The Bad from the Good

I have a list of favorite games. I think most of us that enjoy the hobby have one. It’s a great way to tell people what you like at a glance, and if they ask we can always support out answers with a large amount of praise. But that’s not what this is about. No, for this we’re going to be extremely negative. I’m going to take some of my favorite games and tell you all my least favorite parts about them. Now naturally this doesn’t make them bad, but as I feel there is no such thing as a perfect game I think it’s only fair to lay some gripes on the games that I usually will praise to anyone willing to listen.

 

Fallout 3

The final “choice”

I definitely know I’m not alone in this one, but the ending of Fallout 3 is just bad. In the vanilla version of the game you are tasked with entering a code in a highly irradiated chamber, saving everyone but sacrificing yourself while finishing your late father’s work. Which is peach and all…if the game hadn’t given you quite the diverse roster of companions a robot, a ghoul, and a super mutant. If you ask any of them to do it for you their responses amount to little more than “Fuck off, no”. It’s frustrating that your attempt to think outside of the box ever so slightly is shut down for no good reason.

Of course Broken Steel was later released. This DLC adds post-ending gameplay to Fallout 3 and actually fixes this by allowing you to send in any of the previously listed companions, all is well. Except for the narrator carving you to shreds during the ending slideshow. He calls you a coward and praises whoever you sent in as a true hero. That’s right, by using your brain and avoiding an unnecessarily early death for yourself and sending in a character immune to radiation (Fawkes the super mutant or RL-3 the robot) or even healed by it (Charon the ghoul) you aren’t smart, you’re a coward. Shame on you.

Bioshock

Becoming a Big Daddy

Bioshock is an amazing game, if there was a gun to my head and I had to make the best argument I could to which game I think is nearest to perfection I think I’d choose Bioshock. And while I think all of it was great, if I had to choose a part I liked least it’s probably becoming a Big Daddy. It still played mostly the same but the helmet cut out some of your field of vision and took a little getting used to. I know it’s a petty complaint, but between that and slower movement speed (if I recall correctly) being a Big Daddy took away just a little bit of the fun I was having.

I know a few people have complained about the final boss fight being unnecessary, only being there because “it’s a game so of course we need a final boss”. And while I don’t disagree I also don’t find it as big a deal.

Portal 2

Conversion Gel

This is another one that I feel is almost complaining for the sake of complaining, but I definitely feel like as far as gameplay mechanics in Portal 2 go, conversion gel is the odd man out. The main reason for that is the reaction to it. With almost anything else: lasers, turrets, momentum, excursion funnels, light bridges, speed gel, and bouncing gel you kind of plan in ahead what it does and how to use it to solve the puzzle. With conversion gel, however, my first step was always spraying it everywhere to get as much coverage as possible. From there most tests with it were pretty simple, just get as high as you can with it and you’re done. It just felt a lot less “puzzly” than the others.

Persona 4

Rainy Days

Now I understand rainy days. I know they’re relevant to the plot. I know it’d be odd to play a day-to-day life sim without any rainy days, but still, I can’t help but dread them. In Persona 4 on normal days after school (or during the summer) you’re able to do a lot, but the big two would be dungeon crawling or spending time with any number of Social Links, who are characters you get to know. However on rainy days only a very small amount of social links are available, leaving you to either level (which unless you’re on a harder difficulty, grinding isn’t really needed) or spend your time with only a handful of social links you can interact with (by memory it’s only the drama/music club and the fox, but it’s been a while so I could be wrong). For me most of my rainy days were spent eating bottomless beef bowls for stat-ups. Not bad, but not as fun as the social links.

Danganronpa 2

The Motives

I feel like each of the Danganronpa games are special in their own ways but also have their own major downfalls. Danganronpa 2 is my favorite for so many reasons, but the motives are certainly not one of them. Unlike the first game where the motives were small nudges and part of the tension was seeing which character would ultimately succumb to them, the motives in Danganronpa either seem way too pushy or way too targeted at a small group of people.

Chapter 2’s motive is really only relevant to 6 of the 14 students that were alive at the time (granted we’re lead to believe it’s 5 before some revelations regarding backstories). Chapter 3’s motive threw everything out of the window and the murderer was more or less random, serving only as foreshadowing. Chapter 4 had one of the worst motives in my opinion that forced the killer’s hand moreso than any before. So in 3 of the 5 murder cases I feel the motive was underwhelming.

I do understand the circumstances around the killings are different in 2 compared to 1 and V3 (without venturing into spoiler territory), but I still think that the motives could have been handled better.

Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver

Gym Leaders refusing to do their jobs

I love the Gen 2 Pokemon games. They have some of my favorite Pokemon, and returning to Kanto to earn 8 more badges and battle Red was great. What was less great was some of the Johto Gym Leaders: Whitney and Claire. How either of them got their job, I don’t know, because they’re downright bad at it. Neither will give you their badge for beating them. First the player would beat Whitney (and her Miltank, which would probably top many similar lists, but I never found it that hard after trading for Machop nearby) and after defeating her she starts crying and… that’s it. Any attempt to get your badge results in her crying and calling you mean. A professional Gym Leader refusing to accept defeat. It’s not until you accept your fate and try to leave that one of her trainers talks her down and you finally get your badge and TM.

And then there’s the final Gym Leader (in Johto): Claire. Instead of crying Claire just flat out refuses to give you your hard earned badge. That is until you run an errand for her. That’s simplifying it a little, she actually sends you around back to fetch an item (that you keep if memory serves) to prove that you’ve earned the badge. Y’know, the thing that whole battle was for.

Whether it’s Whitney sobbing or Clair refusing your victory, Johto’s biggest downfall is its incompetent Gym Leaders.

Final Fantasy XV

Combat

I loved Final Fantasy XV. I know it got some mixed reviews, but I really enjoyed the experience. I loved the roadtrip theme and the brotherhood between the characters. Where it fell completely flat was the combat.

This wasn’t my first Final Fantasy, previously playing VII, X, and XII (and having since played IX, with VI, X-2, and all the XIII’s in my backlog), but all those games had combat that was leaps and bounds better than XV’s in my opinion. While each different (VII and IX are pretty much classic turn based combat, X having a turn based with a swap out feature, and XII being more of a live action/turn based mix) I feel they all offered something that made combat enjoyable, even if only slightly. Meanwhile combat in XV was little more than “hold down the attack button”. Eventually you had your super move, or your teammate’s, and the elemental “spells” but that was pretty much it. Combat changed very little from the first enemy to the last.

 

Well that’s it for mine, how about yours. Are there any parts of your favorite games that just fall short to the rest of them?

Knox’s Commandments Part 1

I was at work the other day and Virtue’s Last Reward popped into my head. It’s a game I haven’t played in a while, but is still a very good game. The main thing that I thought of were the files you get for clearing a room. They vary from small pieces of lore, to entomology, to real life examples and the background on many things in the game. One particular file always stood out to me: the one about Knox’s Commandments.

Knox’s Commandments come from the mind of mystery author Ronald Knox. It is a list of 10 rules that all examples of good detective fiction should follow. I remember thinking how interesting it is for that to be in a game about solving a mystery, even if it’s just a neat little tidbit. I also remember wanting to check how games stack up with each other in regards to it. And that’s exactly what I’ll do.

This is part one, there are more games I’d like to examine (all the Zero Escape games, Steins;Gate, Heavy Rain to name a few) but I only feel comfortable rating these first 4 games because they’re the ones most recent in my mind. I could be wrong about something here or there but ultimately I think this should be pretty accurate, if a little open to interpretation.

How It Works

Essentially I took each of the 10 commandments and checked how each game compared against it. For this first part the four games are Danganronpa 1, Danganronpa 2, Danganronpa V3, and Persona 4 Golden. All stories are centered around a murder mystery and would fit in well thematically with detective fiction. Each game will get a score of 0-10 for each commandment, for a maximum score of 100. It should go without saying but heavy spoilers ahead.

The List

 

1.The Criminal Must Be Mentioned Early On

DR: 10, Junko Enoshima is seen just as early as any other student. Granted it’s not really Junko at that point, but my point stands.

DR2: 8, The mastermind is Izuru Kamakura, who is technically present at the opening, and is actually the main character, Hajime Hinata. I give it an 8 because the mastermind is technically right there, just before several life changes that lead to it.

DRV3: 7, To me it depends on the definition of mastermind. Tsumugi Shirogane was there all along, but to be fair she was just an employee of Team Danganronpa, the true masterminds. Then again Team Danganronpa was technically in the opening credits.

P4G: 7, This is a case similar to V3. The Killer, Tohru Adachi, was in the story very early on, but he is just a cog for the real “mastermind” Ameno-Sagiri, who was kinda dropped on us at the last minute. Which again was not even the true final boss, the honor of which belonged to Izanami. Honestly I’m making myself confused here, but I think a 7 is appropriate.

2.All Supernatural or Preternatural Agencies Are Ruled Out

DR: 8, First I think it’s important to distinguish Supernatural and Preternatural. The way I see it, Supernatural goes against everything that is believed, things like ghosts and whatnot. Whereas Preternatural are things that go against logic, things like 100 coin flips in a row landing heads. While not impossible, at least mathematically, it is pretty much so. Ergo, I’m giving Danganronpa an 8. Nothing is very supernatural, and I feel it’s actually pretty rooted save for the teenage girl destroying the world thing. Could happen, but pretty preternatural.

DR2: 4, At one point a student is shot with a bazooka and returns as a robot. Kinda out of nowhere too…

DRV3: 6, One of the students is the Ultimate Robot. A bit less extreme than Danganronpa 2, but still a bit of a stretch of the imagination.

P4G: 0, Persona 4 plays almost entirely on the supernatural, with the dungeon crawling segments taking place in a world inside the TV.

3.No More Than One Secret Passage or Room May Exist

DR: 9, There are a handful of inaccessible rooms (at least until the last chapter) but none of them are hidden, just locked. The only hidden area I can think of off the top of my head is the hatch in the Monokuma control room.

DR2: 10, The only thing I’d even partially consider is Hope’s Peak Academy. And that is also more locked and inaccessible than hidden.

DRV3: 7, The Mastermind’s hidden passage exists between the girl’s bathroom, and their lair (which is itself a hidden room, though it is discovered fairly quickly). Likewise Kokichi’s talent development room is hidden until the school starts to break down.

P4G: 10, I’d probably consider the TV world one big secret room, but other than that nothing stands out as applicable.

4.No Unknown Poisons May Be Used, Nor Any Appliance That Would Need A Long Scientific Explanation

DR: 9, The poison used in chapter 4 was mentioned beforehand and had very clear labeling. Monokuma doesn’t really require a long scientific explanation. Really the only thing even close to questionable would be the air purifier so I’ll give it a 9.

DR2: 7, The poison in chapter 5 has a very clear label, rendering it not unknown. However the crux of the 7 is those final reveals, mainly the Neo World Program and the Hope Resoration Plan, neither of which is super absurd, but still require some explanation.

DRV3: 8, The poison in chapter 4 was clearly labeled, and more importantly not even used, it was meant to be a red herring. However with the Ultimate Robot, Exisals, and their own version of the Neo World Program, I’d say that V3 needs some explanations too, though the appliances in question aren’t as convoluted as the ones in DR2.

P4G: 9, Only because the fog seems to have a poison-like effect on people. It’s not the killer of those who go to the other world, that’d be the shadows themselves, but it’s still the most mysterious “poison” in any of the four games.

5.No One With Extrasensory Perception or Similar Powers Can Appear

DR: 6, There’s Sayaka, who claims to be psychic when guessing what Makoto is thinking, but that has no bearing on the plot or cases whatsoever. Kyoko acts befitting of the Ultimate Detective, which means very acute perception.

DR2: 5, Mainly on the back of Nagito’s luck. It doesn’t come up much, but when it does it changes the story quite easily. It is very relevant.

DRV3: 6, Again we have an Ultimate Detective, and I’ll give him the same result as Kyoko got.

P4G: 5, I mean it’s not exactly extrasensory perception, but the main characters all receive a huge power that is pretty explainable and very useful in the case.

6.No Accident Should Help The Detective, Nor Should He Have An Inexplainable Intuition Which Later Proves Correct

DR: 4, The biggest example would be Alter Ego saving Makoto from execution. Definitely helps him, but technically isn’t an accident, I still choose to count it.

DR2: 10, I can’t seem to recall anything that fits.

DRV3: 9, As I’m replaying chapter 5 now, it’s glaring how much Shuichi is almost certain Kaito isn’t the victim almost immediately. His reasoning isn’t awful, but it’s still quite the intuition, which later proves to be correct.

P4G: 10, The biggest help the protag gets is the power of persona, which wasn’t an accident so much as it was a calculated move by Izanami.

7.The Detective Must Not Commit The Crime

DR: 10, Makoto is one of only a few students that did nothing wrong, in my opinion. So yeah, this one is an easy 10. He is framed by the mastermind for chapter 5’s murder, but we know he’s not the culprit and that he’s being played.

DR2: 6, As previously mentioned, the Detective himself doesn’t technically commit the crime, though a version of him does. Danganronpa 2 is kinda weird to explain in such short bursts.

DRV3: 3, The game starts with a separate protagonist, but it turns out she actually committed the first murder. Her successor never murders again, and it’s not like she was the mastermind, so only a 3.

P4G: 9, MC doesn’t commit the crime. The 9 is because in the Golden edition there is an option ending to become the criminal’s accomplice.

8.The Detective Must Declare Any Clues He Discovers

DR: 5, The major rift about halfway through the game between Makoto and Kyoko comes when Makoto refuses to share the clue he found (Sakura and Monokuma fighting, wherein Monokuma outs her as the traitor). Otherwise he’s pretty good about it though.

DR2: 10, Can’t remember Hajime hiding anything.

DRV3: 9, That’s kinda Shuichi’s whole arc: needing to reveal the truth no matter what. I’ll knock him down to a 9 though since he was so tentative to reveal the clues that pointed to Kaede in chapter 1.

P4G: 8, Again with the new ending you have the option of not revealing what you’ve found that would implicate Adachi.

9.The “Watson” (More or less sidekick, though the Commandments refer to them as “The stupid friend”) Must Conceal Nothing From the Reader

DR: 6, Kyoko concealing her talent, even after she learns it, as well as concealing the fact that the headmaster was her father come to mind.

DR2: 4, Nagito finds out all the students are former Remnants of Despair and keeps it from everyone.

DRV3: 7, Maki kept her true talent hidden. Likewise Rantaro kept his Survior Perk information hidden as well.

P4G: 10, The investigation team really doesn’t keep anything from the player.

10.Twins and Doubles Must Not Appear Unannounced

DR: 0, The main twist involves a twin so yeah, not even close.

DR2: 3, Likewise the twist involves doubles, kinda. Like I said, confusing.

DRV3: 10, No doubles.

P4G: 10, No doubles.

 

Conclusion

The final tally is as follows

Danganronpa: 67

Danganronpa 2: 67

Danganronpa V3: 72

Persona 4 Golden: 78

 

According to Knox’s Commandments, Persona 4 Golden is the best written mystery of the group. Will it continue to be after part 2 or will another game take the title?