ability to fight her, then get 60 groove points and five super finishes before the third round...why didn't they just make you do it standing on your head? Capcom is eeeevil. They really need to stop this hideous trend of making you unlock everything. It's just not right.

hehe Yeah. I do think Power Stone 2 did an okay job of hiding the work involved with unlocking all of the weapons and such, but Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is just overkill. If Capcom spent more time on a challenging AI routine (is it just me or has the AI actually worsened over the years?) then perhaps the single player game could keep most peoples' interest without resorting to silly boring tasks.

From: Tito R. Manning
Subject: Dapth and Longevity

I totaly agree with you on this subject. I have a Dreamcast and I reciently bought WWF Attitude, and it was just like the games you mentioned in your editorial. In order to do moves you had to beat certain levels. Well this is all good if your oppents had to do the same thing, but the computer come out with his entire arrsenal of tricks and moves. Not to sound like a winner or anything but it isn't fair in the begining. I had to spend hours of time getting my ass handed to me on a platter just so I could compete. buy the time that i had enough moves to do some real damage to my opponent I was tired of the game and I haven't played it since. I reciently traded it for a game that I already own but was too scratched to play anymore. I do not have a problem with not being able to play a level until I have beaten a previous level, but hey I mean to have to spend hour upon hours just to learn moves is quite annoying. I mean what happened to the good old cheat codes of yester year like, up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, a,b,b,a, select, start (for the old time Nintendo players) to get specific bonus levels.
Tito R. Manning

Ewe. You bought WWF Attitude? :^)

From: rjwhite
Subject: Tedious Completion of Games for the Whole experience.

I too suffer greatly from this curse, I have recently purchased Marvel vs Capcom 2 and it has ruined me completely. I need Sabertooth, arrrggghhhhhhhh. I printed out a 155 page guide for the damn game for goodness sake, what is wrong with me. MSR too has the same draw but with Jokers, haha, jokers, clever little buggers make you do the same task with even more pressure on yourself, more reward, but if you hit those stupid central reservations in Tokyo, you're stuffed. Fortunately I haven't got Tony Hawks but if I did I might need to take Holiday to complete it.

Your bibbering

Rob White

Capcom uses very expensive colors. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is the one game where I just couldn't take it and downloaded a save from booyaka. It's nice that there are ways around the locks nowadays, but the practice is still wrong.

That's it for this Mailbag. Have a burning question? First extinguish the damn thing (get it!?), and then send it to this handy address.

Remember, you won't earn any kudos driving safely!

-- The Blue Baby

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