Five Features Most Games Should Have

As we advance in technology, our little electronic toys advance as well.  Obviously, our videogames and their consoles have advanced only with them.  From 8-bit graphics and simple gameplay mechanics to games that look damn near realistic and controllers that have at least ten buttons, gaming really has advanced quickly through the relatively short time they’ve existed.  Yet, with all the advances in both the hardware and software, there remains a few things that haven’t quite integrated their way into gaming.  It’s not that it can’t be done; it has, and most people can think of examples of them.  It just seems that the general game developing populace doesn’t do these things.  Most of these next five features seem trivial, but when you’ve had the chance to play games that DO have these features, you’ll find that you’ll find them sorely missed… and wonder, like me, why they weren’t there in the first place.

Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Skippable Cutscenes

This is something that that REALLY annoys me in recent games, even more so because a good amount of games have it.  ANY game, whether an RPG or an action game, should allow you to skip cutscenes.  Who really wants to go through a twenty minute cutscene, fight a boss then DIE, and go through it all over again?  Like I said, a good amount of games nowadays have this feature, but some still don’t, and it’s inexcusable.  It’s obviously a simple feature, what trouble will it cause putting it in?

2. Being Able to Pause During Cutscenes

Another problem involving cutscenes, and another feature that’s already in a good amount of games (though, oddly enough, not as much as the “skip” feature)… Why can’t we pause during our cutscenes?  Do the developers think that pausing during an epic scene might ruin the mood?  Well, it might, but what if you have to go to the bathroom?  Or take a phone call? Wouldn’t THAT ruin the mood too?  In addition, if you can’t pause, you’ll lose that possibly important storyline, and the scene’s completely wasted then.  Even worse is when the typical “pause scene” button doesn’t let you pause, but instead SKIPS the scene entirely.  Come on, skipping scenes is good and all, but I don’t want to accidentally skip them.  There’s a pause scene for all the other aspects of the game; how much of a strain is it to put one in the cutscenes too?

3. Being Able to “Quick-Save” At Almost Anytime

This feature might seem a little out of the blue, since I mean a “quick-save” feature for ALL games, console or otherwise.  Quick-saving is in a lot of portable games, to emphasize the fact that they’re meant to play on the go.  But with the current generation and its internal hardware for saving, it’d be easy to be able to set-up an “alternate” save state where you can save and quit, and immediately erases itself when you load the file.  While this is almost mandatory for portables nowadays, it’d be nice to see it on consoles too, so you can play a game and not have to worry about time restraints.  Not necessary, but it’d just be nice.

4. Adjustable Difficulty… At Any Time

Ever started a game on a normal difficulty, but thought the game was too easy or too hard halfway through?  Well, most of the time, you’re out of luck unless you want to restart the game.  However, there ARE a few games (though not nearly enough) that let you change the difficulty AT ANY TIME.  Think a level’s too difficult?  Tone down the difficulty for a bit, then turn it back up when you’re ready.  Want a challenge?  Crank it up to max and try out your skills.  And, if you’re one of the people who thinks doing that kind of stuff is cheating… ignore it.  You don’t HAVE to use it.  It’s for general gaming convenience, for everyone to enjoy the game, no matter what difficulty they want to play on.

5. New Game+ For Games That Are Meant To Be Played More Than Once

Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking: “Well, ALL games have that already!” Well, no they don’t.  MOST do, but not all.  That’s why the very few that DON’T have New Game +’s are completely inexcusable.  It’s everywhere now; even games that don’t need it have it.  Sometimes New Game +’s make another playthrough too easy, but there are ways to fix that, by limiting what crosses over to another playthrough.  It’s just plain bad not to have this feature in your games, and it can even limit the replay value of a game… and that always hurts sales.

Well, that’s my opinion.  Like I said, these might seem trivial, and they might already be in a lot of games, but that’s why it’s so apparent (to me, at least) when the features aren’t present.  I’m sure you have a differing opinion on something here… and that’s fine.  In fact, I’d love to hear it!  Just leave a comment.  I try to be open-minded.

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Magician’s Quest: Mysterious Times

I’ll be blunt:  Magician’s Quest, Konami’s new DS offering, is an Animal Crossing clone.

But, is a clone always such a bad thing?  Some “clones” expand of the original’s mechanics, offering a similar, yet still somewhat unique experience.  Whether you want to believe it or not, “clones” are the best place to go if you want more of that great game you love, but in a different life.  That’s why, if you love Animal Crossing, but are yearning for something a little… different from the same play mechanics across the games, then you should keep an eye on Magician’s Quest.

As you might imagine, Magician’s Quest is an Animal Crossing clone with a fantasy twist.  The story goes as such, according to the IGN preview article:

You play as a young boy or girl that travels through a mysterious door and arrives in a fantasy world, and from the offset are recruited to become a wizard.

Yes, that’s it.  But who really needs a story in a game such as this?  Like Animal Crossing, once you get through the intro (which includes getting your own dorm room), you can wander around at will, gathering items, going to shops, and talking to the local animal populace. Unlike Animal Crossing, however, you can go to magic school, where you learn (you guessed it) magic spells.  It’s an interesting concept, though it seems the only spell the Internet populace is interested with is the fart spell…

Typical.

Also, instead of tedious little errands and paying your mortgage, Magician’s Quest has “mysteries”: Mission-like events that change the look of your town and force you to do storyline stuff.  I don’t know if this is a good or bad addition to the game (seeing as there’s VERY little information on them when I researched them), but it certainly is different from Animal Crossing’s delivery quests and “find me THIS item” errands.

The art for the game looks nice… and the style is just like Animal Crossing.

While it probably won’t have the same amount of “polish” or have as big of a hyped release, Magician’s Quest seems to be a great entry into the library any gamer who wants something… “different” from Animal Crossing.  Who knows, maybe if it sells well enough, maybe it’ll send a message to Nintendo they should try a little harder with their next Animal Crossing game.