6 Video Game Gimmicks That Went Away Too Soon (And 6 More That Need to Die)
Since its birth, video gaming has undergone an incredible evolution, from simple sprites and a ghost-eating Pac-Man to today' domination of home consoles. After all that time, any gamer who' worth their weight in rupees will remember (fondly, or otherwise) some once-common sights that went the way of the Virtual GameBoy, never to be seen or heard from again. CRACKED recalls some video-game staples of yesteryear, and admits that, in the end, there are still more of them kicking around than we'd like.
Acid, Spike and/or Lava Pits
Who Made it Famous: Joust, Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Kid Chameleon, Doom, Quake
In a world where you basically move in two directions-left or, if you're feeling really adventurous, right-there' not a lot that can fuck up your day more than a pit full of pointy and/or bubbling, white-hot hazards. From spikes to acid to a simple abyss (lazy programmers), pits have often plagued the weary gamer and forced too many long jumps.
Of all these random pit-based death traps, the king of deathly hollows has to be the lava pit-especially when made complete with fireballs that pop up so precisely on rhythm, they make Old Faithful look sloppy. Of course, in actuality even being near a pit of lava would cook you alive. But, in a universe where men mounted on giant birds joust one another for golden eggs, being near a lava pit-even one that cooks you alive-is the least of your worries.
Enemies and Power-Ups That Make No Fucking Sense Whatsoever
Who Made it Famous: Q*Bert, Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot, Kirby
Whether they're collecting mushrooms and feathers to kill turtles or rings and emeralds to kill a fat doctor, classic video-game characters have always been subjected to tracking down and collecting the most useless, random objects to defeat the most existentially absurd foes imaginable.
Let' put it this way: We have ready access to both fruit and pills. Does this protect us from ghosts? Recent experience suggests otherwise. Thanks a lot, Pac-Man-you omnivorous yellow disc.
Although, to be fair, our turtle, Boxy, did get pretty sick when he got into our mushrooms.
Long, Unintelligible Passwords
Who Made it Famous: Kid Icarus, Paperboy, Castlevania, Prince of Persia, King' Bounty, Starflight
Although now a standard feature, the "Save Point" was once a luxury, not a right. In the Dark Ages of NES, gamers were forced to break out chisels and tablets in order to etch long, complex passwords just to avoid starting their games over when their moms invariably unplugged the system to use the vacuum cleaner. A note to developers of the Sega Genesis game King' Bounty, which featured a 64-character password input screen: Kids play games to avoid reading and writing, not practice.
Villains Who Follow a Predictable Pattern
Who Made it Famous: Mega Man, Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, StarFox, Bomberman, The Legend of Zelda, Super Metroid, Castlevania
You're walking down a dark alley when suddenly a masked man jumps out from behind a dumpster, scowling with a knife drawn. He shouts something unnecessarily dramatic, like, "You're dead meat!" He then proceeds to take two steps toward you, swing his knife, take two steps back, charge and repeat this pattern to infinity.
Not that frightening, is it? Especially once you recognize the weak spot flashing in red on his chest. Hit that three times-no more, no less-and he' guaranteed to collapse in a heap before exploding or flash red and white while fading out of existence.
Spinning Blades/Falling Blocks
Who Made it Famous: Super Mario Bros., Duke Nukem, Pitfall!, Gauntlet, Tomb Raider, Mega Man, Double Dragon
Game villains must have no interest in ever leaving their various lairs and/or hideouts, because the sheer number of spinning blades, falling blocks and other torture devices crammed into every conceivable corner renders them all horrible deathtraps. It' a wonder Bowser can find his way past the Whomps and rotary knives to go to the bathroom, let alone oversee his military operations outside the castle (not to mention having to deal with the multitudes of work-related injury claims from his Koopa staff).
Who Made it Famous: Pac-Man, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Asteroids, 1942, Road Rash, Mortal Kombat
Admittedly, the high score had some theoretical relevance when the arcade still ruled supreme. How else could you prove that "POO" was better at Street Fighter than "ASS?" That meaningless string of numbers represented your opportunity to engage in condoned public vulgarity, and for an 11-year-old strung out on PixyStix and Sunkist, there' not much sweeter.
Fast forward to GTA 3, and the number of points you've accumulated by yourself in your living room is a lot less satisfying than keeping track of how many hookers you've paid, had sex with, run over and gotten your money back from.
The Incredible Item Shop Guy
Who Made it Famous: Kid Icarus, Secret of Mana, Lunar, Final Fantasy, Deus Ex, Diablo, The Legend of Zelda
Who's Still Doing it: Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, Psychonauts
Screw the guy who blasts through the undead scourge and penetrates the deepest levels of the sewers to save the president' daughter. We want to know about the guy who' so badass he beat us there and set up an item shop and shooting gallery. And hey, if he' so good at getting around, why doesn't he save the president' goddamn daughter, huh? And, couldn't he find an area with a wider customer base?
Remember, video-game merchants, just because you sell medical herbs, guns, ammo, ether, bows and arrows, helms and/or "phoenix down" doesn't mean you can forget the first rule of business: location, location, location. Screw the dungeons, sewers and back alleys; take out a loan and lease a little corner place at your local Westfield. Take some advice, you'll get a lot more foot traffic.
Invisible Walls and Unusable Doors
Who Made it Famous: Ridge Racer, The Legend of Zelda, Bomberman, Castle Wolfenstein, Duke Nukem
Who's Still Doing it: Ninja Gaiden, Silent Hill, Half-Life 2, Call of Duty, Gears of War, Metal Gear Solid, Kingdom Hearts, Elder Scrolls
At a time when games like Spore promise infinite universes created with procedural programming, it' getting harder and harder not to be annoyed by doors that don't open, hills you can't quite climb, or fallen logs that no amount of C4 will remove from your path. And while an indestructible log at least represents a scientific curiosity, the painted-on door and un-climbable hills are starting to feel a little patronizing. You may be an intergalactic warlord stocked with a hand-held nuclear device and laser eyes, but if you think you can just step over a waist-high picket fence, you've got another thing coming, mister.
The Multiple Jump
Who Made it Famous: Dragon Buster, Kirby, Mega Man, Unreal, Mario 64
Who's Still Doing it: Jak and Daxter, Super Smash Bros., Psychonauts, Devil May Cry, God of War
Yet another spit in the face of Isaac Newton, the double jump shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon. There' nothing a game developer seems to enjoy more than allowing their players to flail like idiots in midair, which somehow allows them to impossibly propel themselves a few inches higher. This move was extremely useful when lava pits were around, because it allowed you to change direction in the middle of a parabolic arc (another assertion your high school physics teacher would take issue with). Now that lava pits are largely a thing of the past, it' hard to justify all of this multiple jumping. Plus, if Kratos can propel himself upwards while in midair, we have to wonder why he doesn't just fly to Mt. Olympus and skip all this walking-around bullshit.
Unlimited Carrying Capacity
Who Made it Famous: The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Doom, GoldenEye, Unreal, Thief
Who's Still Doing it: Half-Life, God of War, Final Fantasy, Jak and Daxter, Kingdom Hearts, Elder Scrolls
Yes, Duke Nukem is strong. Doom guy? He' a beefcake. Link, not so much, but he' got moxie. But even with all the moxie in Hyrule, it' hard to imagine an elf dragging hundreds of rupees, dozens of masks, a quiver of arrows, potions, a sword and shield, and his toiletries all around without serious medical repercussions. Maybe Link never talks because he' in unbelievable pain from his massive hernia. And, the speed with which FPS characters switch between their giant automatic shotguns, their giant chainguns, and their giant rocket launchers has to make you wonder if they shouldn't just be stunning baddies into submission by flexing their massive, massive biceps.
The Inability to Swim
Who Made it Famous: Frogger, Fantasia, Busby, Contra, Castlevania, Wonder Boy, The Legend of Zelda
Who's Still Doing it: Grand Theft Auto, Jak and Daxter, Psychonauts, Spider-Man, Sly Cooper, Metal Gear Solid, The Hulk
All video-game characters are in fact made of cotton candy. This theory, and only this theory, can explain the cat-like hydrophobia shared universally by their kind. How else are we to believe that Frogger, a frog, is killed instantly on contact with water?
Nowadays the game hero can usually take to the water, but more often than not his enemies have late-stage Wicked-Witch-of-the-West syndrome. And, stop trying to scam us, developers-piranhas lurking just offshore, beaches patrolled by gun ships, electrified oceans, uncomfortably high levels of bromine-it' all just a nice way of saying if you ain't Ecco, you ain't shit underwater.
Platforms That Float for No Discernable Reason
Who Made it Famous: Ice Climber, Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Contra, Ristar, Dynamite Headdy, Busby, Donkey Kong Country
Who's Still Doing it: Jak and Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, Psychonauts, Tomb Raider, Rayman
Platformers were long the dominant genre of the video game world. Back in the late '80s, riding high on coke and boning starlets, no one dared question platformers' "unique proclivities."
But now that the platformer' star has faded, one feels compelled to ask: What the fuck is going on with the platforms, man? Who builds floating platforms in the middle of the fucking jungle? Do you not understand basic physics? This technology could be used to aid transportation and improve the lives of the tragically crippled, and you're squandering it on keeping a woman from raiding your tomb!?
Michael writes the incredibly important humor blog, The Specious.