Learning by death (in video games, obviously)

I enjoy Japanese games right alongside Western ones, and it would be presumptuous of me to attempt cracking the nut of why the east is on the downturn in domestic (US) sales lately. But a little time with Tactics Ogre has underscored at least one reason.

I’ve run head-long into a battle that is one-on-one, the second in a series that you can’t stop once you’ve started, with incredibly specific requirements. This game is not built for a one-on-one battle. I’ve not prepared any of my units to stand up to such a battle, especially against such a tough opponent. I (luckily) had a backup save, but could have easily been stuck with no recourse. And the game hasn’t pushed me toward any of these particular necessary skills or abilities; the only way I know that they’re more-or-less required is from reading a FAQ. Now I have to grind to learn them.

None of this would happen in a western game. We arguably go too far down the other side, making games so easy you’d have to be an idiot to get stuck. Still, that’s a heck of a lot less frustrating than this.

I’m not opposed to challenge, but arbitrarily changing the rules with no warning whatsoever, and putting the player into a situation that they potentially have literally no option but to begin again after playing for 10-15 hours, is ludicrous. I do love Tactics Ogre, and when it’s firing on all cylinders it’s on-par with FFT, one of my favorite games of all time. But problems like this aren’t really frowned upon in Japanese design philosophy. Maybe rethink that, guys.

  • Again, interesting design philosophy thoughts, this time from the Tekken producer. I know Street Fighter pretty well, but having only played a little bit of Tekken I’m clueless as to solve this particular snafu.
  • I’m not sure who was excited about Halo Anniversary Kinect support in the first place, which makes the title here a bit of a gag itself. It’s like Frank O’Connor got on a bullhorn to shout “EVERYONE CALM DOWN” and the Internet, in response, collectively shrugged and went back to eating lunch.
  • No confirmation that these two games will be included in the Ambassador’s Program, but they both make sense. I’m hoping that Mario Advance 4 (aka Mario 3) is true at least, especially if — as Jeremy Parish suggested — they include the eCard stages.
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