In response to “Hey, Listen, I like Navi” from the Escapist Forum: No.

Sure, you could enjoy the company of the annoying sidekick character. It’s an acceptable thing, unlike pedophilia. It will work on a mainstream level, too, OoT paves the way with rave reviews.

The thing is, it doesn’t enhance any of the things that games do really well. Developing a sidekick character like this only imitates workings of other media, and mostly produces a poor imitation. If you’re a true game designer, not just a person out looking for money, I think you’ll focus on the interaction of a player with the world, including its characters.

Yes, you should be able to part company with that fairy, maybe even hurt her feelings or crush her into narcotic paste. If you like Navi, then you’ll like her even more when you keep deciding not to end it. That would be much better than, “Do you want to listen to Navi? No? Too bad! Maybe you’ll learn to like her in the next few hours.” The thing where you can’t change anything, that’s what books and movies are for.

The only way the fairy should be associated with the Z-targetting system is if you can play the game without the fairy and without the Z-targetting. And I would. Especially if pressing the Z button still allowed the leaping attack.

But all this, the entire article and follow-up, ignores the real problem. The Exposition Owl must go down.

nerdpride

The hatred of Navi is one of those wonderful things that start out as something that people smile and nod about and after a thousand gamers repeat it people start to draw Link killing Navi.

But she was annoying. “Hey, Link, I bet those Iron Boots would be great if you needed to walk at the bottom of a lake!” No shit, Navi. The bottom of a lake, you say? Like this one I’m in the bottom of? You know, I could maybe find an entrance to a dungeon in here, such as the one right in front of me! Aren’t you helpful.

In my particular case she reminded me just as I was entering the Water Temple. I walked inside to shut her up. (The water temple, conversely, isn’t so bad, and if someone told you you can get stuck there if you save at the wrong moment you’re wrong. Go train your 3D spatial perception, peoples.)

Her biggest problem was that she went against the spirit of the game. Zelda is a game about exploration, about finding weird stuff under rocks and in the middle of cabbage patches. Every time you get a new way to get around you go find all hindrances that are no more. But Navi always assumed you were lost. You poor thing, are you looking for the next temple in this cove? No, there’s just a useless heart-shaped crystal here. This is the direction for the next temple, here!

And of course you had to either indulge her and stop gameplay for a moment or keep listening to her shrill voice, so it’s a lose-lose situation.

It’s curious how they tried to fix it with Tatl but I guess her ‘tude only bumped her from ‘annoying’ up to ‘forgettable’. Tatl only comes in conversation as a comparison to Navi. Poor thing, she’s worse off than a sidekick.

The Random One

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In response to “The Best Planet Companion” from The Escapist Forum:

Jandau:
Anachronox is one of those truly great games. Funny thing is that at its core it plays like a JRPG, but done in a western style and with so much bizzare stuff in there that one can’t help but be amused. It’s the exact opposite of Daikatana. If by any chance you haven’t played the game, DO IT!

Definitely. It’s full of brilliant gameplay and a fantastically witty Douglas Adams-style storyline that parodies everything from Tolkienesque dwarfs to film noir private eyes, along with great voice acting and graphic design (it looks much, much better than Deus Ex).

It does have its problems as stated; it’s very linear, it ends on a cliffhanger, there are a few gamebreaking bugs (at least in my experience). There’s a lot of running huge distances in the early part of the game, especially if you’re playing without a guide, that can get tiresome quickly. Nevertheless it’s still one of my favourite games and definitely worth a play, if you can find it – the quality of the writing and the plot more than make up for the shortfalls.

In relation to the article, Democratus was a great plot device and a great concept for a character, but I think you can’t really tie the character and the planet together that closely. The levels set on the planet are more of a pretext for a further genre mashup, which is still awesome, they’re just not a meaningful insight into a singular personality as such. (For a better example of that, think of the mind diving of Psychonauts, in which you really were exploring the secret worlds of NPCs.) Having an actual planet for a party member was still both bonkers and brilliant though.

Kegluneq

I freaking love that game – it quite handily illustrates via its existence that the problem I have with JRPGs isn’t the mechanics necessarily (as the game plays exactly like one), it’s the everything else. There are so many wonderful little nuances: in other games you might have a set of totally arbitrary collectible objects you can find for some vague reason. Well in Anachronox, those are actually called TACOs, a product that was quite popular until the public found out it that TACOs stood for Totally Arbitrary Collectible Objects.

I had almost forgotten I was in the middle of replaying this a few months back before I got distracted, I should really get back to that.

Gildan Bladeborn

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In response to “Real-Life Sidekick” from The Escapist Forum: The co-op experience in SMG (I’ve only played 1 so far) is the only co-op experience I have ever enjoyed.

Years ago, I played as the “passive” helper when my then-boyfriend was making his first trek through Super Mario Galaxy, and I was delighted that I could be involved in gaming with him without actually being responsible for screwing up his plans, since he was a much more experienced gamer than I was.

Now, I’m a moderately experienced gamer, and I’m playing through Super Mario Galaxy with a friend. This time I’m playing as Mario, and my friend is the sidekick, and though I offer to switch with him every time, he insists that he enjoys the lower-pressure experience. When he was playing Portal, I sat next to him and was essentially the unequal sidekick, helping him solve puzzles while he handled the timing and maneuvers.

If anything, I think these sorts of co-op experiences are the gateway drugs that can lead newbie gamers in deeper.

And one more reason to love unequal co-op: Since the game can be played without the helper partner, there’s no pressure to wait for the helper to feel like playing the game/be available to play/whatever. The helper can drift in and out of the game hour-by-hour or session-by-session without screwing over their partner.

affabletoaster

This, oddly enough, reminds me of my experience with Kingdom Hearts and KH2.

This may take a little explaining. I tried PLAYING both games, but found them too simplistic for my liking. I enjoy watching them though, and my flatmate adores them with a passion.

Then one day, while watching her in a Gummi Ship section of KH1, I noticed she only ever used unlocked blueprints, and never bothered to make her own ships “It’s too complicated – I can’t be bothered with it”

So I became her mechanic, designing and building Gummi Ships for her to fly. It gave me more enjoyment in the game, and I share a measure of her success when a new high score is achieved.

In KH2, I’ve designed more ships than I did for KH1, mainly because my KH1 ship design just got upgrades when more advanced parts became available, whereas KH2 inspired more diversity in the design process.

Kind of the reverse situation, really. I’m more the hardcore gamer, and she’s the casual player, but I’m her sidekick for a game we can both enjoy.

obliviondoll

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In response to “A Paean to Floyd” from The Escapist Forum: There was something about text-based games. They require more creativity, both on the side of the developer and the player. They give the opportunity to provide more variety than almost anything else.

Above all, they demonstrate the power of good writing and the involvement you feel when you interact with a story. It’s much like a good horror movie/game, like in last weeks Extra Credits: The unknown is scary, because your mind can conjure up much more horrible images than, well, actual images. What some people might not realize is this applies to everything. The human imagination is a powerful thing!

aldowyn

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