Josh brings up a good point about magic: All spells seem to take 60% of your mana, so you can’t use them more than once without a refill. I haven’t played the game so I don’t know what I’m missing, but from a design standpoint I have to wonder why we bother with mana at all. Like, if we can use one spell and then we need a power-up (which totally refills the bar) then why have a bar? The bar could be replaced with a simple “charge” concept: You either have one or you don’t.
Spoiler: No need to shout advice at him in the comments. We’re done with the game now, and I don’t imagine Josh is going to be in any particular hurry to play it again.
So now that we’re just about done with this circus sideshow, I guess I might as well do some actual game analysis:
I love the idea of coming up with terminology for stuff. And I think “edge metaphor” that Chris mentioned is darn near perfect. There are a lot of ideas in games that we don’t have words for yet. We can discuss movies in terms of having bad framing, editing, pacing. We talk about the MacGuffin, the damsel, flashbacks, foreshadowing. (To be fair, a lot of this stuff is basic narrative lingo more than movie lingo.) But we don’t have a handy word for the situation we find in the fight in the middle of the episode: There are powerups strewn around the playfield, suggesting that you’re supposed to rely on them. But if you try to grab any of them you’ll get hitThe ninja guys have ranged attack with a huge reach, so I don’t think distance will help. – possibly even stunlockedStunlocked is a pretty good jargon word. – and be denied the item. This creates an unbalancing effect on gameplay: The more you’re struggling, the harder it getsThis is the opposite of what you see in Half-Life, where health pickups give more benefit when you’re low and very little when you’re already healthy.. We need a word for that. I mean, you can make one up in the comments, but it doesn’t do any good until some reasonable portion of the public understands what you mean.
This entire sequence to access the staircase reminds me of the elevator ride in Prince of Persia:Sands of Time. Both sequences have the same problems and appear at about the same point in the game, with the same effect. The combat in Sands of Time was always a slog that lasted two or three times longer than it needed to, but the elevator ride was about four times longer than it should have been, and was also really, really fiddly with a small margin for error. I played through that game many times, and I always dreaded the elevator. In both games this prolonged encounter is supposed to be a final exam for your fighting skills, but for me it felt like a long, unwelcome distraction that belabored the point and sucked the momentum out of the story. You think you’re about to reach the end, and instead it’s more of the same crap you’re already sick of, only longer and more difficult.
In both cases, I think part of the problem is that there isn’t any buildup or sense of progress. Guys keep spawning, and you have no idea how long it will last. It’s clearly a major fight, but you’re not expecting a major fight and the story hasn’t given any weight to this encounter. (Oh, what will we do when we get to the elevator? We can never defeat so so many!)
Paul Spooner was inspired(?) by Marlow Briggs to make some fan(?) art.
This one is based on Rutskarn’s imagined future for Marlow.
Here is the sunglasses ad that Chris joked about last episode:
“Exasperation” made this one:
 The ninja guys have ranged attack with a huge reach, so I don’t think distance will help.
 Stunlocked is a pretty good jargon word.
 This is the opposite of what you see in Half-Life, where health pickups give more benefit when you’re low and very little when you’re already healthy.
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The Best of 2011
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