What are Annoying Game Mechanics? It’s those mechanics that when you encounter them you can’t help but groan. You’ve seen them at their best and worst, but a part of your is just, well, annoyed!

If you find the series name familiar, then you might remember it from its 1001Up days. But now, after careful and hard negotiations (not really, the 1001Up crew are lovely people), AGM has made its move to The Mental Attic. Hope you enjoy it here as much as you did before and make sure to visit AGMs former home as well!

This week the mechanic I’m having an issue with is Platforming!

I’m not talking about platformer games, not Mario, Sonic (no matter how bad some Sonic platforming gets) or even Shadow of the Colossus and Assassin’s Creed. No, what I mean is platforming in games from other genres. Most commonly, you see them in action adventures, to serve as a break from the adventure and/or action elements.

When done right, they can enhance the game’s experience by giving you an additional challenge to overcome or simply be a break from the overall gameplay and give you something fresh and exciting! The problem implementations are those that lack any form of challenge or more specifically the risk of failure. If there isn’t even a chance you might mess up, there’s no excitement possible. You’ve seen these, the obligatory climbing sequences on rails. If something bad happens it’s because you deliberately failed or it was scripted to happen, as the game attempts to use the platforming to enhance its cinematic side and not the game’s experience.

Then there’s Lazy Platforming, where your character does it mostly on its own, jumping over gaps and obstacles without needing your input. These aren’t necessarily bad but they are very tricky.

The staple of an annoying mechanic is that it’s seen both good and bad days. The following are some of the best and most disappointing uses:

Good:

  • Overall, the Legend of Zelda uses Lazy Platforming, but Skyward Sword gave it an interesting twist: Stamina. When you run, climb or performing any platforming you have to pay attention to your stamina. If it runs out you’re in for a long and painful fall or left out of breath and helpless, until it refills.
    • The Handheld 2D Zelda titles though have been using Active Platforming ever since Link’s Awakening, by means of a jumping item. Call it a feather or a cape, you often need to time and perfect your jumps to progress and really master them if you plan on collecting secrets.
  • Even with the Autograb feature, the LAU Tomb Raider games have amazing platforming because there is a great degree of challenge involved. You’re never just climbing, but also avoiding traps, making tricky jumps or even leaps of faith when the camera won’t do what you want it to. It keeps it exciting.
  • Even more so than the previous example are the Core Tomb Raider games, the ones developed by Core Design. In these the platforming was superb and without autograb you had to make sure the jump was spot on and collecting secrets was extremely challenging.
  • The Batman Arkham games use a mix of active and lazy platforming. Lazy for running and jumping but active for everything else, and in a game where everything is a hazard and everyone is out to kill you, the platforming damn well works. The best part of it is the gliding, a twist to platforming by giving you limited flight.
  • Speaking of limited flight, Soul Reaver invented that mechanic. Gliding as part of platforming was one of Raziel’s signature moves and possibly the hardest thing to master in these games.
  • In an already difficult game, Dark Souls keeps it going with some very tricky platforming. With varying running speeds and environmental hazards, the game will make you dread the idea of jumping a gap. But then again, Dark Souls makes you dread every other sequence as well.
  • InVerbis Virtus does platforming really well. Not only do you have your usual moving platforms but with the use of its spells, the platforming becomes another puzzle you need to solve. In this case platforming isn’t a break from the overall gameplay but it part of it.
    • Having said so, there is a degree of frustration when the voice recognition doesn’t pick up what you’re saying.

Bad:

  • Resident Evil, from the 4th installment onwards started using Lazy platforming and for what it adds to the experience they might as well have cut it out. Worst of all are the high-action chase sequences that are nothing more than quick-time events disguised as platforming.
  • Thief (not the original series but the reboot) is guilty of the worst kind of Lazy Platforming, the one that adds nothing to the experience. You’ll climb pipes and ledges in 3rd person but there are completely bland and could’ve been replaced with something a bit more exciting, maybe some grappling and climbing like they did in Far Cry 4.
  • The Castlevania Lords of Shadow series—excluding Mirror of Fate—also features plenty of worthless platforming, especially climbing sequences where you only press UP, before something big, dramatic and entirely cinematic happens.
  • Platforming in Devil May Cry is a mess and rarely works well. When it does it’s brilliant but more often than not it stumbles and just frustrates you. In this series’ case the problem mostly lies with the fixed camera, as it will often obscure the ledges or items you’re jumping towards. And as is always the case with fixed camera your directional input changes with the angles, making it even more frustrating!

4 Comments »

  1. Platforming in first-person games tend to be the worst. It’s something that’s only a good idea when you can see both the character you’re maneuvering and the platforms you’re trying to land on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not as common now and it can work. In Verbis Virtus has platforming that works in 1st person.

      But I still remember the original Heretic and platforming there is horrendous. It’s a traumatic experience to he honest.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, it seems like it’s one of those times where you would have to save in between jumps, lest you invalidate your progress. What makes it difficult with some older games is that the mouse can mess up your jump because they were made before mouselook was fully developed. In those games, moving the mouse back or forward meant moving in that direction instead of looking down or up.

        Liked by 1 person

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