Many games give bonuses for completion. Be it winning every mini-game, completing missions without taking damage, collecting all of a certain thing, collection has been in gaming for years. Many series with large, explorable area keep track of how much of the map you've uncovered. Some give you achievements things like encountering every type of enemy, or fighting in a certain amount of battles, or having played the game for a certain amount of time. Some even give achievements for getting all the other achievements. But a fairly standard aspect of this is that the completion doesn't effect gameplay; it's simply there as an extra goal, meant for perfectionists, and largely ignored by others.
In Star Ocean: Til the End of Time (commonly called Star Ocean 3, SO3, or SOTET), this comes in the form of map completion. Plenty of games record how much of the map you've uncovered, but SO3 gives you a Bunny Statue for each area map you get to 100%. And, ironically, most of them have no use except to sell for easy money. Small Bunny Statues increase the speed of your characters in battle, but they don't stack, so keeping one and selling the rest is the way to go. Big Bunny Statues reduce your movement speed in battle, and sell for much more than the small ones, so there only purpose in the game is to sell. Bunny Statues are fairly easy to get early in the game, giving you a source of quick funds, which is especially good, since having good equipment and skills is much more important than being high level in this game.
SO3 is unique in the fact that, not only does the map completion have an effect on gameplay, it is very useful during the early and mid game.
Most FPSs have at least one melee weapon, and in a game based on shooting things with guns, they fill a unique roll. Most do a respectable amount of damage, and can be used while you're gun is reloading; they are meant to be emergency weapons, for when you run out of bullets in the heat of battle, but don't have time to reload, or when your current weapon would be ineffective or inefficient at close range. They do enough damage to be fatal to most regular enemies, so you can avoid being swarmed, and can handle groups of enemies when you only have guns with small clips or a long cooldown between shots.
The Call of Duty: Black Ops series added a multitude of powerful melee weapons. Knives and axes kill in a single hit and some can be thrown and retrieved, making it not only possible, but viable to do nothing but run around and knife everybody in sight, never firing a gun a single time. On top of this, there are perks that make melee even more effective. And if that wasn't enough, the Ballistic Knife and Tomahawk both have one-hit-kill ranged attacks. Instead of being back up, emergency weapons like most FPS melee weapons, in Black Ops, they are a big part of the game, and a very effective strategy.
Other FPSs have powerful melee weapons, but few are true one-hit-kills (most simply do a fairly large amount of damage, enough to kill basic enemies in one hit, but not more powerful ones). Half-Life has it's iconic crowbar, earlier Call of Duty games had you using your guns as melee weapons, Doom and it's chainsaw, but very few FPSs have melee weapons that can be effectively used as main weapons.
Curse of Darkness, one of the few 3D entries in the legendary Castlevania series, has a theft mechanic, allowing the player to steal items from enemies in small windows of opportunity, usually right before or after the enemy attacks. It's simple enough, but three things can make it quite annoying: First, you can't interrupt your attack or blocks with stealing, you have to steal from either running or standing still, and second, you have to be right next to the enemy to do so. Some bosses, especially later ones, have items that are required to obtain powerful late game weapons, and are also the only chance to get the item. Most of these bosses also have extremely small windows of opportunity, and some are during the bosses attacks. All of this culminates in the player standing around, right next to the boss, not blocking or moving, getting hit by attacks, waiting for the split second during which you can steal that damn crystal. To make matters worse, if you miss your timing, you get knocked back and are open to attacks.
It goes without saying that there are few other games in which there is anything during a boos fight that takes higher priority than winning.
Monster Hunter, which involves hunting huge monsters with equally huge weapons (relatively speaking), has difficult and unforgiving combat. A major part of it is sharpness; your weapon has a certain level of sharpness, which goes down as you use it. Depending on how sharp your weapon is, it might do more or less damage, and might not be able to hack through a monster's natural armor. If your weapon is dull enough, it will bounce right off, and you'll be stunned as your recover, leaving you open to attack. Against more powerful monsters, this can be a death sentence, since even a few hits can be fatal. Therefore, it is often vital to sharpen your weapon as soon as it dulls, because until you do, it might not be safe to attack.
Another mechanic central to the series is that everything you do takes time. Eating and drinking food and potions all takes time, during which you stand still vulnerable to attack. Sharpening takes longer than almost anything else in the game, but in the middle of a battle, it can be one of the most important things in the game. It is often necessary to run away to sharpen, pop a potion, or use another item in the middle of a battle. There are even armor sets made specifically to reduce the amount of time it takes to do these things.
While Monster Hunter is far from the only game where one might have to temporarily stop fighting to heal, reload, or do something else, it is somewhat unique in how risky it is to do these things without leaving the battle first. It is also unique in that almost every monster you hunt requires you to do this at least once, unless, of course, you know all of the monsters patterns, or you're redoing old hunts with your more powerful weapons.
In Pokemon, you generally only have a single Pokemon out at a time, which means a single powerful Pokemon can take on a slew of weaker ones and still win. If you have a Pokemon with good type coverage and good stats, you don't even need other Pokemon (although you should anyway, because you never know). Back in Generation 1, a good psychic type could beat almost any other Pokemon of a similar level, due to the way special stats and type relationships were handled.
Pokemon is one of the few RPGs where you can get away with this, though, because it is one of the few RPGs where only one of your characters is fighting at a given time. In others, the weaker characters can still get picked off, regardless of how powerful your main guy is. A few games have taunt moves, allowing a more resilient character to attract enemy attacks and spare the weaker ones, but there are plenty still that don't. Some games even have enemies that target weaker characters, making even levels even more important.
I chose Crystal because in my first playthrough, I had an Alakazam that carried me through most of the late game battles.
Covenant of the Plume is an interesting little tactical RPG. It has a very well written, and very dark story, centered around Wyl, a young mercenary who lost his father in battle and is seeking the one responsible. The main themes are revenge, how far one is willing to go to get it, and the results, good and bad. A major plot point is the Plume, a feather from the Valkyrie. You are told by Mistress Hel (Queen of the Norse underworld, and her name is where the English word “Hell” comes from) that if you soak the Valkyrie Plume in the blood of the innocent, it can be forged into a weapon that can slay the immortal Valkyrie (who you blame for your father's death. It's more complicated than that, but I'm summarizing). There are two ways to do this, the first of which is to deal massive overkill damage to your enemies (I'll get to the second one later). You'll often find yourself chipping away at an opponents health, just so you can surround them when they're down to a few HP and carefully time a massive combo and deal around 200% of their maximum health in a single fight. Doing so gains you “Sin”, and if you get enough by the end of the end of the battle, Hel sends you gifts (weapons, armor, the sort of gifts you'd expect from a Queen of the Dead who's helping you kill a lesser Deity). Failing to meet her expectations will anger her, and the enemies in subsequent battles get harder.
Few other games have an overkill mechanic, so it's usually just a waste of mana, weapon durability or ammo, not to mention time.
Touhou is a prominent bullet hell series, known throughout the internet for its beautiful visuals, music, production quality, and above all, difficulty. It lives up to the term “bullet hell”; the game is mostly made up of finding gaps in an ungodly amount of enemy bullets and the intricate patterns they create. An interesting mechanic found in Touhou and other such games is that of grazing; letting enemy shots “graze” you without actually hitting you, which nets you extra points. The character's sprite is smaller than there hitbox, and when an enemy shot pass close enough to touch your sprite but not your hitbox is a graze.It's risky, seeing as a single shot will kill you, but when done correctly, you can rack up quite a score. For those experienced, grazing can become second nature.
One would be hard pressed to find another game where it is a good idea to move closer to things that kill you so easily.
Following up the previous entry, we have Final Fantasy V. In this game, the Blue Mage was introduced. Blue Magic is based on using an enemies powers against them, and is acquired by letting them hit you with it. Letting your Blue Mage get hit with certain enemy attacks would allow them to learn them for themselves, and has led to characters with a very versatile spell set. The concept has carried into many other FF games. In IX, the Blue Mage would have to eat an enemy to learn their spells, VII had Materia that worked similar to Blue Magic, and in Tactics, a Beastmaster could control an enemy and force them to cast spells on a Blue Mage, allowing them to learn buff spells that would normally only be cast on enemies.
It goes without saying that actually trying to get hit by enemy attacks in any other game is generally a bad idea. Sure, there's Ikaruga, where you can change your ship to absorb one type of enemy bullet or another, and plenty of action games have ways to reflect attacks back at the enemy, but few are like Blue Magic, in that it requires the Mage to take a full, damaging hit from the spell they want to learn.
[MORE MINOR SPOILERS]
Remember how I said that this game included two different ways to “reap sin for the plume”?
The second is much more sinister; basically, you sacrifice your friends to the Plume to further your own goals. They gain immense power (all of their stats are increased by a whopping 1000%), but die at the end of the battle. It also automatically gives you the required Sin for that particular battle, and permanently gives Wyl a powerful new skill, depending on who was sacrificed. Perhaps the worst part of it is that the characters you sacrifice have no idea what is happening to them. They all have cutscenes in which they question where the power came from, and why they are dying. They express the regrets of their lives, their final wishes and other such things, often talking directly to Wyl, the very one who sacrificed them for his own selfish reasons.
Ethics aside, the fact that this game features perma-death makes sacrificing your own party members seem very counter-intuitive. The game strikes a nice balance, though; some battles are quite difficult to get through without sacrificing anyone, and the skills Wyl gains from some characters are invauable, yet if you sacrifice frequently, you can run dangerously low on characters and have an even harder time late game. Do it too much, and you just get a game over.
Perma-death is fairly common in tactical RPGs, but as far as I know, Covenant of the Plume is the only one that presents you with a good reason to kill your friends.
Saving is at the core of modern gaming. It is what let games tell stories, instead of being little more than a test of skill. In early games, before technology allowed for easy reading and writing of data to a medium, a game was made with an algorithm that generated a code that would record where in the game you were, what items or powerups you had, things such as that. Games weren't very complicated, so a code could relay almost all necessary information. As technology progressed, games could expand, and eventually became the art form they are today. And one of the most important parts of this is the ability to stop playing and come back later. While most games have a save system as simple as selecting “save” from a menu, others place restrictions on saving, due to games too complex to save in a reasonable time or file size, not to mention to increase the difficulty.
As far as this goes, few have taken it as far as Resident Evil.
In the early Resident Evil games, in order to save, you had to find ink for a typewriter. This ink is usually somewhere behind a mass of zombies, occasionally hidden, and, oh, did I mention... finite in supply? Yup, you have a finite number of saves, so the oft chanted gamers mantra “save often in multiple slots” is not at all an option.
Needless to say, anybody who has played any other game ever will attest to the importance of frequent saves. Few things are more frustrating than losing a few hours of difficult play because you forgot to save.
So there we have it. A few games that go outside the box, are counter-intuitive, or have turned a genre mainstay mechanic on its head. Ranging from a mild inconvenience to actual problems, getting too ingrained with any of these habits means unlearning them once you start a different game.
List by l33t_ninj4_1337 (05/17/2013)
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