I have to admit my surprise when I tallied up the deaths and found the number smaller than those in Tomb Raider: Underworld. It was a pleasant surprise, even more because in hour-long episodes, the first death often happened after more than 20 or 30 minutes had passed, meaning that for most of the series, I had a pretty damn cool undefeated run. Then I crash and burn as you’d expect. Continue reading Tomb Raider: Anniversary Death Comp
A couple of months ago I started a series called Classic Play Tomb Raider, later renamed Let’s Play Classic Tomb Raider, because it makes it easier to understand. The plan was simple: play through all the Classic Lara Croft games in reverse order—because I was already playing Underworld when the idea popped in my head! I want to give a special thanks to Kelly M. from The Archaeology of Tomb Raider for pointing out a flaw in my naming: the LAU Trilogy isn’t considered Classic Tomb Raider. It’s why now I say Classic Lara Croft when I explain the series! Continue reading Let’s Play Classic Tomb Raider – Halfway There!
Puzzles are at the core of Adventure gameplay, they provide challenges for you to overcome with brains rather than brawn. For Action Adventures, they offer a break from the hacky-slashy-stabby-shooty element of title.
Every week I’ll bring you a new puzzle, drawn from some of the best and worst adventure or puzzle games I’ve ever played. Every two weeks I’ll even leave you one of my own for you to solve. If you do, I’ll find a way to reward you!
It’s been two weeks and no one even tried to solve my numeric puzzle. For the record, the answer is 22.
Sadly, I don’t have a new puzzle this week. I’ve been without internet for some time and it’s made it difficult for me to do the proper research on certain topics for a puzzle I have in mind, but I will try to have a new one for next week. Also, inventory puzzles are a bit difficult to describe in text without making them too obvious, so those I’m working on slowly and carefully to make them appealing and challenging for readers.
This week I’m actually going to talk about two puzzles, from the same game and both really clever. These are two from Tomb Raider: Anniversary and are simple yet clever.
The first one is at the start of the Greece segment of the game. You come across a panel depicting the Perseus constellation and the different stars are targetable. There is a switch in front to reset them if you shoot the wrong one. The puzzle consists on shooting the right set of stars to open doors and make things happen. The clues are very close and don’t take much exploration to find.
It’s an extremely simple puzzle, but I like it for the sole reason that it involves gunplay in its execution. Many action-adventure games separate the action from the adventure, the guns from the puzzling, but TR Anniversary embraced both and this was just one of the many times where you use Lara’s weaponry as part of a puzzle solution. And because of that it deserves a spot on The Weekly Puzzle.
The second puzzle I’ll mention is in the Temple of Khamoon. You find yourself in a room with four rotating pillars, each with four symbols. If you rotate one, its adjacent pillars do so as well. The point of the puzzle is to align the symbols together, and you have murals depicting the images you should align.
What makes this an interesting puzzle for me is that the clue can also trick you into believing you needed to have the pictures facing the murals, and that is incorrect and made the puzzle twice as long as it should’ve been. Perhaps it was just my lack of attention or maybe the designers intent was for it to serve as both clue and misdirection, but either way, I found it very clever and figuring out the pattern and rotation order to properly align the pillars was a joy.
The Tomb Raider series is filled with hundreds of puzzles, and if you have a favourite one, share it!
What are Annoying Game Mechanics? They’re those that when you find them you can’t help but groan. You’ve seen them at their best and worst and now they just annoy you on principle!
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. Is it permanent? Who knows, but in the meantime I hope you enjoy it here as much as you did before and make sure to visit AGMs former home as well!
For this relaunch of Annoying Game Mechanics, I’ve chosen one that I’ve recently seen while on my Classic Play series: Flooding Puzzles.
You’ve seen them in almost every game imaginable. Those sequences where you have to raise or lower the water levels to open new areas or to make puzzle-related objects float. Exactly what the puzzle entails depends on the game but it’s almost become a staple of adventure games, especially action-adventures.
My problem with the mechanic is there are so many things you can do with water: you can alter its states, shifting from gas to ice and back to liquid in a fantastic chemical puzzle; you can use water levels to fill containers for weight-puzzles; you can have a fire & water puzzle, where you use one against the other; piping puzzles to direct the flow of water in the direction you want, among others.
Yet despite those examples, and the many more I can’t even begin to imagine, the implementation we most often see in video games is using flooding. Now every time I see this mechanic, I instinctively sigh and think “not this again.”
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:
The Water Temple from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time defined this puzzle for the modern era. A sprawling labyrinthine dungeon where you must raise and lower the water to open new areas, reveal treasures and gain access to previously impossible to reach ledges and doors. The Water Temple is famous—or infamous depending on whom you ask—and is one of the hardest Zelda dungeons to date.
A close second is the 2nd Dark World dungeon in A Link to The Past, which also featured levers to raise water levels.
The Tomb Raider series loves this mechanic, but no other game does it more often than Tomb Raider Anniversary, with almost back-to-back water-level puzzles.
The first one is in Greece in the Poseidon room. A vertical shaft where you must raise and lower the water a few times to get a raft to the exact place you need it to reach a ledge. This one also involves a fair dose of box pushing, pulling and underwater levers.
The second one is the previous example on steroids, this time not a vertical room but an entire ancient sewer/waterway. With long drops that will instantly kill you and checkpoints at the most inconvenient locations and times, this is a pain in the arse to play to be honest, but it is well designed and has a right way to do it…and the way I did it the first time around.
The third one involves flooding an entire room, then lowering the water to shoot some scarabs to open grates and then re-flood the area to escape. It’s not really complex but flooding plus platforming make it interesting.
The Resident Evil series is famous for using these,notasbrainteasers but time-wasters. Simple crank puzzles to flood or drain areas.
Resident Evil 2 has the perfect example: Go into a canal, arrange boxes in a straight line, raise water level and go through.
Resident Evil 4 is another perfect example. The sewers under Salazar’s castle have a flooded section and the challenge of it all is making it through the area and its many one-hit-kill enemies to the crank you need to drain the water.
Wet-Dry World in Super Mario 64 is not one of my favourites. The initial height of the water depends on how high you jumped into the level and you raise or lower the water with coloured crystals, seven of them in total and spread throughout the environment. It’s a pain to find the exact one you’re looking for and if the water level’s high enough, it’s going to be a long swim down to the crystal you need. Hope you don’t drown!
There are many more examples of this annoying mechanic at work, but I can’t list them all. Do you have a favourite flood puzzle, or one you just can’t stand? Let me know in the comments and be sure to come back in two weeks for another issue of Annoying Game Mechanics!
(Image Credit: Nintendo64Movies) My least favourite level in Super Mario 64
(Image Credit: Stella’s Walkthroughs) The Sanctuary of the Scion has the 2nd biggest one in the game
The Poseidon Room Artwork
(Image Credit: Sai’s Gaming World) The Poseidon Room, the first Flood Puzzle Anniversary throws at you!
(Image Credit: ScrewAttack) The Water Temple brings nightmares to many…I loved it.
(Image Credit: lparchive) Disappointingly simple is what you get from flood/drains in Resident Evil
(Image Credit: GamrTV) These hateful things…
(Image Credit: pimpmyshed) You never even see the waterfall, you just crank away!
Last week I finished the playthrough for TR Underworld so it’s time for Anniversary! All part of my plan to play all the Classic-Lara games in reverse order.
For those unfamiliar with this game, it’s a remake of the first Tomb Raider, but with story elements adjusted to fit those of Tomb Raider Legend, which I’ll be playing next as part of this series!
For the first video I did some commentary, not only about the game but the series in general as well as some random musings. The rest of the segments have no commentary as I’ve been playing the voice activated Action-adventure In Verbis Virtus, and now my throat hurts quite badly.
Be sure to check out the polls below and tell me what you want for the rest of the Tomb Raider Classic Plays and what game series I should tackle next. If it’s not listed n the poll, you can add one!
Part I – Vilcabamba
Part II – Greece
Part III – Egypt – Temple of Khamoon
Part IV – Finale – Natla Mines & Atlantean Pyramid
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