Thursday, February 23, 2017

Rustled Jimmies: Adding Cards Where They Don't Belong

Ghost here and thanks for joining me today.

So here's something that irritates me

You're playing a video game and you find it to be pretty amazing.  You love the story, the game play, the characters, and practically everything about it.  A few months/years down the road you hear of a new entry into the series.  Since you adored the first one, you'd be crazy not to pick up the next game.  You start the game and find familiarity with the characters and world.  You're just about to get into the game and the fast-paced action you are used to from the previous entry and WHAT'S THIS??? Suddenly any traction that the game has is brought to a grinding halt and whoever/whatever is explaining combat begins to pull out a playing card and explain the use of playing cards during combat.

*sigh*....... where to begin?  Let's use one of my favorite whipping boys, Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories, and more recently the slow agonizing death that has fallen upon the Paper Mario series. 

Those of you who know me or read this blog know that I love everything about the Kingdom Hearts series with the exception of Chain of Memories (and kind of Dream Drop Distance but that is more of a personal annoyance with the time limits...anyway back to what I was saying).  Chain of Memories has been a particular thorn in my side for the last 13 years.  I could easily have let it slide and forgotten about it during those years but Square keeps bringing the stupid game back up every 5 years or so.  Kingdom Hearts was a great adventure with some nice semi-button-mashy controls that were easy to use and fun to master.  For the follow up game, let's take ALL that fun and ease and chuck it right out the window to be replaced by battle cards.  These battle cards are limited in number and function, run out and you have to replenish them, or can disappear entirely from combat if you need to use a more powerful attack...which you need to do fairly often.  The ease of playing is replaced by tedious card buying, organizing, and wasting time trying to plan your cards to sit in a certain way which takes a university level genius to actually plan successfully or else you'll be eternally unable to beat the final boss of the first half of the game.

Then we have Paper Mario... specifically Paper Mario Color Splash.  I'm not sure who at Nintendo has a cactus up their anal cavity when it comes to the Paper Mario series but they really need to cut it out.  Paper Mario used to be a charismatic set of games with some nice simple turn-based combat that most people seemed to love.  However, it's almost like someone went "Hey, you know that turn-based combat we've given the game that is slow by nature?  Yeah let's find a way to make that more obnoxious and even slower!"  The bad started with Paper Mario Sticker Star when the usual attacking commands were replaced by one-use stickers and everyone hated it.  Paper Mario Color Splash took that criticism.... and ignored it entirely to make everything worse.  The old simple combat of attack an enemy then defend for a turn now consists of the following; choose a single-use battle card from your hand, drag that battle card to a portion of the screen, use paint to color the card as much as you like to increase the damage output of the card.. provided you have collected paint to do so, choose a target, and finally flip the card towards the TV screen to start your attacking phase.  Do I even need to explain why this is a bad idea?

Cards in Video Games done right
Adding cards to combat is always a terrible idea.  The two ideas do not belong whatsoever and do nothing but make combat far more tedious and stressful than it should be.  Fast paced action is turned into insanely slow and meticulous planning.  It turns game franchises that used to be fun into a dying wasteland.  Kingdom Hearts learned from their mistake... sort of as they abandoned that for future games but keep releasing chain of memories in its original combat form.  Paper Mario seems to have not gotten the hint that adding cards where they don't belong is a horrible thing.  Cards in video games should be set aside for actual card games in video form (Solitaire, Pokemon TCG), collectables for the game, or as side content that can be ignored completely if you wish such as playing Caravan in Fallout New Vegas.  Any game executive or game developer who voices the idea of adding card based combat to a game should not only be fired on the spot but deserves a surprise colonoscopy with a steel boot!

So.... that's something that mildly annoys me occasionally.

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If you want to see my other Rustled Jimmies rants then simply click here.

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